In a twisted trail of blood, he spelled out his name, The Stalking Man, hunting women in cities across the country the way his father had once taught him to hunt deer. He loved the moment of terror frozen on their faces when the all-too-horrifying realization would hit them-they were going to die a death more violent and ghastly than their worst nightmares...
They had caught him once-he did his time and now he was "cured." But he'd been sloppy then. This time he slithered through the country, striking with cunning and precision, laughing at the law as he outran them again and again. Now two men must piece together his macabre clues and stop a sadistic killer who's about to strike too close to home...
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About the Author
William J. Coughlin, a former defense attorney and judge in Detroit for twenty years, was the author of sixteen novels. He lived in Grosse Point Woods, Michigan, with his wife, Ruth, an author and book critic.
William J. Coughlin, a former defense attorney and judge in Detroit for twenty years, was the author of sixteen novels, including The Heart of Justice, In the Presence of Enemies, and Shadow of a Doubt. He lived in Grosse Point Woods, Michigan, with his wife, Ruth, an author and book critic.
Read an Excerpt
The Stalking Man
By William J. Coughlin
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1979 William J. Coughlin
All rights reserved.
WINTER CREPT BACK INTO SPRINGTIME TO REMIND THE city that it would come again. The large windows rattled as a strong wind drove sheets of rain against the ancient police headquarters building. It was chilly inside but the old radiators remained silent. The furnace had been turned down in anticipation of summer. The few men inside wore sweaters or raincoats to ward off the early morning cold. In the dying hours of their shift their minds were occupied with completing the unending river of paperwork and the promise of a warm breakfast.
"Call for you, Lieutenant." The desk man had to raise his voice over the all-night radio station they kept on to insure they remained awake. "Line eight."
"This is Russo," he said into the receiver.
"Y'all might not remember me — my name's Annie Robinson and I lives across from the Winklers. You know, that Dr. Winkler y'all want for killing his wife, that woman he was livin' with down by Pike Street?"
"I remember you, Mars. Robinson." He remembered her well. He could picture her thin black face with its delicately wrinkled skin and her wide eyes, so alive and alert despite her years. He had left his card with her when they had been investigating the Winkler killing.
"Now I don't wants to get nobody into no trouble, you understand what I mean." Her voice was low, almost a whisper. "But you asked me to call if I should see anything goin' on 'cross the street, you remember?"
"That Winkler ain't much. I know he's a doctor and all, but he still ain't much. His wife wasn't so bad. Had her nose in the air a little, is all. But that Winkler, he ain't no more than trash. You understand what I'm telling ya?"
"Now you won't tell nobody I called you, will you? I wants to help the law and all that, but I don't want to get myself in no trouble either, you understand what I mean?".
"Don't worry, Mrs. Robinson. Anything you tell me will be strictly between the two of us."
She amused him, but he choked off a chuckle. "That's a solemn promise," he assured her.
"I trust you," she said after a short pause. "I been watching out the window a while ago. You know us old folks, we don't need much sleep. I been up for a while just killin' time, watching the rain mostly. Anyway, this old car pulls up in front of the Winklers' and Dr. Winkler gets out and runs up into his house, then the car pulls away."
"Is he still inside?"
"Suppose so. I been watching and he ain't come out the front and the old car ain't come back neither, so I guess he still in the place."
"Thanks, Mrs. Robinson. We appreciate your information."
"Is there goin' to be shooting?"
"There might be," he answered. "Maybe it might be a good idea if you stayed down in your basement for a while."
She chuckled. "I'm over seventy. No reason why I should be down in that cold old basement and miss all the excitement. I'll be peeking out the window to see what happens."
"If anything starts, you get behind something."
"Don't you worry about Annie Robinson, I didn't get this old for nothin'."
Lieutenant Anthony Russo hung up and dialed the precinct in which the Winkler home was located. He explained very carefully to the precinct watch-commander exactly what he wanted done. He had the watch- commander repeat his orders so there would be no mistake.
"Come on, Rosinski," he said to his partner, "we have to pick up Dr. Winkler. He's sneaked back home."
"Shouldn't we get a search warrant?" Rosinski had listened to the telephone conversation with Mrs. Robinson. "If you protect that woman we have no excuse to go breaking in over there. We'll need a warrant to protect ourselves."
"I don't think so," the older officer replied. "Come on, I don't want him to get away."
The rain was diminishing but the streets remained wet and slick and Rosinski drove as fast as he deemed safe for the conditions despite Russo's urgings that he speed up.
As he had directed, three scout cars waited at the intersection Russo had indicated. He hopped out of the still moving car and had a few fast words with the uniformed policemen. Detective Joseph Rosinski waited in their unmarked car. He half listened to the intermittent calls on the police radio. The rest of his mind was filled with a growing apprehension. He wondered about older men, like Russo, who seemed to take danger in stride, without apparent concern for their lives or well-being. Rosinski had been delighted with his assignment to the homicide bureau; it meant less personal danger. He had done his time as a scout car officer and as a precinct detective. He was glad to be off the street, away from the sudden confrontations and the anxiety of the unknown. Now, suddenly, he was back. He took his revolver from its belt holster and made sure it was loaded.
Russo returned to the car and climbed in, his raincoat glistening from the mist that continued to fall. The darkness of the night was turning into a dirty gray dawn. "Drive down Riopelle Street to Saginaw," Russo commanded, "hang a right and then take a left into the alley between Pike and Holcomb."
"Right." Rosinski slammed the car into gear and pressed down on the accelerator.
"Goose it," Russo said, despite the increasing speed. "I'm in a hurry."
Following Russo's instructions Rosinski found the route and then turned into the narrow passageway of the alley.
"Hold it right here," Russo said.
"But the Winkler place is down about the middle of the block," Rosinski protested as he brought the car to a stop.
"I know it. Just hold your horses." Russo looked at his watch. There was sufficient daylight now that he could see it. He waited a moment and then opened his door. "I'm going down the alley a short ways. Keep the motor running and your eye on me. You may have to move fast."
"Hey, Lieutenant —" Rosinski's protest was cut off as Russo climbed out of the car and was gone. He watched the older man walk slowly and casually down the empty alley, staying close to the decaying garages as he moved, using them as a shield between himself and the Winkler house.
Rosinski rolled down the car window so he could hear if Russo called.
The cold wet mist chilled his cheek. Rosinski was startled to hear the "whoop" of patrol car sirens. They sounded very loud and he knew they were in front of the Winkler house on Pike Street, sounding their sirens. He watched Russo draw his long-barreled revolver. Suddenly the older officer became tense and alert, his casualness gone.
A running figure burst into the alley, a flapping coat held in his hand. He skidded on the wet pavement as he turned toward the waiting officer.
"Hold it!" Russo's sharp words floated back to his partner.
The middle-aged black man hesitated, his head turning as if debating his chances of trying his luck in the other direction.
"I'd hate to shoot you, Doctor," Russo said, almost kindly. "Put your hands in the air."
He hesitated for only a moment. Then he dropped the coat and both hands jerked toward the sky in the traditional sign of surrender.
Rosinski grinned as he watched his partner. He was a marvel, this veteran detective. He had planned the whole thing, a scheme to flush the man from cover, like a hunter working a dog across an autumn field. Rosinski wondered if he would ever develop the kind of instincts Russo possessed. He hoped so.
He was glad he had surrendered to the urges. Attempting to control himself had been exhausting and restricting, producing anxiety and fatigue from the never-ending battle. He had abandoned the contest and now he was relaxed and free. It was an exhilarating freedom.
As before, he had gone forth to select a suitable victim.
A train rumbled past. Its vibrations rattled the glasses on the bar; the noise of its giant engines blended in with the noise from the blaring jukebox. The train passed and the music from the jukebox reasserted its mastery. The singer's nasal voice rode above the sliding notes of steel guitars, telling of a workman's poverty and family devotion. It was Nashville music, thick with nostalgia for a happy past that existed only in the songwriter's mind.
The victim was five foot four.
The bartender served him and then retreated to the far end of the bar where he leaned his protruding belly against the support of the beer case, and studied a crossword puzzle book. The bartender was oblivious to the music, to the customers, and even to the train noise outside. Like an oriental mystic he had attained perfect meditation.
There were only a few people in the bar. An alcoholic couple sat silently together at the other end of the bar. There was no conversation between them. They sipped their drinks with their eyes fixed on the smoke rising from their cigarettes, as if it might eventually spell out some secret message.
She was watching him, he could sense it.
Two old men were locked in contest at the battered shuffleboard table. One grinned in victory, exposing a single yellow tooth. The other swore, gulped down his beer, and prepared to even the score.
It was like a thousand other workmen's bars nestled in the shadow of railway yards. They all looked alike: dingy, their wood and fabric discolored by the dust and grime of the yards, and their tables and wooden floors worn down by a million passing workers, leaving an everlasting aroma of stale beer and sweat.
He signaled the bartender for another whiskey. He paid with a twenty-dollar bill, leaving the change in a stack of small bills sitting before him as bait.
It was almost midnight but he felt no fatigue. It was as if he were once again hunting with his father, waiting in the early morning mist, waiting for the sleek shape of a deer to drift in from the mist, waiting to kill, all tiredness lost in excited anticipation. Those were the only times of the year he was allowed to spend with his father — those short hunting seasons. During those few magic days he was permitted entry into the rites of manhood. He experienced the pungent smell of whiskey and the racy chatter of cards and gambling, and when he was fifteen, the whores of Hurley, Wisconsin. Those hunting trips had been like dreams. They had been like magic carpets and for a short while he was away from his high-strung mother and her emotional demands. For a short while he had been a man.
In the mirror behind the bar he could see her approaching. She was pretty in a tough way. Young, but her cold eyes seemed to cast a pall of crafty age over her features. He waited.
There was no sound of any trains now and the record had changed. The old saloon was filled with the pleasant contest between a banjo and mandolin picking out an old bluegrass melody, a good beat, soft and harmonious.
At the time, he had considered it a personal insult that his father had picked such an untimely season to die. The trees had begun to change, autumn had begun and the deer season would soon open. His mother was working, so they had sent his cousin to tell him the news. His young cousin, embarrassed and knowing that more was required, was not capable of compassionate tact, so the words had just spilled out, so cold and unreal. His father had told him he had an easy desk job, yet somehow a part of his heart muscle had torn away and he had died at his desk, instantly and without warning. He had never quite forgiven his father, although he realized the man had had no choice in the matter. Still, it was the ultimate rejection and abandonment; he was destined to remain trapped with his screaming mother, perhaps forever.
He pretended he didn't see her come up and sit on the stool next to him. He fixed his eyes on the battered television set above the mirror, but he knew she was there and his pulse quickened.
His father had taught him how to hunt big game. The animal's keen sense of smell and hearing constituted delicate alarm systems and warned of the approach of the hunter. It was best to find a place where they were known to come and then lie in wait for them there. Let them come to you, that was the trick. Patience, a successful hunter needed patience. His father had taught him to wait until the animal was close, to wait until there was little chance of missing.
Her cheap perfume seemed to envelop him. He was at once both repelled and excited by the strong scent.
"You're new around here." Her voice sounded slightly strained as if she were trying to project a tone and quality more splendid than her ordinary speech.
He looked over at her without replying. It was a good tactic; they were always a bit unsure if the man made no response. She was even younger than she had looked in the mirror; she wore heavy makeup to cover her youthfulness. Her large young breasts strained against the cheap material of her thin blouse.
"You with the railroad?" she asked.
He shook his head. "I'm working on a construction job." He had selected the worn coveralls and the white plastic hard hat as his hunting costume.
"Live around here?"
He grinned at her. "No, I'm from out of town. I come from St. Paul."
"You're a long way from home," she said.
They sat quietly. She pulled a cigarette from her small purse and waited a moment to see if he would light it for her. When he made no effort to move she lit it herself.
"We don't see too many construction people around here," she said. "Used to see them all the time, when the railroad was buildin' things, but that's a long time ago."
He nodded in mute agreement.
Patience, his father had instructed. He felt agitated, it was hard controlling himself. He wanted to start, to hurry and make the arrangements. She was as good as his now, but still he had to force himself to remain calm and play out the game.
"How long have you been away from home?"
He looked at her and grinned again. "Too damn long."
Her eyes narrowed slightly as she studied him. "Lookin' for a little action?"
"I've thought about it."
"I'll give you a good time."
He appraised her slowly. "I don't have any doubt about that, honey." He smiled. "But I don't know if I can afford you."
"Fifty bucks for a regular party," she said, "and seventy-five for something you'll never forget." She flashed her best professional smile.
He shook his head sadly. "Don't get me wrong, honey. I can see that you'd be worth every penny, but I have to send most of my money back to my family in St. Paul, so I ain't exactly rolling in the stuff. How about a little fun for twenty-five? I can afford that."
She paused only for effect. "Well, for a guy who's as cute as you, I'll make an exception. Twenty-five, but you have to pay for the room."
"Hey, what room? I've got a camper-trailer parked down at the yards. I live in the thing. I've got a little stove and it's pretty cozy. It should do all right unless you want to go somewhere else."
"Hell, trailer or room, it makes no difference to me." She took him by the hand. "Let's go, lover."
He gulped down the last of the whiskey as he allowed her to pull him away from the bar.
His father had trained him to be a good shot, but in the excitement of his first hunt he had only wounded the animal. He had been surprised that he experienced a shivering thrill at the animal's high-pitched scream. He found he enjoyed watching the agony of a dying animal. When his father died, he thought he would never have that kind of opportunity again.
The other patrons of the bar paid scant notice as they left. It was good, they would have little to remember about him. He gripped the girl around her fleshy waist and led her down the street toward the dark and deserted railroad yards.
His pulse raced with anticipation.
The cross-country journey of the refrigerated railroad car had originated in Boston. There its yawning cavern had been packed full of boxes of frozen fish — the product of coastal fisheries — destined for transport to the waiting midwestern markets. From Boston the car had sped to Cleveland where more than a third of its cargo was unloaded. Toledo was the next stop, and again a third of the cargo was transferred into waiting refrigerated trucks. Kansas City was the last stop.
In Kansas City, the car, together with other refrigerated cars, was shunted off to a siding to wait until the schedule called for the unloading to begin. One of the yard workers noticed a broken seal and called the railroad security police. There had been a nationwide wave of railroad theft and it was expected that all or part of the fish would be gone.
Excerpted from The Stalking Man by William J. Coughlin. Copyright © 1979 William J. Coughlin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Edward Teague, also known as the Stalking Man, is back! After being found guilty by reason of insanity for killing innumerous women, he was sentenced to a hospital for the criminally insane under the care of Dr. Rose. When a series of brutal deaths of young women appear across the Midwest, Lieutenant Anthony Russo's first thoughts go to the Stalking Man, the man Russo had hunted down and brought to justice. Still angry at the defense attorney, Thomas Knapp, for keeping his client out of prison, he becomes even angrier when he learns that Dr. Rose has quietly discharged Teague as being "cured" a year ago. Russo immediately starts looking closely into the recent reported deaths and comes to the conclusion that Teague is out there and he is still torturing and killing, spelling out clues to his identity in a gruesome game. But no one seems to believe him ... not his supervisor, not his partner, not the investigating officers of the recent murders and not his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Teague is working his way closer to Russo ..... First published in 1979, this is a well written serial killer thriller ... using nothing but a detective's gut feelings and intuitions. There are no forensic AHA moments anywhere to be found. Edward Teague, as he continues his country-wide search for new victims, takes the reader back to his younger days, when his father would take him hunting. He is applying all those helpful hints to stalking, substituting women for the bear or deer. And each kill is more brutal than the last. Lt. Russo is a good cop ... and he knows his instincts are correct when it comes to Teague. And he's going to prove it one way or the other. The reader gets a glimpse of his personal life, which up to now how mostly his life consists of police work. He now has a girlfriend and he is terrified that she may become the Stalking Man's next victim. The Stalking Man certainly kept me turning the pages to see what happened next. Many thanks to the author / Endeavour Press / Netgalley who provided a digital copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
Have read a few of his books and liked them,this one i didnt care for.