Thursday Sampler: Killer’s Cross by Wendy H. Jones

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Thursday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Killer’s Cross a suspense-filled, police procedural mystery from Wendy Jones.

As one reviewer said: Detective Inspector Shona continues to amaze me. She doesn’t worry about political correctness in these days of government employees going overboard to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. Then, just when I think she’s off on a tangent, she surprises me with her intellect and investigative abilities.

The Story

Bodies with crosses carved on their chests! All left outside Dundee Churches! All members of the religious community!

DI Shona McKenzie has to find the common factor linking the deaths, and catch the killer before he strikes again.

Is her latest case as simple as it seems?

The Sampler

Wendy H. Jones
Wendy H. Jones

Lying on the damp earth, listening to the grating of a rusty lock, she knows her life is about to end. She is alone in this prison. Thick darkness, like a shroud, engulfs her body in its muffled tendrils. She bites back a scream and shouts.

“Help. Help Me.”

Ineffectual, her voice fades into the inky night. She shifts her body. No comfort. She cannot move far, chained as she is. Tense muscles strain against the rapidly cooling metal. She feels pain, unimaginable pain. Her breathing quickens as panic takes hold. She forces herself to relax. To think. To take stock. Uses her mind to explore. She uses her fingers and feet to survey her surroundings. Wood, dirt floor. The dank smell of wet earth. A shed? An outhouse? A barn?

Then, a delicate tickle against her skin. Soft, gentle it travels up her bare leg prickling along every tiny nerve end. Creeping, crawling, relentless. She kicks. Tries to push it off with her hands. The chains stop her. She can’t reach. It is still there. There is no escape. Another joins it. Myriad others. Spiders, her worst fear. They are all over her. Shaking, she screams then snaps her mouth shut as she feels them on her face. She is rigid. There is no way out.

She prays for death.

Flashing an ID card the flapper steps through the dimly lit, red brick archway towards the body of the dead vicar. It’s not often you find a flapper at a crime scene. Not in Dundee anyway. Shona is the flapper, more commonly known to the good people of Dundee as, Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie. She doesn’t need to look too closely at the body to know this particular vicar has not died well. His face is set in a death mask grimace, his clothes torn, and a cross has been carved on his chest.

“Hoy. Laurel and Hardy get yourselves over here.” Dundee CID have been to the Tayside Police Annual Charity Ball. Not that Tayside Police exists any more but in the police, like many institutions, tradition lingers.

The pair, aka Detective Sergeant Peter Johnston and Detective Constable Iain Barrow leap to it and hurry over. “What do you make of this?” asks Shona.

“A vicar? First it’s nuns and now a vicar. What’s the world coming tae,” says Peter.

Their last case had been awash with nuns, both dead and alive, but Shona is sure it has nothing to do with their current corpse. She is hoping so anyway. Arresting the ecclesiastical fraternity is not her favourite occupation.

“I know there’s not much light but there doesn’t seem to be any blood. I’d expect a lot more given the adornment on his chest. Iain can you get some photos?”

“I’m on it ma’am. I’ll do what I can until Eddie tips up with the lights.”

“Is Eddie the only person who works for the council? It always seems to be him who comes to our scenes.”

“He has a soft spot for you Ma’am. Being as he’s the senior bloke he says he wants to be called any time you need lights. He wants to make sure you get it done right,” says Peter.

“Well go Eddie. I’ve got a fan club. Who would have thought it? The Procurator Fiscal might get jealous though so I’m off to have a word with the POLSA.” She has an initial look before she speaks to the Police Official Licenced Search Advisor

Hurrying over to Sergeant Muir, she passes Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Munroe, and Sophia Loren. More members of her team, DC Roy MacGregor, DS Abigail Lau, and DS Nina Chakrabarti respectively. “Get the gawkers away from the wall,” she calls to them. “How can there be so many people at this time of night? Tell them the cabaret is over. They’re cluttering up my crime scene. Shut the street if you have to.” The poor unsuspecting public doesn’t stand a chance with those three on their tails, thinks Shona.

Approaching Sergeant Muir, she asks, “What’s the story? Who found him?”

“The pair of drunks sitting on the grass. Went into the archway for a quickie and got more than they bargained for. It put a right damper on their ardour.”

“I bet it did. Are they fit to be interviewed?”

“Not a snowballs chance. I’m surprised they remembered 999 never mind fire up enough brain cells to give you a coherent story.”

“Great.” Shona calls over to her team. “Abigail, take this sorry pair down to the nick. Force-feed them coffee and lots of grease. Sober them up for an interview.”

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