Thriller Thursdays: A KILLER LIKE ME + Giveaway (part 2 of 3)

Last week chapter 1 of A Killer Like Me introduced you to detective Sean Murphy. He believes the murder he’s investigating is part of pattern; another breadcrumb on the trail of a psychotic killer. But is his commander going to agree? Without a task force there’s no way Murphy can track this guy down.This week, chapter two takes the investigation a little deeper.

Keep reading for a further sneak peek into A Killer Like Me, and don’t forget to tell us what you think in the comment thread—you’ll be entered to win a trade copy! (The winner will be announced next Thursday).

Thrill on,

Hannah

CHAPTER TWO

Tuesday, July 24, 8:00 pm

“Whatever you’ve got to say, Murphy, say it quick,” Captain Michael Donovan said as he stood behind his desk, packing his briefcase. “I’m on my way home.”

Murphy and Gaudet squeezed into their commander’s office, a converted closet in a corner of the cramped Homicide Division, which was itself jammed into a corner of the police academy on City Park Avenue.

Since Katrina, the homicide cops had wandered like Bedouins, first working out of a commandeered cruise ship, then out of a pair of trailers in City Park, and finally from a set of cluttered rooms at the police academy.

A pair of Goodwill chairs stood in front of Donovan’s desk, but he did not ask the detectives to sit down.

Murphy cleared his throat. “I need resources, Captain. Money, investigators, support staff, enough for a task force.”

“A task force?” Donovan said. He dug a fingernail into a small sore on his head. He was nearly bald but tried to disguise it by keeping his remaining hair buzzed close to his scalp. “Are you still beating that dead horse?”

“Captain, there’s a serial killer out—”

“Bullshit,” Donovan barked. “The murders you’re talking about are unrelated and were committed by different perpetrators.” He sounded like he was reading from a departmental press release.

“How the hell can you say that?” Murphy snapped. “You haven’t been to even one of the crime scenes.”

“Watch your mouth, Detective,” Donovan said. His boozer’s nose was flushed. “I’ve read all the reports and I’ve seen all the photos. It’s obvious these cases were not the work of the same killer.”

Murphy glanced at his partner, standing beside him like a silent, 260-pound Buddha. “You got anything to say?”

Gaudet rolled his eyes. “I’m going to let you two crazy Irishmen fight it out.”

Murphy took a deep breath. Sometimes his partner’s lack of passion for the job infuriated him. He stared back across the desk. “Captain, these cases are linked, and the killer is getting more vicious. This time he kept the victim alive in order to torture her before she died.”

“You don’t know that,” Donovan said. “Any additional injuries the killer inflicted on the victim could have been postmortem.”

“She bled when he shoved a beer bottle into her rectum, something she would not have done had she already been dead. He’s starting to get off on hurting them, and he’s sped up his pattern.”

“There is no pattern,” Donovan said. “These cases aren’t connected.”

Murphy plunged forward. “The first six were roughly one every other month. Today is only the thirty-fifth day since the last killing. The next one will be even sooner.”

A blanket of silence settled over the room.

Murphy finally broke it. “We need a task force. This guy is not going to stop killing until we catch him.”

“Your time line is a load of crap,” Donovan shouted. “There has never been a serial killer in New Orleans, and we sure as hell aren’t going to have one on my watch.”

“The Axman.”

“What?”

“There was a serial killer here known as the Axman.”

“What are you talking about?”

“He attacked more than a dozen people and killed at least six of them,” Murphy said. “All with an ax. He even wrote a letter to the Times-Picayune and gave himself a name—the Axman.”

“When did this happen?” Donovan demanded.

Murphy cleared his throat. “The first attack was in 1911. The last one was in 1919. Officially, he was never caught.”

Donovan waved a hand at him like he was swatting a fly. “Get out of here. Even if that story is true—which I highly doubt—it’s ancient fucking history.”

“I need a task force to catch this guy,” Murphy said.

Donovan jabbed a finger in Murphy’s face. “Do you think me or anybody else in this police department gives a rat’s ass what you need? There is no serial killer, Murphy. There’s just a bunch of whack jobs, or psycho johns, or some other sick fucks. These girls were whores, for Christsakes. It’s a dangerous occupation. Mostly they get fucked, but sometimes they get killed. It’s been happening since the first whore sold the first piece of pussy.”

Donovan pointed to the door. “Now get out of my office and go solve some of these goddamn cases before I transfer your ass out of here and get myself a real detective.”

***

“Thanks for backing me up, partner,” Murphy said.

He and Gaudet were holding down a couple of stools at the Star & Crescent on Tulane Avenue, across from the courthouse.

Officially, the widow of a slain police officer owned the Star & Crescent, but two brothers, an NOPD armed-robbery detective and a U.S. Customs agent, were the real owners. The bar was popular with cops, assistant DAs, defense attorneys, and judges.

Gaudet shook his head. “Just because Donovan’s all over your white ass doesn’t mean I want him all over my black one.”

“Don’t try to play the race card with me, you mulatto motherfucker,” Murphy said. “You’re only half black.”

“Then I don’t want the captain on either side of my ass,” Gaudet said. “The black one or the white one.” He took a long pull from his Budweiser. “If you keep messing with Donovan, he will do just what he said, and that is transfer your pasty white Irish ass out to the Seventh District with Danny Scanlan, and the two of you can spend your nights doing what Scanlan has been doing for two years—pushing a squad car around and shooting at hogs and alligators and shit.”

“To hell with Donovan. I’ll go over his head to the assistant chief if I have to.”

“The assistant chief hates you too.”

“Somebody on the command staff has to be smart enough to realize that we need to put together a task force to catch this psycho before he starts getting serious.”

Gaudet drained the rest of his beer. “Killing seven sisters ain’t serious enough for you? You waiting for him to kill a white woman?”

“At least we’d get our task force.”

“You racist motherfucker.”

“You know I don’t give a shit what color they are,” Murphy said, “but I’m telling you, this guy is just getting warmed up.”

The bartender, an off-duty Fourth District cop, set a fresh pair of longnecks down in front of them.

Gaudet took a gulp from his right away. “How the hell could you possibly know what he’s going to do?”

“I study these guys. I read about them. More times than not, their behavior follows a pattern. This guy’s attacks are starting to come more frequently and they’re getting more violent.”

“The rank is not going to give you a task force. Period.”

“Then they’re letting women get killed to save money.”

“It’s not just about the money,” Gaudet said.

“It’s always about the money.”

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s about that too, but it’s also about not wanting to look bad. Think about what happened in Baton Rouge.”

“Derrick Todd Lee?”

Gaudet nodded. “The police up there put together a high-profile task force that put out the wrong suspect and vehicle descriptions. Then the cops wasted months swabbing DNA from a couple thousand white guys driving pickup trucks.”

“Meanwhile women were still dying.”

“And the killer turned out to be a brother driving a rice burner.”

“What’s your point?”

“The rank doesn’t want to risk being wrong,” Gaudet said. “And the easiest way not to be wrong is to do nothing.”

“So do you want a task force or not?” Murphy asked.

“Why not work the cases, just you and me, like always?”

“I want to be able to pull all the pieces together, not just some of them.” Murphy took a sip of beer. “Of the seven murders we think are connected, how many of the scenes have you and I been to?”

Gaudet counted on his thick fingers while his lips moved silently. “Four, counting this afternoon.”

“Exactly. So on the other three we don’t really know shit, do we?”

“We read the reports. We looked at the crime-scene photos.”

“You sound like Donovan,” Murphy said. “We read the initial reports, not the follow-ups, not the interview transcripts. We don’t know what records the investigators have pulled. We don’t see that stuff because those cases don’t belong to us. If we put together a task force we could collect and collate everything. We could have analysts look at every scrap of paper. We could look for patterns.”

“There you go with that pattern shit again.”

“Why do you think the cops in California didn’t catch the Zodiac Killer?”

“Fuck if I know.”

“Because he killed in multiple jurisdictions, sometimes on the border between jurisdictions. Nobody was in charge of the overall investigation. Cops from different departments hoarded information and leads. They each had their own prime suspect. They didn’t share anything.”

“So what happened?” Gaudet said, his voice beginning to slur. They were each on their fifth beer.

“The killer took his secret to the grave.”

The door opened and two Second District detectives walked in. While Murphy had been rambling about the rank not giving him a task force, several assistant DAs had slipped into the bar. They stood in a tight group at the far end, talking loud and laughing hard.

“You’re not going to get a task force,” Gaudet said. “And if you keep asking for one, the captain is going to launch your ass out of Homicide.”

“People need to know a serial killer is out there targeting women.”

“He’s targeting prostitutes,” Gaudet said. “Nobody gives a shit about prostitutes, especially black ones.”

“He’s cutting his teeth on them because they’re the easiest. That doesn’t mean he’s going to stick with them.”

“You’re not thinking about doing what I think you’re thinking about doing, are you?”

Murphy shrugged. “That depends on what you think I’m thinking about doing.”

“If you talk to her and the captain finds out, he’ll turn you over to the Rat Squad and let them do the dirty work. They hate your guts and would love the chance to get even with you.”

“That was three years ago,” Murphy said. “They have a new commander now. Maybe…”

Gaudet waved his hand in the air. “When DeMarco got promoted to assistant chief, he got to handpick his successor, and you’re nuts if you don’t think he left the new guy a list of cops to fuck over at any cost. When you beat them with your appeal, brother, you got put on their permanent shit list.”

Murphy took a long sip of beer. He was desperate to put together a task force to catch this killer, and he knew that what he was planning was a desperate move. He also knew that desperate men made mistakes. Gaudet was right. PIB—the Public Integrity Bureau—had a long institutional memory.

Gaudet downed half his beer in one gulp, then wiped his lips with the back of his hand. “Besides, and getting back to the point, if you’re thinking about doing what I think you’re thinking about, she hates your guts too.”

Hate is a strong word.”

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6 Responses to Thriller Thursdays: A KILLER LIKE ME + Giveaway (part 2 of 3)

  1. donnas says:

    Great excerpt. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Christy says:

    Yikes! The killer sounds pretty demented. I can’t wait to read more.

  3. Stacia Russell says:

    Oooh, this sounds so good! I can’t wait to read the rest! Thank you sharing with us. 🙂

  4. Lad Castle says:

    I especially like the correlation between the Zodiac killer’s success in California and Murphy’s doggedness in wanting the task force. (Adds a bit of realism) good read!

    • HANNAH WOLFSON, MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS COORDINATOR says:

      Hi Lad,

      Congratulations! You’ve been selected as the winner of the trade paperback copy of A KILLER LIKE ME! Please send your address to publicity@dorchesterpub.com and I’ll send it to you right away.

      Thanks so much for your participation in our preview series!

      Best,
      Hannah

  5. HANNAH WOLFSON, MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS COORDINATOR says:

    Thanks for your great feedback, everyone! Mr. Lad Castle has been selected as our lucky giveaway winner.

    Be sure to check into the Dorchester Community Blog today to read the 3rd chapter of A KILLER LIKE ME, and of course, stop by every Thursday for more thriller excerpts, insights, and giveaways.

    I hope you all enjoyed this Thriller Thursday series!

    Hannah

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