Seven years before the events in Indiscriminate and six months before the events in Impact, Detective Sergeant Noah Harkham and his partner, Senior Detective Rob Meares investigated a pair of grisly murders linked only by the bizarre signature left behind by the killer: a clock set at 1 o’clock carved into the victim’s flesh.
However, before they could get any solid leads on the case, Rob suddenly died of what was ruled natural causes, leaving Noah with a case that quickly went cold.
Now, a new victim has been found, bearing the mark of the One O’clock Killer. Detectives Allan Franks and Casey Townsend are on the case, but Franks calls on his former partner, Noah, to give them insight into a case seven years cold.
Read on for a sneak preview:
The blue orb spun away higher, then gracefully arced and sped back toward him. Just before it landed, Noah caught the ball and tossed it up into the air again. He was lying on his back on the floor in the middle of his living room, performing a depth-perception strengthening exercise that Dr. James Weymouth had taught him. Noah was attending sessions with the doctor once a week to learn how to better function in the world with only one eye and one ear that worked.
Noah caught movement out of the corner of his good eye and looked away. The ball fell down with a hard thwack on his forehead and rolled away. Noah grunted and rubbed the sore spot above his brow, silently cursing himself and the stupid fly that had distracted him. He sat up, feeling a bit embarrassed and sullen, and retrieved the ball, placing it back in the shallow dish on the footlocker-turned-coffee table in which he usually kept it.
It was late Thursday night – or rather, early Friday – two weeks after Conrad’s party. It was going on two-thirty in the morning, but he wasn’t tired. Or, to be more accurate, he felt very, very tired, but for the past couple of months he hadn’t been able to sleep well. At first, he chalked it up to nerves about starting the new teaching position, but even after that had faded he was still having trouble.
He then thought that things would go back to normal once Simon Turner and Tony Barrett were convicted and sentenced. But now, with Turner long dead and Barrett sentenced to life, he had only one explanation for his sleeplessness: August thirty-first was two days away, the first anniversary of the day his career ended at Bobby Avalon’s hands.
He picked up a book he had been re-reading – Frank Herbert’s Dune – but couldn’t summon the concentration to keep up with interplanetary intrigues. He tossed it on the sofa and considered turning on the television. He discarded the idea once he realized infomercials and home shopping were likely the only things on.
Instead, he fired up his laptop and started reviewing the notes for his upcoming classes. He was using cold cases from across the country and some from his own precinct if the officers involved consented or if the cases were too old for anyone to care. He hoped that the cops he was teaching would learn from real examples and real mistakes, but he also held out a little hope that one day one of the students would see something everyone else had missed and breathe new life into a dead end case.
He was deep into the case notes of a seventeen-year cold rape/homicide when his phone rang. The caller ID told him it was Detective Franks.
Noah answered the phone on speaker, something he did more often now that he could only hear out of one ear. “Yeah, Frankie, what’s up?”
“I just got called to a homicide on the River Walk.” Frankie sounded stressed, his voice tinged with anxiety. “The victim was found with a clock face carved into his forehead.”
He sat up straighter. “A clock?”
“Set at one o’clock,” Franks added grimly.
Noah swallowed hard, his heart beginning to pound. “He’s back.”
“I’m gonna need you to come to the station, take me through the old case files.”
“Whatever you need, Frankie,” he replied, gripping the chair arms tighter. “I’ll be right there.”
Thank you for reading this teaser preview of my forthcoming book: Time of Death, Book Two of the Riverdale PD Series.
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-Excerpt from Time of Death, © copyright J.I. O’Neal
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