Seven years before the events in Indiscriminate and three 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 grieving, and with a case that quickly went cold.
Now, a new victim has been found, bearing the mark of the One O’clock Killer. Detectives Alan 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:
Noah 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. He 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 RiverWalk.” 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.”
“He was known as the ‘One O’clock Killer.’ Extremely obvious, I know,” Noah said, handing Frankie one of the two cups of coffee he’d poured, “but the press needed something to call him and, apparently, that was the best they came up with.” He took a sip of his coffee. He didn’t need the caffeine, but the bitter taste matched his mood.
Frankie, on the other hand, looked like he’d been asleep when he caught the call and was still a bit bleary-eyed. Being the on-call detective at night or the weekend was one thing Noah did not miss about the job. They were at Frankie’s desk at the station and Noah pulled an extra chair from along the wall and sat facing his old partner. He’d thrown on a long-sleeved black shirt and jeans before catching a cab to the station, but he hadn’t thought to take a jacket. But the warmth of the mug in his hands helped stave off the slight unseasonable chill of the early morning.
Frankie had the original case file in front of him and flipped through some of the pages. “There were just the two victims?”
“Yes. Paula Stevenson, age twenty-four and Will Messer, twenty-seven. No connection was found between the two of them, just the clock carved into their skin. The press was quick to call this a serial killing, given the dramatic signature, but we were very careful to avoid that label since we only had two victims.” He rubbed his eyes. “Looks like the press got something right for once after all.”
“You worked this case with Rob Meares, didn’t you?”
Noah had to turn his mind away from the painful memories associated with that name. “Yes. We tried everything we could think of: Rob interviewed the families and friends, I canvassed the neighborhoods where they lived and where they were found, we dumped phone records of anyone who looked remotely good for it, and we went over the crimes scenes with a fine-toothed comb…”
He shook his head, weary and defeated. “Nothing. We pulled one partial print off the button of Will Messer’s jacket, but it was too incomplete to be of any use. Other than that, there was nothing to go on. This guy was quick and brutal and then…gone.”
“No one saw or heard anything either time?”
He shook his head again, then fixed his friend with a piercing look. “You have to catch him this time, Frankie.”
“That’s the plan.”
He took another sip of coffee. “Tell me about the new victim.”
Frankie cleared his throat and consulted his notebook. “Young Caucasian male. He was stabbed multiple times in the chest, throat and face. He had a Riverside University student ID on him. Name’s Nathan, no Nigel, uh, Warner. We’re trying to –”
Noah’s head jerked up. “Nigel Warner?”
Realization dawned on Frankie’s tired face. “I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection. I’d forgotten that was his name.” He gestured to his notes. “All he had on him was a school ID with a faded picture, no wallet, and his face… I didn’t recognize him.” Frankie groaned and wiped a hand across his face. “I’ll get the address; Gerald should hear it from me in person.”
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, © 2018 J.I. O’Neal
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