Novel 3: Act II, Chapter 1, Scene 1a

TOC page here.

Now we transition away and show the passage of time, from mid-December to mid-January in four paragraphs:

Diana and Mustapha spent hours per day, days on end, tracking all the white delivery vans in the city, but came up with no connection to Alex Dawson’s death. People on the Internet spent a lot of time and energy attacking and defending Sergeant Brown, but Diana kept Melody Slaughter’s secret for the sake of Slaughter’s career. Public outcry over the death of Abdelraziq Ben Hamid al-Haddad lasted exactly two days, until a trio of youths carjacked a young mother in the underground garage of the Edgewood Retail District and killed her for the trunkload of Christmas presents she had bought for the disadvantaged children she worked with. Diana and Mustapha had all three youths in custody within twenty-four hours, because they were exactly as bright as the average carjacker, but Alex Dawson and Abdelraziq al-Haddad were off the local newsfeeds and out of the public’s mind.

Diana shared the family tradition of Christmas Eve Eve dinner with Fiona, Grace, Severin and her own father, former Fulton County District Attorney Malcolm Siddall, now eighty but still hearty. Andrew and his cow remained unmentioned; but Malcolm took Diana aside as he left and said, “You’re free, now. Well, you always were.”

“Thanks, Daddy.” She shrugged it off; but half an hour after they left, she was booking plane tickets and taking advantage of nine weeks’ accumulated lost time to take herself off rotation for the holiday. The next night, she had Christmas Eve dinner and much merriment with her friends in Chicago.

She and Mustapha had their traditional New Year’s date three stories underground in a parking garage, where the bullets fired up in the air by celebrants all over Atlanta could not come down upon them. The city made it all the way to thirty-nine minutes after midnight this year before recording a homicide, but at least it was deliberate—the classic argument over a parking space—instead of accidental from a falling bullet.

The case disappears, replaced by something more shiny and lurid. Diana has a family she spends time with; she has nebulous friends she prefers to spend time with. She and Mustapha have their own holiday tradition: staying safe. Atlanta is a violent and foolish place.

Next we move straight into another crime in the very short (only three chapters) Act 2. If this novel were purely about the A plot, we’d begin in medias res with another murder. But this novel is really about Diana’s character, so we have to contextualize the crimes.

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