Novel 3: Act III, Chapter 1, Scene 2a

TOC page here.

We had a nice long transition to the third act, one that has more to do with the main plot than might initially seem clear, then Diana’s phone rings and off she goes to Victim #3:

Half an hour later, gruff old Sergeant Klein dropped her off outside the double ring of vehicles that marked any seriously mediagenic crime scene in Atlanta. The outer ring was TV vans with their antenna pylons extended up into the air; the inner was APD and Crime Scene vehicles trying to screen from the media whatever lay in the disused parking lot behind what had long ago been a shoe store.

Diana slid through the first ring; the first person she encountered in the second was Sergeant Brown. “Come on through, ma’am,” he said, shifting aside to let her between two radio cars.

Andrea Blitts came running toward them, camera man with spotlight in tow. “Detective Siddal! Can you confirm the Reaper has struck again?”

Sergeant Brown patted Diana on the back, which pushed her through into the crime scene.”Back off!” he snarled. “You interfere with a crime scene, you can spend the night downtown.”

“You’re cute, Sergeant,” said Blitts, “But you’re not my type. Maybe you can confirm…” Diana slipped her way to the center of the klieg lights, where Mustapha and Keller knelt in the weeds that had long ago overgrown the asphalt.

Before she could approach them, Chief Purcell stepped into her path. “Y’all have my full support, and the mayor’s office says the same. We need to find and apprehend whoever is responsible for this second—second—killing of a homeless man by someone with a real twisted view of Islam.” He leaned in closer. “College kids come back to smoke up, saw the body, rolled him over and saw the Arabic writing. They put pictures up on Instagram and called the media before they called us. Captain Jenkins has them back at your precinct right now, going to scare the life out of them. Do your job, Detective, and hope to hell nobody goes sniffing around for that guy from last month.” He nodded and walked away.

Diana began to kneel beside Mustapha, felt her knee think about giving way, crouched instead. “Same MO,” said Mustapha, “as that one other killing.” In a stage whisper, he continued, “Circle the wagons.”

From where she crouched, at the corpse’s feet, she could clearly see the calligraphy on the man’s bony chest, and the livid mark of the cord on his throat, but the neck was craned and the face lost in high-contrast shadow. She arose, walked around Keller, held up a hand to block the direct light from her eyes. “Oh, dear,” she said.

Keller snorted. “Understatement much?”

“I know him. This is Bill Knight.”

We might remember Bill Knight as the helpful recovering alcoholic who talked with Diana way back in the first scene, when she went to the shelter. Now things are going to get interesting.

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