Author: William Michael Davidson
Publication date: May 10th 2024
Genres: Adult, Thriller
Finding bodies is part of the job for Detective Otto Haines, but when a victim’s limbs are found in two public parks miles apart from each other, he is utterly confused. Most speculate that it must be some sadistic killer, bent on mutilating his victims and leaving his “calling cards” behind in the ghostly hours of the night.
And there are problems along the way. As Detective Haines tries to hunt down this killer, he must also deal with his rookie partner, Serena Grimm, while trying to keep a secret from his past out of the spotlight. As the trail to the killer becomes a labyrinthine search with shifting suspects and no end in sight, the impossibly horrific nature of these crimes forces Otto to reconsider everything he has known about good and evil.
Otto Haines climbed out of his black Dodge Charger and noted the time. It was nearly one o’clock in the morning. The crime scene tape had already been set up and blocked off a section of Marina Vista Park. Crime scene technicians worked beneath the ocher-colored glow of streetlights and the briny ocean mist that rolled in from Marine Stadium, only a stone’s throw away.
Officer Dave Hemelrick of the LBPD greeted Otto as he strode toward the perimeter.
“Finally made it, huh?” Dave asked. “And no partner tonight? Already scared off the rookie?”
“She’s on another call,” Otto said without telling him the full story: two incidents had been called in, nearly back-to-back. The other was a few miles away, in front of Wilson High School. It was unusual, for sure. Two homicides called in minutes apart from each other was an aberration. Otto couldn’t remember another instance of it.
“Any witnesses here?” he asked, and Hemelrick’s expression darkened as he cleared his throat.
“We got two. One homeless, probably on drugs. We have a young woman too. She’s the one who called it in. Finishing up questioning now.”
“Good. I’d like to speak with both—especially the woman. Have them wait.”
“Any ID on the victim?”
A similar, grave expression passed over Hemelrick’s face. The flashing lights of the emergency vehicles reflected in his large, dark eyes.
“No, no ID. Not much of a body either.”
Otto understood what Officer Hemelrick meant only a few moments after showing his badge to several officers along the perimeter and ducking below the crime scene tape. Where Otto normally would have found a body—shot, stabbed, or strangled—there was only an arm on the sidewalk, mere inches from the grass. Nothing more. For a moment, it didn’t look real. While a technician snapped photographs of the scene, Otto bent down to examine the grotesque sight.
There was a very small splatter of blood on the sidewalk near where the arm had been severed, which was just below the elbow. It appeared to be a grisly, jagged dismemberment; if this were a horror movie and not a crime scene, Otto might have guessed the arm to have been bitten off and spat onto the grass by some foul creature.
He was able to determine a few things. This appeared to be a male. Thick arm. Dark hair. Caucasian. It took him a moment to note by position of the thumb that this was the left arm. The fingers were ringless.
“Where’s the rest of him?” Otto asked without turning around. When Hemelrick didn’t respond, Otto turned to him.
“That’s what I’m saying. That’s all we’ve got.”
about the author
William Michael Davidson lives in Long Beach, California. A believer that “good living produces good writing,” Davidson writes early in the morning so he can get outside, exercise, spend time with people, and experience as much as possible. He is a writer of suspense and speculative fiction. If he’s not writing, he’s probably at the beach.