Excerpt of Monster by Jonathan Kellerman
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"Did Dr. Argent work on the fifth floor?"
"Nope. Hers were all 1026's."
"Besides total crazies and ninety-day losers, who else do you have here?" said
"We've got a few mentally disordered sex offenders left," said Dollard.
"Pedophiles, that kind of trash. Maybe thirty of 'em. We used to have more but
they keep changing the law--stick 'em here, nope, the prison system, oops, back
here, unh-uh, prison. Dr. Argent didn't hang with them, either, least that I
"So the way you see it, what happened to her couldn't relate to her work here."
"You got it. Even if one of her guys got out--and they didn't--none of them
could've killed her and stashed her in the trunk. None of them could plan that
We were at the gate. Tan men standing still, like oversized chess pieces. The
faraway machine continued to grind.
Dollard flicked a hand back at the yard. "I'm not saying these guys are
harmless, even with all the dope we pump into them. Get these poor bastards
delusional enough, they could do anything. But they don't kill for fun--from
what I've seen, they don't take much pleasure from life, period. If you can even
call what they're doing living."
He cleared his throat, swallowed the phlegm. "Makes you wonder why God would
take the trouble to create such a mess."
Two corpses in car trunks. Claire Argent was the second.
The first, found eight months earlier, was a twenty-five-year-old would-be actor
named Richard Dada, left in the front storage compartment of his own VW Bug in
the industrial zone north of Centinela and Pico--a warren of tool-and-die shops,
auto detailers, spare-parts dealers. It took three days for Dada's car to be
noticed. A maintenance worker picked up the smell. The crime scene was walking
distance from the West L.A. substation, but Milo drove over to the scene.
In life, Dada had been tall, dark, and handsome. The killer stripped off his
clothes, bisected him cleanly at the waist with a tooth-edged weapon, dropped
each segment in a heavy-duty black plastic lawn bag, fastened the sacks, stashed
them in the Volkswagen, drove to the dump spot, most probably late at night, and
escaped without notice. Cause of death was loss of blood from a deep, wide
throat slash. Lack of gore in the bags and in the car said the butchery had been
accomplished somewhere else. The coroner was fairly certain Dada was already
dead when cut in half.
"Long legs," Milo said, the first time he talked to me about the case. "So maybe
cutting him solved a storage problem. Or it was part of the thrill."
"Or both," I said.
He frowned. "Dada's eyes were taken out, too, but no other mutilation. Any
"The killer drove Dada's car to the dump spot," I said, "so he could've left on
foot and lives close by. Or he took the bus and you could interview drivers, see
if any unusual passengers got on that night."
"I've already talked to the bus drivers. No memory of any conspicuously weird
passengers. Same for taxi drivers. No late-night pickups in the neighborhood,
"By 'unusual' I didn't mean weird," I said. "The killer probably isn't
bizarre-looking. I'd guess just the opposite: composed, a good planner,
middle-class. Even so, having just dumped the VW, he might've been a little
worked up. Who rides the bus at that hour? Mostly night-shift busboys and office
cleaners, a few derelicts. Someone middle-class might be conspicuous."
"Makes sense," he said, "but there was no one who stuck in any of the drivers'
Excerpted from Monster by Jonathan Kellerman. Copyright© 1999 by Jonathan Kellerman. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.