Excerpt of The Killing Game by Iris Johansen
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Talladega Falls, Georgia
The skeleton had been in the ground for a long time. Joe Quinn had seen
enough of them to recognize that. But how long? He turned to Sheriff
Bosworth. "Who found it?"
"Two hikers. They stumbled on it late last night. Those rains the
past few days washed it out of the ground. Hell, that storm slid half the
mountain into the falls. A real gully washer." His gaze narrowed on
Joe's face. "You must have hotfooted up here from Atlanta as soon as
you heard about it."
"You think it's connected to one of the Atlanta PD's cases?"
"Maybe." He paused. "No. This is an adult."
"You're looking for a kid?"
"Yes." Every day. Every night. Always. He shrugged. "The
initial report didn't say whether it was an adult or a child."
Bosworth bristled. "So? I never have to make reports like this. We're
pretty crime free here. Not like Atlanta."
"You knew enough to recognize possible knife wounds to the skeleton's
rib cage. But I do admit our problems are a little different. What's your
"Don't come up here and slam me, Quinn. We've got a strong law
enforcement body. We don't need any city cops messing around our
He'd made a mistake, Joe thought wearily. He hadn't slept in nearly
twenty-four hours, but that was no excuse. It was always an error to
criticize local police even when they were taking potshots at you.
Bosworth was probably a good cop, and he'd been polite until Joe cast
aspersions on how he did his job. "I'm sorry. No offense."
"I do take offense. You have no idea what our problems are here. Do
you know how many tourists we have every year? And how many get lost or
hurt in these mountains? We may not have murderers or drug dealers, but we
take care of every one of our citizens besides those tenderfeet who come
up from Atlanta and camp in our parks and fall down in gorges and mess
"Okay, okay." Joe held up his hand in surrender. "I said I
was sorry. I didn't mean to downplay your problems. I guess I'm a little
His gaze wandered out over the mountains and the falls. Even with
Bosworth's men climbing all over, taping and scouring the area, it was
still unbelievably beautiful. "I'd like to live here. It would be
nice to wake up every morning to all this peace."
Bosworth was slightly appeased. "It's God's country. The Indians used
to call the falls 'the place of tumbling moonlight.'" He scowled.
"And we don't find skeletons like this. This must be one of yours.
Our people don't kill each other and toss the bodies into the
"Perhaps. It's a long way to transport a body. But in this
wilderness, it would be quite a while before a corpse is discovered."
Bosworth nodded. "Hell, if it hadn't been for the rains and the mud
slide, we might not have found it for twenty, thirty years."
"Who knows? It might be that long already. I'll get out of your way.
I'm sure your medical examiner will want to get at the bones and examine
"We have a coroner. He's the local undertaker." Bosworth added
quickly, "But Pauley's always willing to ask for help when he needs
Excerpted from The Killing Game by Iris Johansen.
Copyright© 1999 by I.J. Enterprises. Excerpted by permission of Bantam,
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.