Excerpt from While the City Slept by Eli Sanders, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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While the City Slept

A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness

by Eli Sanders

While the City Slept by Eli Sanders X
While the City Slept by Eli Sanders
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 336 pages

    Feb 2017, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
James Broderick
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Print Excerpt

Sara heard this and told Teresa, "Keep breathing. The ambulance is coming. Please keep breathing." The first officer to respond was Thomas Berg. He was driving up a steep hill that leads out of the valley that holds South Park when his patrol car radio advised him, "Stabbing on South Rose." He made a U-turn, headlights sweeping across high grass on the side of the road, and, with his siren off so as not to tip the perpetrator, sped down the hill. It was 3:09 a.m.

As Berg descended the hill, the view out his windshield tightened, from a panorama of lights in the industrial valley below to a tunnel of amber-lit arterial with darkness beyond its edges. He braked for a stoplight and cross traffic at the bottom of the hill, pulled around a pickup truck that was in his way, turned on his flashers, then raced across a stretch of flatland and under a highway overpass. He passed lots holding stacked metal drums and lengths of construction cranes lying on their sides. The dump was now on his right in the darkness.

He turned left at an intersection where a city sign for Holden Street was bolted to the corrugated-metal wall of a warehouse. His cruiser rattled over potholes, past moss-covered Greyhound buses long retired from service, past Fire King of Seattle and its pile of old extinguishers rusting in an adjacent lot, past Custom Crating and Wood Box Company.

The road Berg was on would soon dead-end at the Duwamish, but before this happened, he pulled right onto Fifth Avenue South. Past Swift Tool Company, past Rogers Machinery, and then, six blocks from the scene, Berg stopped his patrol car and waited, headlights shining on an overgrown lot. He'd often trained new officers, so he knew protocol dictated he arrive at South Rose Street with backup.

The fire truck, too, was stopped and waiting, now parked near Israel's house, several hundred yards from where the shouts were coming from, a standard procedure designed to protect unarmed firemen and medics. Still the truck's lights flashed, and its headlights beamed down the block toward the red house, as if in promise to the women and in warning to their attacker.

Berg knew the guy who was coming to watch his back while he focused on the victims, Officer Ernest DeBella. As soon as the radio told him DeBella was close, Berg headed for South Rose Street, alternately gunning and slowing his engine to try to synchronize his arrival with his fellow officer's. He passed a stack of wood pallets on a sidewalk, turned onto Eighth Avenue South, accelerated, turned his flashers back on. He passed under a canopy of maples, including the one that had buckled the sidewalk in front of Israel's house.

At the intersection with South Rose, he drove up on the curb to get around the fire truck and then stopped at a collapsible basketball hoop set up for playing in the street. It had been five and a half minutes since the call came in.

What Berg now saw stood out from "hundreds, maybe a thousand" violent crime scenes he'd walked into during his twenty-five years as a police officer. He saw Teresa Butz lying in the street, her head no longer in Sara's lap. He saw Jennifer Hopper standing above her, partly shrouded in a white towel Diana had given her. He saw blood.

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Excerpted from While the City Slept by Eli Sanders. Copyright © 2016 by Eli Sanders. Excerpted by permission of Viking. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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