INSPECTOR LINDSAY BOXER
IT IS AN UNUSUALLY WARM NIGHT in July, but I'm shivering badly as I stand on the substantial gray stone terrace outside my apartment. I'm looking out over glorious San Francisco and I have my service revolver pressed against the side of my temple.
"Goddamn you, God!" I whisper. Quite a sentiment, but appropriate and just, I think.
I hear Sweet Martha whimpering. I turn and see she is watching me through the glass doors that lead to the terrace. She knows that something is wrong. "It's okay," I call to her through the door. "I'm okay. Go lie down, girl."
Martha won't leave, though, won't look away. She's a good, loyal friend who's been nuzzling me good-night every single night for the past six years.
As I stare into the Border collie's eyes, I think that maybe I should go inside and call the girls. Claire, Cindy, and Jill would be here almost before I hung up the phone. They would hold me, hug me, say all the right things. You're special, Lindsay. Everybody loves you, Lindsay.
Only I'm pretty sure that I'd be back out here tomorrow night, or the night after. I just don't see a way out of this mess. I have thought it all through a hundred times. I can be as logical as hell, but I am also highly emotional, obviously. That was my strength as an inspector with the San Francisco Police Department. It is a rare combination, and I think it is why I was more successful than any of the males in Homicide. Of course, none of them are up here getting ready to blow their brains out with their own guns.
I lightly brush the barrel of the revolver down my cheek and then up to my temple again. Oh God, oh God, oh God. I am reminded of soft hands, of Chris, and that starts me crying.
Lots of images are coming way too fast for me to handle.
The terrible, indelible honeymoon murders that terrified our city, mixed with close-ups of my mom and even a few flashes of my father. My best girls Claire, Cindy, and Jill our crazy club. I can even see myself, the way I used to be, anyway. Nobody ever, ever thought that I looked like an inspector, the only woman homicide inspector in the entire SFPD. My friends always said I was more like Helen Hunt married to Paul Reiser in Mad About You. I was married once. I was no Helen Hunt; he sure was no Paul Reiser.
This is so hard, so bad, so wrong. It's so unlike me. I keep seeing David and Melanie Brandt, the first couple who were killed, in the Mandarin Suite of the Grand Hyatt. I see that horrifying hotel room, where they died senselessly and needlessly.
That was the beginning.
BEAUTIFUL LONG-STEMMED RED ROSES filled the hotel suite the perfect gifts, really. Everything was perfect.
There might be a luckier man somewhere on the planet, David Brandt thought as he wrapped his arms around Melanie, his new bride. Somewhere in Yemen, maybe some Allah-praising farmer with a second goat. But certainly not in all of San Francisco.
The couple looked out from the living room of the Grand Hyatt's Mandarin Suite. They could see the lights of Berkeley off in the distance, Alcatraz, the graceful outline of the lit-up Golden Gate Bridge.
"It's incredible." Melanie beamed. "I wouldn't change a single thing about today."
"Me neither," he whispered. "Well, maybe I wouldn't have invited my parents." They both laughed.
Only moments before, they had bid farewell to the last of the three hundred guests in the hotel's ballroom. The wedding was finally over. The toasts, the dancing, the schmoozing, the photographed kisses over the cake. Now it was just the two of them. They were twenty-nine years old and had the rest of their lives ahead of them.
Copyright © 2001 by James Patterson.
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