"Rosenfelt knocks it out of the park with this fiendishly twisty serial killer thriller." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
The next exciting installment in bestselling David Rosenfelt's Doug Brock series.
Doug Brock hasn't had it easy since his getting shot in the line of duty as a New Jersey state police officer. Between the amnesia and having to solve two murder cases, it hasn't been the most restful recovery. He’s slowly earning back the trust of his girlfriend Jessie, since he doesn’t remember their breakup, and has focused on new crimes with his partner, Nate.
But now an old case of Doug’s has resurfaced, and it’s up to Doug to retrace his steps – steps he can’t remember – to solve the case. Eighteen months ago, Walter Brookings was shot through the heart. With no clear motive and no similar murders, the investigation stalled and became a cold case.
When another man is murdered in the same fashion and the ballistics come back as a match, Doug begins to reinvestigate, and starts to question his own actions from the previous investigation.
Finally, what Doug uncovers may be more dangerous than any case he’s faced yet.
About the Author
DAVID ROSENFELT is the Edgar and Shamus Award-nominated author of several stand-alones and sixteen previous Andy Carpenter novels, including Collared. He and his wife live in Maine with the twenty-seven golden retrievers that they've rescued.
Read an Excerpt
I feel like a jerk.
It's been happening quite often lately; it seems to go with my relatively new territory. It bothered me a lot at first, but I've started to get used to it. I might as well, because there's no way around it.
First, a little background. My name is Doug Brock. I'm a cop, a lieutenant in the homicide division of the New Jersey State Police. A while back I was shot and suffered a head injury that left me with retrograde amnesia.
I made it back to work, and it is understating the case to say that I got revenge on the guy who shot me. Whereas I lost the last ten years of my life, at least in terms of my memory, he lost the rest of his life. I guess since I lost the past and he lost the future, you could say I won, but it's close.
I've actually made some progress ... recovered some memories. I would estimate maybe half, although since I don't know what I don't know, it's hard to be sure.
That's the good news. The bad news is that I stopped retrieving lost memories about six months ago, and my neurologist tells me that I'm probably finished. You can't jog memories that aren't there, and for me, many of them have left the building. I'm trying not to be bitter about it, with intermittent success.
Creating new memories is not a problem, fortunately. Of course, the downside is that this means I can remember the fact that there is much I can't remember. I am living the song lyric, "Like the circles that you find, in the windmills of your mind."
So the annoyances can be major, like when I learn that I've forgotten some significant event in my life. Or they can be minor, like a few minutes ago, when my memory loss made me feel like a jerk.
My girlfriend, Jessie Allen, or my almost-fiancée, Jessie Allen, depending on her mood, asked me to pick up some stuff for dinner at the supermarket. So that's where I am right now, standing about halfway down a long aisle, looking for flavored water.
Jessie's preferred flavor is blueberry, although I have confirmed by conducting my own personal tests that they all taste the same. Yet despite this, people swear by their own favorites. In this they are much like M&M's; on some level I recognize that the different colors are indistinguishable by taste, yet I am devoted to the blue ones.
But regarding the water — I, as a cop, am suspicious of the entire thing. The label says that there are no calories, fat, sodium, protein, or anything; then what the hell are they adding to the water to give it the taste?
About thirty seconds ago a woman turned the corner into the aisle, pushing a cart. She brightened when she looked my way and said, "Doug! Hi! It's been so long!"
She was probably in her late twenties, wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants, probably stopping off on the way to the gym. Her next stop was likely going to be the produce aisle to buy vegetables to help maintain the clearly excellent body those gym stops had produced. Her idea of a decadent dessert is probably dipping actual blueberries in fake blueberry water.
But all in all, definitely a woman I could have known in my now partially erased past.
Since I didn't remember her, I went into my fake-recognition routine. It's one I have gotten quite proficient at. "Hi! Boy it sure has been a long time, but it's great to see you. How's everything?"
"What?" she asked, somehow not understanding what the hell I was talking about. Then the realization hit me, and I turned around to see another guy behind me, waving to the woman and simultaneously looking at me like I'm nuts.
I am nuts, but I'm also a cop, so I could have come up with a pretense to ask for his ID, but I'd pretty much bet anything that his name is also Doug. When I looked back, the woman was looking at me just as strangely.
My only effective way to minimize the embarrassment of the situation would have been to shoot them both, but that seemed like literal overkill, so instead I just wheeled my cart out of the aisle in humiliation and let T-shirt lady and Doug reminisce without me.
As I head toward the checkout lane without the flavored water, I am surprised to see my partner, Nate Alvarez, standing there. I can only assume that Jessie told him I was here; otherwise he is doing a really bad job of secret surveillance.
Nate is six seven, two hundred and eighty pounds. He is constantly on a diet, and those diets are constantly failing. "Chocolate covered cherries are in aisle three," I say.
He frowns. "Wiseass. Let's go."
"Let's go where?"
"Today is our day off. ... I'm going to barbecue."
"What are you making? Tofu burgers? Wheat germ steaks?" Nate is a bit disdainful of Jessie's attempts, with occasional success, to get me to eat healthier.
He frowns again, as if the very concept of salmon is distasteful. "I'm not surprised. Let's go."
"I'll tell you on the way. We'll take my car and get yours later."
"Where are we going?" I ask when we're in the car.
"Eastside Park in Paterson. There's a dead body waiting for us."
"Who is it?"
He shrugs. "I don't know yet. White male, forties; the son of a bitch apparently doesn't care that you were having a barbecue party today. By the way, why didn't you invite me?"
"First of all, it isn't a party. Just Jessie and me. And besides, the last time we had you over for dinner you blew a huge hole in our food budget. You even ate three of the plates. We had to eat porridge from a bowl for six months."
"What the hell is porridge, anyway? Like a soup?" Nate asks.
"Nothing like a soup. But you'd like it; just put chocolate syrup on it. Why are we getting this call on our day off?"
"By any chance does the name Walter Brookings mean anything to you?" I hate these kind of questions, because I really hate not being able to remember things. Based on the way Nate asked the question, I have a feeling this is a name I'm supposed to recall. It sounds vaguely familiar, but I'm reaching for the memory and coming up with nothing.
Rather than going into the routine where I pretend to remember and hope to figure it out in the conversation, I say, "No. Not at the moment."
Nate frowns. "Wow. I never would have guessed it."
"Who is he?"
"Who was he is the better question."
"Fine. So who was he?"
We're pulling into Eastside Park, and there are a bunch of cop cars near the tennis courts. A media truck has arrived already; I have no doubt there will be others soon. Murder scenes give off a scent that attracts them.
There is a common look and feel to situations like this; I've seen a lot of them. There's always a great deal of action and energy, everybody is always moving, except the victim.
Nate parks nearby and says, "I'll tell you about Brookings later. If we're lucky it won't even matter."
We get out and I notice that the scene is being managed by the Paterson cops. The head of their homicide division, Captain Pete Stanton, is running the show, and Paterson forensics is on the case. That's all fine with me; I know Stanton and like him, and he's a thoroughly competent cop. I've never had any issues with their forensics people either.
Of course, since the body has been found in a Paterson park, next to a Paterson tennis court, it's no surprise that they're here. What puzzles me is why we're here, but I guess I'll find that out later, when I learn about Walter Brookings.
Pete must be wondering the same thing because he comes over as soon as he sees us. "What the hell are you two doing here? You don't have jurisdiction, and you're not really dressed for tennis." Then he looks at Nate's body and says, "You're not really built for it either."
"We're just making sure you guys don't screw up," Nate says. "That's a full-time job in itself."
"You think this is tied into Brookings?"
"We wait for you local guys to tell us what to think," Nate says, and then points to me. "Memory Boy here doesn't even remember Brookings."
Pete says to me, "Do you remember that your fat partner is an asshole?"
I nod. "That's a new memory I form every day."
"So is it tied to Brookings or not?" Nate asks.
"Beats the shit out of me, but there are similarities," Pete says. "High-powered rifle, one shot in the heart from distance. Too soon to know much more, but it wouldn't surprise me."
As he says, "from distance," he points to a wooded area about a hundred yards away. It's a difficult shot from there, but not impossible.
"The Brookings shot was a lot tougher," Nate says. "But it certainly seems similar."
"If it's the same guy, he's been quiet for a long time. But it's also too long for a copycat."
Based on all of this, my easy assumption is that this Brookings guy was shot in a similar fashion to this victim. We probably investigated that case, and the possible connection is the reason we're here for what should be a local case. But Brookings apparently was shot a fairly long time ago.
It would be nice if I didn't have to analyze clues to piece together my own damn life.
We head over to get a look at the body, a perk reserved for us lucky few. Pete walks with us and on the way says that the victim is Alex Randowsky. At this point all they have to go on is his driver's license and some credit cards, although his tennis partner is being interviewed, which will obviously reveal much more.
Within an hour they will have a treasure trove of information on Alex Randowsky, but the most important fact is that he is lying on the Eastside Park grass with a bullet in his chest.
For now, based on the fact that he was carrying an American Express Platinum Card, we know he probably had money. The driver's license provides the data to be used in locating next of kin, and also indicates that he was an organ donor.
One of the organs he definitely won't be donating is his heart, because a bullet has gone directly through it. No matter where the murderer stood, it is clear that he is a very good shot.
Randowsky is wearing tennis clothes and there is a racquet lying next to the body. Since he's come to rest about ten feet from the court, it's a pretty good bet he was there to play tennis. Another pretty good bet is that his tennis career is over.
"Who was he playing with?" I ask.
Pete just points toward a group of people on the other side of the court, where police are questioning another guy of similar age, also in tennis clothes.
Once Pete agrees to forward us all relevant forensic information and witness statements, Nate and I have nothing else to do here, so we leave. Nate is going to drive me back to my car, but first he calls in to our immediate boss, Captain Bradley, to update him on the little we learned. If Bradley is involved at this point, this is high priority.
Nate tells him the basics, and then Bradley must ask about Brookings, because Nate says, "No way to tell yet; maybe ballistics will help. It's been a while since Brookings, but if it's a different perp, then there's two damn good shooters out there."
Another pause, after which Nate answers, "He doesn't remember Brookings." A beat, and then, "Tell me about it."
Nate hangs up, so it's my turn to say, "Now you tell me about it."
"Brookings was a Boy Scout," Nate says.
"Pure as the driven snow?" I ask, since "Boy Scout" is a term we use for such people.
"No, I mean literally a Boy Scout. In his spare time he was a troop leader, or captain, or whatever the hell they're called. Guy lived in a fancy house, but he went into the woods and slept in a tent and roasted marshmallows. Stuff like that never makes sense to me, except for the marshmallow part."
"I assume that's not why he was killed."
Nate shakes his head. "I doubt it, but we never did come up with a reason or a decent suspect. When he wasn't telling campfire stories to ten-year-olds, he owned a carton factory in Totowa. It's still there; probably employs two hundred people."
"Very, and he wasn't shy about giving it away. Ate a lot of chicken at a lot of charity dinners. Definitely in the model-citizen category. I'd want my son to be like him, if he wasn't dead. And if I had a son."
"First you might want to get a date. But Brookings was shot?" I ask. "One bullet through the heart?"
He nods. "Right. Leaving one of those dinners, as a matter of fact. It was at the Brownstone."
"What's the Brownstone?"
Nate gives me that annoyed look that tells me I should know this. It's been a while since he's been sensitive to my feelings about my memory loss. Sensitivity isn't Nate's strong point; actually, I'm not that big on it either.
"It's a place downtown that does weddings, dinners, that kind of stuff."
"Have I ever been there?" I ask, and then regret it immediately.
"What am I, your diary? But you probably haven't; it's a classy place. Anyway, he was shot coming out of there after a dinner. We figured out where the shot came from; it was about three hundred yards in the dark. Not exactly a drive-by, you know?"
"When was this?"
"Maybe eighteen months ago — or less. I'd have to check."
"No wonder," I say, but I don't elaborate, because I don't have to. Nate knows what I mean. Eighteen months would place it about four months before I was shot and lost most of ten years of my life. The most recent memories are the ones I have most consistently lost, so I'm not surprised that this is one of them.
He continues. "Anyway, you and I drew the case, but basically the whole unit was on it. There was no obvious reason that anyone would kill Brookings. He didn't seem to have an enemy in the world, so everybody was afraid it was going to start a bunch of random killings. Like that sniper case in DC."
I have no idea what sniper case in DC he might be talking about, but there's no upside in my asking. "But it was a one-off? No more shootings?"
He nods. "Right. So after a while, it died down. We had a few suspects, but none we ever considered good enough."
"What was the weapon?"
"M4. I can tell you this; if ballistics matches this to Brookings, the shit is going to hit the fan."
I nod. "Tune in tomorrow."
Nate drops me back at the supermarket, and I go in to buy the stuff I left in the cart before. At least this time I won't have to see the woman who knows the other Doug. But I might run into somebody else I should know; the supermarket is a scary place.
Jessie is home when I get there. We are living together, which in itself is a minor miracle. It would be fair to say that our relationship has developed in a rather unusual manner. We dated and got engaged, which was a good start. Then I went through a difficult emotional time because someone I cared about was killed. I blamed myself and pushed everyone away — especially Jessie.
To put it in her terms, I dumped her.
Then I lost my memory, and since she is a cop stationed in the same precinct as me, I met her again, as if for the first time. I had no recollection of our previous time together, but she definitely did. She remembered every excruciating detail.
I fell for her again, probably because she's beautiful and smart and funny. Unfortunately, she still hated me for having hurt her. I worked hard to overcome that, but it has taken her an understandably long time to regain her trust in me. When she looks into the future, she has difficulty not seeing the past.
Jessie usually takes small steps toward letting me earn back that trust, but allowing me to move back in with her was a huge one. The fact that she insisted I keep my apartment, just in case, was a condition I was happy to live with. In fact, I'm happy to live with any conditions she sets, because I'm happy to live with her.
Speaking of living with, we share the house with her dog, Bobo. Bobo is black, very hairy, and enormous. I think he's a Newfoundland/tractor-trailer mix. More significantly, he doesn't like me.
I've never done anything to him that could come close to justifying that attitude. I often feed him and take him for walks, though the truth is it would be easier to use a saddle than a leash. I always make it a point to smile when I'm around him, although it's always an uneasy smile.
But he barely tolerates me; he makes that clear. And he often physically gets between Jessie and me, which is not a good thing. I understand he's being protective of her, and he takes that assignment very seriously. At least Bobo hasn't hurt me, and he hasn't eaten me, so all is not yet lost.
It's late already, so we decide to freeze the barbecue stuff and order in a pizza. If there is one truth I have learned, and more importantly never forgotten, it's that it is never a bad idea to order in a pizza.
While we're waiting for it to arrive, Jessie pours herself a glass of wine, hands me a beer, and asks, "Is it tied in to Brookings?"
"Don't know yet. So you remember Brookings?" I ask. "Were you on the case?" Jessie is now head of the computer division at the precinct, but she used to be on the street. That's where she would still rather be, but she has been a victim of her technology expertise. In the new world, being in charge of cyber-stuff pretty much makes her the lead detective in the unit, but she doesn't see it that way.
"Yes. It was all hands on deck; the pressure was on. You don't remember it?"
"No; it happened in my dark period. But Nate has been updating me, between insults."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Black and Blue"
Copyright © 2019 Tara Productions, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Also By David Rosenfelt,
About the Author,