Death By Darwin Release is coming soon!

 

Version 2

Luke Lee and I are working on the final layout of the novel and the cover for my next novel, “Death By Darwin”. For those interested in this upcoming novel, here is an excerpt from the book. Jonathan Steel has been retained by an attorney, Ruth Martinez, to help defend an innocent man convicted of killing his boss. In this scene Steel has met with Detective Lunella Jones and is being escorted to the Evidence lockup.

She fell silent and tapped the desk with her fingernails. “Well, Mr. Jonathan Steel, let’s get you to the evidence room.” Jones led me through the hallways of the police station to a remote room. A window covered with thick wire separated me from a large room filled with shelves. Jones spoke with the man behind the wire and then motioned me forward. His name tag read, “Juan Destillo, F.B. I. Crime Technician.”

“Juan is on loan from the feds. He’ll give you thirty minutes, Mr. Steel. See you later.” She walked away and Juan studied me like I was some insect trapped in amber. He was a slight man with unruly, dark hair and eyes that glowed with the menial power he had been given.

“Identification.” He extended his hand through the slot at the bottom of the cage window.

I pulled out my wallet and handed me driver’s license. For a moment, I studied the photograph of the strange man staring back at me from my own license. Jonathan Steel. Turquoise eyes. Lean face. Short, reddish blonde hair. Who was I? I was staring at a photograph of myself but also at a stranger. Juan handed the driver’s license back to me after scanning it into his computer. “License?”

“I just gave it to you.”

“P.I. License.” He said tersely. My face warmed with anger and I tried my best to suppress it. Not always successful there. Now was not a good time to throw a temper tantrum in a police office. I handed him my P.I. License. He scanned it in and handed it back. “What is someone from the F.B.I. doing in a Dallas Police Department evidence lock up?”

He glared at me. “Empty your pockets.”

I grit my teeth. I placed my keys and cell phone in a bowl along with the notepad and pen. “What did you do?”

“Got a gun?” He ignored my question.

“No.” I said quietly.

Juan glanced at me and frowned. “A P.I. without a gun? You’re either very, very good or very, very stupid.”

I looked away. I was back in the gun club shooting range. My hands were clasped around the pistol. The target had six neatly placed holes in the forehead. I was an expert marksman. I remembered dropping the gun as if it were a poisonous snake. Who had I shot in the past? Couldn’t remember. “I don’t own a gun.”

“What did you say?”

I glared at him and said a bit too loudly. “I don’t own a gun!”

Juan stiffened and a shield of suspicion arose between us. “That necklace. Gotta go.” He pointed at my neck.

I swallowed and slowly took the necklace from around my neck. The tiny gold cross glittered in the fluorescent light and spun slowly on the chain. Stop them! Don’t let them win! I closed my eyes and tried to chase the image of her dying eyes from my memory. The necklace had been a gift from me. Now, it was a reminder of sorrow and regret. I placed the necklace carefully in the bowl.

“Girlfriend?” He sneered.

If the cage hadn’t been between us I would have broken his nose. “She’s dead.”

“Sorry.” He put the bowl aside and nodded at me as if acknowledging my grief. I hated it. “Sexual harassment. That’s why I’m here. Made a pass at the wrong agent.” He motioned to the door to the evidence room and pushed a button unlocking it.

I pushed through the door into the room. Juan stood behind a counter and handed me the pen and notepad. “You can get the rest when you leave. Row 12, section 7, bottom shelf. Boxes labeled Darwyn. With a ‘y’.”

I took the pen and notepad and began searching for the boxes. There were two boxes labeled Darwyn. I brought both boxes back to Juan’s counter. He pointed to a table next to the counter. “You can examine the contents at that table. Do not open any evidence envelopes. Do not take any pictures. You have thirty minutes.”

I wanted to point out he still had my cell phone so of course I couldn’t take pictures, but my anger was only now becoming manageable. I sat down at the table and opened the first box. The top item in the pile of evidence was the claw sealed in a plastic evidence bag. It was painted a dappled brown and was stained with old blood. Darwyn’s blood.

I picked it up. The thing weighed five pounds easily and the curved shape was over six inches in total length. I tried to imagine how I would handle such a claw as a weapon. I could grip the base like the handle of a scimitar but trying that made me realize how unwieldy it would be. Too much forward weight. I played around with various grips and found if I grabbed the base of the claw in my palm and allowed the hook to protrude between my index finger and middle finger and over the back of my hand, I could use it in a back hand swing. I tried it, swinging my arm from side to side. Still, the claw was very heavy. It would take considerable force to drive the claw into a man’s chest. Could Miller have done this? Maybe. If a man was angry enough, he was capable of anything. I should know.

I sifted through the remainder of the evidence. Blood swabs, photographs, Dr. Darwyn’s blood stained lab coat. His ID was still clipped to the pocket. I studied the man’s photograph on the ID. Regal features under gray hair. His chin seemed to be raised in a haughty attitude. He thought highly of himself. Maybe I was over reacting.

In the bottom of the second box, I found the camera. The evidence label said it belonged to Dr. Styles. Photos of the fight at the party perhaps? Definitely incriminating evidence. And beneath the camera was Darwyn’s cell phone. The screen was cracked and coated with clotted blood. Had he tried to call 911? Had someone called him to warn him of his imminent death? I had to get those phone records.

“Time’s up.” Juan said. “You can leave the box there. I’ll have to inventory the contents to make sure you didn’t take anything.”

I placed the items back in the box. “You were watching me the whole time.”

“Yes, I was.” He said. “There’s a portfolio on Jones’ desk with photos of the evidence and copies of everything we’ve gathered so far. That’s all you get from us, partner.”

Partner? Oh, yeah. I was in Texas. “Can I have my stuff?”

Juan pushed the bowl toward me. I scooped up my stuff and headed out of the evidence room. Detective Nella Jones was seated at her desk. I plopped down in the chair in front of her desk. She looked up from her laptop.

“I thought we were done.”

“Folder for me?”

“Oh, yeah.” She opened a desk drawer and rummaged inside. “It’s here somewhere. Found it!” She slid a small folder across the desk. “Sign the release on the top that you picked this up for the defense.”

“This is all we get?”

“Honey, I let you handle the evidence. You need to see it again, bypass me and go straight to Juan.”

I took the folder and drew a calming breath. “Dr. Darwyn had a cellphone. Can we get the phone records?”

“You’ll have to talk to the carrier for that.” She said coolly.

“Don’t you have them?”

“I might.”

“Will the carrier give us the records?”

“If you subpoena them. Ask your attorney, honey. You’re new at this, aren’t you?” She leaned forward and rested her hands on the desk.

“Sort of. Thanks.”

“Did Juan make you angry?” She asked.

I felt my cheeks grow warm. “How can you tell?”

“Your fists are clenched. And, I can hear your teeth grinding from across the room. You know, he has that effect on people. Sometimes I wonder about him.” She went back to her laptop. “See you later.”

I waited for the “partner”. It never came. I tried to relax my fists and marched out of the building. Get a grip! Don’t lose it at a police station. The last thing I needed was to land in jail. Again!

 

So, stay in touch and as soon as “Death By Darwin” hits the real and the virtual bookshelves, I’ll let you know!

About Bruce Hennigan

Published novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.

Posted on November 23, 2016, in Breaking News, Speculative Fiction, Steel Chronicles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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