Diagram of Death A Detective Harper Stowe Mystery is a quick read. But, at 200 pages less than The Lost Lantern, my epic, 500-page second novel, it was not a quick write. If you cared to deduce on Amazon, nearly a complete 48 months – four trips around the sun – went by in this process.
I must admit, part of the delay was because of the subject matter. My villain is a sexual serial killer. As a fairly well-adjusted husband and father of two, at the time, nearly-grown daughters (and one son), I often had to set the project aside, take a break from the images, question my motivation. You see, to attempt to make the novel unique, every fourth chapter or so, I wrote first-person insights from the mind of the killer. Here’s Chapter 1:
My experience has taught me that the most important first strike of the abduction – since a scream in a residential area is so out of order — is to silence the victim. I don’t want to bloody my new partner, nor do I want her groggy or asleep. I want her wide awake. I want her eyes screaming. She owes me that.
And, I have big hands. The Admiral always mentioned it. My “big mitts,” he’d say. They’re so large, in fact, I can secure two strips of duct tape in my palm with just a quarter inch of overlap, turned under and taped to the heel of my hand and to my fingertips. The second piece affords me a little extra coverage in case I’m slightly off. It’s not always easy, depending on my approach. Covering the mouth of an unwilling female isn’t like slapping a butt. If I have to peel a little back off her nostrils, it’s okay. I want her breathing to the end. Once I have her quiet, she’s mine. The physical domination has never been a problem. When they see the gleam of the hunting knife I pull, their eyes begin to beg. That’s when the thrashing stops. That’s when she realizes the stakes. I can cut away the necessary clothing without so much as a nick to her skin. That part gets me going. I find it so erotic I can hardly breathe.
Choosing my next victim isn’t difficult either. Not around here. If they’re running the trails or walking the beach alone, chances are their neglectful old man is playing golf, maybe deep-sea
fishing, or possibly still back at the ranch busting it to pay for their beach house. Not always. Sometimes you follow one back to find a home full of fellow-travelers, with ten screaming kids in a twelve-foot pool, her walk but a brief reprieve. No matter. This place is a delicatessen. A smorgasbord of delectable treats. I can stand at my kitchen sink and through my windows watch them run, walk, or ride by from dawn till dusk. I can sit on the beach and they’ll approach me and ask what book I’m reading. If I’m walking Dexter, my lab, they’re putty in my hands. I have that wholesome, trusting look about me. One stopped me at my garage and asked if I could please put air in her bike tires. Twenty-five minutes later, she was gone. I can’t remember a feature of her face, but I can still taste the salt on her skin. But that was before, when we still rented our house to tourists through summers.
I’ll admit in the beginning I wasn’t perfect. Along the way I recognized the need for some tricks. I learned to muddy the water, leave false clues. Part of a shoe string from a work boot – this place is deluged with laborers daily — a hair sample I’d pick up from my barber’s floor, a receipt from some touristy spot I’d find somewhere, from a golf cart or a restaurant barstool. But the true genius of it all was the dumbest luck. I hadn’t even considered it. My first here was discovered on a Saturday morning. Saturday around here is getaway day. To police detectives, that meant ten thousand suspects just crossed over the Wilton Graves Memorial Bridge from the William Hilton Parkway, back to mainland, USA. And that, my friend, is a hopeless feeling.
Effective, I believe, in a creepy sort of way. I hope you’ll give it a try, or please tell a reader about it.