One of the best parts of early spring walks, besides the warmer weather, is discovering wildflowers nestled amid some tall grass. I hope nobody mows this empty lot while these beauties are still blooming.
The days are quickly winding down to April 10th and the release of Brutal Season. As I mentioned last week I’ve been rewriting the book description over and over trying to tweak it just the right way to make it appeal to potential readers. I think I am finally really close to what I will use, and I’d love for some feedback if you care to offer some.
Eighteen-year-old Jamel Frederickson is shot and killed by a white, rookie Dallas police officer. His crime? Being black and mentally ill.
Detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson are thrust into the investigation of two subsequent murders, while desperately clinging to the threads of their partnership that is threatening to unravel like a cheap sweater.
Are the alt-right white supremacists that invaded the city with their guns and inflammatory rhetoric responsible?
Or is there more than one person out there with an agenda?
Will more people get killed?
Angel and Sarah risk their own lives to make sure that doesn’t happen.
If you have not already pre-ordered your copy of Brutal Season at the current discount, I hope you’ll do so before release date when the price will increase. Who doesn’t like a bargain?
Now here’s another excerpt for you to enjoy:
This is still part of Chapter four when Sarah and Burt are at the scene of the first murder.
Sarah took a step closer to the downed man. “Any ID?”
“Waiting for Walt to pronounce before moving the body to look. And the few folks around who’d talk to a cop didn’t know him.”
The crowd started to thin even more as a black SUV came slowly down the street. Sarah recognized Walt’s private car. Considering the hour, she wasn’t surprised that he’d come from home.
Walt pulled as close to the scene as he could, scattering a few of the people who’d stayed to watch. He got out and walked briskly over, donning a medical mask on the way. “What do you have?”
Sarah also wasn’t surprised at the lack of pleasantries. Walt wasn’t into all that anyway, and in the middle of the night? Well. She wasn’t either. “Male victim. Guessing about forty years old. But you’ll be able to tell us more about the vic after the post. Won’t you, Walt.” The last was delivered as a statement.
He chuckled. “Of course. You’re learning.”
She smiled, hoping he could see it in her eyes above her mask. How often had he told her to let him do his job before asking a bunch of questions he couldn’t answer on the spot?
He leaned close to the body. “At least it isn’t a kid this time.”
Sarah nodded. “We take the small consolations when we can get them.” Then she moved away to let Walt do his preliminary exam, walking over to Burt.
“You have a chance to talk to any of the bystanders?”
Burt shook his head. “Too busy trying to keep the people from trampling me and the vic. But I think the Uniforms got a couple of statements.”
Walt stood and approached, holding out a wallet and a cell phone. “Found these in his trouser pockets. I’ve called my prelim in to make it official. Guy’s dead. Like you didn’t already know that. My team should be here any minute for transport.”
Sarah nodded. “Thanks, Walt.”
He walked over to talk to the two uniformed officers who were still securing the scene, and then gave a little wave before returning to his car to wait for his team. Normally he’d stay there with the rest of them, but she couldn’t blame him for seeking the security of a vehicle. Even though the crowd had thinned, there was tension in the air along with the noxious fumes, and the social distancing protocols were still in place because of the pandemic. Not that they could always stay six feet apart, but they did the best they could to keep each other safe.
Sarah turned her attention to Burt who was looking through the wallet. “Guy’s name is Fred Cummings,” he said. “And you were close with the age. Forty-two.”
“Okay. I’m going to check in with the Uniforms,” Sarah said. “Back in a minute.”
Burt nodded, still digging through the wallet.
Sarah didn’t recognize either of the cops in uniform, and they both gave her a chilly nod. Not a huge surprise since one of their ranks had been suspended without pay pending the outcome of an investigation into the death of an unarmed Black man. All the men and women in blue remembered that Sarah had not lost her pay when she’d been involved in the shooting a few years ago that left a Black kid dead. She didn’t blame the officers. No cop likes to be called before IA, or the Review Board, or lose their job because of the use of deadly force against anyone, let alone a person of color. But the case against Officer Smithfield wasn’t as clear-cut as the case against her had been.
The kid she’d shot had a gun.
The boy Smithfield had shot had a cooking utensil.
“Got anything for me?” Sarah directed the question at both of the officers.
The response was slow to come, but finally the younger one, who had a nametag identifying him as Officer Jackson, lifted his gas mask and spoke. “It was pretty hectic. Only a couple of people were willing to talk.”
“Anyone see the shooter?”
He shook his head. “One guy said he saw the vic go down. Thought he’d just stumbled and was going to help him get up. Then he saw the blood and the hole in the back of the guy’s shirt.”
“Did he know the vic?”
Another shake of his head. “Figured the guy was alone, though. Didn’t see anyone else react.”
Sarah took a quick glance around. “Is the witness still here?”
“Said he didn’t want to hang around. Was afraid of the mood of the crowd.” Jackson pulled out a cell phone. “I got his contact info. For follow-up.”
Slipping her phone out of the back pocket of her jeans, Sarah copied the information into her contacts as he read it off. “Thanks. Anything else?”
The one-word response was delivered in a neutral tone, so Sarah merely nodded and turned to walk back to Burt. She told him what Jackson had said, then asked, “Did you get anything from onlookers?”
“Pretty much the same thing as the Uniforms got. But I checked our vic’s name and address while you were over there.” Burt waved toward where the two officers were still standing. “You’ll never guess who he was married to.”
Sarah gave him a look. “Really? A guessing game in the middle of the night, Burt?”
He smiled. “You’re right. Not a good time. Our dead guy’s wife is the attorney representing the officer who shot that kid a few weeks ago.”
“Wonder if the wife knew he was out here at the protest?”
“Good question. Should we go find out?”
Sarah knew that was a rhetorical question. Middle of the night or not, they had to make notification. And it would be interesting to get her reaction to where her husband had been tonight.
“Want me to drive?” Burt asked.
She shook her head. “We’re better off in our own cars. Then we can both head straight home afterward. Maybe get an hour or so of shut-eye before our day starts.”
“I’ll let Walt know we’re leaving.”
“Okay.” Sarah glanced over to make sure the uniformed officers were keeping the scene secure, then turned to walk to her car. On the way, she debated the best route to take to the address in Highland Park, thankful that the street was deserted here away from the crime scene.
She rounded a corner and had to step quickly aside to avoid running into someone. Looking closer, she stopped short. “Angel?”
That’s all from me for today, folks. Whatever you have planned for the weekend, I hope it is filled with good times. Be safe. Be happy.