Cover image for Cold edge
Cold edge
Walker, Robert W.
Personal Author:
Jove edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Jove Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
326 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


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X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Now, the "masterful" (Clive Cussler) author of Blind Instinct and Cutting Edgeplunges readers further into the dark abyss of the criminal mind as a sweltering city reels under the icy slash of a killer too clever to get caught, and too insatiable to stop...In the dark corners of Houston's urban nightworld, Detective Lucas Stonecoat and police psychiatrist Meredyth Sanger have come across another prostitute mutilated by the Scalper-a killer who has turned a primitive act of barbarism into a grisly, modern-day ritual. The crimes have cut deep into Stonecoat's heart and soul. He understands their infamous place in history.But even Stonecoat can't fathom how far this elusive savage will goto fulfill an ancient tribal instinct...

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Overworked police detective Lucas Stonecoat finds himself juggling two gruesome murder investigations, an old flame and a tempting new co-worker in Walker's latest mystery (following Blind Instinct). The Houston police department endures a lot of bad press when two women are found scalped, with their hands chopped off and Native American pictographs carved into their flesh. Lucas's prejudiced superiors, assuming that he is an expert on scalping because of his American Indian heritage, assign him to the case along with forensic psychiatrist Meredyth Sanger. The quarrelsome duo question a pompous and uncooperative psychiatrist who treats recently released felons and team up with two rather stereotypically portrayed detectives from a different precinct. In the midst of the investigation, Lucas is distracted by his grandfather's serious illness, the marital strife of his first love and another case involving a beheading. Walker's stilted dialogue and typecast supporting characters do nothing to enhance the romance brewing between Lucas and Meredyth, but diehard mystery readers who can stomach the meticulously depicted, grisly crime scenes will appreciate the narrative's momentum and procedural details. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Prologue Medicine man's eye: wise, vigilant Office of Psychotherapist Dr. Thomas W. Morrissey Houston, Texas June 11, 2001 "Infaction, infactuation even, disin-crimination, drossentric, double-may-care, evolunacy, ignormality, grossonomics, micronausea ..."     Sometimes the words pouring forth from the doctor sounded and resounded as a torrent of meaningless, mindless misinformation and drivel. The doctor of psychiatry said that he had written and published an entire book around the word evolunacy --discussing the evolving madness and lunacy in society; how it ebbs and flows throughout recorded history; how, like a pendulum, it continually proves that history repeats itself. The doctor's premise persuaded that mankind, like basic human personality, took one fixed and determined path, and as with each individual, whole nations and entire races had at birth a set of bedrock character traits that never really changed. The world, according to the doctor, was formed of a basic human-bestial foundation, at the cornerstone of which existed evil; and that trait, like the primitive brain, while wrapped in the gossamer of civilization, remained firmly rooted at the core of the human psyche.      The doctor had surmised that the true character of an individual or a nation--whether violent or inoffensive--never changed, despite outward appearances of change. Unable to keep it to himself, his revelation-summation had to be shared. The doctor shared as often as occasion allowed. He shared it with his patients in both private session and in group therapy--a thing he insisted upon for all his patients--waving a hardcover book with his likeness on the back like a victory flag.      This patient remained always filled with a murderous rage, a rage he could not rid himself of; it lived inside his brain and became his shadow--a powerful shadow. He fed on the bitterness, hatred, mindless fury. The patient knew the truth as well as the doctor. That proved Morrissey's message. The good doctor spoke of the medium as the message, the MO as the message. A bona fide serial killer, unable to help himself, obsessed to the point of repeatedly using the same medium, i.e., setting, victim, weapon, ritual, etc., for murder, set himself up for the fall and capture; and did so in a semiconscious state, desiring to be caught and punished. Like a bad boy who has done evil, a part of the culprit courts punishment for in the punishment comes affirmation, pride even, that others know what he has accomplished: evil to the tenth degree.      The patient hated the doctor, who represented one of them, even though Morrissey, more readily than anyone the patient had ever met, understood the killing need of the sociopathic personality. Still, Morrissey remained one of them--those who not only stood outside him but also against him--that army of other men marshaled against him. Men who stood for something, the so-called normal ones; men whose needs did not include the craving to kill in order to feel; men who were the opposite of the socio- pathic creature shunned by all of society. Meanwhile, the sociopath, according to Dr. Morrissey, stood outside the grand, neon-lit world of "normal" society. The sociopath was forever looking in like the monster Grendel in Beowulf      Suddenly, as often happened, the doctor started shouting at the patient, telling him that he had no idea of the possibilities to come from opening up to the greater human spirit; and since the patient could not see, feel, taste, smell or otherwise hear the bell that Dr. Thomas W. Morrissey rang, then he should go now.      "Come back when your mind is opened to your own salvation through self-discovery. To thine own self be true, my friend. Examine your true nature, and you will be first aghast and terrified, but you will deal with that. Move on, become whole. But you cannot heal a wound you do not see."      Fuck you and everyone in the system, the patient wanted to shout, but the last time he swore at the huge, hulking Dr. Morrissey, the man had literally thrown him bodily from the office. Once again the patient was ordered away in a fit of impatience. "Out, out! Go back to your halfway hovel, you halfway man, afraid to take a step across that halfway line. I despise cowardice, mister!" "I'm not a coward!" protested the patient.     Dr. Morrissey rose like a giant over the smaller man. "The hell you aren't!"     A long pause while the patient fingered the knife hidden within his coat, his thoughts turning to murder.     Morrissey let out an exasperated sigh, fell back into his chair and raised a dismissing hand and said, "Return in two days at your appointed time, but only if you have opened your eyes to your true nature, the inner self. Ugly as it may be."     "But the conditions of my parole say I gotta be here twice a week, Doc."     "Out, damn you. To hell with the conditions of your fucking parole. You're my patient now, not the state's. Your rehabilitation or lack of rehab is no longer their problem. It's mine. Your success or failure reflects back on me, son. So, now you damn well better just do as I tell you."     Morrissey, a big and intimidating man on the order of Thor and Zeus combined, bolted from his chair and chased the patient out the door, sweating after him. "Learn to do what the fuck I say, and you might, you just might save your body and soul in the bargain, and at the very least stay out of the pen!"     The doctor--holding tight to his most recently published book, the photo on the back showing all his teeth in a broad smile--slammed the door in the patient's bewildered face. Chapter One Ceremonial dance area The scene of the crime proved brutally stark. The victim was a young woman named Marlee Balou, a known prostitute who worked the big hotels downtown. The victim lay minus her hands and scalp. Worse yet, the killer had actually scalped her while she remained alive according to the M.E., Dr. Leonard Chang, who could surmise this at a glance--something to do with the coloration of the wounded area, blood rising to meet the knife. Lucas knew that Dr. "Everready" Chang--as police referred to him, due to his tireless energy--would have to do his magic first, to be certain. Still, since Marlee was the second victim found in this circumstance--the other being a slightly older, homebound matronly thirty-five-year-old named Rae Chenoweth, who had lived on disability checks in another part of the city--Lucas guessed that Chang's confidence in his conjecture would likely prove true. Dangerous as assumptions might be, educated guesswork at a crime scene proved startlingly accurate among the well versed and experienced. Leonard Chang, though sporting the face and body of a young tennis pro, had been in the forensics field for seventeen years. As a result, Lucas felt confident that this victim, like the one before, had indeed been scalped while alive. The thought of it made the crown of his own head tingle with pain.     The removal of her hands, too, according to forensic fact, had come while she yet breathed. Chang surmised--as he had with Rae Chenoweth, a heavyset redhead--that Marlee Balou, a late-twenties brunette, likely had gone into a coma during the scalping, and that the removal of her hands, most likely went unfelt. Again Lucas felt the sympathy pains, but this time at each wrist. He unconsciously wrapped his left hand around his right wrist, fingered the connection there, and then massaged his left wrist with his right hand in the same fashion. The action didn't go unnoticed by Chang and other detectives in the room. Chang quipped, "Dooo you ever wonder what the old Chinese religious leader meant when he say to the boy, `What is the sound of one hand clapping?'"     "Never gave it much thought."     "I figure it out sometime back at a football game."     "Really?"     "Then later with my child, my infant."     "Really? Then what is the sound of one hand clapping?"     "High five ... It take two people to make the sound of one of our hand clapping, Detective. It mean, we work together, we get something out of the otherwise silent hand." Chang then lifted his hand for a high five over the dead body. Lucas, after a smile and a shake of his head, high-fived the M.E. Their hands came together and created a thunderous clap in the room.     Lucas stared at the victim a long while. He considered the horror of the acts perpetrated on the two known victims of the maniac now terrorizing the city. Two women. Beaten into submission. Robbed of scalp and hands. Each victim had died an excruciating death via traumatic shock after an intruder had climbed through a second-story window.     Lucas was assigned to the case not because of his detective expertise or tracking ability, but because he was a Native American. Since Lucas was a Texas Cherokee, the thinking at top levels was that he might more easily track a Native American killer. The supposition went that if a killer is interested in the taking of scalps in a Texas city, then he must be the dreaded maniac red man of dime novels. Who better to track a red man than another red man, or so city hall thinking went.     The illogic of the brass never ceased to surprise or amaze. A background check of the original victim, the redheaded Chenoweth, turned up the fact that her ancestral tree held Native American and African-American branches--which explained the dark pigmentation of her skin. Like many black slaves in America, a brave forefather had escaped from Missouri not going North on the Underground Railroad but out West to Indian Territory. In her case, the Seminoles on an Oklahoma Indian reservation had taken in her great-great-grandfather, who then became a Seminole, accepting tribal life as his own. It happened a great deal more often than history recorded. Ms. Rae Chenoweth had kept meticulous family records, and she was the end of her line. It made her brutal death even more poignant, and for some, the discovery made it point even more to a Native-American perpetrator....     Lucas didn't like the thinking, not for a moment. He had come to the case reluctantly, and the detectives already working the original discovery, didn't want his input. In fact, they took it as a slap in the face to be told they needed another set of eyes, ears, hands and feet on the case.     The first detectives to catch the Chenoweth case worked the 29th Precinct, and Lucas belonged to the 31st. Reason enough to dislike one another.    The 29th Precinct guys were Dave Harbough and Marc Damon. Harbough, near retirement age--holding on to the badge past his time, some said--stood six-four and weighed a good two-sixty or -seventy, while Damon, as tall but a decade younger, stood like a bean pole, the body of a marathon runner. Both men had clean records, and both were angry at their superiors, the circumstances, the killer, and now Lucas, who stood in the middle of the death room--a flophouse on Jupiter Street amid the squalid Oleander District that had once been a Spanish enclave but was now a black neighborhood. The run-down area and the squalor of the victim's surroundings told a pitiful story of a white woman prostitute living in a black ghetto. Lucas guessed that if it were not an election year, and if the two killings were not so dramatically and horrifyingly accomplished--the taking of scalps and hands painted a lurid picture in the press--then little notice would be taken of the deaths of an out-of-work, disabled alcoholic and a down-on-her-whore's-luck prostitute.     Tonight's victim, unlike the earlier one, had alabaster white on white skin that was almost porcelain to the touch now that rigor had set in. The differences between the two victims sparked some discussion.     "Yeah, but don't a killer normally kill within his own race? Not that cross-racial murder never happens. I mean since the MO appears the same, the usual assumptions maybe don't hold true here," Dave Harbough said aloud to anyone willing to listen.     "It's also true that usually a serial killer--if that's what we have here--preys on only one victim type. Here we have a slightly built brunette and a heavyset redhead with a considerable age difference as well," suggested Lucas, "not to mention their racial differences."     "The creep comes sneaking in here feeling no need to be selective. Young, old, prim or slutty, white, black, Seminole Indian ... preferences would just slow him down," Harbough shot back.     Marc Damon's voice was muffled by a handkerchief he held over his nose to protect him from the odor of the days-old corpse. "Seems the only thing the two women had in common was their wounds."     "And the fact the killer sexually molested them both with a broom handle," added M.E. Chang. "Which he left, rammed far up into them like a pole, causing internal bleeding."     "Near forty years on the job," muttered Harbough, "seen a lot of shit--stuff that would curl a Mother Superior's pubic hair. But I swear, this taking of the hands and scalp while she was alive? And ramming a broom up her. Jeez, what the hell is this guy doing with the hands and scalps? You got any answers, Indian?"     Lucas looked Harbough straight in the eyes. "I know as much as you do at this point."     "Whataya make of the broom handle?" asked Damon.     Lucas only shrugged. "Reminds me of the Boston Strangler. He did the same to the old women he molested."     Harbough said, "There are marks on her arms and legs. Whataya make of them?"     Damon added, "Looks like he was making little pictures."     "A real artist, this guy. Really took his time over the body," Harbough commented. "Like to get my hands on the SOB, carve a few cool pictures into his flesh with my knife."     "Pictographs, archaeologists call them. Usually made by primitives," replied Lucas.     "Primitives?" queried Damon, his eyes squinting at Lucas.     "Primitive as in primitive peoples," Harbough explained to his younger partner.     Lucas leaned in closer to the victim and studied the carvings in her flesh that were nearly obliterated by the blood caked there. To truly see the pictures, they'd need M.E. Chang to clean the wounds, which he'd do for photo verification and evidence. In fact, photo identification of any fingerprints that might have been left on the body was now possible with the new technology available to Chang. However, since he had found only a few smudged prints on the previous body, Lucas held little hope the killer had gotten careless with his second victim.     Lucas dared take a handkerchief to one of the wounds, the one carved around the navel. "It's a snake, meaning cunning, wise or clever," suggested Lucas. "And this beside it is a lightning strike, meaning that he's not only cunning but fast, immediate, like a lightning strike. Of course, whether he's talking about himself or someone or something else, I don't know, but there you have it. Whoever he is, he doesn't know enough about Indian history to mark his prey correctly."     "Chang, can we get this broom outta her?" asked Harbough. "It's ruining my concentration."     "Sure, sure," agreed Chang, taking hold of the bristled end of the broom and sliding it from the body cavity. Fluids and blood that had been trapped by the smooth, plastic handle leaked out. Chang placed the broom in a large polyethylene bag, and tagged it as evidence. He'd scan it later for any prints.     "Whataya mean, 'mark his prey correctly'?" Harbough near whispered to Lucas, both men leaning in over the body now. Lucas stared intently at the pictographs carved into the flesh and then back to Harbough, who held an unlit pipe in his teeth.     "Tribal warfare among Native Americans left many fallen on the battlefield, and each kill was marked by the man who had done the killing, usually a distinctive slash, a series of lines, crosses, whatever, depending on your tribal sign. We did it to Custer's men, too," finished Lucas with a wry grin.     "According to the books I've read on Custer, he deserved a good carving up," replied Harbough.     "Sure got his jollies killing Indians," suggested Damon.     "To further his career, I think the man would have killed his sister," Lucas muttered. "Got his whole army and his kid brother killed at Little Bighorn."     "So, you think we should be looking in the Native American community for our killer?" asked Harbough.     "Look, this guy could just as well be a white man who wants us to suspect a Native American," replied Lucas, getting to his feet. "It's too early to be making assumptions about the killer's race. Especially since we have both a white victim and a mixed-blood Native American-black victim."     "I thought that's why you were brought in, Stonecoat," said Damon at Lucas's back.     "Trust me, Detectives, it wasn't my idea. I have enough on my hands with the COMIT program down at the Thirty-first. Last thing I wanted to catch was this shit."     "But you have caught it. Look, maybe we can help each other out here, Stonecoat. About those cold files. There's one I'd like you to dig out of the mothballs and look over, tell me what you think. Old case of mine. Some call it the Headless Horseman case. The weasel we put away for a series of beheadings?" Harbough left the question to hang in the air.     Marc Damon stood shaking his head, saying, "Oh, damn it, Dave, you're obsessing again over that Freeleng creep!"     "That creep is going to be set free in a couple of days, Marc. And as sure as the sun sets and the moon rises, he's going to go back to his old job, and this city's going to see a new rash of rape-murders involving missing heads. He'll make this hand and scalp guy look like a Boy Scout by comparison." Harbough turned back to Lucas. "Will you have a look at the case file--unsolved, lying in your Cold Room since this creep went up for attempted murder, rape and assault. The guy's name is Walter Karl Freeleng, and yeah, he's been a model prisoner and is taking a walk from Huntsville day after tomorrow. The system, as usual, sucks."     Lucas nodded. "Sure, I'll have a look. What can it hurt?"     "It's going to hurt somebody somewhere. You can bet on it, my friend."    Damon shrugged in Lucas's direction, saying, "My partner knows everything."     "Mark my words. Houston's going to see a new rash of rape-murder-beheadings. You can take that to the bank."     "And if it comes true, you know you'll be the next in the box, being interrogated by IAD 'cause of your predictions. Everybody in the house knows you're--"     "Just you wait and see...."     "At the moment, we've got our hands full with this crap," replied Damon, pointing to the handless, scalpless, lifeless prostitute.     "You ready to turn her over to No Waist?" asked Harbough of Lucas.     Leonard Chang, the medical examiner for the city of Houston was alternately referred to as "No Waste" and "No Waist," as well as "Everready," since he wasted nothing, and his waistline proved all but nonexistent. Lucas liked Chang, however, for his meticulous attention to detail and his thoroughness at both the crime scene and the lab. As a result, whenever possible, Lucas liked to have Chang cover his cases.     "It's still your call, Harbough," Lucas told the elder man. "I'm just here to assist."     Harbough nodded, accepting this. So far no one had relieved him of the duties of detective in charge, which fell to the first detective to take the call. Neither Harbough nor Lucas had ever met before today, but they each felt a good rapport building. "Look at that case file for me, Stonecoat, when you get a chance. But don't wait too late. I tell you, this Freeleng character is Satan incarnate."     Lucas watched Harbough limp off, no doubt a well-earned injury from previous days on the job. Maybe one day, Harbough would tell him about it, and Lucas could, in turn, tell the old veteran how he himself came by the flaming red scar that painted his own neck and upper chest.     Chang gave Lucas a quirky half grin, his big glasses bobbing as he said, "So, they got you on the case, Lucas. Maybe might be good idea."     "Maybe ... might be ... maybe not."     Lucas remained long enough to hear Chang tell him, "I can't tell you nothing new, but lab tests are likely to confirm it as the work of the same killer."     Lucas stepped away, found an exit with some breathable air, and promptly lit up a Marlboro Light. He'd taken up the habit only recently and was at the stage where he believed he could quit anytime--but this was hardly the time. He next located his car for the return trip to the precinct. The drive back to the 31st gave Lucas time to think, time to recall just how he had gotten involved in the Scalper Killings. The press was extremely curious about the first killing and had already dubbed the killer, the Scalper. Meanwhile, top brass officials believed that the killer must surely be either Native or Mexican American, because of his penchant for pictographs carved into the skin. Lucas had remained skeptical on that score from day one. Tonight's newscast would only fan these assumptions.     As he drove the interstate across town, Lucas recalled the heated conversation he'd had with Dr. Meredyth Sanger--police psychiatrist--just previous to coming on the case after the discovery of the second scalping victim. It had been in Meredyth's office at the precinct; and it had gotten so loud that at one point, Randy Oglesby, her assistant, buzzed to ask if Meredyth needed to call in the troops.     Lucas and Meredyth had been arguing the relative merits of the Houston Rockets's starting lineup. He felt pleased when he could checkmate her with her own words, but now he had a far more serious bone to pick, and this matter would not be settled by a third party referee. He now pulled into the precinct's parking lot, entered the station house and went directly to the elevator and Meredyth's office. Once there, he barged past Randy Oglesby, and into the police shrink's office, shouting as he did so.     "Since when does the captain send orders through the house shrink?" Lucas demanded, nameplate and ID dangling from his shirt pocket.     "He called me a moment ago, from the mayor's office, Lucas. He ... They want you on this case! What can I say? Some megalomaniac is carving people up and leaving clues cut into their flesh and finishing by scalping his victims and removing their hands. It's enough to strike terror into anyone, and who better than an ... than you--"     "Who better than an Indian to understand a scalper? Is that what you were going for? You know, the American Indian didn't take scalps until white fur traders, trappers and settlers introduced the practice--when white government put a bounty on the scalps of red men, calling any red man who disagreed with them renegades, thieves and murderers."     "I seem to recall reading that someplace."     "Scalping began as a white thing, with such European traditions as economics, the push for trade, the Hudson Bay Company, sweetheart."     "Be that as it may, and as much as I'd love a history lesson right now, Lieutenant--"     "Men in white government cooked up the idea that you could pay a man a bounty on Indian scalps. The Indian retaliated in kind, counting coup for each white scalp collected. So, maybe what you really need here is a dyed-in-the-wool white cop who cares to know his own history?"     "We all know you're the man for this job, Lucas. Why fight it'?"     "Why do you continually volunteer me, Meredyth?"     "I had input, but--"     "Ever occur to you that I might be busy with the COMIT project?" shouted Lucas. His tall, lanky Cherokee Indian frame paced like a trapped cougar before falling back into the chair in front of her desk. He leaned forward, forearms on knees, sitting silent a moment, taking council with himself, staring into Sanger's clear, intelligent eyes--eyes that spoke a world of knowledge about the well of the human soul.     He considered his next words with care, as he truly didn't wish to provoke the police psychiatrist's Irish. On more than one occasion, she had solicited Lucas's help. But somehow, as always when speaking to her, despite his explicitly sexual attraction for her and their mutual respect, words hurled themselves at her independent of his brain. So they came out ugly even when he wished otherwise. "Do whatever it takes, but find another boy! I'm not your protégé to be carted out before the mayor and the assistant deputy mayor and the press and your cronies at the country club or that exclusive gym you work out at. I'm not your solution to the world's problems, no more than I am your father confessor, Mere."     The tirade took its toll. She leaned back in her chair as if physically slapped, eyes blinking, cheek twitching, her strawberry-blond hair somehow raised. She simply responded, "You really do have a problem with the rich, don't you, dear? We should explore that sometime in a serious series of sessions, Lucas, really. It can only cloud your professional judgment when dealing with high-society crime, if you continually look at anyone with more coin jingling in pocket than you with ... disdain."     Fuck you, he wanted to say, but held back. He only glared, sighed heavily and shook it off.     "Christ, Lucas, face it. You are it . The powers that be want you to take direction over the investigation."     "So no one else has to take responsibility should it prove unsolvable? So give it to the Cold Room file guy, because that's where it's headed anyway?"     "Nobody believes that, Lucas. Not even you."     He stonily seethed for a moment, thinking: This maniacal killer is taking both their hands and their scalps! Something many Native American Indian warriors did on the Plains during battle. The killer also carved Native American hieroglyphic impressions into their torsos, arms and legs; and so the killer might well be Native American. The killer might possibly be someone that Zachary "Three Hands" Roundpoint--himself a hired assassin--might help Lucas to corner.     What's this megalomaniac doing with their scalps and hands? Lucas wondered but stayed on his train of thought, shouting instead, "And for God's sake, Meredyth, at what time in our relationship did I become your protégé to be flaunted as some fucking miracle worker from here to the mayor's office in the first place?" Lucas shot up from his chair, realizing that he had begun to repeat himself. His frame loomed over the desk like the shadow of an angry bird of prey, displaying that trapped and cornered body language to her once more; but his body spoke guardedly in a mix of threat and sensual innuendo, and this made her smile in response.     "Don't use that tone with me, Lucas Stonecoat!" She hadn't shirked. Not so much as a flinch at his suddenly pouncing from his chair, his fierce eyes no less angry than those of a surprised mountain lion.     "All right," she finally admitted, "maybe it began with a suggestion from me, but now I have Captain Gordon J. Lincoln's full approval on this, Lucas. He wants us to work together on this case. There's a lunatic on the loose in Houston. Lincoln wants it this way, wants a quick end to it. I want it, the mayor supports it, hell the whole damned city of Houston wants it."     "All due to the success we had in the Coleson case?"     "You've created your own monster, Lucas. Face it. Since you've become such a celebrity, cracking the case of the century--"     "I had a great deal of help--including you, remember? And Dr. Desinor." The FBI psychic had been on loan for the case.     "In any event, you're now the mayor's man, my friend. Scream and bray at the moon all you like, man of the Wolf Clan. It won't change the fact that this is your baby, Lucas."     "You arranged this, Meredyth. I knew it."     "If it pleases you to think so. God, I wish I were half the manipulative bitch you credit me as being, Lucas, but it just isn't so. This is a PR problem you're having. You're more popular than you want to be, and I swear to you, the circumstances surrounding the situation inevitably led straight back to you, dear."     "I don't want this case."     "Think of it. The killer is using Native American pictographs carved into the flesh of his victims to tell his story of hatred and murder. He's killed a black-Seminole woman and now a white woman. It appears to be a clear case of revenge against society by some maniacal, bloodthirsty savage on some quest to fulfill some sort of primitive instinct. And how best to seek revenge on what the white man has done to his people than to kill women in so atrocious a fashion?"     "If he's Native, why would he kill Native if it's an act of hatred toward white society. And why black for that matter?"     "He likely didn't know the black woman was part Native American."     "Damn it, Mere. Only a week ago we were arguing the fact that I don't care to baby-sit a squad of sniveling recruits, and you were telling me that it would only be a one-shot."     "Circumstances have changed, Lucas."     "'See how it goes,' you said. 'It could save a life,' you said. Said, 'We all have a stake in helping up-and-coming rookies through the difficult transition of becoming street cops.'"     "That has to take a back burner to this, Lucas. Much as I planned on a comprehensive program--and sessions with you at its core--this madman on the loose changes everything. I could not have predicted these headlines any more than you."     "So, headlines are dictating this, huh? We're now being led by the nose by a bunch of reporters?"     "Fact of public life, Lucas."     "Meredyth, I'm just another cop. I have no secret powers to bless every goddamn rookie that you counsel, and I have no secret powers to catch this so-called savage of yours."     "Oh, please, is it that I've used the word 'savage' in connection with this guy that's troubling you? Well, sorry, but it's hardly a case of being politically incorrect at this stage. Damn it, Lucas, will you please just give it a try? You might actually enjoy working this case if--"     "Only if my captain directly orders it, and so far, he has not given me a direct order."     "Then I'll see to it that it becomes an order!" she shouted, losing control.     Lucas stormed out, halfwaving at Randy, the computer whiz, as he marched past.     Randy waved back, his eyes hardly leaving his computer screen. "Have a nice day...." Randy's facetious words trailed Lucas through the door. Copyright © 2001 Robert W. Walker. All rights reserved.