|A Jesse Parker Mystery |
The debut of a brand-new mystery series from the
New York Times
bestselling author of the Ranger's Apprentice novels.
Ex-Denver police detective Jesse Parker has returned home to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to spend the winter working ski patrol and forgetting about his past. But a killer has other ideas. It begins when a skier is found brutally murdered. Local Sheriff Lee Torrens asks her old friend to help out with the investigation, and Jesse finds himself reluctantly dragged back into a world of violence and death.
As Jesse and Lee work together, the memories of what they felt for each other long ago resurface- even as a madman strikes again and again, leaving no clue or trace as to identity or motive. Because for the killer, there are more important things to do than lead the authorities on...
Like deciding who will die next.
Table of Contents
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2009 by John A. Flanagan.
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Random House Australia Bantam book trade paperback edition
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Flanagan, John (John Anthony)
Storm peak : a Jesse Parker mystery
John A. Flanagan.font>
eISBN : 978-1-101-19567-3
1. Ex-police officers—Fiction. 2. Ski patrollers—Fiction. 3. Skiers—Crimes against—Fiction. 4. Murder—Investigation—Fiction. 5. Steamboat Springs (Colo.)—Fiction. I. Title.
In memory of Edwina Rochin,PROLOGUE
who guided me onto my first chairlift
n the day Detective Jesse Parker killed Detective Tony Vetano, they had been partners for nearly two years.
They had been slumped in the front seat of an unmarked department Chevy for over two hours, watching Number 1153 Alston Road, while a string of drug dealers arrived to collect their supplies from their distributor. There were seven men inside the ordinary looking suburban house and it was time for the bust. Tony had just called the squad for backup. Seven armed drug dealers were more than they’d bargained for—and a little too many for two cops.
That was when it all started to go to hell.
A Denver PD patrol car turned the corner, moving slowly along the street toward 1153. As it approached, its lights fell on the late model Pontiac GTO belonging to one of the dealers. The car was canary yellow, with the hood decorated in leaping flames. The suspension had been lowered and the rear wheels were shod in fat rubber. In a quiet suburban street like this, it stuck out like a two-dollar whore in a convent.
The black-and-white eased to a stop and the officer climbed out and walked slowly round the GTO to check the tags. He was young, they could see, and on his own. He should have had a partner but departmental budget cuts had been playing hell with the duty roster in the last few months. He moved back to the patrol car, still watching the house, and leaned in the driver’s side window. The two detectives heard the muted sound of the police radio.
“Oh, Christ. He’s calling it in,” Jesse said.
“Maybe the plates are clean,” Tony Vetano whispered.
“Maybe he’ll move on,” Jesse said hopefully.
“Maybe there’s a Santa Claus,” Tony muttered back.
The radio burbled again as the dispatcher came back with a report on the GTO’s tags. The young cop looked at the car again, then at the house. The front porch and windows were in darkness, with no lights showing. Then he hitched up his service belt and began striding toward the gate set in the low brick wall that fronted the property He could have stepped over it with comparative ease, but he was a meticulous man. He leaned down, unlatched the gate and went into the front yard, then turned to fasten the gate behind him.
“I’m going to have to warn him off,” Tony said. “One sight of him and they’ll head for the hills.”
Before Jesse could stop him, he had the door of the Chevy open and was crossing the street in long, hurried strides. They’d parked a few houses down from the target house and he had quite a bit of ground to cover. Tony called softly to the patrolman but the uniformed cop didn’t hear him. Tony lengthened his stride. In the car Jesse moved uneasily. He didn’t like the way this was panning out.
The patrolman was marching up the front steps of the porch now. He lit his flashlight, looking for a doorbell. There was a button on the left-hand side of the door. He pressed it. Nothing.
He rapped sharply on the wooden door with his nightstick. Still thirty yards away, Tony Vetano stopped. He looked back to where he knew Jesse was watching, made a small negative gesture, then kept going, moving toward the shelter of a large chestnut tree set in the verge of the road, just before the grassed sidewalk.
On the porch, the patrolman raised his nightstick for another assault on the door. Then he paused as a light went on in the front room. As it did, the young cop made his last mistake of the day-and his life. He began to slide the nightstick back into his belt again. It snagged on his uniform jacket and he looked down to free it and slip it into place. His eyes were down when the door opened, his attention elsewhere.
Consequently, he never saw the Ingram 9 mm—an ugly, boxy little submachine gun with a firing rate that sounded like ripping cloth. Three slugs from the eight-round burst stitched into him, in a diagonal line that took in hip, chest and shoulder, and bowled him backward down the porch steps.
Tony stepped out from behind the tree, his .38 in his hand.
“Police!” he yelled. “Throw down the gun, motherfucker!”
The flickering muzzle flash of the Ingram lit up the front of the house once more as the shooter fired. Chunks of bark flew from the tree beside Tony. He was caught by surprise, not expecting the gunman to react so quickly. He dived headlong away from the tree, sliding into the meager cover provided by the curb. He flattened himself there, trying to force himself lower to the ground as another burst ripped over his head, a few inches above him.