Read Bones Online

Authors: Jan Burke

Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Fiction, #Detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Serial Murderers, #Suspense, #Mystery, #Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths, #Kelly; Irene (Fictitious character), #Women journalists, #American Mystery & Suspense Fiction


BOOK: Bones
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Kelly 07
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Bones - (1999)

By: Jan Burke

Irene Kelly Series - Book 07


What really happened to Julia Sayre?

She disappeared four years ago. A young mother of two, Sayre was more than a news story to reporter Irene Kelly. When Sayre's family sought Irene's help, the search became a personal mission--and a fruitless one. Despite Irene's best efforts, only one person knew where to find Sayre--her killer. Now, years later, one of the most notorious criminals on death row is willing to talk. Condemned for unimaginable acts of torture and murder, Nick Parrish is plea bargaining for a life sentence--by leading Irene and a select group of officials to the secluded mountain grave of his victim. Soon, in the dark isolation of the Sierra Nevada's, they will discover what really happened. But Parrish's most terrifying secret is yet to come. And he's saving it just for Irene....

To Judy Myers Suchey and Paul Sledzik

and the AFIP Forensic Anthropology Faculty for their compassionate work and for teaching me to see more than bones


in memory of Shadow and Siri

The gate was open and the drawbridge down.

He galloped across, but when he got to the end of the drawbridge, someone yanked the cable so abruptly that Parzival was nearly thrown, horse and all, into the moat.

Parzival turned back to see who had done this to him. There, standing in the open gateway, was the page who had pulled the cable, shaking his fist at Parzival. "May God damn the light that falls upon your path!" the boy cried. "You fool! You wretched fool! Why didn't you ask the question?"

"What do you mean?" Parzival shouted back. "What question?"


by Wolfram von Eschenbach,

as retold by Katherine

He paid cash for the book, as he had all the other books on this subject. He spoke to no one, did nothing that would make him memorable to a clerk or customer.

There were many customers in the store when he made the purchase; he always chose times when he knew the bookstore would be busy.

Even if the store had been empty, he would have had little to worry over. When he chose to hide his powers, he was a nondescript man in a world full of people who could seldom describe more than what they saw in the mirror each morning.

Oh, perhaps they could also describe close friends, their own children, their spouses, people they worked with every day. At a stretch, their neighbors. But not quiet strangers in bookstores. Not a stranger who had never been there before, who would never come in again.

He found mild excitement in buying these books, knew this was how some men felt when buying pornography. Seeing it sitting in the bag on the car seat on the way home, he knew the book's subject matter would arouse him, Not as much as the real thing--nothing ever excited him as much as the real thing.

This one was about Dahmer.

We don't share the same appetites, he thought to himself, and was hard put to control a little fit of hilarity at the joke he had made.

When he had finished reading and rereading the book, he would place it with all the other books about his brethren. Books about Bianchi and Speck and Bundy; about earlier ones--Mors and Lucas and Pomeroy--and others; books about killers and their minds, about killers and their victims, about killers and those who hunted them.

At first, he had read the books because he wanted to understand the drive, the need that he feared would consume him. But now it was merely entertainment of a sort. By now, years after he had begun his little library, he knew he understood all there was to understand: he knew that only a man of his genius could cope with the demands of his desire.

He did not lack daring or creativity. Every new aspect, every heightening of the experience, merely confirmed what he already knew: he was unique in history.

Thinking of this, he was a little sad that he wouldn't be caught, because he knew he was going to miss that one additional thrill--the only one that eluded him. The acknowledgment.

Notoriety beckoned. He dreamed of it, fantasized about it almost as much as the killings.

Why did he kill?

Everyone would want to know.

Why did he kill?

Everyone would ask.

And he would speak--quietly, and with authority--and all would hear the answer.



Monday Afternoon, May 15

The sensation of being watched had been almost constant on this journey, and now I was feeling it again. I tried to ignore it, to concentrate on the paperback I was reading, but my efforts were useless. I lifted my eyes from the page and looked toward the prisoner, three rows up, expecting to see him staring at me again. He was asleep. How he could manage it over the loud drone of the plane's propellers, I'll never know. How Nicholas Parrish could sleep at all--but I suppose that's one of the advantages of being utterly without a conscience.

So if Parrish wasn't the one eyeing me, who was?

I glanced around the cabin. Most of the men--even those who were not sociopaths--were sleeping. Two of Parrish's guards were awake, but not looking at me. The other two napped. I turned to look behind me. Ben Sheridan, one of the forensic anthropologists, was looking out the window. David Niles, the other, sat across the aisle, reading. There, sitting next to him, was the starer.

He wasn't staring so much as studying, I decided. No hostility there. Actually, of the all-male group with me on the small plane, he was the only one who didn't object to my presence. While most of the others snubbed me, he had taken an immediate liking to me. The feeling was mutual. He was handsome, intelligent, and athletic. But then again, nothing excited him more than discovering a piece of decaying flesh.

He was a cadaver dog.

Bingle--named for his habit of crooning along whenever he heard his handler sing--was a black-and-tan, three-year-old, mostly German shepherd dog, trained to find human remains.

And that was what this expedition into the mountains was all about: finding human remains. A very specific set of them.

I looked into Bingle's dark brown eyes, but my thoughts had already turned to a blue-eyed girl named Gillian Sayre; Gillian, who had spent the last four years waiting for someone to find whatever remained of her mother.

Four years ago. One warm summer day, the day after her mother failed to come home, Gillian was waiting outside the building which houses the Express. I was with a group of coworkers on our way to lunch. I saw her right away; she was tall and thin and her hair was cropped short and dyed the color of eggplant. Her face was pale; she was wearing dark brown lipstick and lots of eye shadow, which only accentuated the nearly colorless blue of her eyes. Her lashes and brows were thick and dyed black and her left brow was pierced by a small silver hoop. Seven or eight pierced earrings climbed the curve of each ear. Her pale, slender fingers bore silver rings of varying widths and designs; her fingernails were short, but painted black. Her clothes were rumpled, her shoes clunky.

"Are any of you reporters?" she called to us.

Never slow to grasp this sort of opportunity, my friend Stuart Angert pointed at me and said, "Only this lady here. The rest of us just finished an interview with her, so she's free to talk to you."

The others laughed, and the words "call for an appointment" were on my lips, but something about her made me hesitate. Stuart's joke had not gone over her head--I could see that she was already expecting me to disappoint her, and she looked as if she was accustomed to being disappointed.

"Go on," I said to the others. "I'll catch up to you."

I put up with another round of chiding and some half-hearted protests, but before long I was left standing alone with her.

"I'm Irene Kelly," I said. "What can I do for you?"

"They won't look for my mother," she said.

"Who won't?"

"The police. They think she ran away. She didn't."

"How long has she been gone?"

"Since four o'clock yesterday--well, that's the last time I saw her." She looked away, then added, "She went to a store. They saw her there."

I figured I was talking to a kid who was doomed to learn that her mom was throwing in the towel on family life. But as I let her talk, I began to feel less certain of that.

Julia Sayre was forty years old on the night she failed to come home. Gillian's father, Giles Sayre, had called his wife at a little before four that afternoon to say that he had obtained a pair of coveted symphony tickets--the debut of the symphony's new conductor was to take place that evening. Hurriedly leaving their younger child, nine-year-old Jason, in Gillian's care, Julia left the house in her Mercedes-Benz to go to a shopping mall not five miles away from her affluent neighborhood, to buy a slip.

She had not been seen since.

When he came home that evening and discovered that his wife hadn't returned, Giles was more anxious about the possibility of being late to the concert than his wife's whereabouts. As time went on, however, he became worried and drove over to the shopping center. He drove through the aisles of the parking lot near her favorite store, Nordstrom, but didn't see her blue sedan. He went into the store, and after questioning some of the employees in the lingerie department, learned that she had indeed been there--but at four o'clock or so--several hours earlier.

When Giles Sayre reported his wife missing, the police gave it all the attention they usually give an adult disappearance of five hours' duration--virtually none. They, too, looked for Julia Sayre's car in the shopping center parking lot; Giles could have told them it wouldn't be there--he had already made another trip to look for it.

"Sometimes, Gillian--" I began, but she cut me off.

"Don't try to give me some bullshit about how she might be some kind of runaway, doing the big nasty with somebody other than my dad," she said. "My folks are super close, happily married and all that. I mean, it would make you want to gack to see them together."

"Yes, but--"

"Ask anybody. Ask our neighbors. They'll tell you--Julia Sayre only has trouble with one person in her life."


She looked surprised by my guess, but then shrugged. She folded her arms, leaned back against the building, and said, "Yes."


She shrugged again. "You don't look like you were some little sweetcakes that never stepped out of line. Didn't you ever fight with your mom when you were a teenager?"

I shook my head. "No, my mother died when I was twelve. Before I was a teenager. I used to envy the ones--" I caught myself. "Well, that's not important."

She was silent.

"If she had lived," I said, "we probably would have fought. I got into all kinds of mischief even before I was a teenager."

She began studying one of her fingernails. I was wondering how my memories of my mother might have differed had she lived another five years, when Gillian asked, "Do you remember the last thing you said to her?"


She waited for me to say more. When I didn't, she looked away, her brows drawn together. She said, "The last thing I said to my mother was, 'I wish you were dead!' "


"She wanted me to watch Jason. She wanted me to cancel all my plans and do what she wanted, so she could go to the stupid concert. I was upset. My boyfriend was upset when I told him I couldn't see him--so I yelled at her. That's what I said to her."

"She may be fine," I said. "Sometimes people just feel overwhelmed, need to take off."

BOOK: Bones
11.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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