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Authors: Kirk Russell

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One Through the Heart

BOOK: One Through the Heart
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Table of Contents

Further Titles from Kirk Russell

Title Page

Copyright

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Forty-Nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-One

Chapter Fifty-Two

Chapter Fifty-Three

Chapter Fifty-Four

Chapter Fifty-Five

Chapter Fifty-Six

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Further Titles from Kirk Russell
The John Marquez series

SHELL GAMES

NIGHT GAME

DEADGAME

REDBACK *

The Ben Raveneau series

A KILLING IN CHINA BASIN *

COUNTERFEIT ROAD*

ONE THROUGH THE HEART *

*available from Severn House

ONE THROUGH
THE HEART
Kirk Russell

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 

First published in Great Britain 2012 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of

9-15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

First published in the USA 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS of

110 East 59
th
Street, New York, N.Y. 10022

eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2012 by Kirk Russell.

The right of Kirk Russell to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Russell, Kirk, 1954-

One through the heart. – (The Ben Raveneau series)

1. Raveneau, Ben (Fictitious character)–Fiction.

2. Police–California–San Francisco–Fiction. 3. Cold

cases (Criminal investigation)–California–San

Francisco–Fiction. 4. Serial murder investigation–

California–San Francisco–Fiction. 5. Detective and

mystery stories.

I. Title II. Series

813.6-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-370-9 (epub)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8240-0 (cased)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

ONE

A
demolition crew found the bomb shelter. They cut the lock, opened the hatch cover, and the foreman climbed down. Then he waited a day to report what he found to San Francisco Police. His name was Matt Baylor. He was twenty-nine with a face that looked ten years older and a tattoo of vertebrae running up the left side of his neck that he kept touching as he talked with Raveneau.

‘I figured one more day wasn’t going to matter to those bones and we put a big beam on the hatch cover last night. No one got in there, Inspector.’

‘What did you do when you were down there?’

‘Looked around with a flashlight and counted the skulls like I told the dispatcher.’

‘Did you touch or move anything?’

‘Didn’t touch anything.’

Raveneau crossed through the gutted main floor of the house with Baylor and out through an opening where French doors once opened on to the patio and terraced back gardens. The house had new owners, but for Ben Raveneau, a San Francisco Homicide inspector, it would always be Albert Lash’s house. It was stucco, white-painted, two stories and big, on a slope overlooking the Presidio and San Francisco Bay.

From this patio off the kitchen or from any of the windows on this side, Lash was able to look down at the cottage he rented to Ann Coryell, a UC grad student living here and working on her PhD in nineteenth-century American history when she disappeared in 2002. Raveneau looked at the cottage below. It was stripped to its wood frame, bare studs standing in gold fall light. He looked through the roof rafters to a eucalyptus grove below in the Presidio, and then out to the bay again. He checked out the changes in the rest of the garden before following Baylor down the stone steps.

Bird bath and fountain were gone. The big camellia at the north-west corner of the house was healthy and larger. Lash was gone or gone from here, a victim himself now, confined to a wheelchair, diagnosed with ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – and living Raveneau wasn’t sure where, but in an assisted living facility somewhere in the Bay Area. He was going to have to find him.

The steps ended at the patio outside the cottage, and from the chairs grouped together and paper wrappers blown up against a stone retaining wall this was where the demo crew ate lunch. A white gravel path led from the left corner of the cottage to all that was left of the garden shed, a small concrete foundation bright in sunlight, and the galvanized steel hatch cover of the bomb shelter. Fifteen feet underground were two partial skeletons and fourteen skulls, or that’s what Baylor told the 911 dispatcher. Raveneau had talked to her on the drive here. He’d also run Matt Baylor’s name, though he didn’t know yet what had come back on that.

The two uniform officers who responded after Baylor’s 911 call were out in front of the house right now. They had strung crime tape, and Raveneau took that in, the yellow tape making a ragged transit across rock roses and rosemary before falling back to the path. He stepped over it on to the concrete slab.

Raveneau’s partner, Elizabeth la Rosa, his partner in the Cold Case Unit, was on her way. So was a photographer and a pair from CSI. The Medical Examiner was standing by, interested and curious and waiting on a call from Raveneau. The ME had given the forensic anthropologist a heads-up. She was a subcontractor to SFPD and lived north of here an hour and a half away, but with multiple skulls they might well need her.

Nothing said Ann Coryell’s skull was among them and nothing said this was a cold case, and yet Raveneau prevailed at Homicide. He had pulled the Coryell file from the Cold Case closet and argued he should be the one to go evaluate, though now as he looked down at the galvanized steel cover he couldn’t get his head around how they missed finding this ten years ago when Lash opened his house and gardens to the homicide inspectors. Raveneau had been here then. He turned to Baylor looking for an answer.

‘How was it hidden?’

‘See those wooden slats over there?’

Raveneau saw rectangular wooden frames stacked on top of each other crushing plants on the lowest terrace.

‘I had two hombres tearing down the shed. They found the cover when they pulled those up. They were put together like one of those puzzles that has to go together just right. They pulled them up and came and got me.’

‘What time was that?’

‘Eight, maybe eight thirty in the morning yesterday.’

‘They came and got you and then what?’

‘I got some bolt cutters and a flashlight and we cut the lock and I climbed down.’

‘What did you think it was?’

‘I thought it might be where they hid stuff.’

‘What stuff?’

‘I don’t know, maybe like a wine cellar, but I didn’t touch anything. My uncle is a San Francisco cop. He’s got this demolition business going because he’s going to be retiring soon, but he’s been a cop like forever and he’s taught me what not to do.’

And just like that Raveneau knew who Baylor was. Just as quickly, he decided to leave that alone for now.

‘My uncle will probably chew my ass for not calling the police sooner.’

Raveneau went back to his car for a flashlight. He opened the hatch cover and laid the heavy-hinged lid down on the concrete. There was a metal pole alongside the steel rung ladder leading down that at first he mistook for a flagpole. But after studying the pulley system attached, he realized the pole was for hoisting or lowering things into the shelter.

When he grasped the steel ladder and stepped on to a rung he saw Ann Coryell’s face again, the angles of her cheeks sharp, dark hair and coat wet with rain. She had already walked the eucalyptus grove just over the low stone inside the Presidio with the police officers who’d answered her call. She walked it again with Raveneau and rain had pattered on the dry strips of eucalyptus bark and made the slope slippery as they listened for a woman screaming. They didn’t hear anything but he gave her his cell number in case there was anything more that night.

He told her to call at any hour and she did. She called at 3:14 a.m. and he slept through it, the ringer accidentally or clumsily off on his cell. That message was the last known moment she was alive. Raveneau had never forgiven himself, probably never would. He stared at Baylor a moment then climbed on to the rungs of the ladder and descended into darkness.

TWO

T
he air was cool and musty with mold. Raveneau didn’t smell decomposition. He smelled concrete dust and rotting canvas and an earthiness that might be the bones. A faint faraway whistling came from a ventilation shaft that he located now with the flashlight beam. Boot tracks marked the dust, and following those he spotted small pieces of mud and figured the prints were Baylor’s. He shined the light on the concrete wall to his left, worked the perimeter, touching on folding chairs leaned against a wall, a metal card table of a type he hadn’t seen in decades, and then a steel cot with a stained mattress.

He took several steps toward it. Straps attached to the frame looked like old auto seat-belts. He held the light on the mattress and then the floor under the cot. As he brought it back to the straps, he exhaled slowly and stepped closer, the light steady now on dark stains on the mattress. He moved the light back to the concrete floor beneath the cot, the stains there, and then squatted and held the beam on the underside of the mattress before standing and stepping back.

He took in what surrounded the cot, a chair with a rattan seat, a metal stand with a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff, both coated in dust. He guessed neither had been moved in a long while. He swept the domed concrete ceiling and brought the light back to the stethoscope before continuing on. He got the parameters of the space. It was bigger than any fallout or bomb shelter he remembered, a Cadillac of a backyard shelter. Along the ceiling were several cracks moist and lined with gray-green mold.

Now he rested the light on the first of the skeletons. Half or more of the ribs were missing. The other skeleton was without pelvic bones or the bones of the feet. Both lay on rotting gray blankets and each blanket had folded clothes, shoes, one pair that looked like a woman’s sandals and the other ancient black boots, hardened and twisted.

‘Baylor lied to me,’ he said to no one, but the tracks were there. He moved the light off the skeletons and on to thick white candles that sat on the concrete floor, wax puddled in front of them, the candles worm-like. Beyond the candles, stacked against the concrete wall, were three rows of yellowed skulls, the skulls tipped back against the concrete wall one on top of the other. He counted fourteen, same as Baylor. Each row up was shorter than the one underneath, six along the bottom then five then three. He moved the flashlight beam along the upper three and on the teeth looking for gold caps along the back molars. Was one of these Ann Coryell’s?

BOOK: One Through the Heart
3.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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