Red Rock Island (Damian Green Book 1)

BOOK: Red Rock Island (Damian Green Book 1)
13.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Red Rock Island






By Alec Peche



Text Copyright © July 2016 Alec Peche

Published by GBSW Publishing


Thank you for downloading this eBook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

Acknowledgements…Many thanks to my first readers and my editor for improving the quality of the story and my writing! I also want to thank International House of Pancakes, Santa Monica, CA for providing an inspiring environment and food that allowed me to write the ending to this story.


Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer?



Alec Peche


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


All rights reserved.


No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the author and the publisher, except for the use of brief quotations in review.


About the author:


Discover “Vials”, “Chocolate Diamonds”, "A Breck Death", "Death On A Green", “A Taxing Death”, and “Murder At The Podium” also written by Alec Peche.


A 7th book is a work in progress for this series.


A second series is also available with “Red Rock Island” being the first book.


Connect with me: Friend me on Facebook

Find me on Twitter @AlecPeche

email: [email protected]




Thirty Years Ago


The summer of 1988 in Morgan Hill, California was shaping up to be dry and hot. Tempers were flying as people had the radio on too loud listening to Faith by George Michael, or Need You Tonight by INXS. Yellowstone National Park had been on fire since June and it was already August. Debbie Altman was tired of the heat, the music and the endless ads for the United States presidential candidates. Really, the election was several months away and yet the news had been incessant about the political race.


She grabbed her keys off her kitchen counter and decided to head north to her friend’s house in San Jose. At least she had air-conditioning included in her apartment rent. Holly had invited her to stay at her house earlier in the day, after Debbie complained about how hard it was to sleep in the heat. She’d take Monterey Highway past the cherry orchards up to San Jose. The road could be scary at times as it earned the name Blood Alley for the bad accidents that occurred as a result of head-on collisions at high speeds. On this Friday afternoon though, hopefully the traffic would be light with the majority of cars heading south for the weekend. Debbie left the traffic lights of Morgan Hill and crossed the signpost indicating it was San Jose. Then she heard her car’s engine make a few weird noises. She drove a nearly a ten year old Datsun 240Z. It got decent gas mileage and was fun to drive. The car coughed and started slowing down. Darn she’d have to pull over and walk to find a telephone to call for help. The day just kept getting worse and worse.


She locked up the car, grabbed her purse, and set out on foot to the nearest business; fortunately she knew there was a concrete pipe company about one mile ahead and since it was only three in the afternoon, it might still be open. After walking just a few steps, she felt like she was going to explode from the heat bearing down on her. She heard the noise of a truck behind her and looked over her shoulder to see a pick-up truck slowing down. A woman in the passenger side seat rolled the window down and asked if she wanted a ride somewhere. Debbie smiled, said yes, and hopped in the truck’s cab and that was the last time anyone saw her alive other than her killer.


Chapter One


Damian Green stood on the red rock looking west. On his right was the Golden Gate Bridge, and in the distance Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline. Directly in front of him, floating on the water, were three floral wreaths. It was the seventh anniversary of the murder of his wife and two daughters. He’d had them cremated and spread their remains on their favorite ski run at Lake Tahoe during a heavy snowstorm and so he honored their existence with the wreaths and an imaginary conversation with the three of them on the anniversary of their deaths.


Behind him on the hill of this little island in San Francisco Bay, stood retired detective Natalie Severino. She’d solved the case, shot the bastard dead that killed his family, and had remained in his life the seven years since. She brought the wreaths on the first anniversary and it had become a ritual each year. His oldest would have graduated from high school this year, but that and all of his children’s other milestones would never come to pass.


He had survivor’s guilt and his life since that time had drastically changed. He’d bought the island, built a house and designed a computer alert system to prevent any further errors like the one that had taken his family from him. Using his computer skills he went to work erasing his existence after his family tragedy; reporters had been relentless at the time of the manhunt and subsequent killing of the convict. Part of his core after that was making sure he was impossible to locate or for people to figure out whether he was dead or alive at any given moment.


As he lost sight of the wreaths on the waves, Natalie said, “I have a job for you,” and then she winced. She’d left Damian to his own silent thoughts for the past twenty minutes and she was itching to tell him about her latest case. Talk about throwing cold water on the grieving man,
damn it Natalie you’re so uncouth.


She’d met him in his office at a research lab of a major technology company in San Jose to notify him that his wife and children were dead and later, after a short manhunt, she notified him their murderer was dead. She’d come to know him better over the years since and when she opened her own detective and security agency, he’d help her in a variety of ways, usually related to technology, computers, or some amazing engineering feat. She was a decade his senior in her late fifties and she found him to be a renaissance man – traditional, polite, and very, very smart. He’d invented so many things and either sold the patent for a large sum, or the invention would be added as a new line item of his ongoing large royalty checks. She became familiar with his background when she’d researched him at the beginning of the investigation into his family’s murder.


Damian stood a moment longer searching for sight of the wreaths, and then he sighed and turned. Another year without his family; it seemed like an eternity and yet it seemed like yesterday. Each year as the anniversary of their deaths moved upon him, he was depressed and morose, and yet the wreaths sailing away on the waves somehow eased his grief and he could go on again for another year, each slightly less painful than the previous one.


The man was six foot, and rugged looking from both the permanent lines of grief and from the climate of living on this rock of an island. His blond hair was in transition between blond and white depending on how the sun hit it. He was muscled from swimming in the bay in a wetsuit, clambering over his rocky cliff to his house and the twice weekly treadmill runs. His island wasn’t big enough for him to run around it. Besides, parts of it were a bird sanctuary and he wouldn’t want to disturb the natives. His eyes were blue and if he passed you on the street, you would wonder if he was a tourist from the Nordic area of the world - perhaps Sweden or Finland, but you would be wrong. His ancestors came from the North Sea region of the United Kingdom and his heritage was Norse. All in all, Damian was a very pleasant man to look at.


“What’s the job?”


“I need a computer analysis,” replied Natalie.


To Damian, a brilliant computer analysis creator, it was like saying you needed a white shirt. There were so many options that he couldn’t even respond to Natalie’s request.


With a sigh he asked, “What specifically do you need analyzed?”


“So you know that my former department, the SJPD is short on officers. It’s hard to live in Silicon Valley on a cop’s salary. They’re down nearly twenty percent of the force. So they contracted with me to work their cold cases since they have no personnel to devote to them at the moment. It’s sort of a dream job for me, and I was really excited to go to work on them until I discovered how bad the backlog is. There are over two hundred cases and no one has worked these files in the last three years. That’s just wrong, those families deserve justice!”


“Have they all been electronically catalogued?”




“So what do want me to do with them? You’re the retired detective,” Damian said.


“I want to use that brilliant brain of yours to find a process to approach these cases. They aren’t calling out to me, saying ‘solve me first!’ I’m afraid to waste time on cases that I’ll never be able to solve in my lifetime even if you, genius Damian, gave your every waking breath to solving a case. I don’t want to waste time on lost causes.”


“Aren’t they all lost causes? That’s why they weren’t solved the first time around.”


“Aren’t you the pessimist? I said this would be hard, not impossible. With you helping me, I would think your brilliant mind would come up with some angles that weren’t thought of the first time around. If your brain fails me then I have to think your computer will come through.”


“There is that. Can you send me a few cases so I can see what the data possibilities are?”


Natalie did a happy dance in her head at his interest. She was sure that with his help she would go so much further and faster. She watched him for a while longer knowing this was always the saddest day of the year for him. She felt bad for his suffering but since she’d never met his family, she felt no personal loss; rather it was his suffering that weighed on her. She wondered if he would ever ask her not to bring the wreaths on the anniversary, but she wouldn’t ask, wouldn’t intrude on his intensely private thoughts.


Chapter Two


Damian watched the boat depart heading for the Richmond Yacht Club marina. He had an arrangement with a boat owner at the marina to bring any guest to his island as well as supplies. He rarely left the rock except to leave San Francisco Bay. He did his shopping online and the supply boat would deliver any packages to a shallow beach he had on one side of the island. He then used a drone that he’d designed to move packages from the beach to his house. The drone could handle up to two hundred pounds and he enjoyed the exercise of operating the drone to pick up packages. He’d designed a lot of gadgets for his island getaway. He used wind, water, and solar energy to provide electricity for his home. He had a pulley system, much like a zip line to get from the top of the rock to the beach and back again. He debated various technologies to get on and off the island - helicopters, hot air balloons, motorized hang gliders, and jet packs, but they all had somewhat high failure rates, so he settled for the boat.


He bought the island after his family was murdered, cleared the poison oak, and then created a sanctuary so that he never had to fear another convict mistakenly released from prison. A convict from Soledad’s death row had murdered his wife and children. A series of mistakes by the correctional system had led to the release of the wrong prisoner. Once released, he headed for San Jose, killing two other people along the way. He was looking for cash and targeted their neighborhood looking for money, jewelry, and a car. He struck gold with Damian’s family, and since he’d been on death row for murder of another family, killing Damian’s family was the most expedient way to meet his need and get out of town. Fortunately Detective Severino and her squad had quickly identified the man and run him to ground, killing him in the process. Damian had cheered the convict’s death, but it hadn’t brought his family back.


Now he would occasionally look across the water at San Quentin prison and fantasize about sending his drone there to annihilate all of the prisoners on death row. He’d study the blueprints and then look at payloads his drone could carry but then he thought of the guards that would be in the area of his drone strike and he couldn’t do it; kill innocent men. Then his rage receded and his normal mind returned. Instead he played with the prison software, doing hourly surveillance to assure himself that no more mistakes would be made that would allow a murderer to be released. He contemplated adding things to a convict’s record to close the door on any Parole Board hearings for releases, but he hadn’t taken that step so far. The Parole Board was doing a pretty good job of keeping Charlie Manson locked up so he hoped that common sense existed among their members.


He looked down, feeling a presence at his side and found his cats looking up at him. These two were highly intelligent and trained cats; trained as he taught them to leave the birds alone that visited, nested, and otherwise called his island home. They enjoyed climbing the steep walls and he kept them in fresh fish from the bay.


“You guys hungry or just out for a stroll?”


They eyed him as though assessing his mood, then looked at each other and set off together toward one of the cliff edges. He worried when he’d first brought them here, but they were agile climbers, their nails assisting their climbs. They used the small sandy beach for a litter box and were great companions. Two solitary males and one female had made this rock of an island, home. He turned and headed uphill to enter his home. The island, at one time, had been mined for manganese, he'd drilled into the rock to make a second level below ground. The top level contained his kitchen, living room and bedroom with each room having breathtaking views of the bay. From a distance, it was hard to discern the structure as he had designed it to fit in with the terrain. He didn’t want people curious about his island and most people couldn’t see it unless the sun reflected off the windows. He had signs posted below on the beach about it being private property and if someone cared to ignore the signs, they got an audible warning, and then they were sprayed with bay water if they crossed a line in the sand that they couldn’t see. He averaged one idiot a week that apparently couldn’t read.


His subterranean level contained his gym, computer room and laboratory and workshop. He had no overnight visitors so there was no need for a second bedroom. His wife and he had no immediate family and that was part of their early attraction in their relationship.


Acquaintances that knew Damian called him a modern day MacGyver, an American TV character from the late 1980’s. The character solved complex problems by making things out of every day stuff. Yes that was Damian, beside the numerous patents he held; his island and his home were testament to his engineering prowess. In addition to what the T.V. star could do on his show, Damian could also work magic with a computer.


He was working on a couple of ideas for transporting himself and his supplies off and on the island. Conceptually, it was an ever present challenge to see if he could do better than his current process. Anything less than the transporter from the Enterprise on the Star Trek series was a failure in his own mind, but he hadn’t figured it out yet. He put aside that idea as Natalie sent him an email with instructions on how to reach the database that would be her source for the cold cases. She must have emailed him as soon as she reached the marina.


Following her instructions, he was quickly inside her police database looking at the types of data fields. He read five of the cases to get a handle on the scope of the information. Then he sat back, closed his eyes, and swallowed around the huge lump in his throat. Suddenly, he was grateful to Natalie for tracking down his family’s murderer and killing him. If the case had remained unsolved all of this time, he wasn’t sure he would have his sanity. Then a sudden sliver of humor hit him as he considered whether his closest acquaintances considered him sane for living his life on this rock of an island. They’d asked him why not own a private island in the Caribbean where he would have more land, a bigger house, and water that didn’t require a wetsuit to swim in, and he’d answered that the rock suited him. In his own way he was living off the grid closest to the most technological culture of the world.


Looking back at the cases again, he checked how old some of them were. The first use of DNA to solve a police investigation was in 1986 according to the Internet. So a crime committed before then would be harder to solve as a cold case. Instead he decided to think about what new information, evidence, or criminal case approach would impact the status of a cold case. He called Natalie to ask her a few questions.


“That was quick; did you look at the database already?” Natalie asked upon receiving Damian’s call.


“Yes, and I have some questions for you. Has the approach by police to process a case changed substantially recently?”


“Hmmm that’s a good question, let me think.” And there was silence over the phone line. Damian could hear road noise as she was clearly driving south to home. Then finally Natalie came back on the line and said, “Yes I think so. The 1990’s were a time of police innovation. With computers and DNA, we did more objective investigation. Prior to that, a suspect caught your eye or you had a hunch, or you saw the crime committed in front of you, then you had your suspect, case closed. It wasn’t exactly a time of innocent until proven guilty. When I was a new cop on the force, it was always interesting talking to the guys that were about to retire. They had practiced policing before the Supreme Court decision on Miranda rights so you could almost go about framing someone for a crime or at least intimidate them into a confession. Now if we find you guilty, then you’re really guilty.”


“So in regards to the older cold cases, there is no DNA but there might be new evidence or a new way of looking at the same crime scene to develop a suspect. Do I have that right?”


“Yes, that’s correct,” Natalie replied.


“So the easiest cases to solve are those that DNA evidence was collected on and the hardest will be a case going back forty years with no new evidence since the initial crime.”




“Okay, I have some ideas and I’ll get back to you later today.”


Natalie was the closest thing to an older sister he’d ever have. She kept tabs on him and did her best to keep him connected to the real world. He knew she was married with adult children. She’d been a hard-working detective and now she was a hard-working private investigator. Glancing at his watch, he decided it was time for lunch. The time he put into assembling his lunch would be used to think about different angles to analyze data and so he returned upstairs.


BOOK: Red Rock Island (Damian Green Book 1)
13.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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