Read The Fregoli Delusion Online

Authors: Michael J. McCann

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Crime, #Maraya21

The Fregoli Delusion

BOOK: The Fregoli Delusion
The Fregoli


A Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel




Michael J. McCann




The Plaid Raccoon Press




Also by
Michael J. McCann



The Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel Series




Supernatural Fiction

Ghost Man


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters,
institutions, places and events portrayed in this novel are either the product
of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.



Copyright © 2012 by Michael J. McCann


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this
book, or portions thereof, in any form.


ISBN: 978-0-9877087-5-5 (e-Book version)


Cover photograph copyright René Mansi / iStockphoto. Used
under license.


Author photograph copyright Tim D. McCann. Used with



This book is dedicated to my

whose memories are now gone,

and to the memories of her that I
still cherish

and share with her now as new stories,

to make her smile.

Bought by Maraya21 / / /




Lieutenant Hank Donaghue put away
his notebook and looked at his watch, surprised to see that it was nearly noon.
He rubbed his neck, trying to relieve the stiffness and cramping he felt from
having kept his eyes on the ground for much of the morning.

Their crime scene was on a bike
path in Granger Park, a district in northwest Glendale that was home to the
wealthiest stratum of the city’s population. A protected green space, it
featured well-trimmed stretches of grass, an abundance of trees, and decorative
shrubbery. It was a pretty spot.

The sky, he noticed as he moved
his head around to loosen his neck muscles, was clear and blue. The sun was
almost directly overhead, baking the air to the ninety-degree Fahrenheit
temperature predicted to continue pounding Maryland for at least the next week.
His shirt was damp beneath his suit jacket, and his mouth was a little dry.

He walked over to Captain
Martinez, who was flipping through the pages of her notebook.

“I don’t mind talking to them,

Martinez shook her head. “I’ve got
this. Then we need to talk. Things are happening.”

They walked together to the yellow
tape at the edge of the crime scene. Hank gestured to a uniformed officer, who
moved the small crowd of reporters back a few yards. He and Martinez ducked
under the tape and stood before the small circle of microphones, cameras, and

“The deceased is a male in his
late sixties,” Martinez said without preamble in a high, clear voice. “He was
shot once in the head. Evidence indicates he was riding on the bike path when
he stopped, possibly to speak to the person who shot him. His bicycle was found
upright on its kickstand a few yards away from the body. Robbery may have been
a motive. The victim’s wallet was found farther down the path under a bush with
no cash or credit cards in it. The identity of the victim is being withheld
pending notification of next of kin.”

“Who found the body?” someone

“The victim was found by a man who
was taking photographs in the park and heard the shot in the distance.”

“What’s his name?”

“Is he a suspect?”

“Did he shoot the victim?”

“What’s he saying? Did he see who
did it?”

Martinez held up her hand. “Just a
minute, take it easy. At this time he’s being treated as a witness. We’re still
in the process of interviewing him and we’ll let you know as soon as possible
whatever we can. That’s all for now.”

“Captain Martinez,” one of the
journalists called out as she turned away, “can you comment on the fact that
the recent outbreak of murders downtown now seems to have spread to Granger
Park? Is the mayor’s campaign against violent crime a failure?”

Hank stepped forward. “We’re
fairly certain this is an isolated incident in no way connected to any recent
events in Midtown or anywhere else in the city. You can remind your readers
that, statistically, violent crime is down this calendar year compared to last
year, due in large part to the mayor’s campaign. The people of Glendale can
rest assured that the police department is doing everything possible to keep
our streets and homes safe.”

The journalist gave him a thin
smile and shook his head.

Hank followed Martinez back to the
crime scene command post behind the barriers, where Detective Karen Stainer was
stripping off her latex gloves.

“I gotta take him downtown,” Karen
said. “He’s not making a hell of a lot of sense, and his old man called their

“All right.” Hank saw a uniformed
officer leading their only witness back along the bike path, away from the
reporters. “He said he knew the victim?”

“Yeah.” Karen glanced at Martinez.
“He gave us all this yakkety-yak about taking pictures of the trees and hearing
the shot and finding the vic. He said his father works for the old man. So he
calls his father and waits until he gets here before doing anything. I mean,
does that sound right? The guy’s in his thirties and he has to wait for his
daddy before he can dial nine-one-one? Give me a break.”

Karen’s Texan drawl, which made
“right” sound like “raht” and “give” sound like “gee-uv,” would be charming if
it weren’t coming from a mouth that looked like it might bite a chain in half
at any moment. She was thirty-seven years old and a sixteen-year veteran of the
police department. A Tai-kwon-do black belt with a mean streak, she was five
feet, three inches tall, weighed one hundred and five pounds, and had small fists
that could punch a hole through drywall without any special effort at all. Her
blond hair was shoulder length, her nose and chin were somewhat pointed, and
her pale blue eyes tended to fix on people in a laser beam cop’s stare.

“Well,” Martinez said to her, “see
what you can get out of him.” She looked around the scene. The bike path was
sealed off for fifty yards in each direction from where the body had been
found. Granger Park was a district of gated communities, mansions, and high-end
developments. The bike path was used almost exclusively by millionaires and
their children. She looked at the fluttering yellow tape, the yellow numbered
markers identifying evidence that was still being photographed and collected by
crime scene technicians, and the gurney from the office of the medical examiner
that was waiting to transport the body to the morgue.

“We need to nail this down,” she
said. “This is a big one.”

“You ain’t kidding.” Karen turned
on her heel and headed off after her witness.

Tim Byrne, the crime scene
investigation team leader, informed them his crew would be finished processing
the scene in about twenty minutes. Dr. Jim Easton, the medical examiner, was
now supervising the movement of the body to the gurney. An ambulance waited at
the curb along Cumberland Avenue, the street paralleling the bike path.
Reporters were beginning to peel away from the crowd to record and file their

“Let’s go,” Martinez said to Hank.
She led the way to her car, one of the new unmarked Ford Taurus Police
Interceptor models, which was parked half a block away.

Martinez started the engine,
waited for a television news van to pass, then pulled away from the curb. “You
know these people.”

“Somewhat.” Hank fastened his seat
belt and slipped on his sunglasses. “The witness, Brett Parris, I’ve never met.
His father, Walter, I know slightly. Walter’s mother, Constance Parris, is a
friend of my mother. I know her fairly well. I was introduced to the victim
once, at a reception or something my mother dragged me to when I was in
college. It was a five-second thing. He seemed like an arrogant bastard.
Billionaires don’t tend to notice the teenaged sons of retired state’s

“What I mean is, you
these people. You know what makes them tick.”

Hank looked at her. Martinez was
forty-two years old, the daughter of a convenience store owner. She’d worked
her way up the ladder through hard work, dedication, and a strong sense of
internal politics. Hank had been her supervisory lieutenant when she was an
up-and-coming detective, and now she was his captain. They trusted each other,
and because of the history between them he knew she could handle whatever was
thrown at her, but Hank understood her discomfort with the social circle into
which this case was going to pull them.

“Yeah,” he said. “I know what
makes them tick.”

“I need you to take the lead in
this.” She glanced in the rear-view mirror. “When I called the chief to tell
him who the vic was, he said he wanted you working it. He told me to talk to
the media to keep them out of your hair. Which translates as him wanting future
press conferences at his level, I guess, with me as his second fiddle. He wants
you to focus on the investigation. Stainer can work it with you as long as she
minds her Ps and Qs, but given the current state of our budget and the fact
that Jarvis took Carleson with him to that damned Chinatown task force, I can’t
give you any more help than that until I talk to him again. That’s where I’m
going right now. To plead our case.”


“Start by informing the widow and
getting her statement. I’ll drop you off.”

“No problem, Ann.”

“There’s more,” she said, glancing
over at him.

“There always is.”

“Barkley’s been chosen to replace
Paup as deputy chief.”

“I’m not surprised,” Hank said.

“They’ve asked me to move up to
acting commander of Detective Services Bureau.”

Now that
a surprise.
“Congratulations, Ann. That’s great news.”

“Yeah, I guess.” She braked at a
stop sign and looked at him. “They called me in last night. They’re not going
to backfill my spot. The budget, as I said, is a bitch right now. They expect
me to continue running Major Crimes along with the rest of the bureau. I told
them they had to move you up to acting captain to run Major Crimes for me, but
the chief refused. On top of that, he said he wouldn’t fill our detective
vacancies.” She turned the corner and shook her head. “Given the huge case just
dumped into our laps this morning, I’ve got to go right back and ask him to
reconsider. We’re going to take major heat, and we need a small army to work
this one.”

“Good luck,” Hank said.

“I’m going to need it.” She looked
at him. “I won’t have much time to spare. I need you to run Homicide for me. It
sucks they won’t pay you for it, but I need you to cover my ass.”

“You’ve got it.”

“Thanks. You have no idea.”
Martinez slowed the car at an intersection, frowning at the street signs. “Am I
going the right way? Am I getting close to Fairbanks Court?”

“You’re just a few blocks away,”
Hank said. “Next right, then a left.”

She glanced again in the rear view
mirror. “Where’s the cruiser? They’re supposed to be right behind us.”

“They’re coming, Ann. They know
where to go. It’s their district.”

“I talked to Peterson before I
came over,” she said, referring to Aaron Peterson, commander of Granger Park
district. “He’ll make sure you have whatever uniformed assistance you need on

“That’s fine.”

She sighed. “I have to get used to

“You’ll be great.”

She slowed alongside a high cement
wall topped with wire and cameras. “This must be it.” She pulled up to a gate.
A uniformed security guard stepped out of a booth and approached the car.
Martinez looked at Hank.

“I feel bad, dumping this on you.”

“No problem, Ann,” Hank said, unbuckling
his seat belt. “This is what I do. Good luck downtown.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Hank got out of the car and
watched her drive away. Then he turned to the security guard and held up the
leather wallet containing his badge and identification.

“Lieutenant Hank Donaghue, Glendale
Police Department. I’m here to see Mrs. Jarrett.”

The security guard frowned. “Got
an appointment?”

“Funny guy.” Hank looked at a golf
cart parked on the other side of the gate. “Do I have to drive that thing
myself, or is somebody going to take me up to the house?”

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