The Shadow of Death (Psalm 23 Mysteries Book 9)

BOOK: The Shadow of Death (Psalm 23 Mysteries Book 9)
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The Shadow of Death

Other Books by Debbie Viguié

 

The Psalm 23 Mysteries

The Lord is My Shepherd

I Shall Not Want

Lie Down in Green Pastures

Beside Still Waters

Restoreth My Soul

In the Paths of Righteousness

For His Name’s Sake

Walk Through the Valley

 

The Kiss Trilogy

Kiss of Night

Kiss of Death

Kiss of Revenge

 

Sweet Seasons

The Summer of Cotton Candy

The Fall of Candy Corn

The Winter of Candy Canes

The Spring of Candy Apples

 

Witch Hunt

The Thirteenth Sacrifice

The Last Grave

Circle of Blood

 

The Shadow of Death

 

Psalm 23 Mysteries

 

 

 

 

By Debbie Viguié

 

 

Published b
y
Big Pink Bow

 

The Shadow of Death

 

Copyright © 2014 by Debbie Viguié

 

ISBN-13:  978-0990697107

 

Published by Big Pink Bow

 

www.bigpinkbow.com

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

 

To Calliope Collacott for her tireless support

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who helped make this book a reality, particularly Barbara Reynolds, Rick Reynolds and
Marissa Smeyne.

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Detective Mark Walter’s attitude about holidays was completely dependent on whether or not he was working them. Holidays had a remarkable way of bringing out the best in people and the worst in people. He loved the celebratory feeling of time off that he could spend with his wife, Traci. He hated being called to a crime scene when a family function had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

The Fourth of July was coming up in just a couple of days and already he was bracing himself. He wasn’t scheduled to be on call that day, but he had a terrible niggling feeling in the back of his brain. It didn’t help that since meeting Cindy and Jeremiah holidays had seemed to become a focal point for murder, or, at least, the discovery of it. He knew it wasn’t the secretary and the rabbi’s fault, but they did have the most astounding knack for stumbling over dead bodies. What made him even more nervous was that they hadn’t found one for months. They were overdue.

So he had taken matters into his own hands. He had invited them both to a barbeque at his house to celebrate the holiday. That way he would know where they both were, and maybe could relax and enjoy the day instead of waiting for the inevitable call from one of them. Traci told him he was being paranoid. He thought he was being proactive. All of that didn’t stop the terrible feeling that something was going to go wrong, though.

“Mark?”

“Yeah, sorry,” he said, turning to his partner, Liam. It was still hard not to think of Liam as his new partner even though they had been working together now for ten months. He was a good man and he’d had Mark’s back, the only one who had been willing to take on that role after the death of Mark’s previous partner, Paul.

Mark hadn’t made any more progress for months on solving the mystery behind his late partner’s life. The truth was, he was struggling very hard to put the past in the past and focus on the future. Namely he was focused on the upcoming birth of his and Traci’s first child. It was going to be a girl. That was one mystery he could not wait to have solved. Traci, on the other hand, still didn’t know. She wanted to be surprised, but it was getting harder every day not to spill the beans by accident.

Mark took a deep breath. “What were you asking?”

“What should I bring to the barbeque tomorrow? I could make a potato salad or something.”

“No, Traci makes that. It’s her mom’s recipe and it’s the best I’ve ever had.”

“A fruit salad then?”

“That could work.”

“How many people are going to be there?”

“Eleven. Twelve if Traci’s younger sister comes, but I doubt it.”

“Okay.”

Contrary to popular belief, not all Mark’s days started off with a fresh dead body. Actually very few of them did. While some cases were pretty open and shut, many were more complicated than that. In truth, the majority of his time was spent working the angles and trying to solve cases that had been open for more than a couple of days. In that way he envied the detectives on television. Always a new crime to solve and always a nice, neat ending forty minutes later.

Mark picked up the next file on his desk with a sigh. It was an unsolved murder almost two years old at this point. He flipped it open and found himself staring again at a picture of a guy with dark, curly hair, olive skin, and intense eyes. He was an Iranian named Asim Kazmi who had just turned twenty-one when he was murdered. He had been a student at one of the local colleges and had been murdered in the park downtown. A female jogger had found him dead, sitting up on a park bench with a knife buried in his chest.

There had been no fingerprints as it turned out. None anywhere. Not even on Asim’s fingers. His fingerprints had all been burned away post-mortem. It made no sense really. Whoever had killed him had taken the time to remove his fingerprints, but not his wallet, which included a school issued picture i.d. among other things. Teachers at his school and his passport, which they found in his apartment, also corroborated his identity.

The fingerprint thing had always bothered him. It was incredibly suspicious and there were only a handful of reasons that he could think of why someone would bother to do that. As the investigation had continued and they hadn’t found anything concrete, Paul had kept urging him to let the fingerprint thing go, saying it was a dead end.

He couldn’t help but wonder if Asim’s fingerprints had been intact what would have happened if he had run them. Would they have shown up but under a different name? If Asim was an alias and his killer was trying to obscure his real identity it would make sense. It also made sense why Paul, himself an imposter, kept telling Mark to forget about the fingerprints.

There it was again, the doubts about Paul, the second guessing of everything he’d said or done in light of the revelations about him after he’d died. He tried to keep himself from doing so because that path lead to madness.

“You look a bit on edge,” Liam said.

Mark grimaced. It was getting to the point where Liam could read him frighteningly well. “A bit,” he admitted.

“Why don’t you go home? It’s late, and I’ve got things covered.”

“After I read through this file I’ll head home.”

He flipped through the notes he’d made. Interviews with students and faculty at the school had been less than helpful. Everyone he had interviewed had described Asim as either “nice” or “shy” or both.

He read again the notes of his interview of the female jogger who had found the body. No new insights there. He flipped over to start reading Paul’s notes. Paul had made detailed notes about the crime scene and had talked to a few other bystanders, none of which had been any help. Seeing Paul’s handwriting didn’t improve his mood. What made it worse was the man wrote like he spoke so Mark could almost hear his voice reading the words out loud.

He was just about to close the file and take Liam up on his offer when something caught his eye. Paul had made a notation that he believed a homeless man with a German Shepherd had seen something, but refused to talk about it.

The hair on the back of Mark’s neck lifted as he wondered if that would be the same homeless man who had been found dead months later in Jeremiah’s front yard. If so, was that his German Shepherd that Jeremiah had
adopted? Thanks to Joseph’s charity program there were several homeless people in the area who had dogs, but they had acquired them well after Asim was killed. The only homeless man he was aware of that had had an animal prior to that was Peter Wallace, the man who had turned up dead on Jeremiah’s lawn.

Even though that homeless man had been killed at the same time that several others had, the killers had never confessed to his particular murder. Was it possible he was killed not by them but by whoever had killed Asim? If so, the fact that he was killed so close to Jeremiah’s home and died in his yard became much stranger.

Mark stood up abruptly. “I need to get some air.”

“I told you, go home,” Liam said without looking up from the file he was studying.

Mark should have listened the first time. He grabbed his coat and headed out to the parking lot. After climbing into his car he put the key in the ignition but didn’t start it. He just sat for a moment, staring out the windshield at nothing while his brain went into overdrive.

Could the homeless man really have been killed over what happened to the student? If so, why was there a several months gap between the two? And what did Jeremiah have to do with any of this? Mark was starting to think that it was too much of a coincidence that the homeless man had died on the rabbi’s lawn.

Peter Wallace had been the homeless man’s name. Mark and Paul had gone to the funeral, as had Jeremiah. Mark had noted that a couple others attended as well, but that they stayed far back from the activity and didn’t interact with anyone. Peter, Asim, Jeremiah. What, if any, was the connection between the three of them?

Mark felt suddenly very tired. Being on the brink of solving a puzzle, especially one he’d been working on so long, usually energized him. Not this time, though, and he had to admit to himself that it was because of Jeremiah. He knew the man had a past but up until now Mark had done his best to avoid knowing too much about it. He had figured it was better for everyone that way. There was a phrase for that...plausible deniability. What he didn’t know couldn’t hurt any of them.

His phone vibrated and Mark pulled it from his pocket. Traci had texted him asking him to pick up more potatoes and sparklers at the store for her on his way home.

Potatoes and sparklers. That’s what life was all about. One was commonplace, everyday life. The other was special, unexpected, a highlight that broke through the mundane and transformed things if even just for a moment. The average person would get to see about 80 Fourth of July celebrations if they were lucky. That was less than 3 months of celebration and sparklers in a lifetime.

“Life is too short,” he said out loud as he gently pounded the steering wheel with his fist. At this point he was one of the only, if not the only, person who cared about finding Asim’s killer. Or Peter’s for that matter. There were no families or friends pressing him for answers, begging for justice. He wanted that justice for them, but he was beginning to worry that it might come at a terrible cost. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, trying to calm his thoughts. In the words of one of Traci’s favorite songs, he should let it go.

He opened his eyes, started up the car, and pulled out of the parking lot. He wasn’t sure he could let it go forever, but for the moment he was off duty and there was a party to
prep for, a holiday to celebrate, sparklers to bring joy. He’d deal with life’s potatoes later.

As it was he managed to go to the store, buy sparklers, and get back to his car before realizing he had forgotten to buy Traci the potatoes she needed.
Apparently I can let something go
, he thought ruefully as he went back in for the potatoes.

 

 

At work Cindy Preston watched the minutes on the clock drag by. She was sitting at her desk in the church office waiting for her day to be done so she could get out of there. She kept hoping one of the pastors would come in and tell them to take off early. In hopeful anticipation of that she was ready to go. All she would have to do was shut down her computer and grab her purse.

“You’re so antsy you’re making me antsy,” Geanie said. “What on earth is up with you today?”

“I just wanted to get the long weekend started. It’s the first I’ve had in a while.”

“Memorial Day was only a few weeks ago.”

“Yeah, but I got stuck working at the all church picnic the new pastor decided to have.”

Their permanent new head pastor to replace the one who had quit had been there for three months now. Ben was nice, outgoing, and the best part was he and the music director got along. Maybe a little too well. They had been busy planning all kinds of new events, which was great for the church, but an incredible amount of work for Cindy and the rest of the staff.

“I know we’re seeing you tomorrow at Mark and Traci’s party, but what are you doing the rest of the weekend?”

“I’m not sure about later in the weekend but tonight Jeremiah and I are going to watch Independence Day. He’s never seen it before.”

“Aha! Movie date is what has you so excited.”

“It’s not a date,” Cindy protested, feeling herself flush.

“Right,” Geanie said, drawing out the word sarcastically.

It wasn’t. Although, Cindy didn’t know what it was. For the last few months they had been in this weird place. It was odd, sometimes knowing Jeremiah’s secret made them seem closer and sometimes she could still feel him holding her at arm’s length.

They still didn’t talk about his past, not really. She wanted to, but he was always hesitant. She figured maybe it was too painful. Although she had to admit that on her own time she had taken a sudden intense interest in spy movies. Jeremiah might not want to talk about his past, but her curiosity was growing by the day. That coupled with the fact that things had been very quiet lately were helping to set her on edge. She felt like she was in this constant state of anticipation.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop. That’s what her dad would say. She just wondered how long she’d have to wait.

“What are you and Joseph doing?” Cindy asked, trying to change the subject.

“First Fourth of July as husband and wife,” Geanie said with a grin. “We’re totally going to celebrate that.”

Cindy laughed. “It’s my understanding that you and Joseph are pretty much celebrating every minute of every day this year.”

“And why not?” Geanie asked with a flip of her hair. “It isn’t everyday a guy lands a fantastic catch like me.”

The door opened and they both stopped laughing. The Youth Pastor, Dave, also known as Wildman, came charging in with a look of complete rapture on his face. He walked up to them and then came to a stop. “Amazing news everyone!” he said, eyes shining. “You’ll never guess.”

“Then don’t make us try, tell us!” Geanie said.

“I was in a meeting all afternoon with Ben talking about the youth program here at the church. Where it is, where I want to see it go, everything.”

BOOK: The Shadow of Death (Psalm 23 Mysteries Book 9)
7.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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