An excerpt from Chapter 1
Zach Costa didn’t see what killed him. Even if he had, he couldn’t have told anyone before his swelling, bleeding brain shut down for good. It took a few minutes.
First there was nothing. Then came a semi-conscious awareness of crushing pain, hands pushing him, probing his pockets, pulling an arm, a leg. He heard a voice, someone whispering angry words he didn’t understand. He tried to speak. He saw his mother, his brother. An older man, too. Pop? A vision of Emma floated by. She was naked, beckoning. He tried to reach out but his hands hit an invisible barrier. She faded into nothing.
He tried to remember something he was supposed to do. Get to class on time? Take out the trash? Get the box. That was it. If he could just get the box, he could ride on home.
The pain turned to fire and blinding light and then it stopped.
* * *
The Monday morning sun came up hot and right on schedule. For Detective Sergeant Edward Shaw it seemed way too hot and a little too early, but it’s what you get in the Midwest in August. The weather guy said it might be another triple-digit record, with humidity in the high nineties yet again. Shaw took a cold shower, dressed in front of the window AC unit, then said goodbye to being dry and comfortable for the day. The best he could hope for was to not soak clear through his usual blue oxford shirt and blue cotton sport coat before he got to work.
He took a quick look around the one-bedroom walk-up he’d just moved into, muttered to himself that it would do, then made his way downstairs and out to the parking lot. He started his aging Buick Regal and cranked the air all the way up, hoping in vain that it might make a difference. It blew hot air and showed no signs that it would do otherwise. Swearing, he got out, took off the coat and tossed it on the back seat. He told himself he would take the time to get the dying beast serviced one of these days. Slipping behind the wheel again, he ran the windows down and let the fan blow warm air around as he drove east on Ingersoll. Within minutes he was parked in his usual spot outside 25 East First, the riverside Beaux-Arts monument known as the Des Moines Police Station. He left the car windows open and walked around to the main entrance with the coat slung over a shoulder and sweat running down his back. This would be a good day to stay indoors, he told himself, if only everyone would behave. Fat chance.