The Women's Murder Club pursues two cases in an electrifying new thriller–chasing a deranged killer and searching for a murderer with a taste for fire.
Part One | BLUE MOON
I MADE THE ONE-HOUR DRIVE back to the Hall of Justice in forty-five minutes, took the stairs from the lobby to the third floor, and strode into the squad room looking for Jacobi.
The forty-by-forty-foot open space was lit with flickering overhead fluorescent tubing, making the night crew hunched over their desks look like they'd just crawled out of their graves. A few old guys lifted their eyes, said, "Howsit goin', Sarge?" as I made my way to Jacobi's glassed-in corner office, with its view of the on-ramp to the 280 freeway.
My partner, Richard Conklin, was already there; thirty years old, six feet two inches of all-American hunk, one of his long legs resting on the edge of Jacobi's junkyard of a desk.
I pulled out the other chair, bashed my knee, swore loudly and emphatically as Jacobi sniggered, "Nice talk, Boxer." I sat down, thinking how this had been a functional workspace when Jacobi's office had been mine. I took off my baseball cap and shook out my hair, hoping to hell that the guys wouldn't smell tequila on my breath.
"What kind of lead?" I asked without preamble.
"It's a tip kind of lead," Jacobi said. "Anonymous caller using a prepaid cell phone – untraceable, naturally. Caller said he'd seen the Campion kid entering a house on Russian Hill the night he disappeared. The house is home to a prostitute."
As Jacobi made room on his desk for the prostitute's rap sheet, I thought about Michael Campion's life at the time he'd disappeared.
There'd been no dates for Michael, no parties, no sports. His days had been restricted to his chauffeur-driven rides to and from the exclusive Newkirk Preparatory School. So it didn't sound exactly crazy that he'd visited a prostitute. He'd probably paid off his driver and escaped the plush-lined prison of his parents' love for an hour or two.
But what had happened to him afterward?
What had happened to Michael?
"Why is this tip credible?" I asked Jacobi. "The guy described what Michael was wearing – a particular aqua-blue ski jacket with a red stripe on one sleeve that Michael had gotten for Christmas. That jacket was never mentioned in the press."
"So why did this tipster wait three months before calling it in?" I asked Jacobi.
"I can only tell you what he said. He said he was leaving the prostitute's house as Michael Campion was coming in. That he didn't drop the dime until now because he has a wife and kids. Didn't want to get caught up in the hullabaloo, but that his conscience had been needling him. Finally got to him, I guess."
"Russian Hill is a nice neighborhood for a pross," Conklin said.
And it was. Kind of like the French Quarter meets South Beach. And it was within walking distance of the Newkirk School. I took a notebook out of my handbag.
"What's the prostitute's name?"
"Her given name is Myrtle Bays," Jacobi said, handing me her sheet. The attached mug shot was of a young woman with a girlish look, short blond hair, and huge eyes. Her date of birth made her twenty-two years old.
"A few years ago she legally changed her name," said Jacobi. "Now she calls herself Junie Moon."
"So Michael Campion went to a hooker, Jacobi," I said, putting the rap sheet back down on his desk. "What's your theory?"
"That the kid died in flagrante delicto, Boxer. In English that means 'in the saddle.' If this tip pans out, I'm thinking maybe Ms. Myrtle Bays, AKA Junie Moon, killed Michael with his first roll in the hay – and then she made his body disappear."
Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson
Carolyn McCormick has appeared in the films A Simple Twist of Fate and Enemy Mine. She has appeared on television as Dr. Olivit on Law & Order, and as a guest on The Practice and Star Trek. Her Broadway credits include roles in The Dinner Party and Private Lives. She read 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, and 6th Target by James Patterson for Hachette Audio.