The North Las Vegas neighborhood was slowly making the transition from cozy to shabby. A 420 on the radio, this homicide call—which on the Strip would be treated like a presidential assassination, every squad car rolling in with lights strobing and siren blaring—had generated only one North Las Vegas PD squad, which sat parked out front of the house as quietly as if this was the officer’s home …
… and not a crime scene.
Which was what brought LVPD Crime Scene Investigation supervisor Gil Grissom to this declining residential area, and not for the first time—wasn’t a habit yet, but calls in these environs were definitely on the upswing.
Seasoned veteran Grissom descended on this troubled neighborhood like the angel of death, albeit a casually attired one, such a study in black was he: sunglasses, Polo shirt, slacks, shoes. Gray was invading the dark curly hair, however, intruding as well into a beard he’d grown to save himself time, only to find trimming the thing was its own burden. He’d thought of shaving the damn thing off, at least twenty times, but that much of an expenditure of time he wasn’t ready to invest.
Gil Grissom’s life was his work, and his work was death.
Nick Stokes, behind the wheel, parked the black CSI Tahoe behind the NLVPD cruiser; after him, Warrick Brown pulled in a second Tahoe. Grissom and Stokes had ridden in the lead vehicle while Warrick shared his with fellow CSIs, Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle.
Muscular, former college jock Nick had dark hair cut close and an easy smile that belied how seriously he took his job. The heroic-jawed CSI wore jeans and a T-shirt with the LVPD badge embroidered over the left breast.
Green-eyed, African-American Warrick was tall and slender, and his expression seemed serious most of the time, though wry twists of humor did come through. In his untucked brown T-shirt and khaki slacks, the loose-limbed Warrick seemed more relaxed than Nick, but Grissom knew both young men were tightly wired, in a good way, excellent analysts and dedicated hard workers.
Even more intense than her two male teammates, Sara Sidle wore her dark hair to her shoulders and preferred comfortable clothes like today’s tan T-shirt and brown slacks. Still, she was as striking in her way as Catherine Willows, a redhead with the chiseled features of a model and the slenderly curvaceous body of a dancer. Wearing an aqua tank top and navy slacks, Catherine still more closely resembled the exotic performer she had been to the crack scientist she’d become.
Though they worked the graveyard shift, Grissom’s team—thanks to manpower shortages this week—was currently working overtime to help cover dayshift court appearances and vacations. Normally, these CSIs would have showed up at a crime scene in the middle of the night, but with the OT, they found themselves arriving at this one with the summer sun already high in a cloudless blue sky, the heat dry but not oppressive, tourist friendly.
Pulling off his sunglasses, Grissom studied the bungalow: tiny and, particularly for this neighborhood, still in decent repair. The dirt yard was small and bisected by a crumbling sidewalk that passed a steel flagpole on its way to the open front door. Two flags hung limp on the windless day, an American flag at the top and a Green Bay Packers one beneath it, while a short gravel driveway ran up the far side of the house, a dark blue early nineties Chevy parked in the middle.
Even though homes surrounded the bungalow all along the block, to Grissom, the house looked lonely, somehow. Heat shimmered off the pavement outside this house; but sadness shimmered off the house itself.
As Grissom hopped down from the Tahoe, his peripheral vision caught an unmarked Ford pulling up on the other side of the street. He paused to glance back and see the detective getting out, a lanky six-three in an ill-fitting gray suit—Bill Damon. The detective was still in his late twenties, having been with the North Las Vegas PD for five or six years, now deep into his first year as a detective. Though his pants always seemed an inch or so too short, and his jacket seemed large enough for a man twice his size, Damon fit the job nicely—if still unseasoned as a detective, this was a good cop, with his heart in the right place.
While more than a hundred thousand souls made North Las Vegas their home—and had their own police department—the Las Vegas crime scene analysts served all of Clark County, which meant occasionally the CSIs worked with detectives from departments other than their own. Grissom had run into Damon on a couple of cases before, but always as the secondary detective, never the primary.
As the detective crossed the street, he held out his hand to Grissom—long, slender fingers with big, knobby knuckles.
“Gil,” he said as they shook. “Been a while.”
“Yes it has,” Grissom said, offering up a noncommital smile.
“Checked inside yet?”
The CSI supervisor shook his head. “Just got here. All we know is it’s a 420.”
Damon shrugged. “Which is what I know. Guess we better get informed….”
“Always a good policy.”
While Grissom’s team unloaded their gear from the back of their vehicles, a stocky, sawed-off uniformed cop walked over from the front door of the bungalow to join them. He carried a click-top ballpoint pen in one hand and a notebook in the other. His nametag said LOGAN. An African-American of forty or so, he wore his hair trimmed short, which minimized the tiny patches of gray here and there. He stood just above the minimum height requirement, making the tall Damon seem towering.
Logan nodded to Grissom but gave his attention to his own department’s detective.
“Hey, Henry,” Damon said.
So much for small talk.
Logan smirked humorlessly, nodding back at the house. “Got a real ugly number for you in there. Guy murdered in his living room—but I sure don’t call that living.”
Grissom asked, “You’ve been inside?”
Logan nodded, shrugged. “Don’t worry—your evidence oughta be waiting, and plenty of it. All I did was clear the place and make sure the killer was gone. One path in, one path out.”
“Good,” Grissom said, looking toward the house again.
No screen and the front door yawned wide.
“Did you open that door, Officer Logan?” Grissom asked.
“Hell no. Do I look like—”
“Have you done this before? Cleared a murder scene?”
“Had my fair share of bodies over the years. And this is the kind of corpse you don’t trip over or anything—guy’s in plain sight from the front doorway, and dead as shit.”
Grissom’s smile was so small it barely qualified. “Officer, I don’t care how many murders you’ve covered, our victim deserves more respect than that.”
Logan looked at Grissom like the CSI was from outer space.
Damon asked, “You’re sure he’s dead?”
Logan gave the detective a vaguely patronizing look. “Hey, I been doin’ this a long time, Bill. Like I said, this guy’s dead as … can be—or I’d have an ambulance here and we’d be wheeling him out. Take a look for yourself.”
But Grissom wasn’t satisfied with the background yet. “How did the call come in?”
“Next-door neighbor,” Logan said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. “She went out to the street to get her mail …”
Logan pointed at the row of mailboxes running along the curb.
The cop continued: “… then our neighbor lady glanced over and saw the door open. The guy who lives here …” He checked his notebook. “… guy who lived there, Marvin Sandred, usually worked during the day. So, when the neighbor, woman named …” He checked his notebook again. “… Tammy Hinton, saw the door standing open, she went to check on the place. One gander at the body and she phoned us.”
Grissom asked, “She said it was Sandred?”
“We should talk to her.”
“Yeah,” Damon said, as if reminding everyone, including himself, that he was in charge, “we should talk to her right away.”
“I can cover that,” Logan said, but shook his head. “I’m just not sure it’ll do any good, right now. She was pretty shook up, which is why I sent her home. Anything else you need?”
“No, Henry,” Damon said. “Thank you.”
Logan frowned at Grissom. “All due respect, Dr. Grissom—I know who you are, everybody does—I don’t appreciate you going all self-righteous on me.”
With no inflection, Grissom said, “Then don’t use terms like ‘dead as shit’ to describe a murder victim.”
Logan’s indignation faded to embarrassment. “Yeah, okay. Point taken. No harm, no foul?”
“Not yet,” Grissom said.
Logan headed to the neighbor’s house, while Damon said, “You ready to check this out?”
Grissom started for the house, the CSIs and the North Las Vegas cops trailing in his wake. Over his shoulder, he said, “Nick, you take the backyard—Warrick, the front.”
“You got it, Gris,” Nick said.
Warrick just nodded.
While the two CSIs peeled off, Grissom, Catherine, and Sara—trailed by Detective Damon—pressed on to the front door atop a two-step stoop. At the threshold, he stopped.
“Sara,” Grissom said, as he and the others snugged on their latex gloves, “let’s see if there are any prints on the doorbell.”
She nodded and stepped off to the side. Like the other CSIs, she had lugged along her tool-kit-style crime-scene case, which she set down on the concrete, and got to it.
Grissom led the way through the front door, Catherine right behind; Damon was lingering on the porch, watching Sara work, making conversation that she wasn’t taking much part in.
The house was dark, curtains drawn, lights off. In the gloom, Grissom could nonetheless see that the living room was to the right, the kitchen through a doorway to the back and a hallway, at the rear of the living room, led to the bedrooms and bathroom.
Next to him, Catherine clicked on her mini-flash. There could be no turning on of lights until the switches and their plates had been dusted for prints. She used the beam to highlight doorways, then settled on the corpse, at right.
The living room stank of death in general; sweat, urine, and excrement, in particular. With its scant rent-to-own furnishings—a sofa, a coffee table, a TV at an angle in the far corner, and a couple of end tables—the room seemed as lonely inside as the house had from out. A lamp on one end table seemed to be the only potential light source, other than a picture window behind drawn curtains. Newspapers, some mail, a couple of carry-out containers cluttered the coffee table; otherwise, the room was clean—not counting the body sprawled in the middle of the floor.
The first detail Grissom picked up on was a pool of blood near one of the hands, where the index finger had been amputated. Grissom got his own mini-flash out and its beam looked around, but there was no sign of the digit. Perhaps the killer had taken a souvenir.
“I’ll work the body,” Grissom said, “while you do the rest of the house.”
Catherine glanced down at the victim. “He’s all yours…. Wasn’t exactly in charge of his own destiny when he died, either.”
“Might have something significant here,” Grissom said, as he swept with the mini-flash around the body, not wanting to disturb any evidence when he drew nearer.
Catherine arched an eyebrow. “You think?”
She turned toward the hallway as Detective Damon finally made his way inside the house. Pulling up short, he winced, nostrils flaring before he quickly covered them. “Whoa—well, isn’t that nasty?”
“Victim evacuated at death,” Grissom said matter-of-factly.
Between the man’s spread legs, feces pooled in urine. Grissom was long since used to this, but what bothered him most was that these strong odors could blot out other, subtler, more important ones.
From the corridor, Catherine said, “I’ll start in the kitchen.” Her crime-scene case swinging at her side, Catherine disappeared through the doorway.
Color had drained from the detective’s face; perhaps the word “kitchen” had in this context given him a bad moment.
“You need me here?” he asked with an audible gulp.
“You’ll just be in the way,” Grissom said.
“I mean, it is my crime scene….”
Grissom gave him a firm look. “No it’s not—it’s mine. Let me process it, then we’ll talk … outside.”
The detective desired to take the argument no further; he practically sprinted out the front door.
Returning his attention to the body on the floor, Grissom started by getting the big picture.
A Caucasian man between forty-five and fifty, he estimated; the victim was nude, prone, on his stomach, a rope around his neck. The index finger of his right hand had been severed and—so far, indications were—taken away. The man’s head was to one side, giving Grissom a view of a telling touch by the murderer: the deceased’s lips had been painted with a garish red lipstick.
A CSI always kept an eye out for modus operandi; but seldom was a signature so explicit. The normally detached Grissom felt a chill, but it had nothing to do with fear or even revulsion—he just knew he had to make a phone call on this one. A friend was affected by this.
But, his nature being his nature, he decided to work the scene first.
The vic had probably been asphyxiated, but Grissom knew better than to make that more than a working hypothesis, and would wait for the coroner, to make the final call on cause of death.
Grissom got his camera from his stainless steel crime-scene kit, and started taking pictures. First he did the room, then the body, then close-ups of the body. It took a while, but he had long ago learned patience, and even though thoughts flooded his mind, Grissom held himself to the standard of quick-but-not-hurried. He forced the impending phone call to the back of his mind and continued his work.
After a while, Sara came into the room. Unlike the detective, she reacted not at all to what a civilian would consider a stench, but which a professional crime scene analyst would consider par for the course. Nor did anything but the faintest trace of sadness—even pros were allowed compassion—cross her wide, pretty mouth.
Then she said, “Got a partial off the bell, couple partials off the knob.”
“It’s a start,” Grissom said.
“What’s Catherine up to?”
Grissom glanced at her, a little mischief in his faint smile. “Woman’s place is in the kitchen.”
She grinned, grunted a laugh. “You wish…. This one’s … specific, isn’t it?”
“It is that.”
“Doesn’t ring any of my bells, though. How about yours, Grissom?”
“They toll for him,” he said, nodding toward the victim, but explained no further.
Sara didn’t expect him to, and didn’t press it, saying, “Okay I head over next door, to join our detective and officer? They’re interviewing the neighbor, and I’d like to print her, get her eliminated. Partial on the bell might be hers, y’know.”
“Might. You do that.”
“… There’s never a good way, is there?”
“To get murdered.”
“No,” Grissom admitted. “But this strikes me as one of the least desirable.”
“I hear that,” she said, and strode out.
He smiled to himself, pleased at how unfazed by the crime scene she’d been. He had picked Sara personally, when a CSI had been killed on the job and needed replacing; she’d been a student who excelled at his seminars, and he’d been impressed and sought her out and brought her in, and she had not disappointed.
On the other hand, he was disappointed in himself, sometimes, as his affection for this bright young woman had on occasion threatened to take him over the professional line.
And that was a line Gil Grissom did not wish to cross.
The supervisor returned his attention to the dead body.
Some sort of liquid pooled on the victim’s back and he bent down to take a closer look.
Little sailors, he thought, as he took a photo of the semen gathered at the small of the victim’s back. Setting the camera aside, he then swabbed a small portion of the fluid for DNA testing later. Something about the sample troubled him, though; this was part of the M.O. he had recognized, but it was a little … off.
Then he had it: The fluid on the back was meant to suggest that the killer had masturbated onto the victim, but the semen pooled neatly in that one spot on the vic’s back.
It’s been poured there, Grissom thought with a grim smile.
If the killer had ejaculated, in a sick frenzy attached to the murder, the result would hardly have been one tidy little pool. Most likely, other droplets would be here and there, spattered….
He bagged the semen sample, finished taking his photos, swabbed the blood in the rug, and went over the body for any trace evidence. He found nothing. The last thing he did was carefully remove the rope and bag it. When he had completed his initial pass at the body, he withdrew his cell phone and punched the speed dial.
On the second ring, a brusque voice answered: “Jim Brass.”
“I’ve got something you need to see,” Grissom said, without identifying himself. “It’s not in your jurisdiction, but it’s right up your alley.”
“Cute, Gil. But haven’t you heard? I’m on vacation.”
“Really kicking back, are you?”
Silence; no, not silence: Grissom, detective that he was, could detect a sigh….
“You know as well as I do,” Brass said. “I’m bored out of my mind.”
“You know, people who live for their work should seek other outlets.”
“What, like collecting bugs? Gil—what have you got?”
“An oldie but baddie—I wasn’t with you on it … kind of before our time, together.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The one you never forget—your first case.”
The long pause that followed contained no sigh. Not even a breath. Just stony silence.
Then Brass said, “You’re not talking about my first case back in Jersey, are you?”
“No. I’ve got a killing out here in North Las Vegas that shares a distinctive M.O. with your other first case.”
“Christ. Where are you exactly?”
“Just getting started.”
“I mean the address!”
“Oh,” Grissom said, and gave it to him.
“Twenty minutes,” Brass said and broke the connection.
The homicide captain made it in fifteen.
From the open doorway, Grissom watched Brass’s car pull up and the detective get out, and cross the lawn like a man on a mission. Which, Grissom supposed, he was.
The compact, mournful-eyed Brass—always one to wear a jacket and tie, no matter the weather—had showed up in jeans and a blue shirt open at the neck.
The uniformed officer, Logan, went out to catch Brass at the front stoop, thinking a relative or other civilian had arrived. The detective flashed his badge, but Logan seemed unimpressed.
“What brings you to our neck of the woods, Captain?”
Leaning out the doorway, Grissom called, “He’s with me, Officer. It’s all right.”
Logan, apparently not wishing to tangle with Grissom again, sighed and nodded and let Brass pass.
“You could’ve told him I was coming,” Brass complained.
“Yeah, well I’m still working on my social skills,” Grissom said.
“Really? How’s that coming along?”
Shrugging, Grissom stepped back inside and got out of the way so Brass could see the body.
The detective took one look and shook his head. The blood had drained from his face and his eyes were large and unblinking. “Well, son of a—”
“Is it CASt?” Grissom asked.
Catherine came back in from the kitchen, kit in one latex-gloved hand, gesturing behind her with the other. “I didn’t find anything except dirty dishes …” Seeing Brass, she froze and blinked. “Aren’t you on vacation?”
Brass nodded to her. “I was.” His sad gaze fixed on Grissom. “Well, it sure looks like CASt’s handiwork….”
“Cast?” Catherine asked, joining them. The three had the corpse surrounded—he wasn’t going anywhere.
Closing his eyes, Brass touched the thumb and middle finger of his right hand to the bridge of his nose. “You didn’t work that case … you might even have been a lab tech still. I dunno.”
Catherine looked at Grissom and tightened her eyes in a signal of, Help me out here? Grissom, of course, merely shrugged.
Brass was saying, “I know you’ve heard me talk about it—my first case here? Never solved? Lot of play in the press? Worst serial killer in Vegas history? Cop in charge an incompetent New Jersey jackass? Sound familiar?”
“Taunted the PD in the papers,” Catherine said, nodding, thinking out loud. “Used the initials … C period A period S period tee.”
“‘Capture,’” Grissom said, “‘Afflict, and Strangle.’”
“I did a little lab work on the case,” Catherine said. “I was nightshift then, too. And wasn’t it a dayshift case?”
“Yes. This was ten, eleven years ago.” Brass rubbed his forehead. “I just transferred in, from back East. Still shellshocked from my … my divorce. Not exactly on top of the Vegas scene, yet….”
“All I remember about the case is pretty vague,” Catherine admitted. “More from TV and the papers than anything in-house….”
Grissom said, “Lots of media, but we were able to control it better in those days. And fortunately it never caught wide national play.”
Brass said, “Yeah, we kept as much out as we could. My partner, Vince Champlain, didn’t want to muddy the waters.”
“Good call,” Catherine said. “Wish we had better luck with that, these days.”
Brass continued: “Vince was the senior detective. He figured, more we put in the paper, more crackpots we’d have to deal with. S. O. P. And yet, of course, there were plenty just the same. We must’ve had twenty different whack jobs try to claim those crimes.”
“None of the wrongos looked right?” Catherine asked.
Brass shook his head. “Nah, standard issue nut-cases. Serial confessors.”
Catherine said, “What did you have?”
With a dark, defeated smile, Brass looked at her and said, “Victims—we had victims. Five—all male, all white, all in late middle-age, and all on the heavy side …”
As if it had been choreographed, the detective and the two CSIs looked as one at the dead body.
“… and all strangled with a reverse-eight noose.”
Catherine frowned. “Which is what, exactly?”
“A knot—a ‘wrong’ running noose,” Grissom said. “It’s about which end of the rope you pull to tighten the noose. This knot’s backward … and other than yo-yos, you never see it used.”
Turning back to Brass, Catherine asked, “Any real suspects back then?”
“We started with a slew, but we narrowed it to three,” Brass said. “I had a guy I liked, Vince had a guy he liked, and there was a third one that looked good, only neither of us thought he did the killings.”
Pointing at the body, Grissom said, “Here’s how we do this: Run it like we would any other homicide investigation.”
Brass nodded, then asked, “You want me to start with looking into our old suspects?”
Grissom gave him a long, appraising look. “First, a question.”
“Second, an answer.”
“Should you be working on this?”
“Shouldn’t I?” Brass said, his voice rising slightly.
“Jim,” Catherine said. “You’ve carried this one around for a long time. Objectivity—”
“Can kiss my ass,” he blurted, then immediately seemed embarrassed about it.
Grissom studied his friend. “So you’re Captain Ahab on this one?”
“Let’s just say,” Brass said, “I’m gonna catch the dick.”
“Ah,” Grissom said ambiguously.
“And,” Brass said, swallowing, his tone softening, “we will, as you say, work it like any other homicide.”
Grissom’s eyes met Catherine’s. Her skepticism was etched in an open-mouthed smile.
Apologetically, Brass said, “Come on, you two—you’ll keep me honest on this. You’ll keep me—”
“Objective?” Catherine offered. “You really think this is a good idea, Jim?” But her question was obviously intended for Grissom.
Grissom ignored that and said to Brass, “Do you see any reasonable way this could be a coincidence, looking so much like a CASt-off?”
Catherine added, “Which is what the press called his victims, right?”
“Yeah, and it’s no coincidence.” Brass indicated the corpse. “If this isn’t the guy’s real signature, it’s sure as hell a copycat who knows how to commit a hell of a forgery.”
Catherine asked, “How so?”
Brass shrugged. “Well, if it’s a copycat, he or she knows way more than was ever in the media.”
Nodding, Catherine said, “You kept things back, so you could sort through the false confessions. Of course …”
Grissom said, “Whether this is a blast from the past, or a latterday cover artist … we’re going to need all the help we can get.”
Catherine drew in a deep breath and let it out. “New or old—this is one vicious killer.”
Grissom was watching the homicide captain. “See anything here, Jim? You’re the veteran of the CASt-off crime scenes.”
Brass moved closer, squatted next to the dead man, then finally rose and faced Grissom.
“Much as I’d like to have a crack at the original CASt,” he said measuredly, “I think this may be a copycat.”
Grissom and Catherine traded a look.
“Why?” Grissom asked.
“Appears staged. For one thing, there’s not enough blood.”
Catherine stared at the coagulating puddle on the rug. “How so?”
“Those five original murder scenes,” Brass said, and his eyes took on a haunted cast, “spray was everywhere. Here, there’s none of that.”
“Blood spatter,” she said with satisfaction; after all, it was her specialty. “In the other cases, were the fingers cut off before the victims were killed?”
Brass, pleased she was following him, said, “Yes.”
“Here it would seem to be postmortem. A living victim would have considerable spray, and might wave his mutilated hand around, further spreading the blood.”
“Right,” Brass said with a nod. “And there’s something that isn’t right about how the semen is pooled on his back….”
Grissom fielded that one, explaining his theory, concluding with, “It’s always hard to tell with ejaculate at a crime scene—configuration of the victim’s body, and how the perp’s body functions; but this looks almost—poured on.”
“B.Y.O.S.,” Catherine said.
Brass and Grissom frowned at her in confusion.
Her eyebrows rose. “Bring your own semen? The killer brought his specimen from home. Or maybe it was a woman, who had to bring a specimen….”
“Makes sense either way,” Brass said. “A copycat is coldly staging a crime; the real crimes were driven by passion, by a killer really … into it.”
“Exactly my point,” Grissom said. “Still, this crime scene is close to the originals, right?”
“Yeah,” Brass said. “Other than these details we’ve discussed … oh yeah.”
“With a copycat, our lines of inquiry become nicely narrowed.” Grissom gestured toward the body. “Who did know this much information about those murders?”
Thought clouded the detective’s face. Then: “Well, the killer, of course … the cops on the case, ourselves … and a couple of newspaper guys.”
Catherine asked, “Who, specifically?”
“Two crime beat reporters for the Las Vegas Banner—Perry Bell and David Paquette. They received the original taunting letters from CASt. And they even did a quickie paperback together, about the case.”
“Isn’t Paquette an editor at the Banner?” Catherine asked.
“Now he is—Paquette seemed to get the better end of the book notoriety. Paquette got the editor’s post, but then Bell did get his own column.”
Both CSIs nodded.
Most LVPD personnel knew of Bell and his column, The Bell Beat. Grissom didn’t think the guy was much of a writer, but then neither were Walter Winchell or Larry King; but the columnist did have a reputation for honesty, and it was said he never betrayed a source, or any kind of trust, which was a big part of how he’d been successful for so long. When a cop shared something with Bell in confidence, it stayed that way until the officer told him he could print it.
“Guess I better go have a chat with the Fourth Estate,” Brass said.
Catherine gestured to the grotesque corpse. “You think either Paquette or Bell might be capable of … this?”
Brass shrugged. “Gacy was a clown, Bundy a law student, Juan Corona a labor contractor who killed two dozen for fun and profit. Who’s to say what people are capable of? One thing I do know—if we’re treating this like a normal homicide, then Perry Bell and Dave Paquette are suspects … and I’m going to go have a talk with them.”
They met with the other cops and CSIs in the yard while paramedics went inside to deal with the body.
Damon looked annoyed as he eyeballed Brass. “What are you doing here, Jim?”
Brass started to say something, but Grissom stepped up like a referee.
“I called him in,” Grissom said. “As an advisor. He worked a case very similar to this years ago.”
“Similar how?” Damon asked.
“Similar,” Grissom said, “exactly.”
“Murders,” Brass said. “A serial killer.”
“Oh, come on,” Damon said. “What is this, the movies?”
Catherine said, “Why, do you get a lot of d.b.’s out here in North Las Vegas, men with lipstick smiles and semen on their backs?”
Damon’s mouth opened but no words came out.
Grissom said, “It’s a perp called CASt.”
That really got Damon’s attention; he took a long pause and swallowed and said, “Holy shit … I remember him. It was in the papers when I was in college! Damn … you think he did this?”
Grissom and Brass exchanged glances; then the CSI supervisor shrugged. “We don’t know. He’s been inactive for something like eleven years. We’ll see.”
“You’ll be working with me, of course,” Damon said. “I mean, it is my case.”
Again, Brass started to say something and Grissom cut him off. “Certainly.”
“Well … then … good.” Damon nodded, put his hands on his hips and puffed up a little bit. “Glad that’s understood. Good.”
Turning his attention to his team, Grissom asked, “Well?”
Nick said, “Nothing that seems related in the backyard.”
“Front yard looks clean too,” Warrick said. “Got a partial footprint, but it could be nothing.”
“Or something,” Grissom said.
“Or something,” Warrick said with a humorless smirk.
“I got a sample of the neighbor’s prints,” Sara said. “But she claims she never touched the bell or the knob. She says she just looked inside, saw the ‘horrible thing,’ and called 911.”
Grissom began to smile—just a little. “Possible fingerprints, possible footprints, DNA evidence…. We’ve started with less. And we have an M.O. match to past crimes. What do you say, gang? Shall we cast out our line, and reel in a killer?”
Max Allan Collins is a New York Times bestselling author of original mysteries, a Shamus award winner and an experienced author of movie adaptions and tie-in novels. His graphic novel Road to Perdition has been made into a major motion picture by Tom Hank’s production company. He is also the author of the tie-in novel series based on the original CSI.