Top ten New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance brings another stunning novel of passion, violence, and dreams turned deadly, featuring Seattle Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont.
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August 22, 2005
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Excerpt from Taking the Fifth by J.A. Jance
The aid car was there, sitting next to the railroad track with its red light flashing. But for the guy on the ground, the guy lying on his stomach with his face in the cinders and dirt beside the iron rails, it was far too late for an aid car. He didn't need a medic.
What he needed was a medical examiner. And a homicide detective.
That's where I came in, Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont, of Seattle P.D. I was there along with my pinch-hitting partner, Detective Allen (Big Al) Lindstrom. After working until midnight on our regular shift, we had been called back when the body was found. Now we were standing by, waiting for Dr. Howard Baker, King County's medical examiner, to arrive on the scene.
Doc Baker isn't a morning person, and this was very early morning. It was ten to five on a cool summer day, just after the longest day of the year. Although the horizon was hidden from view by the Alaskan Way Viaduct directly above us, a predawn glow was breaking up the darkness around us, and the waterfront odor, heavy with wet creosote, filled my nostrils.
We waited in a small, hushed group until Doc Baker's dark sedan came tearing through the parking lot and jerked to a stop less than two feet from where we stood. Nobody bothered to move out of the way.
"All right, all right," Baker grumbled, easing his more-than-ample frame out of the car and taking charge. "What have we got?"
"I'm betting on a drunk,"' Big Al told him. "Some wino, from up by the market who got himself clobbered by a passing freight train."
Al was referring to the Pike Place Market, which sat on the bluff directly behind us, a hundred or so steep stair steps above our heads.
The market is a popular Seattle tourist attraction during the day. At night, parts of it still maintain an upscale, touristy atmosphere. But there are other parts of it, dark underbelly parts, that do a Jekyll-and-Hyde routine as soon as the sun goes down. For instance, almost every night the blackberry-bordered parking lot beneath the market itself becomes a savage no-man's-land, a brutal setting for beatings, rapes, and muggings that is all too familiar to officers assigned to the David sector of Seattle P.D.
Doc Baker glowered at Al for a moment. The medical examiner's shock of white hair was uncombed and standing belligerently on end. "We'll see about that," he said, grunting, and rumbled away, dragging a train of technicians as well as a nervous young police photographer in his wake.
A squad car stopped nearby. Two uniformed officers got out and walked over to us. "Any luck finding out who reported it?" I asked.