Jonathan Santlofer once again combines his extraordinary talents as both a writer and an artist in this second chilling thriller featuring NYPD forensic sketch artist Nate Rodriguez. Though plagued by the death of his father years ago, Rodriguez has little time to dwell on the past. A rash of seemingly unrelated murders holds New York City in a gridlock of terror, and with his reputation for having a sixth sense-an uncanny ability to draw things he hasn't even seen-Rodriguez lands a spot on the task force investigating the crimes. But with his mind's eye clouded, he's forced to search for an answer the old-fashioned way: by hitting the streets. Rodriguez begins to suspect a common thread between the victims, confirmed when more bodies turn up-those of the killers themselves. As the slayings continue, the link between the crimes comes into focus and Rodriguez must convince the NYPD that they are up against something bigger-and more heinous-than anyone ever suspected. The Murder Notebook is a smart, innovative suspense novel with a terrifying, ripped-from-the-headlines urgency.
Santlofer uses evocative artwork to illustrate the artist's ability to translate a witness's elusive recollections into a recognizable portrait in his chilling second novel to feature NYPD sketch artist Nate Rodriguez (after Anatomy of Fear). Rodriguez, who's also a trained police officer, as he often has to remind those colleagues who view his peculiar niche as a mere oddity, has to draw on both his artistic and investigative skills to find the link between a pair of bizarrely violent murders followed by the suicides of the killers. The police want the cases closed, while shadowy federal agents make it clear that Rodriguez's persistence is unwelcome. When Rodriguez begins to sense the true dimensions of the crimes, he has no choice but to continue. Santlofer's complex and frightening plot should appeal to conspiracy theorists. As for doubters, the author provides an appendix of his real-life sources that ought to give them pause. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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June 01, 2008
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Excerpt from The Murder Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer
Before she was a bodacious queen of the game, and two years before her fortieth birthday surprise, there were often days when Sidarra wished she had the skills to bargain at least one parent back from death for a visit. She had lost them both at Eastertime, and she could feel the second anniversary approaching. Maybe years later the ability to communicate by postcard or prayer would do. But in 1996, the wound still fresh, she needed a little time with their faces, to laugh into their eyes, or cry into their arms.
Sidarra got off the subway in Harlem, still distracted by what had just happened that day at work in Brooklyn. Once again, life proved to be pretty cheap at her job, the New York City Board of Miseducation, as she called it. Sidarra climbed the steps up to the street sure in her thoughts that her boss, Clayborne Reed, was finally going to pull the trigger on her section. Given her long rejection of his advances and her own advancing years, she figured he would at least retire her. For three months straight, he and most of the male management had been fixated on age, specifically the twenty-four-year-old white phenom named Desiree Kronitz. Clearly she made his dick too hard with her tight polyester skirts and red-lipstick-dripping talk of "downsizing" and "administrative waste," which was all Clay needed to hear anyway. He was already getting pressure from his boss, the city schools chancellor. This Long Island chick with the blond dye job, midnight pumps, and aggressive push-up bras had opened his nose wide enough to make him want to fire everybody who hadn't finished St. John's University with a bachelor's degree in public management. Sidarra had no proof of course, but she was sure from the looks of the man that he regularly fantasized being together with Desiree's little tight ass. Over time, signs here and there told her that the obsession was directing his judgment: people like her were being demoted. Pressure was building in his pants and from his boss. Soon, while Miss Chick moaned in mock delight, Sidarra would be standing in the unemployment line, waiting for some idiot to say "Next!"
She didn't even see Tyrell following her down the first street. Nineteen, lean, long, and just stupid enough, Tyrell was always trying to be the trouble not seen. He was smart enough to make himself invisible, had she ever thought to look back at him. He side-winded into corners and phone booths like a snake, following the flex of her calves after the click of each heel on the sidewalk. His loping, uneven strides began to quicken and doubled the pace of hers as he gradually caught up. Sidarra kept thinking about what would happen to her if Miss Chick won the undeclared competition between them. She and Raquel were alone. Sidarra couldn't let anything happen to her daughter. She couldn't lose the apartment they shared on the third floor of a brownstone. Tyrell's longer strides loped faster, homing in on Sidarra's brown leather purse as it swung in slow motion from her slightly slumped shoulder. Just before she turned onto her block on 136th Street, Tyrell was right up on her, close enough to grab her ass.
Suddenly a spider sense ten thousand years old sprang up in her chest, and Sidarra whirled around two steps before reaching her stoop. "Don't do it," she whispered.
Tyrell stepped real close in front of her. "What?" he said, three inches from her face. She could feel his breath heavy on her cheek and she knew his body was already aroused by something. She also knew what his darting eyes knew: that there was no one out on 136th Street right then. Five fifty-two in the evening, yet no one. She smelled the bad mix of cigarettes, a blunt, malt liquor, and bad gums with each quickening breath.
"I need to talk to you about something, Miss Sid." He looked all the way around. She felt his long, thin arm make contact with her body. He tried to distract her. "Where's your pretty little girl?"
"Upstairs waiting for me, Tyrell."
He leaned on her just slightly, urging her up the brownstone stoop. "Then I'll walk you upstairs--"
"With her daddy, who's about to beat my ass for coming late," she said, trying to hide any fear. While he thought about that, Sidarra got a step's worth of separation, but couldn't get her key out without opening her purse to him. She lifted her eyes over his shoulder, pretending to say hello to someone passing on the street. That got her another step away from him. When Tyrell looked back to see, she slipped her hand into her purse, got the key out and a folded-up five-dollar bill. When Tyrell turned back to her, she knew he wasn't going to wait anymore.
"Look here, Tyrell. I'm glad I saw you today, because I've been meaning to give you this carfare." Sidarra looked deep into his eyes and mustered all of her twenty extra years on earth to tell him,