Detectives Mac Taylor, Danny Messer, Sheldon Hawkes, and Don Flack are called in to investigate a double homicide at a medium-security facility on Staten Island. Racial tensions turned the prison into a pressure cooker that finally boiled over in an all-too-lethal fashion, leaving two inmates dead. One of the killings is an open-and-shut case, complete with eyewitnesses; but the other, the murder of a former cop, defies easy answers. Initial investigation of the crime scene points to one cause of death, but the CSI team's scientific methods uncover something completely different -- and wholly unexpected....
On the other edge of the city, Stella Bonasera and Lindsay Monroe look into the murder of a young woman who worked at a popular Italian bakery in the Bronx. They find the perfect suspect almost immediately: a frequent customer who spent a lot of time flirting with the victim and who previously had been arrested for a violent crime. Yet Stella can't help but think that their perfect suspect is just a little too perfect for such a messy murder....
Nothing is as it seems as New York City's dedicated crime scene investigators piece together the clues and examine the evidence to discover the true killers in their midst.
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April 28, 2008
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Excerpt from CSI: New York: Four Walls by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Detective Don Flack stared at the lone pill that rattled around the bottom of the prescription bottle.
A cup of coffee sat on the Formica table in front of him, steam rising toward the ceiling in the air-conditioned diner. It had certainly taken long enough for the coffee to show up. The waitress -- a woman named Doris, according to the nameplate affixed to her bright pink uniform; her face was caked in enough makeup to make her look embalmed, her breath smelled like an ashtray, and her nasal voice threatened to decalcify Flack's spinal column -- had ignored him for quite a while before deigning to take his coffee order.
In theory, he'd wash the pill down with the coffee.
Assuming, of course, he could bring himself to dump that last pill out into his hand.
It had been a year. A year since the explosion that nearly killed him. A year since that idiot with the headphones who didn't hear the fire alarm. Flack ran back for him.
Then the world exploded.
When he was recovering in the hospital, after it was all over, Flack sometimes wondered what would have happened if that jackass hadn't been wearing those big, stupid noise-canceling headphones. Said jackass -- Flack could no longer recall his name, nor did he particularly wish to -- hadn't heard the fire alarm, hadn't heard the screams of panic, hadn't heard two dozen people running for the fire stairs, hadn't heard Flack and Detective Mac Taylor screaming that there was a bomb in the building.
You usually didn't find that level of obliviousness in New Yorkers. Certainly not since 9/11.
If not for that guy, Flack might've been in the stairwell. Or at least back with Mac, farther down the hallway. Mac got out of the explosion with only a few scrapes and bruises.
Flack almost died.
But he didn't. A few months in the hospital, and he was fit for duty. He tried to avoid situations where he'd have to take off his shirt in public, as the crisscross of scars wasn't particularly pretty. Stella Bonasera and Lindsay Monroe had both ribbed him about using the explosion to flirt with women, and they hadn't been entirely wrong -- but Flack hadn't shown anyone the scars.
The pain was near constant.
When it got bad, he was supposed to take the pills. But Flack defined bad differently from the docs. He avoided taking the pills. Taking the pills meant admitting to weakness.
But sometimes, Flack was weak.
Now, though, it had been a year, and a prescription bottle that was intended to last him six to eight weeks had finally run out.
When he got up this morning -- earlier than usual, since he was meeting a friend for coffee -- the pain was agonizing. That happened when the weather changed, sometimes. The last few days it had been unseasonably chilly, but this morning it was already eighty-eight degrees, and it was supposed to go up into the high nineties. Flack felt like someone had taken a hot knife and shoved it through his lower back up into his rib cage. (He'd been hanging around with Mac and his crime lab crew for too long -- he could actually picture that happening in gory detail, something he never used to think about before he made detective.)
But there was only one pill left.
If he took the last pill, he'd have to refill the prescription and get more.
Donald Flack Jr. was the latest in a long line of cops, most recently Donald Flack Sr. Cops didn't admit to weakness. On the street, they can smell that. You don't let the assholes know that there's a single chink in your armor, because they will find it and they will nail you to the wall.
So Flack tried to avoid the pills.
"Y'know, Donnie, it's been my experience that the pills work better if you swallow 'em."
Looking up, Flack saw his breakfast companion approach the table. "Hey, Terry."
Terry Sullivan squeezed his massive frame into the vinyl-covered bench opposite Flack. Sweat beaded on his pale forehead. Indicating the pill bottle with his head, he asked, "That's from the bombing, right? What they gotcha on, Percs?"
Flack nodded, pocketing the bottle in his suit jacket.
"What, you ain't gonna take it?"
"Don't need it." Even as he said the words, Flack winced as he moved his arms.
Sullivan shook his head, his shaggy blond hair flopping around. "You're so full of it, those baby blues of yours're turning brown, Donnie. Take it from the human dispensary, they prescribed them things for a damn good reason. You're in pain -- take the painkillers."
"I'll be all right."
Like Flack, Terence Sullivan Jr. was dressed for work, though unlike Flack, he wasn't wearing his entire uniform. Not that Flack had a uniform per se, just the expected suit and tie. As for Sullivan, he wore clothes that identified him as a corrections officer of the state of New York -- at least, they did to Flack. He wasn't wearing the light-blue shirt that would have completed the outfit, as COs generally didn't wear the full uniform outside of prison walls, but he was wearing the dark blue slacks, black boots, weapon, and belt.