Criminal psychologist Luke Decker is about to resign from the FBI when he learns about Project Conscience, an attempt to treat criminals by using gene therapy. Thrust together with Kathy Kerr, his old flame & ideological adversary, he finds himself in the midst of a perilous search to uncover the ruthless secrets beneath an even darker project: Crime Zero. Kathy & Luke must put aside their differences to fight a scheme so vast & ruthless that it could change the very evolution of mankind
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July 01, 1999
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Excerpt from Crime Zero by Michael Cordy
His head aches, and he wants to go home, but he still waits in the cemetery under cover of the short fir tree. The damp bark smells as strong as any perfume. It is 1:57 A.m. The two San Francisco Police Department officers left an hour ago. After three days of staking out the area, they and their replacements have been recalled to follow up other leads. The police say they will return in the morning, but he knows they have lost the faith. Fourteen-year-old Tammy Lewis is missing, and they are concerned she will end up like the other three. Special Agent Luke Decker should leave too; he has only adviser status here, and other cases are piling up on his desk at Quantico.
But Decker can't go yet. He knows deep in his gut that the killer will return here at night and bring the girl with himperhaps even alive.
The night air is cool on his face, and above him through the branches of the fir a crescent moon gazes down. Seventeen miles from San Francisco and nine miles from Oakland, the Gates of Heaven Catholic Cemetery is still. Nothing moves, and even nearby Interstate 80 is silent.
He retrieves a pair of night vision glasses from his coat and rereads the inscription on the headstone twenty yards away:
Sally Anne Jennings
Taken August 3, 2008
Aged 15 years
You were taken from us too soon.
But we shall meet again in a better place.
Decker grinds his jaw, remembering the crime scene photos of Sally Anne's violated body. The killer's most recent victim must also be his last.
Car tires on gravel break the silence. He turns to his right and sees a Domino's pizza van pull into the cemetery's deserted parking lot. Sweat breaks out on his forehead. Decker knows the psychological profile of the killer because he wrote it. And the pizza van fits. His heart is beating fast now, but he feels no triumph about being right again, no excitement of the chase, just weary sorrow and a vague disquiet that he should know the mind of a killer so well.
A sudden scream from the van rips through the night. It is short and quickly muffled, but Decker crumples inside, feeling her pain and terror himself He reaches for his cell phone and calls the incident number.
He whispers urgently that the suspect is here. He needs backup.
A sleepy detective snaps awake. "Two squad cars will be there in ten minutes-- max," he promises.
The van's rear doors open, and a muscular young man with red hair and a black T-shirt drags something white out of the back and drops it on the gravel. Decker realizes then that ten minutes will not be soon enough. The silent white bundle is moving, and even before he puts the night vision glasses to his eyes, Decker knows it's a naked girl. Tammy Lewis is gagged and bound, her eyes round with terror The young man is strong because he easily lifts her over his shoulder and carries her toward the cemetery.
Decker reaches for his gun and releases the safety. He has won the FBI shooting competition at Quantico with the SIG semiautomatic every year for the last five years. But he dislikes using the gun for real. It means he's failed. But he has no choice now. If he does nothing, the man will carry Tammy Lewis to Sally Anne's grave, where he will lay her down, torture, and rape her Then, when he is satisfied, he will kill her and defile her body. Decker knows this with a gut-wrenching certainty as absolutely as if he'd already witnessed the crime.