New York Times bestselling author Patrick A. Davis returns with an electrifying novel of murder, the military, and one man's search of the truth.
Air Force investigator Martin Collins is used to bucking the system in the name of justice. But when he is called on to investigate the torture-style slaying of Major Franklin Talbot, Collins is embroiled in the most controversial case of his career. Evidence suggests that the deadly act was a hate crime -- and that Talbot was hiding a shocking secret that may have sealed his fate. Even more shocking are the suspects: all high-ranking officers -- including Talbot's own uncle, a leading presidential candidate.
Traversing a politically charged minefield of buried secrets, Martin is targeted by powerful forces that cannot afford to let him identify Talbot's killer. And when he finally uncovers the devastating truth, Martin will be forced to make a fateful decision between catching a sadistic murderer -- and destroying the lives of countless innocent men.
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March 10, 2004
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Excerpt from A Slow Walk to Hell by Patrick A. Davis
It was around 7 P.M. on a Friday evening and I was standing by the punch bowl in a drafty school gym, trying not to appear completely bored as I helped chaperone my daughter's formal middle school dance. I'd like to say that I volunteered for the duty out of a sense of parental obligation, but I hadn't. I'm Martin Collins, chief of police for Warrentown, Virginia, a small town seventy miles west of Washington, D.C., and babysitting three hundred adolescents came with the territory.
Understandably my thirteen-year-old daughter Emily wasn't exactly thrilled by my presence. She made me promise not to embarrass her in any way. By "embarrass," she meant I wasn't supposed to take photographs, talk to her or her friends, or come anywhere near her.
I tried to placate her by telling her I wasn't going to wear a uniform. "So you can chill. Your friends probably won't even notice me."
She gave me her patented "get real" look. "I think it's best if you pretend not to know me, Dad."
"Might be a little difficult," I said dryly. "I'm driving you to the dance. Remember "
She stuck out her jaw at my logic. "You know what I mean."
"Honey, I'd like to at least take a few photos for your grandmother -- "
"Dad!" She looked thoroughly horrified.
I gave up. After three books and a half dozen episodes of Dr. Phil, I still wasn't any closer to understanding the female teenage mind. My wife Nicole could have enlightened me, but she passed away from cancer when Emily was nine. My transition into the role of being a single parent hasn't been exactly smooth, but despite any mistakes I've made, Emily has turned out pretty well. She gets good grades, is popular at school, and usually does what I ask without copping an attitude.
"Fine," I told her. "I won't come within ten feet of you."
Actually, I thought it would be easy to keep up my end of the bargain, but it wasn't. At the moment, I was watching Emily slow-dance with a strapping blond kid who was already sprouting facial hair. Every so often he would casually slide a hand down her back and it was all I could do not to throw him through a wall.
I fought the impulse by draining a glass of punch, wishing it was a beer.
The song mercifully ended and the orange-haired DJ switched to a peppy Britney Spears tune. Emily and the boy reluctantly parted, but kept on dancing. I didn't like the predatory smile he was giving her and tried to intimidate him with a scowl. No dice. Raging hormone never looked my way.
I sighed. Maybe Emily was right. Maybe I shouldn't have come. Seeing her now, looking so beautiful in her long yellow dress, dancing with a boy, reminded me of how fast she was maturing. In the past year, she'd grown four inches and her figure was filling out. She wasn't my little girl any longer.