When a killer plays mind games with a cop, There Are No Rules.
The first victim is attacked in her home. Tied to her bed. Forced to watch every unspeakable act of cruelty--but unable to scream. The second murder is even more twisted. Signed, sealed, and delivered with a message for the police, stuffed in the victim's throat. A fractured nursery rhyme that ends with a warning: "There will be more." For detective Jack Murphy, it's more than a threat. It's a personal invitation to play. And no one plays rougher than Jack. Especially when the killer's pawns are the people he loves...
"A must-read, can't-put-down adventure." --John Lutz
"A jaw-dropping thriller." --Gregg Olsen
"A tornado of drama." --Shane Gericke
"As authentic and scary as thrillers get." -Nelson DeMille
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October 31, 2010
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Excerpt from The Cruelest Cut by Rick R. Reed
The late-May rain came down hard as the Evansville PD detectives, uniformed officers, and SWAT team staked out the downtown alley behind Turley's Jewelers. Thanks to a tip from a reliable informant, today they would take down the Solazzo gang, armed robbers who had done a Godzilla on the downtown small businesses recently.
Bobby Solazzo had recruited the team carefully, finding only the most vicious and psychotic bastards and leaving the ones with an ounce of compassion in them to join Kiwanis or Civitan. Solazzo's crew were the kind of guys that said, "Give me the money and I'll kill you."
Solazzo and company had already eluded authorities in a high-speed chase and a shoot-out at a liquor store that left two employees dead in a pool of blood, and had been lying low for the past ten days, but now they were ready for their next heist.
Detective Jack Murphy was in charge of the stakeout. He was crouched uncomfortably behind a Dumpster, wiping rain from his eyes, while the deputy chief of detectives was on the store's rooftop, along with one of the SWAT snipers and a reporter from the local rag who was pressing for the perfect shot for their headline: SOLAZZO GANG GOES DOWN. Other sharpshooters were strategically located in vantage points overlooking the alley, already designated the "kill zone." They didn't have to wait long.
An older black Suburban with darkened windows slid into the mouth of the narrow alley and eased along, coming to a stop directly behind Turley's Jewelers. The next two minutes seemed to run in slow motion, beginning with the doors of the Suburban flying open and four large and well- armed men emerging.
One man approached the back door of Turley's and pointed a sawed-off shotgun at the door's lock. The shotgun blast that shattered the lock on the door spooked one of the cops, who had his pistol pointed into the alleyway, and some reflex caused him to yank the trigger. Jack half-stood and looked around, thinking, Must be the deputy chief. Leave it to him to screw things up.
The shot went wild, but the reaction of the four men below was that of a well-trained military squad, as two men rushed into the back entrance of Turley's, and the remaining two returned fire at the rooftop snipers' position and back down the alleyway. Although the original orders to all of the ground team were that no one fired except the SWAT snipers, the air was suddenly filled with deadly projectiles. A bullet zinged into a nearby quad of electrical transformers high up on a telephone pole just above the west half of the stakeout team, sending a shower of fiery debris down on them. The uniformed cops positioned above the kill zone continued their barrage of gunfire, effectively immobilizing their team members on the ground.
Murphy had been waiting for the Suburban to come to a stop before giving the order to the SWAT commander to move in when he'd heard the single gunshot and then all hell breaking loose. Now he was in the middle of a goddamned war, and he was fucked no matter which way he ran. He could flee into the raging fire at the west end of the alley where there were some backup officers at least. Or he could chase the asshole he saw take off east down the alley when the shooting started. Staying put was not an option.
He bolted from his hole and chased the lone runner. The good news was that he'd gotten a pretty good look at this character and was pretty sure it was the leader of the pack, Bobby Solazzo. The bad news was that it was Bobby Solazzo, and Bobby had a sawed-off shotgun and liked to use it.
What kind of moron chases a guy who's got a shotgun? Murphy thought. But he plowed ahead through cascading rain, the smooth soles of his dress loafers slipping on the wet brick-worked street surface, the smell of sewage from the overflowing storm sewers barely registering.
He gripped the polymer handle of his Glock .45 standard police issue semiautomatic and slowed his pace--listening, watching for any movement or lack of movement. The alley was so narrow that a shotgun blast down the middle would take out anyone standing there. Not Jack's idea of a fun time. With the damn rain coming down in waves he could only see a few feet in any direction. For all Jack knew, Bobby was ten feet away, just waiting for him to come into view.
Murphy's Law says, "Never take a pistol to a shotgun fight." But, then, he wasn't supposed to be taking on Bobby's gang alone, was he? He was a detective. He was supposed to be directing the stakeout at a safe distance, watching the action as the uniformed officers and SWAT team took these assholes down. And that reminded him that Murphy's Law also says, "Anything that can go wrong, will always fuck you sideways."
He took a deep breath, let it out, and then moved forward again. Bobby's got to be close now, he thought, as he neared the end of the alley where it turned to the right. He stopped and, blading his body against the concrete-block wall, he glanced around the corner and spotted a shotgun lying on a pile of trash.
He's unarmed! Jack thought, as lightning flashed overhead. The resultant thunderclap was immediate and deafening in the tight alleyway, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. He had just moved out from cover when another flash caught his eye. This one close. Too close. Moving at him with the speed of lightning. But not lightning. A blade, he thought, then, too late, and tried to turn away, but he felt the point of the blade cut into his face and scrape downward, gouging a path through flesh and bone.
He lifted his .45 toward the direction of the attack...