Lately, Key West is not quite the laid back place that occasional freelance crime-scene-photographer Alex Rutledge prefers. It's bad enough that the discovery of two dead ex-Navy men one morning?both found swinging on boat lifts twenty miles apart?means grisly work at the indecent hour of 7AM. It's worse that Alex's run-in with a chest-thumping new deputy turns out to have ominous consequences when his wayward younger brother turns up in town...and becomes the prime suspect.
Alex knows Tim has messed up his life, but he just can't believe his brother isn't a killer. As Alex digs deeper, he starts to make connections the cops have missed?but he's baffled when he finds one of the deceased owns a picture of a young girl who turned to Alex for help many years ago. And when a third man is found swinging on the docks, he knows time is running out for his brother. But what he doesn't know is that facing the killer may turn out to be the least of his problems...
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October 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Air Dance Iguana by Tom Corcoran
Chapter Onenbsp; A cockatoo’s screech pierced the dead man’s silence. nbsp; I scanned the home across the canal, its second-story porch, then checked the morning sky. A high-coasting turkey vulture had spooked the caged bird. Moments later a yachtsman eighty yards to windward began dock-testing his unmuffled outboards. An oily blue cloud drifted down to shroud the suspended corpse. I knew that the body deserved more respect, that Ramrod Key should go quiet until the medical examiner lowered it from the boat-lift davit. On a deeper level, I hoped that people would treat my death with brief dignity if they learned that I had died, even if I’d been strung to a winch before dawn and hung like fresh-caught fish in a waterside market. nbsp; The cockatoo screeched again. nbsp; I switched lenses and went back to photographing the victim. In contrast to the late-June warmth, he looked trapped in midwinter with his blue, frostbitten hands. nbsp; Bobbi Lewis raised her voice to beat the outboards. “What the hell happened to his left shoe?” nbsp; “He wore out the toe fighting for altitude,” I said. “The killer dangled him just high enough to offer hope.” nbsp; “But no chance to survive.” She sipped from a lidded Styrofoam cup. “Are you done here? Someone on the forensic squad said you might be dawdling.” nbsp; “You should fire me,” I said. nbsp; “Talk to Sheriff Liska. He might create a part-timers’ retirement program. Meanwhile, I like the way you work.” nbsp; “My long career of evidence jobs?” nbsp; “Don’t belittle yourself. You’ve got a mind for this game. But I really meant two mornings ago with sunlight sneaking between the miniblinds.” nbsp; Once in a while she softened her hard-cop demeanor. nbsp; “This early sun is screwing me up right now,” I said. “I need to take some insurance shots with fill flash.” nbsp; “You’re right, Alex. This is not the place for romantic chatter.” nbsp; “We have our jobs to do.” nbsp; “Darling, that’s wonderful and insightful. The scene techs want to do theirs today.” nbsp; nbsp; When my phone rang at 6:40 that morning, I knew that one of the overlapping jurisdictions—either Monroe County or the City of Key West—needed help. The rude wake-up was my own damned fault. Several years back, after fifteen years of freelance ad agency and magazine work, I had started accepting crime-scene gigs for extra cash. But I kept stepping into crap that I couldn’t scrape off my shoes, and I had come to dread the sight of my own camera. I’d never wanted to be a cop, yet every time I saw a victim up close, I wanted justice. nbsp; That’s not exactly true. My job wasn’t justice. I wanted revenge in the spirit of decency, contradictory or not. I had invented a few versions and barely survived. Revenge almost always claims two victims. nbsp; Dawn calls were never a good sign. I let it ring through to the answering machine. nbsp; One minute after the ringing stopped, my cell phone buzzed. I was awake enough to be curious, so I reached for the nightstand. No surprise: the window identified Detective Lewis of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, my lover for the past four months. Somehow, on our amorous roller-coaster ride, we had managed not to mix our personal lives and our jobs. Now she had broken a rule, had dialed my unlisted cell number to hire me for work she knew I wanted to avoid. In spite of a long list of reasons to ignore it, I