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Morton and Gardner return in a gripping crime thriller.

While the detectives are investigating the devastating murders of two female cops, a third is gunned down in her own home - in front of her family.

Her killer...?

Greg Waller - a 15-year-old schoolboy. His prints are on the weapon and the family who witnessed the cold-blooded murder can testify against him but he still claims his innocence.

To complicate matters, Greg is Detective Gardner's nephew, and his reappearance in her life brings her back in contact with her estranged sister, Jenny.

Taken off the case due to her relationship with Greg, Gardner now has the time to make an attempt at mending her relationship with Jenny and also find the reason her sister walked out on her all those years ago.

Gardner soon learns that her sister’s family has a dark past. Determined to find answers, she uncovers the tragic secret that tore her family apart.

Amidst Gardner’s family turmoil, the detectives find reason to question whether Greg is actually guilty of his crime. As they continue to struggle with the mind of a manipulative killer, they are forced to question their own judgement - and the true meaning of innocence.

In Store Price: $AU23.95
Online Price:   $AU22.95

ISBN: 1-9208-8469-6
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 321
Genre: Fiction/Crime Thriller

Cover: Kaye Forster


Author: Randall Longmire 
Imprint: Zeus
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2004
Language: English

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From the author of the best seller - Elephant Speak

 

Chapter One 

 

Ryan sat in the waiting room listening to his Walkman and staring blankly at the stack of magazines piled on the coffee table. He had to wait a while because he was early for his appointment, as usual. He hated the weekly visit to his counsellor and his parents were well aware of his feelings. He’d spun so many lies to get out of going, even to the extent where he’d once accused his counsellor of abuse. His parents followed up this accusation only to discover it was another lie and this made them even more determined to make sure he kept up with the visits.

Ryan used to be a member of the Slick Gang, a tight-knit group of troublesome kids who wreaked havoc in the streets of Parramatta. He had a scar on his right thumb – courtesy of a gang ritual – to prove it. The rule was, once a gang member, always a gang member. Their initiation involved slicing the new member’s thumb with a Stanley blade then pressing it to the thumbs of each gang member as a ‘blood brother’ ritual.

The Slick Gang were rivals to other factions such as the Homeboys and the Parra Boys.

Ryan’s mates weren’t too impressed when he cut the gang, but he had no choice; he had to stay out of trouble to stay out of detention. Since Ryan had washed his hands of the group he’d received death threats and had been beaten up numerous times. He’d been lucky so far. Rumour had it that some of the gang’s members in the past had met with bad fortune, their bodies showing up in Parramatta River weeks after they were reported missing. The threats Ryan had received were of a similar nature.

Even reporting these threats to his parents hadn’t washed, although he showed the physical scars from the bullying. They still insisted he show up for his weekly counselling sessions. His counsellor had been kind enough to move his session times so that even though he had to pass by the gang’s hangout areas on the way to the office, his parents could pick him up when the session finished, thereby ensuring his safety.

To Ryan, every session was like the movie Groundhog Day because it was always the same; he’d arrive early after doing his best to avoid the Slick Gang, the receptionist would be out the door at five to six, and Lucas Jordan, his counsellor, would appear soon after ready to start the session. Even today, being the start of a new program, he was early, the receptionist had left, and he waited for his session to commence. The only difference now was the requirement to turn up on Mondays instead of the usual session later in the week.

‘Ryan,’ the receptionist had said, ‘Lucas will be out to see you shortly. There are some magazines there for you to read.’

He’d heard it all before, countless times. He’d read all the outdated magazines before as well. Countless times. He decided to wait and play with his fingers, pick his nose, drink cups of chilled water from the cooler, fiddle with his Walkman or walk around in the waiting room, like he’d done before… countless times.

He turned down the volume on his Walkman and flicked through the magazines. He wanted to check if Jordan had decided to update the collection. No such luck. They were the same as before.

A noise to his right caught his attention. It was a metallic click. He turned to the source and noticed that the door to Jordan’s office was slightly open. Curiosity was Ryan’s middle name. It was why he was here to see Jordan because his excessive curiosity got him into trouble with the cops. He was curious about the voices coming from the room. They were only faint and frustration settled in. He wanted to hear what was going on.

He headed across the waiting room to the office door. It was open enough for him to see inside and he quickly scanned the room. Jordan’s desk was slightly to the left of view and the gold medallion that sat on its small glass stand caught his eye immediately. Jordan had explained that the medallion was made of pure gold and his father had handed it down to him before he died. It was a commemorative medal for services in the field of psychology, or some such crap. Ryan didn’t care for its meaning; he was more interested in its value. There was no way he’d be able to steal it, even though he was a clever thief.

Ryan turned his attention to Jordan and his patient, just to the counsellor’s right. They weren’t aware of his presence. He still couldn’t hear clearly but it was better than when he was sitting down. All he’d heard then was muffled voices. Jordan was talking with another kid, Greg Waller. He knew Greg and it had been a while since he’d seen him. Greg had been hanging around with the Slick Gang when Ryan started mixing with them and as far as he was aware Greg was still a member. Now that he knew Greg was seeing Jordan he was keen to hear what his session was about. The voices still weren’t clear enough so he pressed against the door, hoping it would silently swing open wider.

Satisfied that the gap was wide enough, he looked towards Jordan and Greg. The conversation he overheard shocked him.

‘I know I must kill her,’ Greg was saying heatedly.

‘Greg, do you really mean that?’ said Jordan soothingly.

‘She wants to harm me.’

‘What makes you say that?’

‘I’m not just saying it. I have to kill her before she harms me!’

Ryan shook his head in disbelief and continued to listen. Greg was talking about killing a cop. It sounded like he was really going to do it. Excited by the proceedings, Ryan moved slightly forward again, only an inch, but it was enough to push the door. It squeaked.

Jordan spun around in an instant. Ryan was as quick as lightning, rushing back to his seat in front of the reception desk, hoping that he hadn’t been seen. Jordan’s head popped through the door and Ryan looked up from his magazine, headphones planted firmly in his ears, his heart thumping. Jordan stared at him coldly then looked around the rest of the vacant room.

Shit, he caught me, thought Ryan. I’m dead.

Ryan turned his attention back to the magazine, not to read but to avoid eye contact. He thought that looking at Jordan would be showing guilt. Jordan walked over to the reception desk and stood there for a moment.

Close one, thought Ryan. He’s just come out to check messages or something.

To Ryan’s horror the counsellor turned and came over to where he sat. Ryan kept his eyes fixed on the magazine.

‘Enjoying the magazine, Ryan?’ asked Jordan in a neutral tone.

Ryan looked up. ‘Yeah, but I’ve read it before.’

‘They’re a bit old, aren’t they,’ Jordan acknowledged.

Ryan knew he was safe. There was no way Jordan would be this nice if he’d caught him snooping in on a session. He knew they were supposed to be strictly private.

‘They are old. Maybe you could get some new ones in?’ Ryan wanted to keep the conversation around the magazines. Even though he was sure he hadn’t been seen he didn’t want to take any chances.

‘Maybe I should. What are you reading there? Maybe I can get more of those in.’

‘It’s an article on sharks.’ In fact Ryan had no idea what he was reading. The article was the last thing on his mind.

‘Hmm, interesting. Uh, Ryan…’

‘Yeah?’

‘You understand that the sessions you and I have together are strictly confidential, don’t you?’

‘Absolutely.’

‘You wouldn’t be happy if I spoke to someone else about what goes on in our sessions, would you?’

‘Definitely not.’

‘I know I wouldn’t be happy if I were you. To have someone know what goes on in your confidential session, things nobody else but the police, you or me should know. You understand?’

Ryan nodded.

‘Do you know what the consequences are of eavesdropping in on another person’s session?’ Without allowing Ryan to answer, Jordan continued, ‘Because these sessions are private you could be in more trouble with the police. That means time in detention.’

‘I understand totally,’ Ryan said hastily. ‘I’d never do that.’

Jordan stared at him sternly. ‘I’m sure you wouldn’t. I’ll let you get back to your article.’ He smiled. ‘I’ll look into getting some fresh magazines tomorrow. How’s that?’

Ryan smiled back tentatively. ‘That’d be great.’

Jordan headed back to his office and pushed his door open. He looked back at Ryan. ‘By the way, Ryan, that article on sharks is in National Geographic.’ He then closed the door behind him.

Ryan looked down at his magazine. Shit!

He’d picked up a Scientific Weekly.

 

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