Death of the Innocents, A Detective Murph Mystery
Detective Murphy, affectionally known as “Murph,” must track down a serial killer. The initial murder leads him to a woman’s medical clinic. Unbeknown to Murph, his visit fuels the killer’s rage, and the murders continue right under his nose. The murderer finally brings it home to Murph by kidnapping his teenage daughter. Can Murph find the killer before his daughter becomes the next innocent victim?
Review One: The story line is engaging and the characters realistic. It is easy to be drawn into the relationships between the characters. I especially warmed to Detective Murph. I found myself continuing to read beyond when I planned to stop.
Review Two: This book — A Murph Mystery — engages you right away as a murder occurs and is so unexpected and, as the story unfolds, seemingly unwarranted. It is a real page-turner where you don’t want to put the book down. There are many twists and turns. Detective Murph has some issues of his own that are counterbalanced by his partner, much as one would expect in the real life of two detectives working together showing their caring and support. The quandary of abortion and how it affects so many lives is very aptly brought out in the story, which also conveys the importance of counseling regardless of a woman’s decision to proceed or decline. This book is a great read; I highly recommend it.
Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?
or who may stand in His holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean
who desires not worthless things,
nor swears deceitfully to his neighbor
Psalm 24: 3,4
The rapping on Eve St. Marie’s door awoke her with a jolt. She yanked her head from the desk, her hand striking her half-full coffee mug, sliding it toward the edge, nearly spilling its cold contents. She grabbed the teetering mug as the drink within it scrambled up one side, then the other, and finally settled into a swirling pattern. Without thought, she slid the mug closer to the center of her work area. She wiped the sleep from her eyes, the pressure causing several short-lived spots to flash across her vision. Sniffling, she shook her head to clear her mind. It didn’t work.
What was that? Where am I? Oh, yeah, living room… desk… diary. I guess I fell asleep. Her eyes searched the room. Nothing out of place! She checked the time: almost midnight.
A second series of knocks, louder this time, rattled the door.
Who could that be at this hour?
She had been hovering above her diary all day, trying to find the words to express her innermost feelings. They had eluded her. As the night wore on, her mind had become weary, the words blurred. Her hand had shaken with each thought that had succeeded in transferring to the page, causing her handwriting to become that of a drunk, although she hadn’t had a drink in weeks. At the end of each sentence, her bawling had forced her to pause. She had gone through three mugs of black coffee since dinner and two boxes of tissues. Neither brought her comfort, nor closer to solving her problems.
With tears again streaming from her bloodshot eyes, she forced her wobbly legs to carry her to the door. I don’t want company. I can’t possibly talk to anyone right now. Why would anyone want to bother me at this time of night? They’re going to be sent away. I don’t care who they are, or what they’re selling.
She tore open her apartment door, her anger causing her to grip the door handle harder than necessary. She froze, eyes springing open at the sight before her. She stared down the barrel of a cocked pistol. Her sobs ceased. She gasped. Her mouth fell open. Her mind raced, struggling to determine if the caller represented the answer to her prayers, the end of her life, or both, deciding, in an instant of self-induced insanity, it really didn’t matter. She couldn’t tear her eyes from the weapon, held less than a foot from her torso. The gun’s barrel loomed much larger than it’s actual size, and she swore she could see her name embossed in large, red letters along its entire length.
The hand holding the gun trembled, as if its owner had consumed too much caffeine. This multiplied the movement at the end of the barrel several fold, making its deadly tip appear blurred and surreal.
Eve’s body now shook almost as much as her assailant’s hand. “No,” was the only thing Eve could blurt out before the two bullets, fired in quick succession, slammed into her chest, rupturing her twenty-six year-old heart like sharp pins puncturing a hyper-inflated balloon. Death had been so swift that she didn’t even have a chance to raise her arms in defense of her life, nor to grasp her chest that, for a brief moment, filled with excruciating pain.
Eve collapsed in the doorway. Her pale-green nightgown billowed like a parachute, finally deflating only after Eve thumped to the floor. When her body finished its unceremonious collapse, her wide-open eyes starred at her assailant, as if looking for an explanation for the unprovoked attack.
Smiling, the killer squatted down, and checked for a pulse in Eve’s thin neck with the index and middle finger of a gloved hand: none. A quick glance down the hallway for potential witnesses assured the killer that no one had seen the execution. Being careful to avoid any contact with Eve’s blood, the killer placed a business card in Eve’s open hand, forcing her fingers closed around it. The killer, whose hands still shook, then stood, pocketed the gun, and rushed down the front steps of the apartment.
Halfway down the stairs, the killer’s cell phone’s signature song, “America the Beautiful” sung by Frank Sinatra, shattered the stillness of the night. Answering the call while on the run, the killer blasted through the front door, and charged toward an awaiting car without ever looking back.
Tears coursed down Doug’s face as he lowered his head. “…but we really need information about this abortion thing before we let anyone know about…” The thought caught in his throat. He groaned.
Molly placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I know it’s not much consolation, but you’re not the first couple to be in…well, this…situation…I mean…Betty Ann’s…pregnancy, of course.”
“It’s Okay, Molly,” Betty Ann said. “You can be upfront with us. Call it what it is, my unplanned pregnancy.” She lowered her head in concert with Doug.
Molly struggled to find the right words, the right emotion to comfort her friends. “But it’s not the end of the world. I mean, you’re both still young. Others have been through this, and have come out okay. I mean, you shouldn’t feel like you’re the first, or that you’re all alone, or there’s no ultimate answer to all this.” She paused, raised her eyes toward Doug. “There simply has to be.” She smiled, trying to radiate encouragement. “After all, I’m here for you. What more can you ask?” The smile faded. “But I’m not sure having the information will make it any easier, or make the problem go away.” Her voice dropped to barely above a whisper. “I’m afraid the clinic won’t make the final choice…I mean, about having…an abortion…or…having the baby. I don’t know how they work.”
Doug raised his tearful eyes toward Molly, the sadness within him chiseled into the deep furrows now surrounding his lips. “After all, that’s why we’re going there, to gather as much information as we can. I think it’ll be easier then. Won’t it, Betty Ann?” His gaze drifted toward her.
“If…if you say so.” She lowered her head as she spoke, her long brown hair tumbling off her shoulders to cover her face. Her lips trembled. “This is so…so hard.”
Both girls had spent much of the day in the back seat of Doug’s car, crying, hugging, and praying for God’s guidance. They both felt that God had offered neither help, nor consolation.
Molly leaned closer to Betty Ann, struggling to view her friend’s face, to make eye contact, to console her, but her friend’s eyes remained scrunched closed behind the veil of her hair. Betty Ann’s makeup had smeared, and accumulated into the sobbing-induced, deep creases in her normally smooth skin. The image made Molly wince.
Doug forced a small, but fleeting smile. “Maybe we should call it a spy mission. You know, like the missions 007 goes on, all serious and secret.”
“Oh, God,” Molly said, “let’s hope it’s not that exciting! After all that’s happened, I’m not sure I’m up to that much adventure or danger.”
“Don’t worry,” Betty Ann said, her expression still sullen as she raised her head, her tearful gaze bouncing from Molly to Doug and back. “I’m sure all you have to do is meet with the doctor, and get some information…about ending the pregnancy.” She tried to smile, but couldn’t complete the gesture. She lowered her head again, and sobbed softly.
Molly sniffled once. “I’m still not sure about all this. Are we sure you should even be considering an abortion? I mean, shouldn’t you be talking about a beautiful baby, a bundle of joy, you know, all the good things that come along with a new baby instead of…destroying it?”
A hush gripped the interior of the car, the only sound the gentle hum of its engine. Betty Ann and Doug hung their heads as their hands interlocked.
Betty Ann finally cleared her throat. “I’m not sure of anything at this point.” She sniffled, preferring not to blow her nose. “All I know for sure is that we can’t confide in anyone right now, but I am afraid of one thing. The doctor might try to convince us…maybe coerce is a better word…into jumping into the abortion right away, maybe even today. Who knows how they work?” She lifted her head, exposing now reddened cheeks, dripping with tears. “I’m afraid you have to go in alone, Molly, convince them you’re there only to get information for a friend, nothing more. Don’t agree to anything, no examination, no information on health insurance, nothing! Give them as little information as you can. It’s the only way, I’m afraid. I promise we’ll be waiting right here for you. We’re here to back you up.”
“That’s right,” Doug said. “If anything goes wrong, call us, and we’ll come for you.”
“And do what, drag me out of the clinic?”
Doug shrugged his shoulders. “Whatever it takes.”
Betty Ann gripped Molly’s shoulders, squeezing harder than she had intended. “But make sure you get the information you’re going in for. Otherwise, this trip will have been a waste of time.”
Molly smiled at her friend, and placed a gentle hand on her knee. “Of course I’ll get the information you want.” She sucked in a deep breath, blew it out forcefully. “But let’s get to the clinic before I change my mind, or I’m late for that appointment.” She lowered her head once more, and shook it slowly. She took another deep breath. “Okay, here goes nothing, or should I say everything? I’m still not sure about…any of this, but, okay, I’ll do whatever I have to…whatever you want me to…whatever you think you need.” A shudder spread through her body despite the warmth of the car. Her voice became hushed, almost inaudible. “Let’s do this…and soon…before I lose my nerve. May God forgive me!”
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