One more trip, she thought; Frank could do his share tomorrow. She went back out to the side of the garage, into the dark of the woodshed, picked up two more pieces of oak. And felt the short hairs rise on the back of her neck. Somebody was here with her Claudia dropped the oak splits, one gloved hand going to her throat. The woodlot was dark beyond the back of the garage.
She could feel it, but not see it, could hear her heart pounding in her ears, and the snow hitting her hood with a delicate pit-put-pit. Nothing else: but still She backed away. Nothing but the snow and the blue circle of the yard-light. At the snow-blown trench, she paused, straining into the dark Up to the house, still with the sense of someone behind her, his hand almost there, reaching for her. She pawed at the door handle, smashed it down, hit the door with the heel of her hand, followed it into the heat and light of the mudroom.
Frank stood there, with a paint rag, eyes wide, startled.
patrimoine-charente.com/wp-content She pulled down the zip on the snowmobile suit, struggled with the hood snaps, her mouth working, nothing coming out until: "My God, Frank, there's somebody out there by the garage. I could feel him," she said, catching his arm, looking past him through the window. He went through the kitchen, bent over the sink, looked out toward the yard-light. She flipped the lock on the door, then stepped into the kitchen. He took her seriously: "I'll go look. Then: "They wouldn't send a cop out here, in this storm. Not if you didn't even see anybody.
Claudia followed him into the mudroom, heard herself babbling: "I loaded up the stove, then I went around to the side to bring some wood in for tomorrow morning Frank sat on the mudroom bench and pulled off the Tony Lamas, stepped into his snowmobile suit, sat down, pulled on his pacs, laced them, then zipped the suit and picked up his gloves. He sounded exasperated; but he knew her. She wasn't one to panic.
Way at the back, a fully loaded Smith and Wesson. He grinned at her ruefully, and he was out the door, pulling on his ski gloves. On the stoop, the snow pecked his face, mean little hard pellets. He half-turned against it. As long as he wasn't looking directly into the wind, the snowmobile suit kept him comfortable.
But he couldn't see much, or hear anything but the sound of the wind whistling over the nylon hood.
With his head averted, he walked down the steps onto the snow-blown path to the garage. The Iceman was there, next to the woodpile, his shoulder just at the corner of the shed, his back to the wind. He'd been in the woodlot when Claudia came out. He'd tried to get to her, but he hadn't dared use the flashlight and in the dark, had gotten tangled in brush and had to stop.
When she ran back inside, he'd almost turned away, headed back to the snowmobile. The opportunity was lost, he thought. Somehow, she'd been warned. And time was pressing. He looked at his watch. He had a half hour, no more. But after a moment of thought, he'd methodically untangled his snowshoes and continued toward the dark hulk of the garage.
He had to catch the LaCourts together, in the kitchen, where he could take care of both of them at once. They'd have guns, so he'd have to be quick. The Iceman carried a Colt Anaconda under his arm. He'd stolen it from a man who never knew it was stolen. He'd done that a lot, in the old days.
Got a lot of good stuff. The Anaconda was a treasure, every curve and notch with a function. The corn-knife, on the other hand, was almost elegant in its crudeness. Homemade, with a rough wooden handle, it looked something like a machete, but with a thinner blade and a squared end. In the old days it had been used to chop cornstalks. The blade had been covered with a patina of surface rust, but he'd put the edge on a shop grinder and the new edge was silvery and fine and sharp enough to shave with. The corn-knife might kill, but that wasn't why he'd brought it. The corn-knife was simply horrifying.
If he needed a threat to get the picture, if he needed to hurt the girl bad but not kill her, then the corn-knife was exactly right. Standing atop the snow, the Iceman felt like a giant, his head reaching nearly to the eaves of the garage as he worked his way down its length.
He saw Frank come to the window and peer out, and he stopped. Had Claudia seen him after all? She'd turned away, and she'd run, but he could hardly see her, even with the garage and yard-lights on her.
He'd been back in the dark, wearing black. The Iceman was sweating from the short climb up the bank, and the struggle with the brush. He snapped the releases and pulled the bindings loose, but stayed balanced on the shoes. He'd have to be careful climbing down into the trench. He glanced at his watch.
He unzipped his parka, pulled his glove and reached inside to touch the wooden stock of the Anaconda. He was turning to step into the trench when the back door opened and a shaft of light played out across the porch. The Iceman rocked back, dragging the snowshoes with his boots, into the darkness beside the woodshed, his back to the corrugated metal garage wall.
Frank was a dark silhouette in the light of the open door, then a three-dimensional figure shuffling down the snow trench out toward the garage. He had a flashlight in one hand, and played it off the side of the garage. The Iceman eased back as the light crossed the side wall of the garage, gave Frank a few seconds to get farther down the path, then peeked around the corner.
Frank had gotten to the garage door, opened it. The Iceman shuffled up to the corner of the garage, the gun in his left hand, the corn-knife in his right, the cold burning his bare hands. Frank snapped on the garage lights, stepped inside. A moment later, the lights went out again.
Frank stepped out, pulled it tight behind him, rattled the knob. Stepped up the path. Shone the flashlight across the yard at the propane tank. Took another step. The Iceman was there. The corn-knife whipped down, chunked. Frank saw it coming, just soon enough to flinch, not soon enough to avoid it. The knife chocked through Frank's parka and into his skull, the shock jolted through the Iceman's arm. A familiar shock, as though he'd chopped the blade into a fence post. The blade popped free as Frank pitched over. He was dead as he fell, but his body made a sound like a stepped-on snake, a tight exhalation, a ccccuuuhhhhh, and blood ran into the snow.
For just a second then, the wind stopped, as though nature were holding her breath. The snow seemed to pause with the wind, and something flicked across the edge of the woods, at the corner of the Iceman's vision. Something out there He watched, but there was no further movement, and the wind and snow were back as quickly as they'd gone. The Iceman stepped down into the trench, started toward the house.
Claudia's face appeared in the window, floating out there in the storm. He stopped, sure he'd been seen: but she pressed her face closer to the window, peering out, and he realized that he was still invisible. After a moment, her face moved back away from the window. The Iceman started for the house again, climbed the porch as quietly as he could, turned the knob, pushed the door open. Her hand popped out of her sleeve and the Iceman saw the flash of chrome, knew the flash, reacted, brought up the big.
Then the V of the back sight and the i of the front sight crossed the plane of her head and the. He'd spent hours in the quarry doing this, swinging on targets, and he knew he had her, felt the accuracy in his bones, one with the target. The slug hit Claudia in the forehead and the world stopped. No more Lisa, no more Frank, no more nights in the Holiday Inn with the mirrors, no memories, no regrets. She didn't fly back, like in the movies. She wasn't hammered down. She simply dropped, her mouth open. The Iceman, bringing the Colt back to bear, felt a thin sense of disappointment.
The big gun should batter them down, blow them up; the big gun was a Universal Force. From the back room, then, in the silence after the shot, a young girl's voice, not yet afraid: "Mom? What was that? She lay on the floor like a puppet with the strings cut. Her eyes were open, sightless. He ignored her. He was focused now on the back room.
He needed the picture. He hefted the corn-knife and started back. The girl's voice again. A little fear this time: "Mom? Lucas Davenport climbed down from his truck. The light on the LaCourt house was brilliant. In the absolutely clear air, every crack, every hole, every splinter of glass was as sharp as a hair under a microscope.
The house looked oddly like a skull, with its glassless windows gaping out at the snowscape. The front door was splintered by fire axes, while the side door, hanging from the house by a single hinge, was twisted and blackened by the fire. Vinyl siding had melted, charred, burned.
Half of the roof was gone, leaving the center of the ruin open to the sky. Pink fiberglass insulation was everywhere, sticking out of the house, blowing across the snow, hung up in the bare birch branches like obscene fleshy hair. Firehose ice, mixed with soot and ash, flowed around and out of the house like a miniature glacier. On the land side of the house, three banks of portable stadium-style lights, run off an ancient gas-powered Army generator, poured a hundred million candlepower of blue-white light onto the scene. The generator underlined the shouting of the firemen and the thrumming of the fire truck pumps with a ferocious jackhammer pounding.
All of it stank. Of gasoline and burning insulation, of water-soaked plaster and barbecued bodies, diesel fumes. The fire had moved fast, burned fiercely, and had been smothered in a hurry. The dead had been charred rather than cremated. Twenty men swarmed over the house. Some were firemen, others were cops; three or four were civilians.
The snow had eased, at least temporarily, but the wind was like a razor, slashing at exposed skin. Lucas was tall, dark-complected, with startling blue eyes set deep under a strong brow. His hair was dark, but touched with gray, and a bit long; a sheath of it fell over his forehead, and he pushed it out of his eyes as he stood looking at the house. His face should have been square, and normally was, when he was ten pounds heavier. A square face fit with the rest of him, with his heavy shoulders and hands.
But now he was gaunt, the skin stretched around his cheekbones: the face of a boxer in hard training. Every day for a month he'd put on either skis or snowshoes, and had run up through the hills around his North Woods cabin. In the afternoon he worked in the woodlot, splitting oak with a mail and wedge.
Lucas stepped toward the burnt house as though hypnotized. He remembered another house, in Minneapolis, just south of the loop, a frozen night in February. A gang leader lived in the downstairs apartment; a rival group of 'bangers decided to take him out. There were six children sleeping upstairs when the Molotov cocktails came through the windows downstairs. Shirleen dropped all six screaming kids out the window, breaking legs on two of them, ribs on two more, and an arm on a neighbor who was trying to stop their fall.
The woman was too big to jump herself and burned to death trying to get down the single stairway. Same deal: the house like a skull, the firehose ice, the smell of roast pork Lucas unconsciously shook his head and smiled: he'd had good lines into the crack community and gave homicide the 'bangers' names.
They were locked in Stillwater, and would be for another eight years.
In two days he'd done a number on them they still didn't believe. Now this. He stepped back to the open door of his truck, leaned inside, took a black cashmere watch cap off the passenger seat and pulled it over his head.
He wore a blue parka over jeans and a cable-knit sweater, pac boots, and expedition-weight polypropylene long underwear. A deputy walked around the Chevy Suburban that had pulled into the yard just ahead of Davenport's Ford. Henry Lacey wore the standard tan sheriff's department parka and insulated pants. What's funny? Goddamn, he loved this. The place might have been snatched from a frozen suburb of hell. He felt at home. Sheldon Carr stood on a slab of ice in the driveway, behind the volunteer tanker and pumper trucks.
He wore the same sheriff's cold-weather gear as Lacey, but black instead of khaki, with the sheriff's gold star instead of the silver deputy's badge. A frozen black hose snaked past his feet down to the lake, where the firefighters had augered through three feet of ice to get at the lake water. Now they were using a torch to free the hose, and the blue flame flickered at the edge of Carr's vision.
Carr was stunned. He'd done what he could, and then he stopped functioning: he simply stood in the driveway and watched the firemen work. And he froze. His cold-weather gear wasn't enough for this weather. His legs were stiff and his feet numb, but he couldn't go into the garage, couldn't tear himself away. He stood like a dark snowman, slightly fat, unmoving, hands away from his side, staring up at the house. Carr had to turn his whole body to look at him. The fireman was smeared with ash and half-covered with ice. When they'd tried to spray the house, the wind had whipped the water back on them as sleet.
Some of the firemen looked like small mobile icebergs, the powerful lights glistening off them as they worked across the yard.
This one was on his back, looking up at Carr, his mustache white with frost from his own breath, face red from the wind and exertion. Carr moved to help him, hand out, but the fireman waved him away. He clambered awkwardly to his feet, struggling with a frozen firehose. He was trying to load it into a pickup truck and it fought back like an anaconda on speed.
A rubber-encased fireman was helping the doctor climb through the shattered front door. Carr watched as they began to pick their way toward the back bedroom. The little girl was there, so burnt that God only knew what had happened to her. What had happened to her parents was clear enough. Claudia's face had been partly protected by a fireproof curtain that had fallen over her.
A fat bullet hole stared out of her forehead like a blank third eye. And Frank The deputy had the engine turning over, heater on high, window down just far enough to communicate. It's still snowin' down there. I guess they're waitin' it out. Waitin' it out? They've heard of four-by-fours, haven't they? Call them back. He'd never heard Sheldon Carr say anything stronger than gol-darn. Carr turned away, his jaw working, the cold forgotten. Waiting it out? Henry Lacey was walking toward him, carefully flatfooted on the treacherous slab of ice that had run down into the yard.
He was trailed by a man in a parka. Lacey came up, nodded, said, "This is Davenport. Lacey took his elbow. He pulled his arm free, turned to Lucas. Thought it was worth a try. Hope you can help us. He grinned as he said it, a slightly nasty smile, Carr thought. Davenport had a chipped tooth, never capped, the kind of thing you might have gotten in a fight, and a scar bisected one eyebrow. Lucas glanced at him: he'd never heard a cop call a crime a tragedy.
He'd never heard a cop say gol-darn. He couldn't see much of Carr's face, but the sheriff was a large man with an ample belly. In the black snowmobile suit, he looked like the Michelin tire man in mourning. The Division of Law Enforcement Services did mobile crime-scene work on major crimes. He waved at the sky.
It's all highway. He apologized: "Sorry, that's a tender subject. They shoulda been halfway here by now. Just a kid. He suddenly began to shake uncontrollably, then, with an effort, relaxed. And there's something else Gosh, I can't believe this cold. Frank LaCourt lay faceup on a sidewalk that led from the house to the garage. Carr had one of the deputies lift the plastic tarp that covered the body and Lucas squatted beside it. He looked up at Carr, who'd turned away. I don't know. Carr looked out at the forest that pressed around the house: "It's the winter," he said.
We're feedin' some deer, but most of them are gonna die. Shoot, most of them are already dead. There're coyotes hanging around the dumpsters in town, at the pizza place. LaCourt was an Indian, maybe forty-five. His hair was stiff with frozen blood. An animal had torn the flesh off much of the left side of his face.
The left eye was gone and the nose was chewed away. Lucas nodded, touched the hood with his gloved finger, looking at the cut fabric. Lucas stood up. Lucas turned the flashlight into the shadows along the shed. Broad indentations were still visible in the snow. The indentations were half drifted-in. Frank had a couple sleds himself, so it could have been him that made the tracks.
We don't know. No tails. The firemen threw the tarps over them as soon as they got here, but it looks to me like there's maybe a half-inch of snow on him. A problem. So do you want to see the other bodies now? Woman was shot in the forehead, the girl's burned. Or we could just go talk. Lacey broke away. Inside, sheetrock walls and ceiling panels had buckled and folded, falling across burned furniture and carpet.
Dishes, pots and pans, glassware littered the floor, along with a set of ceramic collector's dolls. Picture frames were everywhere. Some were burned, but every step or two, a clear, happy face would look up at him, wide-eyed, well-lit. Better days. Two deputies were working through the house with cameras: one with a video camera, the power wire running down his collar under his parka, the other with a 35mm Nikon. The white Explorer in the parking lot," Lucas said.
And to Lucas: "Where'd you get the coffee? I did six years on patrol and I must've froze my ass off at a hundred of these things. You know them? The lakeside wall was gone and blowing snow sifted through the debris. The body was under a burnt-out bedframe, the coil springs resting on the girl's chest. One of the portable lights was just outside the window, and cast flat, prying light on the scorched wreckage, but left the girl's face in almost total darkness: but not quite total.
Lucas could see her improbably white teeth smiling from the char. Lucas squatted, snapped on the flash, grunted, turned it off and stood up again. I saw some car wrecks you wouldn't believe. They didn't make me sick. This did. He looked around the room. They started down the hall again. He left Frank's body right out in the yard. If he'd just taken off, it might have been a day or two before anybody came out. Was he bragging about it? What'd LaCourt do? He was a security guy. I'll check Frank's ex-wife, but I know her, Jean Hansen, and she wouldn't hurt a fly.
And Claudia's ex is Jimmy Wilson and Jimmy moved out to Phoenix three or four winters back, but he wouldn't do this, either. I'll check on him, but neither one of the divorces was really nasty. The people just didn't like each other anymore. You know? How about the girl? Did she have any boyfriends? I'll check. She's pretty young.
A generation of weasels. You get a lot of teenage firebugs. If there was somebody hot for the girl, it'd be something to look into. He's the principal and he does the counseling, so he might know. His sleeve touched a burnt wall, and he brushed it off. Before Lucas could answer, he said, "Come on down this way. Two heavily wrapped figures were crouched over a third body. The larger of the two people stood up, nodded at Carr. He wore a Russian-style hat with the flaps pulled down and a deputy sheriff's patch on the front. The other, with the bag, was using a metal tool to turn the victim's head.
Her voice was low and uninflected, almost scholarly. No amateur nights at the funeral home. The doctor looked down at the woman under her hands. Could be a rifle. The whole back of her head was shattered and a good part of her brain is gone. The slug went straight through. We'll have to hope the crime lab people can recover it.
It's not inside her. It'll take an autopsy to tell you anything definitive. There are signs of charred cloth around her waist and between her legs, so I'd say she was wearing underpants and maybe even, um, what do you call those fleece pants, like uh And Claudia was definitely dressed, jeans and long underwear. The woman stood and nodded. Her parka hood was tight around her face, and nothing showed but an oval patch of skin around her eyes and nose.
But what happened to her might have been worse. The Mission and Extension of the Church at Home. Extreme Prey. Broken Prey Two savage murders. One unlikely suspect. The t Chosen Prey Lucas Davenport. Deliverance and Inner Healing. John Loren Sandford Mark Sandford. Eye Surgery in Hot Climates. William Dean John Sandford-Smith.
Growing Pains Transformation. John F a Sandford. Holy Ghost Virgil Flowers. Neon Prey Prey. Rules of Prey Lucas Davenport. Rules of Prey. Storm Prey Lucas Davenport Mysteries. Shock Wave Virgil Flowers. Saturn Run. John Sandford Ctein. Transforming the Inner Man Transformation. Elijah Task, The. Choosing Forgiveness. Restoring The Christian Family. For a shootout that began at the Saint Paul Hotel, he dubbed it the "St. Thomas, "I built a mirror-image campus across the street, because the bad guy in that book was so despicable I didn't want the real place to be associated.
Nyren also edits a cadre of other top thriller writers, including Tom Clancy. Camp's books always have "twists and turns, so it stays fresh," Nyren said. And the grace notes are the touches of humor, the way cops refer to other cases as they would in real life, the way tangential situations come up all the time. Though he now pads around his rambling house alone, Camp said he has no immediate plans to move elsewhere. Paul, maybe near Grand," he said, "because out here I have to drive five miles in the winter to get a sandwich. Home All Sections Search.
Log In Welcome, User. Minneapolis St. U leaders say tuition hike strategy for nonresidents is working. Minnesota seat-belt crackdown snags more than 4, drivers. Six months after Irwin Jacobs' death, his fishing tournament firm is sold. It has begun: Best Buy launches a Black Friday promotion.
Internet is ogling Minneapolis' mayor after Twitter battle with Trump. Is MLB using a less-juiced ball in the playoffs and did it hurt the Twins? Minneapolis song picker Jack Klatt steps out with a swoon-worthy national release. Thomas: Losses, injuries end Iowa school's football season. Minnesota bird hunters tell us why they think their dog's breed is best. Books John Sandford: Master of chaos Since leaving journalism, John Camp has devoted himself to writing superheated thrillers, mostly set in the Twin Cities, that patrol the frontier between outlaws and the civilized world.
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