Marked for Murder: Keller County Cops Book One by Melanie Atkins
April 2011, Desert Breeze Publishing
He found the crime scene with no problem and pulled off the side of the narrow two-lane
highway behind a single cruiser with flashing blue lights and Mitch's steel gray departmental sedan. Muggy summer air swept over him as he climbed from his matching vehicle and slammed the door. Dusk would soon fall, bringing with it a thick purple haze, and unless they hurried they would need lights.
"What have we got?" he called to Mitch, who was standing with a uniformed deputy at
the edge of a wide, grassy ditch.
The detective turned. "Another body wrapped like a burrito. The same sick bastard's hit
Jonah fisted his hands. Three dead women had been found rolled in tarps in Keller
County during the last two months.This made four.
He skirted Mitch's pristine ride, halted at the edge of the ditch, and studied the long
bundle. A kernel of foreboding settled in the pit of his stomach. "Who found this one?"
"A guy on a bicycle who stopped to take a leak," the deputy said. "He had to get to a
meeting in town, so I let him go. I got his information for you, though."
"Good," Jonah said.
Mitch blew out a sigh. "I haven't examined it yet. I saved that job for you, since you're on
tonight and I'm about to head to the house."
"Thanks a lot, my friend." Jonah snaked his way through the tall grass lining the ditch
and crouched beside the rolled tarp. The metallic scent of blood met his nose. He paused to gather his courage, and then carefully peeled back the tarp's frayed edge.
A hand flopped out. His blood curdled. The hand was small, pale, and bruised. Definitely female.
Blood was caked beneath two of the victim's fingernails. Bile surged up his throat. He turned to Mitch. "Are the coroner and CSU on their way?"
"Yeah." He glanced at his watch. "Shouldn't be long now."
With a brisk nod, Jonah lifted the canvas and examined the body more closely. The
bruises on the woman's arm looked suspiciously like fingerprints, telling him she'd been
manhandled before she was murdered -- just like the other three.
Wanting a peek at her palm, he gingerly touched her thumb. Shock streaked through him. The digit was warm.
"Oh, God." He jerked back. "Call an ambulance. She's alive."