Friday, 7 October 2011
Author Spotlight - Excerpt from Voodoo Bones
VOODOO BONES is now available from Desert Breeze! You can read my earlier posts from this week to find out how I came to write this story. Now, it's time for an excerpt!
Noel Galliano has always wanted her own business, and despite critics who believe she won’t succeed, opens a tiny French Quarter voodoo shop. What she doesn’t count on is finding a dismembered corpse upstairs. Detective Mathieu Bergeron is considered a screw up around the district station, until he puts away the Bayou Ripper. Then another body is found mutilated, and both his arrest and competence are thrown into question. Matt and Noel must work together to solve this terrifying crime in the Big Easy...and along the way, they fall in love.
The night's inky blackness reminded Detective Matthieu Bergeron of hot chicory coffee: thick, rich, and filled with mystery. A muted jazz tune echoed off the French Quarter's worn bricks, and heavy fog rolled in off the river, masking the scrollwork on the balconies and dampening the air. October in New Orleans was fickle. Warm one night, and cold as hell the next. Tonight's humidity chilled Matt to the bone and told him it was the perfect night for murder. Not many people were out, and those who were, hurried to wherever they were going.
He halted just outside the narrow alley where Crawford Delacort, one of the chief techs from the Orleans Parish Medical Examiner's office, knelt beside a sprawled female corpse. The air reeked of stale cigarettes, river mud, and old beer. He scowled.
Fog snaked eerily around the body, and the bright yellow crime scene tape stretched across the entrance to the cave-like space fluttered in the damp breeze. Matt ducked beneath it and approached Delacort, a tall red-haired man with a runner's lanky build.
"Hey, Crawford. Please tell me this woman has all her parts."
"You're in luck tonight, Detective." Crawford rose and brushed off his hands. "She's all here."
"Cause of death?"
"Strangulation with some sort of ligature." The ME looked down at the body lying face down on the cold concrete. "Maybe a necklace. Can't be sure."
"Was she raped?"
"No fluids, but I'll know more once I do the autopsy." He cocked his head. "I'm thinking she might be a hooker, though. Just look at her clothes and shoes, and she has needle marks on the inside of both arms. Killer left her empty purse. He cleaned her out."
"Could've been a dissatisfied customer."
"Or a drug deal gone bad. Even a simple robbery." Crawford shrugged. "Who knows?"
Matt squatted beside the dead girl and examined her twisted, pale neck. Sure enough, a dark red line was gouged into her skin. He sighed. "Okay. Where's CSU?"
"On the way."
"Make sure they get plenty of pictures of her neck."
"I've got it covered."
Something in Crawford's tone made Matt look up. The ME's dark eyes gleamed with derision. Anger boiled inside Matt, but he held it in check. No way would he let the bastard know his air of superiority bothered Matt in the least. Damn it. Gage Simms had soured everyone against him.
He gritted his teeth and came to his feet. "Any witnesses?"
"No idea." Crawford peered down his sharp nose at Matt and jerked his head toward the other end of the alley, where two uniformed officers lurked in semi-darkness. "Ask the first guys on scene."
"All right." Matt's heart raced. He dug out his pad and pen and made a few notes. Even his big collar two days ago, when he'd single-handedly brought in the Bayou Ripper, hadn't silenced his critics. His former partner's constant barbs had alienated everyone in the district station, and now that the jerk had been elevated to commander, Matt was seriously considering asking for a transfer. He started down the alley, and his cell phone rang.
With a sharp curse, he jerked it off his belt. "Bergeron."
"Matt." Speak of the devil. It was Gage Simms. "Got another one for you."
"You can't be serious." Matt halted. "I just got here."
"I'll send someone else. Get your ass over here. To Vous Deux, on Esplanade."
"That new voodoo shop?"
"Yeah. And Matt -- I told you so."
"What are you talking about?" A sick feeling swirled in the pit of Matt's stomach.
Simms laughed. "You'll see when you get here."