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Read an Excerpt:
The smell got worse as Craige made his way up the stairs. Like the smell of burning human flesh, a fermenting corpse gave off one of those distinctive odors one never forgot. Craige thought of the adage about it taking a strong stomach to work with a body that had been dead for a while. One never got used to it. Some memories weren’t pleasant—time on storm-swept beaches, digging for supplies buried in the sand, hidden under piles of rubbish, in dark alleys or trashed rat-ridden warehouses; huddled in black dark caves or stinking tunnels. Their Special Mission CTU team cocked and loaded for anything; prepared to deal out any necessary parcel of maimed, butchered and dismembered—or running for their lives the few times their cover was blown.
As Craige climbed to the second-floor landing, the smell went from bad to a sour-worse. He spotted familiar faces from the department’s forensic team; intent and focused around the pulpy lump with swollen pumpkin dimples where eyes should have been in one very bloated dead body. The corpse was well beyond the initial stages of being recycled. It no longer looked human after cooking several days in the sweltering oven of a Dixie mid-August scorching summer in this dreary one-flight walkup of apartments with no AC and painted-shut windows. The dreary apartment was busier than it’d been in years with lab and forensic techs bustling and sorting the pitiful pieces of the when and how of abandoned death. Near the peeling paint archway into a worse kitchenette he spotted Gray huddled with just over five feet plus, roly-poly Coroner-Medical Examiner Fred Dinkins.
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