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THE LONG REVENGE: a mystery novel

Young, charismatic, and a licensed commercial pilot, Anna Stone manages her family’s air cargo business from her estate in the Niagara Escarpment country northwest of Toronto. She is at the top of her game, successful in business and love, until a freak weather condition forces her Cessna aircraft into an emergency landing and her ideal life begins to fall apart. 

At the same time, only a few kilometres away, Detective Sergeant Jake Kapoor of the Halton Regional Police enters a woodland clearing where the bloody, mutilated body of a drug cartel leader is propped against a tree and guarded by two circling miniature poodles. 

Before the end of the day, Detective Kapoor discovers the troubled family connection between the criminal world of the murder victim and the highflying, socially prominent world of Anna Stone. Over a period of three days Detective Kapoor helps Anna face the evil forces set in motion by her long-ago betrayal of her sister Erika Kurwood, the wife of the murder victim. 

A fast-paced action mystery, The Long Revenge tells how the betrayal between these two estranged sisters festered over time until it erupts into kidnapping and murder. The consequences of this betrayal stalk Anna to the end of the story when she must choose between the lives of the two people most dear to her.  


EXCERPT

The crime scene bordered on the farcical. The victim's body was propped against the trunk of a tree; two miniature poodles, one white, one black, licked at the gaping chest wound. An officer shooed the animals away. The poodles ran off but stayed close by, running in circles around the body as they whined and barked. 

Detective Sergeant Jake Kapoor of the Halton Regional Police made a whistling sound and muttered under his breath. "Jezuz! Those dogs have gone psycho!" Turning towards the officer-in-charge of the crime scene, he gestured at the clearing in the woods. "Constable Maitland, this is ludicrous. Why haven't your men cleared the dogs away? They're disturbing the crime scene." 

Maitland frowned at the implied criticism. "When we get close to them, they run off and continue their barking from a distance. They're small but they move fast. You might say the poodles are resisting arrest." 

A flicker of a smile crossed the officer's face. Hardly a thigh slapper of a joke, Kapoor thought to himself, but he still acknowledged Maitland's attempt at humour with a faint smile. Under the circumstances any kind of humour would do to relieve the tension of entering yet another scene of blood and gore.

Maitland continued: "The ground is soft, sir. Good for taking foot impressions but we don't want to mix up our officers' prints with those of the killer. I've put in a call to the Humane Society. They have dart guns for stunning animals."

Before entering the crime scene, Constable Maitland had briefed him on the basic facts of the crime. The victim was male, Caucasian, in his early fifties. The chest cavity was pried open, the heart removed, and nailed to a tree trunk above the victim's head. Without an autopsy, the exact cause of death could not be confirmed. A revolver was found nearby but the ammunition clip was full and there were no bullet wounds on the body. Major contusions to the head and a deep knife wound at the base of the skull. So far, no knife was found at the scene.

What Maitland had not mentioned was the presence of two traumatized poodles. As he watched the dogs perform their crazy dance around the body, Kapoor visualized a posse of hefty police officers with dart guns chasing two rodent-sized poodles. Not an edifying sight. 

"For god's sake, Maitland, we're not dealing with ravenous bears or man-eating tigers. Isn't there an easier way to bring the dogs to heel?"

Kapoor's driver, Constable Doug Price, stepped forward. "Sir, I own a Jack Russell. They're small, hyper dogs like poodles. Food always calms them down. Let me get my lunchbox." 

A few minutes later Constable Price returned with a plastic container. He plucked a cube of chicken embedded in a clump of noodles out of the container and offered the food to the poodles. They stopped barking immediately, sniffed the air and edged closer towards his outstretched hand. The black poodle wolfed down the delicacy straight away. Price scooped him up around the belly and handed him off to Maitland. 

The white poodle was not so compliant. She paced back and forth for several minutes then abruptly rolled onto her back whimpering and writhing in the damp leaves like a hyperactive snake. She let Constable Price pick her up but refused to take the food. Instead, she squirmed about in his arms, trying to climb onto his left shoulder, her hind legs churning against his chest.

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Leaving Constable Price to subdue the poodles, Kapoor pulled on his latex gloves and followed Maitland to the body. The victim was on the short side, not more than five foot six, with a stocky build. Black leather shoes, cashmere trousers, silk shirt and a fleece-lined leather jacket signified a man who didn't stint on money when it came to his wardrobe. 

Maitland pointed at a reddish-brown mass on the tree trunk just above the victim's head. "That's his heart. Poor bugger. This killing was sure an up-close-and-personal deal."

Kapoor crouched beside the body for a closer look. The killer had ripped open the shirt, tearing off the buttons. The ribs poked out of the blood-filled chest cavity where the heart had once pumped blood throughout the body. The person responsible for this desecration had wielded a knife with a surgeon's precision, slicing out the heart without damaging surrounding organs.  

Kapoor pulled the bloodied shirt away from the waist revealing a silver belt buckle engraved with the head of a bull. He gently raised the head off the victim's chest and pushed the strands of dark hair partially hiding the face. His pulse quickened.

Usually, the blank helplessness on a murder victim's face generated in Kapoor a stab of compassion. What must it feel like to realize in the last minutes of your life that someone hated you enough to kill you? But this time was different; no compassion pierced his heart. Instead, a shudder convulsed his body followed by an uncontrollable urge to laugh. Not an ordinary laugh, more a cosmic shout that bubbled up from his gut in response to the crazy crapshoot known as life. A similar laughter had possessed him once before at the morgue where he viewed Elise's body on the gurney. In that instance, the laughter brought with it a fit of deep sobbing that rendered him unable to function for hours. 

Kapoor swallowed hard, stood up, and pulled off his latex gloves. He was at a crime scene in the company of colleagues. No histrionics permitted here. Composure was everything. 

“Nothing more for us here, Maitland. Forensics can handle the rest. Don't bother to check car plates and license id. I know this man well. His name is Vincent Scarlatti.” 

Two hours later, the sound of slamming car doors reverberated throughout the woods like machine gun fire. The team from the Forensic Identification Unit was packing up, ready to move out. They had photographed the body from every conceivable vantage point and crawled over the forest floor, scrutinizing the damp ground, leaf by soggy leaf, seeking any trace of the killer or killers. They bagged soil and leaf samples as well as cigarette butts, soft drink cans, and an unidentified marble fragment. Molds were taken of footprints and tire tracks. Nothing was overlooked in the search for traces of the killer or killers.

Three men from the Coroner's Office wheeled the blanketed body of Vincent Scarlatti out to the road and hoisted it into a van. Detective Kapoor watched the vehicle recede to a black dot as it travelled down the concession road. Silently, he congratulated the killer, whoever he was or wherever he might be, on a job well done.

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