“A genre of one.”
“One of the best thriller writers we have.”
#1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben
“A unique voice.”
New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly
Every Dead Thing
Introducing Detective Charlie Parker, whose hunt for a serial killer brings revelations.
Haunted by the unsolved slayings of his wife and young daughter, and tormented by his sense of guilt, former NYPD detective Charlie Parker is a man consumed by violence, regret, and the desire for revenge. But when his ex-partner asks him to track down a missing girl, Parker embarks on an odyssey that is to lead him to the heart of organized crime; to an old Black woman who dwells by a Louisiana swamp and hears the voices of the dead; to cellars of torture and murder; and to a serial killer unlike any other, an artist who uses the human body as his canvas and takes faces as his prize — the killer known only as the Traveling Man.
It is cold in the car, cold as the grave. I prefer to leave the a/c on full, to let the falling temperature keep me alert. The volume on the radio is low but I can still hear a tune, vaguely insistent over the sound of the engine. It’s early R.E.M., something about shoulders and rain. I’ve left Cornwall Bridge about eight miles behind and soon I’ll be entering South Canaan, then Canaan itself, before crossing the state line into Massachusetts. Ahead of me, the bright sun is fading as day bleeds slowly into night.
The patrol car arrived first on the night they died, shedding red light into the darkness. Two patrolmen entered the house, quickly yet cautiously, aware that they were responding to a call from one of their own, a policeman who had become a victim instead of the resort of victims.
I sat in the hallway with my head in my hands as they entered the kitchen of our Brooklyn home and glimpsed the remains of my wife and child. I watched as one conducted a brief search of the upstairs rooms while the other checked the living room, the dining room, all the time the kitchen calling them back, demanding that they bear witness.
I listened as they radioed for the Major Crime Scene Unit, informing them of a probable double homicide. I could hear the shock in their voices, yet they tried to communicate what they had seen as dispassionately as they could, like good cops should. Maybe, even then, they suspected me. They were policemen and they, more than anyone else, knew what people were capable of doing, even one of their own.
And so they remained silent, one by the car and the other in the hallway beside me, until the detectives pulled up outside, the ambulance following, and they entered our home, the neighbors already gathering on their stoops, at their gates, some moving closer to find out what had happened, what could have been visited on the young couple beyond, the couple with the little blond girl.
“Bird?” I ran my hands over my eyes as I recognized the voice. A sob shuddered through my system. Walter Cole stood over me, McGee farther back, his face bathed by the flashes of the patrol car lights but still pale, shaken by what he had seen. Outside there was the sound of more cars pulling up. An EMT arrived at the door, distracting Cole’s attention from me. “The medical technician’s here,” said one of the patrolmen as the think, whey-faced young man stood by. Cole nodded and gestured toward the kitchen.
“Birdman,” Cole repeated, this time with greater urgency and a harder tone to his voice. “Do you want to tell me what happened here?”
I pull into the parking lot in front of the flower shop. There is a light breeze blowing and my coattails play at my legs like the hands of children. Inside, the store is cool, cooler than it should be, and redolent with the scent of roses. Roses never go out of style, or season.
A man is bending down, carefully checking the thick waxy leaves of a small green plant. He rises up slowly and painfully as I enter.
“Evening,” he says. “Help you?”
“I’d like some of those roses. Give me a dozen. No, better make it two dozen.”
“Two dozen roses, yessir.” He is heavy-set and bald, maybe in his early sixties. He walks stiffly, hardly bending his knees. The joints of his fingers are swollen with arthritis.
“Air-conditioning is playing up,” he says. As he passes by the ancient control unit on the wall, he adjusts a switch. Nothing happens.
The store is old, with a long glass-fronted hothouse along the far wall. He opens the door and begins lifting roses carefully from a bucket inside. When he has counted twenty-four, he closes the door again and lays them on a sheet of plastic on the counter.
“Gift wrap ’em for ya?”
“No. Plastic is fine.”
He looks at me for a moment and I can almost hear the tumblers fall as the process of recognition begins.
“Don’t I know you from someplace?”
In the city, they have short memories. Farther out, the memories last longer.