New River Blues (Sarah Burke)

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Tucson police detective Sarah Burke is called in to investigate a horrific double murder in a high-dollar neighbourhood. The tragic destiny of a rich and troubled family unfolds against the backdrop of the imploding construction industry and the politics of downtown construction.

Meanwhile Sarah’s household bulges at the seams, as her niece, her mother and boyfriend — vivid personalities all — search for accommodation in her small spaces and crowded schedule, and her sister, as usual, does nothing to make things easier…

Excerpt

The commotion reached the far end of the hall as they got to the top of the stairs. A girl shouted again, “Mother?” and an officer’s voice insisted she must not go any further. At the door to the master bedroom she called once more, “Mo—” and then her voice was quenched like a doused candle as she saw the horror on the bed. She stood transfixed, her back rigid, for two electric seconds before she began to scream.

Delaney was breaking off his phone call, walking toward the door shaking his head, saying “I told you not to let anybody—” and the officer behind her, Quarles, fresh on duty for what now promised to be a terrible day, protesting, “She got in the house somehow, what do you want me to do, shoot her?”

Sarah ran past Quarles and wrapped her arms around the caterwauling girl. The ranch skills of her upbringing came back to her in response to the quivering body hot against her chest. Instinctively, she talked soft nonsense while she patted and stroked, soothing with hands and voice as she would any frightened animal.

“Sshh, sshh, sshh, okay now, over here, that’s right, just come with me.” She eased the hysterical girl away from the horror on the bed, walked her back into the hall. Menendez was there, ready to help, looking a question. Sarah met his eyes and pointed one finger. He leaned and opened a door to one of the other bedrooms in the hall, then came and wrapped his bulk around Sarah and the still-screaming girl. Together they eased her into the clean, quiet room and closed the door.

The next half hour was very hard work.

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