The suicide note was an interesting touch. Zack scanned over the cliched phrases and shook his head. He closed his eyes and took another deep breath. No, he hadn’t imagined it. Mingled with the scent of fresh copper pennies were fragrant roses that brought to mind the same red splashed across the floor.
"So, what’cha think, Detective Martinez? Like we radioed—a suicide."
Zack rolled his weight onto his heels and twisted his head to look up at Officer Byers. The shine apparently hadn’t worn off the kid’s badge yet. "Think so? What’s the motive?"
The uniform shrugged uncomfortably. "His divorce is front page news. He’d already lost custody of his kids, and his business is bankrupt. Why wouldn’t he off himself?"
Fair enough. It deserved a quick nod. "You’re right. I might almost have believed the note on the table at first glance. One shot fired from a revolver registered to him, through the roof of his mouth. But—" he paused and raised his brows. "Did you happen to notice his cuffs?"
Now Byers frowned and squatted down, staring as Zack spoke. "You can never quite get the glue from duct tape off linen without a good cleaning."
"Thing is, kid," Zack said, "even with everything going wrong in his life, he still had something to live for ... and something worth killing him for. You know where to look?"
"Uh ... a diary or something?"
"Twenty years ago, maybe. Now, it's easier." Zack stepped over the body and switched on the computer.
The search was short, the results were ugly, ugly as hell. Byers took one look at the monitor and turned green. Zack couldn't blame him. A quintuple disembowelling was tame stuff compared to this.
"That's right, kid. The Pit of Voles. Our man was a regular poster on fanfiction.net." Zack shook his head. "Maybe he should have killed himself. Better than living in secret as – " he checked the account details " – 'm4ry5ue10ver'."
"But why'd someone kill him? Was it a literary critic?"
"Could you blame them? But no, it's simpler than that. Our guy was into RPS – imagined homosexual couplings between real people. Clearly, one of his fics was too close to the truth, and the people in it wanted to shut him up. For keeps."
"You mean - ?"
"Right. This is a slasher killing."
Opening: Cathy Clamp.....Continuation: Steve Wright