Emerson Sinclare is a detective of the Holy City—Charleston, South Carolina, known as one of the first cities in America. It is steeped in tradition, with family names that go back before the Revolutionary War. Even today, the markers of history can still be found on every street corner. But hidden beneath the city’s southern roots and hospitality lies a different story—one of crime, as might be found in any other twenty-first-century city in America.
Sinclare is never lacking in cases. Recently a young girl jumped off the city’s famous bridge. Another young man was found with his throat slit. And then there’s the still unsolved murder of Sinclare’s own wife. This last one haunts him, but he continues to hunt the criminals of his city with no mercy, following his own rules and using instinct to understand the criminal mind.
For Sinclare, there is no class distinction; everyone is suspect when it comes to murder. He’ll need all his knowledge of human nature to solve this newest murder. But things get personal as Sinclare suspects a recent death is somehow related to his wife’s cold case. Even in the Holy City, evil abounds. Power and greed will shake Charleston to its core.
The nights are sometimes quiet in the city, especially when it rains. Turning South on East Bay he could see the Cooper River on his right. East Bay Towers always evoked a feeling as he would count the floors every time he passed the building. He could still see his father standing on the balcony of the eleventh floor looking out towards Fort Sumter or holding his binoculars to look at the U.S.S. Yorktown, docked across the water.
The new Severna Bridge flashed in his rear view mirror; he could see the warning lights atop the spanned towers, the latest "Wonder of The World". He had just spent two hour on that bridge because someone decided to take a Peter Pan and see if they could fly. She was only sixteen, but for some reason her life was cut short. Another life, now another body; just the day before a body was found with the letter "C', carved in the abdomen, the wound was deep enough that the major artery, the Aorta and renal arteries were severed. His neck was also incised from side to side. A lethal way to die; he was only eighteen. The body was found nine blocks from the Severna Bridge in the French Quarter.
The streets were old; the pavement of each intersection was so uneven the car would lurch through as he crossed each historical street that created a labyrinth through this aged city deep in history. Ten blocks to Broad Street then a final turn to the left to the old court house, passing the site of the powder magazine. This was the first stop light that was red. He brought his 1967 Corvette to a standstill. Known to Charlestonian’s as the Four Corners of The Law, the Old Historic Court House to his right, the Post Office diagonally across the street and Saint Michael’s Church just opposite on the left, with City Hall directly to his left, this intersection was held in high esteem for what it represented. Each of the four buildings that stood on each corner was built to mark the legal community; Federal Law, County Law, Municipal Law, and the church demonstrated God’s Law. As he waited, only one wind shield wiper worked, it moved slowly with a rhythm like that of the rain, it also squeaked but it cleared his view of the rain.
Again his mind returned to the two murders. Two young people killed within a twenty-four hour period and for what reason; both murdered in a similar fashion. He blew out the remaining smoke, turned right towards his final destination, King Street.
Pulling into the parking lot where he saw a petite figure standing by the back door of the station which is located in a quadrangle of buildings dating back to the seventeen hundreds where he had heard that at one time hangings would take place in this venue following a trial and if convicted the perpetrator would swing. The city being so old has many stories as well as myths that permeate the culture. Some of those myths are still believed today. Three hundred years of history and mystery, all wrapped in one city and it is his city. Almost thirty years as a cop and he thought he had seen everything until the last two nights.
Parking his car he peered out the driver’s window at the silhouetted figure in the rain, a heavy rain coat did not permit him to see who exactly it was but he had an idea. He tossed his cigarette out the window rolled it back up then opened the door. His left foot became submerged into a mud puddle but he paid it no mind and walked towards the shadow of the person. As he approached the unknown person the head tilted back and the hood partially slipped backwards revealing his partner Cassie.
Cassandra Brooker, was by all accounts one of the prettiest woman in the city of Charleston, she had chosen to enter the field of law enforcement after leaving the profession of law. For her the law was not the challenge she thought it would be, in fact she found it boring and did not like working in the D.A.’s office, too political for her taste, that’s when she vowed she would never work for a woman again. At five feet four inches one could be fooled by her petite size and diminutive figure. Her skirts were a little out of regulation
but she liked it that way. Her legs were perfect and she made no bones about showing them off. Always in high heels, she was the poster girl for the department. Police work was more to her liking; the law had lost its luster, as she freely admits she didn’t fit in, just a little too stuffy.
Peering up into the misty rain he could see the street lights penetrating the fog. As he stepped inside he removed his coat shook off the wetness; then walked into the open area which contained several desks from a time had gone by, vintage to say the least, cluttered with papers, pictures of families, girlfriends, and wives on top. The walls were lined with pictures, a couple of book shelves containing trophies with pistols on top, even a bulletin board with wanted posters thumb tacked to the cork. Draping his coat over his left arm; moving through the chaos of the station house, Detective Sinclair found his desk, pulled out the chair; after throwing his coat over the back, he sat down.
The King Street Station was one of the oldest in the city and one could tell just by looking at the inside, just by its construction with stucco walls, steam pipes traversing the ceiling and the remnants of the steam heat radiators along the wall that still popped and banged during the winter months. It was always too hot or too cold. There was no order, desks at every angle, police files, computer stations, which he abhorred; a pencil and paper had their place on his desk for notes, for him they still worked and an old Remington typewriter sat to the side of his desk with a ribbon that barely made a mark, but it was his and he preferred it that way. There was also a picture of his wife that no one dared ask him about. Every night when left the station he would always kiss his two fingers on his right hand and place them on her lips. He missed her dreadfully and would spend his waking hours still trying to solve the case but could never find any leads. It was as if her name just disappeared from the police blotter, but not for him, but out of respect nobody would ask him about the case. His former captain, who was the lead investigator in the case, just upped and retired one day and moved away, her file was still sitting on Sinclair’s desk, stamped “unsolved”.
The crusty old detective rifled through his mail that had probably been there since he joined the force, several decades before, as well as a file basket which was over flowing with caseloads. He sat down as Cassie brought him his coffee. He tried not to let on but he would admire this young lawyer- detective as she crossed the room. Placing the coffee on his desk she said, "Black, no cream. In fact you can't even see the bottom of the cup, just the way you like it."
"Thanks," he responded.
Cassie walked away, just a short distance, turned and sat down in the nearest chair, crossing her legs, which she knew he would observe admiringly, leaned forward a bit to expose just enough to cause him to furl his eye brows then said, "O.K., how was your night?"
As if he didn’t hear a word she said he went on, "There are fifty unsolved murders, dating back to who knows when; tonight I just added one more." He pursed his lips then took a sip of his coffee, reached in to his pocket and retrieved another cigarette. As he lit the appropriate end Cassie cleared her throat and said, "You know this is a municipal building and you are not supposed to smoke in here."
"Yeh, but you are also a lawyer and can get me off," he replied dryly. There was a moment when it became very quiet, Sinclair seemed to be in deep thought, and then remarked, "I remember when Robert Magwood Jr. went missing, February 28, 2006; he...