“O’Callaghan is back with a vengeance …” — Gregg Olsen, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Is there a sociopathic killer on the loose and murdering prostitutes in New York City? NYPD’s top cop, Homicide Commander Lieutenant John Driscoll, believes there is. Someone who calls himself “Tilden” and claims to have been sexually abused as a child by his mother’s john. But what could have triggered Tilden’s rage that has him on a mission to eradicate all the women of the night in The Big Apple?
More importantly, will Driscoll put an end to the madness? He soon discovers Tilden’s not the run-of-the-mill sociopath. After all, would a common murderer have taken the time to embalm his victims, which the New York City chief medical examiner determined was the cause of their deaths?
Driscoll, a man haunted by the events of an unstable childhood himself, must put aside any sympathy he may have for Tilden and put a stop to his murderous rampage. Teamed up with Sergeant Margaret Aligante and Detective Cedric Thomlinson, who have their own issues, the commander sets out to stop the killings and bring Tilden to justice before he kills again.
“A fast-paced and compelling read. O’Callaghan depicts a serial killer like no other. Imagine Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, and Bible John, fused into one heinous beast.” – Anne K. Howard, 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD and 2018 LITERARY EXCELLENCE PENCRAFT AWARD winning author of HIS GARDEN
From The Book:
Pearsol opened the mortuary cooler and pulled out the stainless steel tray supporting the victim. “Lieutenant, meet Jane Doe,” he said sliding the woman’s bloated body under Driscoll’s gaze. “Harbor Patrol fished her out of the muck. I’d say she was a feast for the gulls for a day. Maybe two.”
“What’s that smell? Paint thinner?”
“She was doused in phenol?”
Driscoll’s eyes narrowed.
“The complete autopsy will fill in the blanks, but I’d bet my pension I already know what killed her. The who, and the why, I’ll leave to you.” Pearsol handed the preliminary lab report to Driscoll. It identifies a mixture of substances inside her vascular system.
“Phenol, formaldehyde and Chloride of Zinc?” Driscoll looked perplexed. “The same Chloride of Zinc they put in dry cell batteries?”
Pearsol nodded. “There’s three more.”
“Myrrh, aloe and cassia,” Driscoll read aloud. “That’s a strange mix.” He glanced at Pearsol, who nodded. “Says here you drained 851 milliliters from her circulatory system. What’s that? About two pints?”
“A body contains five to six quarts of blood. So the rest of this mixture?”
“Still in her.”
Using his finger, Driscoll pushed back a lock of the victim’s hair. “What could you have done to warrant this?” he whispered, eyes on the corpse.
“Right now the unofficial cause of death is phenol poisoning by arterial injection. Familiar with the German word, ‘abgespritzt’, Lieutenant?”
“Abgespritzt was a method of genocide favored by the Nazis in the early 1940s. Hitler’s henchmen delivered instantaneous death by injecting 15 milliliters of phenol directly into the heart.”
“What kind of syringe injects six quarts?”
“More than likely he used a centrifugal pump. And he knew what he was doing.” Pearsol pointed to the side of the victim’s neck, where a semi- translucent latex adhesive covered a two inch stretch of rippled flesh between the carotid artery and the jugular vein. “An extreme method of murder, Lieutenant. He arterially embalmed her.”
“There’s more.” The M.E. produced a transparent evidence bag containing a locket. It was an inch in diameter and featured Saint Vitalis of Gaza; his name etched in a half circle below his likeness. “I found it under her tongue. Someone apparently placed it there before suturing the tongue to the floor of her mouth.”
“What’s that about?” Driscoll wondered aloud.
“Good question. I’m not familiar with that saint. You?”
“She‘s the patron saint of prostitutes.”
“Well, there’s a lead. Oh, and there’s one other bit of information you’re sure to find intriguing. The myrrh, aloe, and cassia injected with the embalming fluid were once embalming solutions on their own. Sort of.”
“They were the purifying fragrances applied to the linens that wrapped the crucified Christ before he was laid in his tomb.”