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Prepare to be chilled to the bone... Forensic investigator Reilly Steel, Quantico-trained and California-born and bred, imagined Dublin to be a far cry from bustling San Francisco, a sleepy backwater where she can lay past ghosts to rest and start anew. She's arrived in Ireland to drag the Irish crime lab into the 21stcentury, plus keep tabs on her Irish-born father who's increasingly seeking solace in the bottle after a past family tragedy. But a brutal serial killersoon puts paid to that. When a young man and woman are found dead in an apartment, the gunshot wounds on their naked bodies suggest a suicide pact. But Reilly's instincts are screaming that something's seriously amiss, and as more bodies are discovered, the team soon realises that a twisted murderer is at work, one who seeks to upset society's norms in the most sickening way imaginable...
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Reilly sat at her desk, her features screwed up in an expression of intense concentration as she studied the crime-scene inventory for the Clare Ryan case. It was a couple of days after the shooting and nearly all the staff had long since left for the day.
To most people, the clinical setting and the oppressive silence - broken only by the low hum of the machinery - would feel eerie and discomfiting. For Reilly, however, the peace and quiet of late evening was her preferred time to work.
Now that everyone had gone home, she was free from the noisy distractions of twenty or so laboratory staff laboring all around her. The silence allowed her more time to work, more time to think, and tonight it might allow her uncover what it was about this shooting that had been niggling at her for the last two days.
She'd sensed from the start that something wasn't right but so far had found nothing out of the ordinary amongst the evidence to back this feeling up. The two things she trusted most during an investigation were evidence and instinct. And since leaving that scene, Reilly's instincts were screaming that something was seriously amiss.
Gorman would have laughed if she'd tried to explain this to him. The long-time incumbent, he was head of the old forensic department and hadn't exactly been over the moon about her appointment, or the setting up of the new unit in general. She was glad that the old man would be away on vacation for a while; it gave her an opportunity to run this case the way she wanted - the way she was trained to do back home.
Since she'd arrived at the GFU he'd tried to put her in her place, inferring that her job was just to oversee work in the lab, and that she should have little or no interference in what he was doing, or had done, up to now. While this was true to a degree, from what Reilly had seen, the older man's current methods were pretty half-hearted and pedantic considering it was such an important role, and the old dog had no interest in new tricks.
On top of it, Gorman had an unbelievable ego - something she'd at least been forewarned about before she got here. Like many traditional scientists, he seemed to operate under the belief that his word was gospel and he was also a condescending old chauvinist - something she could handle were he not such a sloppy investigator with it. Still she resented the way he spoke to the female staff, particularly Lucy, who was a real sweetie and Reilly knew was routinely wounded by her superior's dismissiveness.
But office politics aside, Reilly also had to deal with the force's natural resistance to an 'outsider', to say nothing of the inevitable dumb blond jokes. She shook her head, recalling how, on her very first day at the office, she'd come out of a morning meeting to find a crimson Baywatch-style swimsuit laid out on her desk. No doubt the culprit and his buddies found it hilarious but it was water off a duck's back to Reilly; she'd had to deal with a lot worse back in her FBI student days.
She looked again at the evidence for the Ryan homicide. This was one of the first scenes she'd managed to co-ordinate entirely on her own, outside of Gorman's interference. Without him breathing down her neck, she'd had as much time as she wanted to run the scene in as much detail as possible. And plenty of time to apply her 'touchy-feely' techniques, she thought, biting back a smile as she recalled the reaction that had gotten.
It was something she'd learned and perfected at Quantico. Her lecturer, Rob Crichton, one of the best forensic investigators in the business, had drilled into his recruits the importance of the three-dimensional crime scene. She smiled fondly, recalling the now deceased Crichton - an anti-personnel device at a perp's apartment having put an end to the life of one of the best criminalists she'd ever had the fortune to work with. Although his death was a tragedy, she figured that Rob would have appreciated the irony of his body being blown to smithereens. He himself finally becoming the physical evidence he'd spent much of his life collecting.
'Your senses are there for a reason, people,' he used to say. 'Never, ever discount them.'
While Reilly had initially been sceptical, she soon discovered when she applied Rob's painstaking methods that she had an unusually keen sense of smell - something that had been invaluable in almost every case she worked. For some reason, she was particularly attuned to perfume and could draw easily on her inner database of various fragrance brands and body creams. For example, she knew that the ME, Karen Thompson favored Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, and that Carol, the GFU receptionist routinely wore CK One. Oddly, she'd noticed that Chanel No. 5, the American woman's favorite had a far less fervent following on this side of the Atlantic.
Either way, her instincts had served her well in the past and she wasn't about to discard them just because some red-nosed Irish cop thought they were dumb and irrelevant. All mouth and little substance; Reilly could eat a guy like Kennedy for breakfast - not that she wanted to, she thought, shuddering at the notion. He seemed OK, just old school. She'd heard his partner's name mentioned a few times over the last couple of months; Chris Delaney seemed to have a good reputation within the force, and unlike some of his more conservative colleagues, also seemed to be well disposed toward the GFU. She figured that those dark, almost Mediterranean looks must work well when it came to extracting information - particular from the female side of the population - although from what little she knew about him, he didn't seem the type to play on that. And in contrast to Kennedy, he certainly hadn't given her any attitude that morning, and seemed happy to take on board anything significant the lab might come up with.
Which, at the moment, wasn't exactly much.
They'd sent blood samples off for a toxicology screen which, if they came back positive, might - for the shooter at least - go some way toward explaining his actions. However, with the speed the labs worked at, who knew when she'd get those back.
They'd also collected the usual - fingerprints, trace, and fibers - which were now being analyzed. Ballistics were in possession of the gun and cartridges, and Reilly was planning on calling down there the following morning to see if they'd come up with anything of interest.
In the meantime, she was doing what she did best, going over the scene in her mind, trying to recreate the kill, taking into account the evidence they'd uncovered, and hoping for something, anything, that might just help move this case forward.
But so far, all Reilly could come up with was that something didn't feel right.
She sat forward in her seat and for the umpteenth time picked up the photos of the victims taken at the scene before their removal. Again, she studied the blood and brain spatter on the headboard; much of the gray matter had spewed over the dead girl's face and hair - some even landing as far away as the pile of books on her bedside table. The blowback blood droplets on the headboard and wall behind were to be expected, traveling in the opposite direction to the path of the bullet. Her gaze moved downward to the gun's resting position on the bed where it had ended up after falling out of the dead shooter's hand.
What was it? she thought, kneading her forehead in the vain hope that the answer might somehow be released. What was it that about this whole situation that was bothering her? Given the gun's caliber, trajectory and shooting distance, as well as the residue found on the guy's hand, the results all looked consistent, yet there was something telling her that there was more to this, that she was missing something. Something important.
Chasing evidence, hoping to find answers - sometimes Reilly felt it was all she'd been doing her whole life.
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