CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Mortal Wounds

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9781416559078: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Mortal Wounds

Three Classic CSI Novels in One Volume - Based on the Critically Acclaimed Hit CBS Series!

DOUBLE DEALER

Meet the little known and even less understood heroes of police work in Las Vegas -- the forensic investigators. Led by veteran Gil Grissom, the remarkable team assigned to the Criminalistics Bureau's graveyard shift -- including Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Nick Stokes, and Sara Sidle -- must combine cutting-edge scientific methods and old-fashioned savvy as they work to untangle the evidence behind the yellow police tape. While Nick and Catherine investigate a newly discovered murder committed fifteen years ago, Grissom, Warrick, and Sara must uncover the identity of a cold-blooded killer -- one whose execution-style, "double-tap" signature has now provoked the interest of the FBI....

SIN CITY

"If anything happens to me, get this cassette to the police," Lynn Pierce told her friends the night she disappeared without a trace. Lynn was a devout Christian, and a devoted wife and mother -- who left behind a recording of a husband threatening to cut her into little pieces.... Jenna Patrick was a professional stripper trying to get out of the sex trade and into junior college -- but wound up strangled in a locked room at the club where she worked.... What could these two women possibly have had in common -- aside from the fact that they're both victims of homicide?

COLD BURN

Remote. Peaceful. Picturesque. That's how the Mumford Mountain Hotel bills itself in its brochure, and it lives up to its reputation -- most of the time. But this year, the hotel is hosting a prestigious conference for the study of forensic science, and the organizers have extended CSI head Gil Grissom an invitation he can't refuse. Joined by fellow investigator Sara Sidle, Grissom leaves the department in the capable hands of Catherine Willows and heads east. But he and Sara soon find themselves in all too familiar territory -- while back in Las Vegas, Catherine, Warrick Brown, and Nick Stokes have uncovered foul play of their own....

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

The siren's squeal split the morning, the flashing blue-then-red-then-blue dashboard light reflecting off other cars as the black Chevy Tahoe weaved its way through rush-hour traffic on US 95. The sun was rising orange and bright, tinting the clouds pink, and the air conditioning within the SUV was already grappling with the July heat.

In the passenger seat sat Gil Grissom, graveyard-shift supervisor of the Las Vegas Criminalistics Bureau. In the driver's seat was Warrick Brown -- rank CSI3, just one notch under Grissom -- and in back was another member of their team, Sara Sidle, rank CSI2. Warrick sawed the steering wheel right and left as he dodged between cars, his expression impassive. He might have been watching paint dry.

Grissom's boyishly handsome features were slightly compromised by the gray encroaching on his brown hair, and crow's feet were sneaking up on the edges of his eyes, frown lines etching inroads at the corners of his mouth. The politics of this job had taken their toll on Grissom of late. As much as he loved the science of investigation, the constant jousting with day-shift supervisor Conrad Ecklie, the strain on his budget, and the pressures of management had started to age the perennially youthful Grissom. This reality was aided and abetted by the fact that, even though he had never needed much sleep, now he hardly got any at all.

The SUV hurtled toward a small Honda. Warrick slashed to the right, barely missed a FedEx truck, then bounced back left, coming within inches of a blue Lincoln stretch limo.

From the back, Sara yelled, "Geez, Warrick, he's not gonna get more dead. Slow down."

Warrick ignored her remark and jumped into the diamond lane to pass a cab, then hopped back into his own lane.

"Why didn't you let me drive?" Sara asked her boss as she bounced around, her seat belt straining. "Grissom, will you say something to him?"

Ignoring the exchange, Grissom turned his gaze toward the reddish sky. Quietly, without even realizing he was talking, Grissom said, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight -- red sky at morning, sailor take warning."

Sara leaned forward. "What was that, Grissom?"

He shook his head as he studied the clouds. "Nothing."

"Please tell me that wasn't an aphorism," she said. "Please tell me you're not spouting quotes while this maniac is -- "

"Sailors?" Warrick asked. "Gris, we're in the desert."

"Shut up," Sara snapped, "and keep your eyes on the road."

Warrick shot her a glance in the rearview mirror, twitched a half-smirk, and crossed all three lanes of traffic, jerking the wheel to the right as they turned onto Decatur Boulevard. Seconds later the SUV squealed to a halt in front of the Beachcomber Hotel and Casino.

"Six minutes, twenty-seven seconds," Warrick said as he threw open his door, bestowing on his boss a tiny self-satisfied smile. "How's that for response time?"

As the limber driver turned to jump out of the truck, Grissom gripped Warrick's shoulder, startling him a little. Grissom kept his voice quiet, even friendly, but firm. "From now on, unless I say otherwise, you obey the speed limit -- okay, Mario?"

Warrick gave him a sheepish smile. "Yeah, Gris -- sorry."

In the backseat, Sara shook her head in disgust, her ID necklace swinging as she muttered a string of curses. As she climbed out, dragging a small black suitcase of equipment with her, she said, "Gonna get us all killed, then who's going to investigate our scene? I mean, we'll all be dead."

Grissom turned and looked over his sunglasses at her, through the open back door. She got the message and piped down.

Warrick grabbed his own black suitcase from the back of the vehicle and fell in next to Sara. Climbing down, Grissom -- carrying his silver flight-case-style field kit -- led the way. This early, the sidewalk was nearly empty in front of the hotel, the doormen outnumbering the guests. The little group was almost to the front door when Captain Jim Brass materialized to fall in step with Grissom.

Brass said, "The hotel manager wants to know how soon we're going to be out of there."

"Why?"

Brass blinked his sad eyes. "Why? So he can let the guests move in and out of their rooms on that floor."

Shaking his head, Grissom asked, "What'd you tell him?"

Brass shrugged. "As soon as we possibly can."

A rotund doorman stepped forward and opened the big glass front door for them. Sunglasses came off as they moved through the gaudy lobby -- Grissom tuning out the sounds of spinning slots, rolling roulette balls, dealers calling cards, the typical dinging and ringing casino cacophony -- and Brass led them to the right, toward a gleaming bank of elevators.

"Where's the vic?" Warrick asked.

"Fourth floor," Brass said. "Right there in the hall, outside his hotel room door, shot twice in the head, small caliber, a .22 or a .25 maybe. Looks like a mob hit, might be a robbery got outa hand."

"We'll see," Grissom said, never interested in theories so early. "Is there videotape?"

Most of the resort hotels on the Strip had video cameras in every hall, but not all the ones off the Strip, like the Beachcomber, had caught up.

Brass nodded. "It's set up in the main security room -- waiting for you, whenever you're ready."

When they were safely alone in the elevator, away from guests and staff, Grissom turned to Brass. "You tell the manager we'll be done when we're done. I don't care if he has to use a cherry picker to get these people out of their rooms, they're not going to disturb my crime scene. The hotel gets it back when my people have finished with it."

Brass held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay, I'll tell him. I just wanted to save the guy for you to alienate."

Taking a deep breath, Grissom let his head drop a little as he exhaled. "Tell him we'll work as fast as we can, but this is not fast work."

The elevator dinged, the door slid open, and it began. Stepping out, Grissom looked to his left where Detective Erin Conroy, stood interviewing a twenty- something young man who wore a white shirt, black bow tie and black slacks -- a waiter.

The CSI group paused to snap on their latex gloves.

"Guy's a spitting image for David Copperfield," Warrick said softly, behind Grissom.

"The waiter," Sara said, amused. "Yeah -- spot on."

Grissom turned to them. "Who?"

Sara's eyebrows climbed. "Grissom -- you live in Vegas and you don't know who David Copperfield is?"

"A Dickens character," Grissom said. "Is this pertinent?"

Sara and Warrick, silenced, exchanged glances.

Moving forward, Brass on his left, Warrick and Sara behind him, Grissom stopped in front of a uniformed officer on watch at the near

end of the crime scene. Beyond the officer, Grissom saw the body slumped in a doorway alcove; a large, circular, silver tray lay on the carpet across the hall; and spaghetti, meat sauce, and the components of a tossed green salad lay scattered everywhere. A white carnation, spilled out of its vase, lay at the corpse's feet like an impromptu funeral offering.

"Anyone been through here since you arrived?" Grissom asked.

Garcia shook his head. He pointed to a rangy officer at the other end of the hall. "My partner, Patterson, had the manager let him up the fire stairs down there."

"Good work."

"Thank you, sir."

Turning to Brass, Grissom asked, "Any idea who our victim is?"

"Sure -- 'John Smith.' "

Grissom raised an eyebrow.

Brass shrugged elaborately. "That's how he registered. Paid for everything in cash too."

"Right. You check for a wallet?"

Brass shook his head. "Waiting for you to clear the scene. I used to have your job, remember?"

Brass had indeed been the CSI supervisor until not so long ago; he'd been something of a prick, in fact, but had mellowed since returning to Homicide.

Grissom asked, "Your people canvassing the guests?"

"They're on it now -- they started at either end, so they don't disturb the scene."

"Good call. And?"

"Nobody saw anything, nobody heard anything."

Stepping in carefully, Grissom bent over the body.

Lying on his stomach, head just slightly to one side, his brown eyes open, glazed, staring at nothing, John Smith looked surprised more than anything else. Cautiously, Grissom changed position to better see the wound. Clean, double tap, small caliber; Brass was probably right -- a .25. The odd thing was the placement. Two small holes formed a colon in the center back of John Smith's skull, and -- if Grissom didn't miss his bet -- almost exactly one inch between them.

Grissom felt gingerly for a wallet, found nothing, gave up and rose; then he turned to his CSIs. "Footprints first, you know the drill. If this guy wasn't Peter Pan, he left his mark."

Warrick nodded, alertness in the seemingly sleepy eyes. "All comes down to shoe prints."

"Yep," Sara said.

Grissom stepped aside so Warrick and Sara and their field kits could pass. "Sara, you do the fingerprints. Warrick the photos."

"Good thing I skipped breakfast," Sara said.

"Least there's no bugs yet," Warrick said to her. Bugs and larva were about the only thing that threw the strong-spined Sidle.

"I wouldn't bet on that," Grissom said. "This hotel might not like it, but our little friends are here."

Sara and Warrick began by scouring the entire crime scene for footprints. This would take a while, so Grissom followed Brass over to where policewoman Conroy stood with the waiter.

Flicking the badge on his breast pocket, Brass said to the waiter, "I'm Captain Brass and this is CSI Supervisor Grissom."

The skinny dark-haired waiter nodded to them.

Conroy, her voice flat, said, "This is Robert LaFay...."

"Bobby," the man interjected.

She went on as if he hadn't spoken. "...a room-service waiter. He was taking an order to room..." She checked her notes. "...four-twenty, but he never made it. Ran into the killer."

Turning sharply to the waiter, Grissom asked, "Mr. LaFay...Bobby -- you s...

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