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Bishop #16
Berkley
November 2015
On Sale: October 20, 2015
Featuring: Samantha Jordan; Lucas Jordan; Dante Swann
288 pages
ISBN: 0425280721
EAN: 9780425280720
Kindle: B00SI02F6G
Hardcover / e-Book
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In this newest Bishop / Special Crimes Unit novel, an SCU team investigates a troubling string of disappearances. But how do you find someone who has vanished without a trace?

Something strange is happening in the small mountain town of Serenity, Tennessee. People going on routine errands never reach their destination. It’s as if they simply disappear. Over the past few weeks, it’s happened to five men and women—and now a child.

The local police chief Jonah Riggs calls the FBI, and a team from the Special Crimes Unit is immediately sent in. Agents Lucas and Samantha Jordan, partners in work and in life, have very different abilities. Samantha is a powerful clairvoyant and Lucas possesses a unique ability to find the lost or abducted. With them are new partners Dante Swann, a medium, and Robbie Hodge, a telepath.

The town is already on the edge of panic, but the mysterious events take a sinister turn when a body unrelated to the missing persons case surfaces, a citizen murdered under the noses of the police and FBI agents. Now, the team’s hunt for the lost has turned into something very personal for all of them … and very dangerous.

Excerpt

Prologue

Even barely awake, Jonah Riggs groaned as the phone on his nightstand shrilled a demand. He was tangled in the covers as usual, but managed to maneuver himself over far enough to grab the phone and shut it up.

Lying back with his eyes closed, he muttered, “It better be good.” He had gotten to bed somewhere near dawn after winning enormous imaginary sums at the monthly poker game the city fathers would have frowned upon – had they not been his opponents.

He didn’t know what time it was, but his aching head and scratchy eyes said it was too damned early.

“Sorry, Chief, but there’s something you need to see.” Sarah Waters didn’t sound all that sorry, but she was his lead detective, and since she and his younger sister had played together in the sandbox, he was only mildly surprised she didn’t offer a more colorful and less apologetic awakening.

“It’s Saturday, Sarah. My day off. My first day off in three damned weeks. Can’t you handle it?”

“No,” she said simply.

That woke him up, because in her whole life, he’d never seen anything Sarah couldn’t handle.

He fought free of the covers and sat on the edge of his bed, running his fingers through his hair. He needed a haircut. “What’s going on?” he asked her.

She hesitated, then said, “It’ll be easier if you just come see for yourself. Honest, Jonah, I wouldn’t call you out here if I didn’t think it was important.”

He knew that. “Out where?”

“North side of town, off Main and about a hundred yards down Street.”

That was actually the name of the street. Street. Jonah had wondered more than once if they’d just run out of names, or if somebody had been having fun and it just stuck.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll be there in fifteen. Oh – Sarah? Are we talking about an actual crime?”

“I’m not quite sure,” she replied.

He found that somewhat baffling, but didn’t waste time with more questions. “Okay, you know the drill. Keep everybody back away from whatever it is until I get there.”

“Copy that.”

Jonah hung up the phone, frowning, and headed for the shower, hoping enough hot water would clear his head. Because so far, this was hardly a normal Saturday morning.

It got stranger.

Jonah seldom wore a uniform, virtually always in jeans, clipping his badge to his belt near the front, wearing his gun on his right hip, and depending on the weather, either a sweatshirt under a light windbreaker or else a button-up shirt.

This Saturday morning in May was cool but comfortable, the middle-of-the-night rainstorm hours past. But it was also supposed to be an off day for Jonah, so he wore a sweatshirt with the faded letters of Duke University across his chest.

He had stopped at a coffee shop in town and swallowed some aspirin, but his head didn’t feel any better when he stopped his Jeep behind Sarah’s cruiser and got out to join her.

She was leaning against the front of her cruiser, frowning at another Jeep, this one pulled more or less off the road, with both front doors standing open.

Jonah didn’t see another soul about. Clearly, Sarah had decided against calling the station, for whatever reason. It wasn’t a large police station or police force, and it was rare to see more than one officer or detective out on patrol.

“Isn’t that Simon Church’s Jeep?” he asked as he reached her.

“Yeah. I checked the registration and tag to be sure.”

“So where is he?”

“The question of the day.” Sarah eyed him. “You up for this?”

He grunted. “Depends on what this is. You gonna tell me, or shall I figure it out for myself?”

Unsmiling, she said, “Take a look inside the Jeep.”

Jonah didn’t argue, just moved forward, sticking to the paved road side of the Jeep. He had already noted there were no skid marks, and no sign that the vehicle had been forced off the road. All four tires seemed fine.

He looked in the front passenger door, and a nameless dread began to crawl up his spine. The vehicle was packed with stuff. Not stuff one would expect if a robbery had been committed – despite the flatscreen TV. Packed in tight in the back were clothes, shoes, luggage presumably holding more of the same and ... things.

A stuffed bear sat atop a stack of books, squeezed in beside a golf bag. There was a basket holding an odd assortment of things that included a dog’s collar and leash, a can of WD-40, a laptop and tangle of cords and cables, a case holding CDs or DVDs, and a teapot.

Shirts and dresses and sweaters still on hangers were laid across luggage probably filled with the same sort of thing. There was what looked like a little sewing kit sitting atop a tackle box. There was a cooler of the sort most people used to transport adult beverages. There was another stuffed animal, this one a puffy cat, sitting atop a goldfish bowl where one lone fish swam rather desperately around in his shallow world.

Still bent forward and still without touching the car, Jonah turned his gaze to the front seat. Not much on the driver’s side. A little open change niche filled with coins and gum wrappers and at least two petrified French fries.

On the passenger seat, very neatly in the center, sat a purse decorated all over with beads and fake gems. It was very colorful.

Jonah straightened and looked back at Sarah. “You checked the purse?”

“Yeah. Amy Grimes. Her driver’s license is in a wallet that contains, I’m guessing, a few thousand dollars. I didn’t want to disturb anything even with gloves, until you saw it all.”

Jonah frowned at the Jeep another moment, then returned his gaze to Sarah. “All the earmarks of an elopement.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought..”

“But?”

“Well, they didn’t get very far, that’s one thing. I’m guessing Amy sneaked out of her house sometime after midnight; even at a crawl, they should have reached the highway before dawn.”

Jonah glanced back toward town and silently agreed with her. Hell, even if they’d left at dawn, they should have gotten farther.

“Gas? They broke down?”

“Key’s in the ignition, as you see. I cranked it up. Tank’s full, and the engine seemed to be running fine.”

Jonah looked over the inside once again, then walked back along the Jeep until he reached the bumper. He lifted his brows at his lead detective. “Both doors found open.” It wasn’t a question. “Pulled mostly off the road. A purse with money. Valuables in the back. And the key in the ignition making it easy for somebody to steal the whole shebang.”

Sarah nodded. “Now we come to the very weird part.”

“Now we come to it?”

“Yeah.” She stepped over onto the grassy verge and led the way just as far as the open driver’s side door. “Look down there.”

There was no guard rail here, and the bank on the side of the road sloped gradually down to a flat area; from that, a vague path led toward a stand of trees while another vague path led off to the left, toward a distant creek. Neither of the paths were well-traveled, just handy shortcuts, mostly for kids.

But right now both the bank and the flat area were more dirt than grass. Mud, since the rainstorm hours before.

Very clearly, two sets of footprints were visible going down the bank and to the flat area. One larger set, probably boots; one much smaller set, undoubtedly a woman or girl.

The prints were absolutely perfect, showing no slipping or sliding. The bootprints and shoeprints were side by side down the bank, to the flat. Where they stopped.

Where they just ... stopped.

That wordless dread was growing in Jonah. “You’ve been down there?”

“Yeah. I stayed away from the prints, circled. There’s nothing, Jonah. And there should be. All around the place where the prints stop, there would have been prints if they’d gone on. There’s no way they could have jumped far enough, and no sign at all they did. No sign of a vehicle, no sign of a horse. No sign of a third person.” She drew a breath and let it out slowly. “If this is a prank, it’s a damned good one. But I don’t think it’s a prank. I think those two kids walked down that bank to the flat area — and something happened.”

“Something took them,” he said slowly.

Sarah nodded. “That’s the only thing I could think of. It’s like something just swooped down and carried them away. And judging by the footprints, they had to be lifted cleanly, straight up. No sign of a struggle. No sign of a fight. There are houses close enough to hear if someone had screamed. Even in the middle of the night.” Without turning, she jerked her head back and toward the other side of the road. “Mildred Bates is watching us from her front porch now; she sleeps with her windows open and the slightest sound wakes her. Her bedroom windows face this way. If there had been any kind of a commotion, she would have heard – and called us. She didn’t.”

“So, where are those kids?” Jonah said slowly. “And how the hell did they just ... vanish?”

Jonah didn’t voice what he felt, that what they were looking at was not exactly an ending – but the beginning of something. The beginning of something bad. The beginning of something that was going to shake his town to its foundations.



Start Reading FEAR THE DARK Now

Bishop Special Crimes Unit



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