"The past and present collide for Det. Jonathan Stride as he questions his personal and professional life"
Reviewed by Tanzey Cutter
Posted March 7, 2016
Mystery Police Procedural
Nine years ago, in Duluth, Minnesota, Det. Jonathan
Stride's wife, Cindy, was a witness in the murder trial of
her friend Dr. Janine Snow, who was accused of killing Jay
Ferris, her husband. Cindy was sure Janine was innocent,
while her husband was convinced Janine was guilty. In the
end, he's proven right when Janine is sent to prison for
Eight years ago, Cindy Stride died of cancer, and
Jonathan's life has never been the same. Though he's in a
relationship with fellow detective Serena Dial, he's never
been able to move past Cindy and fully commit to Serena.
While investigating a murder Serena witnessed outside a
Serena comes across a gun linked to the recent murder of a
woman with ties to an Estonian crime group. The shocking
revelation is that the gun was also used to kill Jay Ferris
nine years ago. Does this mean Jonathan Stride was wrong,
and Janine is innocent? Or is there some other explanation
for this unusual connection? It will take a deeply thorough
and far-reaching investigation to uncover the shocking
truth behind the origin of the gun and who used it to
murder Janine's husband.
Master storyteller Brian Freeman knocks it out of
the park with his latest Jonathan Stride crime
GOODBYE TO THE DEAD. I found it to be hugely addictive with
each unexpected twist and turn in the investigation, as
well as Stride's complicated personal relationships. Though
he has plenty of character flaws, Stride is an honorable
man and an intense detective. From Freeman's atmospheric
descriptions, Duluth takes on a life of its own. I was
almost shivering from the North Shore cold. As in all the
other Stride novels I have read, secondary
even more authenticity to the powerful plotline. This
compelling police crime thriller should be on everyone's
Detective Jonathan Stride's first wife, Cindy, died of
cancer eight years ago, but
her ghost hangs over Stride's relationship with current
lover, and fellow
detective, Serena Dial. When Serena witnesses a brutal
murder outside a Duluth
bar, she stumbles onto a case with roots that go all the way
back to the last year
of Cindy Stride's life.
At the time, Cindy and Stride were on opposite sides of a
investigation. Gorgeous, brilliant Janine Snow--a surgeon
transplanted to Duluth
from Texas--was the prime suspect in the shooting death of
her husband. Cindy
believed her friend Janine was innocent, but Stride thought
all the evidence
pointed to the surgeon--even though the gun was never found.
attempts to help Janine, the case led to a high-profile
murder trial in which
Janine was convicted and sent to prison.
During the current investigation, Serena finds a gun used in
the murder of a woman
connected to an organized crime syndicate--a gun that turns
out to be the same
weapon used to kill Janine Snow's husband. Two unrelated
cases years apart
suddenly have a mysterious connection. As Stride
investigates the possibility that
human traffickers are targeting women in the Duluth port, he
begins to question
whether he made a terrible mistake eight years ago by
putting an innocent woman in
prison. And whether he will ever be able to make peace with
the memory of his
beloved wife and give his heart to Serena.
ExcerptWe are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to
— marcel proust
Serena spotted the Grand Am parked half a block from the
Duluth bar. Someone was waiting inside the car.
Mosquitoes clouded in front of the headlights. The trumpets
of a Russian symphony— something loud and mournful by
Shostakovich— blared through the vehicle’s open windows.
Serena smelled acrid, roll- your- own cigarette smoke
drifting toward her with the spitting rain. Beyond the car,
through the haze, she saw the milky lights of the bridge
arching across the harbor.
Only the two of them haunted the late- night darkness of the
summer street. Herself and the stranger behind the wheel of
the Grand Am. She couldn’t see the driver, but it didn’t
matter who was inside.
She was here for someone else.
This was an industrial area, on the east end of Raleigh
Street, not far from the coal docks and the paper mill.
Power lines sizzled overhead. The ground under her feet
shook with the passage of a southbound train. She made sure
her Mustang was locked, with her Glock securely inside the
glove compartment, and then she crossed the wet street to
the Grizzly Bear Bar. It was a dive with no windows and an
apartment overhead for the owner.
Cat was inside.
Serena felt guilty about putting tracking software on the
teenager’s phone, but she’d learned quickly that Cat’s sweet
face didn’t mean she could be trusted.
When she pulled open the door of the bar, a sweaty, beery
smell tumbled outside. She heard drunken voices shouting in
languages she didn’t understand and the twang of a George
Strait song on the jukebox. Big men lined up two- deep at
the bar and played poker at wooden tables.
Inside, she scanned the faces, looking for Cat. She spied
her near a table at the far wall, standing shoulder to
shoulder with an older girl, both of them head- down over
smartphones. The two made an unlikely pair. Cat was a
classic beauty with tumbling chestnut hair and a sculpted
Hispanic face. Her skinny companion had dyed orange spikes
peeking out from under a wool cap, and her ivory face was
studded with piercings.
Serena keyed a text into her own phone and sent it. Look
Cat’s face shot upward as she got the message. Her eyes
widened, and Serena read the girl’s lips. “Oh, shit.”
Cat whispered urgently into her friend’s ear. Serena saw the
other girl study her like a scientist peering into the
business end of a microscope. The skinny girl wore a low-c
ut mesh shirt over a black bra and a jean skirt that ended
mid-t high. She picked up a drinks tray—she was a waitress—
and gave Serena a smirk as she strolled to the bar, leaving
Cat by herself.
Serena joined Cat at the cocktail table where she was
standing. The girl’s smile had vanished, and so had all of
her adultness. Teenagers drifted so easily between maturity
and innocence. Cat was a child again, but she was also a
child who was five months pregnant.
“I’m really sorry— ” Cat began, but Serena cut her off.
“Save it. I’m not interested in apologies.”
She stopped herself before saying anything more that she’d
regret. She was too angry even to look at Cat. Instead, by
habit, she surveyed the people in the bar. It was a rough
crowd, not a hangout for college kids and middle-c lass
tourists like the bars in Canal Park. Hardened sailors came
to the Grizzly Bear off the cargo boats, making up for dry
days on the lake with plenty of booze. She heard raspy
laughter and arguments that would spill over into fights.
The bare, muscled forearms of the drinkers were covered in
cuts and scars, and the men left greasy fingerprints on
dozens of empty beer bottles.
In the opposite corner of the bar, Serena noticed a woman
who didn’t fit in with the others. The woman sat by herself,
a nervous smile on her round face. Her long blond hair,
parted in the middle, hung down like limp spaghetti. She had
an all-A merican look, with blue eyes and young skin, like a
cheerleader plucked from a college yearbook. Maybe twenty-t
wo. She kept checking a phone on the table in front of her,
and her stare shot to the bar door every time it opened.
Something about the woman set off alarm bells in Serena’s
head. This was a bad place for her. She wanted to go over
and ask: Why are you here?
She didn’t, because that was the question she needed to ask Cat.
“Why are you here, Cat?”
“I wanted to go somewhere. I’m bored.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“Anna works here,” Cat said. “She and I know the owner.”
Cat nodded at the waitress who’d been with her at the table.
Anna was playing with her phone as she waited for the
bartender at the taps. One of the sailors made a grab for
her ass, and Anna intercepted his hand without so much as a
glance at the man’s face.
“She used to live on the streets, like me,” Cat told Serena.
“We’d hang out together. If she found a place to sleep, she
let me crash there, too.”
“I get it, but that’s not your world anymore.”
“I’m entitled to have friends,” Cat insisted, her lower lip
bulging with defiance.
“You are, but no one from your old life is a friend.”
Serena knew the struggle the girl faced. Not even three
months ago, Cat Mateo had been a runaway. A teenage
prostitute. When someone began stalking Cat in the city’s
graffiti graveyard, she’d gone to Duluth police lieutenant
Jonathan Stride for help. Serena and Stride had been lovers
for four years, and she knew he had a weakness for a woman
in trouble. They’d helped capture the man who’d been
targeting Cat, and when the girl was safe, Stride made a
decision that surprised Serena. He suggested that the
teenager live with them, have her baby there, and grow up in
a house with adults who cared about her.
Serena said yes, but she’d never believed that it would be
easy for any of them. And it wasn’t.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes in this place,” a male voice
A man in a rumpled blue dress shirt and loosely knotted tie
stopped at their table. His eyes darted between Serena’s
face and her rain- damp T-shirt. He wiped his hands on a
Budweiser bar towel.
“This is Fred,” Cat interjected. “He owns the bar.”
The man shot out a hand, which Serena shook. His fingers
were sticky from sugar and limes. “Fred Sissel,” he said
Sissel was around fifty years old, with slicked-b ack
graying hair and a trimmed mustache. He wore the overeager
grin of a man who’d tried to smile his way out of everything
bad in life. Fights. Debts. Drunk driving. His cuffs were
frayed, and his shirt and tie were dotted with old food
stains. His face had the mottled brown of too many visits to
a tanning salon.
“So, what’s your name, and where have you been all my life?”
Sissel asked. The teeth behind his smile were unnaturally white.
Serena slid her badge out of her jeans pocket. “My name’s
Serena Dial. I’m with the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office.”
Sissel’s mustache drooped like a worm on a fishing hook. The
sailors at the other tables had radar for the gold glint of
a badge, and the tenor in the bar changed immediately.
“Sorry, officer, is there a problem?” Sissel asked, losing
the fake grin.
“Do you know this girl?”
“Sure, she’s a friend of Anna’s.”
“Do you know she’s seventeen years old?”
Sissel swore under his breath. “Hey, I don’t want any
trouble,” he said.
“You’ve already got trouble, and if I find her in this place
again, you’ll have even more.”
“Yeah. Understood. Whatever you say.”
The bar owner raised his arms in surrender and backed away.
Serena saw emotions skipping like beach stones across Cat’s
face. Shame. Guilt. Embarrassment. Anger.
“Fred’s a nice guy,” the girl said finally. “You didn’t have
to be mean to him.”
“Does he serve you alcohol?”
“No,” Cat said, but Serena didn’t trust her answer. She
leaned closer to the girl, and although there was no booze
on her breath, cigarette smoke laced her beautiful hair like
“You’ve been smoking.”
Serena wanted to scream at the girl, but she held her voice
in check. “You’re pregnant. You can’t smoke. You can’t drink.”
“I told you, it was just one.”
Serena didn’t answer. She couldn’t fight teenage logic. As a
cop, she’d seen good girls make bad choices her entire life.
She knew how easy it was to cross the line. At Cat’s age,
she’d been a runaway herself, living with a girlfriend in
Las Vegas after escaping the grip of a Phoenix drug dealer.
Not a month had gone by in Vegas when she hadn’t fended off
the temptation to gamble, buy drugs, steal, or sell herself
for the money she needed. She felt lucky that the only
serious vice she carried from those days was being a
recovering alcoholic. But luck was all it was. A bad choice
on a bad day, and her life would have taken a different turn.
Across the bar, Serena saw the young blonde—the school
cheerleader type—grab her phone suddenly and get to her
feet. She was nervous and excited and couldn’t control her
smile. She smoothed her long, straight hair and moistened
her lips. If there was a mirror, she would have checked her
reflection in it. She took a breath, and her chest swelled.
She headed for the bar door but backtracked to retrieve a
baby- blue suitcase from behind her table.
To Serena, it felt wrong. Visitors didn’t come to Duluth and
wind up in this bar on their first night. Her instincts told
her to stop the woman and ask questions. To intervene. To
“Are you going to tell Stride?” Cat asked.
Serena focused on the teenager again. She knew that Cat was
afraid of Stride’s disapproval more than anything else in
her life. He was like a father to her, and she was terrified
of disappointing him.
“Yes,” Serena said. “You know I have to tell him.”
Cat’s eyes filled with tears. She was a typical teenage
girl, using tears to get her way, and Serena worked hard to
keep her own face as stern as stone. Meanwhile, the bar door
opened and closed, letting in the patter of rain from outside.
The blond woman was gone.
“It doesn’t matter what you tell him,” Cat said, rubbing her
nose on her sleeve. “He’s going to kick me out sooner or later.”
Her voice was choked with self- pity. She was smart and
beautiful and eager to believe the worst about herself. She
looked for any reason to assume that her life wasn’t worth
saving. To sabotage the second chance she’d been given. That
was part of her guilt over who she’d been.
“That’s not the point,” Serena told her calmly, “and you
“When he was married to Cindy, Stride didn’t want kids,” Cat
protested. “So why would he want me now?”
“You’re wrong about that, but even if it were true, it
doesn’t matter. He took you in, Cat. He wants you there. We
both do. What happened in the past, what happened with
Cindy, has nothing to do with who he is today.”
“You wish,” the girl snapped.
The words shot out of Cat like a poisoned arrow. Funny, how
teenagers could always find your weak spot and apply
pressure. If there was anything in Serena’s life that made
her feel like an insecure child, it was the thought of Cindy
Stride. The suspicion that Jonny was still in love with his
Still in love with the wife who died of cancer eight years ago.
Cat knew what she’d done. She looked upset now. “I’m sorry.
I didn’t mean that.”
But she did. And she was right.
“Come on,” Serena said, shoving down her own emotions.
“Let’s get out of here.”
She took Cat’s arm in a tight grip, but then something made
her freeze. A woman screamed. It came from the street,
muffled by the clamor of the bar. She almost missed it. The
cry stopped as quickly as it started, cutting off like the
slamming of a window, but Serena knew exactly who it was.
She cursed herself for not listening to her instincts when
she had the chance.
Serena told Cat to stay where she was. She shoved through
the crowd and broke out into the street. Outside, the
drizzle had become a downpour, blown sideways by the wind.
The Grand Am she’d spotted earlier was still parked half a
block away, its headlights white and bright, steaming in the
rain. Immediately in front of the sedan was the woman from
the bar, her body flailing as she fought to free herself
from a man who held her in a headlock.
Serena shouted, and the woman saw her. Soundlessly, in
panic, she pleaded for rescue. Serena marched toward them to
break up the assault, but she’d barely taken a step when a
gun blew up the night. One shot. Loud and lethal. The blond
woman’s pretty face, twisted in panic, became a spray of
bone, brain, blood, and skin. Her knees buckled; her body
slumped to the wet pavement. In shock, Serena threw herself
sideways toward the outer wall of the bar.
The bar door opened, and Cat called out, curious, “What was
that? What’s going on?”
Serena yelled with the protective fury of a mother,
“Cat, get back inside right now!”
Then she was running. She saw a tall man in a hooded
sweatshirt, his back to her as he escaped. The killer. She
didn’t stop for the woman lying in the street. There was
nothing she could do to help her. She charged after the man,
struggling to match his steps, but the effort weighed on her
chest, where she’d taken a bullet a few months earlier. Rain
soaked her black hair and blurred her vision. The asphalt
was slick. The man sped into the darkness of a side street
that ended in dense trees, with Serena ten feet behind in
pursuit. Matchbox houses on both sides bloomed with light as
people crept to their windows.
Serena closed on the man when he slipped and lost a step.
The woods loomed directly ahead of them. She knew where she
was; the street ended in sharp stairs that led down over a
creek into the grassy fields of Irving Park. She took a
chance, and she jumped. Her body hit the man square in the
back, kicking him forward, bringing both of them down. He
slid onto the moss-s lick concrete steps. She scrambled to
her feet and dove for him, but he was ready for her. He spun
around in the blackness and hammered a fist into her
stomach. He grabbed her head. His fingers drove her chin
into the rusty railing bordering the stairs, where bone
struck metal. Her teeth rattled as if driven upward into her
skull. She collapsed to her knees.
He skidded on his heels and jumped down the rest of the
stairs. She heard his footsteps splashing into the creek
below them. He was gone, breaking free into the wide- open
land of the park. She hadn’t even seen his face.
People from the bar ran toward her, shouting. Somewhere
among them, Cat called her name over and over in fear.
Serena tried to stand, but she was too dizzy, and she fell
forward, tasting blood on her tongue. She was on all fours
now. Her hands pushed blindly around the muddy steps,
hunting for the railing to use as leverage as she stood up.
She felt rocks and tree branches and bug-e aten leaves
beneath her fingers, and then, finally, she brushed against
the iron of the railing.
What she felt under the wet skin of her hand wasn’t the
railing mounted beside the steps. It was something else.
Something metal and lethal and still hot to the touch.
When her brain righted itself, she realized it was a gun.
Nine Years Ago
Cindy Stride noted the clock on the dashboard of her Subaru
Outback. 9:32 p.m.
Eventually, everyone would ask her about that. Jonny would
pepper her with questions, not as a husband but as a cop.
What time was it? When did you leave the party at the
Radisson? The county attorney, Dan Erickson, would
interrogate her about it months later on the witness stand.
Mrs. Stride, exactly what time was it when you took the
defendant back to her house that night?
She didn’t know why she noticed the time or why she
remembered it, but she did. 9:32 p.m. Friday night. January 28.
Cindy glanced at the woman in the passenger seat beside her.
Dr. Janine Snow. She couldn’t look at Janine without a
twinge of jealousy. If you were a short woman, you wanted to
be tall. If you had black hair, you wanted to be blond. If
you were a physical therapist, like Cindy, you wanted to be
a surgeon. Janine was all of those things.
“I’m sorry to make you leave the party early,” her friend
said, with a little hint of her Texas roots in her voice.
“I’m not feeling well, and I didn’t think I should drive
Cindy shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. I wished the chief a
happy birthday. I kissed his cheek. My duty was done.”
She squinted through the windshield of her Outback. She
hated driving at night, and the hillside trek to Janine’s
house made her nervous. Duluth was a city that made no sense
in the winter, when ice turned the steep streets into luge
tracks. Janine owned a Frank Lloyd Wright–s tyle mansion
high above Skyline Parkway, with a million- dollar view and
drop-o ffs that made you hold your breath trying to climb
the slick streets to get there. With each switchback over
the treetops, the glazed roads felt as if they were a
stairway into the clouds.
“Could you stop?” Janine asked suddenly.
“Please. I have to throw up.”
Cindy punched the brakes, and the Outback shimmied. Janine
flung open the door and fumbled with the seat belt. Subzero
air roared into the car, making Cindy shiver. She saw Janine
sway on the shoulder of the road, where the frozen ground
dipped sharply at her feet.
“Are you okay? Be careful!”
Janine sank to her knees and vomited the contents of her
stomach. She tried to stand, but her heels slipped, and she
nearly fell. She clung to the car door as she dragged
herself back inside. The smell of puke came with her. Her
untucked lavender blouse and her Paige jeans were soiled
with dirt, snow, and regurgitated remnants of banquet shrimp.
She put her fists on her knees and laid her head back with
“I am so sorry,” Janine murmured.
“It’s okay,” Cindy replied. “These days, it seems like
eating anything makes me sick, too.”
The wheels of the Outback churned for traction as Cindy
accelerated. She had nightmares sometimes about navigating
the Duluth streets; in the dream, she kept pushing the gas
but could never get up an impossibly steep hill. She peered
at the cliffside over the terraced road. Icicles dripped
from the rocky ledges, remnants of a brief, early- month
thaw. Somewhere above her was Janine’s house. The mansion’s
frame butted over the hillside, as if floating on air. It
was a crazy place to live. She preferred the drafty cottage
that she and Jonny owned on the spit of land between Lake
Superior and the inner harbor. She liked living at sea level.
Beside her, Janine’s skin was ghostly white. The annoying
thing about Janine was that she could be sick and still look
good. Her natural blond hair swished about her shoulders
like waves of sunshine. It didn’t matter whether her hair
was styled or messy; somehow it always looked right. She was
the perfect weight and the perfect size, and at thirty- nine
years old, she seemed to stay that way effortlessly. She had
ice- blue eyes that hardly ever blinked. It was unnerving
when those eyes looked at you and made you stutter like a
fool because you were standing in front of someone who was
so beautifully put together.
Yes, Cindy was a little jealous of Janine Snow.
“Where’s your husband?” Janine asked. “I’m surprised he’d
miss the chief’s party.”
“Jonny and Maggie got stuck on top of the Bong Bridge coming
back from Superior. A semi overturned on the ice. Shut the
whole thing down. It’s a mess.”
Janine gave a thin smile. “So, is his little Chinese partner
still in love with him?”
“Maggie? Oh, yeah. She is.”
“Does that worry you? They spend a lot of time together.”
“No, it doesn’t bother me. Maggie may be in love with
him, but Jonny’s in love with me.”
Janine pursed her lips as if she wanted to say something
more, but she held her tongue. She wasn’t always blessed
with social graces. If anyone else had insinuated a
relationship between Jonny and Maggie, Cindy would have cut
them off at the knees, but she made allowances for Janine’s
They’d been friends for five years, ever since St. Anne’s
recruited Janine from Texas to a top spot in cardiac surgery
at the downtown hospital. Cindy worked as a physical
therapist in an adjacent building, and they’d met in the
cafeteria. Janine didn’t make friends easily, particularly
with other women, but Cindy took pride in the fact that she
herself was impossible to dislike. The two of them soon
Or as close as a doctor like Janine could be to anyone else.
Janine made no secret of her Texas-s ize libido, but she was
one of those women who always seemed to have the wrong man
in her life. She’d already been divorced twice before
relocating to Duluth. One marriage was teen love, naive and
doomed. One was mercenary, to pay for medical school.
Through both marriages, she’d kept her own name. Snow. And,
like the Duluth snow, she was cold, driven, and blinding.
Two years after arriving at St. Anne’s, Janine married
again. This time it was a newspaper columnist named Jay
Ferris, and the two of them were from Mars and Venus. Jay
was black, and Janine was white. He was an Iron Range
Democrat, and Janine was a Lone Star Republican. Their
differences made the attraction hotter. Janine freely
admitted to Cindy that her interest in Jay was rooted more
in lust than love, but after the heat between them flamed
out, their passion had veered to the other extreme. Cindy
didn’t need to ask why Jay hadn’t accompanied his wife to
the party at the Radisson. Janine and Jay never went
anywhere together. Not anymore. Not for months.
Cindy turned toward Janine’s house. The last hill was the
steepest of all. Three houses perched at the summit of a
dead end, built to soak up views of the city and the lake.
Janine’s house was the most recent, the most modern, and the
most expensive. It had flat roofs, heated to melt the snow.
The back of the house, built on columns mounted into the
hillside, featured a wall of floor- to- ceiling windows. The
rounded porte cochere extended over the semicircular
driveway like a flying saucer.
Lights were on in the house. Jay was home. The garage door
was open, revealing his new Hummer and an empty space where
Janine usually kept her Mercedes, which she’d left behind in
the parking garage at the Radisson.
Cindy stopped in the driveway. “Here you go.”
“Do you mind coming in with me? I’m feeling pretty
Cindy got out. The hilltop wind swirled her long black hair
and pinked up her cheeks. She went to the other side of the
Outback and helped Janine out of the car. The taller woman
put an arm over Cindy’s shoulder to support herself. Janine
still walked with a limp after a painful fall on the ice the
previous year. Cindy didn’t understand why her friend
insisted on wearing heels, but to a Texas blonde, leaving
her heels at home was like suggesting she go to the party naked.
“Do you have your key?” Cindy asked.
But Janine didn’t need her key. Through the glass front
door, Cindy spotted Jay coming to meet them. She noticed a
visceral reaction in her friend’s body when she saw her
husband. Nothing brought this strong woman low the way the
man she’d married did. Cindy wondered how long people could
live that way before they did something about it.
“I’ll come inside with you,” Cindy told Janine.
“No.” Janine’s voice was hushed and shaken. “No, you don’t
need to do that. I can handle it myself from here. Thank you
for bringing me home.”
“Are you all right?”
“Actually, I’d like to throw myself into the canyon,” she said.
“I’m kidding. I’m fine.”
“Come home with me. You don’t have to stay here with him.”
Janine shook her head. “Yes, I do.”
The front door opened. A jazz clarinet sang from hidden
speakers inside. Jay had a glass of red wine in his hand. He
was slim and three or four inches shorter than his wife. He
wore an untucked white silk shirt and gray dress slacks. His
feet were bare. He cast a withering glance at Janine and
paid no attention to Cindy.
“Look at you. Is that puke? Very nice.”
Janine squared her shoulders and pushed past him. He slammed
the door without acknowledging Cindy. Through the glass, she
saw Janine kick off her heels in the marble foyer. She could
hear their loud voices, already arguing. Jay reached for his
wife, and she watched her friend violently shake him off.
Cindy thought about ringing the bell to intervene, but
Janine looked back through the glass and mouthed: “Go.”
Cindy returned to her Outback and steeled herself for a
slow, slippery drive home. She gave a silent prayer of
thanks, not for the first time, for the husband she had and
the life she led.
The streets around her were empty. No one else was foolish
enough to be out on a night like this. It was just one of
the details they would eventually ask her to remember.
As you left the house that night, Mrs. Stride, did you
see anyone else?
“No. There was no one else there. I was alone.”
Cindy awoke to the smell of cigarette smoke.
Their small bedroom was dark. She didn’t know what time it
was. Through the half-o pen window, she heard the roar of
Lake Superior yards from their back door. She shivered with
cold in her nightgown as she sat up in bed, and the blanket
slipped down her chest. She pushed tangled hair out of her face.
Where the moon made a triangle of light on the floor, she
saw the silhouette of her husband. He was tall, almost six-f
oot- two. Strong and fit. His black hair wavy and untamed.
He’d shrugged clothes onto his lean frame when he should
have been getting undressed. He put a cigarette to his
mouth— a habit she hated but which he’d been unable to quit.
His side of the bed was cold. He hadn’t climbed in with her yet.
She asked, “What’s up?”
When he realized she was awake, he sat down beside her. He
flicked his cigarette lighter, and it cast a flame. She
could see his eyes now. She adored his eyes. Dark, teasing,
fierce, funny, and so in love whenever they looked at her.
But his eyes weren’t happy.
“Bad news,” Jonathan Stride said. “I have to go out.”
“What’s going on?”
“Did you see Janine at the chief’s party tonight?”
“Of course. I took her home. She wasn’t feeling well.”
Stride stroked her cheek with the back of his hand.
“You drove Janine home? What time was that? When
did you leave the party at the Radisson?”
The time popped into her head. “Nine thirty- two p.m.”
“Almost an hour and a half ago,” Stride murmured. “Did you
see Jay when you got to their house?”
“Briefly, yes. Why?”
Stride kissed her forehead. He stood up again. “Jay’s dead.
Janine called 911 a few minutes ago. She says someone shot him.”
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