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Passions Of The Dead

Passions Of The Dead, January 2011
Detective Jackson #4
by L.J. Sellers

Spellbinder Press
Featuring: Detective Jackson
288 pages
ISBN: 0979518288
EAN: 9780979518287
Kindle: B0047DW5G8
Paperback / e-Book
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"A brutally murdered family and secrets of the dead all combine to make an intriguing read."

Fresh Fiction Review

Passions Of The Dead
L.J. Sellers

Reviewed by Lynn Cunningham
Posted February 9, 2011

Mystery Police Procedural | Thriller Crime

Detective Wade Jackson had seen a lot of bad things in his 20 years as a cop but nothing compared to the scene he walked in on that beautiful June morning in Eugene, Oregon. An entire family had been slaughtered in their kitchen. A father, mother, and son are all dead, although the daughter has somehow survived this horrendous mass killing. She's still alive, but barely.

As Detective Jackson digs deeper into this case, he finds many secrets that somehow lead back to the Walker family. Did any of these secrets cause them to be so brutally murdered? Lori Walker, the survivor, is going to recover but she can't remember anything about the night of the murders. It seems that she has amnesia brought on by the trauma of that night, but there's hope she'll regain her memory and remember who killed her family and attacked her.

Detective Jackson is up to his eyebrows in this case while still dealing with the recovery of an injury of his own. Still on medication for it, he's adjusting to his new living arrangement with his lovely girlfriend, Kera. At first, it was great staying with her following his release from the hospital. But Jackson also contends with a teenage daughter and an alcoholic ex-wife. Then Kera moves her dead son's girlfriend and new baby into the house. Suddenly, things are much too crowded.

Jackson is also waiting to see which two cops will be laid off from their jobs. He knows he's a good contender for that with his new injury. But if he can just hold out another month, he'll be eligible for retirement. There are so many things going on in both his personal and professional life right now. However, he's determined to find the perpetrator of these horrible murders.

Told in both the present circumstances and in various flashbacks through each of the Walker's eyes, PASSIONS OF THE DEAD is a story that will rivet you to the book from the first page. It's the first book by L.J. Sellars I've read but it won't be the last. She has an amazing story telling ability that keeps you reading long past your bedtime. It's hard to say a lot about this book without giving too much away. Just suffice it to say that it's a book you'll want to start reading when you know you'll have the time to finish it in one sitting.

Learn more about Passions Of The Dead


A working-class family is brutally attacked in their home and only one survives. Detective Jackson is assigned to investigate and soon uncovers a blackmail scheme. But the forensic evidence is confusing, and the girl who survives has no memory of the horrific event.

When another home invasion occurs, Jackson is confident they’ve nailed the perpetrators. Yet the case grows even more entangled. When the survivor disappears, Jackson fears for her life—but can he find her in time to save her?


Chapter 1

Monday, June 1, 8:15 a.m.

"Final decisions about layoffs will be announced Friday." Sergeant Lammers panned the room, stopping to make eye contact with Jackson. He and fifteen other detectives were crammed into an overheated conference closet. They shifted in their seats and tried not to glance at each other.

"Two detectives will be cut, one from vice and one from violent crimes." Lammers' voice was deadpan, and for the first time in his twenty-year career, Jackson worried he might lose his job. He'd been written up and suspended recently, and now he had a health issue the department might consider a liability. What would he do if he lost his job? He was still a month away from his twenty-year pension.

The door flew open and a desk officer rushed in. "Excuse me, Sergeant, but there's been a mass homicide. Four people dead in a house at 1252 Randall Street. No reports of the assailant. A relative found the bodies and called it in."

A mass of men in dark jackets jumped to their feet, and the air hummed with adrenaline. Lammers shouted over the din. "I want Jackson, Schakowski, McCray, Quince, and Evans at the scene. Everyone else is on standby for assignments as needed." Lammers strode toward the desk officer. "Get the mobile crime unit out there. I'll call the DA and the ME."

Jackson hustled toward the door, thinking for the moment he still had a job.

As he raced over Ferry Street Bridge with the rushing water of the Willamette River below, Jackson worried about what was happening to his hometown. For most of his life, Eugene, Oregon had been a safe midsized college town—a tree-loving, friendly place to grow up in, with the mountains and the ocean only an hour's drive away. A perfect place to raise his child. Now Eugene was a small city with a growing crime rate, a meth scourge, high unemployment, and a dying downtown—and no money to fix anything. They'd never had a mass homicide though. He'd worked several murder–suicides in which a man had shot his wife or girlfriend then himself, but never a crime scene with four people killed. What if some of the victims were children?

The home was in the Coburg Road area, in one of the older neighborhoods where the real estate had less square footage but bigger yards. A modest house that needed paint but otherwise looked cared for. The front lawn had been recently mowed and someone had planted petunias along the walkway—signs of an unusually warm month of May. A red F- 150 pickup and an old green Subaru sat side-by-side in the driveway. The Subaru sported a bumper sticker bragging about a Student of the Month and another that said I Love Al Gore.

Two patrol units sat out front in the curve of the long cul-de-sac. One of the officers was on the sidewalk next to a weeping woman with a cell phone to her ear. An older couple huddled together at the edge of their adjoining yard, and across the street a woman in sweatpants stood on her front step, watching the activity. Another blue Impala screeched to a stop behind him.

Jackson climbed out of his car, wishing he'd taken some naproxen before leaving headquarters. The pain his ten- inch abdominal scar still produced surprised him. His kidneys, which had been compromised by the fibrosis, also bothered him if he moved too fast. As he approached the people on the sidewalk, the uniform officer said, "This is Rita Altman. Her sister is one of the victims inside. She came by this morning to pick her up and found them." The woman, late thirties and heavyset with hair to her waist, glanced at Jackson, then continued weeping into the phone as she described her ordeal to a listener.

"Don't let her leave. I need to talk with her in a minute," Jackson said and hurried past. He needed to get inside the home and see the scene before it was swamped with people doing their jobs. Behind him, the scream of an ambulance raced up Harlow Road. Why the siren? Jackson wondered. They wouldn't need its paramedic services, just its cargo space to transport bodies.

Ed McCray, an older detective fond of brown corduroy, joined him on the sidewalk. They looked at each other without speaking, then started for the house. Jackson visually searched the driveway as they walked past the cars. He had a small hope of finding something the killer might have dropped.

At the threshold, Jackson grabbed paper booties and latex gloves out of his shoulder bag. McCray did the same. Jackson suspected today he would need nearly everything the bag held: flashlight, crime scene tape, an assortment of pre-labeled paper bags and clear plastic bags, a box of latex gloves, tweezers, and three cameras: film, digital, and video.

He braced himself, nodded at McCray, then pushed though the door. A sour metal smell soaked the air, overpowering even the odor of meat scraps in the garbage. The front door opened into a narrow hallway with vinyl flooring, bordered by a step down into a carpeted, crowded living room. With a sweeping glance, Jackson took it all in. Two well-worn couches huddled around a big TV, a cluttered desk in the corner with an older computer, a bookshelf with more sports trophies than books, and a wall covered with family photos.

Then he saw the wide archway into the kitchen. And beyond it, the bodies.

A patrol officer squatted near the bloody mess. He jumped at the sound of their footsteps. "This girl is alive," the officer said in an excited rush. "After we cleared the house, I went back to the kitchen to stand guard. I was taking pictures and realized she was still breathing, so I called for an ambulance."

A survivor! Thank God. Someone would be able to tell them what the hell had happened here.

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