"Is there a serial killer on the loose in this small seaside town?"
Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted January 11, 2015
Mystery | Thriller | Romance Suspense
Detective Logan Greer is determined to get someone to
profile the killer in his murder case. He waits in the
parking lot of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit and
to get anyone coming out of the building to do the job. He
has already been denied a profiler from the Bureau because
there has only been one murder.
Heading home to pack her bags for her California vacation,
Isabella Cortez is the last person to leave the BAU for
day. After Ella thinks the person standing in the parking
lot is suspicious and pulls her gun on him, Logan talks
Ella into reviewing his case file over dinner. She is all
in when it looks like this might be the same person who
kidnapped her best friend ten years ago.
Ella travels to Oakville, Florida with Logan and starts
working of the case. While Logan and Ella are following
several leads, another coed turns up missing and all eyes
are on Logan to find this killer. How could there be a
serial killer in their small town? Is there a connection
between the two cases, and is there a connection between
these cases and Ella's friend's kidnapping? Ella thinks
there is, but she can't quite put her finger on what piece
of this puzzle is missing.
Moving at break-neck speed, DISARMING DETECTIVE gives us
plenty of suspense and even more intrigue with each turn
the page. Ella is a strong heroin who keeps reminding
herself that she can do this job and find this killer. No
one wants to believe there could be a serial killer in the
small seaside town of Oakville, and Logan gets plenty of
razing about his theory. There is also a bond beginning to
form between Logan and Ella. Can a relationship be in the
DISARMING DETECTIVE is the first book in a new series by
Heiter entitled The Lawmen. Ms. Heiter promises to
characters from this book in the rest of this series. If
intrigue and suspense are your genre, DISARMING DETECTIVE
is a hard-
hitting story you won't put down.
The case that's haunted one FBI profiler for years may
finally met its match in a sexyâ€”and dedicatedâ€”detective-
When FBI profiler Isabella Cortez finds a stranger
her office, she's in trouble. Because even though
Logan Greer is one of the good guys, their instant
attraction is a serious distraction. Ella's got one
to find the criminal who hurt her friend and drove her to
become a profiler. But Logan's appeal isn't just
He has a case that bears an eerie resemblance to the
Ella's been trying to solve for years. Together, they're
racing to stop a killer, but the closer they get, the
dangerous the search becomes. Falling in love could be
deadly-or it could be the only way to survive.
The instant Isabella Cortez left the safety of the FBI
building, goose bumps skittered across her skin and her
senses went on high alert. Her instincts and training,
like a sudden alarm shrieking inside her head, told her
she wasnâ€™t alone.
The door slammed shut behind her before she could dart
back inside, and Ella cursed the heavy briefcase weighing
down one hand and the stack of file folders clenched in
the other. Just because she was taking her first real
vacation in two years didnâ€™t mean killers took time off,
so her cases were coming with her. Assuming she made it
to her vacation.
Tonight, she was the last one out of the bland office
building in Aquia, Virginia. It was set back off the
road, nestled deep in the woods, and manned by an armed
guard. Entrance to the parking lot was supposed to be
reserved for the FBIâ€™s Criminal Investigative Analysts
who worked there and no one else. If a visitor was
arriving, the guard at the gate called ahead. Anyone who
could make it past security was a threat.
Pushing back her fear, she blinked, trying to adjust to
the darkness outside. Her arms tensed, but she didnâ€™t
drop the files and reach for her gun. Not yet. Not until
she identified the threat. If she acted too soon, sheâ€™d
probably get shot.
No, all the instincts honed by two years in the
Behavioral Analysis Unit told her to let him think she
was oblivious. Let him show himself before she brought
Her heart thudded too fast, reminding Ella all too
clearly of her first years in the FBI, in the gangs unit
in Dallas, when sheâ€™d taken a bullet to the leg and her
partner had taken two to the chest. At the memory, all
the nerves in her leg burst to life, painful and fire-
Lock it down, Cortez. Focus.
A tiny movement made her glance left, toward the only two
cars in the lot. A bulky figure shifted beside her car,
stepping into the dim glow of the overhead light.
He was big, taller than her by half a foot and
outweighing her by a good fifty pounds and all of it
muscle. But none of that mattered if she didnâ€™t let him
Her eyes darted to his hands. Empty. She let out a
breath, but it caught when she spotted the telltale bulge
at his hip. No way was she giving him a chance to go for
the weapon. She dropped her briefcase and files fast,
yanking her Glock pistol from its holster. â€śHands up!â€ť
â€śWhoa!â€ť He lifted his hands near his head. â€śLook, Iâ€”â€ť
â€śHigher. Get on your knees.â€ť
â€śHey, I didnâ€™tâ€”â€ť
â€śNow!â€ť Ella took a step closer, let him see the dead
seriousness in her eyes, the solid, steady aim of her
gun. â€śPull your weapon out with your left hand. Toss it
â€śCrap.â€ť He complied, getting on his knees and sending his
own Glock skidding across the pavement toward her.
â€śYou have any other weapons on you?â€ť
â€śNo. Look, Iâ€™m a homicide detective. I flew up here from
Florida to talk to a profiler.â€ť
She narrowed her eyes, noting the slight Southern drawl
in his voice now that she wasnâ€™t laser-focused on
containing him. â€śHowâ€™d you get in here?â€ť
â€śThe guard let me in. My badge is in my pocket, okay?â€ť
Ella frowned. With the regular guard on maternity leave,
maybe the newbie had broken protocol. â€śFine. Toss it to
me with your wallet.â€ť
He let out a breath through his nose, something like
amusement in his voice. â€śWow, youâ€™re thorough.â€ť
He was right about that. At the BAU, her job was to
create criminal personality profiles of the countryâ€™s
most depraved killers. Every day, her work told her what
one inattentive moment, one second of blind trust, could
It was a lesson sheâ€™d first learned nearly ten years ago,
when her best friend had been violently attacked. It had
introduced Ella to a kind of evil sheâ€™d never known
existed, and completely altered the path of her life.
Now, viewing everyone as a potential threat seemed almost
He tossed his wallet and badge over, but even before she
picked it up, she knew it was the real thing. Still
keeping her weapon leveled on himâ€”mostly for scaring the
crap out of her and making her dump her case files all
over the groundâ€”she flipped open the wallet to his ID.
The face staring back at her, with its hard lines and no-
nonsense stare, looked every bit a homicide detective.
â€śLogan Greer. Oakville, Florida.â€ť
Reholstering her weapon underneath her blazer, she tossed
the wallet back and tried to slow her heart rate to
normal speed. â€śWay to make an impression, Greer.â€ť
He gave her a smile full of self-deprecating humor that
made her realize again that the bulky size that had
unnerved her in the darkness was impressive muscle tone,
that beneath the piercing stare were moss green eyes. She
was a sucker for green eyes. Too bad she hadnâ€™t run into
him on the beach next week with a margarita in her hand
instead of on her last day before vacation, toting a gun.
As he gathered his badge and weapon, Logan asked, â€śAnd
Ella brushed her bangs out of her eyes and extended her
hand. â€śSpecial Agent Ella Cortez, BAU.â€ť
â€śPerfect,â€ť Logan said, giving her another hit of that
one-sided grin as he took his time shaking her hand.
â€śBecause I need a profiler to look at my homicide case.â€ť
Ella pulled her hand free and collected the files
scattered on the pavement. â€śYouâ€™re gonna have to go
â€śI did that.â€ť When she started to walk past him, he put a
hand on her arm. â€śPlease. Look, they wouldnâ€™t assign
anyone to it.â€ť
Ella sighed, frustration warring with sympathy. Heâ€™d
flown here for help and she knew if her boss had already
refused, he would get shut down again. Getting a profiler
assigned meant that the case needed one. The most likely
reason Logan hadnâ€™t gotten help was because he had a case
where the killer would logically come up without
resorting to a profile.
She couldnâ€™t take this on even if she werenâ€™t about to
leave on vacation. Even if she were allowed to pick her
own cases. She already had more files stacked up than she
could possibly handle with the attention they needed in
her regular ten-hour days.
â€śSorry.â€ť Ella didnâ€™t look at him as she dumped her
briefcase and files in the trunk of her car.
â€śHow is your office supposed to know whether I have a
serial killer from a one page form?â€ť There was
frustration in Loganâ€™s voice, but steel underneath. â€śIâ€™ll
wait as long as I have to, but I need help on this.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m the last one out. Everyone else has already gone
He stepped around in front of her, leaning against her
car between her and the driverâ€™s door, his arms crossed
loosely over his chest. â€śIâ€™ll wait here until tomorrow if
I have to. But wouldnâ€™t it be easier for everyone if you
took a look? Please, just hear me out. An hour of your
time. Thatâ€™s all Iâ€™m asking. Just take a look at my case
file. Give me something I can take home and use, before
the bodies start piling up.â€ť
When she heaved out a sigh and looked up, he shot her a
determined stare, as if he could get her to agree through
force of will alone. She stared back into his imploring
green eyes, which were close enough that she could see
little flecks of gold around the edges of his irises.
She didnâ€™t have time for this. And she needed to get away
from case file after case file of vicious murders. She
needed those two weeks at the beach with her two best
friends, while they all tried to distract themselves from
the anniversary coming up too fast, the one they all
wanted to forget.
She needed to have dinner, then pack and make her way to
the airport. Of course, three weeks of late nights trying
to get ahead of work before taking time off meant her
refrigerator was stocked only with condiments. She looked
into Logan Greerâ€™s green eyes and heard herself say,
â€śTell you what. You can buy me dinner and while we eat,
Iâ€™ll look at your case.â€ť
The genuinely grateful smile he flashed her sent
unexpected shivers of awareness over her skin that
reminded her she hadnâ€™t had a date in months. Another
casualty of the job.
Wow, she really needed this vacation.
* * *
â€śTEN Oâ€™CLOCK IS a little late for dinner. Is the FBI
opposed to meal breaks?â€ť Logan asked, one eyebrow
quirked, as she scarfed down French fries as if she
hadnâ€™t seen food in weeks.
In the light of the little diner, which Ella frequented
because it reminded her of something sheâ€™d find back home
in Indiana, Logan looked a lot less like a potential
threat and a lot more like the kind of guy sheâ€™d try to
flirt with in the grocery store. The kind of guy sheâ€™d be
tempted to chase after, no matter how it would inevitably
Wearing jeans and a faded gray T-shirt, with a five-
oâ€™clock shadow heavy on his chin, he looked exactly like
her type. Laid-back attitude, but intensity in his eyes.
Masculine, but judging by the easy way he was teasing her
half an hour after she pulled her gun on him, secure
enough not to find her intimidating.
Of course, that was her initial read on him. Given that
her longest relationship in the past had lasted a whole
five months, sheâ€™d decided she was far better at
profiling murderers than potential dates. Not that Logan
Greer was a potential for anything except being easy on
the eyes while she helped him with his case.
â€śYouâ€™re the one who showed up late at night expecting
someone to be there.â€ť
â€śI came straight from the airport. And you werenâ€™t the
first profiler I harassed in the parking lot. Youâ€™re just
the first one who succumbed to my charm.â€ť
Ella snorted. The agent out the door before her had been
Jack Reid, perpetually in a foul mood and perpetually
using a foul mouth. â€śYou mean Jack didnâ€™t invite you out
â€śWell, he invited me to do something. But it sounded
â€śProbably a come-on,â€ť Ella joked, then feigned hurt as
she stuffed another fry, heavily coated with ketchup, in
her mouth. â€śSo, youâ€™re telling me I wasnâ€™t your first
Loganâ€™s gaze shifted appreciatively over her, lingering
on her mouth. Then he gave her steady eye contact, let
her see an interest that went beyond the case. â€śBelieve
me, if Iâ€™d known you were coming, I would have waited.â€ť
Ella rolled her eyes, even as she willed her cheeks not
to heat. This never happened to her, this instant,
powerful lure to a man sheâ€™d just met, let alone to one
sheâ€™d just pulled a gun on. â€śI was trying to get caught
up on some work before I left town.â€ť She held out a hand,
palm up. Back to business. â€śYou have a case file?â€ť
He set a thin manila folder in her palm, his big
calloused hand brushing hers. â€śWhere are you going?â€ť
â€śVacation with some friends. I plan to sit on the beach
and do nothing more strenuous than put on sunscreen.â€ť Of
course, that would last about a day and then sheâ€™d be
searching for kayak rentals or somewhere to take surfing
lessons. Sitting still wasnâ€™t her strong suit.
â€śI donâ€™t suppose youâ€™re coming to Florida? Because Iâ€™m
willing to help you out with the sunscreen.â€ť
One of the cases in the trunk of her carâ€”the only one she
hadnâ€™t actually been assignedâ€”was from Florida. No, she
and her two best friends were heading as far from Florida
as possible. â€śCalifornia, actually.â€ť
â€śToo bad. Other than the recent murder, Oakville is a
pretty nice place to visit.â€ť
Ella blinked, so surprised to hear real disappointment in
his tone that she almost missed the part about the case.
â€śWait a minute. Murder? Not murders?â€ť No wonder her boss
hadnâ€™t assigned an agent to create a profile. Well, this
was going to be a quick dinner. At least sheâ€™d be able to
put Loganâ€™s mind at ease and hopefully point him in the
right direction. One kill probably meant the perpetrator
had been in the victimâ€™s life.
â€śYeah, I know. One murder doesnâ€™t make a serial killer. I
get it.â€ť He leaned forward. â€śBut look at the file, okay?
This isnâ€™t a first kill. We got lucky, finding this body.
There are more. Iâ€™m sure of it.â€ť
â€śThe kill was too perfect. I donâ€™t think it was someone
she knew, and the evidence is so slim. The fact that we
even have a bodyâ€”that we even know sheâ€™s deadâ€”is a fluke.
We donâ€™t have a lot of murders in Oakville, but a killer
just doesnâ€™t get that good without practice.â€ť
Logan frowned. The attraction heâ€™d been broadcasting
since theyâ€™d arrived at the diner was still in his eyes,
but now it was tempered, pushed behind a sudden
seriousness telling her heâ€™d do whatever it took to find
Ella didnâ€™t need to see him work to believe it. She knew
he was a good detective. It was there in the doggedness
of his stare, in the trust he put in his instincts, in
the way he was chasing this lead with all he had.
But she also saw this was more than just another case to
him. Heâ€™d flown all this way for help, probably on his
own dime. â€śYou knew the victim, didnâ€™t you?â€ť
â€śJeez, youâ€™re good. I didnâ€™t know her well. But she was a
friend of my sisterâ€™s. Visiting from out of state. Sheâ€™d
actually left for the airport and we assumed she was back
home.â€ť His lips tightened into a hard, thin line. â€śWhen
all along, she was in Oakville. We found her in the
marsh. Well, what was left of her anyway. Weâ€™ve got
gators in the marshes, which is why I say we got lucky.
Why I think there are more victimsâ€”because thatâ€™s a
pretty genius way to destroy evidence.â€ť
Ella nodded, flipping open the file folder next to her
sandwich. The sight that greeted her should have made her
lose her appetite, but sheâ€™d long ago learned to eat
while reviewing case files. â€śDoesnâ€™t look like you had
much to work with at the autopsy.â€ť
When she glanced up at Logan, he was carefully not
looking at the photo and she reminded herself he knew the
woman. She flipped past the autopsy photos, folded her
hands under her chin and leaned toward him. â€śWhy donâ€™t
you give me the highlights?â€ť
Logan raked a hand through his dark, close-cropped hair
and she noticed the shadows under his eyes, the weariness
lurking underneath those quick smiles.
â€śThe victim was Theresa Crowley. My sisterâ€™s ageâ€”twenty-
She must have looked surprised, because he said, â€śYeah,
Beckyâ€™s ten years younger than I am. My parents didnâ€™t
think they could have any more kids after me. Anyway,
Theresa was a friend of Beckyâ€™s from college. She lived
in Arkansas. Flew in to visit for a week. She left as
scheduled and my sister assumed she was already home
until we identified the body.â€ť
â€śWho found her?â€ť
â€śLocal fisherman. He pulled out the remains and brought
her in by boat.â€ť
Ella realized she was gaping as Logan continued, â€śYeah, I
know. Not great for evidence, but better than not having
a body at all because the alligators finished her off.â€ť
â€śHow long was she missing?â€ť
â€śShe left for the airport early Sunday morning and her
body was found Monday afternoon.â€ť
â€śShort window to run into a killer.â€ť
â€śUnless heâ€™d already been stalking her,â€ť Logan argued.
â€śWhat makes you think it wasnâ€™t someone she knew?
Statistically, thatâ€™s much more likely.â€ť
â€śYeah, believe me, I donâ€™t run to the FBI every time we
get a murder, whether or not I know the victim. But who
did she know in Oakville? My sister and some of our
family. Thatâ€™s it. Her rental car turned up the next day,
abandoned in a mall parking lot a few towns over, in the
opposite direction from the airport.â€ť
Ella sighed and set down her milkshake. â€śAre you sure you
should be on this case?â€ť
â€śWhy? Because my family are obvious suspects?â€ť
Instead of agreeing, Ella said, â€śBecause you knew her.â€ť
â€śAnother detective on the force already cleared my
family. It was pretty easy. We were at a town function at
her time of death.â€ť
Ella stared at him, looking for any tiny twitch that
would tell her he knewâ€”or suspectedâ€”his family could be
involved. All she saw was his determination to get her to
help. And that heavy dose of attraction. Her heart rate
picked up and she glanced down at her food before she
gave anything away. â€śShe have any obvious enemies?â€ť
â€śStalker exes, that kind of thing? No.â€ť
Logan shrugged. â€śMy guess would be yes, but too much
postmortem damage to tell for sure. She died from lack of
oxygen, but there was no water in her lungs. She didnâ€™t
drown in that marsh. She was killed somewhere else.â€ť
â€śAnd she had burns on her body.â€ť
Ella felt her hands tense into fists. Hiding them under
the table, she forced them to loosen. â€śWhat kind of
â€śWhat were they made with? I donâ€™t know. But she had
several. On her arm, her back...â€ť Fury pulsated in his
voice. â€śSomeone burned her on purpose.â€ť
Ella held back a string of curses. Burns were close
enough to branding that those cases hit her hardest. She
always wanted them and her boss, knowing why sheâ€™d joined
the FBI six years ago, always passed them on to another
As much as she hated it, she understood that he was
right. She made them too personal, and getting too close
to a case meant making mistakes. Like Logan was in danger
of doing right now.
She gave him her best profiler stare, the one sheâ€™d
learned from her bossâ€”a legend in the Bureau. â€śIâ€™m going
to read this case file and give you my best insight. But
Iâ€™m going to tell you something you already know. Youâ€™re
too close to this case. You shouldnâ€™t be on it.â€ť
It was hypocritical advice, given the very, very personal
case file sitting in the trunk of her Bureau-issued car
right now, and judging by his scowl, Logan didnâ€™t seem
any more inclined to follow it than she was.
â€śIâ€™m not handing this over to someone else, not when
everyone seems to think it was a fluke. Iâ€™m not going to
sit around and wait for the next body to show up before I
investigate this. This was my sisterâ€™s friend and someone
murdered her and tossed her in the marsh like garbage.
Iâ€™m going to find this guy and make sure he pays.â€ť
Realization struck Ella. â€śYouâ€™re not supposed to be here,
Logan let out a sound that was half laugh, half
exasperation, but his face told her he was impressed.
â€śTell you what, profiler. Check out the file and tell me
Iâ€™m wrong.â€ť He gave her a smug look that said, â€śI dare
Ella nodded slowly. â€śOkay.â€ť She skipped over the autopsy
photos and started reading. The further she got in the
file, the more she felt her mouth tug downward.
When she looked back up at him, Logan raised his
â€śYouâ€™ve got good instincts, Greer.â€ť
Logan tapped his fingers heavily on the table. â€śI thought
She had just flipped the file back to the beginning when
he suggested, this time sounding completely serious,
â€śMaybe you and your friends could vacation on some
Florida beaches instead.â€ť
â€śNo.â€ť The word came out more harshly than sheâ€™d intended,
so she covered up her instant reaction by tilting her
head and offering him an exaggerated coy smile. â€śAre you
trying to solve a case here or get into my pants, Greer?â€ť
He blinked and leaned back, but just as quickly sat
forward with a full-wattage version of the smile heâ€™d
been laying on her all night. â€śIs it too much to hope for
A short burst of laughter escaped her lips as desire
zinged through her body. â€śProbably.â€ť She turned back to
the file and all humor and lust instantly fled.
She lifted the page closer, squinting at one of the
close-ups underneath the main autopsy photo, and her
entire body suddenly felt as though it had been submerged
in ice. The blood left her head so fast she actually
swayed in her seat.
From a great distance, she heard Logan saying, â€śWhoa. Are
you okay?â€ť and before she knew it, he was squeezed in
next to her in the booth, his hand on her back like fire
against the frost that had come over her. â€śElla?â€ť
â€śWhat is this?â€ť
Logan studied her face with concern before looking down.
â€śThe burn on her neck?â€ť
â€śYeah.â€ť She thought of marshes and fishermen. And images
of hooks, burned into human flesh. â€śCould it be a brand?â€ť
His forehead creased and he was staring into her eyes
This close, heâ€™d be able to see too much. Fear, maybe.
Pain, probably. Recognition, definitely.
Sheâ€™d seen a mark like this before, way too up close and
personal. Her friend had covered it with a tattoo, but
Ella would never forget how it had looked the day Maggie
stumbled home to their dorm room. An angry red permanent
reminder of a man the media had dubbed the Fishhook
Rapist. Heâ€™d started with Maggie nearly a decade ago,
then claimed a new victim every year since in a different
part of the country. His last victim had been in Florida.
Ella had joined the FBI to catch him. Sheâ€™d never even
come close before. But maybeâ€”just maybeâ€”that was about to
â€śI donâ€™t know,â€ť Logan answered. â€śItâ€™s possible. Why?â€ť
Ella released her breath, tried to regain control as she
slapped the file shut. â€śIâ€™m coming to Florida.
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