Julie Cromwell is a selfish, manipulating, insecure woman, who sets up a fake kidnapping to find out it her husband will pay a million dollars for her safe return. Now she is dead. The first Plot Twist, but certainly not the last. Detective Karl Larkin and his partner Ted Cramer investigate the crime. They begin to rattle the skeletons in the family's closet, following leads that only lead to dead ends.
Barnes & Noble.com
Barns and Noble
I Love a Mystery
Karl Larkin, lead detective for the Springfield Police Department, says murder is like having a tooth pulled. No one wants to do it, but sometimes it is necessary, or so the murderer thinks. Unfortunately, in the twenty odd years he has worked as a police officer, he has seen plenty of extractions.
His parents dreamed of sending their only son to college to become a doctor, or better still a lawyer, but Larkin had other plans. Right out of high school, while they were trying to decide which Ivy League school he should attend, Larkin, enrolled in the police academy.
It had caused a breach in the family, but the man marched to the beat of his own drum, and he knew that being a detective would make him happy.
He had a nose for it, his colleagues said, and sometimes he stuck his nose where others thought it didn't belong. It had earned him the nickname of Columbo; given to him by his fellow police officers, because of his unusual ability to home in on a guilty suspect and stay with them until they either confessed or committed suicide. He had that in common with the TV personality, but the likeness ended there.
Columbo always looked as though he had crawled out of bed, and dressed in the dark, where Larkin was manicured with every hair in place. He was a health nut. He prepared his own lunch, while the others sent out for a greasy burger, or pizza. Instead of hitting the couch with a bag of chips and a six-pack of beer as soon as he was off from work, he headed for the gym.
That morning started like most at the 19th Precinct, all hustle and bustle of men rushing to balance home life with their jobs.
Larkin sat at his desk watching the activity through the glass doors of his office. In front of him set his only vice, a large steaming cup of coffee with one spoon of creamer. The cup, a gag gift from his staff, said, 'The nose knows.'
Cramer entered carrying a large box of doughnuts. He was thirty something, chunky, and on his way to becoming a fat man. He had a likeable personality, which made him easy to work with; and if the office mill gossip was true, Larkin was personally mentoring him to be his number one assistant. In all truthfulness, Larkin couldn't see him as the next Sherlock Holmes, but he did have the one thing Larkin recognized and that was the love for the job. They also worked well together, proving opposites do attract.
"Want a roll?" Cramer asked the same question every morning.
"Why do you do that?" His boss asked as the younger man heaved his husky frame upon the corner of his desk.
"Ask me if I want one of those artery clogging morsels of pretty poison."
"You make them sound so appetizing," Cramer smacked his lips and tried talking around the piece in his mouth. "It won't hurt to have one every now and then."
Larkin made his point by poking him as if he were the Pillsbury Dough Boy. "It hasn't hurt you, has it?"
"It's better than the caffeine you hype yourself up on," Cramer opened a pint of milk and drank straight from the carton.
Larkin winced, for the crack about caffeine had hit home. He had tried to give it up, but it was an addiction. He didn't smoke, or drink, but he did crave a hot cup of coffee.
"I don't know why you stay so buff, ain't a woman that would have you." Cramer carried on with his good-natured banter, smacking his lips and licking the sugar off his fingers.
Larkin shook his head, and thought, it's about time for the phone to ring and he'll surely get slobber all over the receiver. Sure enough, the phone rang.
"Homicide. Larkin's Office. What can I do for you? I see! We'll be right there."
"What's up?" The grave look on Cramer's face said he wasn't going to be enjoying the rest of his coffee.
"They need us out on Pitchin Road. You know the Cromwell Estate."
Everyone in town knew Lawrence Cromwell, a noted plastic surgeon. A huge brick wall with closed gates surrounded his place. Larkin had been by it, but never dreamed he would be inside.
The caller had been Mrs. White, who introduced herself as the cook. Her details were sketchy, but she was certain of two things. Mrs. Cromwell had disappeared, and Mr. Cromwell had found a note saying the kidnappers had his wife.
"Why did they call us," Larkin asked?"
"It seemes that our famous District Attorney, Howard Deets is a friend of Cromwell's. Instead of calling the police, Cromwell called his old buddy."
"That doesn't explain why homicide was called in."
"A partolman found her car with a substantial amount of blood..."
"Oh," Larkin exhaled. It had been awhile since there had been more than the drug related deaths, or a drive by shooting they had to deal with. A few domestic violence cases had ended in murder, but they solved themselves when the spouse confessed. Somehow, he knew this was going to be a long one. He felt it in his gut.
The two detectives sat at the front gates wondering how to get in when they mysteriously slid open. Cramer jumped at the sound and no more had he pulled inside when they slid closed behind them.
"Nice and secluded back here," Larkin commented on the tree lined lane.
"Damn spooky, if you ask me," Cramer shivered as he drove toward the front of the mansion.
Larkin had to agree, but didn't voice his opinion. He was too busy taking in his surroundings.
Detective Larkin is questioning Larry Cromwell about the disapearance of his wife, when Cassie Thompson, his daughter from a previous marriage steps in.
Detective Larkin says, "No, I don't understand. I mean, your wife is upset, and it looks like the normal thing to do would be to go after her..."
"Dad, why don't you just tell him the way it is," Cassie could take it no longer. "The woman couldn't be reasoned with."
"So, she is difficult?"
"No, she is impossible."