Synopsis: It’s summer time, 1957. Early on a Sunday morning, a young woman is found lying dead in the street. She’s been murdered and thrown away like a sack of garbage. Hours later, a second woman is pulled out of the Crawfish River, a victim of a brutal killing.
Chief Augie Austin, Columbus’ top cop, suspects that he may be dealing with a serial killer. But, when the clues send him in two different directions, he realizes that is dealing with two murderers, not one.
Austin’s peaceful world is turned upside down, as he realizes that Columbus is not the unspoiled, perfect little town he thought it was. As he interviews witnesses and friends of the deceased, he finds himself up against one road block after another. People aren’t talking and he wants to know why.
As the evidence builds, Austin recognizes that it is pointing to one of his own officers. Already suspicious that this cop has been bending the rules for personal gain, Austin realizes that he may have a murderer patrolling his streets.
Knowing he must tread carefully, Austin sets out to build a rock solid case against Officer Drollstrom - the mayor’s son.
Excerpt From: The Mayor's Son
“There’s no doubt?” Austin asked Dr. Severson, who was giving him the results of his preliminary findings.
“No doubt, Augie. She was asphyxiated. You know, smothered.”
“I know what it means, Jerry. So, she was dead before she was thrown under the popcorn wagon,” he stated.
“Looks like it. And, it looks like she was smothered with a pillow. I found part of a feather in her mouth.”
“Which means that she probably was in a bed at the time,” Austin said.
“Well, considering the fact that she had sex before she died, she probably was in a bed.”
“This is gonna kill her parents. I was hoping it was a random killing, but this changes that. Obviously, she knew her killer.”
“Probably,” Severson agreed.
“What else do you have for me? Blood test results back yet?” Austin asked.
“Not all of them. She had been drinking, but she wasn’t drunk. I’d say probably one or two drinks before she died. Her stomach contents showed she hadn’t eaten for at least six hours. The welts on her back were from some type of whip, so she was probably into S&M. There were bruises on her wrists, probably from handcuffs. Again, probably used during S&M. Most of the bruising on her body was done before she died. The cuts and injuries she sustained, from being thrown out of a car, were post mortem.”
“So, you figure she was thrown and not placed under the wagon on purpose?”
“The bruising is indicative of being thrown and the body rolling. I’d definitely say she was thrown.”
“When will you get the rest of the tests results?” Austin inquired.
“A day or two. Augie, she was a young woman who had an extremely active sex life. And, I mean, super active.”
“You don’t think she was raped?” Austin asked.
“No, I don’t. She did have some bruising in the vaginal area, but it wasn’t recent. The bruising was already turning green, which indicates it happened at least six to seven days before her death.”
“When you say super active sex life, just what are you referring to?”
Severson laughed. “I need to explain it to you? I mean she was getting laid on a regular basis and a lot. Once a night wasn’t enough for whoever she was seeing.”
Austin didn’t say anything.
“You still there?” Severson asked.
“Sorry. Just thinking.”
“Anything else?” the medical examiner asked Austin.
“Not for now. Call me when you have something more.”
“I’ll do that. Bye.”
“Wait!” Austin yelled. “Don’t hang up yet. I want to. . . .” He stopped talking when he realized he was talking to a dial tone.
Austin hung up the phone and sat back in his chair, thinking about what he had wanted to ask Severson. It’s possible, he thought. And, it would sure explain a few things.
He looked up as Deputy Gorski walked into the room.
“Have you been by four corners this morning?” she asked him.
“The whole sidewalk alongside of the popcorn wagon is covered with flowers, cards, and stuffed animals. It looks like some type of memorial to Debbie.”
“People have to have a way to express their feelings, I guess,” Austin said. “Debbie was well liked in this town. I figure we’re gonna see all kinds of emotions before we figure this out.”
“Well, I know it pisses me off,” Jacquie exclaimed.
“Jacquie?” Austin said, tentatively, dragging out her name.
“Have you ever heard of a house of ill repute around here?”
Jacquie looked at him, surprise written all over her face. Then, she laughed. “A whore house in Columbus? I don’t think so. That is one secret that couldn’t be kept in this town. In fact, I don’t think any secret has ever been kept in this town.”
Austin smiled. “Well, you’re wrong there. But, I can’t go into that, can I? Then, I’d be telling you secrets.”
“Funny. Anyway, what made you ask that question? You hear something?”
“Not exactly,” he replied. “By the way,” he said, changing the subject, “do you know who Debbie’s boyfriend was?”
Jacquie thought for a second, then, frowned. “I don’t know. I don’t think she had one. At least, none that I know about.”
“That’s what her parents said, too.”
“Why? What does that have to do with this?”
“Maybe nothing. But, it seems to me that for someone who didn’t have a boyfriend, she sure was having a lot of sex.”
Jacquie stared at him. Suddenly, it dawned on her what he was getting at. “No way, Chief. Not in this town.”
“And, why not?” he asked. “What makes this town so different from hundreds of others?”
Jacquie started to say something, then, stopped.
“Well?” Austin asked again.
“Because. . .”
“Because, it’s Columbus, that’s why,” she blurted out.