Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Executioner's Song

By DB Dakota -- Mystery/Crime, 365 pages
Cover art by Gracie Gralike
What an awful thing it is to happen upon the body—your friend—ID’d only by a scrap of clothing. The law alleges he jumped off the bridge—600 feet? Fell? Thrown? Racing home to the victim’s Taos adobe, you find him there and on TV being interviewed: He must sell his art, over a hundred paintings. Yet he’s famous, so why the backlog? And on the screen is your own portrait right there in the home of the NY TV host. What is going on? You need a private investigator. No need for the sheriff, he hates Indians. And sheriff is the brother of the artist’s agent.
 Does the PI see a connection here? You bet, strong enough to launch a sequence of psyche stratagems to break the brothers, because the TV pitchman is really the agent, impersonating his own client. You happen to know music—you have a little band—and so does the PI, so here it comes: The brothers in the nightclub being entertained by the ballad reenact to what happened at the bridge. They scramble to the crime scene to cover up something overlooked when they murdered. The PI’s hi-tech gadgetry at the scene cuffs them.
“Mark, come back!” Thornburgh shouted and waited. “I want to show you something.” He was twenty yards farther down, about to step off the groomed fill onto the natural cañon ledge. Hearing her call, he returned to her side. “Come right here and stand beside me.” She pointed far down to the river. “I want to know if from this point right here you can see the spot where the body was way down there. Take these.” She handed him binoculars.
“Hard to make out from here, but, yeah, I think… in the general vicinity—yeah, I do.” Markeen pointed and handed her the glasses. “See that boulder beside a huge log?”
“I see several logs. The one running this way?” She gestured.
“No, the one that looks like it’s resting on something. It’s backed up against another log. It’s kinda short, running like so,” he traced a line in the air. “It’s pointing toward the water.”
“Gotcha. Okay, now I want you to stand still right where you are and turn right around and tell me what that is.” Thornburgh faced the bridge’s underpinning and pointed.
“That, Mack, is a chain. What do you think it is?”
“A chain,” she smirked and fluttered her eyes.
She stepped up close to it. “What’s it doing wrapped around this big girder?”
Following her, Markeen fingered his hair back. “Nothing, it’s just dangling there, not holding anything.”
She scrambled upon a rock and placed a hand on a modest steel claw, which was attached to one end of the chain. “What do you call this thing?”
“I think that’s what they call a grab-hook. Loggers use them, for one. There are all sorts of uses.”
“How’s it work?” Thornburgh stepped aside.
Markeen took her place and began to handle the steel link chain as if throwing it. “In this case, you’d toss one end of the chain around the back side of this girder.” The steel I-beam, one of several, angled from a buried concrete footing upward to a point near the bridge floor, serving as anchor and brace. “Then you’d crawl up on that rock under there;” he knelt and pointed. “Pick up the end of the chain with one hand and pull it back around the girder to the starting point, right here.” He stood and indicated. “So you’ve made a loop around the girder. That’s about a ten-foot chain. Then you’d slap the grab-hook across the chain like so. You’d grab a link and hook it, see?”

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