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Dead Man's Reach
An Acey Tapp Mystery

S.E. Schenkel
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A man travels from Texas to Michigan to destroy the files of the investigative agency of McMunn and Son. He fails and is murdered. Desperate for answers, Acey Tapp and team travel to the Gulf Coast to question the man’s widow. Shortly afterwards, she disappears, along with the two senior investigators. What follows brings the death toll to four and a cold case to its conclusion.

Barrier tape threaded the tall dry grass like a yellow snake. Old grave and possibly an old murder--not that a hog-tied skeleton left any doubt about foul play. Three days since the gruesome discovery and it was still getting air time. But then mystery always did play well on the evening news.

The phone rang as the reporter identified the remains as those of a prepubescent male. I turned off the TV and grabbed the receiver.

"Tapp here.”

"Acey, it’s me.”

"Where the heck are you, Webb? I thought we were supposed to have a meeting.”

"I need you to do something.”

I got off the sofa. "All right.”

Megan stepped into the room and paused in a stream of sunlight that accented the gray in her dark hair. "Is that Webb?” she mouthed.

I nodded and turned my attention back to Webb’s strange request.

"Can you tell me why?” I asked, aware of a din of voices coming over the receiver. Someone shouted Webb’s name and the phone went dead.

"Is Webb okay?” Megan asked.

"I guess.”

"What do you mean, you guess?”

"Well for starters, he hung up on me.”

"Not Webb.”

"I’m telling you that’s what just happened.”

"Did he say anything about our meeting?” Megan asked.

"No, but he ordered me out on a surveillance job.”

"Ordered you?”

"Like I said, he wasn’t himself. Sounded really upset. Bossy and upset.”

"What’s the surveillance job?” asked Megan.

"I’ll tell you on the way. It might already be too late.”

I went into the kitchen, grabbed the keys for the van and handed them to Megan. "You drive. I’ll get the cameras ready.”

"Drive where?”

"Fourth and Main. And we need to get there as fast as you can.”

We went out the side door and climbed into the large customized van that served as office and RV. Megan settled behind the wheel and I moved through the cab into the small galley. I retrieved the laptop from an overhead cupboard, set it on the table, powered it on and squeezed into the bench seat. I tapped several combinations of keys and activated the cameras hidden under the van’s false roof. Using the touch pad, I guided the cameras along their tracks to the front of the van. Next, I divided the screen so both cameras could concurrently feed back their images. Finally, I switched on the two video recorders connected to the cameras.

The screen showed different halves of Oak Street speeding toward us. I opened the overhead cabinet. The recording lights stared back like little red eyes.

"How far away are we?” I asked, dropping into the passenger’s seat.

"A couple of minutes, if we can get there.”

Ahead, at Fourth and Washington, two policemen were directing traffic onto side streets. Beyond them were several squad cars, a fire truck and an EMS vehicle.

"Turn left here,” I said.

"I presume we’re supposed to film whatever’s going on at Fourth and Main,” Megan said, making the turn.

"That’s what Webb wants.” I pointed ahead. "Make the next right and the next right after that.”

"They won’t let us through,” said Megan.

"Pull into the strip mall on the corner. We should be able to get some good viewing from its parking lot.”

"It looks like someone’s been in an accident,” said Megan.

I pointed to a double slot up ahead. She pulled in and turned off the engine.

"Why are we filming this?” she asked, following me back to the booth.

"I have no idea.”

"You don’t think Webb was involved in the accident, do you?”

"As upset as he was, it’s a possibility.” Using the zoom on camera one, I moved in on the object of everyone’s attention--a white, mid-nineties Chevy pickup with its hood wrapped around a lamppost.

Leaving camera one on the pickup, I used the controls of the second camera to move around. Tapp, the invisible gawker. EMS started to pull away, its lights flashing and sirens on.

"Looks like they got someone out alive,” I said. "Either that, or they’re in a hurry to get coffee. Dead men don’t need the bells and whistles.”

Mysteries have always captivated me. Any kind. Mysteries of faith, creation, people. The mystery of an empty house, trap door. A neighbor’s weirdness. But I didn’t start writing mysteries until two events collided: a power outage and working under the dictatorship of the manager of a grocery store. The outage and its subsequent boredom handed me pen and paper, and my boss supplied the drive to write a story titled - "Murder in the Meat Department”. From that day until now, writing has been right up there with oxygen and chocolate.

Numerically, I’m grandmother to eight, stepmother to four, and sibling to five. I was a member of a missionary group (aka nun) for seventeen years, worked for ten of those years in Africa, have been married for over thirty years. And if you can’t figure out my age from that, you and I have equally appalling math skills.

As for my personality, what I feel, think, value... You’ll find clues to that in my mysteries.

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: Historical Books

ISBN: 1597058815
ISBN(13-digit): 9781597058810
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 334
Paper Weight (lb): 13.8

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