Baron Witherspoon, facially scarred WWI veteran and beat cop in Arkansas City, KS, is attending the wedding of Elizabeth Handy, the gal he helped rescue from the clutches of Chicago gangster, Jake Hickey. It is there he meets her cousin, Natalie Dixon. Taken in by her charm and grace, he is unable to immediately pursue an introduction as he is called away to investigate a brutal homicide.
He is soon facing more of the same and is forced to delve deeply in the mind of an unknown assailant to determine a motive. It is the kind of effort that brings him to the brink of his own sanity and threatens to reveal long-hidden secrets.
Three years later, he is asked to consult on a similar case in Wichita. Initially, it is nothing more than a political gesture to calm elected officials who are dubious about the police department’s progress. Released after a few days, Baron becomes obsessed and reaches out to Eliot Ness, the former federal agent who is now overseeing his own gruesome case as Public Safety Director in Cleveland.
Baron learns a great deal about scientific methods of investigation and starts trusting his instincts. When he’s called back to Wichita, he is assigned a young officer as a liaison in order to facilitate a more detailed investigation.
He is invited to dinner with the officer and his relatively young mother who appears at times to be a religious fanatic and others like a wanton woman. A meeting with a tent revivalist brings up the notion that there are many more secrets to be uncovered before this case is ever solved.
A brief rap on the door was followed by a gruff response to enter. Chief Wilson sat behind the largest office desk I had ever seen, head down looking through a thick file of paper and photos. Behind him were a U.S. flag and the flag of the state of Kansas, placed like columns surrounding him. Citations of all kinds were on the wall. A photo of the chief with former governor Alf Landon and another photo of him with President Roosevelt hung like proud children just behind him between the two flags, each photo closest to the flag which represented them correctly. A theater stage could not have been set up more appropriately.
When Chief Wilson finally looked up, he stared at me. His face was blank, without any emotion, not giving away his thoughts. I’m sure he was trying to reconcile the description of me given to him by Officer Jay Davis and the strange looking man before him.
“You Witherspoon?” he asked. There was a tone of uncertainty in his voice.
“Yes, sir,” I replied at full attention, harkening back to the army days. As far as I was concerned, Chief Wilson was my superior officer.
“We’ve been plagued with a series of murders our detectives have thus far been unable to crack. Officer Davis here says you have a certain degree of experience in these matters.”
Realizing this wasn’t a military base and Chief Wilson didn’t require the spit-and-polish attitude, I let my shoulders fall and allowed my tone to be more conversational.
“As Chief Richardson may have indicated, I was the lead officer investigating three rather brutal murders no one in our jurisdiction had ever previously encountered.”
“And Chief Richardson indicated the case was never solved.” It wasn’t a question. He already knew the answer. It finally dawned on me Chief Wilson never wanted an outside party coming in to his investigation. Perhaps he had politicians like we had in Ark City who, shall we say, insisted he do everything possible to find a solution to his problems. Jay would take a lot of heat if I didn’t come through. Chief Wilson was not going to be supportive thinking someone other than his own men might solve the case even if it meant further murders. He was also not going to act like he was the host of a cocktail party, either.
“We believe we had a viable suspect who more than likely died as there were no further killings. We also feel our investigation was close to apprehending the suspect based on all our research and discovery. In essence, the case was solved, sir. We just didn’t have the necessity of a trial.” It was like slowly pushing a blade into his gut. I knew where he stood; it was time for him to get to know a little bit about my attitude.
The book cover reveal will be right here on May 2, 2018. The worldwide release of SECRETS OF THE RIGHTEOUS: THE ARK CITY CONFIDENTIAL CHRONICLES, BOOK TWO is June 4, 2018. Check out this teaser trailer for an impressionistic view of the main characters.