Red Line

Red Line by Brian Thiem Read Free Book Online

Book: Red Line by Brian Thiem Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brian Thiem
Tags: FIC000000 Fiction / General
you could call that improvement.
    The tradition of posting the most recent homicide number on the board had been around as long as Oakland had a homicide unit. To politicians and media, the number of murders was a barometer they used to measure the department as well as the overall condition of the city. When reporters or department brass called the unit for the current number for the year, as occurred several times a day, whoever answered the phone merely had to glance at the board. All numbers the standby team accumulated remained on the board during the week they were on call, which told the lieutenant with a glance if the team was becoming overwhelmed. When investigators solved acase, they put a diagonal red line through the corresponding number and stuck it back on the board for a few days. Sinclair knew a red line on 76 was a long way away.
    He shrugged on his coat, stuffed the case packet in his briefcase, and followed Braddock to the door. Maloney waved him back into his office.
    “I just got off the phone with the chief. He’s wondering if you’re up to this.”
    “What did you tell him?”
    “He ordered you to test.”
    “Right now? That’s bullshit, Lieutenant. We’re up to our ass—”
    “It’s in the contract, Matt.”
    “I know exactly what’s in the contract,” said Sinclair. “The department can order me to test any time it wants for a fucking year. One dirty test and I lose my stripes for good and work the rest of my days in whatever bullshit do-nothing job the chief determines. He’s fucking with me and you know it.”
    “It doesn’t matter,” said Maloney. “The city physician’s expecting you. Stop there on your way to Danville.”

Chapter 8
    The man spotted Susan’s car in the parking lot for the Lafayette Ridge Trail as he drove up Pleasant Hill Road. It was the second of her regular running trails that he checked. He turned around in the Springhill Elementary School driveway and parked beside her Lexus SUV.
    He had followed Susan Hammond enough to know her routine. She’d leave the law office where she worked with her husband around one and drive home to Lafayette. One day she went to a nail salon, another she got her hair done, another she went shopping. At four every day, she’d drive to a trail and take off on a run. She’d return to her car in forty to fifty minutes, grab a Gatorade, and walk for five minutes to cool down. She’d then drive straight home. She was a creature of habit, which made his task easy.
    His watch read 4:50 when Susan jogged down the dirt trail from the ridge. For a woman in her midfifties, she was amazingly fit, but like many avid runners, she seemed to be all skin and bones. Her thighs weren’t much bigger than his arms, and she didn’t have much in the way of a butt or breasts under her yellow nylon running shorts and tank top. She slowed to a walk the moment she hit the pavementand clasped her hands behind her neck to allow her chest to fully expand with each breath. Peering through the side window of the van, he saw the sweat glistening off Susan’s body as she came toward him.
    The chirp of the Lexus’s door lock was his signal. He yanked open the side door and launched himself out of the van.
    She turned toward him, startled. “Hey—” slipped from her lips as he grabbed her and pushed the stun gun against her ribs. She fought hard for such a thin woman, but he pressed the trigger until she went limp. He held her against his chest as he scanned the area for anyone watching.
    He pulled her into the van and shut the door. He zip-tied her arms and legs, duct-taped her mouth, and then fastened her arms to one seat bracket and her legs to another with additional zip ties, a lesson he learned when Zachary began kicking on the drive from Danville to the bus bench. He climbed into the driver’s seat, merged onto the 24 Freeway, and headed to Oakland. Just before the traffic slowed several miles from the Caldecott Tunnel, Susan recovered from

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