BY: MARY JANE BRYAN
People are dying in the suburbs of Denver, and a young lady from the streets appears to be the latest victim. Thanks to a friend, she doesn’t die, but she does display symptoms of drug toxicity from an unknown substance, similar to the other victims. While investigating the deaths, Detective Colton Mitchell notices a change in his teenage daughter, Abby, who can’t seem to do without the straws of orange candy her new boyfriend gives her. When Colton takes one of the straws to his friend, Jack, the medical examiner, Jack is brutally slain before he can reveal the source of the substance. Looking at a map with pins of the locations of the crime scenes, Colton realizes that the murders have occurred in a spiral pattern, and the spiral is closing in on his house…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Spiral by Mary Jane Bryan Colton Mitchell is a detective with the Denver Police, investigating a series of deaths caused by overdosing on some new drug. When Colton’s teenage daughter, Abby, starts showing signs of drug abuse, Colton begins to suspect that the orange candy her new boyfriend gives her is not candy at all, but the very drug responsible for the recent deaths. For reasons that he can’t understand, the deaths appear to be happening in a spiral pattern—with his house at the center of it.
Bryan has once again penned a well-written, fast-paced, and intriguing mystery/thriller that will catch and hold your interest from beginning to end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Spiral by Mary Jane Bryan is the second book in her Detective Colton Mitchell series. Colton is a detective with the Denver PD, and he is investigating several suspicious death in the area. At first, they seem like drug overdoses, but then Colton discovers that the deaths are not as random as they first seem. In fact, they seem to be taking place in a spiral pattern, one aiming right for Colton’s house. Then he begins to notice changes in his teenage daughter, Abby, and a little investigation uncovers that her new boyfriend is feeding her drug-laced candy, and she’s become addicted. Colton takes the candy to the ME, but the doctor is brutally murdered before he can give Colton his report. Is Abby just a random victim of an unscrupulous drug dealer, or was she targeted especially because she is Colton’s daughter. He doesn’t know, but he needs to find out before it’s too late to protect himself and his family.
Spiral, like the first book, Errant, is fast-paced, tense, and chilling. Filled with fascinating characters and unexpected twists and turns, it’s one you’ll have a hard time putting down.
In the shadows, a figure leaned against the dark brick of the building. It looked like one of those board cut outs some people have in their yards or leaning against a tree near the street. The only difference was that the board cut outs seemingly have more life in them.
The figure stood motionless, one foot drawn up behind him, his boot on the building. His dark clothes made him blend in with the environment of discolored brick and graffiti.
A man leaning against a building was a common sight.
Even more common were the two figures lying across the sidewalk manhole grate slightly to the right of the figure. These figures were covered from head to toe with ragged blankets.
These two were part of the homeless who spent part of their days panhandling and their nights sleeping on the grates. The openings provided warmth from the steam that came from the city’s underground power supply.
This was the inner city.
Doing nothing was a way of life. There were those with little hope for anything better in the future.
The man was here because he understood the cravings and addictions of some of these people. He understood the loneliness, the desperation that characterized so many of them.
He was alone. He was totally removed from his family, with no hope of ever seeing them again. The hatred and resentment that he sensed in so many of these people were also present in him, but many times over. But he believed himself capable of so much more than these people.
He wondered if he had been missed during the time that he had been gone. He sensed that many of these people would never be missed if they disappeared.
That’s why they would serve his purpose so well.
He couldn’t always control the hatred he felt. Sometimes it would suddenly come upon him, causing wave after wave of feelings, each stronger than the last. When these feelings built to a certain point, the only relief, the only way to make them stop, was to take that hatred and anger out on someone.
It was better because he had learned that these people could be killed, left maimed, or mutilated, if necessary, and no one seemed to care, especially not in this big city, as in other large cities he had watched.
The worst thing he had to cope with was this all-absorbing, all-consuming hatred and anger that had become the controlling factor of his life. Of all the things he could control, he had been unable to stop this.
He had developed a plan of revenge built on this hatred.
So, now he waited patiently.
His patience had already paid off.
His plan was already in motion.
You hurtin’, fair lady?” he asked, in a southern drawl.
“God, yes,” she replied. She was hurting. If she didn’t get a hit soon, she would be in agony. “How much?” she asked. She was not concerned with what he had to offer. Anything would do.
“For you, fair lady, it’s free today.”
“Free? Jeez, you mean it?” She couldn’t believe it. One thing she had learned on the street was nothing was free. There was always a price.
He brought his hand out of his pocket. As he held it out to her, he opened it.
She saw several orange pills she didn’t recognize. But at this point, she didn’t care. As long as they helped, she would take anything. “You sure they’re free?” she asked again.
“As I said, just for you, fair lady,” was the soft reply.
She glanced up, saw his smile. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.
But the pain was making everything fuzzy, fast. She saw the smile on his lips but there was none in his eyes. If she had looked longer, she would never have taken the pills. His eyes were as cold as raw steel. In them, she would have seen a pent-up hatred for her and her kind.
She quickly reached out and grabbed the pills. She popped two into her mouth at once, dry swallowing them. She had long since passed the need to have liquid to swallow any pill. She turned and slouched slowly away down the sidewalk. She did not look back. Had she turned, she would not have seen anyone. He was already gone.
She had spotted him down the street. She knew the look of a pusher. If the few dollars in her pocket weren’t enough, she would have offered her body.
He saw her coming and knew what she was after. She was skinny to the point of being gaunt. Nurturing herself was the last thing on her mind. She hardly ate. Her focus was on feeding her habit, having enough drugs so she didn’t have to think about life.
A young man playing basketball down the street suddenly stopped, causing the man guarding him to nearly knock him down.
“Damn, man, whaddup?” the man began, but Lon was already off the court. His eyes never left the girl he had spotted down the street. He completely forgot the game as he jogged quickly toward the two people on the corner.
Nancy was already walking away from the man. Lon wondered if she had scored. By the time Lon reached the corner of the building he saw only Nancy down the block. That was not unusual, though. He had not been able to see the other person for the shadows here. Sometimes these people seemed to slip into the woodwork, silently disappearing as soon as their business was done.
He started down the sidewalk after her and watched her turn and go down to her basement apartment. She had scored! She always went home whenever she was tripping.
He followed her in and gently shut the door. She was totally unaware she had left it open. He liked Nancy. He was her best friend, one of the few she had. He had met her soon after she arrived in town. He felt bad that he had been unsuccessful in keeping her off the streets. He had never made love to her. He was drawn to her for other reasons. Whenever she allowed, he would bring food to her, fix her meals, make sure she ate something.
He watched her carefully. Unless she had been high when she took these pills, they were working quickly. She stood, swaying, in the middle of the room.
Suddenly, she grabbed her throat. She made a gasping, choking sound, doubled over, and held her stomach.
He reached her in two quick strides, catching her as she pitched forward. For a brief moment as she looked at him, recognized him. There was panic in her eyes. It was not panic at seeing him, he could tell, but at some inner realization.
“Bad” she gurgled. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she started gagging.
His thoughts were frantic. He knew she had been starting to say that she had gotten some bad drugs. Could he get her to throw up those pills? He knew he had to try. He had been with her during many trips, but she had never reacted like this before.
There was a small frig on the counter. He opened it and grabbed a milk carton. He didn’t care how long it had been there. He just knew he had to get some down her. Maybe it was spoiled. That would even be better.
He tilted her head back, talking to her constantly. “Drink, Nancy, drink this. You must.”
He pushed her head back farther with one hand. Some milk spilled down onto her neck and checks. He managed to make her swallow about a half cup before she suddenly leaned forward in a massive convulsion of heaving, spasms, and vomit.
He stood behind her, one arm around her, one of her forehead to support her head. When she could not even heave anymore, she collapsed in his arms. She groaned, a low, pitiful sound.
Neither of them had any money, but that wasn’t important. He wanted her to get to a hospital. Her lips had a funny color to them and her eyes would not focus. But at least she was breathing, although raggedly.
He left her lying down, on her side, curled in a fetal position, just long enough to run upstairs to ask the neighbors to call Nine-One-One for an ambulance. Then he gathered her in his arms and sat rocking her until the heard the wail of an ambulance siren. For once, it had taken less than the nine-minute average for it to get there. He insisted on going in the ambulance with her.
He was scared. He had known for the longest time that he loved her. In spite of all she did, he was even more convinced now. Seeing her almost die, in such pain, caused him so much anguish, he vowed to get out her out of this place, no matter what the cost.
He had left home and prided himself on not needing his family but if it meant a better life for Nancy, a chance for a life together, he would get on his knees and beg them for help. They could afford it easily.
He couldn’t lose her now. His emotions turned to anger. His anger was directed toward the unseen pusher on the corner.
I will find him. Make him pay.
© 2018 by Mary Jane Bryan