BY: JERRY OTIS
A serial killer, calling himself The Gaf, starts an interstate killing spree that quickly propels him to the top of the FBI’s most wanted list. Special Agent David Drake and his hand-picked team of agents drop everything and form a taskforce with one purpose—to track down this psychopath and bring him to justice. Crisscrossing the country from one crime scene to the next, Drake and his team can only hope the killer gets careless and makes a mistake. But this killer is no novice. His father, serial killer The Zodiac from the late 1960s and early ’70s, has taught him well and the taskforce has its hands full. How many more innocent victims must die before Drake and his team can track down this monster and stop the carnage?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Gaf Killer, Son of Zodiac by Jerry Otis, FBI Special Agent David Drake is tasked by the director of the FBI to head up a task force to track down a serial killer calling himself Gaf. He and his team of three other special agents assemble the clues and chase the killer across the country, trying to track him down before he can kill again. Meanwhile, Gaf is traveling around the country killing people who disrespect him, or whom he feels disrespect him or insult him from a waitress who serves him a cold patty melt, to his ex-boss who fires him for cross dressing at the airline where he works as a flight attendant. As psychotic as he is, he still manages to keep one step ahead of the task force, much to their frustration.
The story is fast-paced, hard-hitting, and things never seem to go as the task force or the reader expects—a page turner that will hold your interest from beginning to end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Gaf Killer, Son of Zodiac by Jerry Otis is the story of a psychopathic serial killer, who thinks of himself as a “friendly people person” and only kills people who insult, offend, or disrespect him. He leads the FBI task force assigned to track him down on a merry chase from California to Seattle to Utah and back to California as the body count piles up. The hero, FBI agent Drake, seems to be up to the task of catching the man, or is he? All his hard work and dedication can’t seem to locate his man, and regardless of what he tries, the killer always seems to be way ahead of him. Like his father, the Zodiac Killer of the ’60s and ’70s, Gaf send notes to the local newspapers taunting the FBI agents chasing him—a fact that does not please the director of the FBI.
Otis’s characters are interesting, and I like the fact that he tells the story from both the hero’s POV as well as the villain’s. It’s a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat crime thriller that should keep you up at night for more than one reason.
I was sitting in my office in Phoenix when the phone rang. “Special Agent Drake here,” I said.
“Agent Drake, this is Ms. Janson, from the director’s office in Washington, DC. Hold please, I’m transferring you to Director Becker.”
Director Becker and I went way back, once working as partners out of the Washington, DC office, tracking down and arresting several interstate and international murder suspects on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Director Becker was old-school FBI with several more years of experience than me, and for the last five years had been director of the FBI. He was gray-haired, slightly overweight, and never wore designer clothing. Becker bought his suits right off the rack at the local Walmart.
“Hello, David,” he said when he got on the line. “I’ve got an assignment I want you to head up. I’ll need you here at headquarters tomorrow morning, then I’ll fill you in on the details. I can tell you this, it’s a taskforce I want you to head up to track down and arrest a serial killer who’s now on our Most Wanted list. This case is the number one priority of the FBI, so drop what you’re working on at the Phoenix office, and catch the first flight out.”
“No problem, Director Becker, I’ll see you in the morning.” I hung up the phone, and right away let my supervisor at the Phoenix office know that I’d been requested by Director Becker to meet with him and told him what I could, going on to add, “That’s pretty much all I know right now.”
With that, I headed back to my duplex on the outskirts of Phoenix, and gathered up a few things I’d need for the trip, fully knowing I might be gone for who knew how long. I knew I stood a good chance of never coming back here.
I caught a non-stop flight on FTTA-Air to DC at three p.m., landing at ten p.m. DC time. By the time I picked up a rental car and made it to my room at the Hilton, it was midnight. I set my iPhone alarm for five a.m. It was going to be a short night.
I arrived at headquarters around seven-forty-five a.m. then went straight up to the director’s office on the fifth floor, checking in at Ms. Janson’s desk. Then she let the director know I was here. “Go right in, Special Agent Drake, the director is ready for you.” As she opened the door to the director’s office, I thanked Ms. Janson, walked toward Director Becker, shook his hand, and took a seat at one of the three, rather cushy-looking, cordovan brown leather chairs that were situated in a semi-circle in front of his huge desk. This office seemed as large as my thousand square foot duplex in Phoenix and was done in cherry wood paneling.
Both the director and I got right into it with Becker explaining to me that he wanted this sum-bitch tracked down and arrested ASAP.
“If need be, shoot and kill this lowlife scumbag no matter whether the killer’s a man or woman,” the director went on to explain. “Those are the perimeters. Are we clear, David? I want this motherfucker caught. It doesn’t matter to me how you do it, but make sure you don’t fuck up and kill some innocent person. If that happens, we here at headquarters, and that means me, we’re gonna declare you’re a rogue FBI agent out on some kind of vindictive payback.” He paused and studied me, letting his words sink in. “Any questions, David? Are we clear? You’re free to get up and leave this office with no hard feelings if you decide you don’t wanna head up this case.”
I had to admit, I thought about walking right out of the director’s office and kissing this assignment off, but I knew I wasn’t going to leave. After all, my job as an FBI special agent was to track down murdering lowlifes.
“No problem, Director. I’m on the case, but I do have one question and one request. First question is, do you have any leads on this case?”
“We don’t have much to go on, except for one female by the name of Sandy Bandfield living in Norfolk, Virginia, who escaped after being confronted by a burglar in the middle of the night, while sleeping, three nights ago. We think that burglar is the serial killer, mainly by comparing MOs of other unsolved murders with the MO of this attempt.
“What makes this attempt different is what was said to Ms. Bandfield just before she jumped up and bolted out of her condo. From what I understand from reading the police report, the burglar nudged her while she was sound asleep, at approximately three a.m. in the morning, telling her ‘I’m Gaf. Are you ready to die?’ I want you to meet with her and do an in depth interview. Get all the particulars and make sure nothing was missed, no matter how insignificant it may seem. That’s a start. And, by the way, what was your request?”
“My request is that I handpick my team of FBI agents for this taskforce. I figured this isn’t gonna be a run of the mill track down, so I have several FBI agents in mind who are all highly experienced in their fields, whom I’ve worked with in the past and would feel comfortable working with again. I have a list I’ve put together, narrowing it down to these three FBI agents.”
“Okay, who are they?”
I opened my briefcase and pulled out a list I had typed up on my laptop during the flight out, noting the fields these agents specialized in, and handed the list to the Director.
The director eyeballed the list. “It’s a rather impressive list. I know we’ve both worked with these three agents in the past, and I have to say they definitely are the ‘Cream of The Crop,’ as far as FBI agents go. They’re like bulldogs. They don’t let up. And, I might add, Carla Simmons is easy on the eyes. By the way, David, that last remark I just made stays in this office. That’s all I need–a sexual harassment lawsuit brought on by a female agent.” The director then chuckled as he continued studying the list. “FBI Special Agent Carla Simmons. Fifteen years of experience specializing in criminal profiling and also as an FBI sketch artist. FBI Special Agent Joe Vack. Has nearly twenty years of experience with the Bureau. Vack Believes in old-school gumshoe investigations–making calls, following up on every lead, and taking lots of notes in his small spiral notepad, while leaning on informants for info. Special Agent Vack’s an exact clone of TV’s Detective Columbo. FBI Special Agent Juan Martinez. Ten years of experience doing dual duties as an expert at analyzing crime scenes, and as a crime scene photographer with the Bureau.
“Okay, David, I like the list. Now go down the hall to a spare office and start calling these agents. I want them all here in my office by eight a.m. tomorrow morning, then we’ll start working on a plan. I want your taskforce to hit the streets running. I want this serial killer bad. Do you have any other questions, thoughts, or requests?”
“Tomorrow morning, we’ll need a spare office and any additional background you may have.”
“No problem, you’ll have total access to all FBI resources. Anything you need that’ll help in catching this sum-bitch, you got it. If you have any problems along the line in getting help from any of my divisions here–well, you know what to do. You have my cell number.”
With that, we both shook hands, with me knowing as I walked out of Director Becker’s office, that this would be a tough case to crack. But I was confident that I and my team of experienced FBI special agents would catch the serial killer the bureau had labeled the Gaf Killer.
I called all three agents and gave them the rundown on what little I knew. They all agreed to come on board and meet at headquarters tomorrow morning. I especially enjoyed talking to Special Agent Carla Simmons again. Unbeknownst to Director Becker, Carla and I did have a fling while working on a case in New Orleans a few years ago. It had just happened. It was a mutual attraction between the two of us at the time, with no commitments. It was just sex. Fuck Buddies would be a better name for it, I guessed.
Director Becker was right about one thing, she was easy on the eyes, but I’d put it in modern terms–Carla was a looker with a great personality, brains, and a smokin’ bod to match.
I knew I’d have to keep my cool as much as possible. After all, our main focus was to track down the Gaf Killer.
© 2015 by Jerry Otis