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Prayers for the Dead

"Tell me about the murder."

"Shots to the head and neck. Severed his brain stem. Most likely that was the primary cause of death. The other savagery ... the chest wounds. I'd say they were postmortem. Someone was very strong and very angry. To crack the sternum and rib cage and expose his heart. A long knife with a big blade. I found some pulverized bone matter. Anything might have been used to smash the chest cavity. A crowbar, a baseball bat.  A hammer or a mallet."

"Things easily found in any car or toolbox or kitchen," Decker said.

"Yes," Craine agreed. "Whoever did this was a strong person."

"Male, then."

"I would think. Even a strong woman ... to do this much damage ..." Craine furrowed his brow in concentration. "If I were you, I'd be looking for someone with a penis."  

Gaynor held back a smile. "Smashing up the chest and exposing the heart. Sounds like someone was making a statement."

"Indubitably." Craine took off his gloves. "We'll take him to the morgue now. Autopsy will be done first thing tomorrow."

Decker said, "I have one of Dr. Sparks's sons in the car. He's come down to make the ID."

"It's Azor," Craine said. "I'll state it formally, if you'd like. Save the man some agony."

"I think he knows it's his father. I think he just wants to see it for himself."

"Good gracious why?"

"He's a priest," Gaynor said. "Maybe he wants to perform last rites on him."

"Can you do last rites on someone who's deceased?" Decker asked. "Besides Azor Sparks wasn't Catholic."

"He was very religious," Craine said. "Everyone knew about Azor Sparks, his Fundamentalist beliefs, and his commitment to God." The ME paused. "Perhaps he did have a hot line to the Supreme Being. He certainly saved a lot of lives."

Decker said, "I'll bring the priest over as soon as your men put him in the bag and on the stretcher. I don't want him to see the crime scene."

"Very considerate of you, Lieutenant," Craine muttered. "Very considerate. Copious amounts of spatter. The image is haunting even for the most professional of us. Good night."

Excerpted from PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD © Copyright 1996 by Faye Kellerman. Reprinted with permission by William Morrow & Co. All rights reserved.

Prayers for the Dead
by by Faye Kellerman

  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Avon
  • ISBN-10: 0380726246
  • ISBN-13: 9780380726240