|While Broussard waited for his eggs, across the river, in his dresser, Walter Baldwin’s killer emerged from Broussard’s torn pants and began to explore. It moved across the right lapel of his pale blue pajamas and paused on the label, its body covering the R in Ralph Lauren. Hungry and thirsty, it could do nothing about the former, but the latter was no problem. From a gland in a protrusible mouth part, it secreted a tiny salt crystal that quickly absorbed water from the air. Drawing the salt droplet into its mouth, its thirst was satisfied. Turning, it moved toward the rear of the dresser and up the back panel into the dresser carcass, looking for a way out...|
An Andy Broussard and Kit Franklin Mystery
By D. J. Donaldson
Serial Killers, Drug Lords, Pedophiles...are all very scary...But, you know, since I've moved into my cabin in the woods, Louisiana Fever turned out to be a horror thriller of the worst kind...it drove me Buggy! And with the strange weather we've been having this year, I've seen more different kinds of bugs than I've ever seen! Creepy, crawly, sneaky...they're everywhere! Including in this Novel!
And sometimes, they'll kill you just as easily as a bullet!
"She nudged the select button on the stereo, using the knuckle of her gloved hand, then pushed play, warming the cool room with the opening strains of The Magic Flute.
“Delivery crew said he keeled over at Grandma O’s,” Minoux said. “That’s not gonna be good for business.” “He hadn’t had anything to eat, so I don’t think we can blame her,” Broussard replied, slipping a pair of booties over his mesh shoes. While Broussard donned his plastic apron, on which someone had long ago written THE BOSS with a permanent black marker, the two assistants each put on a mask and a plastic visor. Broussard added two pairs of rubber gloves to his meager outfit, walked over to the body, and reached for a Polaroid camera on a nearby bench.
"Though he had seen thousands of cadavers, the tenuous nature of life had never ceased to fascinate him. A single puncture wound in the right place and it was gone. . . . Constrict the airway for a few minutes, it was gone—an irrevocable loss far too easy to achieve. And even when it happened without external intervention, as apparently this one had—a death by so-called natural causes—it seemed no less deplorable.
D. J. Donaldson sure did make sure his readers realize it, because he personified the killer! Just wait until
you meet the killer! And one is after the local M.E. who must deal with the bodies that are arriving...
"D’Souza began dissecting the skin flaps off the chest, the flashing strokes of her scalpel quickly separating them from the underlying white connective tissue. She did the side flaps first, then moved to the upper one, her swift movements rapidly carrying her dissection to the arch of the mandible, where she draped the loosened skin over the face and cut through the muscles attached to the mandible, thereby entering the mouth. She freed the tongue and pulled it forward, her scalpel slashing at the restraining tissue, liberating the trachea and esophagus.
"Broussard had finished sharpening the long knife he would use to section the organs and had begun arranging the perforated plastic sample containers on his cutting board at the shallow sink under the data blackboard when he heard D’Souza say, “Oh, shit.” Turning, he saw her tearing at the tape holding her gloves to her wrists. Obviously, she’d cut herself. She pulled off her gloves and Broussard saw that her left index finger was bleeding heavily. To a degree, that was good, as it would wash any potentially infectious organisms out of the wound.
“How bad is it?” “Not deep enough to hit any tendons or need sewing up,” she replied behind her mask.
“Good. Now get out of here and let it bleed under water for five minutes, then put some Betadine and peroxide on it. When you feel up to it, fill out an incident report.” Behind her visor, her eyes were filled with worry. “I’d like to hear that speech again about how unlikely it is to acquire a disease from something like this.”
“First of all, sudden deaths like this one aren’t caused by infectious disease,” Broussard said. “It’s likely he had a coronary. And even if he did have somethin’ infectious, your chances of acquirin’ it are about like your chances of bein’ struck by lightnin’ today.”
“Even if he’s HIV-positive?”
“I feel better.”
“But just to be on the safe side, we’re gonna have the lab check him out. And you’re gonna need to give some blood for a baseline. So, when I’m through here, you can take his samples up to the lab and let ’em draw yours. Now, go on . . . take care of your finger. . . .
One has already killed one of his assistants! She was helping with the autopsy when she accidentally cut herself...That's all it took, a little nick in her hand...Days later she was dead...
There was another female in Broussard's unit, one he was especially fond of--but he had a hard time sharing his feelings, even to the extent of praising her excellent work.
The John Doe who had just been brought in was in the company of Kit Franklin when he died. But she didn't know him! He had been sending her a flower each day and then asked to meet. She had agreed because the place where that would be was their favorite restaurant and everybody knew her there... He spoke her name and...died...
And at that time, she didn't know he was actually murdered...Hey, if a bug can kill, then he's a murderer, right?
"After removing the tube, he cut through both sternoclavicular joints, then severed each rib through its cartilage attachment to the sternum, pleased that he didn’t encounter enough ossification to call for the saw. With that done, he was able to remove the breast plate, revealing the lungs, which cupped the heart in pinkish gray angelwings.
"His scalpel stopped moving. He pressed on one lung with a forward motion to see more of it. Puzzled at what he saw, he did the same with the other lung. Both were studded with small hemorrhages. Very peculiar . . .
"He cut the major vessels entering and leaving the heart, noting there was copious blood flow from them, something commonly seen in heart-attack victims. He removed the tongue, trachea, esophagus, lungs, and heart as a block and dropped them into a stainless pan as Guy Minoux stepped up to the table.
“Take over, will you, while I work at the sink?” Minoux nodded and picked up the scalpel Broussard left for him. Broussard took his pan to the sink under the blackboard, poured the contents onto his cutting board, and began separating the organs, prior to close inspection of each one. He first examined the tongue, noting there was no indication the deceased had bitten it. With the long knife in one hand and the other pressing on the upper surface of the tongue, he halved it horizontally in the same way he’d slice a bagel. When he separated the two halves, he saw more tiny hemorrhages. This was becoming a major mystery, as the emerging pattern of affected organs fit nothing he’d ever seen...
The investigation to find Kit was ongoing but her fiancee got tired of just sitting around so he tried to find her, picking up a few clues...Enough to get him grabbed also!
Broussard had two of his staff to worry about now! And by then, other bodies were brought in and identified to have the same issue as the first...An expert was soon there, but he and Broussard soon were at odds!
“Are you going to bring in the CDC?” Seymour asked.
"Blackledge shot him a cold look. “Hell no. What do I need them for? I trained the people they’d send.” Then to Broussard: “You’ve got slides on the two cases?”
“Only on the John Doe. There hasn’t been time to process Baldwin’s tissues, but his organs were so deteriorated, they’re not likely to be of any use.” “What sort of pathology did you see in the John Doe?” “The most significant was early stages of disseminated intravascular coagulation.”...
But when Broussard lost to that killer, they were all glad that Dr. Blackledge was there...
Actually, although I showed a pic of a tick and identified the killer, there are many types of ticks and the fear and suspense comes from first identifying it was a tick, but then narrowing down what "kind" of tick it was, and then, determining whether there is some vaccine already available for that particular tick known...
And Kit and Teddy have not yet been found...
This novel had me riveted from the first page on...Broussard is a fascinating main character that I fell in love with quickly. Kit being kidnapped put her in a different role, I would imagine, than normally, but she proved to be a gutsy lady and I look forward to getting to know both of these characters in more depth.
Danger lurks right outside my door... Is he there in the woods surrounding you like he is me? Is he one of the psycho killers of the species!???
Chillingly Good Read! But keep some bug spray handy while you're reading! Don't miss this one if you are a Forensics Thriller Fan! I "think" I'm going to have to add him to my "favorite author" list so I've added at least another of his books to my wish list...Will keep you posted...
About the Author
D.J. Donaldson is a retired professor of anatomy and neurobiology. His entire academic career was spent at the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center, where he published dozens of papers on wound-healing and taught microscopic anatomy to thousands of medical and dental students. He is also the author of seven published forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife and two West Highland terriers. In the spring of most years, he simply cannot stop buying new flowers and other plants for the couple's prized backyard garden.