Thursday, February 28, 2019

You Say Goodbye by Keith Steinbaum - Great Murder Mystery Just Out!

If there’s a Beatles’ song that makes you happy, then you have something in common with a serial killer... 

Maldonado gulped some coffee and pointed toward the envelope. “Before I show you what’s in here,” he said, “I’m going to tell you something about Ms. Franklin’s murderer that we’ve known from the beginning.” Rolling his tongue around the inside of his mouth, he looked away for a moment before returning his attention to Sean. “Do you recall the writing on the two pieces of paper above the headboard?”
“One paper had ‘hello’ written on it,” Sean answered. “The other one, ‘goodbye.’” 
“You’re a rock ’n roll guy,” Maldonado said. “Do those two words sound familiar?” 
“Only if you’re talking about The Beatles’ song,” he answered. 
Maldonado nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Sean. The same man who murdered Ms. Franklin has done the identical thing seven other times, dating back six years. He’s a serial killer the press has dubbed, ‘The Beatles’ Song Murderer.’ He’s left pieces of paper with the name of a different Beatles’ song every time.”

You Say Goodbye

By Keith Steinbaum

"Many of us are driven to write through experiences born from pain, generating a need
to uniquely express our own inner turmoil. Light-hearted inspiration is certainly an
enviable reason to tap into one’s creative juices, but those feelings don’t stimulate the
kinds of thoughts that lodge within me and grow in complexity. I can pinpoint a tragic,
life-changing event occurring in my mid-teens that transformed me into a writer, and
it seems that the weightier side of life continues to be my motivation." -Keith Steinbaum

Can we ever trust our point of view When what seemed real is far from true? 
~ from “Looking Glass” by The Sean Hightower Band

April 11, 2008, 9:35 p.m.: 

“Your time has come, Merissa,” he told her, his words uncoiling snakelike in venomous intention. “I have no further use for you.” 
“No!” she screamed, her desperate plea rendered to a garbled wail from the cheekbone-to-cheekbone gray duct tape covering her mouth. “No!” Looking at him standing in the doorway, gun in his hand, the juxtaposition of events culminating in this moment ripped through her consciousness with the unrelenting speed of an assault rifle...
He’d called from his car, explaining that he wanted to give her a gift “to show his appreciation for what she did for him.” 
“I just bought it,” he told her, “and I think you’re really going to like it.” With her makeup already off and lounging in Sean’s sweats and her slippers, Merissa’s plan centered around a glass of wine and finishing her book, but the thoughtfulness of his gift softened her resistance. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I wanted to,” he said. “How far away are you?”
“Twenty minutes, max.” “All right, but it’s Friday night, and it’s been a crazy week at work, so no shop talk, okay?” 
“I promise. The only thing I’ll say is I’m sorry you got upset with me. You were right and I learned a lesson.”
“It’s over with,” she replied. “I’ll see you soon.” 
“Hey, one more thing. If you don’t mind, I want to show you a magic trick I just learned. It’s a good one.” 
“Bring it on,” she said, laughing. 
“Is Sean there?” he asked. “I want him to see it, too.” 
“No,” she answered. “He performs at a club on Friday nights.” 
“That’s right, I forgot. You told me that before.” When she opened the door, his first comment pertained to her new hairstyle. “Wow, look at you,” he said. “You’ve got short hair now.” She had no reason to be anything but unsuspecting when he walked in carrying the wrapped, box-shaped gift. Reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket, he removed a deck of cards. “First the trick, then the gift,” he told her. Directing her to sit at the table in the front room, he asked her to examine the cards before shuffling them several times. “Take any card you wish, but don’t let me see it.” Selecting the Jack of Hearts, she followed his request to insert the card back into the deck wherever she desired. “Now,” he said, “shuffle them as often as you want.” She did as instructed before returning the cards to him. Placing the deck face up on the table, he spread them around to allow the visibility of every card except for one, which remained face down. “Is that your card?” he asked. Merissa squinted and shook her head in disbelief after turning over the Jack of Hearts. “That’s a good one,” she told him. “I’ve got one more to show you,” he said, placing the cards on the table, “but I’ll need two sheets of blank paper and something to write with. In the meantime, may I use your bathroom?”
Merissa entered the kitchen but dashed back to the table when she heard the bathroom door close. “This will be my little disappearing trick,” she said, chuckling to herself. “To reappear as you leave.” Grasping the Jack of Hearts from the top, she placed it in her pocket before hurrying into the kitchen to retrieve the requested items. When he returned, she watched as he printed the word hello on one of the sheets of paper. 
“Now on this one,” he said, handing her the other sheet, “write the word goodbye in your regular handwriting.” The instant she finished, before she even had the chance to look up, the violent motion of a clamping hand slammed over her mouth in the simultaneous placement of the gun against her cheekbone.  
"If you scream, I’ll kill you.” His voice was a muted shout. “Do you understand me?” Merissa couldn’t think at first, too shocked and terrified to respond. “Answer me!” Eyes shut tight, she nodded her head. “Now lead me to your bedroom.” With one arm wrapped around her neck, he placed the metal gun tip inside her ear, nudging Merissa forward until they stood at the edge of the bed. 
“Lie face down and keep your mouth shut.” 
“Is this really you?” she hissed. “How could you do this?”  ...

Meeting Keith Steinbaum through his first novel, The Poe Consequence, (which, by the way, will be re-released this year) had been quite an experience, so I was pleased to see a new novel from this author. You Say Goodbye, as his earlier title reflects, immediately pushes another experience into your mind. In this case, The Beatles, singing, You Say Goodbye! I thoroughly enjoy books that include references to songs, and this one didn't disappoint... Good Music... Good Suspenseful Mystery...

Hello, Goodbye, had been the pages left at this latest murder, but there had been 7 other murders before that--each leaving the name of a Beatles Song, which obviously led to the murderer being called The Beatles' Song Murderer...

The latest to be killed was Merissa, lover of Sean Hightower, a once-famous musician, who, now much older, was discouraged that he seemed no longer to be able to write songs after his one-time big hit "Looking Glass." 


Although it was unusual to have investigators asking for help from a civilian, given that the serial killer had now 8 murders to his name, and what had been turned up so far, the FBI felt that the murderer might have known his latest victim, and thus, they were hoping that Sean would also know him... Obviously Sean was "in..." wanting to find who had taken the one important person in his life...

The interaction of the investigation was intriguing and, ultimately, a tough whodunit to solve. I thought the one clue that came up front was going to provide me a solution...but that sure didn't help up to the climax...

On the other hand, what happened between the murder and the climax of that mystery was so completely different and memorable, that the fantastic mystery became secondary! And it was all because of what happened to Sean Hightower...

Steinbaum talks a little on his blog (and shown above) about his need to write about the weightier side of our lives. I would have been happy reading a good mystery, and moving on to another story, if it wasn't for the second component of You Say Goodbye.

Sean Hightower had grown to be a bitter man, especially after Merissa was murdered. He was short-tempered and was told not to come back to the bar where he sang until he was better... But how was that supposed to happen? He was the black sheep of the family. 

And all Sean had left in his life was one  hit song long ago and a band that nobody even remembered...  

The difference between Steinbaum's two novels is almost night and day, yet each provides readers with a depth of complexity that is beyond the norm and originality. Related to the murders, I wanted to know more about the other 7 who had died before Merissa, and thus I've provided a song in memory for each of those young girls... Yet moving on to meeting Kayleigh, a neighbor, was so much more satisfying.

 I recommend that you don't miss this one...for many reasons...


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