The Night Stalker ( Robert Hunter #3 )
The right of Chris Carter to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Doctor Jonathan Winston pulled the surgical mask over his mouth and nose and checked the clock on the wall of autopsy room number four on the underground floor of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner. 6:12 p.m.
The body on the stainless steel table a few feet in front of him was of an unidentified white female in her late twenties, early thirties. Her shoulder-length black hair was wet, its tips plastered to the metal table. Under the brightness of the surgical light, her pale skin looked rubbery, almost unhuman. It hadn't been possible to identify the presumed cause of death at the location where the body was found. There was no blood, no bullet or knife wounds, no lumps or abrasions to her head or torso and no hematomas around her neck to indicate she'd been strangled. Her body was clear of traumas, except for the fact that her mouth and vagina had been stitched shut by whoever had killed her. The thread used was bulky and heavy – the stitches untidy and careless.
'Are we ready?' Doctor Winston said to Sean Hannay, the young forensic assistant in the room.
Hannay's eyes were glued to the woman's face and her sealed lips. For some reason he felt more nervous than usual.
'Sean, are we OK?'
'Umm, yes, Doctor, sorry.' His eyes finally met Doctor Winston's and he nodded. 'We're all set here.' He positioned himself to the right of the table while the doctor activated the digital recording device on the counter closest to him.
Doctor Winston stated the date and time, the names of those present, and the autopsy file number. The body had already been measured and weighed, so he proceeded to dictate the victim's physical characteristics. Before making any incisions, Doctor Winston meticulously studied the body, looking for any marks that could help identify the victim. As his eyes rested on the stitches applied to the victim's lower body, he paused and squinted.
'Wait a second,' he whispered, stepping closer and carefully moving the victim's legs apart. 'Please pass me the flashlight, Sean.' He extended his hand towards the forensic assistant without taking his eyes off the victim. Concern crept into his gaze.
'Something wrong?' Hannay asked, handing Doctor Winston a small metal flashlight.
'Maybe.' He directed its beam towards something that had caught his eye.
Hannay shifted his weight from foot to foot.
'The stitches aren't medical suture,' Doctor Winston said for the benefit of the audio record. 'They're amateurish and imprecise. Like a teenager sewing a patch onto an old pair of ripped jeans.' He moved closer still. 'The stitches are also too spread apart, the gaps between them are too wide, and . . .' he paused, cocking his head, '. . . no way.'
Hannay felt his whole body shiver. 'What?' He stepped forward.
Doctor Winston drew a deep breath and slowly looked up at Hannay. 'I think the killer left something inside her.'
Doctor Winston concentrated on the flashlight beam for a few more seconds until he was sure. 'The light is being reflected off something inside her.'
Hannay bent down, following the doctor's gaze. It took him only a second to see it. 'Shit, the light is reflecting off something. What is it?'
'I don't know, but whatever it is it's large enough to show through the stitches.'
The doctor straightened up and grabbed a metal pointer from the instrument tray.
'Sean, hold the light for me; like this.' He handed the flashlight to the young assistant and showed him exactly where he wanted him to focus the beam.
The doctor bent over and inserted the tip of the metal pointer between two of the stitches, guiding it towards the object inside the victim.
Hannay kept the flashlight steady.
'It's something metallic,' Winston announced, using the pointer as a probe, 'but I still can't say for certain what it could be. Pass me the stitch-cutting scissors and the forceps, will you?'
It didn't take him long to slice through the stitches. As he cut through each one, Doctor Winston used the forceps to pinch and pull the thick black thread from the victim's skin, placing it into a small plastic evidence collection container.
'Was she raped?' Hannay asked.
'There are cuts and bruises around her groin that are consistent with forced penetration,' Doctor Winston con firmed, 'but they could've been caused by the object that's been inserted into her. I'll take some swabs and send them up to the lab together with the thread samples.' He placed the scissors and the forceps on the used instrument tray. 'Let's find out what the killer has left us, shall we?'
Hannay tensed as Doctor Winston inserted his right hand into the victim. 'Well, I was right, it's not a small object.'
A few silent, uneasy seconds went by.
'And it's oddly shaped too,' the doctor announced. 'Sort of squared with something strange attached to its top.' He finally managed to grab hold of it. As he pulled it out, an attachment at the top clicked.
Hannay stepped forward to gain a better look.
'Metal, relatively heavy, looks handmade . . .' Doctor Winston said, staring at the object in his hand. 'But I'm still not sure what . . .' He paused and felt his heart hammer inside his chest as his eyes widened in realization. 'Oh my God . . .'
An unidentified female body is brought into the Los Angeles County morgue. The cause of death is still unclear. Her body bares no marks; except for the fact that her most intimate parts have been stitched shut. But what shocks the pathologist the most is that the killer had left something inside her. Something so monstrous Detective Robert Hunter, of the Los Angeles Homicide Special Section, has to be pulled off a different case to take over the investigation.
Within days a new body surfaces. Like the previous victim, she's also been stitched shut and something has been left inside her. Something as ingenious as it is grotesque. And the killer isn't done yet, not by a long shot.
When his inquiry collides with a missing persons' case being investigated by the attractive, razor-sharp Whitney Meyers, Hunter suspects the killer might be keeping several women hostage. Soon Robert finds himself on the hunt for a murderer who is much more monstrous than he ever could have expected; a predator whose past hides a terrible secret, and who won't stop until each of his victims has brought forth the awful truth.
Crime, Thrillers & Mystery - Series
Simon & Schuster UK
MOBI , 635 KB
The Night Stalker by Chris Carter|An unidentified female body|Detective Robert Hunter
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