Bowers and his Partner Minola Raye are on the trail of the killer who assaulted a young mother found shot to death in her car. The forensics point to a staged scene and unlike the television dramas, putting together a winnable case isn’t easy. Modern juries demand cold, hard facts, clear motives, stunning forensic evidence and scientific gurus to make sense of it all. Murderers watch the same crime shows detectives do, so it’s a contest to see who comes out on top. Just when it seems the game is over, there’s an unexpected twist that surprises everyone but the killer.
Sweet Sorrow - A Detective John Bowers Mystery
He put the phone down. “Minnie, we got one down over at Southwest First off Arthur, Lair Hill Market.”
She was already up. “Robbery homicide?”
“Victim’s in the car parked at the market. Husband just found her.”
They got back into the Chevy sedan, darted into traffic and headed south. They drove along the Willamette River into the hilly district reclaimed from the turn-of-the-century slums reserved for Chinese laundries, red-light bars and flophouse hangouts for sailors. The Victorian and Queen Ann houses wore fresh paint now; the bushes were trimmed; crumbling sidewalks had been paved over with trendy cobblestones and brick. Art galleries, espresso bars and racquet clubs replaced the old firehouses, trolley barns and corner groceries. Portland’s Lair Hill was not quite yet fashionable although it had become respectable in the last decade as it attracted a generation of college educated, optimistic MBA graduates in search of the genteel grace of the West Hills on a middle manager’s salary.
Bowers was pleased with Lisa Carmichael the EMT who had left the body where she found it. She looked through the window of the 92 Toyota Camry, opened the driver’s door, touched the woman’s eyeball, felt for a carotid pulse, noted the entry hole in the head, the lividity and the skin temperature and radioed her supervisor that she was leaving the victim in the car, undisturbed until detectives arrived on scene.
The Camry was parked facing First Avenue, eight feet back from the street, with all four doors shut and the windows rolled up. The hood was cold. The temperature on this February day was only fifty-two degrees, but the sun had come out, and it felt comfortable without raincoats. The automobile was registered to Marilyn Berliss, thirty-eight-years old. Her home address was about two miles from Lair Hill Market off Terwilliger Boulevard, a winding thoroughfare in the shadow of the University Hospital complex. There was no purse in the car, no car keys.
The dead woman was wearing a pair of pale-blue pajamas with white piping, a white velour robe and slippers. She wore no watch or earrings. On her left hand was a gold wedding band. She was sitting upright with her upper torso twisted to the right. Both arms hung at her sides. One hand rested on the center console; the other was wedged between the seat and the door panel. A neat, round hole marred her skull just above her left ear. Her hair was matted with dark maroon blood, but there was only a small stain on the upholstered seat. The gunshot had blasted a grisly spray on all the rest. Both eyes were half open. The right eye bulged eggplant purple.
The victim’s husband was on the sidelines, a pensive frown on his face. Reminded the detective of somebody studying a chess match, watching for the mate move. Bowers neck started to itch, and he knew before he took another step, this was going to be a real shitcan case.