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He really was trying to be helpful, thought Jake. Still, something was bothering him about the information the guy was handing them. It was almost like he was trying to be too helpful.

Jake berated himself for thinking poorly about Larkin, after all, with everything he had witnessed that night it was no wonder that he wanted the bastard caught. At least that was what he had told the detectives. He had even come in voluntarily to answer questions, they didn’t have to ask him to be there.

He let the other team members ask the questions while he quietly made notes. But when Larkin couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get specific enough about which bar he and the mysterious John had picked the girls up in, Jake voiced his dissatisfaction with an impatient sigh and a snort. And he got a disapproving look from his superior for that.

“I don’t remember, we went to several nightspots, I don’t remember which one we were in when we met Holly and Beth. All I know it was somewhere in Westchester.” He whined. Larkin fixed his watery eyes on Jake. “I am so sorry, I really wish I could remember.”

Jake excused himself from the room, he’d get the notes from the rest of the interview from one of the detectives.

Larkin had worked with a police artist and now Jake had a sketch of the perp. He also had a photo of Holly and an artist’s sketch based on a reconstruction of Beth’s face. He sent those pictures over the wire to the local Westchester police along with a list of the clubs Andrew had named. Now if only someone would recognize the missing man and give them some clue as to his whereabouts.

Meanwhile he had pulled several missing persons files on descriptions matching the two girls; sometimes the victim’s identity was an important lead as to who the murderer was. There were a few files that came close, but so far nothing had matched.  Jake was suspicious by nature, and in this business it was best to check out everything, so he ran any information he had on Andrew Larkin through the computers as well. The man came up squeaky clean.

It irritated Jake that Larkin didn’t have even a traffic violation on his record. Something about Larkin bothered Jake and he was hoping to find something out about him that would justify his dislike of the other man. He just couldn’t figure it out.

The forensics team had found evidence that the car found at the scene was the same vehicle that had carried the two girls and Larkin. There were inconclusive signs of a fourth person. Only Larkin’s prints were on the steering wheel but that only confirmed the story that he had related to them. The carpeted floor mats were filthy and it seemed impossible to get a clean copy of any shoe prints. The well-worn cloth-covered seats didn’t give up much evidence either.

The team was thorough about collecting any evidence from the car in the hopes that they might get some leads on the identities of the other three occupants. The tires were well worn but scrapings were made from the treads to see if there was any telltale substance that might lead them to a garage, industrial parking lot, construction site or anywhere that Larkin might not have remembered driving to that night.

The lab techs collected shoeprints and fingerprints from all the responding emergency service workers and had diligently weeded those out of the prints found in the cabin. It was time consuming but necessary. Still, although they were able to pick up another man’s shoe prints, they had nothing else to go on.

Curiously neither of the girls seemed to have carried a purse with them, at least they didn’t have one at the crime scene. Both female victims had been dressed in similar gauzy robes with no underwear or footwear. What should have been their normal street clothes were missing and Jake wondered if the absent man had taken those items with him as some sort of perverted souvenir. It wasn’t unusual for the police to find a victim’s personal effects among a killer’s treasured possessions, a trophy collection of sorts.

Without any hard evidence, the trail was already feeling cold. Jake was frustrated at the lack of clues. The crime was definitely one of the more heinous he had ever encountered, he rarely felt as jolted as he did now. He couldn’t explain the strange foreboding he had about this case or the frantic need to solve it immediately.

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Final Sin was an
Honorable Mention in the Fiction Category of the 
2010 NY Book Festival 

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PROLOGUE

“He is a pompous ass!”

“I agree. But he is also a big name and he has to be kept happy if we are going to pull this acquisition off successfully.”

Paige sat and fumed. She couldn’t believe that Jeanmarie was asking her to charm and entertain this male chauvinist pig who penned a weekly column on how men were God’s gift to women.

“Why can’t you just buy him dinner and tickets to a Broadway show for him and one of his many adoring hordes?”

“Excuse me?” Jeanmarie grinned mischievously.

“I said hordes.” Paige emphasized the “D” sound. “Seriously, I’m sure that Lon Bartlett would prefer to choose his own company for the evening.”

“Paige that would be fine if we were just sending some executive a simple holiday remembrance but we need to court this publication. And if we want the publisher happy, we make his star writer happy.” She looked down at her phone as if trying to hurry the young woman from her office. “This requires a more personal touch. Take him out, wine and dine him. Do whatever you have to and make him happy.”

Slowly a frown settled on Paige’s face. “I hope you’re not suggesting…”

Jeanmarie laughed suddenly. “Oh gosh no! All I want you to do is schmooze with him a little bit. Make sure his evening is pleasant.” She stopped and stared at the young woman pensively. “You know Paige, a lot of the women in the secretarial pool would die for this chance to spend an evening with a man like Bartlett. This is a great opportunity for you… professionally.”

Paige bit the inside of her cheek to keep from retorting. She spent two years in the secretarial pool waiting for a promotion into the public relations department of this company. Of course though, she thought to herself, the first time she was given an opportunity to prove herself it had to be with someone whose ethics she couldn’t tolerate.

“I just need to know that you can do this Paige.” Jeanmarie had taken a huge personal gamble by pushing Paige’s name when this opening came up.

“I’ll make sure he’s happy.” She nodded even though she was filled with all kinds of self doubts. In reality, Paige wasn’t worried about refusing the man’s possible advances, she was afraid she would be tempted to accept them.

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He bent over her and picked her up, cradling her in his arms. Adam tried to memorize every feeling, the scent from her hair, her weight in his arms, and the way she opened her eyes and smiled just before she wound her arms around his neck.

“Hmmm… what time is it?” Her voice was sleepy.

“After three.”

“How are you ever going to get up in the morning?”

He was amused by the way her words slurred. “I’ll go in late.” He walked into their bedroom and placed her gently on the bed.

Adam helped her while she fumbled into a night shirt and crawled under the blankets. Then he went to his side of the bed and stripped, leaving his clothing on the floor. He got under the covers and pulled her body up against his, he kissed her on the top of her head and whispered “G’night.” Before he reached to turn out his night table lamp, he stopped to watch her sleeping in their bed… another memory for him to store.

Surprisingly Adam had woken early after all. He quietly got out of bed without disturbing her, took the folded paper from his pocket and took a pair of pants with him to put on after he left the room. In the kitchen he plugged in the pot of coffee that Davie had left prepared and leaned against the counter to read the report. In all test groups, ‘589APPLE’ had significantly improved the healthy development of the fetus in-utero by directing nutrients and necessary vitamins to the growing embryo. Various laboratory animals were used throughout the stages. Thanks to the administration of ‘589APPLE’ hundreds of healthy baby rats were born during this testing period with an improvement of nearly seventy-five-percent in overall development, survival and general health over the control group which did not receive ‘589APPLE’. Many more test groups were used in the studies, most of them showed extremely high neo-natal success rates.

However, Adam noted, the more complex the animal in the test group, another statistic registered. By the time pregnant laboratory monkeys were given the drug, while most of the babies were born healthy, the maternal health began to suffer with one fatality attributed to malnutrition. The human test group consisted of twenty-five pregnant females who were given the drug; four mothers died within twenty-four hours of birth, two died prior to birth and their healthy babies were delivered by Cesarean section, seven more were hospitalized suffering the effects of starvation and one more died within six months after. The summary at the bottom of the report cited the fifty-percent of human mothers who suffered illness or fatality after taking ‘589APPLE’ during at least five months of the gestation period.

Autopsy results of the fatalities showed that not only did the drug direct more of the ingested nutrients to the fetus, but it also ‘attached’ itself to the digestive track and prohibited any significant nourishment from being absorbed into the mother’s body. A recommendation was made to Dr. Bryan Chapman, the Vice President of Regularity Affairs of the pharmaceutical company, that the formulation of the drug be examined and altered to reduce this risk to the mothers. The author of the summary, who signed only his initials, proposed that production of ‘589APPLE’ be postponed indefinitely.

Adam was dismayed that this supposedly beneficent drug could have such devastating effects. He also was aware that he had made it possible for this drug, with its current potentially lethal formulation, to be manufactured and distributed in third-world countries and on the black market everywhere. This drug had the potential to turn a growing baby into an insidious parasite that could kill its mother. There was no choice left, he had to stop it.


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Final Sin by Chelle Cordero

Deputy Sheriff Commander Jake Carson has his hands full… investigation of a brutal multiple homicide, a troubled son and a vindictive ex-wife. He meets young, free-spirited paramedic Julie Jennings. When Julie becomes the subject of an obsession, it puts both of them in danger…

Final Sin was an Honorable Mention in the Fiction Category of the 2010 NY Book Festival & a 2009 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Final Sin http://amzn.to/1hgH9MY
narrated by Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodward

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Hyphema by Chelle Cordero

Hyphema: Bleeding in the eye caused by trauma… Matt Garratti, a paramedic from New York, moves his wife and son to North Carolina to work at his dream job as a flight medic. Pakistani born Sudah, his wife, receives frosty stares and insensitive comments from their new neighbors… Matt wonders if he is pursuing his dream or bringing his family into a nightmare from which they may never wake.

Hyphema won the Dec 9, 2011 Friday Book Cover Vote on the Shades of Love website & was recommended in the book Summer Reading: 2012 Blue Ribbon Selection published by Ewen Prime Co. 

Hyphema http://amzn.to/1kNAODr
narrated by Tim Danko

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