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Authors: Ridley Pearson

Tags: #Suspense, #Thriller, #Mystery

Chain of Evidence

BOOK: Chain of Evidence
10.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Chain of Evidence
Ridley Pearson
Hyperion (1994)
Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Mysteryttt Suspensettt Thrillerttt

Usually, a police procedural compromises some facet of storytelling. Character development must be sacrificed to pacing and plotting, or forensic detail must be displaced by rapid-fire action sequences. But Sergeant Joe Dartelli is a captivating personality enmeshed in a balanced, suspenseful, and intelligently scripted serial murder mystery. What makes this mystery so different is that many of its secrets are held within Dartelli's mind. From the opening pages, Joe is haunted by a supposed suicide case, the mysterious "Ice Man," who he suspects could be linked to his old mentor. Afraid of the truth, Joe struggles to explain away a new suicide while we watch the facts unfold within him. As an added treat, Ridley Pearson displays remarkable computer savvy as Dartelli's old flame, Ginny, hacks her way through to some of the most crucial parts of the puzzle. The author is not afraid to linger on small details--a woman's earrings or the temperature of a corpse--but he rarely overindulges in such description. Rather, he has written an excellent piece of fiction that happens to be a police thriller. Pearson, author of such previous works as No Witnesses, has produced a minor suspense masterpiece in Chain of Evidence. --Patrick O'Kelley

Chain of Evidence

A Novel by

Ridley Pearson


“Pearson handles the complex plot with grace and speed, packing a potent blend of action and procedural information into his work. Attention to detail and an imaginative plot make this a must-read for thriller fans.” —
Chicago Tribune Book Review

Chain of Evidence
] stands as one of the best novels yet by this author.” —
Publishers Weekly
[starred review]

“Some procedurals stress forensic detail, while others emphasize the multidimensional humanity of the cops. Pearson does both, and the combination continues to be unbeatable.” —

“… riveting murder mystery …” —
San Francisco Examiner

“Oh, goody. The gadget man is back with a bag of new toys … You don’t have to be a techno-nerd to get wired on this scary stuff.” —
New York Times Book Review

“Pearson weaves psychology and suspense into this tale of high-tech clues and complex motives. Save this one for a weekend, because you won’t put it down until you reach the heart-pounding conclusion.” —

“This is cutting-edge reading. The final chapters blend heart-stopping, breakneck chase scenes with high-tech computer hacking … This is a book to savor.” —
Mostly Murder

“There is no better guarantee of entertainment than Pearson’s name on the cover of a book.
Chain of Evidence
ranks with his best.” —
Flint Journal

“Pearson puts together fascinating forensic science, artful computer hacking, ruthless private security companies, and overbearing drug empires for an exciting, troubling look at the definitions and limitations of justice.” —
New Orleans Times Picayune

Chain of Evidence
] does prove that with some fresh, shrewd plotting there’s still plenty of mileage left in the crime genre’s most overworked premise … Pearson’s story is ingenious and plausible from start to finish.” —Tom De Haven,
Entertainment Weekly

“All the characters are well delineated. The careful crafting of the plot with its well-woven subplots is thriller writing at its best.” —Alice DiNizo,
Library Journal

“Ridley Pearson is an awesome storyteller, whose books are masterpieces of intricate suspense and breathtaking thrills.” —Jill M. Smith,
Romantic Times

“A riveting murder mystery.” —Bobbie Hess,
San Francisco Examiner

“Ridley owns the ground in forensic police procedural novels.” —John Linsenmeyer,
Greenwich Time

“An author who knows his cyber ABCs.” —Ed Kelly,
Buffalo Sun

“Pearson’s an excellent storyteller and a superb plotter who’s among the elite of crime fiction novelists; his latest effort will only solidify that vaunted position.” —Ray Walsh,
Lansing State Journal


“An up-to-the-nanosecond techno-thriller … truly impressive.” —
The New York Times Book Review

“The combination of meticulous investigative detail and excruciating, screw-tightening suspense is utterly riveting … [Pearson] elevates any genre in which he chooses to work, and right now he’s the best thriller writer alive.” —Bill Ott,

“This is a serial-killer novel that speaks to readers’ hearts even as it jangles their nerves—and it’s not to be missed.” —
Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“Guaranteed to keep you reading till dawn—longer, if you wait for your fingers to unclench.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Ridley Pearson has scored a triple with
No Witnesses
—plot, characters and procedural detail are all brilliantly executed.” —Leslie McCool,
Mostly Murder

“Astonishing.” —
The Boston Globe

No Witnesses
is an amazingly memorable tale, ingeniously offering more twists than a white-knuckled roller coaster ride … Don’t forget your seatbelts.” —Ray Walsh,
Lansing State Journal


When your world turns upside down, you find out who your friends are. This book is dedicated to my best friend (whose idea sparked this story)—Bradbury D. Pearson. Thanks, Bro.


Title Page




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Beyond Recognition

Chapter 1
Chapter 2


About the Author

By Ridley Pearson



He heard her coming before she reached the top of the stairs. Wild and angry like someone possessed, the rage welling up within her from an addiction so powerful that two weeks earlier he had discovered her passed out with a bottle of rubbing alcohol still clutched in her spotted hand.

She roared at him as she dared to negotiate the stairs, suddenly a two-hundred-pound ballerina, one hand counseling the banister, one eye held shut to stop the dizzies. “You bring it to me, Boy!”

That was her name for him: Boy—the only name she had ever called him. They both knew what “it” was. The Boy got it from the neighborhood liquor store every day—or the days that she had the money to buy it. The old man with the white stubble beard handed him the brown bag out back in the alley, and the Boy carried it home dutifully. To him it was poison. To her, heaven.

She hadn’t had the money today, but she would have forgotten that by now, and she would have convinced herself that he was holding out on her, and when she became convinced of that then the world became a frightful place for the Boy. She possessed big, powerful hands, like paddles, and the stern will of a self-appointed tyrant. She knew nothing of forgiveness.

He lied about the bruises in school. Made things up. The school nurse had given up asking questions, hearing his inventive tales. People knew about his mother: This town, nestled in the Connecticut countryside, was a tolerant place.

He heard her swollen feet ticking off the eleven stairs. How many times had he counted down along with her descent? He shuddered. Would his reminders, his arguments, be enough today? And why did his feet always fail to run when she approached? Why did he stand there facing her, awaiting her, as if some magnet drew them together? He knew that his survival depended on her not seeing him, not getting that hold on him. He knew that he had to hide.

He stood frozen in place. He could tell what she was wearing just by the swooshing sound of the fabric: the Hawaiian colored housedress, worn like a giant zippered tent about her puffy white skin with its bright red blotches and unexplained black-and-blue marks.
, she descended. She cleared the bottom step and, faced with the choice of two directions to go, somehow attached to his scent and headed toward him—she, a person who couldn’t smell burnt toast placed before her.

That was all she had eaten for the past three months: one slice of toast that he left by her bedside in the morning before he headed to school. She awakened closer to noon, and then drank well past midnight, her television turned up too loudly, her glassy eyes fixed to it like the eyes on some of the Boy’s stuffed animals. Dead eyes, even when she was trying to slur through her words at him. Dead for years. But not dead enough, he thought, as she charged through the kitchen door, flinging it open with a bone crunching effort.

He passed through the laundry room door, backing up—always backing up, he couldn’t seem to run
when she pursued him; he allowed her to control him. The cry of the hinges gave him away. A trickle of sweat slid coldly down his ribs and his throat went dry: When he ran from her she hit him harder.

Out through the laundry room window, the sun’s fading rays, muted by a stranglehold of clouds, washed the horizon charcoal gray. A pair of geese, their necks stretched like arrows, cut north over the hardwood forest where the Boy had a clumsy fort built high into a tree. In the summer he could hide in the fort, but this was not summer and he was running out of places to hide—she knew them all.

And here he was in the laundry room. A dead end. Worse: a huge pile of dirty clothes erupted from the plastic laundry basket, and despite the fact that he was in the midst of doing the laundry—as if she didn’t already have enough to be mad about—sight of this dirty pile was likely to add to the punishment.

He reached for the bleach because it occurred to him he might throw it into her face and blind her, though he didn’t have the heart to do so, and besides, he discovered the Clorox bottle was bone dry empty. He stared down the into the neck wishing that by some miracle it would suddenly fill and save him from her wrath.

He glanced around at a room that offered only a back door into the cold. And if he went out there, she would lock him out; and if she locked him out and anyone found out, then they would take her away from him—this had been threatened more than once. And that, in turn, would mean living with his uncle, and if the Boy had it right, the uncle was a drug dealer and small time hood—Italian and proud of it. He went to
twice a week. The Boy wanted none of that.

On the other side of the door, he heard his mother’s footsteps crunch across crumbs on the kitchen floor as she drew closer. Sometimes she forgot all about him a few minutes into the pursuit.
Not today
, he realized.

The bell to the dryer sounded—
—and it called magically to him. The dryer!
Why not?
he wondered. Without a second thought, he popped open the door and, with her footfalls approaching, frantically gathered the clean clothes and stuffed them into the blue plastic basket with the purple four-leaf clovers. He slid one leg inside the machine but burned his hand on touching the tumbler’s gray-speckled rim. He debated taking whatever it was she had in store for him, deciding instantly that
burn was better than
He pulled himself into a ball, his knees tucked into his chest in a fetal position, his lungs beginning to sear from the dry, metallic heat. He hooked his fingers onto the filter’s gray plastic tab mounted into the door and eased it quietly shut.
He winced. Even in a fit of rage, she had the ears of a mountain lion.

BOOK: Chain of Evidence
10.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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