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Authors: J.R. Rain

Tags: #detective, #jr rain, #mystery, #private eye, #thriller

Dark Horse (A Jim Knighthorse Novel)

BOOK: Dark Horse (A Jim Knighthorse Novel)
7.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



A Jim Knighthorse Novel









Acclaim for J.R. Rain:


“Be prepared to lose sleep!”

—James Rollins, international bestselling
author of The Doomsday Key on J.R. Rain’s The Lost Ark


“I love this!”

—Piers Anthony, bestselling author of Xanth
on J.R. Rain’s Moon Dance


“Dark Horse is the best book I’ve read in a
long time!”

—Gemma Halliday, Rita and Golden Spur
award-winning author of Scandal Sheet


“Moon Dance is absolutely brilliant!”

—Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, author of Understanding
the Planetary Myths


“Powerful stuff!”

—Aiden James, author of Deadly Night on J.R.
Rain’s An Uncommon Quest


“Moon Dance is a must read. If you like Janet
Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, be prepared to love J.R.
Rain’s Samantha Moon, vampire private investigator.”

—Eve Paludan, author of Letters From


“Impossible to put down. J.R. Rain’s Moon
Dance is a fabulous urban fantasy replete with multifarious and
unusual characters, a perfectly synchronized plot, vibrant dialogue
and sterling witticism all wrapped in a voice that is as beautiful
as it is rich and vividly intense as it is relaxed.”

—April Vine, author of The Midnight Rose






Moon Dance

Vampire Moon

American Vampire (coming soon)

Vampire Empire (coming soon)



Dark Horse

The Mummy Case

Hail Mary (coming soon)



An Uncommon Quest (coming soon)

The Merlin Game (coming soon)


The Lost Ark

The Body Departed

Elvis Has Not Left the Building




Cursed Again! (coming soon)



Aladdin Rising (coming soon)



Plague of Coins (coming soon)



The Forgotten Valley (coming soon)



The Bleeder and Other Stories

Teeth and Other Stories

Vampire Nights and Other Stories

The Santa Call and Other Christmas Stories
(coming soon)



Judas Silver

Lost Eden



The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo

The Witch Who Played With Fire (coming

The Zombie Who Stepped on a Hornet’s Nest
(coming soon)



Rain Dance: Three Novels

Rainy Nights: Three Novels

Black Rain: Dark Tales

Knighthorse: Two Novels

Vampire for Hire: Two Novels

Dark Quests: Two Screenplays



Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts, Oh My!

(edited by Eve Paludan)




Published by J.R. Rain at

Copyright © 2010 by J.R. Rain Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you
share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it,
or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return
to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.





To my sister Elaine, who loves mysteries.
Love you, sis.

Also, a big thank you to Eve Paludan and
Sandy Johnston (again!).




Dark Horse







Charles Brown, the defense attorney, was a
small man with a round head. He was wearing a brown and orange
zigzagged power tie. I secretly wondered if he went by Charlie as a
kid and had a dog named Snoopy and a crush on the little red-headed

We were sitting in my office on a warm spring
day. Charlie was here to give me a job if I wanted it, and I wanted
it. I hadn’t worked in two weeks and was beginning to like it,
which made me nervous.

“I think the kid’s innocent,” he was

“Of course you do, Charlie. You’re a defense
attorney. You would find cause to think Jack the Ripper was simply
a misunderstood artist before his time.”

He looked at me with what was supposed to be
a stern face.

“The name’s Charles,” he said.

“If you say so.”

“I do.”

“Glad that’s cleared up.”

“I heard you could be difficult,” he said.
“Is this you being difficult? If so, then I’m disappointed.”

I smiled. “Maybe you have me confused with my

Charlie sat back in my client chair and
smiled. His domed head was perfectly buffed and polished, cleanly
reflecting the halogen lighting above. His skin appeared wet and
viscous, as if his sweat glands were ready to spring into action at
a moment’s notice.

“Your father has quite a reputation in L.A. I
gave his office a call before coming here. Of course, he’s quite
busy and could not take on an extra case.”

“So you settled on the next best thing.”

“If you want to call it that,” he said. “I’ve
heard that you’ve performed adequately with similar cases, and so
I’ve decided to give you a shot, although my expectations are not
very high, and I have another P.I. waiting in the wings.”

“How reassuring,” I said.

“Yeah, well, he’s established. You’re

“But can he pick up a blind side blitz?”

Charlie smiled and splayed his stubby fingers
flat on my desk and looked around my office, which was adorned with
newspaper clippings and photographs of yours truly. Most of the
photographs depict me in a Bruin uniform, sporting the number 45.
In most I’m carrying the football, and in others I’m blowing open
the hole for the tailback. Or at least I like to think I’m blowing
open the hole. The newspapers are yellowing now, taped or tacked to
the wood paneling. Maybe someday I’ll take them down. But not

“You beat SC a few years back. I can never
forgive you for that. Two touchdowns in the fourth quarter

“Three,” I said. “But who’s counting?”

He rubbed his chin. “Destroyed your leg, if I
recall, in the last game of the season. Broken in seven different

“Nine, but who’s counting?”

“Must have been hard to deal with. You were
on your way to the pros. Would have made a hell of a fullback.”

That had been hard to deal with, and I didn’t
feel like talking about it now to Charlie Brown. “Why do you
believe in your client’s innocence?” I asked.

He looked at me. “I see. You don’t want to
talk about it. Sorry I brought it up.” He crossed his legs. He
didn’t seem sorry at all. He looked smugly down at his shoes, which
had polish on the polish. “Because I believe Derrick’s story. I
believe he loved his girlfriend and would never kill her.”

“People have been killed for love before.
Nothing new.”

On my computer screen before me I had brought
up an article from the Orange County Register. The article showed a
black teen being led away into a police car. He was looking down,
his head partially covered by his jacket. He was being led away
from a local high school. A very upscale high school, if I
recalled. The story was dated three weeks ago, and I recalled
reading it back then.

I tapped the computer monitor. “The police
say there’s some indication that his girlfriend was seeing someone
else, and that jealousy might have been a factor.”

“Yes,” said the attorney. “And we think this
someone else framed our client.”

“I take it you want me to find this man.”

“Or person.”

“Ah, equality,” I said.

“We want you to find evidence of our client’s
innocence, whether or not you find the true murderer.”

“Anything else I should know?”

“We feel race might be a factor here. He was
the only black student in school, and in the neighborhood.”

“I believe the preferred term is

“I’m aware of public sentiment in this
regards. I don’t need you to lecture me.”

“Just trying to live up to my difficult

“Yeah, well, cool it,” he said. “Now, no
one’s talking at the school. My client says he was working out late
in the school gym, yet no one saw him, not even the janitors.”

“Then maybe he wasn’t there.”

“He was there,” said Charlie simply, as if
his word was enough. “So do you want the job?”


We discussed a retainer fee and then he wrote
me a check. When he left, waddling out of the office, I could
almost hear Schroeder playing on his little piano in the







“He was found with the murder weapon,” said
Detective Hanson. “It was in the backseat of his car. That’s
damning evidence.”

“That,” I said, “and he’s black.”

“And he’s black,” said Hanson.

“In an all white school,” I said.


“Were his prints on the knife?”


We were sitting in an outdoor café facing the
beach. It was spring, and in southern California that’s as good as
summer. Many underdressed women were roller-blading, jogging or
walking their dogs on the narrow beach path. There were also some
men, all finely chiseled, but they were not as interesting.

Detective Hanson was a big man, but not as
big as me. He had neat brown hair parted down the middle. His thick
mustache screamed cop. He wore slacks and a white shirt. He was
sweating through his shirt. I was dressed in khaki shorts, a
surfing T-shirt and white Vans. Coupled with my amazing tan and
disarming smile, I was surprised I wasn’t more often confused with
Jimmy Buffet. If Jimmy Buffet stood six foot four and weighed two
hundred and twenty.

“You guys have anything else on the kid?” I

“You know I can’t divulge that. Trial hasn’t
even started. The info about the knife made it to the press long
ago, so that’s a freebie for you. I can tell you this: the body was
found at one a.m., although the ME places the time of death around
seven p.m. the previous night.”

“Who found the body?”

“A neighbor.”

“Where were the victim’s parents?”

“Dinner and dancing. It was a Friday

“Of course,” I said. “Who doesn’t go out and
dance on a Friday night?”

“I don’t,” said Hanson.

“Me neither,” I said. “Does Derrick have an

“This will cost you a tunacoda.”

“You drive a hard bargain.”

I called the waitress over and put in our
lunch orders.

“No alibi,” Hanson said when she had left,
“but....” He let his voice trail off.

“But you believe the kid?”

He shrugged. “Yeah. He seems like a good kid.
Says he was working out at the school gym at the time.”

“Schools have janitors, staff, students.”

“Yeah, well, it was late and no one saw

“Or no one chose to see him.”

Hanson shrugged.

Our food arrived. A tunacoda for the
detective. A half pound burger for me, with grilled onions and
cheese, and a milkshake.

“You trying to commit suicide?” he asked.

“I’m bulking up,” I said.

“This is how you bulk up? Eating crap?”

“Only way I know how.”


“Thinking of trying out for San Diego,” I

“The Chargers?”


“What about your leg?”

“The leg’s going to be a problem.”

He thought about that, working his way
through his tuna and avocado sandwich. He took a sip from his

“You wanna bash heads with other men and snap
each other in the shower with jock straps, go right ahead.”

“It’s not as glamorous as that.”

“Suicide, I say. What’s your dad think?”

“He doesn’t know. You’re the first person
I’ve told.”

“I’m honored.”

“You should be.”

“What’s Cindy going to say?”

I sipped my milkshake. “She won’t like it,
but she will support me. She happens to think very highly of me and
my decisions.”

He snorted and finished his sandwich, grabbed
his Styrofoam cup.

“I can’t believe I was bribed with a shitty
tuna sandwich and a Coke.”

“A simple man with simple needs.”

BOOK: Dark Horse (A Jim Knighthorse Novel)
7.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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