Excerpt from A Man to Die For

   
      Control your impulses, her mother had always said. Stifle your urges, the church agreed. She should have listened. The next time she had an urge like this one, she was going to lock herself in a closet until it went away.
     "Honey, why are we here?"
     "I have to make a stop before I take you home, Mom."
     A stop. She had to report a crime. Several crimes. That wasn't exactly a run to the local Safeway for deodorant.
     Gripping her purse in one hand and her mother in the other, Casey McDonough approached the St. Louis City Police Headquarters like a penitent approaching the gates of purgatory. It seemed amazing, really. Casey had been born no more than fifteen miles away, but she'd never visited this place before. She'd never even known precisely where it was.
     A stark block of granite that took up the corner of Clark and Tucker, the headquarters did nothing to inspire comfort. Brass grillwork protected massive front doors and encased the traditional globe lamps that flanked it. Unmarked police cars and crime scene vans hugged the curb. Police in uniform or windbreakers and walkie-talkies hovered near the front door, chatting among themselves. Civilians edged by, sensing their own intrusion, much the way they would enter her hospital.
     Casey didn't want to be here. If she could have, she would have approached her friends on the county police force instead. She would have pulled one of them aside when they'd come into her emergency room and proposed her theory in a way that could be considered an inside joke instead of an accusation.
     "Say, Bert, what would you think if I said there's something just a little more sinister than fee-splitting going on around here? What if I told you that some of the bad luck around this place is actually connected? And not just because I know all the people involved, either."
     Bert would laugh and deflect her fears with common sense, and the issue would have gone no further.
     Only none of the crimes Casey suspected had actually happened in the county. Bert wouldn't know anything about them. He couldn't do her any good. If she wanted any relief from the suspicions that had been building over the last few weeks like a bad case of indigestion, she was going to have to find it with the city cops. Cops she didn't know. Cops who didn't know her.
     Casey pulled on the heavy glass-and-brass door and winced at its screech of protest. It sounded as if it resented her intrusion. The way everybody else ignored the noise, the door must have been objecting for years.
     Inside, the foyer was a high square of marble, cool and hushed. Casey held the heavy door open for her mother to follow inside. Sketching a quick sign of the cross, the little woman instinctively reached for a holy water font.
     "It's not a church," Casey reminded her.
     It was hell. She was in hell for what she suspected.
 
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