members of the elite: Las Vegas Metro PD, one of the toughest and
most respected law enforcement agencies in the United States. In the
middle of a city with two million residents and 43 million annual
visitors, they’re hunting for a killer.
under the lenses of countless video surveillance cameras, a young
girl is brutally murdered. What promises to be a quick and easy
investigation soon becomes a nightmare. The most recorded crime in
Vegas is missing one key protagonist, the killer.
instead of providing answers. Was this a murder for hire? In the
politically-charged case, the scenario seems plausible; the victim’s
secret life could’ve been the obstacle in an ambitious politician’s
path. As the investigation unspools the well-concealed secrets
surrounding the girl’s life, Baxter and Holt attract the attention
of someone desperate to keep history’s terrible secrets buried.
two unrelenting detectives. While they expose a connection with the
victim’s distant past that could hold the key to catching her
killer, they must learn to rely on each other to survive.
and Holt trust each other with their lives, only not with their
Dugoni will be engrossed in this unputdownable police procedural that
will keep you reading until the break of dawn.
Her smile waned when the elevator doors slid open and her gaze met the scrutiny of the stranger. She hesitated before stepping in, looked left and right uneasily, hoping there’d be other hotel guests to ride in the elevator so she wouldn’t have to share it alone with that man. No one came.
Her step faltered and her hand grabbed the door frame, afraid to let go, still unsure what to do. The hotel lobby sizzled with life and excitement, and sparkled in a million colors as only in Vegas can happen. Clusters of gaming tables and slot machines were surrounded by tourists and cheers erupted every now and then, almost covering the ringing of bells and the sound of quarters overflowing in silver trays. That was Las Vegas: alive, filled with adrenaline, forever young at heart. Her town.
The elevator had a glass wall, overlooking the sumptuous lobby as the cage climbed higher and higher, making riders feel the whole world was at their feet. She was at home there, amid scores of rowdy tourists and intoxicated hollers, among beautiful young women dressed provocatively, even if only for a weekend.
She loved riding in those elevators. Nothing wrong was going to happen, not with so many people watching.
She forced some air into her lungs and stepped in, still hesitant. The doors whooshed to a close, and the elevator set in motion. She willed herself to look through the glass at the effervescent lobby, as the ruckus grew more distant with each floor. She didn’t want to look at the man, but felt his gaze burn into her flesh. She shot a brief glance in his direction, as if she casually let her eyes wander toward the elevator’s floor display.
The man was tall and well-built, strong, even if a bit hunchbacked. He wore a dark grey hoodie all zipped up and faded jeans. He’d pulled his hood up on top of a baseball cap bearing the colors of the New York Mets. A pair of reflective sunglasses completed his attire, and despite the dim lights in the elevator cabin, he didn’t remove them. The rest of his face was covered by the raised collar of his hoodie, leaving just an inch of his face visible, not more.
She registered all the details, and as she did, she desperately tried to ignore the alarm bells going off in her mind. Who was this man, and why was he staring at her? He was as anonymous as someone could be, and even if she’d studied him for a full minute instead of just shooting him a passing glance, she wouldn’t be able to describe him to anyone. Just a ghost in a hoodie and a baseball cap.
Then she noticed the command panel near the doors. Only her floor number was lit, eighteen. She remembered pressing the button herself, as soon as she’d climbed inside the cabin. Where was he going? Maybe she should get off that elevator already. Maybe she should’ve listened to her gut and waited for the next ride up.
A familiar chime, and the elevator stopped on the fifth floor, and a young couple entered the cabin giggling and holding hands, oblivious to anyone else but each other. She breathed, and noticed the stranger withdrew a little more toward the side wall. The young girl pressed the number eleven, and the elevator slowly set in motion.
That was fate giving her another chance, she thought as she decided to get off the elevator with those two, on the eleventh floor. Then she’d go back downstairs, wait for the stranger to get lost somewhere, and not get back upstairs until she found Dan. She’d call him to apologize, invent something that would explain why she’d stood him up. Anything, only not to go back to her room alone, when the creepy stranger knew what floor she was on.
A chime and the elevator came to a gentle stop on the eleventh floor. The young couple, entangled in a breathless kiss, almost missed it but eventually proceeded out of the cabin, and she took one step toward the door.
“This isn’t your stop, Miss,” the stranger said, and the sound of his voice sent shivers down her spine.
Instead of bursting through that door, she froze in place, stunned, then turned to look at him. “Do I know you?”
The stranger shook his head and pointed toward the command panel that showed the number eighteen lit up. Just then, before she could will herself to make it through those doors, they closed and the cabin started climbing again.
Her breath caught and she withdrew toward the side wall, putting as much distance between herself and the stranger as she possibly could. She risked throwing the man another glance and thought she saw a hint of a grin, a flicker of tension tugging at the corner of his mouth.
With an abrupt move, she reached out and pressed the lobby button, then resumed leaning against the wall, staring at the floor display.
“I forgot something,” she said, trying to sound as casual as possible, “I need to go back down.”
On the eighteenth floor, the doors opened with the same light chime and quiet whoosh. The stranger walked past her, then stopped in the doorway and checked the landing hall with quick glances.
She was just about to breathe with ease when he turned around and grabbed her arm with a steeled grip, yanking her out of the cabin.
“No, you don’t,” he mumbled, “you’re not going anywhere.”
She screamed, a split second of blood-curdling shrill that echoed in the vast open-ceiling lobby that extended all the way to the top floor. No one paid attention; lost in the general noise coming from downstairs, her scream didn’t draw any concern. It didn’t last long, either. As soon as the man pulled her out of the elevator, he covered her mouth with his other hand and her cry for help died, stifled.
He shoved her forcefully against the wall next to the elevator call buttons and let go of her arm, pinning her in place under the weight of his body. Then his hands found her throat and started squeezing. She stared at him with wide-open eyes, trying to see anything beyond the reflective lenses of his sunglasses, while her lungs screamed for another gasp of air. She kicked and writhed, desperately clawing at his hands to free herself from his deathly grip.
With each passing second, her strength faded and her world turned darker, unable to move, to fight anymore. The man finally let go. Her lifeless body fell into a heap at his feet, and he stood there for a brief moment, panting, not taking his eyes off her.
Then he picked her up with ease, and carried her to the edge of the corridor that opened to an eighteen-floor drop, all the way down to the crowded lobby downstairs. Effortlessly, he threw her body over the rail, and watched it fall without a sound.
The noises downstairs continued unabated for a few seconds more, then they stopped for a split moment, when her lifeless body crashed against the luxurious, pearl marble floor. Then the crowd parted, forming a circle around her body, while screams erupted everywhere, filling the vast lobby with waves of horror.
His cue to disappear.
technology and psychology, Leslie brings extensive background and
research in these fields that empower and add texture to a signature,
multi-dimensional, engaging writing style.
in October 2011. It was very well received, including inquiries from
Hollywood. Since then, Leslie published numerous novels and enjoyed
growing success and recognition in the marketplace. Among Leslie’s
most notable works, The Watson Girl
(2017) was recognized for offering a unique insight into the mind of
a serial killer and a rarely seen first person account of his
actions, in a dramatic and intense procedural thriller.
you. Become an insider: gain early access to previews of Leslie’s new novels!
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