Jane is back working at Denver Homicide in Revelations, the third book in the series. In this story, Jane and Sergeant Weyler travel to Midas, Colorado….a town known for holding many dark secrets. A teenage boy has been kidnapped as he tried to hang himself off a old bridge. Nothing about this case or story makes sense to Jane. In this scene, Jane and Weyler are driving to Midas and we learn more about the number one suspect: Jordan Copeland.
Weyler stood waiting at the corner of 13th and Cherokee in front of Denver Headquarters. Never one to dress down, he looked dapper as usual in his navy suit with the imperceptible pinstripes. He rolled his oversized suitcase with the discreet monogram M.E.W. toward Jane’s Mustang. Jane unlocked the passenger door and flipped the seat down so Weyler could deposit his suitcase in the backseat. The first thought Jane had was that he had packed a lot of clothes for a few days. The second thought was M.E.W.?
Weyler lowered his lanky, 6’4” inch frame into the passenger seat, chaffing at the narrow entrance of Jane’s classic car as he dragged his briefcase onto his lap. “I suppose what it lacks in leg room it makes up for in visual appeal,” he groused to Jane as he shut the heavy door.
Jane floored the Mustang, turning right onto 13th Avenue and raced toward Speer Blvd.
Weyler hung onto his briefcase and secured his seatbelt. “For a woman who doesn’t want to go someplace, you certainly are going there fast.”
Jane lifted her lead foot off the gas and turned onto Colfax. She grabbed her mug that held four shots of espresso and three teaspoons of sugar and took a generous swig. “I just don’t get it, boss. Midas is out of our jurisdiction and—“
“I told you—“
“Yeah,” Jane abruptly interrupted as the dancing image of a cigarette teased her mind. “What does some, former co-rookie, piss ant police chief from Bumfuck Egypt have over you?”
“Bo Lowry is a friend. And that’s all that’s important right now.” Jane let out a loud breath of exasperation as she peeled the Mustang onto I-25 Northbound. “If you don’t mind my saying, you are much more direct this morning than normal.”
Jane gripped the steering wheel. “I quit smoking,” she offered, her voice tense.
She stole a look at the clock. “Fifteen hours, thirty-six minutes ago.”
“And how long have you smoked?”
“Over twenty-three years.”
“And you just decide out of the blue that now’s a good time to quit?” Weyler sounded wary.
“Yeah. Why not? Life was going along too damn well. I figured it was time to inject some torture.” Her mind shifted to the single cigarette ensconced in her last pack of American Spirits.
Weyler shifted in his seat and looked out the front window. Reading his body language, Jane knew he was growing apprehensive of spending any time around her. “They say the first three days are the worst.”
“Is that right?” Jane took another healthy sip of her espresso.
“I heard once that you shouldn’t drink coffee when you quit smoking because the two are usually so interconnected.”
“Yeah, well. Ask me to quit smoking and coffee simultaneously, and somebody’s going to end up shot.”
“I guess nicotine is tougher to kick than heroin.”
“Maybe I’ll take up heroin to get some perspective.”
Weyler chuckled at Jane’s retort. “You’re going to find that your senses wake up. Smell and taste will be much more acute.”
“Oh, Jesus, you have no idea, boss. I can smell the buttons on your shirt.” Jane changed lanes to flow into US Highway 36. She was just about to tell Weyler about alerting Betty regarding Jake and the runaway shelters when he spoke first.
“You have a chance to look over the file I gave you last night?”
“Yeah. Some of the continuing pages were missing. I’m going to have to go the library and play puzzle maker. Did you check out Copeland’s parents?”
“Yeah. His mother would have been forty-three when she had him. Dad would have been fifty.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Jordan’s an only child. His parents were the epitome of the east coast country club set in the sixties.”
“So, that type didn’t make a habit of starting a family at forty-three and fifty.”
“Where is this going and how does it relate to Jake Van Gorden?”
“I don’t know,” Jane mused, her eyes canvassing the tawny landscape that framed the highway. “It’s the little things, you know? People are always looking at the elephant in the room and I’m always looking at the peanut.” As Jane drove further, the landscape became deafeningly bland. She was reminded that winter and spring in much of Colorado were bookends that held desolation, isolation and death. The low-lying areas were asleep, devoid of anything green. For five to six months, one lived in a brown and tan world, interrupted only by the powdered drifts of snow that reminded Jane how life could freeze and kill and do it with impunity.
“Have you spent any time in Midas?” Weyler asked, reviewing a few pages of information he’d stashed in his briefcase.
“No. I’ve kept up on it over the years because Bo ended up there. Obviously, the town likes the lack of interest. You know how some Colorado towns have reputations?”
“You mean like the ‘trustifarians’ in Telluride, the freaks in Nederland and the disenchanted in Crestone?”
“Exactly. For some reason, Midas attracts people who have secrets.”
“How do people find out about it?”
“Not sure. Maybe word-of-mouth. Maybe rumor. But the town’s a magnet for all of them. Move there and your secret is safe. There’s lots of rich kids who are black sheep. It’s got more than its fair share of East coasters with no idea where they want to be or who they want to be. They just know they don’t want to be found out.”
“Copeland’s a East coaster. Is that why he chose the town?”
“I don’t know.”
“After doing thirty-four years of hard time, he can’t be rolling in greenback.”
“Bo said something about a trust fund he lives on. Must be pretty sizeable because he lives about a mile outside of town on ten wooded acres by the river. In fact, it’s just down a bit from the bridge where Jake tried to hang himself. Once a year the trustee of the fund flies out to check on Jordan, deposit the funds in his account and make sure he’s staying out of trouble.”
“Was the trustee informed of Jordan’s possible involvement with Jake’s disappearance?”
“Yes. Bo mumbled something about that. The guy’s due out next week.”
Jane shifted lanes, passing a semi. “I need more info on Jordan’s background.”
Weyler shuffled through a short stack of neatly clipped pages he’d copied from a couple crime databases. Weyler read from the page. “’Copeland was fine until the age of eight when he started to exhibit severe isolationist behavior traits.’”
“Any history of killing small animals?”
“None. Just an intense desire to not associate with others.”
“Why would an eight-year-old boy suddenly decide to be alone? There’s gotta be a trauma trigger. What happened to him at the age of eight?”
Weyler glanced down the page, searching. “Nothing’s referenced.”
Jane’s edginess crept closer. “I can’t believe somebody didn’t ask that question. It’s a fuckin’ no-brainer.” She shook her head in disgust and slowed down as the speed limit dropped to 55 mph. “So, from age eight to eighteen when he’s arrested for shooting his next door neighbor Daniel Marshall and stuffing his body under his bed, what’s Jordan doing?”
“I guess going to school and suffering the slings and arrows of puberty like the rest of us.”
“No one, according to the docs. No one except Daniel and he’s thirteen and mentally challenged.”
“They called it ‘retarded’ back then.”
“They call it ‘mentally challenged’ now.”
“Fucking PC talk.” As if on cue, they entered the outskirts of Boulder, a bastion for eco-freaking, Prius-driving, hemp-wearing, left wing leaning individuals. “Soy latte, boss?” Jane remarked with a sarcastic tip of her head toward a coffeehouse named “The Eco Café” where they served coffee in cups that were so quickly biodegradable, they started decomposing before you finished drinking the brew.
“You really do need to take it down a notch, Jane. Keep this up and you and Bo are going to mix like gasoline and fire.” He eyed Jane more carefully. “There’s something else going on with you…something besides quitting smoking—“
Jane had briefly forgotten about her ominous health problems until Weyler reminded her. His comment felt like a sucker punch as she turned away, not wanting to reveal any emotion.
“What’s going on, Jane?” Weyler’s voice was concerned.
“Does Jordan own a car?” Jane responded, shifting to her “all business” tenor.
Weyler realized pressing her further was pointless. “No car.”
“So, if he did kidnap Jake Van Gorden, did he walk him down to his place from the bridge and stash him somewhere on the property, like he stashed Daniel’s body?”
“Bo said they did a fairly intense search at the house and around the property.”
“There had to be more than his past conviction for probable cause to search.”
“Does wandering on the road, covered in mud and with bloody hands generate probable cause?”
“Jesus. Okay, but they released him. The blood had to be his own.”
“It was. The question was why was he looking like that within a day of Jake’s disappearance? Coincidence? If so, bad timing for it. Bo wonders if maybe this is a two man or more operation and Jordan’s involvement was to draw Jake into the web.”
“You said there are a bunch of notes or clues?”
“Right. No ransom. Just odd, non sequitur deliveries to either Jake’s parents’ house or Bo’s office. We’ll see them when we sit down with Bo—“
“Jordan doesn’t need the money but he’s also not looking for attention. What’s his motive?”
“Maybe it’s just part of his sickness.”
Jane reached the outside edge of Boulder and started up the long highway that led to Midas. “’Is he a Frequent Flyer?’” Jane asked, referencing someone with a history of being in and out of jail. Weyler shook his head. “Okay. You know as well as I do that perps typically re-offend a lot sooner than seven years after they get out. And if their arrest history prior to going to prison is zilch, like Copeland, the chances of recidivism go down.”
“You know my feelings on statistics.”
“Right. It just takes one person to slant the chart.” Jane let out a tired breath. “One stat I do know is that the odds of a kidnapped kid showing up alive after five days missing is pretty slim. So if Jake is dead and Jordan’s got a part in it, he’ll never see the outside world again.”
“Maybe that’s exactly what he wants. Maybe between prison and freedom, the former is safer for him.”
Laurel Dewey is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we’re offering sensational deals on all of her works, including national bestseller Protector, the first Jane Perry novel. You can learn more here.