This marks book number 13 in 2013 and when completed gave me 1.3 million words. Let me take a moment to let that sink in. Okay. We're good. Also, do you find it funny that I started a 13 book crime fiction series in 2013? Yeah? Good. I have a thing for numbers.
Hangings is book two in a thirteen book crime fiction series set in the real world. It's also the first time I allowed a throw-away character to become important. Remember the name David Jones? If not, go check out Face Snatcher and note that David Jones is a special mention under "Minor Characters of Note." Hangings is the third and final novel I completed for NaNo2013 which brought me to 235K words on day 25. The other 15K I got from a continuation. More on that in my NaNo WrapUp. Onwards to Hangings:
Genre: Crime fiction set in the real world
Word Count: 76,319 (A bit better as far as WC for crime fiction goes)
Prompt: Originally it was about a jealous lover hanging people who should have loved him but didn't. Then it kind of...morphed. The hangings stayed though, hence the title. That's going to be the common theme in these novels: the title is what's happening in the novel.
Main Characters: James Reeves, Mia Liu, Lucy McGregor, Michael Brown, and David Jones. David deserves to be here. Oh and of course our killer.
Minor Characters of Note: Chief Patterson (I don't think SHE has a first name yet...), Catherine Taylor, and Damien Jones.
Summation: Two suicides at a university seem like nothing until Reeves and Liu look deeper and see that there's much more then the hangings then they think.
High Points: McGregor and Mia bonding. James and Brown bonding. The four of them starting to form an unofficial team which is happening a lot sooner than I thought. Also, another minor character of note was supposed to have come in by now but he's taking his time. I think it's okay.
Low Points: Er, David. I was so mean to the poor guy.
The World: Ours.
Memorable Lines (More like scenes this time around and yet, no reveal on what's going on in the book. I'm good like that):
“I tell myself every year that I’m going to move somewhere warm.” McGregor said.
“Tell me about it. It’s got to be minus twenty out there.” Mia said.
“It could be minus sixty. That’s normal in Alaska and the upper part of Canada.” James added.
“Oh a hanger. Great.”
Mia looked up from her perusal of the floor under the body to see McGregor with her kit. Steel and Knight looked at McGregor in wonder. Steel shook his head and opened up a camera case while Knight began looking around the room for evidence.
“Is that a good “great” or a bad one?” Mia asked.
“Well, he’s been there for at least 12 hours. He won’t pop.” McGregor answered as she came closer.
“Pop?” Mia didn’t want to ask but couldn’t help it.
“Just like it sounds. Pop.”
“Where’s the chair?” McGregor asked.
“Pardon?” James questioned before Mia could.
“The chair. You know, the thing he would have been standing on then kicked away? Where is it?” McGregor repeated.
Mia could only stare at her in awe. She wanted to smack herself for forgetting something so obvious. The dead body was in the middle of an open area of the room. There were not shelves close enough to balance on then jump off. There had to have been a chair or something so the kid could reach the rafters then jump off.
“That’s what, damn it.” James muttered.
“Ah, good thing you did call me. So, without a chair that means someone was holding our friend up there then let him go. Ten to one I’ll find a date rape drug in his system. Too bad these floors are so clean or I would’ve found drag marks. Unless he was led down here, knocked out then hung. Hm. Well, Reeves, you’re the tallest. You cut. Liu and I will hold.” McGregor said.
Mia could only watch in awe as McGregor leaned into the body and sniffed.
“Huh. The unsub is using some kind of chemical to reduce the smell. I thought something was weird. You know what’s weirder?” McGregor questioned.
“You mean besides you sniffing a dead body?” Mia asked.
“So, we’re looking for someone killing people around my age who are afraid to be gay because their parents are religious f***tards?” Brown asked.
“I could make you walk home.” James said.
“Oh please. We all know you’d feel guilty after five feet then come back for me.” Mia returned.
He saw McGregor purse her lips to keep from laughing but it didn’t help. A chuckle escaped and McGregor covered her rouge lips with one hand. Mia was grinning.
“Okay, so you’re right. I can still make you walk those five feet.” James said.
Mia snorted before rolling her eyes. She stood, grabbing her coat off the back of her chair and pulling it on. James stood with her and McGregor followed in their motions.
“What five feet? I’d wait for you to turn around.” Mia said.
“What band is this?” Mia questioned.
“Marilyn Manson.” McGregor answered.
Marilyn Mason was saying something about not being a slave to a god that didn’t exist then not being a slave to a world that didn’t give a sh**. McGregor said nothing as Marilyn Manson continued to essentially scream after an energized riot of the word ‘fight.’
“I can turn it off if you want.” McGregor said.
“No, it’s fine. Never heard of Marilyn Manson before but I’m open to new artists.” Mia said.
Mia looked up to see McGregor shaking her head with a little smirk on her face.
“Manson’s been around since 1989 if you want to get technical.” McGregor told her.
“Oh. I’ve been living under a rock then.” Mia said.
McGregor chuckled as the song changed. Mia stared at the dash again and looked up at McGregor.
“Slayer. You need to get out more.” McGregor said with a grin.
“Yeah.” Mia uttered.
“So, why do you guys refer to each other by first names?” McGregor asked.
“You know, I’m not sure. It just kind of happened one day and we stuck with it. Plus we kind of became friends outside of work. I met his mother, he’s met my cats and yeah.” Mia answered. (This first-name reference thing actually becomes important later ;) )
“We didn’t want to believe Steve was gay. It’s a sin, Detective, a sin. Not only had he committed sin in killing himself but he was admitting to being a homosexual. We were embarrassed and angry.” Thomas said.
James wanted to tell them that it was up to their God to judge what was and wasn’t sin. He wanted to tell them that as comforting a thought as the afterlife was there was no proof and James simply could not believe in something there was no proof of. Even a vengeful God would not allow the people James dealt with regularly to exist. That would be too cruel. He said none of this and adjusted his glasses.
“I don’t really understand that but I’m not a parent,” James started.
“Are you religious?” Thomas interrupted.
“Not particularly. I don’t think it’s possible to be religious in this job.” James answered easily.
Thomas frowned at that. Susan looked as if James had grown an extra arm or two and turned green. He had not wanted to explain his religious stance, or lack thereof today.
“But you do believe in God and Satan, right?” Thomas enquired.
“I believe we should be talking about your son. There was a third hanging yesterday and I’m on a 48 hour time limit. Once that’s up the lead I might have gets cold. It’s why Detective Liu isn’t here right now.” James said.
“Mukatsuku? Did I say that right?” McGregor asked. (I had way too much fun looking up Japanese swears)
“Ah, yeah but I wouldn’t be saying it if you’re ever in Japan.” Mia answered.
McGregor looked at her and Mia wished she had spoken lighter. James tended to ignore her rants.
“Why? What does it mean?” McGregor questioned.
Mia sighed and wished McGregor did not look so utterly lonely and curious at the same time.
“It means “fucking bullshit pisses me off.” Mia said.
McGregor blinked at that before grinning.
“Wow. I love how one word can mean all that.” McGregor said.
“Yep. And for your information, I meant the snow, not Jones.” Mia told her.
“I’ve got a rule.” Brown said.
“Okay.” James returned, unsure.
“You’re not allowed to have coffee unless I get one too.” Brown told him.
“Oh. Well Suzy from reception had an extra one,” James started.
“Bull. She knows when you’re working and buys you one.” Brown broke in.
“Huh. Wait, I’m working all the time. It’s kind of hard not to buy me one.” James returned.
“Yeah but she knows what’s in it, right?” Brown enquired.
He still had not turned around to face James. His fingers had not stopped moving on the middle keyboard either and James wanted to ask how Brown was capable of doing that. It probably had a lot to do with practice.
“Well yes,” James said.
“Then she wants you. She’s bought you like 34 coffees in the past two months. You honestly think a coffee shop is just going to happen to have an extra one 34 times she’s gone in before work? Even better, she only buys one coffee: yours.” Brown explained.
James blinked at that. Mia was right. He was oblivious.
“Wait, how do you, oh don’t tell me you’ve been looking into her bank statements.” James said.
“Then I won’t. But I do for everyone in the building. Patterson put me on it to make sure no one was stiffing stuff from evidence.” Brown told him.
(Brown from an overhead speaker to Taylor:) “Snippy bitch. The warning extends to Bossette (Mia) and Triple B (McGregor). And stop messing with my minions (the others in research). Get your stuff and get out. If there is no stuff to get then get out and make sure the elevator doesn’t close on your ass.”
“If we’re going by nicknames, I want a new one.” McGregor said.
“But you’re Blood, Bones and Bugs. We can’t call you, like, Blongs. That sounds gross.” Brown said.
“Where in the Hell did you come up with that?” McGregor asked.
“First two letters of blood, middle two of bones and last two of bugs.” James offered.
“Okay, it’s scary that you figured that out so quick Boss.” Brown muttered.
“Sorry?” James tried.
Brown shook his head. He turned when Mia and McGregor began walking side-by-side down the path. Mia placed the laptop on a clear patch of desk. McGregor placed the cell phone and camera onto the laptop.
“Gifts from the goddess, the Dragon is pleased.” Brown said.
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re weird?” McGregor asked.
“Probably as much as they told you the same.” Brown returned.
“The laptop isn’t password protected, oh, more Jones. Jeez. Bad enough the guy looks like a girl and can be a model now I’ve got to see him everywhere.” Brown muttered.
“Why is that bad?” McGregor asked.
Mia had a feeling they didn’t want to know. Brown confirmed that.
“My dick is confused, that’s why it’s bad.” Brown said.
“Do you guys hate waiting? I hate waiting. I usually play some Pokémon when I’m waiting but I all ready finished the newest games.” (Brown...hehe)
“Okay, good point. Reading expands my mind though, helps me learn new things and all that. What does video gaming do for you?” McGregor questioned.
“Improves my hand-eye coordination, response to stimuli, problem solving skills, and lets me take out my aggression on fictional things so I don’t have to become a crazy dude hanging people in a supply closet.” Brown answered. (Which is what their unsub is doing...of course)
“Enter the Lair of the Dragon at your own risk.” Brown called out.
“I’ll never get sick of that happening any time of the day.” James said.
“Yeah, the day he’s not in the office is the day I think I’m on the wrong planet.” Mia told him.
He chuckled as they walked in. Mia shut the door and almost jumped when Brown turned around so fast that he must have broken some law of physics.
“You have food.” Brown said.
“Yes, I have food and Mia has the drinks. I didn’t know what you liked so I just got a big breakfast platter with pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and white toast.” James said.
“You? Me? Food?” Brown asked in awe.
James managed to only smile but Mia started chuckling. Apparently gifting Brown with food made him incoherent. Mia would have to remember that.
“Yes, we got food for you. Now, do you have a table or empty space I can set these down on?” James questioned.
Brown turned to his desk, wrapped an arm around a pile of empty energy drink cans, some white cartons, napkins and plastic utensils. Mia watched in half wonder as he swiped the whole pile off the desk then kicked it towards another pile that was growing at the end of the desk.
“Empty space.” Brown offered.
“What is it McGregor?” Mia asked.
“This might sound weird but I’m weird.” McGregor said.
She was not in her SUV. Mia knew that only because the wind sounded strong over the line. Being in a car would block it. Mia gave James a look and he stared at her. He followed as she began to move and the four officers dropped in behind him.
“Go on.” Mia said.
“So, I was sitting in my SUV and I’m facing the field that runs beside the dorms. Just chilling, listening to some music and staring at this lump. Field’s are lumpy in the winter but the more I kept staring, the more my thoughts starting running away from me. There aren’t any other lumps in the field. Maybe it’s a student who fell over. Maybe it’s a dead animal. Maybe it’s the kid that supposed to be in his room.” McGregor said.
“Which kid?” Mia asked.
She was surprised at how smooth her voice had come out. More surprising was how easily she broke into a trot once she was out of the lobby. They rounded the building a moment later but it was too dark to make out anything in the field.
“Not David. I’m at the lump now but snow’s covered it. When you’re in the field I’m in there are certain smells that you know right away, you get it? I smell blood. Piss. Shit. Someone’s lying here dead.” McGregor told her.
The line went dead. Mia saw that her phone suddenly had no service. It didn’t surprise her. It was not even a surprise to see someone standing in the middle of the field that was beside the dorms. That person was squatting down and Mia saw a flash of metal from what she knew was a CSI kit. Benjamin Clark was all ready dead.
“I need to start running with you. Seriously, I can’t keep up to that.” Mia said.
“And I need to learn to shoot.” James said.
“Yeah but that’d take a small miracle.” Mia told him.
“Do you think I insulted her?” James asked. (It's later ;) )
“Huh?” Mia returned.
“McGregor, do you think I insulted her by calling her by her first name?” James questioned.
Mia smirked and shook her head in the negative.
“No.” Mia said.
“Oh good. Wait, why not?” James asked.
(She doesn't answer him for fun.)
As a side note: I should mention that YES Mia and James refer to each other by their first names rather than their last (as normal detectives do) because they are good friends and it shows their bond. They call anyone who is not yet a friend by their last names and the closer a victim was to them (as in the case of David), the more they refer to that victim by the first name. James is especially prone to referring to victims or witnesses by their first names, especially in interviews with families as it connects him to the family. Of the two he's the profiler and Mia is the "take down" specialist. Mia is also a petite Asian woman with the mouth of a sailor. Let that mental imagery sink in. Good? Awesome. ;)