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CSI: Miami: Harm for the Holidays: Heart Attack

Book #6 of CSI: Miami

About The Book

As winter's hold deepens in the dark days of February, Miami's hotels fill to the bursting point. Cruise ships flock to the busiest port in the world as people desperate for warmer climates board these behemoths of the seas. People with too much time and money fill the clubs. In every other jurisdiction, as its citizens are driven indoors, there is a downturn in crime but not in Miami, as the members of the Miami-Dade Crime Lab can attest.

Stretched to the breaking point, Lieutenant Caine is called to what appears to be a failed international terrorist incident: a botched arms-for-Afghani-heroin exchange. The scene is littered with bodies and blood droplets identified as being from one Abdus Sattar Pathan. Once before, Pathan managed to escape being charged in the murder of a Federal agent. This time Caine has him. Except Pathan has an iron-clad alibi: he was miles away, on stage doing his magic act. Horatio is convinced that Pathan and the international terrorist known as the Hare are one and the same. Can Caine prove it before the Hare puts his deadly plan into motion?


Harm for the Holidays


THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, thirteen men died in Miami.

Two perished in an accident on the freeway, victims of too much holiday cheer and not enough judgment. One died in a fire caused by a string of faulty Christmas tree lights, and one was shot in a drunken family dispute over a football game on television.

The other nine had gathered in a junkyard on the outskirts of Homestead. Two guarded the gate, two were situated in hidden positions with sniper rifles, and four provided heavily armed protection for the last man. He carried no visible weapons, only a large metal suitcase with scarred, khaki-green sides.

The man’s name was Marcello Fratelli, known as Miami Marko to his associates. Marko favored extremely tight T-shirts that showed off his steroidenhanced, overly tanned physique, coupled with the most expensive, custom-tailored trousers he could find. Marko was naturally fair-skinned—blue eyes, blond hair—but generous applications of Florida sunshine, hair dye, and tinted contacts had given him a swarthier look. He wore his jet-black hair slicked back over a thick-browed, bullet-shaped head, and scrupulously shaved the pale stubble that sprouted every morning on his square chin.

Marko was that most dangerous of men, a wannabe. Like wannabes all over the world, he was desperate to be recognized for more than what he was—but Marko didn’t want to be a rock star or a model or an actor. Marko wanted to be a Made Man, a Mafioso with the power of the Five Families behind him. And like every security guard who dreamed of becoming a real cop, Marko was willing—more than willing—to take bigger risks and use more extreme methods than any real professional ever would. This made him useful, in the same way a rabid dog was; you never allowed him to get too close, but he was handy to throw at an enemy when more disciplined techniques were unavailable. Marko himself would never be allowed into the Family, but an effort was made to convince him the possibility was there.

Marko knew this was the case. And in typical wannabe fashion, he had decided the only way to circumvent the situation was to do something so dramatic, so groundbreaking, that the Dons would be forced to change their minds. It had taken him a long time to broker this deal, and some of the people he’d had to work with made even Marko hesitate; but everything had come together in the end. Tonight, he would make history.

Marko’s first thought when the man walked out from behind a stack of wrecked cars was that he was a bum. He wore what Marko thought of as the Bum Uniform, a long coat over a hooded jacket and jeans, but he wore military-issue boots instead of dirty sneakers, and his jeans weren’t nearly grimy enough for someone living on the street.

“Lenny,” Marko snapped. “Thought you said you cleared the yard?”

Lenny, a man with shaggy sideburns streaked with gray, shrugged. “He must have been sleeping in a car.”

“You were supposed to look in the cars.”

“I was not sleeping in a car.” The voice was rough, slightly muffled by the black scarf wrapped around his face. “I am here to complete our deal.”

Marko was instantly alert. He had expected the man to arrive with his own backup, and the fact that he hadn’t made him more than a little nervous. “Where are your people?”

“There is only myself.”

“Yeah? Where’s the product?”

“Nearby. I will tell you where it is hidden once I see what you’ve brought.”

“Fair enough,” said Marko. He walked over to the rusting chassis of an old pickup and set the case down on the hood. He snapped open the latches, lifted the lid, and stepped back. “As specified,” he said.

The hooded man stepped forward and examined the contents. “I will need to examine it to verify authenticity,” he said.

“Go ahead. It’s the real deal.”

While the hooded man went to work, Marko debated contacting his men at the gate, letting them know the deal was in progress. But it was a bad idea to make a call in the middle of a transaction, especially one this sensitive. No, he decided; if the lookouts spotted any potential problems at the gate they’d call him on his cell, just like they’d prearranged. Trouble that realized its potential before a call could be made would also certainly announce itself, probably in a hail of gunfire.

And as for his two men with rifles, there was no need to talk to them—they were watching right now through telescopic sights outfitted with night-vision. If the hooded man so much as twitched wrong, he’d get a Teflon-coated armor-
piercing round right through the heart.

The man finished what he was doing and closed the case with a snap. “I am satisfied,” he announced. “Sadly, you will not be.”

“Excuse me?” said Marko.

“I will be unable to provide the payment promised,” the hooded man said. He stood loosely, his arms at his sides. Calm brown eyes above a black scarf met Marko’s unbelieving stare.

“Look, pal,” said Marko. “You want what’s in that case, you better produce fifty kilos of Afghani smack real quick, or you’re going home empty-handed.”

“I think not,” the man said quietly.

Marko snapped his fingers. The four men standing behind him produced machine pistols and leveled them at the hooded man.

“If you’re about to pull out a badge,” said Marko, “it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.”

“I am not a police officer.”

The calmer the man was, the more nervous Marko got. “Okay,” he said. “Open that coat, and do it slow.”

The man complied. There were two bulky-looking automatics stuck in the waistband of his jeans.

“Pull ’em out, thumb and forefinger only.”

The hooded man did so.

“Throw ’em over.”

The man tossed both at the same time. The guns arced through the air and landed at the feet of Marko’s men.

“Okay,” said Marko. “I got your weapons, I got you outnumbered, I got the drop on you. If you don’t have the heroin, what the hell do you have?”

“A small switch,” the hooded man said, “held between my teeth.”

The handles of both automatics were packed with plastique.

Four of the men were killed instantly. Marko was slammed face-first into the ground; only the hooded man managed to remain standing.

Somehow, Marko held on to consciousness. There was a monumental ringing in his ears, as if he were standing on top of a gigantic bell that had just been struck.

That’s why I can’t hear the shots, he thought groggily. When Carlo and Little Henry put a bullet through this guy’s head, I won’t hear a thing.

He raised his head, pushing himself up on his elbows, hoping to maybe see the top of the guy’s head come off. He couldn’t feel anything below his waist.

The hooded man stood there as if nothing had happened. He made eye contact with Marko, then pointed with his finger—first to the right, then to the left.

Directly at the places Marko’s snipers had concealed themselves.

The hooded man brought his index finger up to his throat and drew it quickly across.

Marko understood. Somehow, he knew that the hooded man had killed them without help—quickly, silently, efficiently. And when the two guards at the gate came running to investigate the explosion, he’d kill them, too.

It was the last thing Miami Marko ever got right.

Lieutenant Horatio Caine surveyed the carnage grimly. Seven bodies, abandoned like the junked vehicles around them. Alexx had examined four that apparently died in twin explosions and was now inspecting a fifth.

“This boy worked out,” she said. “But from the acne, I’d say he had a little chemical assistance, too.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” said Horatio. “But I don’t think steroids were the primary drug involved here.”

“Don’t see too many cases of ’roid rage involving high explosives,” she admitted. “But this man wasn’t killed like the others—he was injured by the blasts, but he was still alive when his throat was cut.”

Horatio nodded. “I recognize him, Alexx—his name is Marcello Fratelli, known as Miami Marko on the street. He’s a player in the local mob scene, but not a major one.”

“Think he was looking to move up in the world?”

“If so,” said Horatio, “all he managed was a distance of six feet. In the wrong direction…what about the last two?”

She checked the first of the two bodies that lay sprawled a short distance away. “Gunshot wound to the chest,” she said. “Through-and-through.”

She moved on to the next. “Huh,” she said. “Horatio, take a look at this.”

Horatio peered at the corpse. “Looks like the same thing,” he said.

“Yeah. Exactly the same thing. One shot, straight through the heart.”

“Which suggests our shooter was either very good or very sure of himself. Maybe even a sniper…”

“H,” Delko called out. He stood on the other side of the crime scene, taking photos. “Got a blood trail.”

Horatio walked over to inspect his CSI’s find. “Not only that,” he said, “but it looks like the donor was traveling toward, not away from the murders. Let’s see where this leads…”

They followed the trail away from the bodies, into a rusting maze built of vehicles crushed into cubes and stacked like a giant toddler’s building blocks. It ended on top of a pile of the blocks themselves, where another body lay on top of a blood-soaked blanket, still clutching a rifle with a telescopic sight.

“What do you think, H?” asked Delko. “Maybe this guy shot the two down below before getting killed himself?”

“I don’t think so, Eric.” Horatio lifted the barrel of the rifle carefully with one gloved finger and sniffed the end. “This weapon hasn’t been fired. He never got off a shot.”

“Well, there’s only two reasons for him to be here. Either he was insurance against a double cross—”

“—or part of a double cross himself,” Horatio finished. “Either way, this has all the markings of a deal gone extremely wrong. The question is, who walked away…and with what.”

“So far, all the vics seem to belong to the same set,” said Delko. “I think three of them are even wearing the same brand of shoes.”

“Which means there was a clear winner in this dispute—but that blood trail tells us the other side may have taken some hits, too. Let’s do a thorough search of this entire yard, Eric; this may not be the only body we find.”

It didn’t take long to locate the other sniper, positioned inside the cab of a wheelless semi-trailer. “Looks like the work of the same person,” Delko said. “Throat was cut from behind.”

“Yes, and the killer had to reach through the window to do it,” Horatio pointed out. “Without alerting the victim or any of his friends.”

“Sounds like a pro.”

“So are we, my friend. So are we…”

Horatio Caine was a professional, one of the best in his field. He was also deeply troubled.

What was on his mind wasn’t the nine bodies in the junkyard, though he knew it should be. No, what was bothering him was a man named Abdus Sattar Pathan.

Pathan’s stage name was the Brilliant Batin. He performed primarily on cruise ships, and though most people would describe him as a magician, Batin himself would not. He was a devout Muslim, following a branch of Islam that regarded the practice of magic—even stage magic—as blasphemy. He had reconciled this seeming contradiction by hiding his faith his entire life—even from his family, who were also devout Muslims.

Horatio had uncovered Batin’s secret in the course of an investigation, but he had been unable to prove that Batin had faked his own kidnapping in order to extort money from his father, a Saudi Arabian oil magnate. That was what Horatio had initially believed, anyway; after being manipulated into a wild-goose chase all over Miami, he’d realized that the kidnapping was just a diversion to occupy his attention.

It was a conclusion he reached just in time. A landmine planted in a Miami nightclub claimed the life of an FBI agent instead of its intended victim—Horatio. What, he’d wondered, was so important that Pathan would murder a federal officer just to draw attention away from it?

He still didn’t know—but Pathan had “escaped” from his supposed captors on Christmas Day. The day before nine men had been efficiently slaughtered in a Miami junkyard…

These were the thoughts running through Horatio’s mind as he pulled his Hummer into the parking lot of the Miami-Dade crime lab. He was so preoccupied he didn’t see Calleigh Duquesne until he almost walked into her at the front door.

“Horatio,” said Calleigh, nimbly sidestepping her boss. “You look a little distracted.”

“I suppose I am,” he said, giving her a self-conscious smile. “You heard about the junkyard shooting?”

“I did,” she said. “Delko told me there were a lot of guns involved, but hardly any bullets.”

They fell in step beside each other down the hall. “That’s true,” said Horatio. “I believe Delko managed to recover both of them; they should be waiting for you in Ballistics.”

“Great. Holidays are nice, but I always find I’m eager to get back to work. Of course, I guess I could solve that problem by just never leaving…you know, like some people?”

He stopped, cocked his head to the side, and gave her a look. She returned it—as usual—with an open-eyed, innocent stare, but she couldn’t maintain it.

“All right, I’ll stop mother-henning,” she said with a smile. “Besides, I know you go home every night—your appearance is never less than dapper. I was referring more to your mental state.”

He gave her a single, slow nod. “I know. And I appreciate your concern. But these shootings…I can’t help but wonder if they’re connected to the Pathan case.”

She frowned. “What makes you think that?”

“I’m not sure. I’m convinced Pathan was trying to distract me from something, so my radar is extremely sensitive at the moment…It could just be a drug deal gone wrong. But something about it just doesn’t sit right…”

“You recover anything else of interest?”

“Some blood that may be the shooter’s. Valera’s running the DNA now.”

“Well, I’ll get right to work on those bullets.”


Horatio watched the CSI walk away and reflected on how lucky he was to have her on his team. Calleigh Duquesne was smart, resourceful, and had an internal thermosat that was under her complete control; she could go from radiating warm, Southern hospitality to having ice water in her veins in the blink of one of her long-lashed eyes. Anyone who thought the blond beauty got by solely on her looks and charm soon found out otherwise…although there was no question both of those attributes were part of her arsenal.

He headed for the DNA lab. Maxine Valera looked up from the test results she was studying and said, “Horatio? I don’t have anything for you yet.”

“I know,” said Horatio. “I just wanted to ask if you still had the blood data from the Pathan kidnapping.” Pathan’s residence had been splashed with blood from an apparent arterial wound, but Horatio believed the magician had faked it with a small pump and fluid from his own body.

“The FBI took all my files, Horatio,” said Valera. “You know that.”

“I do. But I also know that files can be copied…and if there’s one thing a scientist hates, it’s losing information.”

“That’s true. You know another thing a scientist hates? Getting in trouble with federal authorities.” Valera was a good tech, but an unfortunate mistake had put her in legal hot water a while back, leading to much of her work being called into question. Horatio knew she hadn’t done anything wrong, but it had made her a little gun-shy.

“I understand,” he said. “And I would never ask you to do anything you might be blamed for. However, the other thing about files is that—sometimes—they find their way mysteriously from one place to another, with no apparent human agency responsible.”

She studied him frankly, her large brown eyes unblinking. “I suppose that sort of thing happens,” she said. “Even in Miami.”

“Especially in Miami…so here’s what I want you to do. Get me the analysis of the blood from this morning’s crime scene ASAP—and maybe by that time this hypothetical file will give me something to compare it to.”

Valera sighed. “Okay, Horatio. For you.”

“Not for me, Maxine. For the nine dead men we found today in an auto graveyard.”

Someone had tried to kill Horatio.

This was the single thought going through Ryan Wolfe’s mind, over and over. Wolfe’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies were largely under control, but every now and then something would lodge itself deeply in the grooves of his psyche and be impossible to get out. If he was lucky, it was simply a song or phrase, something of relatively minor importance that he could suppress or ignore. However, if he was unlucky what would get stuck would be something completely irrelevant, like a sequence of numbers. Numbers could be like burrs, getting under the skin of his condition and producing a mental itch that could seriously impair his concentration. That only happened in extreme situations, though; Wolfe hadn’t had a number attack in years—even though he now worked with all sorts of numbers every day—and he doubted he ever would.

But—someone had tried to kill Horatio.

Wolfe had been deep in his own case when it happened, and his single-mindedness had prevented him from really focusing on the assassination attempt. But it had started to gnaw at him on Christmas Day; visions of Horatio’s body lying on Alexx’s table kept intruding into the whirl of presents and food and family. Now, he was determined to do whatever he could to help nail the assassin.

“Horatio?” said Wolfe, standing in the door to his boss’s office. “Got a minute?”

Horatio looked up from some paperwork. “Certainly, Mister Wolfe. What’s on your mind?”

“I was just wondering about the status of the Afterpartylife investigation.”

Horatio raised an auburn eyebrow. “The nightclub bombing? That’s a federal case, Mister Wolfe—the FBI don’t take losing one of their own lightly.”

Wolfe put his hands in his back pockets and shifted his feet. “I know that. But the bomber wasn’t after the agent that died—he was after you.”

“So it would seem,” Horatio acknowledged. “But I’m still here…”

“No offense, H, but—if someone tried to kill me, I wouldn’t leave the investigation in the hands of the Feebs.”

Horatio smiled. “None taken, Mister Wolfe—though I’m sure our esteemed colleagues at the Bureau would feel otherwise. But this particular case—despite the appearance of a personal threat to me—is not the important one.”

“It’s not?”

“No. Like every other facet of the Pathan kidnapping, it was simply meant to direct our attention elsewhere. However, with the FBI now pursuing those avenues, we are free to concentrate on other aspects of the case.”

“Such as?”

“Such as Francis Buccinelli.”

Francis Buccinelli was the name of Pathan’s lawyer—at least, it had been the name on his falsified credentials. He had shown up to talk to Pathan after the man had been arrested for assaulting a convenience store clerk, apparently incensed by a picture of a nude Middle Eastern woman on the cover of a men’s magazine. Pathan had refused to have his fingerprints taken—until his lawyer had talked to him. After that, he had become extremely cooperative, blaming his previous behavior on a mild concussion.

The evidence, once processed, proved contradictory. Footage from a security camera seemed to show Pathan assaulting the clerk, but it also showed him leaving a print on the magazine—a print that Calleigh proved wasn’t Pathan’s. The assailant also used a scarf to cover his face, further confusing the issue. When the store clerk refused to identify Pathan as his attacker, he was released.

“So,” Wolfe asked, “you think this Buccinelli smuggled something in that let Pathan doctor his own fingerprints?”

“Pathan’s a professional illusionist,” said Horatio. “I haven’t figured out the specific mechanism yet, but if he could fake almost bleeding to death from a cut throat he could fake his own prints.”

“Well, I just wanted to let you know I’m available,” said Wolfe. “Now that the Patrick case is closed, I mean.”

“Thank you,” said Horatio. “As a matter of fact, I was planning on assigning you to that very thing…”

“So where do we start?”

Horatio got up from his chair and walked around the desk. “We start,” he said, “at the beginning. We go back and talk to the subject of the initial assault, see if we can learn anything new. If nothing else, maybe we can discover what he’s so afraid of.”

“Hey there, Calleigh,” Frank Tripp said as he walked into the Ballistics lab. He had his suit jacket slung over one beefy shoulder and his shirtsleeves rolled up.

“Oh, hey, Frank,” Calleigh said. “How was your Christmas?”

“Well, my house is still standing and nobody shot me, so I guess it went all right,” he said. “How about you?”

“About the same,” she said. “Mom behaved herself, so that’s something.”

“Those the bullets from the junkyard shooting?”

“They are. You have an interest?”

“I busted Miami Marko a couple times—always knew he’d come to a bad end. He used good sense and judgment like a hurricane uses diplomacy.”

“Well, it looks like his choices finally caught up with him,” said Calleigh. “Whoever killed him and eight of his associates was definitely not the forgiving type.”

“What do you figure—mob hit?”

“I don’t know,” said Calleigh. “Most gangsters—whether they prefer Tupac or Sinatra—aren’t known for their restraint. They apply bullets the way some people apply insecticide.”

“I know what you mean—I’ve cleaned up my share of spray-bys. Don’t seem to care who gets hit, as long as their target takes a bullet.”

“Exactly—and in an isolated place like an auto salvage yard, there’s even less reason to be careful. But the two GSW vics were both killed by a single shot to the heart.”

Tripp frowned. “Wait a minute. I thought you said they found nine bodies?”

“They did. Two were shot, four were killed by explosives, and three had their throats cut.”

Tripp’s frown deepened. “That doesn’t sound like any gangland killing I’ve ever heard of. Sounds almost—”

“Military?” said Calleigh. “I was just thinking the same thing. But here’s the really strange thing. These bullets came from a MAC 10 machine pistol.”

“So you’re saying the shooters could have used full auto to blast away—but decided not to? Why? If they were setting off explosions they couldn’t be worried about noise.”

“Maybe,” said Calleigh thoughtfully, “they thought two bullets were all they needed.”

Talwinder Jhohal, the man Abdus Sattar Pathan had supposedly assaulted, was already back at work. Horatio had decided to talk to the shopkeeper at his store—hoping that being in familiar surroundings might give the man more confidence in talking about the incident—and took Wolfe with him.

“Mister Jhohal,” Horatio said to the man behind the counter. “I’m glad to see you’re back on your feet.”

“I am fine,” the man said curtly. “And I have nothing to say to you.”

“Mister Jhohal, just hear me out. I know you’re worried for your family, and I’m not going to try to convince you to do anything that would put them in jeopardy.”

“No?” Jhohal asked suspiciously.

“No. If you don’t want to press charges against the man that attacked you, I respect that.”

The hardness in the man’s eyes eased off a little. “Then why are you here?”

“Because I think you’re a good man,” said Horatio. “And I don’t think you want to see anyone else’s family get hurt, either.”

The shopkeeper looked away. “There is nothing I can do.”

Wolfe had been hanging back, letting Horatio talk, but now he interjected, “Well, what if you could? Without testifying, without anyone ever knowing?”

Jhohal frowned. “What do you mean?”

“All we’re looking for,” Wolfe said, “is a little information. Nothing official, no written statement. Anything you can tell us about the attack or attacker, anything at all, might help.”

Jhohal sighed. “I do not know…”

“Mister Jhohal,” said Horatio, “I’m not asking you lightly. We have reason to believe that the man who assaulted you is an extremely dangerous individual, and if we don’t stop him he is certainly going to hurt others. I know you don’t want that on your conscience…”

Horatio paused and made eye contact. “I promise you,” he said softly, “that no harm will come to your family as a result of this.”

“I—I don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”

“Of course not.”

Jhohal glanced around, as if he were afraid someone were watching; there was no one else in the store except for a white-haired woman in a pink dress. “All right,” Jhohal said. “I will tell you what I remember, but I do not think it will do much good.”

“You let us worry about that,” said Horatio. “Now…tell us exactly what happened.”

“It was about eleven o’clock. I was working alone in the store. This man came in—dark-skinned, about six feet tall. He wore a long, dark coat. He had a black scarf wrapped around his neck, but not his face. He did not cover his face until he approached the counter with the magazine.”

“The angle on the security camera didn’t catch his face when he entered,” Wolfe said.

Horatio pulled a picture from his pocket. “Is this the man?”

Jhohal looked at it, hesitated, then said, “Yes. That is the man.”

“Did he go straight to the magazine rack?” asked Horatio.

“No. He walked down several aisles, looking for something. He had it in his hand when he walked past the magazines and one of them caught his attention.”

“Security footage didn’t show him holding anything but the magazine,” said Wolfe. “He must have put it down before the attack.”

“Mister Jhohal,” said Horatio, “do you remember what it was?”

Jhohal shook his head. “Something small. That’s all I remember.”

Wolfe walked over to the magazine rack, a headhigh wooden structure against one wall. “If it were something small, he probably would have put it down right here,” said Wolfe, pointing to the narrow ledge the bottom row of magazines rested on.

“Nothing there now,” said Horatio. “But that’s also the place people invariably put down a magazine they’ve been leafing through and decide not to buy…” He lifted a copy of Rolling Stone that currently occupied the spot—revealing a small, rectangular box beneath it.

“Toothpicks,” said Wolfe.

“Bag it, please,” said Horatio. He turned back to Jhohal. “Now…please describe what happened next, Mister Jhohal.”

“He approached the counter with a magazine in his hand. He had pulled the scarf up over his mouth and nose. I did not know what was happening at first; if he was going to rob me, why did he have the magazine? But then he began to shout, waving the magazine around and thrusting it in my face.”

“And what was he shouting?” asked Horatio.

“That it was blasphemy, a sin in the eyes of Allah. That I was a, a whoremonger for selling such a thing. That was the word he used.”

“I see. Did he say anything else?”

“Yes. He said that this country was a disease on the face of the world, and that God would destroy it and everyone in it.”

“Strong words.”

“I told him he was crazy, to get out of my store. That’s when he attacked me. I fought back, but he was strong—very strong. I thought he was going to kill me.”

“He very well might have, Mister Jhohal, but you got lucky; after knocking you out, he slipped on the blood from your broken nose and wound up unconscious himself.”

“So I have been told,” said Jhohal. He reached up to touch the bandage on the back of his head gingerly. “Do you want to know what I think? I think God was looking out for one of us…and it wasn’t him.”

“I hope you’re right, Mister Jhohal. But in the absence of divine intervention, you can definitely count on my help. Okay?”

Jhohal nodded. “Okay.”

“Now, I understand why you might be reluctant to discuss this next part, Mister Jhohal, but if I’m going to help you protect your family, I need as much information as you can give me. I need to know about how you were threatened.”

“They—they called me. In the hospital.”

“I don’t mean to contradict you, Mister Jhohal, but hospital staff told me the only call you received was from your family.”

Jhohal nodded again, and now Horatio could see the fear in his eyes. “Yes. Somebody called me—from my own house. He described things in my living room, told me my children were upstairs asleep. My wife never heard a thing. He said if I were to press charges, that terrible things would happen to them. Terrible things.”

“I understand. Did this person identify himself in any way?”

“He said—” Jhohal swallowed. “He said he was mujahideen.”

Horatio’s eyes narrowed. “Mujahideen. You’re sure?”


Wolfe had finished bagging the box of toothpicks and had walked up to stand beside Horatio. “All done.”

“Good, let’s get that right to the lab. Mister Jhohal, I’m going to have a patrol car do a regular check on your house. Here’s my card—call me if you think you or your family are in danger. I promise you, no one will ever know you talked to me.”

“Thank you,” Jhohal said. “Thieves I can deal with. But this…”

“I know. Don’t worry, Mister Jhohal. You did the right thing.”

Once they were back on the sidewalk, Wolfe said, “Did I hear that right?”

“You did, Mister Wolfe. Whoever threatened that man’s family is claiming to be a member of an underground Islamic militia.”

Horatio took out his sunglasses and put them on. “Or as they’re usually called, a terrorist cell…”

About The Author

Photo Credit:

Donn Cortez is the pseudonym for Don DeBrandt, who has authored several novels. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (March 5, 2016)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501146367

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