by Catherine Maiorisi
NYPD Detectives Chiara Corelli and P.J. Parker are assigned what should be a straight-forward murder investigation. But what seems to be the simple murder of a man found in a park gets more complicated when they identify him as Ned Rich, a somewhat paranoid investigative reporter who seems to be living above his means.
The more they dig, the more victims of Rich’s blackmail they find. And figuring out which one killed him seems like an impossible task. But then they stumble on the project Rich was working on at the time of his death—a not so white supremacist and a threat to our democracy—and the focus of the investigation turns to people who will do anything to protect their reputations and the secrecy of their traitorous goals.
Undeterred by the threats and attacks, Corelli and Parker battle to drag the traitors into the light—and put their lives on the line to defend all they believe in.
A Chiara Corelli Mystery Book 4.
GCLS Goldie Awards
Legacy in the Blood — Finalist, Mystery/Thriller/Crime.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"I started writing Legacy in the Blood, the fourth NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli mystery, thinking the ending of A Message in Blood, the previous book in the series, was a horrible mistake.
Why was it a mistake, you might ask? Well, every author knows conflict makes the story. But at the end of Message the angry, guilt-ridden, PTSD-suffering Corelli was in a therapy group of women veterans dealing with the guilt of seeing Marnie, her former lover, blown up in Afghanistan, as well as other issues. It appeared she was going to be happy. And I was sure the zing would be gone from her personality and the story would be boring.
As I’ve often said, I don’t outline or plot the book before I start writing. So when I sat in front of the blank computer screen to write Legacy, the only thing I knew was that the plot involved a white supremacist who finds out he has a black ancestor. Though I’d spent a lot of time thinking (agonizing) about how to keep the characters and the story interesting, I still hadn’t solved the problem of a happy Corelli.
But trusting my process, I started writing.
And, happily, Corelli solved the problem in the second chapter. How? Read the book."—Catherine Maiorisi
Sam D. - This is book 4 in the series, and I highly recommend reading the previous three before embarking on a read of this one. The character development over the course of these books is something to behold. Maiorisi doesn't shy away from sensitive subjects, not in the previous book nor in this one. In this book, we read about the harsh realities of racism, white nationalism, and family loyalties. To only name a few. The story, as its characters and the mystery, are layered. The author does a great job of writing in new clues, new hints, tying up loose ends, and handling the delicate subjects with care.
I won't say anything about the case, it's much better read about in the book. I will say something about the characters. Where the previous 3 books were all centered around Chiara Corelli in this book, we get more of an insight into P. J. Parker. I love how layered these characters are and how they are evolving from book to book. Parker's hesitancy towards the changing Corelli is understandable and relatable. And most of all, everything is just handled with so much care and thought. You can't help but love these crime-fighting ladies.
I can't wait for another book about these detectives, their colleagues and their loved ones.
Della B. - Legacy in the Blood is a masterful and complex mystery which never lets the reader breathe easy. Parker is in constant peril with the white nationalists while Corelli keeps looking over her shoulder for blow back from her fellow officers. The mystery expands and reaches outward in many different directions however Maiorisi reigns it all together in a convincing fashion by the end. …Legacy in the Blood is a must read for all mystery readers.
Emma S. - Absolutely brilliant! Legacy in the blood is the fourth book in the detective series by Catherine Maiorisi. All books in the series have been gripping, exciting, addictive, and fresh. You know how you read many books, and sometimes you feel like you've read the storyline before? This is not the case with Catherine Maiorisi’s books. They are original and I'm looking forward to reading more of her stories. I've given Legacy in the Blood a 5/5.
Bonnie S. - Bottom line, this is one heck of a good read. Had a very hard time putting this aside so I didn’t. Great characters, interesting fast paced murder mystery. Very enjoyable read.
Betty H. - Legacy in the Blood, the fourth book in the Chiara Corelli Mystery series by Catherine Maiorisi, is definitely a book you want to read. This is the best mystery/police procedural novel I’ve read this year. With each book I read by this author, I’m more impressed with her writing.
Lex Kent’s Reviews - Some people are just born to write mystery stories and I believe that Maiorisi is one of those people. Whether it is another Chiara Corelli Mystery book, or the start to a new mystery series, I just hope Maiorisi keeps writing mysteries. We don’t have a lot of current sapphic mystery writers and Maiorisi is a great one. If you are a mystery fan, I would highly recommend this whole series. If you are a fan of this series, you will not want to miss this 4th book that was through the POV of P.J. Parker, Chiara’s detective partner. It was great to have P.J. star in own book and I hope we get more of her POV in the future.
In the predawn dark of Rockefeller Park, NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli walked briskly toward death. Her footsteps echoed in the silence broken only by the sounds of her breathing and the soft slapping of the water along the familiar Hudson River path.
She loved this time of day. Loved the freshness of the air. Loved the feeling of being cocooned in its velvety darkness, the feeling of unlimited possibilities as the dawn’s light splintered the sky. But she missed the warmth of the sun. She tugged the collar of her coat higher on her neck. In comparison to recent weather, this morning was balmy, forty degrees headed into the fifties, but still cold enough to seep deep into her bones, as it had ever since she was shot. She shivered remembering that less than six months ago she was lying near death just minutes from here and only the quick thinking of Parker, her partner, kept her from bleeding out.
Like most things in life, some good had come out of the trauma of nearly dying. She had stopped fighting her feelings for her girlfriend, Brett, and had begun to deal with Marnie’s death. And she and Parker had become friends. Or maybe she should say friendlier. Corelli took a deep breath, noting the hint of spring in the air. She wasn’t fooled, though. March was freaky. One minute it felt like spring and the next you were in the middle of a blizzard.
When she arrived at Penny Park, she looked around to get her bearings and then ducked under the yellow police tape. She’d been here with Brett so she knew to avoid the many cartoonish bronze statues and large bronze pennies strewn about.
“Detective Corelli?” She squinted at the officer who’d recognized her in the dim glow of the park lights. “I’m Officer Lydia Ortega.”
Corelli tried to remember the names of police she worked with but she didn’t think she’d ever run into Ortega. “What do we have?”
“My partner and I responded to the 911. Tim Ryder, the guy with the dog standing there”—she pointed toward the staircase on the other side of the small park—“called it in at 6:14 a.m. He was the only one around when we arrived. EMTs declared the male dead and reported he was already stiff when they got here.”
“Thanks, Ortega. What would we do without dog walkers to find the bodies?” Corelli didn’t wait for an answer to the rhetorical question. “We’ll talk to Ryder when we’re done here. And good job taping the scene.” Corelli signed in, pulled on booties and gloves and then went to the victim. She knelt over the body of the slender, youngish man with long blond hair, sprawled on his stomach next to the bronze sculpture of a cat. It was still too dark to see him clearly, but the reek of excrement combined with the lack of a pulse in his carotids confirmed he was dead. She raised her head to breathe in the briny smell of the Hudson River wafting on the breeze and came face-to-face with her pissed-off partner, Detective P.J. Parker, kneeling on the opposite side of the dead man.
“Damn it, Corelli, why didn’t you wait for me to pick you up?”
She’d expected the anger but last night had been one of the rare times she and Brett had slept at Brett’s Battery Park City apartment and Penny Park was just a five-to-ten-minute walk from there. And since her leg still wasn’t strong enough for her to run along the river, the walk here was the next best thing. Besides, she didn’t agree with Parker’s assessment that she was still a target for some of their brethren in blue. “Like my text said, walking got me here faster than waiting for you to pick me up.”
Parker wasn’t buying it. “We agreed I would continue to function as your bodyguard as long as I felt it was necessary. Remember?”
“I don’t give a f—” Corelli caught herself. She took some yoga breaths and swallowed the anger that was quick to rise at the least provocation. Parker was right. She had agreed. And she’d gone back on her word. “Sorry. It just seemed easier since I was so close.”
Would Parker drag it out or accept her apology? Parker met her eyes. “Damn right you won’t. Brett would kill me if I let anything happen to you.” She dropped her gaze to the victim. “What do we have here?”
Forgiven. Or at least apology accepted. “You tell me.”
After eight months Parker was exceptional at reading a crime scene. She really didn’t need the experience but training her was a part of the deal they’d made after Corelli exposed a group of dirty police and found herself on the wrong side of the blue wall. At the time, neither wanted to work with the other, but they’d come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Corelli would train Parker as a homicide detective while Parker functioned as her bodyguard. The partnership had worked out well, at least from Corelli’s point of view. She thought Parker felt the same but because of her inexplicable habit of dumping her anger on Parker and because of Parker’s reticence, she couldn’t be sure.
The sky was brightening as Parker stood and paced the area marked off by the crime tape. She smiled at the whimsical sculptures but her gaze was all business, scrutinizing the scene for any clue as to what might have happened here. Finally, she knelt next to Corelli. “No blood that I can see.” She touched the man’s carotid artery then his arm. “Male in his thirties, blond hair, brown eyes, no pulse, near full rigor, no visible blood, though we may find some under him. He’s dressed casually in boots, a down jacket and jeans so not a jogger and no sign of a dog. Maybe he lives nearby and was out for a walk.” She picked up his hand and studied his palm, then moved around to check the other hand. “His clothing and his hands are clean. His lack of calluses indicates a desk job rather than hard labor.”
Parker shook her head. “You know all these white guys look alike to me.”
Corelli knew the joke was Parker signaling she wasn’t holding a grudge. But then she never did, no matter how shitty Corelli treated her.
They looked up at the sound of Medical Legal Investigator Gloria Ndep’s voice. Corelli glanced at Parker. As usual, she appeared professional when faced with the woman she may have been in bed with when she got called to the scene a short time before.
Ndep signed in, pulled on protective gear and then approached them. “Good morning, detectives, what have we got on this lovely day?”
Although Ndep wasn’t a detective, she had medical, forensics and investigative training, a keen eye and an analytic mind. Corelli respected her ability to analyze a crime scene and read the victim. Sometimes Ndep saw things she and Parker missed. “We’d appreciate your take on it.”
“Okay. Let’s see what we can see.” She pursed her lips and surveyed the area. “I guess it’s called Penny Park because of those bronze pennies everywhere. But what are these funny little creatures? Is it meaningful that he died in the middle of these strange sculptures in this unusual park?”
“Good question. This whole installation”—Corelli waved her hand—“is a commentary on capitalism. The bronze sculptures are cartoonish representations of capitalists, laborers, bohemians, and animals interacting. It’s political. Once we identify our vic, the reason he died here might become clear. Or not.”
Ndep began sketching the scene on her iPad. Parker did the same with pencil and paper while Corelli took pictures with her iPhone.
“Morning.” Lopez, the crime scene unit photographer, greeted them and immediately got to work photographing the body.
When Lopez indicated she gotten the pictures she needed in this position, Ndep put her iPad down and began her examination of the victim. “No visible wounds on the back of his head, neck, torso or legs.” She looked at his hands. “Rigor. No rings. No calluses, nails manicured.” She bagged his hands, frowned, then felt along his right arm. “The rigor makes it hard to be sure but I’d guess this arm is broken. Help me turn him, Detective Parker.”
Lopez continued to take pictures.
Because of the rigidity, it was difficult to move him but with Corelli’s help they flipped him onto his back.
“His face is clear.” Ndep unzipped his jacket and pulled his sweater up. “No wounds that I can see on his chest.” She pulled the neck of the turtleneck down. “Extensive bruising on his neck.” She checked his eyes. “Red spots, petechiae in the eyes. Looks like he was strangled.” She unbuckled his belt and unzipped his jeans. Parker helped her pull the jeans down. “No visible signs of sexual activity. Let’s turn him again.”
Corelli put her hand out. “Wait, let me take a picture of his face so we can use it to get an identification.” She took several photos from different angles, then they turned him onto his stomach again.
Ndep pulled his jacket and sweater up and examined his back. “There’s extensive premortem bruising on his back and around his kidneys. It looks like he has a couple of broken ribs. Livor mortis, where the blood pooled, indicates he was lying on his back after death. It’s likely he was killed elsewhere and dumped here.” She ran her fingers through his hair, then pulled the turtleneck down exposing the back of his neck. “The bruising on the front of his neck and his back indicates the killer strangled him from behind, maybe put a knee in the kidney area to weaken him.” She took his anal temperature and made notes on her iPad. Parker helped her pull his pants up. Ndep searched his rear pockets but came up empty. “Help me tilt him, please.” Parker and Corelli tipped him onto one side than the other to give Ndep access to the other pockets in his pants and jacket. She handed Corelli some change, a Metro card, keys, a pack of Marlboros, and a wad of cash.
Corelli dropped everything but the keys and the cash into the evidence bag Parker held out for her. “Three hundred dollars in fifties and twenties.” She dumped the money in the bag, placed the keys in a smaller bag and pocketed them.
“Just this in his jacket pockets.” Ndep handed Parker a crumpled piece of paper. She smoothed the page. “Looks like an invoice.” She passed it to Corelli. “Do you think it’s even related?”
Account number: 03151752
Remit to: Deep Dig Excavation Services
305 Van Brunt Street #201
Red Hook, NY 11231
Corelli frowned. “I’d expect an hourly or daily rate for digging but I guess this could be a flat rate for a month of service. Could be our vic is building something or maybe he runs Deep Dig Excavation.” She slipped the page into an evidence bag. “Interesting that he has no ID. It doesn’t look like robbery or a sex meetup to me. What’s your take, Ndep?”
Ndep looked up from her iPad. “As I said, I doubt he was killed here. But the cash does contradict robbery. And while the park might point to a meetup, I didn’t see any indication of sexual activity when I examined him and I don’t see anything else that points that way. We’ll know more after the autopsy.”
“What about time of death?” Parker said.
Ndep studied her iPad. “Livor and rigor mortis are both advanced so I’d guess between seven p.m. and midnight last night but I’ll have a better guess after the autopsy.” She waved at the two men standing at the top of the staircase with a gurney. “We’ll take him now. I’ll let you know when we schedule the autopsy.”
The morgue techs moved through the small crowd that had gathered, carried the gurney down the steps and wheeled it over to Ndep. The three got to work stuffing the rigid body into the body bag. Distracted by their struggle, Corelli was surprised when the crime scene team appeared. She greeted the team then turned to Parker. “I’m going to talk to the witness, you work with these guys.”
The young man kneeling next to a large dog, maybe a lab, stood as she approached.
“I’m Detective Corelli, Mr. Ryder. You found the body?”
“Yes. I walk my dog here every morning before dawn. I usually sit at the table down there for a few minutes to watch the sunrise over the water. I thought the guy was drunk but when Bella started whining and pulling on the leash to get to him, I realized something was off. When I got closer, I could smell him so I used my phone flashlight to get a better look. It was clear he was dead so I called 911.”
“Was anyone in the park when you approached?”
“No. It was pretty early. While I waited for the police, a few joggers ran by on the path but nobody in or near Penny Park.”
“Did you encounter anyone on the way to the park?”
He shook his head. “As I said, it was early. I rarely see anyone before dawn.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ryder. You can go.” She handed him her card. “Give me a call if you remember anything or anybody unusual.”