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She's seen it all, until…Head Games, a Medical Thriller from Eileen Dreyer —St. Louis, Missouri-Present Day—
St. Louis death investigator and trauma nurse Molly Burke has seen just about everything, until gifts begin showing up on her doorstep—gifts like human eyes and painted bones—the signature of a twisted serial killer.
Complicating the dangerous situation, Molly’s 16-year-old nephew unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep, with problems of his own.
Now, Molly must balance the investigation into the mind of a monster, who’s taking her back to the worst years of her life, while launching a rescue mission for her nephew. The question is, will she survive either?
Publisher’s Note: No one writes medical thrillers better than former Trauma Nurse, Eileen Dreyer. This tight medical thriller contains profanity consistent with the salty speech of crime investigators and does NOT contain sexual content.
“A tensely plotted thriller that compels the reader to the last shocking page…Dreyer deftly displays her droll sense of humor while spinning a tale of taut terror…complex, riveting, funny, and compelling.” ~The Denver Post
“Nearly flawless. The dialogue is witty, yet shot through with verisimilitude. The insights into hospitals, medical examiners’ offices, police departments, and the military are stunning.” ~St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Read an Excerpt
There is comfort in ritual.
There is order.
There is the security of knowing that our most precious needs can be protected by enclosing them within the high, strong walls of familiarity and precision.
Kenny understood this. He recognized the need for ritual, the joy of it. He cherished the keen anticipation of each deliberate act.
One of the keystones of Kenny's ritual was the ten o'clock news. Kenny watched the news the way other people read obituaries. Once he knew his name wasn't mentioned, he could get on with planning the next day's work.
But not just the ten o'clock news. The ten o'clock news on Channel 7, who tended to carry the more gruesome stories. Kenny liked to hear the breathless outrage in anchorwoman Donna Kirkland's soft voice when she said words like startling and gruesome, almost as if she derived sexual pleasure from them. But that wasn't something he figured he should dwell on when he had his new friend with him, as he did tonight.
Flower. Her name was Flower. It was such a wonderful name, Kenny thought, turning to her.
"Ten o'clock is the only time to watch news," he told her as he settled himself back down on the nubby brown couch and wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
"Today," Donna Kirkland intoned with barely suppressed delight, "a grisly discovery in Forest Park..."
Grisly. Another word she seemed to get off on. He smiled. He had his beer, Flower was here with him, and there was murder on television. And to make it all perfect, Donna the anchor—Kenny always thought of her as that: Donna the anchor, as if it were her entire name—was excited by it.
"...two park rangers found the partially clothed body of a woman in the woods while clearing brush,” she cooed.
On the TV, the camera panned over the obligatory stand of dead trees silhouetted against a gray sky. Caught clustered in a fold of land like cattle sheltering against the wind stood about a half dozen uniformed officers and an ambulance cart.
"...two park rangers found the partially clothed body of a woman in the woods while clearing brush,” she cooed. "We spoke with a representative of the Medical Examiner's office a few minutes ago.
The TV now showed a woman who stood before the downtown police station quietly listening to a question being asked off camera. Kenny saw her and forgot the story entirely.
His heart suddenly raced. Squinting, he leaned closer.
"My God," he whispered, stunned.
She was petite, small-boned, and trim. Short, neat auburn hair. Bright brown eyes with laugh lines and lots of experience stamped on almost pretty features, small hands tucked in the pockets of a serviceable gray suit jacket.
Older, much older, it seemed to Kenny. But then, so was he.
"My God," he breathed again, shaking his head. "It's her. Why didn't I know?"
"The Medical Examiner believes the victim to have been at the site for about four days," she was saying with appropriate solemnity. "We won't know the cause of death until the autopsy has been performed in the morning."
Kenny always remembered her smiling. But he remembered this look even better. Her sad look. Kenny remembered her looking at him this way, like she wanted to say something or do something that could make it all different.
Maybe that was why he suddenly recognized her. He'd finally seen her sad look. The look he'd always thought was all his.
Forgetting his beer, forgetting his friend Flower, he focused on the TV, so excited he could hardly think.
"Molly Burke is a death investigator for the city of St. Louis," Brenda the anchor said.
"Molly..." Kenny's laugh was sudden. "Oh my god, Molly. Yes, of course!"
He turned to Flower, truly thrilled. "You don't understand," he said. "I knew her. I know her. I wondered for so long what's become of her, and now to realize that she's been right here, that I've seen her! I've just got to let her know I'm back."
Kenny turned off the TV. He had things to do. For more than twenty years he'd been anticipating what he'd do if this very moment ever came. He'd been practicing hard in his head so that it would be perfect. Tilting the long-neck Busch up to finish it, he set the bottle down and stood up.
"Time for lights out," he said to Flower. "I'm going to have a busy day tomorrow."
His friend Flower smiled back. But then, she always smiled. So Kenny smiled as well, because tonight he was happy, too. Then, with the exquisite care he showed all his friends, he lifted her head off her shoulders and put it back in the refrigerator where it belonged. Then, turning off the lights, he went to bed.
About the Author
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