Day 87, Chapter 87
I feel like I’m hitting the home stretch now – just 30 days to go until the end. Jen asked me the other day if I were at all wrapped up in the actual plot of The 9th Judgment, wondering how the story was going to pan out, despite myself. No. No, I am not.
But hey, after an eight day hiatus, the ever poetic Lindsay Boxer is back as our narrator today!
It had been a week since I’d stopped traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge with the front section of the Chronicle clasped to my chest, ten days since that psycho we call the Lipstick Killer had murdered Elaine Marone and her child. I could still feel the weight of the killer’s cell phone hanging around my neck, could hear his jeers and gibes as he ordered me to disarm and disrobe myself on the way to the drop that never was.
Now she gets a call that there has been a triple homicide at the parking garage of the giant mall complex, Pier 39 and the FBI, who are now handling the Lipstick Killer case, has requested her presence. JPatt uses this opportunity to introduce another pointless, yet hilariously named character: FBI Special Agent Dick Benbow, “a square-shouldered man of about forty with a crisp haircut and mirror-shined shoes.” Today’s victims are two children in a stroller and a “young black woman” who is “wearing expensive clothing” like a “navy-blue jacket” and a “white blouse with tucks and fancy buttons.” Lindsay assumes that she is from out of town. Seriously. I don’t know if this is a racial thing from JPatt or what, but it sounded pretty weird.
Benbow said, “The victims are Veronica Williams; her daughter, Tally; and her son, Van. They were visiting from LA. We’ve notified the family.”
I held down a scream of outrage as I stood over the dead bodies of victims number seven, eight, and nine. It wasn’t just murder. It was slaughter.
A couple of notes from that segment: first of all, I hate it when Lindsay is right about things she has no business being right about – like the fact that the victims are from out of town. There was ZERO evidence to this fact, it was just a conclusion she jumped to for reasons that were never made clear and JPatt just rolled with it. It’s infuriating. Also, since the murder count is now at nine victims and the title of the book is The 9th Judgment, I think it’s safe to assume that the Lipstick Killer is all washed up and is ready to be dried and folded by super-detective, Lindsay Boxer. Bah!
But wait, there’s more!
I leaned into the vehicle. The light coming through the glass outlined the lipstick lettering and turned it black. Instead of three cryptic letters, there were six words, just as unfathomable.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST. GET IT?
No, I didn’t get it. I didn’t get it at all.
Pete first wrote WCF at a crime scene in Chapter 2 and here we are, 243 pages later and the meaning is finally revealed! Nice work, detec– …never mind. God, it’s on the cover of the frickin’ book!
He was smart and slick, and he hated women and children, that much I got. But what set him off? How had he committed nine homicides without being noticed? How could we catch him?
Or would the Lipstick Killer case become one of those unsolved mysteries that haunt cops into their graves?
I said to Benbow, “No question, this is the same shooter. He’s spelling out the acronym. It’s his signature. I don’t have a theory on this case. I wish I had one frickin’ clue.”
Luckily, the Miami Vice transfer, Jackson Brady, from way back in the hilarious Chapters 29 and 36, has conveniently found a witness. Thank God! Now we can stop “detecting!” Lindsay’s reaction is vintage Patterson awesomeness:
I felt storm clouds part and a godlike finger of light break through the concrete ceiling when Brady said to me, “This is Mr. Kennedy. Says he’s a witness.”