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QUANTICO, 1974: A CATHOLIC CHAPLAIN AND AN NIS AGENT UNRAVEL A MURDER

CHAPLAIN DAMON KEITH, NEWLY REASSIGNED TO QUANTICO, IS TESTED BY A COMMAND DISMISSIVE OF A PEACETIME CHAPLAINCY . . . AND FINDS HIMSELF FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIS BEST FRIEND'S FIANCEE.  SOON AFTER HIS ARRIVAL, A WOMAN MARINE IS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED AND MURDERED.  ANONYMOUS PHONE CALLS SEEM TO IMPLICATE SOMEONE FROM DAMON'S PAST, OR EVEN THE PRIEST HIMSELF.  IT'S UP TO SPECIAL AGENT HARRY REINER, RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC AND FORMER ALTAR BOY, TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL . . .

REVIEWS

5 STARS FROM READERS FAVORITE, KUDOS FROM BOOKLIFE PRIZE AND THE CATHOLIC HERALD

'Move over, Jethro Gibbs, Tony Dinozzo and Timothy McGee to make room for NIS Special Agent Harry Reiner . . . I was surprised at how much I enjoyed immersing myself in the lives of the characters, and I would love to read more about [them] in future books!"--Sefina Hawke, for Readers Favorite


"The who-done-it novel is an intriguing tale and also comes off as a paean to the Catholic priesthood . . . Davis has hardly scratched the surface of the wealth of material from her Quantico years.  May we expect a sequel featuring Father Keith?  Let's hope so."--Kathleen Mahoney for The Arlington Catholic Herald


"The characters are superbly rendered.  They feel real and vivid . . . [the plot] manages to be wholly original and full of unexpected turns."--BookLife Prize

EXCERPTS

Harry

You damn well couldn't keep a secret at Quantico.  That much was a given.  Harry Reiner shoved the medical examiner's report into the burgeoning file on the Beverly Anderson homicide, feeling increasingly like a disillusioned old man.  In the few hours since the Report of Autopsy had been delivered to him under seal, certain details and confidences contained in it seemed to have become common knowledge among the denizens of the law enforcement services.  From NIS the facts--often intact but more than likely bent or fragmented yet still recognizable--as if by osmosis would be assimilated with impressive speed throughout the Criminal Investigation Division of the Provost Marshal's Office; and from CID and PMO they would leak in the form of rumors, hot and cold, from base Mainside to Q-Town and back again.  By the end of the week every living soul aboard Quantico would have heard that the Anderson girl died three months pregnant.  And over the weekend the kibitzers and gossip mongers from Fredericksburg to Woodbridge would have her ex-boyfriend neatly indicted, tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.  Ordinarily Harry accepted this phenomenon as part and parcel of the job, just one more indicator of a jaded and imperfect world; but this morning there was something unusually grating about it.  Ed Kaminski had invaded his office, carrying his "#1 Stud" coffee mug.  He sidled close to look over Harry's shoulder and with characteristic sleaze in his tone commented, "So Ferris off'd two for the price of one, the lying little bastard."

Cisco and Willie the Swoop

Cisco Diaz was a doomed man.  There was no other rational explanation.  Somewhere along the line, he figured, el Diablo, the devil himself, must have pointed a bony finger, singling him out for a life of torment.  And with luck like that, all the saints his mother prayed to could not turn his fate around.  He was doomed.  "What is it?  Just because I'm outa uniform?" Willie persisted, honestly guessing.  Doomed.  Cisco's existence these days was like a record with a stuck needle or a bad dream that kept repeating itself.  He never seemed able to escape from this church or from standing tall in front of the Cap's desk, answering for foul-ups created by shit heads trying to pass themselves off as United States Marines.  "Out of uniform would be a tee shirt and jeans, man.  What the hell is this?"  Willie looked injured.  "These threads cost me more'n a month's pay," he said, "and they come straight from the Garment District, custom tailor made."  You look like a pimp."  Injury dissolved into pride.  "Really?"  "Totally unsat, man.  What made you think you could get away with this?"  Willie spread his hands, resplendent with the customary gold.  "It's a wedding."  "Yeah, but it ain't your wedding.  And this ain't Vegas."  "I never been to Vegas."  "Then, it ain't Times Square, Harlem, whatever; you know what I'm saying.  And there's something you got to understand about weddings, man.  Almost always, they're run by the bride's mother.  And at this chapel the bride's mother is almost always an officer's wife.  And an officer's wife almost always thinks she's got that invisible rank at least two grades higher than her husband's.  And there ain't no witch this side of hell meaner than a bad-ass officer's wife mother-of-the-bride."  Cisco looked up in time to see the witch of the hour standing in the doorway, listening in horror, her imperious stare taking in the phenomenon of the lanky black man in white tie and lime green tails but ultimately fixing on his own sergeant's stripes and the name tag fastened, per regulation, an eighth inch above his right blouse pocket.  Doomed.

Damon

Silence.  Damon had never known how to talk to his father, not really.  So much shared, yet so little in common.  The Chief was a good man, Damon knew, faithful to the laws of the Church, but hardly spiritual.  Physical prowess had always defined his self-worth and shaped his opinions of other men, his son included.  The day Damon finally bested his father at arm wrestling was the day he earned his respect; and the day he entered the seminary nearly a year later was when he all but lost it.  "You weren't praying over me, were you?"  The Chief's gaze was faltering.  He was fighting to stay awake."  Maybe I was," Damon answered, falling easily into the old litany, knowing what was next.  "Let me see your hands," The Chief demanded.  Damon held out both hands for his father, who felt of the fleshy parts of his palms like a butcher grading meat.  "Not as soft yet as a baby's ass," he announced weakly, "but getting mighty like a woman's."  Damon pulled his hands away.  He hated that teasing ritual, never quite knew what to say.  "But you wouldn't know about that," his father finished.  Another silence, emptier and more desolate than before.  "I need to make a head call," the old man said suddenly.  "I can't use that thing," indicating the bedpan.  Damon glanced down the ward at the brightly lit nurse's station, where a corpsman sat reading.  "No, no," The Chief growled, "you help me.  I just need a boost."  And so Damon helped his father sit up, feeling his aged boniness where there had always been muscle; and he slid his father's feet into woolly scuffs, and supported him as he stood.  He guided the intravenous trolley while the old man shuffled to the nearest stall with a commode, and he waited at the door.  When he helped The Chief settle back into bed, he saw the old man's eyes were wet.  The Chief pulled his son down closer to him and whispered near his ear, "I'm sorry."  "I know."  "You can pray for me if you want."  "I do.  I always do."  "You can give me Last Rites if you want."  Damon almost laughed.  "Dad, you're not dying.  I can anoint you tomorrow, if you like; it's a healing sacrament.  But I can give you the Sacrament of Reconciliation now, if you need to confess.  What is it that you want?"  "I want to sleep," The Chief said.  Damon stretched out across an empty bed and watched his father drift back into the depths of drug-induced slumber, praying all the while with all his heart.  When it was safe to do so, he blessed him and kissed his sleeping face.