That DarknessThere’s nothing particularly interesting about my life. What I do is pretty routine, most of the time: I compare fingerprints and photograph crime scenes and collect items of evidence. All the excitement is over when I get there—which is the way I like it—and I’m happy to let the police officers deal with tackling the suspects or talking to the press or comforting the family. I don’t have a spouse or children or even a dog—I live in a downtown apartment that doesn’t allow pets—but I’m not lonely. I have my co-workers, DNA analyst Carol and my boss Denny, who is currently a little scatterbrained because his wife is about to have their third child.

Cleveland is a major city with a healthy homicide rate. I see a lot of drug dealers perforated in a drive-by and abused women with the life crushed out of them. So it’s not exactly a surprise when a guy turns up dead in an alley, and in any event there isn’t much I can do except to test for gunshot residue on the clothing and estimate whether he was shot from a distance or up close and personal. It isn’t even necessary in this case since the man died from three shots to the back of the head—obviously close and personal—with a twenty-two. A small caliber, a relatively un-dramatic means for an execution, but cheap and effective. This leaves me with no DNA to collect and without hairs and fibers from the suspect’s clothes since the victim never got a chance to struggle. But with no ID on him I have to ink and roll his cold fingers–again, just a routine day, a visit to the morgue and back to the lab to run them through our database. The guy’s name pops up, which links him to an extensive criminal history. Big surprise. Much more poignant to me is the battered young girl we find draped over a grave in the ancient downtown cemetery—her fingerprints don’t connect her to any history at all. No one has even reported her missing. How does that happen?

I examine her clothes for hairs and fibers, since there had obviously been quite a struggle. But before I follow any trail to her past another dead guy turns up, no ID, maybe foreign clothing. . .and a few details which make me believe that he is connected to the young girl. Not only connected, but I think he’s the one who killed her—question is, who killed him? With three twenty-two slugs through the cerebellum.

Then a very white-collar child pornographer is found, his body nearly mummified, with. . .three shots to the back of the head. It’s not a pattern, exactly—.22 is a cheap and common caliber, and there is no way this guy would have set foot in the alleys the dead gangbanger frequented, or dealt with the violent human trafficker. The only thing these guys had in common was a police record.

A police record.

I begin to have worrisome thoughts and theories, all of which I have to keep to myself. If I am wrong, my career could be forever trashed, and my job is everything to me. It is my life. It is my home.

But if I am right then the killer is very, very close to that home. And me.


That Darkness is the first book in the NEW Gardiner and Renner suspense series, published by Kensington, April 2016.

As a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department, Maggie Gardiner has seen her share of Jane Does. The latest is an unidentified female in her early teens, discovered in a local cemetery. More shocking than the girl’s injuries—for Maggie at least—is the fact that no one has reported her missing. She and the detectives assigned to the case (including her cop ex-husband) are determined to follow every lead, run down every scrap of evidence. But the monster they seek is watching each move, closer to them than they could ever imagine.

Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn’t murder because he savors it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any reason other than to make the world a safer place. When he follows the trail of this Jane Doe to a locked room in a small apartment where eighteen teenaged girls are anything but safe, he knows something must be done. But his pursuit of their captor takes an unexpected turn.

Maggie Gardiner finds another body waiting for her in the autopsy room—and a host of questions that will challenge everything she believes about justice, morality, and the true nature of evil . . .

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About the author
Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series. Visit Lisa at lisa-black.com, @LisaBlackAuthor and on Facebook.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of That Darkness. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end May 3, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

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