My name is Lexi Jakobson and I’m nineteen years old and I live on Black Hammock which is a barrier island south of the Florida-Georgia border. Don’t believe what they say about me. I have been off the island. To go to high school when I went. And church when Walter got on that kick.
Black Hammock Island. One square mile. One bridge. Population 172 and dropping fast. As flies.
I like to read and who can blame me?
You should know my mother but if you do I’m sorry. You certainly have heard her name which is Kay Jakobson. You probably have seen her paintings. Self-portraits that a gallery in Atlanta sells to suckers. Not that you’re necessarily one.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark.” Stephen Crane’s “A Dark-Brown Dog.” My favorite is anything by Edgar Allan Poe.
You want my story? I’ll trade you. Your story for mine. I like stories.
I’ve been called outlandish. My story has been.
Outlandish describes me very well.
Black Hammock is outlandish. It’s an island and an outland. It’s in the Jacksonville city limits but you would hardly believe it. Ask the mayor where Black Hammock is and he’ll most likely say “uhhhh.” Imagine the corner of a city and then take the corner of that corner and another corner of the second corner. That’s Black Hammock. A snake swallowed its own tail and when it went to look for itself it was gone. That is not a metaphor. If a black hole had live oak trees and pinewoods and a white sand beach at the edges of outer space and brackish creeks where you could find oysters and crabs scientists would call it Black Hammock.
Which is why I like to read.
That and Mother’s husband Walter. You could excuse Walter by saying he’s sick but he isn’t. He’s as healthy as a chicken. He’s just evil. He has been known to beat me. He has been known to beat my brother Cristofer. He has never raised a hand against Mother. If he did she would run him off the island with a weapon or with her bare hands which are as dangerous as a weapon. Sooner than raise a hand Walter would feed her warm milk with a spoon.
I have another brother his name is Oren.
I’ve never met him.
On a bloody night eighteen years ago Oren disappeared from our house on Black Hammock. Mother and Walter think he’s dead. If they knew he was alive Walter would fret the way a grown man shouldn’t if he wants to keep the respect of his neighbors. Mother would put down her paintbrushes and scream. And scream. Cristofer doesn’t know about Oren. Cristofer’s brain will always be young.
I have an ache in that spot between the belly and the breasts that has no name. It’s like a cavity in a tooth and the ache makes no sense because a cavity is a hole and a hole shouldn’t hurt it is empty. This is not a metaphor. Either. The dentist will tell you that the hole hurts because it’s a hole. The hole will stop aching if the dentist fills it.
A policeman named Daniel Turner used to come to our house and ask about Oren. As if he was a dentist. That is a metaphor. Daniel Turner brought me candy and I was sorry when Walter chased him away and told him we no longer welcomed his questions and questions and questions. Walter says some questions have only secret answers. Where do you find secret answers? In the blood that dried between the floorboards eighteen years ago.
Walter will tell you that these answers are dangerous. He’ll fret even if the neighbors are watching. If Mother even thinks about the questions a groan comes up from her throat and out of her mouth until she puts two fingers on her lips to silence herself.
Where is Oren?
Is he buried in the pinewoods where Mother and Walter believe they put him?
Could the dried blood between the floorboards liquefy and pulse like a tell-tale?
I have the secret answer.
The answer is Oren’s coming home to Black Hammock.
Black Hammock is the third book in the Daniel Turner thriller series, published by Severn House Publishers, June 2016.
Homicide detective Daniel Turner revisits an 18-year-old unsolved case in the third of this intriguing and atmospheric crime noir series.
We had set out from Atlanta to kill my mother and her husband. A slow kill.
Oren has returned to the family home he last saw when he was eight years old. Eighteen years later, he is bent on an elaborate scheme of revenge.
Homicide detective Daniel Turner was never able to forget the unsolved case, the disappearance of Amon Jakobsen all those years ago. Convinced the man was murdered, he was never able to prove it. Now he has returned to the isolated house on Black Hammock Island following reports of a disturbance. Is this his chance to find out what really happened to Amon eighteen years before? And will he be in time to prevent history repeating itself?
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About the author
Michael Wiley is the Shamus Award-winning writer of the Joe Kozmarski mysteries, The Last Striptease, The Bad Kitty Lounge, and A Bad Night’s Sleep and, more recently, the Daniel Turner thrillers, Blue Avenue, Second Skin, and Black Hammock. Michael lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his family and a variety of animals that walked or crawled into his house with his kids when he wasn’t looking. Michael teaches at the University of North Florida. Visit Michael at www.michaelwileyonline.com.
All comments are welcomed.