Kingdom Come (Elizabeth Harris Novel, An)

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9780425282892: Kingdom Come (Elizabeth Harris Novel, An)

Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has always been a place of quiet beauty—until a shocking murder shatters the peace, and leaves a troubled detective picking up the pieces...

After her husband is murdered, Detective Elizabeth Harris turns in her NYPD badge and moves back home, hoping that a quiet life in remote Pennsylvania Dutch country will help her overcome the dark memories of her ten years in New York. But when a beautiful, scantily clad “English” girl is found dead in the barn of a prominent Amish family, Elizabeth knows that she’s uncovered an evil that could shake the community to its core.

Elizabeth’s boss is convinced this was the work of an “English,” as outsiders are called in Lancaster County. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure. All she’s missing is an actual lead—until another body is found: this time, a missing Amish girl. Now Elizabeth must track down a killer with deep ties to a community that always protects its own—no matter how deadly the cost...

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About the Author:

Jane Jensen is a novelist and game designer. Best known for her computer game series, Gabriel Knight, and her novel, Dante’s Equation, Jensen has published seventeen games and four thriller novels. She also publishes romance as Eli Easton. She lives with her husband, Robert Holmes, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

CHAPTER 1: The Dead Girl

CHAPTER 2: Fistful of Seeds

CHAPTER 3: Bread and Milk

CHAPTER 4: The Naming

CHAPTER 5: A Lesson in Husbandry

CHAPTER 6: What She Hid

CHAPTER 7: The Girl in the River

CHAPTER 8: Pot of Gold

CHAPTER 9: Broken Fences

CHAPTER 10: Pulling Up Roots

CHAPTER 11: Germination

CHAPTER 12: In Custody

CHAPTER 13: Wheat from Chaff

CHAPTER 14: The Bloody Bower

CHAPTER 15: Drowning

CHAPTER 16: Snake in the Grass

EPILOGUE

Special Excerpt from In the Land of Milk and Honey

CHAPTER 1

The Dead Girl

“It’s . . . sensitive,” Grady had said on the phone, his voice tight.

Now I understood why. My car crawled down a rural road thick with new snow. It was still dark and way too damn early on a Wednesday morning. The address he’d given me was on Grimlace Lane. Turned out the place was an Amish farm in the middle of a whole lot of other Amish farms in the borough of Paradise, Pennsylvania.

Sensitive like a broken tooth. Murders didn’t happen here, not here. The last dregs of sleep and yet another nightmare in which I’d been holding my husband’s cold, dead hand in the rain evaporated under a surge of adrenaline. Oh yes, I was wide-awake now.

I spotted cars—Grady’s and two black-and-whites—in the driveway of a farm and pulled in. The CSI team and the coroner had not yet arrived. I didn’t live far from the murder site and I was glad for the head start and the quiet.

Even before I parked, my mind started generating theories and scenarios. Dead girl, Grady had said. If it’d been natural causes or an accident, like falling down the stairs, he wouldn’t have called me in. It had to be murder or at least a suspicious death. A father disciplining his daughter a little too hard? Doddering Grandma dipping into the rat poison rather than the flour?

I got out and stood quietly in the frigid air to get a sense of place. The interior of the barn glowed in the dark of a winter morning. I took in the classic white shape of a two-story bank barn, the snowy fields behind, and the glow of lanterns coming from the huge, barely open barn door. . . . It looked like one of those quaint paintings you see hanging in the local tourist shops, something with a title like Winter Dawn. I’d only moved back to Pennsylvania eight months ago after spending ten years in Manhattan. I still felt a pang at the quiet beauty of it.

Until I opened the door and stepped inside.

It wasn’t what I expected. It was like some bizarre and horrific game of mixed-up pictures. The warmth of the rough barn wood was lit by a half dozen oil lanterns. Add in the scattered straw, two Jersey cows, and twice as many horses, all watching the proceedings with bland interest from various stalls, and it felt like a cozy step back in time. That vibe did not compute with the dead girl on the floor. She was most definitely not Amish, which was the first surprise. She was young and beautiful, like something out of a ’50s pulp magazine. She had long, honey-blonde hair and a face that still had the blush of life thanks to the heavy makeup she wore. She had on a candy-pink sweater that molded over taut breasts and a short gray wool skirt that was pushed up to her hips. She still wore pink underwear, though it looked roughly twisted. Her nails were the same shade as her sweater. Her bare feet, thighs, and hands were blue-white with death, and her neck too, at the line below her jaw where the makeup stopped.

The whole scene felt unreal, like some pretentious performance art, the kind in those Soho galleries Terry had dragged me to. But then, death always looked unreal.

“Coat? Shoes?” I asked, already taking inventory. Maybe knee-high boots, I thought, reconstructing it in my mind. And thick tights to go with that wool skirt. I’d been a teenage girl living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I knew what it meant to care more about looks than the weather. But even at the height of my girlish vanity, I wouldn’t have gone bare-legged in January.

“They’re not here. We looked.” Grady’s voice was tense. I finally spared him a glance. His face was drawn in a way I’d never seen before, like he was digesting a meal of ground glass.

In that instant, I saw the media attention this could get, the politics of it. I remembered that Amish school shooting a few years back. I hadn’t lived here then, but I’d seen the press. Who hadn’t?

“You sure you want me on this?” I asked him quietly.

“You’re the most experienced homicide detective I’ve got,” Grady said. “I need you, Harris. And I need this wrapped up quickly.”

“Yeah.” I wasn’t agreeing that it could be. My gut said this wasn’t going to be an open-and-shut case, but I agreed it would be nice. “Who found her? Do we know who she is?”

“Jacob Miller, eleven years old. He’s the son of the Amish farmer who lives here. Poor kid. Came out to milk the cows this morning and found her just like that. The family says they’ve got no idea who she is or how she got here.”

“How many people live on the property?”

“Amos Miller, his wife, and their six children. The oldest, a boy, is fifteen. The youngest is three.”

More vehicles pulled up outside. The forensics team, no doubt. I was gratified that Grady had called me in first. It was good to see the scene before it turned into a lab.

“Can you hold them outside for five minutes?” I asked Grady.

He nodded and went out.

I pulled on some latex gloves, then looked at the body, bending down to get as close to it as I could without touching it. The left side of her head, toward the back, was matted with blood and had the look of a compromised skull. The death blow? I tried to imagine what had happened. The killer—he or she—had probably come up behind the victim, struck her with something heavy. The autopsy would tell us more. I didn’t think it had happened here. There were no signs of a disturbance or the blood you’d expect from a head wound. I carefully pulled up her leg a bit and looked at the underside of her thigh. Very minor lividity. She hadn’t been in this position long. And I noticed something else—her clothes were wet. I rubbed a bit of her wool skirt and sweater between my fingers to be sure—and came away with dampness on the latex. She wasn’t soaked now, and her skin was dry, so she’d been here long enough to dry out, but she’d been very wet at some point. I could see now that her hair wasn’t just styled in a casual damp-dry curl, it had been recently wet, probably postmortem along with her clothes.

I straightened, frowning. It was odd. We’d had two inches of snow the previous afternoon, but it was too cold for rain. If the body had been left outside in the snow, would it have gotten this wet? Maybe the ME could tell me.

Since I was sure she hadn’t been killed in the barn, I checked the floor for drag marks. The floor was of wooden planks kept so clean that there was no straw or dirt in which drag marks would show, but there were traces of wet prints. Then again, the boy who’d found the body had been in the barn and so had Grady and the uniforms, and me too. I carefully examined the girl’s bare feet. There was no broken skin, no sign her feet had been dragged through the snow or across rough boards.

The killer was strong, then. He’d carried her in here and laid her down. Which meant he’d arranged her like this—pulled up her skirt, splayed her thighs. He’d wanted it to look sexual. Why?

The doors opened. Grady and the forensics team stood in the doorway.

“Blacklight this whole area,” I requested. “And this floor—see if you can get any prints or traffic patterns off it. Don’t let anyone in until that’s done. I’m going to check outside.” I looked at Grady. “The coroner?”

“Should be here any minute.”

“Good. Make sure she’s tested for any signs of penetration, consensual or otherwise.”

“Right.”

Grady barked orders. The crime-scene technicians pulled on blue coveralls and booties just outside the door. This was only the sixth homicide needing real investigation I’d been on since moving back to Lancaster. I was still impressed that the department had decent tools and protocol, even though I knew that was just big-city arrogance talking.

I left them to it and went out to find my killer’s tracks in the snow.

This winter had been harsh. In fact, it was shaping up to be the worst in decades. We’d had a white Christmas and then it never really left. The fresh two inches we’d gotten the day before had covered up an older foot or two of dirty snow and ice. Thanks to a low in the twenties, the fresh snow had a dry, powdery surface that showed no signs of melting. It still wasn’t fun to walk on, due to the underlying grunge. It said a lot about the killer if he’d carried her body over any distance.

There was a neatly shoveled path from the house to the barn. The snow in the central open area in the driveway had been stomped down. But it didn’t take me long to spot a deep set of prints heading off across an open field that was otherwise pristine. The line of prints came and went. They showed a sole like that of a work boot and they were large. They came from, and returned to, a distant copse of trees. I bent over to examine one of the prints close to the barn. It had definitely been made since the last snowfall.

A few minutes later, I got my first look at Amos Miller, the Amish farmer who owned the property. Grady called him out and showed him the tracks. Miller looked to be in his mid-forties with dark brown hair and a long, unkempt beard. His face was round and solemn. I said nothing for now, just observed.

They say the first forty-eight hours are critical on a homicide case, and that’s true, but, frankly, a lot of murders can be solved in the first eight. Sometimes it’s obvious—the boyfriend standing there with a guilty look and blood under his nails rambling about a “masked robber.” Sometimes the neighbors can tell you they heard a knock-down, drag-out fight. And sometimes . . . there are tracks in the snow.

“Nah. I didn’t make them prints and ain’t no reason for my boys to be out there,” Amos told Grady. He said “there” as dah, his German accent as broad as his face. “But lemme ask ’em just to be sure.”

He started to stomp away. I called after him. “Bring the boys out here, please.”

Amos Miller shot me a confused look, like he hadn’t expected me to be giving orders. I arched an eyebrow at him—Well?—and he nodded once. I was used to dealing with men who didn’t take a female cop very seriously. And I wanted to see the boys—wanted to see their faces as they looked at those tracks.

My first impression of Amos Miller? He looked worried. Then again, he was an Amish farmer with two boys in their teens. A beautiful young English girl—the Amish called everyone who was not Amish “English”—was dead and spread-eagled in his barn. I’d be worried too.

He came back with three boys. The youngest was small and still a child. That was probably Jacob, the eleven-year-old who’d found the body. His face was blank, like he was in shock. The next oldest looked to be around thirteen, just starting puberty. He was thin with a rather awkward nose and oversized hands he still hadn’t grown into. His father introduced him as Ham. The oldest, Wayne, had to be the fifteen-year-old that Grady mentioned, the oldest child. All three were decent-looking boys in that wholesome, bowl-cut way of Amish youth. The older two looked excited but not guilty. I suppose it was quite an event, having a dead body found on your farm. I wondered if the older boys had gone into the barn to get a good long look at the girl since their little brother’s discovery. Knowing how large families worked, I couldn’t imagine they hadn’t.

Each of the boys glanced at the tracks in the snow and shook his head. “Nah,” the oldest added for good measure. “Ain’t from me.”

“Any of you recognize that print?” I asked. “Does it look like boots you’ve seen before?”

They all craned forward to look. Amos stroked his beard. “Just look like boots, maybe. You can check all ours if you like. We’ve nothin’ to hide.”

I lifted my chin at Grady. We’d definitely want the crime team to inventory every pair of shoes and boots in the house.

“Would you all mind stepping over here for me, please?” I led them over to the other side of the ice-and-gravel drive, where there was some untouched snow. “Youngest to oldest, one at a time.”

The youngest stepped forward into the snow with both feet, then back. The others mimicked his actions obediently, including Amos Miller.

“Thank you. That’s all for now. We’ll want to speak to you a bit later, so please stay home.”

They went back inside and Grady and I compared the tracks. All three of the boys had smaller feet than the tracks in the snow. Amos’s prints were large enough but didn’t have the same sole pattern. Besides, I was sure Grady wasn’t missing the fact that the prints came and went from the trees, since the prints heading that direction overlaid the ones approaching the barn.

“I think Ronks Road is over there beyond those woods.” Grady sounded hopeful as he pointed across the field. “Can it be that easy?”

“Don’t!”

Grady cocked an eyebrow at me.

“You’ll jinx it. Never say the word ‘easy.’ That’s inviting Murphy, his six ex-wives, and their lawyers.”

Grady smirked. “Well, if the killer dumped her here, he had to come from somewhere.”

I hummed. I knew what Grady was thinking. I was thinking it too. A car full of rowdy youths, or maybe just a guy and his hot date, out joyriding in the country. A girl ends up dead and someone gets the bright idea to dump her on an Amish farm. They drive out here, park, cross a snowy cornfield, and leave her in a random barn.

It sounded like a stupid teenage prank, only it was murder and possibly an attempt to frame someone else. That was a lot of prison years of serious. A story like that—it would make the press happy and Grady fucking ecstatic, especially if we could nab the guy who wore those boots by tonight.

“Get a photographer and a recorder and let’s go,” I said, feeling only a moment’s silent regret over my good black leather boots. I should have worn my wellies.

It wasn’t that easy.

The tracks crossed the field and went into the trees. They continued about ten feet before they ended—at a creek. It hadn’t been visible from the barn, but there was running water here, a good twelve feet across. The land dipped down to it, as if carved out over time. The snow grew muddy and trampled at the creek bank. The boot prints entered the water. They didn’t reemerge on the opposite side.

“Cattle use this creek?” I asked Grady, looking at the mess of mud and snow and hoofprints along the bank.

Grady sighed. “Hell. It’s not legal, but a lot of the farmers do it, especially the Amish. It’s hard to explain to a man whose family has farmed the same land for generations why politicians in Baltimore don’t want his animals to...

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Descripción Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2016. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has always been a place of quiet beauty until a shocking murder shatters the peace, and leaves a troubled detective picking up the pieces After her husband is murdered, Detective Elizabeth Harris turns in her NYPD badge and moves back home, hoping that a quiet life in remote Pennsylvania Dutch country will help her overcome the dark memories of her ten years in New York. But when a beautiful, scantily clad English girl is found dead in the barn of a prominent Amish family, Elizabeth knows that she s uncovered an evil that could shake the community to its core. Elizabeth s boss is convinced this was the work of an English, as outsiders are called in Lancaster County. But Elizabeth isn t so sure. All she s missing is an actual lead until another body is found: this time, a missing Amish girl. Now Elizabeth must track down a killer with deep ties to a community that always protects its own no matter how deadly the cost. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780425282892

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Descripción Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2016. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has always been a place of quiet beauty until a shocking murder shatters the peace, and leaves a troubled detective picking up the pieces After her husband is murdered, Detective Elizabeth Harris turns in her NYPD badge and moves back home, hoping that a quiet life in remote Pennsylvania Dutch country will help her overcome the dark memories of her ten years in New York. But when a beautiful, scantily clad English girl is found dead in the barn of a prominent Amish family, Elizabeth knows that she s uncovered an evil that could shake the community to its core. Elizabeth s boss is convinced this was the work of an English, as outsiders are called in Lancaster County. But Elizabeth isn t so sure. All she s missing is an actual lead until another body is found: this time, a missing Amish girl. Now Elizabeth must track down a killer with deep ties to a community that always protects its own no matter how deadly the cost. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780425282892

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