Seventh Grave and No BodyBy: Darynda Jones
The following is a list of people to whom I owe a mountain of gratitude. Some of these individuals are a tad off-kilter, but we’d have it no other way.
My undying gratitude list includes but is not limited to:
Alexandra Machinist: for your amazing energy and unwavering support.
Jennifer Enderlin: for your utter brilliance and enthusiasm.
Eliani Torres: for your tireless efforts and incredible attention to detail.
Stephanie, Jeanne-Marie, Esther, and everyone at St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio: for all your wonderful work behind the scenes.
Nick and Mitali: for attempting to keep me in line.
Angie Bee: for the BEST LINE EVER!
Monica Boots and Marjolein Bouwers: for your help with translations.
Cait, Rhianna, Trayce, and Jowanna: for your smarts and dedication.
The Grimlets: for being the best a girl could ask for.
My family: for everything that you do.
Jowanna Kestner: for the diamond thing. JUST AWESOME!
Netters: for letting me hug you in public. You are the light in my heart.
The Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys: for being my gorgeous everythings.
Readers everywhere: for your love of reading.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I often question my sanity.
Occasionally, it replies.
If the woman howling from the backseat of Agent Carson’s black SUV weren’t already dead, I would’ve strangled her. Gladly. And with much exuberance. But, alas, my ex-BFF Jessica was indeed dead, and ranting on and on about how her death was entirely my fault. Which was so not true. It was only partly my fault. I wasn’t the one who’d kicked her off a seven-story grain elevator. Though I was beginning to wish I had. At least then I would’ve had a reason to listen to her harp ad nauseam. Life was too short for this crap.
After rolling my eyes so far back into my head I almost dislodged them from their sockets, I glanced over at my driver and the owner of said SUV, Agent Carson. Actually, it was FBI Special Agent Carson, but that was way too many syllables, in my book. I’d tried to get her to change her name to SAC—or even FBISAC, since we could’ve called her Phoebe for short—but she’d have none of it. Her loss. No telling how much time she could save if she didn’t have all those syllables to deal with.
Fortunately for SAC, she couldn’t hear Jessica, but the other supernatural entity in the car—one Mr. Reyes Alexander Farrow, the hot hunk of corporeal manliness sitting in the middle seat of the long SUV—most definitely could. It was his own fault, however. He was the one who’d insisted on playing bodyguard ever since we found out a group of hellhounds had escaped from molten gates down under and were on their way to this plane to dismember me.
As a diversionary tactic—since I had the innate ability to visualize my own dismemberment to an alarming degree—I was working on some of the cold cases SAC had asked me to look into, to see if anything caught my eye. And the folder containing an unsolved ten-year-old multiple murder definitely caught my eye.
Well, okay, they all caught my eye, but this one seemed to pull at me. To lure me. It begged to be solved. Five people—two adults and three teens—had been killed one night while preparing to open a summer camp for special-needs kids. They were each stabbed multiple times and found in a sea of blood by another camp supervisor the next morning. Another young girl, the only daughter of the two adults, was never found.
The only real suspect they’d had was a homeless man who scavenged the campsites in the area, stealing food from campers when they went on hikes or slept. But the forensics unit found no evidence linking him to the crime scene. Not a fingerprint. Not a drop of blood. Not a single strand of the suspect’s hair.
And so the case went unsolved. Until now. The FBI had finally wised up and put Charley Davidson on the task of bringing a killer to justice. Because that’s what Charley did. Brought killers to justice. She also found lost dogs, exposed cheating spouses, and tracked down the occasional skip. And she rarely referred to herself in the third person.
I had a few other specialties as well. Mostly because I’d been born the grim reaper. I could see dead people, for one, a fact that helped me solve many a case. Odd how easy it was to solve cases when one could ask the victim whodunit. Not that I could always rely on that natural advantage. Some people didn’t know who’d killed them. That was rare, but it happened. A traumatized brain was a complicated brain. Still, I got good intel most of the time.