Saturday, June 16, 2018

From the first chapter of Robert Paxton's new novel - Sudden Cool Dark.

As Dalton expected, the body was ghostly pale. It had the look of all dead bodies except for the wooden shaft sticking out of its chest.
When he had encountered his first corpse in the line of work, a real corpse and not a carefully prepared cadaver in a coffin at a funeral home, Dalton had learned something about death that he never forgot. Confronted with mortality, he realized that dead bodies look very different. They do not simply appear like living people that are not moving. In a dead person, all nerve and muscle function has ceased. Tissues lose their tension, give way to gravity. The face changes as the jaw slackens and the mouth hangs open awkwardly.
This body was no different. It was a lump of muscle and other tissues. The man himself had leaked out with his blood and dissipated forever.
“What’s so special?” the detective asked.
“Look here.” Springer brought two fingers to within an inch of the wooden shaft. He moved them along its length, glancing back and forth from the evidence to Dalton. The detective saw that there were small black letters and symbols carved into the wood. There were no words that he recognized. The symbols looked vaguely familiar.