Leith and Dion are on the hunt for a different kind of murderer … and he’s a real animal.
It seems the October rains have brought death and disaster to North Vancouver. A missing hiker is found by his son and daughter, a foul smell leads to a mauled body in a crawl space, and a small boy is attacked by a man in wolf form.
Once an up-and-coming Serious Crimes investigator, these days Constable Cal Dion is back on general duties, feeling out-of-the-loop and rebellious. On a routine canvassing task, he finds himself questioning an attractive witness, one he feels is peripheral enough to the crawl space case that he would be safe in asking her out. Of course, it’s the worst decision.… Constable David Leith is in the thick of the same investigation, a case complicated by rumours running wild and a most elusive suspect. Halloween has brought out the ghouls for Leith and his team … and possibly a shapeshifter as well, with murder on its mind.
About the author
RM Greenaway has been a waitress and a darkroom technician, and also worked in probation. She travelled B.C. as a court reporter, and writes a crime series set in the province featuring the barely compatible RCMP detectives Cal Dion and David Leith. Her first novel, Cold Girl, won the 2014 Arthur Ellis Unhanged award. She lives in Nelson, B.C.
Excerpt: Creep: A B.C. Blues Crime Novel (by (author) R.M. Greenaway)
Only distance had shut up Jack Randall. After the footbridge over Lynn Creek had come boardwalks and rustic stairs, then tree roots, boulders, and now a steadily rising incline. The October rain was coming down — not the second flood Randall had predicted, palm out in the parking lot, but a meanish drizzle. In the time it took to pause, unzip his patrol jacket, and swear at the sky, Dion’s new partner had gone charging ahead, invisible but for the reflective stripes on his uniform.
There was no hurry, in Dion’s mind. Somewhere up the path a dead man waited, growing cold, but a minute here or there hardly mattered. It wasn’t a crime, according to the dispatch. What it sounded like was an unfit man who had hiked himself to death. Happens.
But Randall was new at this, and ambitious — he’d even said so — and was probably hoping for a startling turn of events, a knife in the back or bullet hole in the temple. What he was going to find was everyday tragedy.
Dion had met Randall half an hour ago, their introductions made in the shadows of the parkade as they responded to the call-out, but already he knew more than he needed about the man. Randall hadn’t stopped talking from the moment he’d turned the key till — well, the distance now growing between them had put an end to it.
Randall was twenty-four, a few years younger than Dion. Born in Chilliwack, raised in Surrey, started his career in the central interior. Then, just days ago, he’d lucked into this North Shore posting, which he thought was great. He hoped he would get to stay a while. The plan was to work his way into the Serious Crimes Section, where he could put his brains to good use. He had good brains — he’d said that, too.
Dion pushed on. Rain spattered on his forage cap and his shoulders, on cedar boughs and pathway, and before his eyes, the remaining daylight dimmed. There had been no second flashlight in the boot of the cruiser, and all he had was the penlight on his belt, so when a halo blossomed around Randall’s silhouette ahead — the little bastard had finally switched on the truncheon-sized Maglite — Dion jogged to share the illuminated path.
Randall heard him huffing and turned to stare. “You okay there?”
Aside from this summer’s trouble which had landed him back on uniformed patrol with a loudmouth rookie like Jack Randall, much like when he’d left Depot ten years ago, yes, Dion was okay. “I’m fine,” he said. “Why?”
“We’re leaving the senior’s path now,” Randall said, grinning. He was short but fit. Round-faced, with ginger-gold bangs poking out from under his cap, wire-rimmed glasses, and easy enough in this spanking-new relationship to mock his partner. “Might get a little tougher from here on.”
It did get tougher, but not for long. Their destination appeared between trees, a blot of light. In the distance, Dion counted three figures standing around a mound of shiny fabric. One of the figures appeared to have two heads, but as he caught up, he realized it was two people glommed together in the twilight.
Randall was talking to a medic when Dion arrived. The mound was a body lying on the ground, covered in a foil blanket. Rain thumped on the foil, danced, and splashed. The glommed-together couple resolved into two teenagers in a tight embrace, a boy and girl in rain gear, their hoods up. A second paramedic stood apart, talking on a satellite radio. Everybody winced against the falling rain.
The first medic was saying to Randall, “… Just time and place, you know, thought it’d be a good idea if you guys took a look.”
“Sure,” Randall said. “What’s the story?”
“Probably heart gave out. Name is Aldobrandino Rosetti, fifty-two years old.”
Randall asked to take a look.
“Yes. Just watch what you say. Those are his kids. They found him. Came looking for him when he didn’t get home by dinnertime.”
Dion heard the teenagers murmuring to each other. He heard the word Mom repeated. He looked up the path Aldobrandino Rosetti had apparently come down, a dark tunnel through a wall of old-growth trees. Crazy idea to hike alone, and so late in the day. The victim must have collapsed as daylight waned, when the path had cleared of other hikers. Otherwise someone would have come upon him, reported the find. Nobody had. He might have lain here all night, if his kids hadn’t gone out searching.
Randall leaned over to pull back the blanket, using his flashlight to look up and down the dead man’s body. He checked the pockets for a phone and found one. Dion leaned forward to see what he could of the dead man. He caught a flash of grey-green cargo shorts and a fat, pale elbow flopped to the dirt. Randall lowered the blanket and went to talk to the kids.
Randall introduced himself to the young Rosettis. He got their names, address, and contact information, while Dion configured penlight and notebook to take it down. Randall asked the teens about their father, what brought him here, how they’d come to find him. Wetness choked up Dion’s pen, and he interrupted Randall, more with sign language than words, that this was all stuff they could ask later — in the patrol car, out of the rain — time not being of the essence here. He put away his notebook and asked what really mattered: “Does he have any history of heart trouble?”
“No, none,” the boy said. “His doctor told him to get more exercise. Like everything else he does, he went at it too fast, too hard. I should’ve slowed him down. I should’ve gone with him. I should’ve seen this coming.”
Randall said, “Shorts and a sweater. He doesn’t seem so well prepared.”
The boy and girl were silent a moment, looking at Randall, maybe thinking that criticizing their dad at a time like this was just nasty. Then the boy said, “He knew it was going to rain. His app told him. He loves his weather app.” “He loves all his apps,” the girl said.
Imitating the deeper voice of an older man, the boy said, “Is there an app for that?”
The girl burst out laughing and the boy started crying. Dion shifted his boots on the uneven ground and looked into the woods. He heard the girl say, “He aimed to be home long before the rain started. He was going to be home for dinner.”
Randall asked, “Any idea what else he took with him? Gear, packs, hat, camera?”
“He took his new pack, for sure. I guess his phone, wallet, keys. Lunch. Maybe extra clothes. Probably his camera. I don’t know,” the boy replied.
“Definitely his camera,” the girl said.
“You tried calling him, of course?”
“Of course. Went to voice mail.”
“Sure,” Randall said. “No signal up here, for starters. I don’t see a pack anywhere. Did you see it when you arrived?”
They shook their heads.
“Can you describe the pack?”
The boy described a cheapie from Bentley, black with grey detailing. Randall nodded at the kids, letting them go back to their private conversation. He shone his light at the ground near the dead man’s feet. He looked under the foil blanket again, then spoke to Dion, not quietly enough. “No blood, eh. No wounds.”
The distance between Randall’s mouth and the kids’ ears was too short, in Dion’s opinion. He agreed with Randall that there was no obvious sign of injury and asked the kids to move away, please. They did as told, went to stand behind the paramedics.
Randall crouched to study the earth around Rosetti’s body. The path was sodden now, pooling in places, and smothered in a reddish-brown carpet of conifer needles. The carpet appeared to be disturbed under Randall’s probing light beam. “Looks like he gave the ground a good kicking. Must be hell when that thing gives up, eh? The heart.” He scanned his light about, into the flashing rain, the woods, the undergrowth as far as the rays could reach, then along the path down which Rosetti must have come rushing before his collapse. “So where’s this famous pack?”
R.M. Greenaway injects an element of gothic suspense into Creep. The result is a haunting, well-wrought tale, with echoes of The Hound of the Baskervilles, set against the dark majesty of Vancouver's North Shore. A compelling read.
Sam Wiebe, award-winning author of Invisible Dead
Other titles by R.M. Greenaway
Five Ways to Disappear
River of Lies
B.C. Blues Crime 4-Book Bundle
Flights and Falls / Creep / Undertow / Cold Girl
Flights and Falls
A B.C. Blues Crime Novel
B.C. Blues Crime 3-Book Bundle
Creep / Undertow / Cold Girl
B.C. Blues Crime 2-Book Bundle
Undertow / Cold Girl
A B.C. Blues Crime Novel
A B.C. Blues Crime Novel