A police investigator’s murder has put Cullen and Cobb back on a twenty-five-year-old cold case.
It’s a case that has haunted Cullen and Cobb for years — the murder of eleven-year-old Faith Unruh. And now the brutal killing of a police investigator who was similarly obsessed with the little girl’s murder has put PI Mike Cobb and former crime-writing journalist Adam Cullen back on the killer’s trail — and directly in the line of fire.
As the case is unfolding, Cullen is desperately trying to get out from under the thumb of a local biker gang without ruining his relationship, getting arrested … or worse.
About the author
David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, professional cowboy, football coach, stage and film actor and—most of all—writer. His writing career began in earnest when his story The Welcomin’ won the 1984 Alberta Culture Short Story Competition. Now the author of 27 books, many for middle readers and young adults, David spends 60 to 80 days a year in classrooms and libraries across Canada (and beyond) as a visiting author/presenter. The UBC Creative Writing alumnus and former Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library recently made his inaugural foray into the world of adult crime fiction with Serpents Rising, the best-selling first book in the Cullen and Cobb Mystery series. There are now four titles in the series and the fourth—None So Deadly—hit bookstores in the spring of 2019. The Man Called Teacher, coming in 2019, is his first adult western. David lives on a small ranch in Alberta’s foothills where he and his wife Barb raise and train running-bred quarter horses for barrel racing competitions.
Excerpt: None So Deadly: A Cullen and Cobb Mystery (by (author) David A. Poulsen)
Marlon Kennedy had been dead for almost ten weeks.
Christmas had come and gone; cold, dark January had given way to the longer, more optimistic February days, and evenings that began after six o’clock. There had been more snow than the almanac had forecast, though its prediction of a milder, kinder February appeared, at least so far, to be accurate.
Cobb and I were sitting in the Sunterra Market at 12th Avenue and 1st Street East, just a few blocks from Cobb’s office.
With Theory of a Deadman’s “Santa Monica” rolling through the speakers, Cobb was working the prime rib lunch special while I had settled for soup and a sandwich, my appetite dampened somewhat by the topic of conversation. We were talking about Marlon Kennedy. Except, of course, that wasn’t his real name.
Kendall Mark had been a Calgary Police Service detective at the time eleven-year-old Faith Unruh was murdered while walking home from school in 1991. Cobb had been on the force at that time, as well, but he was only two years into his career and not yet working homicide. It was in that department that he would spend much of his career before leaving the police service to become a private investigator. I had worked with Cobb on a few cases, including the search for the arsonist who set fire to my home and killed my wife, who was in the house at the time. Almost a decade later, we found that person.
Cobb told me the details of the Faith Unruh murder after my girlfriend’s daughter and her best friend had stunned us with their knowledge of the horror that had taken place fifteen years before either of them had been born.
Faith Unruh had celebrated her eleventh birthday the day before she died. She was walking home from school with a friend on a pleasant June day. The two lived just a block from one another and had parted company at the friend’s house, leaving Faith to travel the remaining block of her walk alone.
She never arrived home. Her killer somehow lured her into the backyard of a house two doors down and across the street from where she lived, strangled her in broad daylight and left her next to a garage with a piece of plywood over her. She was found several hours later, naked but not having been sexually assaulted.
Cobb told me that everyone in homicide had thought this would be a quick solve — that they’d have the guy within a day or two. The investigators figured it had to be someone who knew Faith, or at least knew her route home, and was also aware that she’d be alone for that final block. There was, of course, the possibility that it had happened by chance — that a predator had happened upon a near-perfect victim and had acted on impulse. Cobb said most investigators had ruled out that scenario, believing that the perfect storm of luck and opportunity was improbable. And that view was compounded by the belief that Faith would not have gone into the backyard of a neighbouring house with someone she didn’t know.
There was a fair amount of blood near the body that wasn’t Faith’s, so the police figured they’d have physical evidence, as well. There were also indications that the girl had fought for her life, which meant she had likely screamed. But as the investigation continued, it became clear that if Faith had screamed, no one heard her. As unlikely as it seemed, apparently no one had seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. The investigating team talked to everyone in the neighbourhood, even appealed on radio and TV for anyone who might have been driving by to come forward — several people had responded, most of whom must have been very near when the murder took place. But there were simply no concrete leads — no actual witnesses, no fingerprints or DNA match, and no apparent motive for the killing — unless it had been a sex crime, and the killer got spooked and f led before completing what he had started.
The original investigating team was two veteran guys who Cobb said had worked their tails off. One was named Lennie Hansel. He was only three years from retirement at the time. The Faith Unruh case apparently haunted the man to the point that he was dead less than a year after receiving his gold watch.
His partner at the time was Tony Gaspari, although cop logic or humour dictated that all of Hansel’s partners over the years were given the nickname Gretel.
Like his partner, this Gretel had become obsessed with the case, and the obsession eventually cost him his family and finally his mental health. Tony Gaspari ended up in a home, unable to look after himself or communicate beyond guttural sounds.
And there was a third cop. It wasn’t his case but he had got caught up in it. Spent all of his non-work hours on it … for years. He became more and more immersed in the case and finally just disappeared.
That man was Kendall Mark. He resurfaced years later and it turned out he had changed both his name — to Marlon Kennedy — and his appearance — from Caucasian to black. He had spent the last several years living on the Unruhs’ street, operating a sophisticated surveillance system that watched both the former Unruh family home and the one across the road, where Faith’s body had been found. He was convinced that one day the killer would show up again at one of the locations associated with the murder, and when that happened, Mark, a.k.a. Kennedy, would spring his trap.
I’d met him under circumstances I hoped never to face again. Because I had become fascinated by the case myself, I had driven and walked the area around both houses, unaware that I was being watched … unaware, that is, until the night Kennedy jumped me in the alley behind my own apartment and came very close to administering his own justice on me before I was able, barely, to persuade him that I wasn’t Faith Unruh’s killer.
And now Kennedy was dead.
Other titles by David A. Poulsen
The Unlikely Hero
The Story of Wolf 8 (A Young Readers' Edition)
The Man Called Teacher
Cullen and Cobb Mysteries 4-Book Bundle
None So Deadly / Last Song Sung / Dead Air / Serpents Rising
Last Song Sung
A Cullen and Cobb Mystery
Cullen and Cobb Mysteries 2-Book Bundle
Serpents Rising / Dead Air
A Cullen and Cobb Mystery
David A. Poulsen's Young Adult Fiction 3-Book Bundle
And Then the Sky Exploded / Numbers / Old Man
And Then the Sky Exploded
A Cullen and Cobb Mystery