DEVILS PLAYGROUND


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A SAMANTHA CODY THRILLER #1

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Deputy Samantha Cody finally bagged her man. The jury’s verdict: three counts of murder in the first with special circumstances and a recommendation of death by lethal injection. Only Judge Westbrooke’s final decree stands between Richard Earl Garrett and San Quentin’s death row.

Exhausted from three weeks of trial, haunted by images of the three sacrificially mutilated children, and disgusted with Garrett’s arrogant defense that "the devil made me do it,” Sam wishes only to wash her hands of this despicable animal.

It seemed that Mercer’s Corner could finally sleep peacefully and Sam could once again concentrate on training and pursuing her dream of entering the world of women’s professional boxing, when Constance Beeson, the jury foreman, dies in a fiery accident with a runaway gasoline truck. The Rodriguez brothers, sleeping off a drunk in jail, die in a bizarre murder-suicide. Then, two other jury members are ritualistically slain with Garrett’s knife, which is missing from the evidence lock-up.

The bizarre deaths attract a cadre of characters to the tiny California high desert town: Nathan Klimek, star reporter for “Straight Story”, a supermarket check-out tabloid rag; Penelope, no last name, and her pseudo-Satanic followers; Awinita Stillwater, a local Cherokee Indian spiritualist; and Reverend Billy Thibideaux and his First Church of God disciples.

Sam’s world of hard facts and pragmatism spins out of control: two more murders occur, each with Garrett’s signature; Reverend Billy whips the town into a lynch-mob frenzy; Penelope seeks Sam’s help because she fears Garrett is “taking control” of her; Sam experiences strange, sensuous dreams.

Awakened from yet another bizarre dream, Sam is attacked by Carl Angelo, Reverend Billy’s granite-like body guard, and must fight for survival. With his last breath, Carl speaks words that could only come from Garrett. Sam and Sheriff Charlie Walker confront Garrett, who answers only to the name Beelzebub, claims he is the “right hand of Satan,” and boasts details only the killer could know. Sam threatens to kill Garrett “right where you sit,” but is blind-sided by a blow from Sheriff Walker, who has fallen under Garrett’s control.

Sam finds herself deep in the desert, bound and gaged in the trunk of a car. Then, hanging by her ankles in the mouth of the same mine shaft that the three children had hung from two months earlier, she can only watch as Garrett prepares her sacrifice. Sam slips her bonds and faces Garrett in a hand to hand struggle for her life and soul, using her wits and boxing skills to overcome “the right hand of Satan.”

© Douglas Lyle 2015