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A Place Called Fear (Maggie Novak Thriller) by Keith Houghton

A Place Called Fear (Maggie Novak Thriller) by Keith Houghton

Author:Keith Houghton [Houghton, Keith]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781542014458
Published: 2019-11-11T16:00:00+00:00


Chapter Nineteen

FACTORY SETTINGS

Maggie rolled down the car window and took a photo of the tall billboard sprouting out of the roadside grass a few yards away. Sunlight running like liquid gold on its metallic edges.

HECTOR’S SELF-STORAGE

Then she exchanged her phone for the padlock key she’d logged out of Evidence, holding it up in her gloved fingers so that she could visually compare the cartoon beaver head on its reverse to the larger-than-life logo on the billboard.

The two images were identical.

Just as she’d thought, the key came from this storage facility.

She swung her gaze to the business premises itself, made up of a series of long, low buildings with beige walls and red roofs, set back from the street behind a wall and trees.

Not much had changed in the years since she had last been here. The facility in Oak Ridge had formed the scene of one of her first cases after joining Homicide Squad: a homeless man riddled with cancer had accessed an unlocked unit, crawling into the dark space to die. It had been the height of summer, with soaring temperatures, and Maggie had been called to investigate a week later, when the smell had gotten so bad that it had started to affect business. Until that day, she hadn’t fully appreciated what heat, humidity, and time could do to a corpse.

Her gaze stopped on the big roller gate at the end of the short driveway leading in from the street. Tied to the bars with nylon rope, a sun-faded vinyl sign advertised AVAILABLE UNITS FROM AS LITTLE AS $50/MONTH.

She heard the sound of a vehicle pulling into the driveway behind where she had parked, and she got out of the sedan.

It was a sheriff’s cruiser, with Loomis sitting in the passenger seat, his Wayfarers teetering on the tip of his nose.

“Thanks for the lift,” he said to the deputy as he climbed out. He slammed the door, then loped toward Maggie as the cruiser reversed back out.

“What’s up, Novak?” he said. “Been waiting long?”

“Ten minutes, tops.”

In fact, almost an hour had passed since she’d called Loomis from the evidence facility on Thirty-Fifth Street. While it had taken him thirty minutes to get here from the Sheriff’s Office on West Colonial, she had repacked Clay’s effects and signed the padlock key out of Evidence, driving to the self-storage facility in Oak Ridge with minutes to spare.

On the way, Maggie had called Jasper Carmichael, placing him and the Hazardous Device Team on standby should the location turn out to be the place where Clay had built the bomb.

She handed Loomis a bulletproof vest from the trunk of the sedan. She was already wearing hers, tight enough to cut off circulation.

“Find anything interesting in Clay’s locker?” she asked as they made their way to the gate.

“The usual stuff,” he said, fastening the vest. “Including two full clips. But nothing extraordinary. Unless you count these.” He got out his phone and pulled up a picture.

Maggie stopped to take a look. She cupped a hand over the screen and shielded her eyes against the afternoon sunshine.



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