Breathless (A Corey Shaw mystery Book 1) by Alex Morgan

Excerpt:

Corey found the local police chief and a forensic team from Hyannis on the sandy shore below the wooden deck of the Boatslip, one of the most popular spots in Provincetown. The size of the hotel meant that many guys were in one place and near the crime scene. Not good. The Boat Slip’s afternoon tea dance brought even more people crowding onto the outside deck, which also served as a dance floor. Even now, several men peered over the railing at the activity on the beach below.  Soon, more would follow.

Police Chief Richard Stewart greeted him as he checked in with the officer guarding the scene.

“Damn! You didn’t waste any time getting here, Shaw,” Chief Stewart said, looking at his watch. “Where were you when I called? Orleans?”

“Close enough,” Corey winked at his friend.

“Are you ever going to tell me how you move around the state so fast?”

“Perhaps.”

Chief Stewart shook his head and led Corey to the corpse.

“John Doe. Strangled,” he said. The grim look on his hard-lined face told Corey that something had rattled the chief’s staunch reserve. “And he was tortured before being killed.”

Having had frequent contact with the chief in the past, Corey had never seen him so shaken by a crime.

As they knelt next to the victim, the chief pulled back a tarp covering the naked body of a young man lying face down in the sand.

He pointed out disturbing aspects of the murder. “Rope burns on the ankles, wrists, knees, and across the chest and upper arms where he was tied up. The deep cuts indicate that the bonds were tight.”

He motioned toward the buttocks. The man had a narrow waist and a well-rounded ass, which had been slashed many times. Long gashes crossed the tanned cheeks, drawing blood that had long since dried.

“Looks like he was caned or severely whipped while he was tied up,” the chief continued. Similar slashes covered his back and legs, but not as severe as those on the ass.

“This has been done to him before, hasn’t it?” Corey asked.

“What do you mean?” Stewart gave him a quizzical look. He glanced at one of the forensics agents who knelt down on the opposite side of the body. “Corey, this is Carolyn Seger from the Massachusetts State Bureau of Investigation.”

Corey shook hands with her.

“You’ve got a good eye,” she said, directing their attention to several old wounds concealed and healing among the fresh ones.

Judging by the look on the chief’s face, Corey surmised that he hadn’t experienced anything like this in Provincetown before.

Carolyn picked up the story where Stewart left off. “From the angle of the rope wound around the neck, it appears that the victim was hung until dead. There are very few signs of a struggle, which is strange.”

Hmmm…maybe not so strange, Corey thought.

She pointed to the bruising on the neck. “The visible side of the face appears purple, a gruesome contrast to the white skin of his shaved head.” She frowned while mumbling the latter under her breath. “Look at these.” The agent indicated to marks crisscrossing his back. “It appears he was wearing a leather…” She hesitated, as if searching for the right word.

“Harness,” Corey finished. “I have one that’s almost the same as the one he wore. Do you think it played a role in his death?”

Seger shook her head. “Preliminary indications all point to strangulation by hanging.” She looked at him. When his eyebrows furrowed in concentration, she asked, “What is it?”

He pointed to faint, red markings on the back of the victim’s neck that resembled the ones on his back. “It looks like he wore a leather collar, as well.” He shifted his position to lean forward.

“We noticed that, too, but I don’t think it contributed to his death, either.”

“Can we turn him over?” The agent nodded and donned plastic gloves. With the help of another forensic team member, they rolled the corpse on its back. The hideousness of the crime became more apparent. The entire face, covered in purple blemishes, was contorted into a grimace as he had struggled to breathe in his last few seconds of life. His tongue protruded grotesquely from the mouth. Corey’s gaze shifted lower. All the pubic hair was shaved away.

“Look at this.” Seger’s eyes widened at the new discovery. “There’s scabbing just above the penis, and it seems as though it goes all the way around the scrotum. Something’s irritated his skin because it’s broken out and re-healed, like the marks on his posterior.”

“He wore a cock ring,” Corey said and added, “I have that same trouble if I wear mine too long.” Eager to contribute to the investigation, he’d let out more personal information than the chief or agents wanted to hear. To divert attention from his momentary lack of discretion, he took another tack. “Are you sure this was murder?”

“What else could it be?” The chief’s jaw clenched.

“I’m thinking it could be an extreme BDSM session that went a bit too far.”

Chief Stewart and Carolyn stared, jaws dropping.

“In all my years in Provincetown, I’ve never heard of something like this, and I’ve heard and seen some pretty weird shit.” The chief shook his head.

“Many guys have execution fantasies, where the only way they can get off is to experience a near-death situation. In such a case like this, execution by hanging,” Corey explained. “The victim is hung to the point when he comes and then is released by the ‘executioner.’” He used his fingers to form quotation marks in the air. “This might have been one time when the executioner didn’t move fast enough.” He paused for a few seconds. “Or wouldn’t.”

“You mean this guy let someone hang him to death?”

“No,” Corey replied. “More than likely, he just wanted to experience a high similar to the choking game that’s somehow gotten to be popular. But here, instead of doing it himself, he got a bigger rush by having someone do it for him. The idea is to release the rope or garrote before death. It’s an incredibly dangerous game.”

“So this could just be a tragic accident?” Seger asked.

Corey held out his hands in supplication. “Perhaps. Otherwise, we may have to look for a guy who has to kill to get off. But there’s something odd here.”

“What?” The chief sounded as though he didn’t think it could get any stranger.

“Whether or not his death was accidental, where are his harness, collar and cock ring? If his executioner didn’t kill him on purpose, why remove his accouterments? Or if it was intentional, a murderer would’ve dumped the body and not worried about removing everything, unless he left his DNA on everything.”

“Maybe the leather belonged to the executioner and he took it back?” Chief Stewart said. “You know, like a master/slave thing?”

Corey considered that explanation for a minute. “Perhaps, but not likely, I would think. Cock rings are more personal items, and since they’re relatively cheap, guys buy them for themselves or someone they’re romantically involved with.”

“Could this be a lovers’ spat?” Carolyn asked.

“I hadn’t thought about that, but you may be right. And the murderer removed everything to keep as mementos, or because they had a sentimental value?”

“Some serial killers do that, too,” Chief Stewart muttered. Corey and Carolyn looked at him. “They will take something from each of their victims as a trophy.”

“Or the harness could hold some concrete evidence to the identity of the murderer,” Corey mused. “Something other than his body fluids.”

More about author, Alex Morgan:

Alan Scott (aka Alex Morgan) was born and raised in western Oklahoma. He majored in chemistry in college and moved to Dallas to get his master’s degree. Later he received a PhD in analytical chemistry. He now lives in the Baltimore area.

He has been an avid reader, particularly mysteries, after being introduced to the Hardy Boys in grade school. After reading his first Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, in junior high, mysteries have been one of his biggest enjoyments. He has always enjoyed reading comic books and loves the super-hero genre just as much.

Combining these two concepts, he has written four mystery novels introducing gay, paranormal sleuth Corey Shaw. Under the pen name Alan Scott, he has written a novel continuing the paranormal detective series with “Inside Passage to Murder” and the forthcoming “A Faire Day for Murder.”  He is also the author of several gay erotica short stories.

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