Detective Brandy Spears of East Hampton Police catches a case, almost by default, while she is investigating a hit and run. The guilty driver is the son of a Hamptons based Mafia don and seemingly due to his father’s influence, Jimmy Pallidici escapes jail time even though he has consumed a fifth of bourbon and killed a woman on a crosswalk. His father gets him out of Suffolk County and into seclusion at the family’s luxury cottage on Martha’s Vineyard.
Six months after the sham of a court case, Don Antonio and Jimmy both receive red letters (in red envelopes) telling them that the son will be executed within a month. When that doesn’t eventuate and another month passes, they assume it was a hoax. Jimmy, with his two bodyguards, goes walking on the cliffs above Vineyard Sound. He is shot dead at distance from a small boat out on the choppy water.
So begins a hunt by the Don for the killer. He receives another red letter apologising for getting the timing of the execution wrong.
Spears also receives a red letter. In it, the writer explains that Jimmy’s execution was only one in a long line where murderers assumed they had escaped justice. When she is able to trace a few isolated murders of people who have escaped jail through technicalities, it becomes clear the FBI need to be involved.
Spears is permitted to be part of the task force initiated to track the killer or killers.
Evangelina Raphe is the head of an organisation called The Appropriate Justice Society. They have a hugely impressive headquarters outside Watertown in New York State and several businesses not shown as being connected to the society. The whole is a conglomerate worth multi-millions. Her right hand man is Gunther Horstrum. The society members are divided into three groups. The Trusted, The Inner Circle and The Core. The Trusted are the worker bees, The Inner Circle, the drones and The Core, the queen. The public are welcomed to gatherings four times a week and a lecture is given by one of The Core members. The meetings are ostensibly designed to give the society a respectable face.
During the talk, children are taken to a crèche while graphic photographs of murdered innocents are shown and their names given. No admittance of guilt is given when the lecturer claims that all the guilty who escaped punishment must pay for their crimes. At the end of each lecture, certain people in the audience, along with their names and designation, are pointed out as being FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security or CIA. The authorities have no idea how the society gets their information and the society refuses to tell.
Eight-two feet below the ground floor level is the sub-basement floor level. It is 60 feet below the basement floor level and can only be accesses by an elevator operated with the use of a four digit remote switch. For all intents and purposes, the elevator stops at the basement level.
The sub-basement contains advanced computer equipment working off a high powered mainframe. The detection programmes have been designed by Horstrum, an M.I.T. honours graduate in programming and systems analysing technology.
In fact, the entire building has been designed and built by the society. They have planners, engineers and trades people among their number. In the local council, they have members who are influential during the planning and building process. Only 30 people know of the sub-basement’s existence. Only two computer technicians (Inner Circle members) and The Core are permitted below basement level. Only The four Core members hold remotes (with a spare kept in the office safe on the second floor). There is a secret escape staircase from the sub-basement which exits on the second floor into a storeroom.
The basement consists of a soundproofed shooting gallery, a gymnasium and a workroom. The workroom contains a powerful, housed generator, benches, tools and other sundry equipment.
The ground floor has an Auditorium, the Narthex (main entry foyer) has internal doors leading to a crèche, a medical room and a small office. At the rear of the auditorium is a rear access foyer to the elevator. To each side of the auditorium dais, are waiting rooms.
In the middle of one auditorium wall is a door leading to a flight of stairs running between the basement and the second floor. On the second floor are the secretary’s office suite and the luxury apartment where Evangelina Raphe resides. In the middle is the elevator lobby.
It was assumed by Spears that the Don had greased a few palms to have his son released. The assumption was wrong. A Judge Bailey is to become a member of the society, albeit a quiet member. He was Jimmy Pallidici’s judge at the non-jury trial. He knew the boy was guilty and deserved the harshest punishment but he was directed to release him. After Jimmy’s execution, the Don figures out that his son was purposely released. The judge is kidnapped, tortured and disappears. The Don now knows who the guilty party is and war is unofficially declared.
Evangelina Raphe was Magdalena Jesentus in another life. She knows that Sergeant Brandy Spears was Marlena Jesentus in another life. They are half-sisters, something Spears does not know. As Spears and the FBI try to solve the case of The Coloured Letter Murders and the disappearance of Judge Bailey, another killer enters the equation and the trouble between the society and the Pallidici Family escalates.
Published: 9 June 2016
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