Nightfall and the Masked Demon
Masked Demon Series Book 1
by Richard Combs Genre: Mystery. Thriller
Young Navajo women are murdered and butchered in drug-crazed rituals. The evidence points back to ghastly rituals performed by a satanic cult years earlier. The FBI and Navajo Police join forces with a veteran Navajo County investigator to hunt down the deranged killer(s).
Richard Combs weaves this masterful tale of a fiendish serial killer, sexual crimes, demonic cults, masked demons, and Navajo life with a sure hand and many surprises.
Gilbert cleared his throat. “A young girl had been brutally murdered at the William McKinley School on the southwestern rim of Coyote Canyon. In fact, I was on my way to interview a person of interest when I saw Jacob running through the desert.
“I drove my truck off the road and came up behind him. By then he had dropped to all fours and—as far as I could tell—was trying to gallop on his hands and feet.”
“He was on all fours?” Meister interrupted.
“Yes,” Gilbert continued. “He knew I was behind him but kept hopping along. I turned on my top lights and hit the siren for a second before he actually stopped. As far as I could see, he had blood running down his chin. So, yes, I drew my pistol. The murdered girl had been mutilated and dismembered. Jacob behaved in an obviously deranged manner. So, I believed with the visible blood on him; the fact that he was running; and his unstable behavior that he might be connected to the murder.”
“How far is it to the top of the canyon using the southwestern road?” Meister cut in.
Gilbert paused for several seconds. “A few miles at least. It's a very winding road, but as the crow flies, maybe only a mile or so.”
Meister chuckled. “Did Mister Steele behave like a crow? Did he fly or levitate?”
Gilbert smiled and laughed softly. “No, but a lot of sheep trails crisscross the canyon walls. On a lot of those trails, a person could easily travel to the school in maybe an hour and make the trip back in far less time.”
“But my client was unfamiliar with the area and lost,” Meister said.
“I didn't know that,” Gilbert returned.
Apparently, Meister realized he was getting nowhere with that line of questioning.
“Did you ever ask my client or his companions if they needed food, water, or assistance?”
“Jacob told me he killed little animals for food and drank their blood,” Gilbert answered. “He and Sister Owl and Sister Coyote, as they called themselves,” he pointed at Nadia and Angela, “never asked for help. In fact, aside from their bizarre behavior and filthy condition, they appeared in good health.”
“Oh, you're a medical expert?” Meister interrupted.
“Absolutely not,” Gilbert admitted, “but they walked around reasonably well, talked to me reasonably well, and behaved reasonably well.” He stopped and stared at Meister. “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it must be a duck.”
The few people in the courtroom, including Jacob, Angela, and Nadia, laughed.
“That's outrageous,” Meister exploded. He must've sensed that he had lost his advantage. “A reasonable person would have offered assistance.”
“Not if a reasonable person saw what I saw,” Gilbert replied.
Midnight and the Masked Demon
Masked Demon Series Book 2
A flaming body falls onto a Yavapai County police cruiser. Is it connected to a secret alliance between local bikers and a drug cartel? At an isolated religious colony, life seems good but a rookie officer suspects a lot more goes on behind the razor wire than church socials and Sunday school. An FBI Agent with misgivings interviews the next President of the Navajo Nation about the reservation's sudden economic boom, connections to the murder and a suspicious trucking outfit.
As the investigation barrels along a twisted trail, all the suspects vie for the top spot on the list, but in the end, the key to the riddle lies in the past with the oldest of motives.
In the second of the Masked Demon series, Richard Combs blazes another deadly path through biker gangs, rape, drug cartels, betrayal and murder.
One early morning, while it was still dark, a couple of white-trash scumbags from the swamp country to the south robbed a convenience store. This time Eman and Blaine were the closest patrol team. Blaine, who was driving, had barely turned the patrol car around, when an old Buick sedan roared by at a hundred miles an hour, going the opposite way.
Blaine spun the car around to give chase, while Eman called in the hot pursuit. The dispatcher acknowledged their call then warned them the fleeing men were armed and extremely dangerous. They had shot the owner of the store and killed two customers, from whom they had hijacked the car.
The palms of Blaine's hands sweated so heavily they slipped on the steering wheel. Meanwhile, Eman shouted in Arabic, louder as the chase accelerated.
Blaine put the gas pedal to the floor to pass the fleeing Buick on the left, but when the fugitive's car veered left, Blaine jammed on the brakes.
"Ram them, goddammit," Eman yelled and pulled the shotgun from the center console. "The way you drive, they'll be in the next state before we catch up."
"I'm doing the best I can," he answered testily but floored the gas pedal again.
"Don't be such a chickenshit," she said. "Move it." Then Eman leaned out the window with the shotgun pointed at the fleeing car. "Closer," she screamed.
The Buick swerved left. This time, however, Blaine gripped the wheel, gritted his teeth, and sideswiped the car. Almost simultaneously, Eman fired the shotgun at the cab of the Buick until she emptied the gun.
Instead of trying to get away, the fugitives turned sharply to the right, jumped the bar ditch then crashed into a muddy pond about twenty yards off the road. Blaine hit the brakes, turned the wheels to the right, and pulled up on the emergency brake. The rear of the car skidded heavily to the left and the vehicle seemed to float down the road before coming to a stop.
Over fifty yards separated the two cars. Eman, still clutching the shotgun, rolled out the right door and scrambled for the cover of the bar ditch. The two robbers fired at the police car ‒ an easy target, since the top lights still flashed, and the siren wailed.
Blaine tumbled out of the left door and scurried from the car as fast as his four limbs could carry him.
Eman reloaded and fired the shotgun again. While she kept the two gunmen busy, Blaine crawled toward her but didn’t pull his gun until he rolled into the bar ditch next to her.
"Can you shoot that damned pistol?" she demanded.
Blaine jerked his head violently up and down then realized she probably couldn't see him. "Yeah," he said, though he slurred the word.
"They're still behind the car," she told him. "Head over to the left, see if you can force them to move. I'm going to creep over to the right. I'll fire a couple of rounds. Look for their muzzle blasts. That should locate them for you. Fire in their direction, and I'll start moving in."
He wanted to wait for backup; didn’t want to end up with a bullet in his head. She wanted to play the hero, probably thought of the gunmen as Israelis on the West Bank.
Regardless of his fear, Blaine crept about thirty yards around the Buick, just a bit behind it. In rapid succession, Eman fired the shotgun three times. The two criminals returned her fire. They had moved out of the water to a dry spot behind a small mound closer to him.
Blaine crawled forward holding his head only high enough to keep his eyes on the mound. One of the gunmen moved, his silhouette just visible in the moonlight. Blaine carefully aimed his pistol and fired. Gunshots erupted from behind the mound, and Blaine heard the whistle of lead flying over him.
"Motherfucker," one of the gunmen cried. "I'm hit."
Listening for any odd sound, Blaine wiggled forward, sure a bullet would find him at any moment.
Instead, he heard Eman shout, "Dump the guns, assholes!" He saw a flashlight come on. She stood behind the fugitives with the shotgun pointed directly at them. "Hey, pussy," she called, "it’s safe to come out now."
Blaine stood up, his uniform dripping muddy water. He turned on his flashlight and walked over close to where the gunmen sat. One was bleeding from his upper right chest whimpering.
"Cuff him," Eman said. "Then you can cover me, while I cuff this one."
Cautiously, Blaine obeyed, walking close to the wounded fugitive. He holstered his gun and pulled out his handcuffs, but the man popped one last surprise. Like an acrobat, he rolled to one side and kicked one leg forward, landing his heel in Blaine's groin. Blaine went down like so much dead weight.
The other robber jumped forward at Eman, who had lowered the shotgun. Instead of trying to raise the weapon, she dropped it, stepped to one side and hit the fugitive on the back of the head with the flashlight. He tried to turn, but she smashed him across the face so hard, Blaine heard a brittle, cracking sound. The man spun partially with his arm up to protect himself, but Eman lashed out with her foot and bashed the robber's knee hard enough to bend the leg backward.
Daybreak and the Masked Demon
Masked Demon Series Book 3
A grisly assassination, an icy grave, eleven victims in all including a U.S. Senator. A Federal investigation leads nowhere. The grieving and angry friends of one of the victims takes up the trail of mayhem and murder to track possible clues, leading them from Arizona's White Mountain Apache Reservation to the Mexican border, to the guarded citadels of billionaire kingmakers. No suspect has the means, motive, and opportunity‒ yet eleven dead testify to at least one person having all three.
Biker gangs, white supremacists, a wanted terrorist, even the President of the Navajo Nation, suspects all, as Richard Combs delivers another taut thriller in the third of the Masked Demon series.
Pop! Pop! Muffled rounds sounded off to both sides of the highway, and without fanfare, gas-grenades hooted behind the barricades. The air filled with an odorless vapor and in less than a minute people, including Sven, Bridget, and their companions cried, coughed, wheezed. Sven burned all over: his eyes, his nose, his mouth, throat. For Christ's sake, his chest felt on fire. He couldn't speak, just grabbed hold of Bridget and ran north on the highway, anywhere away from the tear gas.
As soon as Sven could see, he glimpsed Lance Biddle running ahead of them, as if his American suit was jet-propelled. The line at the barricades had broken down and the border defenders scrambled away like frightened mice.
Sven realized that Homer Wells had sent squads of his revolutionaries to flank the barricades and fire in tear gas canisters. Meanwhile, men in the advancing APCs and on both sides had spread out and fired more tear gas grenades, as well as beanbags and rubber bullets. A few of the defenders, mainly those belonging to the Aryan Defense Force, got off some rounds but not accurately enough to deter or even slow the advance.
All around Sven and Bridget, people ran. Some fell in their blindness and panic. Just ahead, Brian dropped to his hands and knees, retching and vomiting. "Fuck," he cried, "fuck, fuck, fuck!"
A few seconds later, Sven found a place at the side of the road, where he and Bridget sat on the edge of the bar ditch. Tear streaks ran down both sides of her face, and her nose dribbled over her lips onto her chin. He knew he looked no better. From behind, he heard the APCs still coming and almost no gunfire.
"What happened?" Bridget sobbed.
"Homer outmaneuvered us," Sven answered. "We stood there like ducks in a row. The national media will have a field day. I don't have the slightest idea what Lance will say when he finally stops running, except the ‘Second Battle of Columbus’ didn’t turn out so well."
"We need to get back to the camp," she said, "wash this gas off."
"Yeah, but we'd better go back from here across the desert. Homer and his army are still coming up the highway."
Bridget jumped to her feet. "Let’s get out of here now. I don't want another dose of that gas."
Richard P. Combs is a field editor and columnist for" Bowhunting World" as well as a free-lance writer whose award-winning articles have appeared in many outdoor publications. He is also an experienced and well traveled wild turkey hunter. Richard resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his family.