I’m deep into the final rewrite/edit of Dead Friends, the next book in the Will Diaz, Lawman series.

I’ve caught something interesting going on. Character development continues. We keep finding out more about them. For instance, Pam Harmon, the town marshal from Sanford and object of affection for Will’s buddy, RJ, has a three year old son. The little boy thinks RJ walks on water, and in one small scene, we see RJ teaching him how to play the guitar.

But something I hadn’t expected crept in.  The curtain is starting to rise for the next book, Family Secrets. Two events foreshadow it. In one, Will runs into his cousin, Daniel, at the courthouse.

“Sorry I haven’t seen you sooner,” I apologized to my cousin. I didn’t mean it.  Truth was I couldn’t stand him. If he got hit by a bus, the closest thing I’d show to sorrow was complaining that he got the grill of the bus bloody.

He blew it off. “Hi Will.”

We made small talk for a moment, then I said,”Did Tomas tell you I ran into him in Kuwait?”

He looked away and I couldn’t help but notice that he seemed to go a little pale at the mention of Tomas. I wonder what that’s about, and then he looked back, only his eyes didn’t meet mine.

“Tomas doesn’t write much. I haven’t spoken to him in almost four years.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” I meant it. Despite his father being a jerk, I liked Tomas. Even if I’d only crossed his path twice in my life. Once when he was five, and then again in Kuwait.

Another piece that foreshadows things to come happens in Chapter Five. They’ve just laid down the operation for going in and making a covert buy of narcotics. Now it’s Will, RJ, and the Sheriff sitting in the Detective Office talking when the dispatcher brings in the mail.

“Detective,” Vickie said. She held several magazines and envelopes. “Your mail.”

“Thanks, Vickie,” I took it from her and began leafing through it.

The new issue of Police magazine. There was discussion about rural patrol tactics in this issue, which I was eager to read. Then there was the usual junk. One was a form letter from a lawyer who represented police officers wondering if we’d be interested in his services. Then a card from the folks we’d purchased body armor from. They were now offering a ceramic plate that rode under the armor and would increase the protection offered. That might be worth looking into.

What caught my eye was an 8 X 10 manila envelope, the kind you would send photographs in. I cold tell it contained several sheets of something, but what caught my eye was the return address. There wasn’t one, just an an address tag with an odd symbol on it.

RJ must have noticed my frown. “What’s that, Will?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know.”

I slit it open and pulled out five sheets of type written paper. I looked closer. No, not from a typewriter, I noticed. These were laser printed documents. I leafed quickly through them.

“What the devil is this?” My eyes went wide. The only thing on it readable was the first page. Everything else was page after page of neatly arranged gibberish.

“What do have there?” the Sheriff asked.

I handed him and RJ both a sheet. RJ got the same look of confusion on his face that I had on mine a second earlier. “What is this?”

“I don’t know,” I responded. “But the cover letter is to me.”

“Read it,” the Sheriff commanded.

“It goes ‘Dear Will. I heard you’d made detective, and I’ve been following what you’re doing closely. Sounds like you’re giving the bad guys hell, so keep up the good work.

“‘Now for the purpose of this letter. First, you do know me, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working with you. Unfortunately, it won’t be as a fellow officer of the law. Suffice it to say, we’re trying to achieve the same goal, only you have legal constraints tossed on you because you wear a badge. I have no such constraints. You’re facing threats you nothing about, and in the months to come, your world is going to be rocked with news and revelations you never expected.

“‘I’m here to help even the odds, and to do what you can’t. I’ll be beginning operations soon.  All I ask is for you to stay out of my way. The sheets of paper that looks like gibberish is my target list. There’s a list of twenty six people who will die. I think once you figure a few things out, you won’t have any issue cracking it, but I hope you don’t crack it too soon.

“‘I am going to give you a freebie. The lawyer, David Wheaton, while he doesn’t appear on the hit list, is very much on my list. I suggest you look at him closely. Not that it will do any good. He’s still a walking dead man.

“‘I’m sorry I’m not giving you a way to talk to me. Any future correspondence will have my symbol below.

“”Again, it’s going to be a pleasure working with you.'”

The bottom of the page had the same cryptic,  symbol as the envelope had contained.  And below that was a series of dots.






There was more at the bottom of the page.

“‘PS,” I read further.”‘This is no joke, Will. I will do this. Take care.”

I handed it to RJ, and his mouth dropped. “Who the hell does this guy think he is? Zodiac?”

I shrugged, but I said what I was really thinking, “No.” But I knew this guy meant every word of it. I had his target list and it didn’t mean a thing to me.