It's 1943 and the world is at war. Journalist Nathan Doyle has just returned home from
North Africa--still recovering from wounds received in the Campaign--when he's asked to cover the murder of a society blackmailer. Western Desert
Lt. Matthew Spain of the LAPD homicide squad hates the holidays since the death of his beloved wife a few months earlier, and this year isn’t looking much cheerier what with the threat of attack by the Japanese and a high-profile homicide investigation. Matt likes Nathan; maybe too much.
If only he didn’t suspect that Nathan had every reason to commit murder.
He stared into Mathew Spain’s long-lashed hazel eyes, and he realized with sudden terrible clarity that
Spain knew all about him. Knew exactly what he was. Knew it as surely as though Nathan’s ugly history were an open file on his Spain’s tidy desk. In fact…Nathan glanced at Spain’s desktop as though somehow the explanation could be found there, because how did Spain know? How? Had it become that obvious? Like a scarlet letter branded into his skin -- or the mark of Cain?
Hot blood flushed Nathan’s face, and just as quickly drained away, leaving him feeling light-headed. He drew back, drawing sharply on his cigarette. He sat very straight.
“Why am I here?” Nathan asked, blowing out a stream of blue smoke. His voice was just about steady.
“Why didn’t you mention you were with the Arlen kid on Saturday night?”
“I wasn’t with him,” Nathan said. “I ran into him at the Las Palmas Club. We had a drink together.” He shrugged.
“She doesn’t know me very well.” Nathan studied the ashes on his cigarette.
“Did she threaten to kill her husband and Pearl Jarvis?”
“She might have.” Nathan smiled wryly. “I wasn’t listening that carefully to tell you the truth.”
Nathan said slowly, “I went there for a few drinks and some laughs, but after I got there…I realized that really wasn’t what I needed.”
“What did you need?”
Spain asked -- and Nathan, for the life of him, couldn’t think of how to answer.
Neither of them spoke. Neither of them looked away.