By John Connolly

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The bartender started to rise and Louis shot him, watching impassively as he folded in upon himself and lay still on the filthy carpet. Angel stared at his partner. ” he asked. ” Louis moved swiftly to the door. Angel followed. He opened the door, glanced quickly outside, then nodded at Louis. Together, they ran for the Oldsmobile parked across the street. ” asked Angel, as he got into the passenger seat and Louis climbed behind the wheel. ” The car pulled away from the curb. The doors above the club opened and two men emerged with guns in their hands.

They had taken him in his cabin near Lake Placid. There was a girl with him. He had asked them not to hurt her. They had bound and gagged her and left her weeping in the bathroom. It was a small mercy that they had not killed her, but no such mercy would be shown to him. He could no longer see properly. One eye had closed itself entirely, never to reopen, not in this world. His lips had split, and he had lost teeth. There were ribs broken: he had no idea how many. The punishment had been methodical, but not sadistic.

Some are obvious: the man who kills his girlfriend, then takes his own life, either out of remorse or because of his own inability to face the consequences of his actions; or the tit-for-tat murders of hoodlums, gangsters, drug dealers, each killing leading inexorably to another as the violence escalates. One death invites the next, extending a pale hand in greeting, grinning as the ax falls, the blade cuts. There is a chain of events that can easily be reconstructed, a clear trail for the law to follow.

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