Wednesday Sampler: Eleven by Carolyn Arnold


In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Wednesday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Eleven, a mystery thriller from the mind of Carolyn Arnold. As one reviewer said: From the moment I picked up the book I was thrown into the story and it never let me go. As the story unraveled and clues unfolded I felt like I was participating in the hunt as much as the agents in the story. And let me tell you, never did I see that ending coming.

The Story

 Eleven Rooms. Ten Bodies. One Empty Grave.

Brandon Fisher never expected this when he signed up as a Special Agent for the FBI. Working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit his career seemed set. But when the team is called to a small rural town where the remains of ten victims are found in an underground bunker, buried in an unusual way, Brandon knows he’ll never return to his normal life.

With one empty grave, and the case touching close to home, he fears he’s become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven. Only thing is, everything Brandon thinks he knows is far from the truth.

The Excerpt

Carolyn Arnold
Carolyn Arnold

The Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex is a medium security prison and thirty-one miles from Salt Lick. Some prisons in Kentucky house death row, a punishment still enforced down here. I had no doubt that once all was proven Lance Bingham would have his suite upgraded, a last meal granted, and a lethal injection shot straight through his veins.

A guard at the front gate let us pass with a flash of Jack’s creds, and after we relinquished our guns we were on our way to meet with a monster. I had studied a lot of serial killers, their methods, their means, their trophies, and their messages. I had spent hours studying their faces and peering into their lifeless eyes void of compassion, but that was through the pages of literature or through video. I wondered how much different it would be in person.

We were led into a meeting room used by lawyers to confer with their clients. Jack offered me the chair, and he paced behind me. The door opened and two security guards came in securing the prisoner by a grip on both of his arms. His hands were bound together in cuffs at the front. I wondered if the security here was always this intense, or if they were putting on a show for the FBI.

Lance Bingham had round-framed glasses that covered from his brows to his cheekbones. The silver hair on his head and face resembled steel wool, wiry and unkempt. His physique was trim and muscular.

His eyes matched with mine, and the corners of them creased as he smiled at me. His eyes, unlike the photos of killers I had studied, possessed awareness. His gaze reached inside my head and grappled onto my innate fears.

“Sit!” One of the security guards barked the order, shoving Bingham into the chair across from me.

Bingham leaned his torso as far over the table as he could before sitting down. His breath swept across my face. “You’re a little youngin’ ain’t ya?”

The few seconds it took the guard to secure his cuffs to the restraint on the table, I looked back at Jack who bobbed his head directing my focus forward. I knew this. My training and exercises in interrogation had prepared me for this. In fact, I had excelled in this part of the course.

“We’re good here,” I said, releasing the two security guards. I noticed the glance they passed to Jack as if looking to him for reassurance of my directive. He must have backed me up as they left the room.

Bingham smiled. “I killed two cows.” A Kentucky accent graced his speech, even though we knew he was born in Sarasota, Florida—ironically my hometown.

“We’re not here about the cows.”

“Then what possibly could ya be here for?” His index finger tapped the table.

The Kentucky accent by nature attributed softness to the speaker, a sense of innocence. It was uncanny to hear it coming from this man’s lips, a man who had tortured, murdered, and disemboweled at least nine people.

“We found the burial sites.”

Bingham sat back. The smile remained tattooed on his lips like the permanent grin painted on the face of a clown.

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“You’ll have to clarify that officer.” He continued tapping the table with his finger.

“FBI Special Agent Brandon Fisher.” I corrected him.

“Well, how-howdy Special A-agent Fisher.”

My earlobes heated with anger. He kept mind-piercing eye contact. I wanted to avert his eyes, even blink for an extended period to create a barrier between his mind and my thoughts.

Empathize and establish a groundwork. Build on their ego.

“Your basement bunker. Genius really.”

“Can’t say I know what you talking about.” More finger tapping.

My eyes wanted to sag, to shut, to close, but I fought against the urge. “Ten bodies were found buried on your property.” I fanned out the crime scene photos on the table.

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