by Rick Sulik
Author Rick Sulik stops by today to share an excerpt from his mystery/suspense novel, Death Unmasked. It's Rick's birthday today, so please join me in wishing him a very happy birthday!
A reincarnated evil is stalking the women of Houston. With each murder, the madman quotes an excerpt from the Oscar Wilde poem, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". A huge smokestack belching smoke, a ragged flea market double-breasted wool coat, and an old antique picture frame, bring the distant past back to haunt Houston Homicide Detective, Sean Jamison. With those catalysts, Jamison knows who he was in a past life and that he lost the only woman he could ever love. Searching for his reincarnated mate becomes Jamison’s raison d’être as he and fellow detectives scour Houston for a brutal serial killer. The memory of timeless love drives Jamison’s dogged search for a serial killer, determined to finish what he started decades earlier.
Each clue brings Jamison closer to unmasking his old nemesis. Tenacious police work, lessons learned in the past, and intuition may be the only weapons he has in preventing history from repeating itself.
Overnight, fall succumbed to early winter. A blanket of frost covered mother earth. Dawn’s crimson light—a sailor’s warning—spread across a cloudless horizon.
A choir of chirping birds awakened him. His eyes blinked open. A cool morning breeze blew wisps of invigorating country air into the tranquil chamber.
Through a sleepy haze, he cocked his head to admire the love of his life lying next to and facing him. Her head rested comfortably on a cottony pillow. A contented smile curved at her mouth. Her essence captivated him. Theirs had been a marriage made in Shangri-La.
A steady ray of warm sunlight penetrated the curtain sheer and shined on her golden hair as soft as the rain falling on summer flowers.
He shifted his body and leaned on his elbow. He rested his head in the palm of his hand and watched her sleep.
His devoted gaze swept over her sleeping figure. He took great pleasure memorizing every delicate contour of her face. He strained his ears and grinned as sounds of a faint whistle emitted from her tapered nose when she exhaled. He almost laughed aloud at those slight sounds.
His Laura looked stunning. Sunny morning or stormy weather, she brought a twinkle to his wistful eye.
With deliberate gentleness, one hand crept from under the bed sheet and pulled the comforter up over her exposed shoulder.
So young and full of life! Nothing’s quite as pretty as my Laura in the morning, chasing a rainbow in her dreams in faraway enchanted lands.
He stretched his neck and kissed her forehead.
She didn’t move.
He reached over and tweaked her nose.
Her forehead wrinkled.
He grinned and tickled her ear.
She stirred and arched an eyebrow. She opened one sleepy eye half-way, yawned and stretched herself lazily.
“Good morning, sunshine,” he said.
A sweet smile curled on her voluptuous honey lips when she opened both eyes wide at his morning greeting.
“Good morning, Emil,” she said and kissed him. “I was sleeping so good.”
“Yes, love, I could tell. I’ve been watching you.”
“I dreamed we were on our own private island.”
“That’s an expensive dream. I don’t think we can afford such luxury on my petty wages in this lifetime.”
“Well then, maybe things will be different the next time around together and we’ll be able to afford our very own secluded paradise. Until then, how about we just pretend we’re marooned on a deserted island?”
She played the seductress this morning. To entice him, Laura rolled on her back and pretended to sunbathe nude on an imaginary sandy white beach.
The tingling sensation of his warm hand on her smooth skin brought a giggle of anticipation.
Emil kissed her brow and hoped they could fulfill their dreams together, and all their tomorrows would be safe and happy.
Their unconditional love for each other thrilled him, but unlike other passionate mornings, today, a chilling sense of dread and doom lurked and struck like a dagger at his heart. His instincts set off an alarm, and suddenly he felt sick. He trembled as fear and gloom gripped him by the throat and appeared to suffocate him.
He shuddered, and Laura said, “Emil, what’s wrong?”
The next second erupted with the sound of bomb bursts in the distance that shattered the silence and peace of their cozy hillside hamlet. The earth erupted with sounds of war ripping the countryside apart.
Emil’s legs tangled in the sheets in his haste to reach the bedroom window.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as his eyes swept the landscape.
His shocked face looked at his jittery wife.
Laura sat straight up in bed clutching the quilt to her breast with fear written on her face.
His eyes moved from Laura back to the horizon.
He squinted and blocked the bright morning sun with his hand and searched his acre of land for any signs of hostile troop movement.
Emil never expected his country to be invaded.
Never in a million years.
They promised they wouldn’t invade! They signed an armistice agreement!
He and the rest of his countrymen had been fooled.
Blasted rotten bastards lied and betrayed all of us. I wonder if there’s still time to unite and arm ourselves against total annihilation. The enemy must have crossed the unsecured border overnight and invaded nearby towns. The enemy could have advanced and taken our town! They might be sneaking up on me right this very moment! Hell! Who’s protecting us? Blast those lying bastards!
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"The author has accomplished an impassioned, arduously written result of crafting together various stylistic elements to tell his story that, combined, engage the reader on different levels and provide different perspectives of social, spiritual and humanistic themes in an entertaining way." ~ Robert M. Tucker, author, Byron, Chance of a Lifetime, American Landscape
"Poetry and murder: an unlikely couple, but the twain meet in this fascinating, supernaturally inspired detective thriller." ~ D. Clarke
"Part love story, part criminal thriller, this supernatural novel appeals on many levels. [...] A unique and satisfying read, definitely recommended." ~ Thalia
A book that flows, easy to read and not only engaging, but draws the reader in, to such an extent that once you put the book down, you have to readjust back to the 'real world'. The writer connects to those details that touch us all, such as that favourite song you've always listened to, and rather than just depict violence, he brings out the reality of the heartache that such evil cruelty brings. [...] With the twists and turns, enhanced with love, crime and the supernatural, well written, what more could you ask for? Get it, Gift it, share it." ~ T-Fly
"I found this book a combination of prose; poetry; detective story; love story; suspense novel; and reincarnation novel. Some portions were a real 'finger turner'. I had scheduled myself one week to read it but finished in two days. It is extremely well written and the author has a message to say about the meaning of life and death. The author is well versed in police procedures. [...] I do think most anyone would like this book. After I read the novel I found that the author had an extensive police background. I have no qualms about giving this well written novel a five star rating." ~ D. Meyer
About the Author
Rick Sulik was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. After completing high school in Boardman, Ohio, he enlisted and served four years in the United States Air Force Military Police. After receiving an Honorable Discharge, he worked three and a half years with the Houston, Texas Police Department, twenty-two years with the Pasadena, Texas Police Department, and ten years as a courthouse bailiff with the Gonzales County, Texas Sheriff s Department, before retiring in 2013.