A Deadly Heritage Excerpt



The wind swept back the side of Ivy Dassow's bonnet exposing tufts of silky black hair against fair pubescent skin and rosy cheeks. She tilted her head down, shrugging off a sudden chill that swooped through her coat and hastened her stride, holding tight to the bars of chocolate clutched in her left hand as she turned the corner and headed toward the towering nineteenth century red brick, churchlike structure that housed hundreds of Roman Catholic destitute orphan boys.

The still waters of Flushing Bay rolled in over the white sandy shores that lay beneath the mile-long, solidly built stone seawall dotted with small, white bathing huts in a section of Whitestone known only to the affluent. Bankers, politicians, stockbrokers, doctors, businessmen, landowners and the independently wealthy lived comfortably in the stunning, five-story Colonial estates that nestled on the sprawling grassy hillside of Shore Road.

Seven were spread across the expanse topped by the Dassow's, the most opulent home, towering high atop above them all. Wealth to this family had been a birthright handed down through several generations and afforded each successor a lavish lifestyle filled with the finest paintings, furnishings and jewels. Life was to be lived, and Philip Dassow, the current family patriarch, made sure that he and a select group of the local elite indulged in the most extravagant gatherings their combined riches could afford.

Ivy put down her diary and gazed out her bedchamber window where night had blackened the sky; it would soon be time. Her blue eyes brightened as she tingled with excitement. Her father had planned a special celebration in honor of her womanhood this evening and their guests would soon be arriving. She needed to bathe, dress, prepare.

The guests had begun to arrive, and Philip, a very debonair chap of forty-five, stood in the doorway in full regalia, greeting the men with robust handshakes and the women with flirty cheek kisses before taking their coats and hustling them into the black candle lit parlor for a champagne toast.

They included Conrad and Beatrice Whitby, a prominent banker and a socialite; Septimus and Edwina Livingston, wealthy globe-trotting landowners; Beaumont and Ophelia Rutherford, a village politician, and a dressmaker with her own line of formal attire; Talbot Markloy, a rising jazz singer with unscrupulous desires who arrived on the arm of Wilfred Canfield, an audacious stockbroker; and finally, Allaster Greeley, a recent young transplant from England living off an inheritance.

Gathered around in all their glory, they whispered amongst themselves as they waited for Ivy to appear. There was much anticipation for the evening's festivities, which had been arranged well in advance, and once under commencement would continue on several times throughout the month.

Philip nodded to Alma, the handmaiden as she entered the room carrying a sterling silver tray stacked with slices of the finest blood sausages, one of the many trappings to be provided during the gala.

The guests nodded their approval as they stepped back, their eyes fixed on Emeline the cook as she rolled a wooden tea cart topped with a large, silver plated meat dome into the center of the room. There were smiles, clapping and shrieks of joy as they waited patiently for her to reveal the night's offering.

Septimus stepped forth. "Let us see, please, let us see."

"Yes, yes," they all shouted, moving closer.

Philip tilted his hand slightly raising his palm in an upward motion as he gestured to Emeline. She bowed her head once to him, then grabbed hold of the handle and lifted the dome. Beneath it on the silver plated platter lay the nude body of a mildly sedated infant boy.

"He looks like an angel," Beatrice said as she stepped forward and stroked his sandy brown hair.

All eyes suddenly turned to Ivy, in an elegant black silky sheath designed especially by Ophelia for the evening, as she walked down the grand wooden staircase.

"She looks divine." Ophelia turned toward Philip and rested her hand on his forearm. "The image of her mother."

"Yes, she does, doesn't she," Philip said, a hint of sadness in his flash of recognition.

Allaster rushed over to greet Ivy at the bottom of the stairs. "Well done, my dear."

She smiled. "Thank you."

Holding her arm, he escorted her into the center of the room.

"We're all so proud of you," Edwina said, kissing her on the cheek as they all crowded in around expressing their delight.

Philip stayed in the background, his face glowing with pride.

"You've got quite the daughter there." Conrad approached from his left patting him on the back.

"That I do," Philip said taking pleasure in the moment as he smiled at Conrad.

"So tell me," Talbot said, pushing her way up in front of Ivy, "how did you manage to subdue the boy?"

"I shall not tell," Ivy giggled. "A respectable young lady must have her secrets."

Allaster held tight to her as she gazed about the room with a sense of gratification. She knew they envied her for her youth, her beauty, her skills, her turn.

"Shall we begin, Father?"

Philip looked to his guests as they all smiled and nodded in agreement. He raised up his arms. "Let the night move forth."

"Hear, hear," they shouted as they lifted their champagne glasses in toast.

The child, startled by all the loud shouting, began to whimper softly as he opened his eyes to the unfamiliar surroundings.

"Silence him." Philip hoisted one of the three-branched silver candelabrums up above his head and escorted the assemblage through a hidden panel in the parlor wall as Emeline lifted the infant boy to her bosom.

One by one they followed him through a darkened corridor buried inside the bowels of the house until they reached a concrete passageway that led to a secret chamber deep below the estate grounds. It was a chapel of sorts with a small sacristy off to the side, where they silently changed into black hooded robes embroidered with phallic pine cones.

Those among them who were worshipers quickly entered the ceremonial area, an elaborate black candle lit hall decorated with numerous pagan statues and a blatant stained glass image of the Satanic Goat that hung above the altar.

Philip took up his position as celebrant and whispered instructions to Alma, Allaster and Ivy as they would be assisting him with the Mass on this special evening. They quickly fell in line behind him with the sacred vessels each was accountable for: Ivy took the child by its heels and dangled it upside down, keeping it near to her side allowing Emeline to move freely toward the altar table ahead of them; Alma picked up the silver chalice, equipped with a paten and veil, while maintaining the tray of blood sausages; and Allaster ignited the censor.

The four of them stood at the entrance and watched as Emeline removed her robe and lay back across the altar in full nakedness. They then began to move in a slow procession, Allaster in front, sprinkling the incense from side to side: a mixture of henbane, datura, dried nightshade and Myrrh. He was followed by Philip, then Alma and Ivy.

As they reached the altar, Philip stopped and looked down upon Emeline as Allaster kneeled to his left with Alma and Ivy both kneeling to his right.

Philip, entranced in the moment, bowed before the altar. He took the censor from Allaster and thrice sprinkled it over Emeline's nude body. "May this incense rise before Thee, and may Thy blessings descend upon us."

Alma passed the chalice to Philip who placed it upon Emeline's belly.

"Astaroth, Asmodeus, Princes of Friendship and of Love, we invoke you."

Ivy lifted the boy and Philip took hold of his tiny feet raising him up above the chalice for all to see as he slowly removed a dagger from his robe.

"Accept the sacrifice of this child which we offer to you now, that we may receive those things for which we ask."

In one swift motion, Philip slit the boy's throat letting his blood drain down upon the silver chalice.



The mechanical sounds emanating from the ventilator ranged between a low hiss and a deep gasp a smoker might make while straining to draw breath into a damaged lung; a far cry from the giddy laughter they'd shared as partners at the one-seventeen over the last fifteen years.

It seemed like only yesterday that they were out and about busting the bad guys that roamed the streets of Cresthaven, Malba, Whitestone, College Point and Beechhurst, five towns that made up the Northern tip of Queens where the East River and Long Island Sound merged together.

Detective First Grade John Kiernan McGinty sighed. The sight of his friend, Andy Weissberg, laying there helpless in a coma in the ICU was something he realized he could never get used to, and as much as he hoped he would never have to, the outcome of his partner's fate was not something he wished to consider at the moment.

He'd always thought they'd be struck down by a hail of bullets because the local crime stats had jumped through the roof over the last several years as a small faction of MS-13, a violent Latin street gang had moved into the neighborhoods they were sworn to protect. A hemorrhagic stroke was the last thing he had expected. It happened so abruptly...he'd barely sipped his morning coffee and the next thing he knew Andy was seizing over his desk. That was four weeks ago. Since then, with the recession and all, he'd been flying solo on the job, hoping and praying that his comrade would come back to him.

Officer Francesca "Frankie" Carbone headed out the back of the building and walked across the parking lot to the Cushman 3 wheel scooter that sat outside the confines of the gate. Just thirty days shy of her second anniversary on the force, she was still considered a rookie by NYPD probationary standards. A moniker that would soon be replaced with the department's customary veteran status.

Maybe then she'd be able to transfer out of the Community Policing Division and get back in a squad car with a partner. One could hope, she thought, as she started the engine and headed out on her afternoon patrol.

McGinty caught a glimpse of the NYPD scooter pulling out of a prime parking spot behind the one-seventeen's back parking lot as he rounded the corner. It was a tight fit for his 2008 white Ford Explorer, but that was nothing new. Every cop in the precinct jammed their vehicle in any which way possible; it didn't matter if the next guy couldn't get in, as long as they all could get out.

He took a deep breath and sucked in his stomach as he squeezed himself between his SUV and an unmarked Crown Vic. He exhaled and checked his new Michael Kors multi-stripe brown suit. Clean. Surprisingly. A gentle fall breeze ruffled his light brown hair as he turned up his suit jacket collar and walked into the back entrance.

The station was hectic as usual. McGinty took the back stairs two at a time, and barely got his foot in the squad room door when his cellphone chirped with a familiar ringtone his daughter Jena had programmed into it.

"Hi honey."

The screeching voice on the other end was anything but recognizable.

"Calm down, I can't understand what you're saying. What?"

She gasped. "Is Josh with you?"

"Josh, no." McGinty froze as an awful feeling washed over him. "Are you saying you don't know where he is?"

She started rattling, and he tried to make sense of it.

"Nap...woke up...went...wake...lunch, ran...house, called Mom...."

McGinty took a deep breath as the panic he felt began to set in. "Are you sure he's not with Michael?"

"I don't know I can't reach him," she cried.

"I'm sure he's fine, Jena, try and relax, we'll find him." McGinty's thoughts suddenly flashed back to the day his own cousin Robbie went missing in Gertz department store on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing. Both of them six at the time, played in different aisles while their mothers walked up ahead shopping. One minute he was there, the next minute he was gone. They never found him.

McGinty shrugged off the forty-seven year old memory and focused his attention back on Jena. "I want you to stay by the phone."

"You're hanging up?"

"Just for a few minutes, I need to make some calls."

Frankie turned right off College Point Boulevard and traveled up Lax Avenue, a short strip of pavement leading to the top of a hill with a handful of one-family red brick homes to the right of the street; and, a massive overgrown vacant lot that stretched down to the Long Island Sound to the left. She imagined at one time, the residents probably enjoyed a beautiful waterfront view from their second story windows. Boy did they get taken for a ride, she thought as she noticed an old sign announcing a new phase of Riverview Condominiums; no doubt hampered by the current credit crisis.

She parked at the top of the hill, and gazed down at the old College Point Boat Company landing piers. Her father had told her of his own childhood days, when he and his friends used to play soldier games on the barges. She exited her scooter for a look.

McGinty choked back a gush of vomit that quickly filtered up from his gut as he stood knee-deep in the black sludgy, muck-mire funk that harbored the remains of a little boy. Sighing deeply, he snapped on a pair of latex gloves, bent down and immediately began scooping the muddy sewage away from the boy's nude body, even though he knew he shouldn't be doing it until after the Crime Scene Unit had arrived to photograph and examine the area. He couldn't help himself.

Wiping off what he could of the slimy soil, he lifted the toddler out from the sodden ground and sighed with relief. The angelic face was that of another boy. McGinty's cellphone chirped again with Jena's ringtone.

"You were right, daddy, Michael took Josh over to his mother's house, and forgot to tell me...Becca just brought him home."

McGinty cradled the tiny body in his arms as his daughter's voice emanated from the speaker.

"Daddy, are you there?"

"Yes Jena, I'm here." He closed his eyes for a second to repel a tear. "See you were worried over nothing."

"I'm sorry if I scared you daddy."

"It's okay honey, better safe than sorry." McGinty put the phone back in his pocket and sighed. What kind of monster could....

He stood up and trudged fifty yards out past the three dilapidated, wooden barges into the East River. The rush of brown water rolling up against him as he sank deeper and deeper into the muddy quagmire.

Stopping for a moment, he glanced back at the throng of cops that stood on the docks waving and shouting to him. He ignored their pleas and pressed on.

Knee-deep, the temperate water washed over the child's body removing the grime. What remained in McGinty's hands was a lifeless white pasty figure. The boy's throat had been slit from ear to ear and his head dangled loosely exposing what appeared to be bone and tissue matter. McGinty gazed down over the torso. The letter "C" had been carved into the boy's chest.

"John, let me take him," a voice whispered from behind.

"No," he muttered. "No."

"It's okay, I'll take care of him."

McGinty turned and gazed into the dark brown eyes of Charlene Danziger, a hardened medicolegal investigator sent to the scene by the Q-OCME, the Queens County Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to gather physical evidence that would later be turned over to the medical examiner assigned to the case.

Danziger, a tall, athletically built woman in her late forties, reached out, but McGinty tightened his grip.

"John," Danziger said in a more forceful tone as she attempted to pry the boy's mutilated body from his embrace.

Letting go, McGinty stepped back and turned away, his large frame weighed down by the severity of it all as he broke his silence. "I'm going to get the bastard who did this Charlene." The anger in McGinty's voice reverberated as he glanced back at the boy one last time.

Danziger faltered for a split second as something brushed up against her in the water; then she walked slowly out of the river, the boy clutched in her arms.

The area was taped off with yellow crime scene tape as Detective Luis Ortega and Detective Jackie Kwan from the Homicide Unit out of Patrol Borough Queens North searched for clues in the mucky terrain. They had been warned earlier by the owner of the College Point Yacht Club to stay clear of the three broken down, decaying, wooden barges that had laid dormant for the past forty years in the nearby bog.

McGinty headed in from the water to take control of the situation. He was the precinct "catching" detective and would be responsible from here on out for the handling of the case.

Reaching the site where the boy's body had been found were Tommy O'Hara and Bill Dougherty, two seasoned detectives from the NYPD's Crime Scene Unit. McGinty nodded to them both and stepped aside so they could do their job. They quickly unpacked their gear and went to work photographing the area, making sketches and taking notes.

"Who found the body?" McGinty walked toward a cluster of cops standing several feet away.

"Officer Carbone called it in, but we haven't gotten all the details yet," Sergeant Gerhardt said stepping forward.

"Why not?" McGinty turned toward the strapping, middle-aged man.

"Weak stomach."

"Where is he?"

"It's a she, and she's up there by the fence." Sergeant Gerhardt pointed up at the dock behind him.

McGinty started off.

"Hey, McGinty," Gerhardt shouted.


"Go easy on her, she's one of my rookies."

"You got it." McGinty saluted his right index finger off his forehead and climbed up the brush covered steep incline into the parking lot of the College Point Yacht Club. Yacht Club, now that was a real kicker, he thought. College Point was made up of mostly working class people, none of whom could afford a yacht. Hell, if you put the entire community's yearly salaries together after expenses, they probably still couldn't afford one. It was nothing more than a shoddy, old, broken-down marina with two dozen fishing boats; all of which sat up on cement blocks in front of the back fence because low tide left the water level sitting fifty yards out from the shoreline.

McGinty shook his head and turned toward the street, where two patrol cars were parked in front of the closed gates with another half a dozen uniformed officers scattered across the walkway. Opposite them stood twenty or so onlookers who had come out of their nearby homes to see what all the ruckus was about. He was glad it was a weekday, otherwise the whole area would've been swarming with inquisitive residents.

He looked down at his brown leather shoes. They were ruined along with the bottom half of his new suit. Lucky for him he had gotten the ensemble free at the Men's Wearhouse with the purchase of another. Christ, this was the tenth pair of shoes and suits he'd trashed. He reached into the inside left breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small plastic Ziplock bag containing three cigars and a cutter. He took a moment to savor the aroma. They were Cubans, Monte Cristo No.2's, otherwise known as Torpedos. He had a friend that brought them down from Canada every couple of months. The guy would switch the bands with Dominican ones and no one was the wiser. He removed one from the bag, clipped off the end and placed it in his mouth. He sighed in relief, as if it were a pacifier. After he returned the bag to his breast pocket, he took out a gold lighter with the initials "JKM" engraved on it. Gazing at it, he smiled. It had belonged to his father and grandfather before him, both former NYPD cops who had long since passed on.

McGinty shifted his attention back to the scene below. Danziger was placing the infant into a white body bag. The rage he felt began to rise and fall within his chest like a blocked steam pipe. He turned away and walked off in search of Carbone.

When he found her, she was sitting on a large boulder against the back fence with her head buried in between her mud stained knees. She was a skinny, little thing with dark red hair stuffed up into her navy blue standard issue police cap.

"You okay?" He stopped in front of her.

Looking up at him with a glum face, she shook her head.

"Aren't you...." He paused as a hint of recognition flashed before his eyes.

"Joe's kid."

"Right." He pointed his finger upwards. "That Italian place near the precinct. What's it called again?"

"Josaliliana's I waited on your family a couple of times a few years back."

"Yeah, I didn't know you became a cop."

She half-smiled at him.

"Mind if I sit down next to you?"

She scooted to the side.

"So Sergeant Gerhardt tells me you found him."


"I remember my first homicide," he said trying to soften the circumstances.

"You do?" she said as if he were ancient.

"Yeah, I do."

"When was it?"

"Jeez," he thought back, "maybe my second year in."


"Yeah," he said, convinced she believed him.

"What was it like? I mean, you know...the victim."

McGinty stayed silent for several minutes and then began to describe in detail an old homicide he clearly had almost forgotten.

"It was in the summer. My partner and I were pullin' OT on a Saturday night when the call came over the radio. Bar fight that spilled out onto the street. The vic had multiple stab wounds to the chest, lot of blood, real mess on the sidewalk. The perp took off and everybody clammed up."

He paused, and she looked at him through her watery, blue eyes for a long time. "Were you scared?"

"What do you mean?"

"Afraid. You know, like that maybe the guy who did it was still there watching you and he was going to come and get you and do the same thing to you."

McGinty did not know how to respond.

"Is that how you feel?"

"Well, not now I don't, but I did for a brief moment when I first found him."

"Why don't you tell me what happened from the time you arrived until the time everybody got on scene."

She stood up and began pacing, her hands flailing about. "I was driving my scooter down that street over there," she pointed off in front of her, "doing a routine check of the area. Everything seemed normal, nothing out of the ordinary to report."

McGinty watched her, she was animated in her approach. "What made you go down by the old wharf?"

"I don't know." She shrugged and started moving again. "Curiosity, I suppose. I've never patrolled this sector since being assigned to the scooter. And well, my father used to tell me stories from when he was a kid, how him and his friends used to come down here and pretend they were soldiers in battle fighting against enemy ships."

"So you walked down to see them?"

She nodded.

"What happened when you got down there?"

"I noticed something sticking up out of the ground. I thought it was a doll. I got so sick looking at him, I...."

"It's okay, I felt the same way."

"I radioed in and secured the area right away."

"You did a good job, kid, don't worry about it." He patted her on the back.

McGinty smiled as he walked away, he'd managed to coax every piece of information out of her he needed without her even realizing it, but that same smile quickly disappeared from his face as he watched Danziger and her transport team load the small white body bag into the back of the black van.

"Don't worry, I'll make sure they take good care of him," Danziger said as she climbed into the front passenger seat.

"Thanks, appreciate it." McGinty watched them drive off.


A Spirit of Evil

A Deadly Heritage