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Authors: Greg Cox

Shock Treatment

BOOK: Shock Treatment
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THE CSIs GATHERED AROUND THE BODY,
LIKE MOURNERS AT A WAKE.

Novak's bloodshot eyes stared blankly at the ceiling; a thin film had already formed over the lifeless orbs. Catherine looked at David, curious to hear his conclusions. “David?”

“COD appears to be a single GSW to the chest.” He pointed at the hole in the wall she had noticed earlier. It was right by the door, about six inches to the left of where they had entered the office. “Possibly a through-and-through. Rigor and body temperature puts the time of death at approximately eleven p.m.”

Brass nodded. “Which agrees with the initial reports from the witnesses.”

That makes life easier,
Catherine thought. Maybe this would prove to be a straightforward case of death by misadventure. She put herself in the place of the alleged shooter, suddenly finding herself face-to-face with a masked, chainsaw-wielding assailant. Catherine could see why she might have shot the actor in self-defense.
Under the circumstances, I might have fired, too.

“Do we have a weapon?”

Brass produced a Smith & Wesson revolver, already sealed inside a plastic evidence bag. Catherine raised an eyebrow. “You doing our job for us now, Jim?”

He shrugged apologetically. “One of the witnesses, a tech guy on the film crew, had already taken possession of the gun before we arrived. He turned it over to the first officer on the scene.”

Catherine frowned. She would have preferred to have collected the weapon herself from its original location, but she couldn't blame the bystanders for not wanting to leave a loaded weapon lying around. Especially after what they had just witnessed.
Maybe it won't matter,
she thought. From the sound of it, there was little question as to who pulled the trigger.

“Anybody else touch the victim?” she asked. “Aside from David, that is?”

“'Fraid so,” Brass answered. “A couple of crew members tried to help Novak before he kicked the bucket. Took off his mask and everything.” He knew this wasn't what Catherine wanted to hear. “Sorry.”

It was starting to look like half of Las Vegas had handled the evidence before they'd got here.

 

Original novels in the CSI series:

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Double Dealer

Sin City

Cold Burn

Body of Evidence

Grave Matters

Binding Ties

Killing Game

Snake Eyes

In Extremis

Nevada Rose

Headhunter

Brass in Pocket

The Killing Jar

Blood Quantum

Dark Sundays

Skin Deep

Shock Treatment

Serial (graphic novel)

CSI: Miami

Florida Getaway

Heat Wave

Cult Following

Riptide

Harm for the Holidays: Misgivings

Harm for the Holidays: Heart Attack

Cut & Run

Right to Die

CSI: NY

Dead of Winter

Blood on the Sun

Deluge

Four Walls

Pocket Star Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2010 by CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Entertainment AB Funding LLC. All Rights Reserved.

CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
and related marks, CBS and the CBS Eye Design
TM
CBS Broadcasting Inc. CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION and all elements and characters thereof. © 2000–2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Entertainment AB Funding LLC. All Rights Reserved.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Pocket Star Books paperback edition December 2010

POCKET STAR BOOKS
and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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.

Cover art and design by David Stevenson

Manufactured in the United States of America

10   9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

ISBN 978-1-4391-6080-0

ISBN 978-1-4391-6928-5 (ebook)

1

J
ILL
W
OOTEN FELT
like she was being watched.

A double-decker bus pulled away from the curb, leaving her on a dirty sidewalk a few blocks north of Fremont, on the outer fringe of the downtown tourist traps. Neon signs, nowhere near as impressive as the ones over on Glitter Gulch, drowned out whatever stars might have been shining in the clear night sky. Instead of big casinos, only souvenir shops, fast-food places, tattoo parlors, and liquor stores lined the street. Light traffic cruised past without stopping, en route to less seedy destinations. A cold winter wind blew litter across the pavement.

She glanced around nervously. She didn't exactly have the sidewalk to herself, but there weren't a whole lot of people out and about. Most of the tourists were patronizing the big-name attractions farther west, like Neonopolis and the Fremont Street Experience. After a typically balmy afternoon, the temperature had been dropping precipitously
ever since sundown, driving everyone indoors. Jill wished there were more pedestrians around. She shivered, and not just because of the cold.

Maybe this was a bad idea. . . .

A horn honked at the intersection, startling her. She nearly jumped out of her skin. Her heart pounded and she needed a second to recover. Was this what a panic attack felt like?

Knock it off,
she scolded herself, dismayed at how jumpy she was. This was no time to let her fears get the better of her; she had to bring her “A” game to this job interview. Her bank account was getting seriously depleted. She really needed this gig.

Worried about her appearance, Jill checked out her reflection in the glass window of a discount electronics store. An attractive redhead in her early twenties gazed back at her; a curvy figure good enough to land the occasional modeling job, but not frequently enough for her pocketbook. Lustrous auburn curls tumbled past her shoulders. She was dressed warmly but stylishly in a tight pink sweater, a leather miniskirt, leggings, and boots. A push-up bra enhanced her natural attributes, but not too much. She wanted to look sexy, not trashy. Like a high-class hostess instead of a hooker. Her purse, a designer knockoff she had picked up at the mall, was slung over her shoulder.

She peeked at her watch. It was nearly ten-forty-five p.m. Kind of late for a job interview, but people in Vegas kept all kinds of hours. Supposedly, this was the only time the club owner, a Milton Boggs, had been available. Jill hoped everything was on the level. According to her friend Debra, this place
was legit, but Jill couldn't help worrying. A pretty girl had to be careful in Sin City; there were all sorts of creeps and predators out there, as Jill knew from experience.

Debra had better know what she was talking about. . . .

Quickening her pace, Jill headed east across Las Vegas Boulevard. Her heels clicked against the pavement. The pedestrian crowd thinned out even more as she headed away from downtown. Despite herself, she kept glancing back over her shoulder. The crisp December night seemed to be getting colder by the minute; Vegas's desert climate made for warm days and freezing nights. She found herself wishing she had brought a jacket, even though that would have slightly spoiled the effect. An ominous warning echoed at the back of her mind:

“You better watch your back, 'cause I'm coming for you. Don't even think you can get away from me. You're going to die screaming. . . .”

Footsteps came up behind her. Alarmed, she looked back to see only a tired-looking Hispanic woman carrying a load of groceries. Jill gasped in relief as the other woman passed by. For a second there, she had been worried. No, not just worried, she admitted to herself.

Terrified.

Geezus,
she thought.
I'm a nervous wreck.
Not that anyone could blame her, under the circumstances. She considered turning around and going home. If she managed to catch the next bus, she could be back in her apartment, behind closed doors, in less than an hour. It was awfully tempting. Did she really need the job that much?

Yes, actually.

Mustering her courage, she continued on her way. A couple of drunken college boys staggered out of a strip club on her left, then hailed a cab. Raucous laughter and music escaped the club before its door swung shut again. Jill paused briefly in front of the club. She couldn't help wondering if they were hiring. She hadn't stooped that low yet, but if she didn't land some paying work soon, she might have to review her options. The unfortunate possessor of two left feet, she had been too uncoordinated to make it as a showgirl on the Strip, but she guessed that places like this were a lot less picky. They weren't exactly about the choreography, after all.

A vivid flash-forward, of her “dancing” in front of a mob of leering leches and pervs, was enough to send her scurrying past the club.
I can't believe I was actually considering that,
she thought, appalled at how desperate she'd become.
All the more reason to make sure I ace this interview.

She pulled an index card from her purse and double-checked the address. “439 Zeller Avenue” was scribbled on the note in her own handwriting. “Corner of 7th and Zeller.”

A street sign confirmed that she was nearing her destination, which proved to be in the least prosperous neighborhood she had seen yet. Empty store-fronts were boarded up. Rolled-down metal doors protected the few remaining businesses, most of which had closed for the night. Graffiti defaced the walls and windows. Cigarette butts, fast-food wrappers, and the occasional used condom littered the
pavement. Jill watched her step as she counted down the numbers over the doors until, finally, she reached 439.

It was hard to miss.

WaxWorkZ was a new nightclub with a spooky wax museum theme. The two-story brick building had been freshly painted black. Life-sized wax figures posed like mannequins in the storefront windows, against a red velvet background. One display depicted Jack the Ripper creeping up on an unsuspecting victim. The other featured a pale, ravenhaired woman bathing in what appeared to be a tub of human blood. Plastic molding in the shape of dripping wax hung from the marquee above the entrance. The name of the club was spelled out in glowing red neon letters upon the marquee. O
PENING SOON
! proclaimed the banners stretched across the windows. No lights escaped the hidden interior of the club.

BOOK: Shock Treatment
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