Something was bothering homicide detective Christopher Booth. Something he saw at the hospital. There was reason to believe a serial killer was at work. Four patients had died under mysterious circumstances. Circumstances suggesting foul play.
It was true that one of the victims was a government bureaucrat charged with taking bribes to issue permits for questionable projects. The other three were just people who were having a rough time of it.
Whatever it was that Christopher saw lingered tantalizingly at the outer edge of his memory. He decided to drop it. It would, he knew from experience, likely bounce up again in perhaps a more recognizable form.
Christopher and his wife, Nancy Patrick, also a homicide detective, were escaping the Bay area to join their friends Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson in Anchorage. They were packed and ready. While their luggage held clothing that allowed them to dress in layers responsive to the unpredictable Alaska weather, Christopher was wearing huaraches, the comfortable old shoes he liked to wear when flying.
He called Trent from the airport.
“Hey, buddy,” Trent said. “I was just washing up before going to help Darcey in the kitchen. We plan to do you justice for dinner and justice starts with clean hands.”
Trent said he had a very fine Jamaican rum waiting on his bar to whet their appetites before dinner.
As the wheels were retracted after take off, Christopher settled back in his seat with the thought of a pleasant nap in mind. Suddenly his eyes popped open. Trent’s innocent comments raised the image Christopher had seen in the hospital. He knew who the hospital murderer was.
Christopher rushed off the airplane as soon as it landed in Anchorage to call his colleague.
“Roger, the killer is the maintenance man,” he said.
“Are you sure?” Roger questioned. “How do you know?”
“The way he washes his hands,” Christopher said.
“You call that evidence?” he asked.
“No,” Christopher said. “I call it probable cause to look into the man’s background. I saw him washing his hands while you and I were talking. Your back was to him so you couldn’t see what he was doing. He spent a good five minutes washing his hands. He paid particular attention to his nails.”
“So what?” Roger exclaimed, sounding a big exasperated. “So he’s a clean maintenance man. Good for him.”
“Roger, maintenance men don’t wash their hands like that. But doctors do,” Christopher said. “Trust me on this. See what you can find out about the man. I’ll bet you will find he has a medical background. He’s not who he pretends to be.
The weather was turning cool in Anchorage. The four friends sat inside with a gentle blaze in the fireplace sipping the Jamaican rum Trent provided. There was still enough evening light to allow them to enjoy the magnificent view of Cook Inlet, Mount Susitna, and the distant Alaska Range from the penthouse windows.
Trent and Darcey had prepared a chicken and lobster emince in an orange- cream sauce. An emince is cooked meat, poutry, or even seafood, thinly sliced and served in a sauce. It is sometimes made with leftovers, turning them into elegant meals. Christopher thought he had found a new favorite meal.
Christopher Booth’s Chicken and Lobster Emince in an Orange-Cream Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh tarragon, or to taste
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons Triple Sec (or other orange flavored liqueur)
1 chicken breast, cooked & thinly sliced
12 ounces lobster tail meat, shelled, cooked, & thinly sliced
salt & white pepper to taste
Heat the butter and olive oil together.
Saute the shallot until it is soft.
Pour in the white wine. Simmer until it is reduced to about a quarter of a cup. It will take ten to fifteen minutes.
Toss in the tarragon and add the heavy cream. Simmer the sauce until it is reduced by half. Add the Triple Sec. Let the sauce simmer for a minute or two longer to allow the liqueur to permeate the sauce.
Stir in the chicken and lobster.
Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Serve over rice.
“Good morning, Roger,” Christopher answered the call.
“I don’t know how you did it,” Christopher’s colleague said, “but you were right. The maintenance man is our guy.”
“What did you find out?”
“He’s been working here for almost a year under the name Dylan Burns. His real name is Franco Liston. And you were right. He was a doctor in Arizona. The hospital there began having a similar series of murders. Liston was suspected but he disappeared before he could be arrested,” Roger explained.
“It’s a bit weird,” Christopher said.
“Yeah, he’s set himself up as judge, jury, and executioner,” Roger said. “The biggest problem, however, is that some of the people who have died are perfectly innocent. Liston gets it in his mind that they’re not good people and decides to deliver his own brand of justice.”
“Well, he’s out of business now,” Christopher observed.
“Thanks for your help,” Roger said. “Now go enjoy your vacation.”
Christopher thought that was good advice. He dragged himself out of bed and set out for the kitchen. The memory of the delicious chicken and lobster emince from the night before lingered on his tongue. He was anxious to see what breakfast delights awaited.