While the reading world is getting to know DRAGONY RISING, the latest award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery, (Kirkus reviews: “This epic installment”) I am working on Nagler 6: NAGLER’S SECRET.
Kirkus link: https://wordpress.com/post/michaelstephendaigle.com/3648.
This story is intended to be more personal for my cop hero Frank Nagler, and deals with something from Frank’s past that only he knows, thus, the secret.
The overall story deals with the juvenile justice system and focuses on Anna, a young girl introduced in Nagler 3, THE WEIGHT OF LIVING. The framework for that side of the story springs from a case in Pennsylvania a few years ago in which a couple of judges were convicted of taking bribes to send convicts to certain for-profit jails.
This will be a story about loss, the ache and anger of loss, and with hope, healing.
As the writer my goal with the story will be able to produce light from darkness.
In this short scene reporter Jimmy Dawson receives a video that introduces him to the central mystery: Who are the Missing?
“I know better,” Jimmy Dawson muttered, but clicked on the video file anyway.
A rectangle filled with a shifting grey background emerged while an indistinct multi-toned sound leaked from the speakers. The volume wavered, clearly modulated by controls. Dawson’s brow wrinkled in concentration as the sound shifted to a single moaning tone, fading, fading, no voices, but a hiss, then static. Then a word, or what Dawson thought was a word, garbled, gone; then another and another layered, scrambled, followed by another hiss, then silence.
Before he could form the thought that this thing seemed pointless ten fingers punched through the gray background meaning it was not a background, but a screen. The fingers tore the screen down the middle and a face wrapped in layers of gauzy fabric took their place. The sound reemerged, words, parts of words, maybe names, all the sounds muffled.
A layer of fabric was pulled away, then another. With each layer removed, the words became more distinct.
“They are names,” Dawson said.
“Malcolm, Thomas, Janice, Virginia, Malik…”
One after another now synced with a new layer of gauzy cloth being removed.
The names rattled on, faster and faster – “Jasper, Adam, Mona, Christopher, Denice” — as the cloth flew from the face, the combination of louder words and flashing cloth disorienting.
Layer by layer the cloth was removed until a pair of eyes filled the screen, eyes wide open, angry, then wrinkled in worry, filled with tears, blinking, closed; gone.
The screen blank for a moment.
Then words, deeply red: WE ARE THE MISSING.
A jabbing wail filled the room, pinning Dawson to the back of his chair.
The wail and the words faded together until the room was silent and the computer screen was blank.
Dawson copied the file to a flash drive.
I need a tech to find the source of that file, he thought, then aloud, “Nagler needs to see that.”
Only when he leaned forward to cradle his head did he realize his hands were shaking.