A Role to Kill For

A Matt Murphy Mystery - Book One

by H. Paul Doucette

When the mutilated body of a young man is found in an alley in the early hours of a winter's day, events would be set in motion that would lead Matt Murphy into the world of a young woman's twisted desire to find a love that could never be had and the betrayal of a father.

As the bodies pile up, he is drawn into the delusional mind of a serial killer who is obsessed with young, handsome actors working the Off Broadway circuit of the Village. Why these men? And, why the mutilations? As Murphy delves further into the case, he knows he is moving closer to a confrontation: a confrontation that will stay with him for the rest of his life.


Chapter One


I was sitting in my office when I got the call at eleven thirty. My contact had called to tell me she was there but by the time I arrived she'd already left with someone. It took a half hour to find out who it was she left with and where he lived. Before I left, I called Abe Goldman and gave him the address then went out and hailed a cab.

The three story brownstone was quiet. It was typical—one of many in most of New York's neighborhoods. They were part of the character of the city, resonating with history. I stood on the opposite side of the street looking at the fourth building in the row of eight that ran the length of the block. Almost all of them were dark: their occupants long gone to bed for the night. There were a few with the odd light on but it was the fourth one that interested me. That's where I traced her to. She was there now.

Lights were on in two of the apartments, one on the first floor, and one on the second. She was in the one on the second. I took out my .45, released the safety and held it down beside my leg and crossed the street. The stone steps lead up to the glass paned doors set in under the arched facade. One of the doors was slightly ajar. I slowly pushed it in with my foot and stepped in. Music was coming from the second floor. Melancholy. Moody.

Moving to the carpeted stairs, I made my way up. The music was coming from the room on the left down the corridor. The one facing the street. I approached the door and braced myself then placed a solid kick at the area around the door knob. The door burst in with a loud crash.

She sat at a small desk with her back to me writing in a book. The knife sat on the desktop to her right. I saw that it had blood on it. Looking quickly around the room, I saw the bed and the body of a man laying on it with one leg hanging over the side. It wasn't hard to see the massive amount of blood that stained the sheets or his exposed and mutilated groin. I raised the gun and centered my aim on the middle of her back.

“I knew it would be you that would find me,” she said without turning.

“It’s over,” I said.

“It wasn't me, you know. It was her fault. She ruined them. All I wanted was love, you know. Was that too much to hope for?”

“No. It wasn’t. But they didn’t have to die.”

“Oh, but they did. They promised so much then lied.” She continued to write something.

“They were actors. They were acting for chrissake.”

“Doesn't matter.” She sat there for a moment not moving then she stiffened in the chair, dropped the pen, and reached for the knife.

“Don’t.” I thumbed the hammer back. The clicking of the hammer locking in the firing position sounded loud.

She ignored my warning and turned and started to stand.

“Don’t do it. Drop the knife.” I saw the look of sadness in her eyes and knew without a doubt that she was going to attack.

“It's got to be this way, don't you see. I can't live with the lies anymore. I can't live with her.” She raised the knife in an overhand striking position, then, with a shriek, she flew at me. I squeezed the trigger.

The room reverberated with the roar of the gunshot. Cordite filled the air. The bullet struck her in the chest lifting her off her feet and driving her body back against the desk sending everything flying as it upended. She slid to the floor, her body lying crumpled against the desk from the impact of a .45 bullet fired at close range. Blood had started to pool around her body from the wound. The look of sadness frozen on her face. No surprise. No shock. Just sadness. It had to end this way. She knew it. I knew it.

I noticed the book she was writing in sitting on the floor under the window. I picked it up and flipped through the pages. It was her diary and listed everything. The murders and references to someone named, Karen. Flipping to the front of the book, I noted the references to her father, nothing explicit but enough to leave no doubts of her relationship and experiences with him. She was one screwed up young woman. 

The sirens were drawing closer. I went and laid my gun on the seat of the chair and took out my wallet, opened it exposing my license.

The first squad car pulled to stop in front of the building. I heard running feet on the stairs then saw two uniforms at the open door, both with their service pistols drawn.

“Hands up,” ordered the first cop that entered the room. “Turn around. Hands on the wall.”

I raised my arms and turned to face the wall. The other cop came and patted me down.

“Gun and license are on the chair,” I said as he carefully patted me down. His partner went to the chair and picked up my wallet all the while keeping his gun leveled on me.

“You got him, Pete?” asked the cop who just patted me down.


“Okay. I’ll check out the woman.”

“She’s dead,” I said.

“A private dick, eh?” the second cop said as he glanced at my license. “So. What happened here?”

“She’s the one been killing all them actors.”

“Oh yeah? Sez who?”

“Me. I called it in to Abe Goldman earlier tonight. Check with him.”

“So you know Goldman, eh?”

“Yeah.” Then I saw another man come to the door.

“That’s okay, Pete. I’ll take it from here.” 

“Huh? yeah, okay Sarge.” He stepped away, holstered his gun, and passed my wallet and gun to the detective. “He sez he knows you.”

“Abe,” I said.

“Jesus, Murph. What the hell happened?”

"A Role to Kill For" by H. Paul Doucette


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