Detective Sam Lawson was perfectly happy doing just enough to get by. But then someone had to go and get murdered.
When he’s sent to investigate an accidental death from a house fire, Sam was a burnt out cop who spent more time at the bar than the police station. The house fire seems like just another open-and-shut case… until he discovers the victim was dead before the fire even started. Before he knows it, Sam stumbles upon a dark side to the victim’s past and unwittingly ignites a powder keg of secrets. Soon he is caught in a maze of murder, abuse and corruption.
Is it the vengeful arsonist? The widow with a sordid past? The son with a chip on his shoulder? Or is an ambitious warden trying to keep a prison scandal under wraps? One thing’s for sure: the more Sam fans the flames, the more likely he is to get burned. Luckily, he has the help of Carla Davenport, the county medical examiner who has taken an interest in Sam but makes it clear she has no interest in a lost cause. He starts out just trying to impress her but winds up discovering the sleeping detective that’s still inside him. With the system railroading a possibly innocent suspect, it’s up to Sam to find the real killer before anyone else dies.
Set among the colorful backdrop of East Texas, this taut page-turner is sure to keep you guessing until the very last page.
Targeted Age Group:: 15 and up.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I had been tossing around the main character of Sam Lawson for awhile but didn't have a good story to insert him in. Then I heard about the true story of a murder in a small town and started playing "what if" with possible suspects. It all took off from there.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My main character, Sam Lawson, is a mix of several television characters from different genres. From Ash Williams of The Evil Dead movies to Hank Moody from the Californication TV series. Many of my characters are combinations of people I've met or observed in real life. Books and movies and other books are a constant source of inspiration
He didn’t notice her at first.
Joe Reddington shut the door behind him and tossed the motel room key on the cheap dresser. The small window air conditioner rattled loudly as it futilely attempted to fight the East Texas heat. Joe noticed the bedspread and sheets had been pulled off of the full-size bed. The bedspread lay in a heap on the dingy dark blue carpet.
He checked his watch. 3:04 p.m. He had told her to meet him at 3:00.
As he started to unbutton the shirt of his guard uniform, he noticed a light coming from the partially shut bathroom door.
“Maria!” he barked. “I don’t have much time.”
He sat on the edge of the bed to take off his brown work boots, the mattress groaning loudly under his massive frame.
That’s when he saw her.
Through the crack of the bathroom door he could see her facing him. But something wasn’t right.
“Maria?” he said quietly as he stood. “What are you doing?”
As he stepped toward the bathroom door, he realized what was wrong. Her feet weren’t touching the floor. Her body was dangling about six inches off the ground.
He swung open the door to find Maria’s lifeless body hanging. One end of a sheet had been secured around an exposed support beam on the celling, the other end wrapped around her neck.
Joe stumbled backward in shock, he struggled to breathe. What had she done? His eyes were locked on Maria, hanging lifelessly in her maid’s uniform.
He began to feel nauseous. Waves of emotion rolled over him. Disbelief. Fear. Confusion. “Why would she do this?”
Then he began to panic. What should he do now? Should he get her body down? Call the police? Get the hell out of there and leave her for someone else to discover?
In the barrage of dizzying thoughts, he reached for his cell phone and dialed a number.
As he listened to the phone ring, he looked at Maria’s limp body hanging in front of him and the panic began to boil up into anger. She had screwed him over big time.
Six months later…
The smoke hit his lungs hard, but Sam Lawson fought back the urge to cough as he walked inside the two-story home. He didn’t want the other cops to think a little smoke bothered him. Square-jawed and just over six feet tall, Sam was a handsome man with a formidable presence. But age and hard living were beginning to take their toll on the forty-year-old detective, and he had to work a little harder to make an impression on the younger cops.
Two of those younger cops met Sam at the base of the staircase. Officer Jim Telford, the taller of the two, grinned.
“Hey, Sam,” he said with a nod.
“Jimbo!” Sam replied a little too loudly. “How’s it hanging?”
Sam noticed the other officer, Mike Neely, shaking his head in disapproval. “I’m sorry, Mike. How rude of me. Is yours hanging okay, too?”
Officer Neely rolled his eyes and walked away. Sam and Officer Telford moved to the side to let two firefighters pass them.
“What happened to you?” asked Telford, pointing at Sam’s swollen nose.
Sam had almost forgotten about the fight. Although, technically, it was less of a fight and more like a beast of a man using Sam as a private punching bag in a public bar. His attacker was an ex-con who still harbored a grudge against Sam for arresting him a year earlier. Luckily, he only landed a couple of punches before Sam was able to buy his way out of further abuse.
“Keeping the peace can get dirty sometimes, Jimbo.” Sam said, finally answering the cop’s question.
“Well, you should have at least popped a breath mint,” Telford whispered. “You smell like a liquor store.”
Sam cupped his hand over his mouth and breathed into it.
“More like a brewery,” Sam corrected him with a wink. “Where’s ground zero?”
“Top of the stairs,” Officer Telford answered, pointing up to the doorway.
Sam glanced up the stairs then turned his attention to the disaster surrounding him. The first floor was dripping wet from the fire hoses. Smoke damage stained the walls, and furniture had been shoved out of the way by the firefighters. The blaze had been contained to a couple of rooms upstairs, but the entire house suffered for it. To Sam’s untrained eye, the place seemed destroyed.
Sam smiled at Telford one last time and walked past him. He noticed the looks of disapproval from Officer Neely and some of the other uniformed cops and he shot them a wink. He was used to it. Some people just liked to judge. In fact, that was the reason he’d transferred from Houston to the smaller, more manageable city of Quinton five years ago. Not that Quinton was small—with just over 25,000 people, it was anything but quaint. A former manufacturing hub, the town had seen better days. The state prison was the current main source of employment. But, in spite of the prison, or maybe because of it, there wasn’t a lot of serious crime. It was the perfect place for Sam to quietly ride out his career. Unfortunately, he still had a knack for finding trouble, and it hadn’t taken long for him to re-establish a bad reputation.
He knew he should clean up his act, but, at this point, why bother? Being a cop could steal your soul if you let it. He almost made that mistake once and he sure as hell wasn’t going to make it again.
Sam stepped over a fire hose and walked carefully up the slick stairs. Still a bit wobbly from the punches to the head (and the beer), he held on to the banister and navigated his way slowly. As soon as he reached the upstairs bedroom, he stopped himself.
David K. Wilson grew up in East Texas, surrounded by enough colorful characters to fill the pages of hundreds of books. He has been an advertising copywriter and creative director, and is probably responsible for some of the junk mail you’ve received over the years.
He is also a seasoned ghostwriter and screenwriter. Currently, he lives in upstate New York, where he still complains about the cold every single winter. COMBUSTIBLE is his debut novel and the first of his Sam Lawson series.
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy Combustible On Amazon
Have you read this book? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!