Pure Death by Liah Penn Spotlight


A murdered society debutante, her body sprinkled
with 89 Costa Rican butterflies. A headless, gutted corpse washed up on shore

with a beautiful, dead teenager. The case is anything but straightforward, and
in an uncertain future, where resources are limited and the genetically
defective are banished to a ghetto territory for Impures, Chief Detective Ina
Stone and her partner, rookie detective Sam Fujimoto, must cross into Pure
Territory to find a killer. An Impure herself, Ina must overcome her defect.
And when her life is threatened, she must learn to rely on Sam, whose interest
in her seems more than just professional.

Yet the Pures may have created a world in which even they don’t want to live
anymore. Resources have become too scarce to hide, and a black market for
medicine comes to light. When a third murder is discovered, Ina and Sam know
there’s a connection. With too many suspects and not enough time, they must
find that connection before the killer strikes again.

I had been born Pure, just after the War, a perfect baby, with blonde hair, blue
eyes, and parents who tested in the top one percent of the intelligence
quotient. But I wasn’t perfect. When I was pulled from my mother’s womb my left
hand was withered, damaged, and bent. Now, as I walked home, I pulled the
defective hand out of my pocket and left it out. Just in case. IP Territory was
a dangerous place to live.

The rain had stopped by the time I left the bar, so as I navigated the oily
streets, my ears were alert for signs of trouble. It was nearly two o’clock in
the morning. The mist hung in sheets and my hair was beaded with pearls of
moisture like spider’s eggs on a black widow’s web. I could feel the damp and
cold seeping into my bones. I recalled the glistening of body fluids under the
decomposed body, oozing from the flesh as it fell like parchment from the
sinewy muscle and bones.

I stopped in my tracks and thought. Was the ground under the body dry? No, it was
wet. But not just from the body fluids. No blood. We saw that. But the dirt,
not dry. Moist. Black, silty Mississippi river mud. Had the body been placed
after it had started raining? Or had it washed up on shore? Was that what
Melker meant when he said the person hadn’t died there? I felt the evidence bag
in my pocket. I’d have to log it in on Monday.

I walked on, the street lamps casting an amber hue, burnishing the decaying
buildings with its light. Oil on the streets weeped into puddles creating
rainbows in the grime. The shiny pen-like object on the chain. Why wasn’t it
dirty and oily? Or had it been washed clean by the rain before the body had
been placed at the dump site? Was it even related?


Liah Penn is an author and attorney who resides
outside of New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband and two sons.  A former prosecutor, she has worked on an
Indian reservation, on the Mexican border and as a small town lawyer.  She is hard at work on the second book in the
Ina Stone and Sam Fujimoto mystery, “Pure Justice”.
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