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Last Winter's Taken

A homicide detective and FBI agent pursue a sociopath who murders expectant mothers and abducts infants during the winter solstice.
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Author: MJ LaBeff

The murder of Willow Danby, a married woman and expectant mother, thrusts Homicide Detective Rachel Hood into a murder investigation and missing person’s case as she searches for the baby ripped from Willow’s body. The mysterious undertone surrounding the current investigation forces Rachel to reopen a cold case from the previous year. Yvonne Johnson and Willow Danby couldn’t have been more different. Wrong side of the tracks meets white picket fence. The only thing the two women have in common: they’re both dead and their infants are missing.

Even with a long list of suspects to interview, alibis abound, and Rachel is no closer to solving Danby’s or Johnson’s deaths. She worries: where are the children? Rachel’s psychic empathy draws her closer to the taken infants, and she suffers from a haunting premonition. But, how can she be their voice when they are too tiny to speak?

A single clue left at each of the crime scenes links the cases together and leads Rachel to a mystery dating back to the year 1638. Her frightening premonition spirals out of control, but she can’t track the infants’ sobs.

The sinister murders and search for the missing infants reunite her with occult crimes specialist and psychic FBI Agent Nick Draven. Even with his psychic gift of hypersensitive hearing, Nick can’t hear the infants’ cries in the night. Then a mysterious enigma is unearthed for the first time in over 372 years and draws them closer to a modern day sociopath, murdering expectant mothers and taking their unborn children.

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Title Last Winter's Taken
Author MJ LaBeff
Series Last Cold Case
Genre Thriller Suspense
Release May 15, 2018
Designer Eerilyfair Design
Length 420 pages
ISBN 978-1-77392-003-0
Price $6.99
Tags psychological paranormal thriller


“I’d like to contact someone at the historical museum to exam the swatch,” Nadia said. “As I said before, this textile is not a modern fabric. I’m hoping to find an expert to help me determine its origin.”

“Excellent idea,” Nick said. “Let us know what you find and if you’d like help from the bureau.”

“Would you mind if we went to the lab and you can show us the fabric under a microscope?” Rachel asked.

“Not at all.” Nadia flattened her hands on the top of her desk but didn’t push herself up from behind the desk. “But, first tell me what brings you by.” She peered beneath her glasses to the bag near Rachel’s feet.

“A couple of things, first we’re trying to locate a diamond ring Tyson had recently given Willow. The diamond was set in the baby’s birthstones so we’re looking for a diamond set in aquamarine gemstones. Do you have it in the evidence file?”

“The only rings we have are her wedding rings.”

Rachel looked over at Nick.“Maybe our killer took a souvenir after all.”

She turned her attention back to Nadia. “Second, I need you to check this wine bottle and these glasses for any foreign substances.” She picked up the bag and set it on top of the desk. “One of the neighbors, Paisley Reed, paid Tyson a visit last night. I think she might have drugged him. Enter this into evidence under her name. We’re in the middle of a double homicide. Reed was killed in a car accident last night. We suspect foul play. The fuse for her emergency contact system was pulled.”

Nadia stared at the bag. “I’ll rush this and let you know what I find.”

She entered the items into an evidence log then pushed her chair back from the desk and picked up the bag. Rachel and Nick followed her to the door. Nadia waited for them to exit, locked her office, and then led them to the lab.

With a plethora of possible cross-contaminates the three of them donned blue gowns, matching blue booties and caps to cover their heads. Next, they snapped on gloves. Nadia escorted them into the lab. Other scientists worked in silence with their heads bent over microscopes and other devices used to analyze evidence.

She fished in her lab coat for a set of keys. The swatch of fabric was pressed beneath several glass slides. Carefully, she exchanged the bag containing the wine bottle and glasses for the tray of slides and then locked the evidence in the cabinet.

“We’ll need to use the scope over here,” Nadia said.

She placed the first slide beneath the microscope and peered down at it, making some adjustments for their viewing pleasure.

Rachel stepped up and bent over the microscope. She squeezed her left eye into a permanent wink and squinted into the lens with her right eye. All she could see was a bunch of squiggly lines which meant absolutely nothing to her.

“You did keep the main sample intact, didn’t you?” she asked Nadia.

“Of course, this is a tiny cross section.”

Nadia walked back to the locked evidence case and came back with the swatch of fabric. It was exactly as Rachel had remembered it except now the blood that had saturated the fabric had dried. She extended her hand, and Nadia handed the bag to her. She lifted the bag, scrutinizing the hardened swatch.

“I haven’t found any other biological evidence. The blood is the victim’s.”

Rachel nodded. “I’m not surprised. It was placed beneath her pelvis after she was probably dead. Even if she was still clinging to life, it’s unlikely she could have struggled with her attacker.”

“The sample you were looking at are strands of dark black hair, not threads,” Nadia said.

Rachel lowered the evidence bag to her side and bent over the microscope again, pressing her eyeball against the lens.

“When I first discovered the strands of hair I thought we might have recovered hair from the perpetrator or victim but upon closer examination, it was clear the hair had been woven into the fabric. To be certain I removed two cross sections. As I mentioned, the weave is not from a modern textile. That much I do know. That’s why I’m hoping someone from the historical museum can identify what time period the fabric came from.”

Rachel’s eye strained. The sample beneath the microscope lens danced. She blinked and readjusted her position to gain a better view of the sample. Squinting harder, she tried to focus on the image. The black strands climbed up and swirled around her, taunting her. A mist formed before her open eye peering down through the magnifying lens.

A pair of hands rose up from the mist, reaching for her. She gasped but before she could look away the hands opened, revealing a bloody, fleshy, wriggling mass. The mist evaporated. A woman appeared. She walked toward Rachel with outstretched arms. She drew closer and in her upturned hands was a baby.

The woman’s face with glowing eyes jumped out at her.

“Thou shall not conceive and deceive!”

Her face withered from Rachel’s vision, behind her stood a weeping woman. Tears streamed down her cheeks. Faint sobs and ragged breathing grew louder, louder, louder. Her sorrowful cries shattered Rachel’s heart, pulling her emotionally closer to the woman. The weeping woman drew in a deep breath. She blew out a mist of black haze in Rachel’s face.

“Give me my baby,” she pleaded, and then broke into the most terrifying cry Rachel had ever heard.

The weeping woman’s shrill shrieks pierced Rachel ears. She dropped the evidence bag and fell to her knees, hands cupping each ear in an attempt to drown out the weeping woman’s words and sobs that echoed like unwanted ringing.









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