A Joe Erickson Mystery Book 3
by Lynn-Steven Johanson
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Chicago detective Joe Erickson returns to the force following medical leave, and right away a high-profile murder falls in his lap. The body of a graduate student, the son of a prominent Jewish attorney, washes up on the shore of Lake Michigan with a swastika cut into his back. The hate-crime investigation leads Joe and his partner to suspect neo-Nazis, and as he digs deeper into the young man’s death, he uncovers a conspiracy that nearly gets him killed.
When Joe and Sam met the next morning, they spoke about the interviews they needed to do, and both agreed they could cover more ground if they split them up and conducted them separately. But before they could finish their discussion, Joe received a call from someone identifying himself as Anthony Freiberger who said he was a friend of Daniel Silverman. He told Joe he had some information that may be pertinent to Daniel’s murder but didn’t wish to discuss it on the phone. He was a graduate student at the Art Institute and suggested Joe meet him there during his lunch hour.
Joe wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to go to the Art Institute, so he agreed to meet him in the Impressionist room near Georges Seurat’s painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” He was familiar with that area of the Art Institute and had been in that room many times. He let Sam know about his meeting with Freiburger, and Sam urged him to go on his own since he had a dental appointment was at 11:30. They agreed to begin their interviews that afternoon.
Joe entered the Art Institute and made his way to the Impressionist section. Glancing at his watch, he saw that he was right on time as he stepped into the room that housed Seurat’s painting. Standing in front of the painting looking at his phone was a bearded man in his mid-twenties, his long, dark hair pulled into a ponytail. As Joe took a step toward him, he gave Joe a wary look.
“Detective Erickson?” he asked tentatively.
“Yes. I assume you’re Anthony?”
“Call me Tony.” They shook hands and sat on one of the benches facing the Seurat painting.
“You said you may have something that could be important regarding Daniel’s death?” asked Joe, getting straight to the point.
“I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that. But a couple of weeks ago, Danny and I met in a bar on Friday after classes to have a beer and catch up. We were sitting in a booth talking, and a couple of guys in the booth behind us were talking kinda loud, and one of them started making anti-Semitic comments. He went on for a while—I swear he must have been a neo-Nazi or something, you know. That began to piss Danny off. Well, they ran their mouths for a few more minutes, and finally Danny couldn’t take anymore, he just lost it. He got up and confronted the guys. One of them stood up and got right in Danny’s face, calling him a “Hymie-bastard” and other shit like that. This guy was good-sized, a lot bigger than Danny. But Danny called him out and said, “Have at it, fat boy.” And the guy swung, and Danny put him down. Hard. I mean, he was laying there gurgling on the floor in seconds.”
“What happened then?” asked Joe.
“The bartender saw the whole thing and stopped the other guy from getting involved, and he called the cops. They came and interviewed each one of us and ended up arresting the guy who swung at Danny—for assault. They didn’t do anything to Danny because he was just defending himself.”
“You find out the name of this piece of work Daniel put down?”
“That’s all right. The police will have it since they arrested him. What was the name of the bar?”
“The Lion’s Share on North Milwaukee.”
“You think he could have done it?”
Joe looked up from his notepad. “It’s hard to tell. But we’re going to look into it. Can you describe the guy he was with?”
“Shaved head, goatee, earring, tattoos. Kinda like the other guy.”
“Maybe. I don’t know anything about those kinda people.”
“I would steer clear of them, if I were you. And avoid that bar in the future in case it’s a hangout for their kind. You wouldn’t want to run into them a second time.”
“Yeah. They are.”
Joe passed Tony his card and told him to call him if he remembered anything else or if he could be of assistance to him in the future. He could see Tony was still uncomfortable talking about it. To calm his nerves, Joe changed the subject and asked him what he was studying, Tony told him he was getting his MFA degree in Photography and had another year to go before he would graduate. Once he began discussing his work, his manner changed, and he relaxed. It was enough to jog his memory.
“I just remembered something. I think the guy overheard Danny giving his address to the police officer.”
“The one he put down.”
Great, Joe thought. If he knew where Daniel lived, he could have stalked him. This information would have made him vulnerable for payback at the hands of a Jew-hater. He would need to follow up, but he wasn’t looking forward to questioning a skinhead, if indeed that’s what he was. But the evidence Tony just provided was pointing in that direction.
Joe thanked him and they parted company.
**Don't miss the other books in the series!**
A Joe Erickson Mystery Book 1
A Joe Erickson Mystery Book 2
Lynn-Steven Johanson holds an MFA degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is retired from Western Illinois University. His plays have won numerous awards, and they have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, and numerous cities throughout the United States as well as in the United Kingdom, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, India, and the Kingdom of Bahrain. He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Dramatists Guild of America, the Playwright Center of Minneapolis, Sisters in Crime, and is a past president of the Mid-America Theatre Conference.
His mystery novel, Rose’s Thorn, was published in 2019 by Level Best Books, and a prequel, Havana Brown, was published in 2021. His newest Joe Erickson Mystery, Corrupted Souls, was published March 15, 2022.
He lives in Illinois with his wife, and they have three adult children.
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