When you stare into the face of evil, don't flinch.
Memoirs of a Death Row Inmate
by Daniel Donovan
Genre: Psychological Thriller
James Bryant is a relatively unknown detective with an otherwise average career. But for one detail: he caught a notorious serial killer from the Midwest. A psychopath, dubbed the South Side Sadist, Richard Allen Fenton, is locked up in the El Dorado Correctional Facility, awaiting his execution on Christmas day. Though a relatively unknown serial killer, Fenton is a master of manipulation whose killing spree lasted over three decades, spanned five states, and claimed eleven victims...so far. Although the two have not been in the same room since the final appeal, Fenton has one more game to play. Striking a deal with the Department of Justice, Fenton agrees to reveal the identities and locations of his other victims. He asks for only one thing in return; to have the cop who put him away take down a series of confessions, find the bodies, and write all of Fenton's misdeeds into a three-volume set to be published for the world to see.
Bryant, a functioning alcoholic battling his own demons, is offered a choice; take the deal or hand in his badge. Against his will and at the detriment of his ever-degrading mental health, Bryant agrees. Backed by a task force with the FBI, Bryant is forced into weekly meetings at the Correctional Facility with Fenton, who torments Bryant at every turn. While Bryant thinks he is just "serving his time," Fenton has other ends in mind. In their regularly scheduled meetings in the prison, Fenton tortures Bryant with the horrifying details of his murderous career, while an unhinged disciple of Fenton's seeks to wreak havoc on the task force on the outside. In prison or out, Bryant fights to stay one step ahead of the killers as they seek to destroy his life and that of everyone around him.
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Twenty minutes; that’s how long it took to get from the front door, through security and down to maximum lock-up. They had a special interview room set up for me to use. I was glad they did, because I didn’t want to walk down the hall past Dennis Rader, the Carr brothers, and a long line of other sick individuals just to talk with the sickest of them all. The hallway leading to the room was even more depressing than the entryway. It was meant to contain hardened criminals who were so fucked up they kept the lights as dim as possible to hide the glow of insanity radiating from their eyes. This was no place for any decent human being to spend their time. The lights only got dimmer the further I walked down the hallway. The lights flickered, creating an ominous atmosphere punctuated only by the soft voices of the incarcerated, carrying from their various cells. Ahead of me, a three inch thick metal door complete with a six by six inch impenetrable glass window at head height waited for me. My heart started racing, and my throat tightened.
I could see, through the small shatterproof glass window leading into the interview room that the source of my pain was waiting for me inside. A chill ran down my spine as the electronic lock popped allowing the door to slide open. The man chained to the table didn’t turn to acknowledge me as I stepped into the room.
“I’ll be right outside in case he tries anything,” the guard cautioned. I nodded to him and stepped along the left wall. I circled the room until I was on the opposite side of the table from the man in the brown prison jumpsuit. I leaned back against the wall and set the briefcase down beside me.
I finally raised my eyes to meet those of my cell-mate. Behind black and gray, bushy eyebrows shone the dark brown eyes of malice, radiating from the face of pure evil. The large figure was partially hidden by long, unkempt salt and pepper hair, hanging along either side of his face and obscuring his hulking shoulders. The face, if clean shaven, would have caused most people to flinch and look away; the beard, fortunately, hid some of the menacing lines of his permanent smirk. He sat with his hands cuffed together and the handcuff chains ran through a ring on the table, keeping his hands together. He laced his fingers from one hand through the fingers of the other and stared as if he was contemplating his next ten moves.
Daniel Donovan was born in Missouri and raised in Kansas for most of his life. He always had a passion for creative writing, but it wasn’t until he spent four years in law enforcement that the spark for crime thrillers was really ignited. Donovan aims to bring his readers into the novel by incorporating real-life details into his works of fiction while giving readers the thrills and chills they seek.
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