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Jack has coped through previous holidays, but this one feels different. It's been four years since he lost his family, and clues to finding those responsible have dried up. Hopelessness has him so tightly wound that he's often driven out of his claustrophobic apartment before the ever-present black dog of depression drags him to a place where there's no coming back from.
Jack wants to be left alone with his sorrow, but when he's offered double his fee by the wife of one of the city's most elite families, how can he refuse? She wants him to follow her husband, Franklin, as she suspects he's cheating and needs photos to get around the strict prenup. Franklin leads Jack across the city to The Majestic Lounge, the Castro District's most popular gay nightclub. By the time he finds Franklin, Jack is forced to break up a heated argument between him and club owner, Chad Lucas.
Lucas approaches Jack the following day, wanting to hire him for added security during the club's popular annual Drag Queen Extravaganza. The event's usual excitement is marred by the deaths of several of Lucas' friends that authorities are calling suicides. Lucas convinces Jack something more nefarious is going on and agrees to the job.
Does the city have another serial killer on its hands, one who's targeting the LGBTQ community? Can Jack find a witness? Surely in the crowded nightclub, someone must have seen something.
San Francisco, California
“Police! Don’t move.”
Jack froze. The hairs on the back of his neck stood to attention as the officer's light abruptly silhouetted him against the brick wall in front of him.
“Slowly. Clasp your hands behind your head and turn around.”
He remained on his knees and did exactly as the officer commanded. As a former cop, he knew the officer had her weapon aimed at his head, and she wouldn’t be afraid to use it if he didn’t do what she said.
Facing the officer, he squeezed his eyes shut against the light, turning his head away from the glare. Even though he knew the routine, his heartrate kicked up a notch waiting for his next instruction.
“Move this way.” The uneven pavement bit into his knees. “Far enough. Put your chest on the ground. Arms wide out to the side. Cross your ankles.”
Lowering himself to the ground, he kept his face slightly above the pavement and tried breathing through his mouth. The smell of rotting garbage, motor oil, and piss filled his nostrils, as did whatever else had been spilled, dragged, or dropped in the dark alleyway. Overlaying it all was the metallic scent of the woman's blood. His throat constricted as the taste of it hit the back of his throat when he inhaled.
The officer called for backup on her body-worn radio, and a moment later, Jack heard the approach of who he assumed was her partner.
"What have we got here, partner?" a male voice asked.
For a split moment, an image of Paul Travers flashed in his mind. He shook it off. Travers was dead.
"I got this," she told him.
Just under the light's glare, Jack saw the partner's feet stop beside the first officer. He was sure a second weapon was aimed in his direction by the additional light not flooding his vision. He squeezed his eyes shut and spun his head away.
"Are you sure? He's a big fucker."
"I said, I got this." There was no mistaking the angst in her voice. Trouble in Paradise? Perhaps not a partnership made in Heaven. This guy wasn't Travers, but he still sounded like an asshole.
Jack heard shuffling but the officers stayed where they were.
"So far, so good," she continued. "I’m going to cuff you now and bag your hands. Any trouble and my partner won’t hesitate to aerate your skull.”
Her partner kept the light trained on him while the female officer moved toward him. At his side, her heard her holster her weapon before grabbing and twisting his wrist upward in a control hold while bringing her knee down onto his shoulder. His wedding ring crushed against his fingers. It hurt. She had his attention.
Putting most of her weight on him, practically sitting on his head, his face was forced onto the filthy ground. She quickly snapped one a cuff onto the wrist in her hand. Jack knew she'd want the other wrist and presented it to her. His heavy leather jacket creaked in protest as she pulled up on his wrist to snap on the second cuff.
"I see you've done this before, so you know how this is going to go. Don't fight me and everything will go smoothly. I'm going to bag your hands now, then conduct my pat down." After sliding sterile bags onto his hands, she lifted off him, pulling on the cuffs to partially roll him over and patting down one side from the collar down, then the other, before putting her weight onto the back of his thighs and patting down his calves and checking his boots. She bagged his boots too before she rose off him and moved away. He heard her weapon come out of the holster again before she moved away from him. Both officer's lights were back in his eyes.
Hand and foot preservation bags were essential for preserving evidence in cases like this. Besides the obvious blood DNA, it was possibly gunshot residue transferred onto him when he tried slowing the flow of blood. He was pretty sure they'd eventually take his clothes.
This was all by the book. At any other time, with anyone else, he'd be impressed.
“Wanna tell me about this?” she asked.
Jack angled his head and through the light shimmers in his vision, he met the frozen gaze of the woman beside him.
What had happened?
Jack is a complex and very wounded character. It’s Christmas week—four years after the loss of his wife, his little girl and his dog. The bodies of his daughter and the dog were found at the scene. His wife’s body, if she is indeed dead, has not been found and this haunts Jack and prevents him from moving forward in his life. I particularly liked the author’s knowledge of San Francisco and the little bits of history dropped into the text. The friendship between Jack, Ray and his wife Maria, is heartwarming. Jack accepts a job, at double his usual pay, following a cheating spouse. It doesn’t take long before Jack, and his former partner, Ray, are immersed in a case involving a serial killer who is targeting drag queens in the Majestic, a local bar in the Castro District. The killer is using weapons printed on a 3-D printer. The book is filled with twists and surprises that will keep you guessing until the surprising ending that will leaving you waiting eagerly for Book #3. Give it a try. You’ll love this thriller by KA Lugo. ~ Susan Clayton-Goldner, author of the Winston Radhauser Mysteries, Goodreads
As one reads that title, it’s only natural to assume the book to be full of death and gore. That was not the case at all. Yes it does have death and blood but nothing as extreme as one would imagine . . . The writing was interesting and entertaining. The characters were well drawn. I liked how Jack’s character was shown. His grief and trauma were all well penned. The case which he was given to solving started as weird and unimportant but soon took such an interesting turn that I had to know what would happen next . . . I would recommend this to fans of Jack Reacher books and movies! ~ Aza, bibliomaniacaza
All I can say is WOW. I enjoyed the first in this series and hoped it would carry over into this one. I did not want to stop reading. There was plenty of action, clues to follow, and love and support for each other. I had tears at a couple points near the end, and I felt closer to Jack Slaughter and his pain. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for Jack, and I plan on reading the next in the series to watch as he progresses. I highly recommend this book and the series. ~ Christine Woinich, Iron Canuck Reviews & More, Amazon, Goodreads
Witness to Slaughter has some very surprising twists and turns that I never saw coming . . . unpredictable with a whole slew of characters whom I found to be very likable and memorable . . . As the plot thickens and the suspense builds, I am racing to the end to see whodunit. When it was finally revealed . . . part of me is slapping myself on the forehead and thinking, dang, I should have known. I am looking forward to more of Jack’s mysteries. If you are into murder mysteries and thrillers then I highly suggest that you grab yourself a copy of Witness to Slaughter today! Oh and don’t forget to check out the first Jack Slaughter Thriller, Slaughtered as well. While the Jack Slaughter Thrillers can be read as standalone I do suggest that you read Slaughtered first as it gives you more insight as to who Jack is and what happened to his wife and daughter. ~ The Avid Reader
I finished KA Lugo's latest novel, Witness to Slaughter, and what another bestseller it is for this author. 5 Stars for sure, I now want the next book asap, love this character, Jack Slaughter. Congratulations to KA Lugo on a brilliant follow up to book 1. ~ Mary Bradford, author of the Lacey Taylor series, Facebook
A thrilling read with wonderful characters. A serial killer, a PI whose heart was broken years ago by the loss of his family, and his close friends that stand by him every step of the way. What started as a pretty mundane job for Jack quickly turns into something more - the hunt for a serial killer targeting drag queens. You can't help but love Jack and his tragic backstory. All the characters were well-developed, and the plot has enough twists to keep you guessing. This can be read as a stand alone, and after reading this I plan to go back and read book one! ~ Liliyana Shadowlyn, Amazon, Goodreads
We meet Jack Slaughter for his second adventure and it is a doozie! The reader is swept up into the story from the first page and remains engaged until the last page is turned. Readers will be haunted by the resolution of this shocking tale. K.A. Lugo writes the gritty characters of Jack and Ray, yet is able to change gears and write the more delicate and feminine characters of Marilyn and Caroline. There are several things going on at once, but they are creatively blended together to produce a dynamic storyline. All the loose ends are tied up, but there is a teaser that reassures the reader that the next Jack Slaughter novel is on its way. A must read for mystery lovers! ~ Belinda Wilson, Amazon
I love a good thriller and hadn’t read anything by this author before, but once I read the blurb, I found myself drawn to the sound of the story. I was genuinely rather impressed with the overall story and definitely am glad I found this author. The flow of the book is excellent. It really gives you the perfect thriller feel, with tension mounting at a slower pace and then you TT hit with a swift pace twist. I loved this abs it really meant I was able to immerse myself fully in the read, becoming a part of the action. Overall, I was really impressed. There was a great level of detail. The rules of law were followed and everything came together really well. It is definitely a book I recommend. ~ Bri Wignall @ Naturalbri, Goodreads
With the holidays near this book made me happy to be me. I really felt for Jack as memories of past Christmases with his wife and daughter swamped him. Long walks with the only purpose to “get away” from those thoughts lead him to a situation the book’s title no doubt came from. I now know a bit more about Jack but also still want more so do hope there will be a book three in the future. ~ Cathy Geha, Cathy's World blog, Goodreads, Bookbub
Enjoyed Book #2! I was not disappointed! I read it straight through . . . While the book stands on its own, I'm one who *must* read series books in order. Either way, the reader will find it an enjoyable read . . . The San Francisco setting is perfect for this story, which is handled with respect and care. If you start with Book #2, buy Book #1 anyway. You'll find you want to. ~ AudreyP, Amazon
The character of Jack is going through the roughest time of his life. Yet he still manages to put one foot in front of the other and get the job done. The only real ray of brightness in his life is the fact that his best friend (and former partner) is about to become a father. The author is tasked with the job of giving Jack a reason to continue living life, while still using his investigation skills to help out in the lives of others. Lugo has done a wonderful job in this regard. I enjoyed every minute of the investigation, as well as with the happenings in his private life. All the characters have well developed backgrounds and the story will keep you guessing. I look forward to the next adventure with Jack Slaughter. ~ Detra Finch, Huntress Reviews, Amazon
This intriguing mystery has great twists and turns even as it gives glimpses of the world of cross-dressing, drag contests, and the fascinating neighborhoods of San Francisco. The action starts immediately, and the reader is drawn into the gut-wrenching miasma that surrounds the main character, whose life is almost not worth living, given the tragedies he’s suffered. I was invested in the story and anxious to turn the page to see what would happen next. Although I haven’t yet read the first story in the Jack Slaughter Thrillers series, enough backstory was provided to give me reference. I still can’t wait to read it, and I look forward to reading more exciting stories by this author. ~ Elf, The Reading Addict
I like this character Jack Slaughter that K.A. Lugo has created. His ambience alone would make me enjoy these books. Jack Slaughter is an ex-cop and now a Private Investigator. He’s caring but tough. Just like you picture this kind of P. I. This book has a maybe even more unexpected plot than Book 1 but it has the same twists and turns. There is something it does not seem to have that Book 1 did. In Book 1 if you read my review, you’ll find I was a little frustrated by the author jumping around. I didn’t feel that way through the whole book and I did get to the point of enjoying it. This time though, while there are lots of twists and turns it seems that K.A. Lugo has her ducks all in a row. This is a well laid-out plot and good story written in a very readable manner. ~ Kathy, Our Town Book Review