“Did Midkiff know what had happened to Tramper?”

“Claims he had no clue.”

“How did Midkiff get hooked up with H&F?”

“In 1955 the young professor was newly arrived from England, and had been told to look up Prentice Dashwood, an old family friend. Dashwood recruited Midkiff into H&F.”

“He never made it to the inner circle.”


“But Davenport did.”

“Following the Tramper funeral, Midkiff gradually introduced Davenport to the brothers. The idea of an intellectual elite appealed to Davenport, and he joined up.”

“Even though he was from Swain County, Davenport had never known about the lodge?”

“Not before he joined. Apparently no one did. These guys were amazing at keeping themselves hidden. They'd sneak in and out after dark. Over the years, everyone forgot the place was there.”

“Everyone except old Edward Arthur and Luke Bowman's father.”

“Right.” McMahon perused the contents of a drawer as if unsure whether to pack or discard them.

“And the club put nothing on paper.”

“Very little.”

He emptied the drawer into the box, reinserted it in the desk, opened another.

“What is all this shit?” He straightened and looked at me. “Continuing with the chronology, John Morgan died in 1972, Mary Francis Rafferty was killed, and F. L. Warren moved up. By this time, Midkiff was getting disenchanted. He quit shortly after that.”

“So he may not have been a party to any murders.”

“It looks that way. But Davenport's dirty. In 1979 he was chosen to replace William Glenn Sherman in the inner circle. Davenport's canape was the unidentified black male.”

“Was it significant that the victims were drawn from different races and both sexes?”

“The idea was to maximize the breadth of spiritual intake.”


“Kendall Rollins succumbed to leukemia in 1986 and his son Paul took his place.”

“Albert Odell was the victim?”


McMahon dumped the second drawer.

“What happened with Jeremiah Mitchell and George Adair?”

“Major fuck-up. When Martin Patrick Veckhoff checked out last February, Roger Lee Fairley was slated for coronation. He was informed of the requirements, and Mitchell was grabbed and killed. Fairley's sudden death on the way to the Veckhoff funeral created a problem, and Mitchell was put on ice while the succession issue was resolved.”

“By whom?”

“Ralph Stover was told that it would soon be his turn to move from the outer to the inner circle, was advised of the conditions, and was asked to perform a few extra duties. He stored Mitchell's body in a freezer at the Riverbank Inn.”

I suppressed a shudder.

“That's why the volatile fatty acid readings were off.”

“Exactly. In early September Stover was officially proposed to succeed Veckhoff, and Mitchell's body was taken back and placed in the courtyard in preparation for an induction ceremony. That's when things began to unravel. Some within the inner circle opposed Stover's promotion, seeing him as too zealous, too unstable. The dispute dragged on, decomposition began, meaning the body couldn't be used for the ritual and the corpse had to be buried in the cave.”

“But not before a coyote visitation.”

“Bless them.”

“Stover did the dirty work again?”

“He's our man.”

McMahon upended another drawer, taped the box, and labeled it with a felt-tip pen.

“Anyway, after weeks of wrangling, the Stover faction prevailed. George Adair was abducted on October first. The crash occurred on October fourth.”

“I retrieved the foot on October fifth.”

He stacked the box with the earlier ones and opened a file drawer.

“As you know, Stover also killed Primrose Hobbs. Lucy Crowe found Stelazine in his apartment at the Riverbank Inn. The prescription was written by a Mexican doctor for none other than Parker Davenport. Stover had

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