Pixels and Pain
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by James Goodman
Description: Explore the dangerous domain of a madman--Johnny Walker is a FBI agent on a personal crusade to catch a killer. One year ago, his little sister was brutally murdered and the police still don't have a suspect. Mary Marshall founded a watchdog group to rid the world of online predators after her sister fell victim to a charismatic stranger she met on the popular networking website, HiyaSpace. As the similarities surrounding their losses draw these two together, they soon embark on a desperate quest for answers--a quest wrought with peril, betrayal, and unimaginable horror. In a virtual world where everyone's a friend, and everyone's a suspect, will Johnny and Mary be able to track down an internet serial killer whose unspeakable deeds threaten to destroy them all? Or will the hunters become the prey, unable to escape a web of Pixels and Pain?
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: August 2008
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [170 KB]
Reading time: 101-141 min.
"Pixels and Pain is a nonstop thriller which will hold readers pinned to the edge of their seats breathless as they race through the pages seeking the killer's identity and hoping to save the protagonists, each of whom are strong independent characters in their own right... Pixels and Pain is an excellent choice and will remain in the reader's memory, as will its characters: Johnny, Mary, and the elusive, mysterious killer."--Frost, 5/5, Dark Angel Reviews
Johnny Walker sat with his elbows propped on his desk, his thumbs on his temples. His eyes scanned data that streamed across the computer monitor in front of him, darting from left to right, searching, always searching. It was the way he'd spent every free moment of his time for the last year.
He'd been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for nearly nine years now. When he landed the transfer to the Denver Division two years ago, he couldn't believe his luck. The government was sending him home--or at least close to it.
Intent on his work, he banged both his knees on the bottom of the desk when his office door swung open.
"What are you doing, Walker?" Charlie Deeson demanded, his face scrunched up into a look of disdain.
"Just going over some data, Sir." Johnny rubbed his knee with his left hand and closed the browser with his right.
Deeson, an Assistant Special Agent in Charge, was a tangible nightmare in an otherwise dream job. They'd clashed from day one. Something about him just rubbed Charlie the wrong way, but Johnny had yet to figure out what it was.
"I thought you were supposed to be on a ride-along with Ramirez. But I suppose gathering information about a suspected drug cartel in our own backyard isn't nearly as important as..." He gazed pointedly at Johnny's computer. "What is it that you're doing?"
"Nothing." Johnny leaned back in his chair, straightened his silk tie. "I'm meeting with Ramirez right after lunch. I'm all about getting the bad guys off our streets."
Eyes narrowing, Charlie stared him down, then moved the rest of the way into the office and closed the door. "You're still messing around with that Gina nonsense, aren't you?"
"Gina isn't nonsense. She was my sister and no one has come up with anything resembling a clue. We still have no idea who killed her."
"Jesus H. Christ, Walker!" He let out an exasperated sigh. "How many times do I have to tell you that Gina's case is police business?"
"Well, they aren't handling their business very well." Johnny shook his head. "They don't have a single suspect."
"Why am I compelled to remind you that you're a Special Agent for the F ... B ... I?" Charlie's voice dripped with acid. "Your time is better spent solving bureau problems. Give the boys in blue some time to do their jobs, and you worry about yours."
"It's been a goddamned year. How much time do they need?"
"So, you admit it?" His eyes went wide and a slow smile slithered across his face. "You were using company resources to search for your sister's killer."
"I didn't admit to shit." He pressed his palms on the desk to keep his hands from trembling. "I simply don't appreciate you talking about my sister as if she were just another faceless vic."
"Aw, you're breaking my heart. How many reprimands have you had over this? No, don't even answer that. You've been warned. You're too close to this case. In your state of mind--and more importantly your state of power--you could do more harm than good to your sister's case."
"I hear you and I would be content to leave it alone if there were some signs of progress."
"Do I look like I care if you're content or not? You were given a direct order, and you damn sure better obey it or I'll have your ass."
Johnny fought to keep the roiling anger out of his voice. "What if it were your sister?"
"I don't have a sister." He smirked. "Come on. Do us both a favor and keep digging. The sooner I catch you in the act, the sooner I'll be able to get you out of here."
"You really think the old man will let you fire me over this?" Johnny couldn't help but laugh. "You're dreaming."
"No, but our benevolent Lambrose will agree to transfer you. I've been building a paper trail for months. You're shirking your duties to work on a case that doesn't fall under our jurisdiction."
Johnny stared at him. Special Agent in Charge Phil Lambrose was a by-the-book kind of guy. If a paper trail really existed, legitimate or not, he could be well and truly screwed.
"What's the matter?" Charlie asked. "No smartass remarks this time? I never thought I'd live to see the day when the great Johnny Walker was at a loss for words."
"You're a real asshole, you know that?" Rising from his chair, he stood tall, straightening the lapels on his jacket with both hands.
"Tread lightly. That's borderline insubordination. If you get transferred out to the boonies, do you realize how hard it will be to abuse company resources to help your poor dead sister?"
"Fuck you!" he blurted out before he could stop himself.
"Fuck me?" Charlie laughed. "Oh, no my friend, you just fucked yourself. I'm your superior, and you've officially crossed the line."
Johnny stormed from behind the desk to stand toe to toe with his ASAC. "You may outrank me, but you'll never be my superior."
"You can try to convince yourself of that, but I'm not the one that's about to be a desk jockey in Juno." Charlie puckered up and kissed the air between them. "I should really thank you for--"
Johnny nailed him with a hard right cross on the jaw. He went sprawling over the chair in front of the desk.
"Are you out of your fucking mind?" Charlie bellowed, holding his jaw.
"Let me guess: now you have grounds to fire me?"
"You wish! If I get my way, you'll do jail time over this," he sneered, wiping at his bloody lip with the back of his hand.
Johnny stepped behind his desk, opened several drawers, and removed the things he thought he might need. "Either way, I'll never have to put up with your ugly mug and even uglier remarks ever again."
Charlie sat unmoving, his expression blank.
"Now who's at a loss for words?" He winked, then strolled across the office. He paused at the door, hand on the knob, and turned to look over his shoulder. "If you try to pin an assault charge on me, I'll tell everyone I only hit you because you were coming on to me."
"What?" Charlie's head snapped in Johnny's direction.
"I'll level a nice little sexual harassment charge to spice up your personnel file," Johnny elaborated. "Have a wonderful evening, dickhead."
He left, slamming the door behind him.