Present-day Chicago forensic scientist Sean McKinney hunts a serial killer who is targeting senior citizens associated with the 1930s era Barker-Karpis gang. Can he get justice for a wrongfully accused man, or will the trail of corpses left by the real killer include McKinney?
Tim Chapman is a former forensic scientist for the Chicago police department who currently teaches writing and tai chi chuan. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. His fiction has been published in The Southeast Review, the Chicago Reader, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, and the anthology, “The Rich and the Dead.” His first novel, “Bright and Yellow, Hard and Cold,” was a finalist in Shelf Unbound’s 2013 Best Indie Book competition. His short stories have been collected under the title, “Kiddieland and other misfortunes.” In his spare time he paints pretty pictures and makes an annoying noise with his saxophone that he claims is music. He lives in Chicago with his lovely and patient wife, Ellen, and Mia, the squirrel-chasingest dog in town.
There are three plot threads in "Bright and Yellow, Hard and Cold," one that takes place in the 1930s and two in the present. This excerpt is from the present. Forensic scientist Sean McKinney takes a break from a murder investigation to visit his wife's grave.
Bright and Yellow, Hard and Cold
He lay down across the grave, looking up at the sky, remembering. Once, after a particularly difficult day, he’d come home from work to find a grinning Catherine waiting for him with an old blanket and a picnic basket full of sandwiches. Catherine hadn’t been particularly fond of the blues, but she was fond of McKinney. She packed Angelina off to the babysitter’s and took McKinney to the Blues Festival in Grant Park telling him, “Relax, dammit, and quit being such a mope.” As he lay with his head on her lap, listening to Buddy Guy’s wailing guitar, he looked up at her and was overwhelmed. In a rare, poetic moment he told her, “You know, we humans look at birds in flight and think how lucky they are, but the birds don’t know they’re lucky. Soaring is just their natural state of being. When I’m with you I feel like I’m soaring, and I know how lucky I am.”