What Matters Blood


Legendary homicide detective Jack Dantzler has never failed to solve a murder. Thirty-three killers apprehended, tried, convicted. Perfect. Like God’s soul. But Dantzler’s perfection ends when three college women are brutally murdered, victims of a serial killer who strangles his prey, decorates their bodies with a St. Jude medal and a photo of Michelangelo’s Pieta, then lacerates the jugular post-mortem.

The series of murders reawakens Dantzler’s memories of his own mother’s murder when he was still a young boy. As he delves deeper

into the case, haunted by thoughts of his mother, Dantzler edges closer to the abyss. To catch the serial killer, he must first regain control of his own emotions.

What Matters Blood presents Dantzler with his ultimate challenge, entering into the dark and twisted mind of a cunning adversary who will stop at nothing to prevail in what he calls this “Waltz of Death” with the great detective.

Tom Wallace delivers a wallop of a thrill with What Matters Blood. With masterful characterization, his portrayal of the serial killer is chilling, as well as authentic, enough to elicit goose bumps. The story is fast-paced, the dialogue realistic, and the search for the killer intriguing. One galvanizing read that will hold the reader’s interest throughout.
-Midwest Book Review

What Matters Blood offers readers a suspenseful ride through a crime spree and its resolution. Wallace provides an ending as frantic as this year’s NCAA tournament. The book yields an extra dose of realism that makes for an enjoyable read.
-Lexington Herald-Leader

Tom Wallace has constructed a masterpiece of murder. Jack Dantzler is a complicated man and a unique detective with a long shelf life, reminiscent of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. I suspect Dantzler will be around for quite a while. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.


Killing women was much easier than writing a novel.

Eldon uncovered this truth two years ago, on that cold, blustery February night when he claimed his first victim.

The first of the Chosen Ones.

That night, as bullets of ice peppered the windows, he stepped out of the darkness and into the light. Into illumination.

He had ascended, moving into a world that had long awaited his arrival.

Eldon murdered Allison Parker, strangling her with a belt, in her own apartment. From beginning to end, it had taken him less than two minutes to extinguish her life.

In contrast, it had taken him six years to write his first novel, seven to write the second. He hardly broke a sweat killing Allison; he sweated blood penning those two books.

Of course, time wasn’t the issue here. It wouldn’t have mattered if it had taken him two hours to kill Allison Parker. Or two days. The crucial point was this: it had been easy. No more difficult a task than taking out the garbage. No more of a challenge than stepping on a cockroach.

Killing Allison—and, later Becky Adams—had been… effortless.

Eldon’s thoughts were interrupted by a crack of thunder so close it seemed to come from inside the car. Then another crack, this one louder. Very close, he whispered to himself. Too close. To his right, a zigzag spear of lightning creased the night sky. Then another boom of thunder. He jumped, shivered, felt goose bumps crawl up his arms. Thunder frightened him. Ever since he was a kid. Lightning was okay, but thunder—that was a different matter.

Seconds later, as Eldon turned right off Harrodsburg Road onto Lane Allen, there were two more blasts of thunder. Then the clouds unleashed a deluge. Relentless sheets of rain, driven by a savage wind, slapped hard against his windshield. His wipers, though working double time, fought a losing battle against the torrent of rain cascading down from the sky. Visibility went from poor to worse.

Jesus . . . this rain. It’s a monsoon. We’re not supposed to get crappy weather like this. Not in Lexington, Kentucky.

Take it slow, he mumbled to himself. Be cautious.

But wasn’t he always cautious? More careful than a surgeon? More disciplined than a monk? Yes, most assuredly, he was. He had killed twice, yet he would be the last person on earth anyone would suspect. Caution and discipline—the foundation of his success.

Eldon turned right, pulled into the Commonwealth Plaza parking lot, then slowly circled until his car faced the row of shopping center buildings. Taking his handkerchief from his coat pocket, he wiped the windshield and looked out, squinting hard to see. The parking lot, as best he could make out, was empty. Not a single car. Certainly no human beings. Just pools of water growing deeper by the minute. No one, sane or crazy, would be foolish enough to brave this nonsense. This was enough rain to douse the fires of hell.

He looked at his watch: 8:10. No need to move, he decided. Better to stay here, relax, let the storm pass, wait until thunder’s cannons were silent. Rain like this can’t last much longer.

The irony of seeking refuge here, less than one hundred feet from the dance academy owned by—her, wasn’t lost on Eldon. Thinking of her now—and that other scorpion—the two who should have given him refuge all his life but hadn’t sent a wave of revulsion coursing through his body. Refuge was the last thing he would get from them. Refuge…or love.

God, I hate them. Hate them for what they think they are. For their superiority attitude.

No, I will not allow them to intrude upon tonight. I shan’t be that weak. I shall cast them back into the oblivion they deserve.

A smile crept across his face.

Soon, I shall cast that evil pair from this earth.

Closing his eyes, listening to the rain hammer his car with ever-increasing force, he sent his thoughts in other directions. Allison Parker and Becky Adams. How easy it was to take a human life. Why he was able to kill without remorse. Without guilt.

Eldon had always known he would become a killer. He’d known it since he was a young boy, living in hell with those twin devils, his life ruled by misery. But why had it taken so long for the inevitable to happen? Why had he delayed his destiny? He was, after all, in his mid-thirties when he killed for the first time. That’s late for a first-time killer, especially one who knew from an early age that it was never a matter of if, only when. Why had the dam that held back his river of hate taken so long to collapse? He had no answers for these questions, nor did he particularly care if those answers forever eluded him. He was beyond mysteries, beyond answers. Beyond judgment.

Then there was the most fundamental question of all: why kill in the first place? Why take another’s life? Murder dated back to the very beginning—according to scripture, the first act between two men resulted in a homicide—yet the sanctity of life is now, and has always been, the one constant in all civilized societies. To kill was to look the Creator, the giver of life, squarely in the eye and say, “fuck off.” What would possess a sane man—and Eldon certainly considered himself sane—to follow such a path?

But Eldon had no time to spend considering these matters. They were irrelevant to him. Pointless. To ponder them for a minute, to search for cause and effect, to use, as Camus had said, “the acrobatics of logic” in an attempt to give reason or meaning to the act of murder was a colossal waste of time and energy. He would not submit to such folly, involve his intellect in such a futile undertaking. Besides, there were no answers out there, waiting to be uncovered like bones at an archeological dig. Camus had called it when he’d said, “the worm is in man’s heart.” Let that stand as the final testament. Let the search begin and end there.

That Allison Parker had been the catalyst for his breakthrough was certainly no mystery. He had killed her because she was so aloof, so arrogant, so smug—so much like them—and because she had dismissed him as though he were an insect. Hadn’t he been kind to her? Hadn’t he helped her on at least two occasions? Hadn’t he treated her with respect and dignity? Yes. And, yet, when he dared to ask her to lunch—a harmless, mid-day outing, not even a real date—she had laughed in his face, turned and strolled away.

At that moment, Eldon knew he had at last come face to face with his destiny. There could be no more putting it off. No more procrastinating. He would kill Allison Parker. He would dim forever those eyes that had showed such condescension, repugnance, and superiority toward him. He would silence that laughter.

He would rid the world of one more woman who doubted his masculinity. How dare they question that? In death, she would discover his manhood.

Sitting in his car, fighting sleep, Eldon saw a light flicker inside the dance academy. Seconds later, he saw a woman step outside, holding a raincoat over her head, looking up at the sky. He knew it wasn’t her—it couldn’t be; her car wasn’t in the lot. Had to be that young dance instructor. Abby something. He’d seen her once, briefly, from a distance, not more than two weeks ago. A real looker. Resembled Allison Parker and Becky Adams.

Resembled them.

He’d made eye contact with her that afternoon, nodded, smiled. Her eyes met his, then moved on. Like he wasn’t present in the room. Invisible. In that instant, he knew she was destined to be the next Chosen One. For her arrogance, she would pay the ultimate price.

Eldon smiled. He hadn’t planned on killing her tonight. Indeed, he had yet to put together a plan or establish a time in which he would act. He’d figured on at least another week, maybe two. There was never a need to hurry or take unnecessary risks. Better to be methodical than impulsive.

Caution and discipline—never leave home without them.

And yet, much to his surprise, he felt no fear, no apprehension. No self-doubting. Why not tonight? he asked himself. Why put it off? The situation couldn’t be more conducive to success. The Chosen One was alone. He also knew from recent research that she lived by herself. There was no one else in sight. No potential witnesses. In this rain and darkness, no one would see him pick her up or leave the parking lot. His black car would be little more than a shadow moving through the night.

The voice in his head whispered, “go.”

Eldon drove slowly through the rain-drenched parking lot, pulling up next to the curb in front of the dance academy. He lowered the window on the passenger side, leaned across the seat, said, “Stranded?”

“Seems that way.”

“What time was your ride supposed to be here?” “Eight.” “I’m sure this rain is the cause of his delay.”

“Probably so. But it would’ve been nice if he’d called, let me know he was running late.”

“Have you tried to contact him?” “Called his cell phone. No answer.” She came closer to the car, looked inside. “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before? Aren’t you—”

“I have been many places, my dear, so it’s very possible that our paths have indeed crossed.”

“No…I’ve seen you somewhere. Recently.”

“The bookstore, perhaps?”

“That’s right. The bookstore. Last week, I believe. By the way, I’m Abby. Abby Kaplan.”

“Would you care for a ride home, Abby? No sense staying here alone.”

“I probably should wait. Give him a few more minutes.”

“Nonsense,” Eldon said. “In this weather, it could be an hour or more before he shows up. Better let me give you a lift.”

“I live on Bellefonte.”

“That’s no problem.”

“You sure? I don’t want you going out of your way.”

“I am not so noble as to do that which is problematic. It would be no trouble at all to give you a lift.”

Abby nodded. “Let me turn off the lights and lock up.”

“Take your time, my dear. Your chariot awaits.”

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