Excerpt: Almost Mortal by Christopher Leibig

About the Book:


Emerging criminal defense attorney Sam Young has always known he had a gift. Or a curse. He thinks of them as minor psychic abilities. When Sam is hired by an attractive young nun named Camille Paradisi, he agrees to help discover the identity of a serial killer in order to prevent Camille’s pastor from being exposed for not reporting the man after a confession – thereby allowing another murder to occur. While Sam’s psychic abilities increase as he investigates the case and gets closer to Camille, he realizes that the enigmatic nun is not revealing the complete truth. 

Camille shares an old journal anonymously mailed to the church, which she believes may have been authored by the killer/confessor. The journal, which begins in Argentina in the 1940s, purports to tell the life story of a man with mind control and other special powers who claims to be a descendant of the fallen angels cast out of heaven by God. As Sam learns more about the murders, the journal author, and Camille, he begins to realize the so called “Rosslyn Ripper” case may have ancient implications beyond his imagination.

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Featured in April/May 2016 Issue: American Scences

August 13, 2015
Havana, Cuba

Other than the famed Zapruder film of the JFK assassination, it was probably the most viewed video clip of a true-life murder in world history. Rarely had a killing been so vividly and suddenly perpetrated at a moment when its victim was already the focal point of dozens of state-of-the-art digital video cameras and thousands of curious eyes. The perfection of the angle, the crispness of the color, the starkness with which a viewer could watch the transformation of a human body from a vibrant vessel to empty flesh had never before been achieved, at least not publicly. All the networks, local and national, got the footage. But it was the local ABC 7 News that scored the ultimate prize—the shot that actually captured the eyes going blank a fraction of a second before the body collapsed. More spellbinding than the quality of the film, though, was its significance, given later events. It was the mystery that made people watch the clip again and again. 

In the days since its making, the lawyer, despite having been a close eyewitness to the event itself, had never watched the clip. Nor had he taken part in the international debate, fostered mostly by cable news and religious groups, about whether the victim could possibly have survived the brutal bullet wound. People had survived being shot in the head, said some. But not like that, said others. 

The lawyer gazed across the Plaza Vieja. Three elderly women, evenly spaced, walked slowly across the square through a foraging flock of pigeons. He had never met or seen any of the trio before, but he knew that all three of them were widows who had been friends since childhood. All of that information flowed from their strides, their pace, and the gestures of the fat one in the middle who was telling a boring old story about her husband again.

He looked down at his tablet. His finger hovered over the link that would show him the video clip of the famous murder. He may as well watch it now. The clock in the corner of the screen said 2:25. He sipped his coffee and took a long drag from his cigarette.

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