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"What the hell you doin' here on a Saturday, boss man?" Patrol Sergeant Jeff Chopp demanded while the group parted to allow Pete access to the coffeepot.

"Overachiever," Dennis Lambert teased.

Pete had been hired as an investigator--the only one at the moment--only six months earlier. In that time, he'd spent more hours in his cramped little office at the station than in his own home. Another one of Donna's frequent complaints.

Pete's father, a life-time patrol officer, was looking at him, and Pete didn't have to face him to know he was worried. He understood Pete's personal situation only too well. Amazing how a person could be scarred by something so deeply in childhood only to make the same damn mistakes. His parents' marriage had been a nightmare Pete had wanted to escape any way he could. He couldn't say his own marriage was any different.

From the room off to the left, dispatch center, a phone rang. Most of them turned that way.

"How long you been holed up in that office?" Chopp continued in on Pete a second later. They'd know what the call was about soon enough.

Pete grimaced at the thick, burnt-smelling coffee he sipped. "I had some cases," was all he said. The sludge-for-coffee--and Pete's reason for holing up--just made his hollow, acidic stomach feel worse. He wondered if he had an ulcer. Twenty-two years old and already he was stressed to the point of an ulcer.

Tammy Allan came out of Dispatch. "We've got a dead body," she said, and everyone immediately forgot Pete's personal problems.

Falcon's Bend was a small town in west-central Wisconsin. Most deaths were by natural causes, and that was everyone's assumption for this one.

"Tom Kreager called it in. He's the manager of the wastewater treatment plant. One of his workers fell in an oxidation ditch. He's dead."

"He say who it was?" Lambert demanded, his expression agitated. "My cousin Shawn works there."

"It's Bill Lexmark. You better get out there right away."

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