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The Man Burned by Winter

The Man Burned by Winter By Pete Zacharias Summary

The Man Burned by Winter (Rooker Lindström Thriller) An investigative journalist on the edge. A serial killer testing his limits. What they have in common can freeze the blood.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy, investigative journalist Rooker Lindström finds a grim hideaway from the world. It’s the dilapidated cabin on Minnesota’s Deer Lake bequeathed to him by his late father―one of the most notorious serial killers in the state. If the walls of this murder house could talk, they’d scream.

Detective Tess Harlow needs something from Rooker only he can provide: a window into the mind of a murderer. A copycat is on the prowl, following in the footsteps of Rooker’s father. After reluctantly agreeing to take on the role of consultant, Rooker makes a chilling discovery. Every victim―five and counting―is a depraved taunt meant only for him. Rooker is not just tracking a killer playing sick games. In this brutal Minnesota winter, Rooker is confronting his past.

Maybe working with Tess is Rooker’s last chance at redemption. But to outrun his father’s legacy, he must follow a darker path still to come.

About the Author

Pete Zacharias received a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing. He is a lover of Nordic noir, dark thrillers, and anything spy, and credits Michael Connelly’s The Poet as the novel that inspired him to become a writer. The Man Burned by Winter is Pete’s first novel.

The Man Burned by Winter By Pete Zacharias Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

November 27, 2017


The voice sent Detective Tess Harlow bolt upright in bed. Her eyes snapped open so fast, the vein in her head pulsed. The night table handle rattled. The drawer whisked outward. Her hand fell over the SIG Sauer P226. There was no one. Another nightmare.

For a long time, that voice had reminded her of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate brownies, fresh out of the oven. Before they went in, as a little girl, she always got to lick the batter off the wooden spoon. Now the voice—you’ll see for yourself—that’s what she told Dad.

She had slept her usual toss-turning nights up until a month ago. She’d lain there, eyes closed, listening to the whoosh of the toilet valve around midnight. The snapping creak of Mrs. Crawford sleepwalking on the floor above hers between one and two. But they didn’t keep her up all night. Neither did the homicides or missing persons.

But ever since this case landed on her desk, she felt the shadows on the walls watching her.

It started after they found the first body. That gruesome cut across the victim’s throat . . .

The feeling only worsened after the second and third victims. Dread hung there in the dark. She could sense it crackling in the air. While she lay in bed trying desperately to sleep, her pulse racing, there was something ominous haunting her. She thought she knew the culprit.


She changed out of an oversize shirt and into plain clothes. She brushed her hair and tied it in a ponytail, holstered her gun, put a pot of coffee on, and ripped into a protein bar.

Tess scribbled her name and the time on the clipboard and sauntered to room 6B. 9:12 a.m. She rubbed at the hammering ache behind her eyes before her knuckles rapped delicately on the nameplate for Janice Harlow. One lone flower petal fell to the floor before she turned the handle.

Seeing that name always made Tess grimace. After all, Janice Harlow didn’t exist anymore, not really. Her mother hadn’t spoken—hadn’t really spoken since the incident. Shortly after, Tess had gone over to the house one afternoon. Her mother was still wearing the same pajamas she had on the last time she’d seen her. Fruit flies swarmed everywhere. Bananas had sunk, jet-black. Tess’s dad was gone. With the craze of her work schedule, there was no other option than assisted living.

The room was nothing fancy. The bed was made. A cheap flat-screen played Janice’s soaps. There was a kitchenette and an empty table with dead flowers in a vase. There in a flannel checked pajama set sat Janice Harlow, stiff as a board on the seaweed sofa with an old newspaper in her lap.

Tess walked over to the crystal vase, pulled the dead roses out, and replaced them. “Hi, Mom,” she said.

Her mother stared at her with a blank smile. She wasn’t dying. She wasn’t old. But after the incident, she wouldn’t take care of herself. And she wouldn’t speak. Not even to her only daughter.

Tess had been there when her mother identified the two men who were now back on the streets. Janice Harlow only nodded and muttered one word. Snowflake.

Weeks later, her mother already a recluse, Tess Harlow was the next of kin called in to identify her father. The last time she’d seen him alive was the first time she’d seen him cry—really cry. He said he failed. When she asked what he meant, he said, “To protect and to serve.”

And she understood. Joe Harlow was buried in Itasca Calvary Cemetery. This time of the year in Minnesota, the earth wasn’t particularly ripe for digging a grave plot. She remembered driving on the 169 past the cemetery and seeing Tommy-John Michaels—ironically, he played football instead of baseball. All-state lineman—bundled up, operating the backhoe.

With her mother staring mutely at the TV, Tess unfolded the paper printout from her pocket. It was an article from the Valley Chronicle. She studied the title and byline.


By Rooker Lindström

Before she could read long, she heard her mother’s grumble. She lifted her head to see Janice staring at the same newspaper article as last time. Her fingers curled around the paper arthritically. And that was when the words left her lips chillingly, in the same voice that haunted Tess’s dreams, a voice that wasn’t Mom. This woman sounded possessed, like a different voice said it from over her shoulder.


For a split second, she looked at her mother gravely. Tess turned her head away from the vacant stare as fast as she could, but her hands couldn’t wipe the tears away faster than they fell. She hurried to the door without another word and shut it with her back to the room. Her face trembled. She sniveled, the way she’d cried when she was a little girl. And as she slowly stopped shaking, she sniffled hard, cleared the shaky rasp from her throat, and pinched the ash-white scar on her fingertip.

While she signed out on the visitor log, the heavyset orderly behind the desk tried to console her. “She’ll be okay, hon.”

Tess looked down at the name tag on her shirt. “Margery, just get her out of the fucking pajamas.”

She walked away thinking about demons.

Thin ice, Harlow. Pretty soon it’s going to collapse beneath you.

On the drive to the station, she replayed Chief Larsson’s thinly veiled threat in her mind. She was weeks, maybe days away from transfer or demotion. This from a chief who was the prototypical deadbeat—Jim Larsson hadn’t been in the office in more than a month. When he graced them with his presence, he puttered along and appeared half-asleep doing it. And yet he had given her extraordinarily little time to catch a serial killer, and so far, they had nothing.

Nothing aside from three bodies, two killed identically, but all three left with a calling card. Each one was a black-and-white photo print—the location where the body was staged—with a bloodred droplet in the bottom right-hand corner.

As she walked past the bullpen, Tess was surprised to see the whole team was already at their desks: Detectives Vic Sterling, Xander Whitlock, and Martin Keene were clustered in the center of the room, with Detectives Elias Cole and Millie Langston at opposite ends. Tess’s old desk used to be right across from Martin’s before she was promoted to lead the team.

“Tess,” Detective Vic Sterling implored with a half-eaten hoagie sandwiched between his hands.

“How can you eat that shit before noon, Sterling? And when you argue with me, it’s ‘boss.’”

“Boss.” He saluted her with the sandwich still in hand, oil or vinegar or some liquid substance running down his palm. “Keene just filled us in on the Lindström plan. What the hell are you on about with that nut? You want to bring our lead—hell, our only—suspect into our investigation?”

“It’s my call.”

Whitlock pulled the Styrofoam cup from his lips. “Not a good one,” he uttered.

“What was that?” she said.

He went on slurping his coffee loudly, his lips wet with foam. He gave a whatever-you-say shrug and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Look.” She sat on the edge of an empty desk. “He’ll be a consultant with limitations. I just want to see if he can help us out.”

“The guy’s a pencil pusher. How’s he going to help us—by writing a column on the killer? Just save us all the time, slap the cuffs on him, or . . .” Xander raised a finger in the air like the greatest epiphany in the world landed, wings fluttering in his lap. “Just shoot him.”

“Did you want to leave, Alexander?” Tess said.

His brow furrowed. “Need I remind you he’s the son of Gunner Lindström? Just sayin’—this guy shows up here out of the fucking blue, and bodies start popping up like herpes sores.”

Sterling took another colossal bite from his hoagie, lettuce and pickle falling out the other end. “Experience in that arena?” he asked with a mouthful of food. Crumbs flew from his mouth, and he brushed them from his desk to the floor. Tess saw Millie Langston’s nose wrinkle in disgust.

“Fuck off.” Whitlock’s lip curled. “It’s him. We’re idiots to think it isn’t.”

“Well,” said Keene. “Innocent until proven guilty.”

“He’s not a columnist, by the way,” Tess said. “He’s a journalist. He’s covered crime for a decade. He’s published articles on serial killers, deep profiles. And yes, Xander, he was raised by one. He was the victim of the Madman, Tate Meachum—who he caught. At the end of the day, maybe he can give us a different perspective.”

“I still don’t think that makes him any more qualified than one of us,” said Cole. “Your call, though.”

Tess rubbed her caffeinated eyes and stood. “Look, I’m not saying he’s more qualified. But he has some experience in this realm. How many serial murder cases have any of us worked?” The silence spoke volumes. “Let’s go over what we do have.”

“Three women,” Sterling spoke up. “Midtwenties to early thirties. All three white, blonde, between five feet three inches and five feet eight inches. Weight between one hundred twenty and one hundred sixty pounds.”

Cole chimed in next. “No DNA from our killer left on the victims or the calling card. Bruising to the face, body, and buttocks. Nonfatal knife wounds on the torso and abdomen. Fatal knife incision—possibly a hunting knife—to the sternum. Damage to the vaginal wall.”

“The hotline?” Tess asked.

“Just a few wackjobs—phony confessions and pranks here and there,” Keene said. “Looks like he’s right-handed. The blow to the right side of the face is nearly identical to the last two victims.”

“We have three bodies,” Tess said. “Keene, Cole, and Whitlock—I want each of you recanvassing the areas where the victims were last seen.”

Whitlock tilted the last bit of liquid into his mouth and tapped the bottom of the cup until it was dry. “No one saw a thing. We have no eyewit—”

“I know. Believe me, I know. But we can’t wait for another body. Just try again. Take your pick. Follow up with the families, best friends, significant others. Let me know what you find. Langston—” Millie Langston was sitting with diplomatic posture, jabbing the point of her pen against a pad. “Keep looking for commonalities among the vics—physical features, job, schooling, anything. Maybe you can narrow down the grid of where they were last seen or taken. Maybe we find his hunting ground.”

Langston was already clicking away on the keyboard at light speed. “On it, boss.”

Xander crushed the cup in his fist. “Where will you be?”

“Paying a visit to Mr. Lindström. I want us to keep our eyes on him. There’s still no telling if he’ll help us—he doesn’t like police, not after what happened to his son—but I’m willing to try.” She started to walk away.

“What about the chief?” Keene asked.

Tess grabbed her coat from her chair and spoke over her shoulder. “Fuck Larsson. Let’s go, Martin.”

Tess pushed through the double doors and winced when the air nipped at her neck and plunged into her jacket. She zipped it up to her throat. The cold only seemed to submerge deeper into the depths of the coat’s lining. A quick shudder forced its way out of her. The parking garage’s fluorescent lights burned dim overhead. They flickered like a quiet flame, some smelling like singed hair.

Tess pressed the button on the fob, and the car doors clicked open. She slid inside and shut the door fast, a breath of cold air leaving her lips just as quickly. A short-chained badge hung from the rearview mirror. She touched a finger to it—the one with the scar in the shape of a snowflake—breathed in, and started the car.

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The Man Burned by Winter

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1542039657, 978-1542039659
Posted onJune 1, 2022
Page Count335 pages
AuthorPete Zacharias

The Man Burned by Winter By Pete Zacharias PDF Free Download - Epicpdf

The Man Burned by Winter (Rooker Lindström Thriller) An investigative journalist on the edge. A serial killer testing his limits. What they have in common can freeze the blood.


Author: Pete Zacharias

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