The much-awaited second book in the Ray Okon crime thriller series set in Nigeria and written by Stanley Umezulike is here. Keep reading for the full chapter one excerpt.
CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT
Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos
The girl lay on the roadside. Her clothes were stinking wet. Two Federal Road Safety Corps members had pulled her corpse out of the lagoon an hour earlier. Sadness clouded her sunken eyes and swollen face.
Ray Okon, a special agent from the Department of State Services (DSS), pulled on his gloves, observed her body closer, and shivered. He was with Doctor Kenneth Akingbola, a pathologist from the DSS Criminal Investigation Department. Beside him stood Inspector James Ibru, from the Lagos State Police Headquarters, whom they would be liaising with on the case.
Ray watched as the FRSC officer close to him removed a clump of dirt that clung to the corner of her mouth. Her mouth was partially open. Her body had started to decompose. The smell of death surrounded the whole place, making him want to vomit. Even after being in homicide for a long time, he could not get used to the stench.
Dark clouds covered the sky. Nearby, a strange insect chirped one last time. It was six on Tuesday morning in the first week of October. Ray remembered how he felt when he woke up that morning. Was it because of his nightmares? It was as if the day brought evil with it.
The phone call that interrupted his sleep had given him the unwelcome news. Just yesterday, he’d flown from Abuja to Lagos to consult with the Lagos Police in unravelling a case of suicide that had sent shockwaves across the country. Nonso Onyeama, a final year student at the University of Lagos, went to the Third Mainland Bridge and jumped into the lagoon three days ago after making a cryptic post on the popular social media platform, Kedochat.
The case became high-profile when the police discovered the twenty-two-year-old was the son of the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Badmus Onyeama. Soon, an order from DSS came asking Ray to join in solving the case. Ray, recently appointed as the director of operations at DSS’ CID, was sent to Lagos by his superiors to join the police in the investigation.
What troubled Ray was that the university was his alma mater. He’d been thinking about the case since he heard the tragic news. This morning, he’d received a call that they found another dead body in the same lagoon at the Third Mainland Bridge.
Ray turned to face the police officer beside him. “Inspector, can you briefly tell me what happened here? What’s her name?”
“Her name is Ifeoluwa Oladipo. She is the niece of Senator David Adebayo. She was a final year student at the University of Lagos, where she was studying Linguistics,” Inspector James said.
Lines of worry creased Ray’s temple. Another final-year student.
“Two days ago, she came to this bridge and jumped inside the Lagoon,” the inspector continued. “We received a call yesterday evening from her distraught mother who told us they had been searching for her. We started retracing her steps. This morning, FRSC officers pulled her body out of the lagoon and informed us about the incident. We called you the moment we received the news.”
“How do we know this is suicide?” Ray asked.
“She left a post on her Kedochat profile two days ago,” Inspector James replied.
Ray held his gaze. “Please, let me see it.”
The inspector lifted a Samsung smartphone, opened the Kedochat App, and searched for her name. He gave the phone to Ray ten seconds later.
Ray narrowed his eyes as he read the brief post she left on her Kedochat timeline:
I’m tired, mum. School is tough. Let me go home, please.
The message had about two thousand comments. This is strange.
Ray returned the smartphone to the officer. “What do the police make out of this?” he asked.
“At first, her Kedochat post wasn’t clear. If you look at the first fifty comments in her post, you will discover that they assumed that what she meant by going home was that she wanted to go to her parents’ house. But now that she is dead, it’s clear that this is a case of suicide. She has gone home,” Inspector James explained.
Ray looked away the moment the inspector finished speaking. Thinking about the girl’s death made him feel sad.
“She is a final year student going through a lot of stress in school. It’s unfortunate that she had to give up and end her life this way,” the inspector said. His words hung in the air for a minute.
Inspector James stepped out, saying he had to make a phone call. Ten minutes later, he came back and approached Ray. “Thank you, Ray, for coming to assist us at such short notice. If you will excuse me, I’d like to go and write a report I’ll give to my superiors. We will inform her family about the sad news and bring a vehicle to return her body to her parents after a routine autopsy check at the morgue.”
Ray nodded and forced a smile as he watched him leave. He stared at the body a minute longer, and a tear trickled from the corner of his eyes. She looked young and twentyish. She was still at her ripe age. A young lady with her whole life ahead of her. She probably had dreams she wanted to achieve. Now, all of that had turned to dust.
His intense gaze settled on Doctor Kenneth’s five-foot-nine frame. “Doctor, can you give me an estimate of the time of death?”
The tall, dark-skinned pathologist nodded and bent closer to observe the corpse. “Twenty-four to twenty-six hours at most. She may have died five minutes after jumping inside the lagoon.”
Ray tightened his jaw. “Do we know anything else about her?”
“She has a boyfriend named Mark Ogundele,” an FRSC agent beside him said. “Mark is the Student Union Deputy President at the University of Lagos.”
“Thank you,” Ray said to the agent. “I’ll set up a meeting with him today.”
“Yes,” the pathologist replied.
“Get me details of her funeral, including the location. I’d like to talk with members of her family,” Ray said.
“Yes, sir. Will do.”
Five minutes later, a police van stopped in front of them. Two muscular men came out of the vehicle. They covered her body with a white sheet, placed it on a stretcher, and put the corpse inside the van.
Ray couldn’t imagine her family’s pain at losing their daughter and was glad he didn’t have to break the news to them. Instead, he would head back to his hotel room in Ikeja.
He entered the car Lagos Police assigned to him and started the engine. One question crawled into his mind. What else is going on here?
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Under The Radar
Author: Stanley Umezulike
Series: Ray Okon Crime Thriller #2
Genre: Crime fiction, police procedural
Publisher: Love Africa Press
Release date: Aug 26, 2022
Some cases will get you killed
When the body of a final-year student at the University of Lagos is found in the lagoon, the police rule it an open and shut case: suicide. But as the bodies of more final-year university students end up in the lagoon, DSS Special Agent Ray Okon is called to investigate the incidents sending chills across the country.
National Intelligence Agency security expert Sarah Aderinsola is investigating a similar case. Ray and the DSS Criminal Investigation Department team up with her to find answers.
As Ray and Sarah race across university campuses and peel layers of deceit, they face a terrible evil residing under the radar, unnoticed —until now. Worse, it is ready to shatter the fragile heart of the nation.
To save the country, they must risk their lives to stop a ruthless enemy determined to bring the nation to its knees.
Paperback (Naira): https://tinyurl.com/LAPpaperbacksNGN
PREVIOUS BOOK IN THE SERIES
Ties That Bind by Stanley Umezulike
Ray Okon crime thriller #1
Published April 2021
A criminal cartel on the loose. A woman caught in the crossfire.
Ray Okon, a low-ranking DSS analyst is frustrated at being stuck in a desk job. He’d rather be in the field, experiencing the adrenaline rush of catching the bad guys.
When the love of his life, Loretta Olawale, rejects his marriage proposal, he has no choice but to move on and bury himself in his work...until the ties that bind them brings them together in the cruellest way possible.
As he and his Homicide and Anti-Drug Trafficking Unit track down a deadly criminal cartel at the centre of Abuja city, Ray finds himself thrust back into Loretta’s life.
But this time, she is in grave danger, and time is running out. Ray finds himself in a race against time to unravel the case and save Loretta's life. But as buried secrets and lies surface, they are entangled in a sinister game of blood and death.
Grab your copy of Ties That Bind: https://tinyurl.com/TiesThatBindLAP
Stanley Umezulike is an award-winning author of intriguing crime fiction novels with strong romantic elements set in tropical Africa. He found his passion for writing at the age of 14 and he's been writing ever since. Stanley is the creator of the popular Ray Okon series. His writing has appeared in various publications including Daily Sun (Nigeria), Love Africa Book Club, Creative Freelance Writerz-Africa, Medium, Love Africa Press and Spillwords.
He is the founder of Prolific Fiction Writers Community on Facebook, where he helps fiction writers gain clarity and learn the art of storytelling. Stanley is the co-founder of Ifeadigo Publishing Company Limited, a tech-driven self-publishing firm that publishes books in print and on digital platforms, connects authors with global readers, and helps them to shine on the global stage.
In recognition of his work of transforming lives through storytelling and sharing his stories with the world, Stanley was awarded Top 40 International Leading Youth Award 2020, in the best author of the year Male Category, an initiative organized by Make Mee Elegant Foundation to commemorate the International Youth Day and celebrate youths across the world who have been truly outstanding and impactful in their various fields.
Stanley is currently working on his next book. When he's not working, he enjoys watching crime thriller TV shows, listening to good music and travelling to new places. He lives in Awka, Nigeria. Stanley loves to hear from readers, so follow or drop him a note.