The Florida Gulf Coast stretched out under the brilliant sun, a paradise of golden sand and turquoise waters. Danny Gumbo, a world-weary private investigator, leaned against a weathered lifeguard tower, his gaze fixed on the cluster of beachgoers enjoying the pristine shore. He had been lost in his thoughts, relishing the tranquility of the scene, when the blaring of sirens shattered the serenity.
His attention snapped to a line of construction trucks making their way down the beach, carrying loads of gleaming white sand for the upcoming tourist season. The scene was commonplace, as the town prepared for an influx of visitors, but something about it struck Danny as unusual. The workers were gathered around one of the trucks, their faces contorted with shock and disbelief.
Curiosity piqued, Danny sauntered over to the commotion, weaving through the growing crowd. As he drew closer, he couldn’t believe his eyes. A human hand, pale against the pristine sand, was reaching out from the mound of newly deposited material.
“Hey, you! Call the police!” Danny shouted to a nearby lifeguard, his voice laced with urgency.
Moments later, the local police arrived, led by Detective Sarah Martinez, a determined officer known for her meticulous approach to solving crimes.
“What do we have here, Gumbo?” Sarah asked as she surveyed the bizarre scene. A small crowd had gathered, their murmurs rising in the warm breeze.
Danny described how he had stumbled upon the dead body and the workers’ shock upon unearthing it from the sand pile. With a nod, Sarah ordered her team to carefully excavate the area.
It took hours, but the victim was eventually uncovered, revealing a lifeless man, his face contorted in a grimace of agony. His body was covered in white sand, and a bullet hole in his chest told the grim tale of his demise.
The victim was identified as Ethan Mercer, a local businessman with a reputation for ruthless dealings in the real estate market. As Danny and Sarah interviewed Mercer’s acquaintances, a troubling picture emerged. Mercer had been involved in a long-standing feud with rival developers and had made numerous enemies due to his cutthroat tactics.