Home > Dark in Death (In Death #46)(10)

Dark in Death (In Death #46)(10)
Author: J.D. Robb

“She did, and doubled as a waitress. Broadway Babies.”

“Ah, a very entertaining place, if you’re in the mood for it.”

“Home bars and kitchens, too,” Eve mused. “You can pick one up at a hardware or home store, no problem.”

“I have one myself,” Morris told her. “I’ll send her tox off, but from what I’m seeing she lived clean. No signs of chemical abuse, addictions. No recent sexual activity. She never had a child and, though the blood work will confirm, I don’t see any signs of pregnancy.”

“That fits with what I know about her. So ice pick, specific kill spot for fast, quiet work. I don’t think she’s going to give us much more.”

“The dead only know what they know.”

“Yeah. And this one? She never saw it coming.”

With the rest of her morning’s agenda in place in her mental file, Eve pulled into Central. She’d juggle whatever she had to for the Mira consult, she thought as she wound her way up, shifting from elevator to glide, but she had a reasonably clear picture of the victim.

Talented, friendly, happy, unencumbered sexually or romantically with no hard-edged breakups. Financially steady, as long as she kept the second job, which by all accounts she enjoyed anyway.

Take away the method, Eve thought, and she’d have pegged Rylan as a random.

She jumped off the glide on her level as Peabody popped out of a viciously crowded elevator.

“Hey, good timing. Anything from Morris?”

“Confirmation of on-scene conclusions. The vic lived a clean and healthy life, up until an ice pick severed her brain stem.”

“Ice pick. They just look mean.”

“I’d say Rylan agrees with you.”

She swung into Homicide, stared for the three seconds she calculated she had before Jenkinson’s virulent blue tie with its hard-candy pink—were those elephants parading over it?—seared her corneas.

Reineke, Jenkinson’s partner, had one foot propped on his desk as he worked his ’link. A tough-soled cop shoe clad the foot, and the positioning allowed a peek of the multicolored puppies—she thought they were puppies—frolicking against the screaming green background of his sock.

They were solid cops, she thought, solid, sensible cops she’d go through any door with. And yet they insisted on assaulting the senses of all in their viewing area with their insane choices of accessories.

She had to stop asking herself why.

Instead, she turned and headed straight to her office, and the coffee in her AutoChef.

“Maybe I could get one.” Unwinding the boa constrictor of her scarf—pink, blue, and white today—Peabody followed Eve in. “Because I scored you a consult with Mira. Nine-thirty.”

Eve programmed a coffee regular in addition to her own preferred black.

“We can follow that with interviews with the director and producer of the play Rylan was up for,” Peabody added. “They have the other callback—Jessilyn Brooke—scheduled for eleven.”

“That’ll work.” Eve passed Peabody the coffee. “Contact Kawaski. I want a look at the apartment, and the victim’s room. We’ll slide that between Mira and the theater. And put in a visit to the vet. I want to talk to the one who took the bogus emergency.”

“On it. You’ve probably got a report from McNab in your inbox. He went by the vet’s after he left the scene last night, as requested, since they’re open twenty-four. He took a look at the ’link transmission on that. He determined on site the tag came from a drop ’link, but since they cooperated, he brought the desk ’link in to triangulate location at the time of the tag.”

“Good. I’ll get up to EDD if I can, check his progress on that.”

Peabody went out; Eve settled in.

Once she’d set up her board, updated her book, she did deeper runs on the victim’s coworkers, the roommate, and added one for the competitor—Jessilyn Brooke.

Nothing and no one popped.

She sat back, put her boots on the desk, studied the board.

Point one: Whoever committed this murder was a planner. Detail-oriented, someone who knew how to schedule.

Point two: The killer was someone willing to take risks to achieve the goal.

Question: What was the goal beyond Rylan’s death? What was the purpose or gain?

Point three: no sexual component. Ice pick penetrates, but the weapon, as she saw it, had been chosen for speed and silence, not to simulate sex.

Question: How to resolve the personal nature of the planning, the target specificity, the intimate knowledge of the victim’s habits with the impersonal nature of the murder?

She got up, walked to her narrow window.

I see you, she thought. I watch you. Study you. I know what you like, where you go, who you sleep with, what you want.

Was it just that? she wondered. Just the thrill of taking a life. Of plucking someone—at random—studying them like some bug under a scope. Then crushing them.

That’s how it played for her. Rylan might not have known her killer. Maybe she’d have recognized the face. Someone she’d seen in the restaurant, at the vid palace, at the theater. But the connection, on her part, remained just that loose.

On the killer’s? One-sided intimacy and knowledge. The thrill of that. The goal? Maybe nothing more than taking it from selection to study to planning to conclusion.

If so, Rylan wouldn’t be the last, the only. In fact, she may not have been the first.

She turned back to her desk, intending to bring up unsolved homicides from the past year that contained at least one of the elements of her case.

And heard Peabody’s pink winter boots clomping toward the office.

“Hey, Dallas, Nadine’s here.”

“I don’t have anything for Nadine.” The on-air reporter and bestselling writer was a friend—and often useful on an investigation—but this one didn’t call for Nadine Furst and her crack skills.

“It’s more like she’s got something for you.”

Eve’s eyes narrowed because Peabody’s totally sparkled. “Am I going to smell double fudge brownie on your breath?”

“No, and I’d be sad about that, except for what she did bring. She’s got Blaine DeLano with her!”

“Okay.”

Peabody’s sparkling eyes rolled in disbelief. “Blaine DeLano, Dallas. She’s a really famous novelist. The Hightower Chronicles, the Dark novels. She writes about cops. She writes really solid cop stories. I’ve been a fan for, like, a decade.”

“So get her autograph if that blows up your skirt, and send them both on their way. I’m just a little busy with, you know, murder.”

“That’s the thing. Jeez, I got so flustered.” As if it cured the flusters, Peabody patted a hand on her chest. “Ms. DeLano says she might have some information on the investigation.”

“You didn’t think to mention that first?”

“I got really flustered. I started seriously thinking about being a cop after I read Devil’s Due. But she says—and Nadine backs her up—she thinks she has relevant information.”

Eve considered her office and the logistics of fitting four people inside the deliberately limited space—as she’d probably have to knock Peabody unconscious and drag her out to bar her from the interview.

“Have them go to the lounge. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Um, I think it might be better if I tried to grab an interview or conference room. Santiago’s a big fan, too, and Trueheart. Lots of cops are. So you may want to limit the access to her.”

Even as she spoke, Peabody pulled out her PPC, did a quick check. “Interview B’s open.”

“Bag it, and I’ll be there in a minute.”

She pulled up an incoming on her computer, noted that McNab worked fast. And had interesting data.

Not only a drop phone, she read, but he’d narrowed the location of the transmission to the crime scene. Inside the theater, in the section where Rylan had been seated.

And while he couldn’t confirm it as a timed auto-send, he could and had confirmed it as a recording.

Since he’d attached it, Eve ran it.

Street noises, traffic, horns.

Oh God, oh God, Prince broke the leash, he ran out, into the street. Oh God, he got hit by a car. He’s bleeding. He’s hurt, he’s really hurt.

Eve heard the vet assistant try to interrupt, to calm, to ask questions, but the voice just rolled over her, spiked with panic.

I’m bringing him. I’m running. Please, Prince. Hold on.

Eve listened to it a second time. The killer had done a good job projecting fear and panic in a high register that might have been female or might have been a male feigning hysteria. The video portion only showed a blur of lights, pedestrians, all in the jumpy, jumbled stream of someone running.

“Damn good job,” she murmured. “More than enough to have the assistant on duty call the vet on the slate. You go out some night, push record, run and babble for a minute or so, and done. Last night, you wait for your moment, send it. Wait again until Kawaski leaves her seat. Do the deed, walk out.”

She rose, and went to see what some cop writer thought she knew.

Inside Interview B, Nadine Furst sat at the scarred table as camera ready as she would have been at the Chanel Seventy-Five anchor desk. Her streaky blond hair waved perfectly around her foxy face. A red top with a hint of lace played off her slim and severely cut gray suit.

She lifted her brows over cat-green eyes.

“Lieutenant Dallas, Blaine DeLano.”

“Thanks so much for making the time.”

The woman Eve judged as early forties rose, extended a hand.

About five-five, by Eve’s gauge, a good, probably gym-fit build in narrow black pants, a casual black sweater. She wore her hair short, a sleek cap of brown with hints of red around a quietly attractive face. Eyes, deeply brown, met and held Eve’s.

Her low-register voice held a smoothness along with the faint remnant of a Brooklyn upbringing.

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