Assisted by her aide, Peabody, Eve compiles a list of suspects that includes several high-profile possibilities. Their very prominence, however, complicates the investigation, for they have the power and influence to make the search difficult. All of the suspects are reluctant to cooperate but one of them is playing with Eve like a cat with a mouse by tempting her with crime scene notes and challenging her to find him. Can Eve stop him before he slaughters again? Or will his next victim be Eve herself?
Author Robb, a.k.a. Roberts, doesn't miss a beat in this police procedural thriller. The futuristic setting is rich with imaginative details; the cast of supporting characters offers an intriguing variety, while Eve and Roarke's relationship is layered with emotional intimacy and spiced with sex. Whether you're a faithful follower or new to the series, you won't be disappointed in the edge-of-the-seat suspense in Imitation In Death. Don't miss this one. --Lois Faye Dyer --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
You never saw it all. No matter how many times you walked through the blood and the gore, no matter how often you looked at the horror man inflicted on man, you never saw it all.
There was always something worse, something meaner, or crazier, more vicious, more cruel.
As Lieutenant Eve Dallas stood over what had once been a woman, she wondered when she would see worse than this.
Two of the uniform cops on scene were still retching at the mouth of the alley. The sound of their sickness echoed back to her. She stood where she was, hands and boots already sealed, and waited for her own shuddering stomach to settle.
Had she seen this much blood before? It was hard to remember. It was best not to.
She crouched, opened her field kit, and took out her ID pad to run the victim’s fingerprints. She couldn’t avoid the blood, so she stopped thinking about it. Lifting the limp hand, she pressed the thumb to her pad.
“Victim is female, Caucasian. The body was discovered at approximately oh three-thirty by officers responding to anonymous nine-one-one, and is herewith identified through fingerprint check as Wooton, Jacie, age forty-one, licensed companion, residing 375 Doyers.”
She took a shallow breath, then another. “Victim’s throat has been cut. Spatter pattern indicates wound was inflicted while victim stood against the north-facing wall of the alley. Blood pattern and trail would indicate victim fell or was laid across alley floor by assailant or assailants who then...”
Jesus. Oh Jesus.
“Who then mutilated the victim by removing the pelvic area. Both the throat and pelvic wounds indicate the use of a sharp implement and some precision.”
Despite the heat her skin prickled, cold and clammy as she took out gauges, recorded data.
“I’m sorry.” Peabody, her aide, spoke from behind her. Eve didn’t have to look around to know Peabody’s face would still be pale and glossy from shock and nausea. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant; I couldn’t maintain.”
“Don’t worry about it. You okay now?”
Eve nodded and continued to work. Stalwart, steady, and as dependable as the tide, Peabody had taken one look at what lay in the alley, turned sheet-white, and stumbled back toward the street at Eve’s sharp order to puke elsewhere.
“I’ve got an ID on her. Jacie Wooton, Doyers. An LC. Do a run for me.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this. Just never seen...”
“Get the data. Do it down there. You’re in my light here.”
She wasn’t, Peabody knew. Her lieutenant was cutting her a break, and because her head wanted to spin again, she took it, moving toward the mouth of the alley.
She’d sweated through her uniform shirt, and her dark bowl of hair was damp at the temples under her cap. Her throat was raw, her voice weak, but she initiated the run. And watched Eve work.
Efficient, thorough, and some would say cold. But Peabody had seen the leap of shock and horror, and of pity on Eve’s face before her own vision had blurred. Cold wasn’t the word, but driven was.
She was pale now, Peabody noted, and it wasn’t just the work lights that bleached the color from her narrow face. Her brown eyes were focused and flat, and unwavering as they examined the atrocity. Her hands were steady, and her boots smeared with blood.
There was a line of sweat down the middle of the back of her shirt, but she wouldn’t stumble away. She would stay until it was done.
When Eve straightened, Peabody saw a tall, lean woman in stained boots, worn jeans, and a gorgeous linen jacket, a fine-boned face with a wide mouth, wide eyes of gilded brown, and a short and disordered cap of hair nearly the same color.
More: She saw a cop who never turned away from death.
“Peabody, I don’t care if you puke as long as you don’t contaminate the scene. Give me the data.”
“Victim’s lived in New York for twenty-two years. Previous residence on Central Park West. She’s resided down here for eighteen months.”
“That’s quite a change of venue. What she get popped for?”
“Illegals. Three strikes. Lost her top-drawer license, did six months in, rehab, counseling, and was given a probationary street license about a year ago.”
“She roll on her dealer?”
“We’ll see what the tox screen tells us once she’s in the morgue, but I don’t think Jack here is her dealer.” Eve lifted the envelope that had been leftsealed to prevent bloodstainson the body.
LIEUTENANT EVE DALLAS, NYPSD
Computer-generated, she guessed, in a fancy font on elegant cream-colored paper. Thick, weighty, and expensive. The sort of thing used for high-class invites. She should know, she mused, as her husband was big on sending and receiving high-class invites.
She took out the second evidence bag and read the note again.
Hello, Lieutenant Dallas:
Hot enough for ya? I know you’ve had a busy summer, and I’ve been admiring your work. I can think of no one on the police force of our fair city I’d rather have join me on what I hope will be a very intimate level.
Here is a sample of my work. What do you think?
Looking forward to our continued association.
“I’ll tell you what I think, Jack. I think you’re a very sick fuck. Tag and bag,” she ordered with a last glance down the alley. “Homicide.”
Wooton’s apartment was on the fourth floor of one of the housing structures thrown up as a temporary shelter for refugees and victims of the Urban Wars. A number of them stood in the poorer sections of the city, and were always slated for replacement.
The city dickered back and forth between tossing out the low-rent LC’s, chemi-heads, and dealers along with the working poor and mowing down the shaky structures or revitalizing.
While they dickered, the buildings decayed and nothing was done.
Eve expected nothing would be done until the dumps collapsed inward on their residents and the city fathers found themselves in the throes of a class-action suit.
But until that time, it was the sort of place you expected to find a down-on-her-luck whore.
Her room was a hot little box with a stingy bump-out for a kitchen and a thin sliver for a bathroom. Her view was the wall of the identical building to the west.
Through the thin walls Eve could clearly hear the heroic snoring from the apartment next door.
Despite the circumstance, Jacie had kept her place clean, and had made some attempt at style. The furniture was cheap, but it was colorful. She hadn’t been able to afford privacy screens, but there were frilly curtains at the windows. She’d left the bed pulled out of the convertible sofa, but it was made, and the sheets were good cotton. Possibly salvaged from better times, Eve thought.
She had a low-end desk ‘link on a table, and a prefab dresser covered with the various tools of her trade: enhancements, scents, wigs, tawdry jewelry, temporary tattoos. The drawer and closet held work clothes primarily, but mixed in with the whore-wear were a couple of more conservative outfits Eve imagined she’d used for off-hours.
She found a supply of over-the-counter meds, including a half bottle of Sober-Up and a full, unopened bottle as backup. Which made sense with the two bottles of vodka and the bottle of home-brew in the kitchen.
She turned up no illegals, which caused her to assume Jacie had switched from chemicals to alcohol.
She opened the desk ‘link and replayed the transmissions received and sent over the last three days. One to her counselor to request an upgrade in her license, one received and not answered or yet returned from the landlord regarding overdue rent, another made to an uptown body sculptor requesting rates.
No chats with pals, Eve mused.
She scrolled through, located the financials, and found Jacie’s bookkeeping spare and efficient. Paid attention to her money, Eve mused, did the job, banked the pay, and pumped most of it back into the business. Expenses were high for wardrobe, body treatments, hair and face work.
Used to looking good, Eve decided. Wanted to keep looking good. Self-esteem wrapped around appearance, which was wrapped around sexual appeal, which was wrapped around selling yourself for enough money to maintain appearance.
A strange and sad cycle, in her opinion.
“She made a nice nest for herself in a very ugly tree,” Eve commented. “I’ve got no transmissions or any correspondence from anyone named Jack, or any one guy in particular for that matter. No marriage or cohabitation on record?”
“We’ll talk to her counselor, see if there’s anybody she was close to, or had been close to. But I don’t think we’ll find him there.”
“Dallas, it seems to me, what he did to her...it seems to me that it was personal.”
“Does, doesn’t it?” She turned around, looked at the room again. Neat, girlie, with a desperate attempt at style. “I think it was very personal, but not specific to the victim. He killed a woman, and a woman who made her living from selling her body. That’s the personal part. You not only kill her, but you hack out the part of her that made that living. It's not hard to find a street LC in this area any time of the night. You just have to choose your time and place. A sample of his work,” she murmured. “That’s all she was.”
She walked to the window and, narrowing her eyes, visualized the street, the alley, the building just out of view. “He might have known her, or ha...