Detective Dallas is on the case, chasing an anonymous psychopath with a twisted taste in romance. But Eve seems a little more fragile this time around, still plagued by the nightmare of childhood abuse. Is retirement from the business of crime-solving in the near future for detective Dallas? Robb has found a winning formula in the genre, so hopefully we'll see a lot more of peppery Eve Dallas. --Alison Trinkle, Amazon.com --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Eve stood over it now, in the balmy early morning air of a Tuesday in June. The New York City sidewalk was cordoned off, the sensors and blocks squaring around the pavement and the cheerful tubs of petunias used to spruce up the building’s entrance.
She had a particular fondness for petunias, but she didn’t think they were going to do the job this time. And not for some time to come.
The woman was facedown on the sidewalk. From the angle of the body, the splatter and pools of blood, there wasn’t going to be a lot of that face left. Eve looked up at the dignified gray tower with its semicircle balconies, its silver ribbon of people glides. Until they identified the body, they’d have a hard time pinning down the area from which she’d fallen. Or jumped. Or been pushed.
The one thing Eve was sure of: It had been a very long drop.
“Get her prints and run them,” she ordered.
She glanced down at her aide as Peabody squatted, opened a field kit. Peabody’s uniform cap sat squarely on her ruler-straight dark hair. She had steady hands, Eve thought, and a good eye. “Why don’t you do time of death.”
“Me?” Peabody asked in surprise.
“Get me an ID, establish time of death. Log in description of scene and body.”
Now, despite the grisly circumstance, it was excitement that moved over Peabody’s face. “Yes, sir. Sir, first officer on-scene has a potential witness.”
“A witness from up there, or down here?”
“I’ll take it.” But Eve stayed where she was a moment longer, watching Peabody scan the dead woman’s fingerprints. Though Peabody’s hands and feet were sealed, she made no contact with the body and did the scan quickly, delicately.
After one nod of approval, Eve strode away to question the uniforms flanking the perimeter.
It might have been nearly three in the morning, but there were bystanders, gapers, and they had to be encouraged along, blocked out. News hawks were already in evidence, calling out questions, trying to snag a few minutes of recording to pump into the airwaves before the first morning commute.
An ambitious glide-cart operator had jumped on the opportunity and was putting in some overtime selling to the crowd. His grill pumped out smoke that spewed the scents of soy dogs and rehydrated onions into the air.
He appeared to be doing brisk business.
In the gorgeous spring of 2059, death continued to draw an audience from the living, and those who knew how to make a quick buck out of the deal.
A cab winged by, didn’t bother to so much as tap the brakes. From somewhere farther downtown, a siren screamed.
Eve blocked it out, turned to the uniform. “Rumor is we’ve got eyes.”
“Yes, sir. Officer Young’s got her in the squad car keeping her away from the ghouls.”
“Good.” Eve scanned the faces behind the barrier. In them she saw horror, excitement, curiosity, and a kind of relief.
I’m alive, and you’re not.
Shaking it off, she hunted down Young and the witness.
Given the neighborhoodfor in spite of the dignity and the petunias, the apartment building was right on the border of midtown bustle and downtown sleazeEve was expecting a licensed companion, maybe a jonesing chemi-head or a dealer on the way to a mark.
She certainly hadn’t expected the tiny, snappily dressed blonde with the pretty and familiar face.
“Lieutenant Dallas?” Louise Dimatto angled her head, and the ruby clusters at her ears gleamed like glassy blood. “Do you come in, or do I come out?”
Eve jerked a thumb, held the car door wider. “Come on out.”
They’d met the previous winter, at the Canal Street Clinic where Louise fought against the tide to heal the homeless and the hopeless. She came from money, and her bloodline was blue, but Eve had good reason to know Louise didn’t quibble about getting her hands dirty.
She’d nearly died helping Eve fight an ugly war during that bitter winter.
Eve skimmed a look over Louise’s stoplight-red dress. “Making house calls?”
“A date. Some of us try to maintain a healthy social life.”
“How’d it go?”
“I took a cab home, so you be the judge.” She skimmed back her short, honeycomb hair with her fingers. “Why are so many men so boring?”
“You know, that’s a question that haunts me day and night.” When Louise laughed, Eve smiled in response. “It’s good to see you, all things considered.”
“I thought you might drop by the clinic, come see the improvements your donation helped implement.”
“I think it’s called blackmail in most circles.”
“Donation, blackmail. Let’s not split hairs. You’ve helped save a few lives, Dallas. That’s got to be nearly as satisfying to you as catching those who take them.”
“Lost one tonight.” She turned, looked back toward the body. “What do you know about her?”
“Nothing, really. I think she lives in the building, but she’s not looking her best at the moment, so I can’t be sure.”
After a long breath, Louise rubbed the back of her neck. “Sorry, this is more in your line than mine. It’s my first experience nearly having a body fall in my arms. I’ve seen people die, and it’s not always gentle. But this was . . .”
“Okay. You want to sit back down? Want some coffee?”
“No. No. Let me just tell it.” She steadied herself, a subtle squaring of the shoulders, stiffening of the spine. “I ditched the date from tedium, grabbed a cab. We’d gone to dinner and a club uptown. I got here about one-thirty, I suppose.”
“You live in this building?”
“That’s right. Tenth floor. Apartment 1005. I paid the cab, got out on the curb. It’s a pretty night. I was thinking, It’s a beautiful night, and I just wasted it on that jerkoff. So I stood there for a couple minutes, on the sidewalk, wondering if I should go in and call it a night, or take a walk. I decided I’d go up, fix a nightcap, and sit out on my balcony. I turned, took another step toward the doors. I don’t know why I looked upI didn’t hear anything. But I just looked up, and she was falling, with her hair spread out like wings. It couldn’t have been more than two or three seconds, I’d barely had time to register what I was seeing, and she hit.”
“You didn’t see where she fell from?”
“No. She was coming down, and fast. Jesus, Dallas.” Louise had to pause a moment, rub the image from her eyes. “She hit so hard, and with a really nasty sound I’m going to be hearing in my sleep for a long time. It couldn’t have been more than five or six feet from where I was standing.”
She drew another breath, made herself look over at the body. Now there was pity over the horror. “People think they’ve reached the end of their ropes. That there’s nothing left for them. But they’re wrong. There’s always more rope. There’s always something left.”
“You think she jumped?”
Louise looked back at Eve. “Yes, I assumed . . . I said I didn’t hear anything. She didn’t make a sound. No scream, no cry. Nothing but the flutter of her hair in the wind. I guess that’s why I looked up.” She thought now. “I did hear something after all. That flutter, like wings.”
“What did you do after she hit?”
“I checked her pulse. Knee-jerk,” Louise said with a shrug. “I knew she was dead, but I checked anyway. Then I took out my pocket-link and called nine-one-one. You think she was pushed? That’s why you’re here.”
“I don’t think anything yet.” Eve turned back toward the building. Some lights had been on when she’d arrived, and there were more now so that it looked like a vertical chessboard in silver and black. “Homicide gets tagged on leapers like this. It’s standard. Do yourself a favor. Go in, take a pill, zone out. Don’t talk to the press if they wheedle your name.”
“Good advice. Will you let me know when . . . when you know what happened to her?”
“Yeah, I can do that. Want a uniform to take you up?”
“No, thanks.” She took one last look at the body. “As bad as my night was, it was better than some.”
“I hear you.”
“Best to Roarke,” Louise added, then walked toward the doors.
Peabody was already standing, her palm-link in hand. “Got an ID, Dallas. Bryna Bankhead, age twenty-three, mixed race. Single. Residence apartment 1207 in the building behind us. She worked at Saks Fifth Avenue. Lingerie. I established time of death at oh-one-fifteen.”
“One-fifteen?” Eve repeated, and thought of the readout on her bedside clock.
“Yes, sir. I ran the measurements twice.”
Eve frowned down at the gauges, the field kit, the bloody pool under the body. “Witness said she fell about one-thirty. When was the nine-eleven logged?”
Uneasy now, Peabody checked her ’link for the record. “Call came in at oh-one-thirty-six.” She heaved out a breath that fluttered her thick, straight bangs. “I must’ve screwed up the measurements,” she began. “I’m sorry”
“Don’t apologize until I tell you you’ve screwed up.” Eve crouched, opened her own field kit, took out her own gauges. And ran the test a third time, personally.
“You established time of death accurately. For the record,” she conti...