Home > Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(6)

Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(6)
J.D. Robb

“Leanore Bastwick.”

“Yes, sir.”

Though he gestured to a chair, Eve walked forward, stayed on her feet. “I wanted to apprise you of the situation, the status, in person.”

“So I gather.”

He had a wide, dark face topped by a short cap of hair where the salt was rapidly overtaking the pepper. But she thought he looked rested, even relaxed, so assumed his holiday had been a good one.

She was about to put a stop to that.

“You’ve been informed of her murder?” Eve began.

“As she was a prominent criminal defense attorney, one this department has butted heads with regularly – and one who courted the media – I was informed of the nine-one-one, and your status as primary. What do I need to know now?”

“Bastwick’s body was discovered by her administrative assistant, Cecil Haversham, at approximately nine hundred hours, when he, concerned with her missing scheduled meetings, let himself into her apartment. Haversham had her codes, as part of his duties. We will verify his alibi for TOD, but he is not a suspect at this time. The victim was strangled, most likely with a garrote, no overt signs of struggle or sexual assault. TOD was eighteen-thirty-three yesterday. Security cams show an individual entering her building in the guise of a delivery person, using said delivery to block his or her face from the cameras.”

“Which indicates knowledge of said cameras, and the building.”

“Yes, sir. She opened the door to said individual. Cams got him reaching into his right pocket as she stepped back to admit him. He left, with the delivery, about twenty-five minutes after entering the vic’s apartment.”

“Quick work.”

“In and out of the building in under thirty, yes, sir.”

He leaned back. “Pro?”

“Clean as one, for the most part. But that isn’t highest probability at this time. The sweepers are currently processing the scene, and the body has been transported to the morgue. I requested Chief ME Morris.”

“Naturally.” Whitney spread his big hands. “And while there will be some media attention given the victim’s predilection for appealing to same on behalf of her clients, there’s nothing in your report that warrants this break of habit. You don’t come to me as a rule, Dallas, unless summoned. What do I need to know now?”

“May I use your screen, Commander?”

He gestured to it.

It took Eve a moment – Christ, she hated electronics more than half the time – but she managed to find the disc insert, cue it up, turn it on.

The screen filled with the message written on the wall above the body.

Whitney rose from his chair, walked slowly around his desk, his eyes on the screen.

“When did you last see or speak with the victim?”

“At Jess Barrow’s failed appeal. About a year back. I haven’t had any cases since then that involved her. We got in each other’s faces at that time – some. More during the investigation of Barrow and the investigation of her partner’s – Fitzhugh’s – murder. Cop and defense attorney, nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t like her – as a person or as a lawyer – but I don’t like a lot of people.”

“Did you ever express the wish that she was dead?”

“Commander —”

“However casually, Lieutenant.” His gaze, leveled on hers, clearly said: No bullshit. “In the heat of the moment, to anyone?”

“No, sir, I did not. I may have – probably did – call her any number of uncomplimentary names. The fact is, sir, we just didn’t come up against each other that much. If it comes to it, I had more of a run-in with Fitzhugh prior to his death, as we’d just crossed in court, than I’ve had with Bastwick. We’ve never had personal dealings, have never socialized, have never spoken outside the boundaries of an investigation or court. From the ease with which the killer accessed her apartment, I’d say the killer knew Bastwick much better than I do. That will change.”

“This will get out.” Whitney nodded to the screen.

“Yes, sir, it will. Even if we could keep it shut down, the killer won’t. What’s the point of going to all the trouble to write that, then not get any attention, or gratitude?”

Whitney went back, sat again. “You and I both know it would be considerably less… sticky, if I assigned another primary to this investigation.”

“Maybe less sticky, Commander, but I’m asking you not to do that. If the killer meant what was written, this murder was a favor to me, a punishment for disrespect. Taking me off as primary could, and I think would, be seen as more disrespect. This individual thinks he knows me, and he doesn’t. That gives me an advantage.”

Dispassionate, Eve reminded herself.

“Peabody is coordinating all correspondence sent to me through Central, and considering the exposure from the Icove investigation, book, and vid, through the Hollywood people. We’re going to request Dr. Mira assign a behaviorist to analyze said correspondence if she doesn’t have time to analyze it all herself. It’s likely the killer has attempted to contact me prior to this, most likely more than once.

“As I already have some working knowledge of the victim’s firm due to the previous homicide, it gives me a leg up there.”

Lay it out, she told herself. Quick and logical.

“Two homicides in one law firm defies considerable odds, and the killer’s knowledge of the victim’s building, exactly where the cameras were, exactly where her apartment was situated – and he knew she was home, home and alone, or he wouldn’t have struck at that time – indicates inside knowledge or considerable research.”

“It’s your name on the wall, Dallas.”

“Yes, sir, it is. He wants my attention, Commander, or he wouldn’t have left anything, much less a written note. I want to give it to him. By doing so, it’s possible he may try to contact me again.

“It’s impossible to say this isn’t personal on some level – my name’s on the wall. But I hope you can take my word that won’t get in my way.”

Steepling his hands, Whitney tapped his fingers together, studied Eve over them. “If I were to reassign this, which cop in your division would you recommend as primary?”

It was a kick in the gut, but she stood, answered with truth. “There’s no cop in my division I wouldn’t recommend. Every one of them would pursue this investigation thoroughly, diligently, and work until they’d closed the case.”

“That’s the right answer. You’re going to keep that in mind, as am I. I’ll speak with Chief Tibble. You will speak with Kyung on exactly how to handle the media shitstorm when it hits, because it will. I expect you to keep your word, Lieutenant. If it gets in your way, you say it, and you step back.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Get to work.”

“Thank you, Commander.”

She struggled not to feel too much relief as she left the office.

Dispassionate, she told herself again. Just another case.

But that was bullshit because… it was always bullshit. It was never just another case.

She headed straight down to Homicide, ignoring the low-grade headache in the back of her skull. When she stepped into her division she took just a moment, evaluated.

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