Home > Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(10)

Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(10)
J.D. Robb

“Our day began when hers ended.”

“She was putting in overtime at the office. Her day didn’t end very well.”

“She has children. I checked for rape, no sign of sexual assault, but signs she’s borne at least one child.”


He nodded as he worked. He wore chocolate brown under his protective cape, a perfectly cut suit with a cream-colored shirt. He’d braided his hair, left it in one, long, complicated black tail down his back.

“I was going to pull you in if you weren’t on her.”

“I took the night shift this week. Restless.” But he glanced up again. “Any particular reason you’d want me on her?”

“She’s Judge Yung’s sister-in-law.”


Eve’s eyebrows winged up. “You’re on a first-name basis with Yung?”

“We share an appreciation for the same types of music. This is her brother’s wife? Denzel’s wife. I met them once, when Genny had a musical evening at her home. I didn’t recognize her, but Genny always spoke so warmly of her.”

“The judge is clearing the road, seeing that we have full access and in a speedy fashion.”

“You don’t suspect the husband?”

“No, but you’ve got to look. COD’s the broken neck?”

“Yes. Someone very strong and very skilled. It wasn’t from a fall. The report said she was found at the bottom of a stairway.”

“A short one, and no, not a fall. She didn’t fall. They put her there when they were done, tried to make it look like a mugging. It wasn’t.”

“She has some minor injuries. Facial bruise, the injured lip, both from a blow—a hand, not a fist—slight bruising around her mouth, bruising on her right wrist, slight bruising on both knees and her left elbow, the abrasion on the heel of her right hand.”

“Knees and hand. Like she skidded on some kind of rug or carpet?” Eve held up her hand, shoved the heel of it forward.

“That would be my conclusion. I found fibers in the hand abrasion, and sent them to the lab.”

“Blue fibers?”

“Yes, as your notes stated you found on her pants. You’d marked for Harpo, so I sent her the ones I removed.”


“I’ve barely started on her, and don’t have much.”

“Any stun marks? Any tox?”

“Very light marks from a stunner, just above her left shoulder blade.”

“I’d figured no on that,” Eve murmured, hooking her thumbs in her front pockets as she walked closer to the body. “If you want it to look like a mugging, leaving stun marks is seriously stupid. Your average mugger’s not going to have access to a stunner. They use stickers. Shoulder blade,” she continued. “He took her down from behind.”

“Yes, and I’d say a very low stun, just enough to incapacitate her, daze her for a moment or two. I’ll go over her very carefully. I’ve sent off a blood sample for tox screening. I can flag it.”

“Wouldn’t hurt.” Eve walked around the body, taking her own study. “Grab her when she comes out of the office building—not inside unless they could shut down security, and why do that, why leave bread crumbs? Slap a hand over her mouth, shove or toss her in a van, that’s quick. Stunning her—maybe the killer’s another woman, or small, worried she’d fight back, get away.”

“The slight lacerations on her knees and hand read like a fall on a carpet. In the apartment?”

“No rugs or carpeting there. Tarps—beige. No blue. But tossing her into a vehicle with carpeting on the interior floor, yeah. And she’s dazed from the stun and doesn’t catch herself, skids over it. She could’ve gotten the bruises on her knees, the fibers on her pants from the transpo. They didn’t walk her eight blocks to the murder scene, so he or they had transportation.”

“Harpo should be able to identify the carpet type, the manufacturer, the dye lot.”

“Or lose her crown, yeah. One person could do it,” Eve mused as she walked around the slab. “Stun her, push her in the back of a van or a car, but she’d come out of a light stun pretty quick. You have to keep her quiet and contained, drive, get her out, over, unlock the door. It’s likelier two people, one to drive, one to deal with her.”

“Big hands,” Morris said. “I don’t think whoever manhandled her was small. The pattern of the bruising indicates large hands.”

“Okay. Okay.” The need to stun Dickenson made less sense now, but facts were facts. “So, just taking no chances. Maybe the mugging gambit was last-minute. Either way, they took her to an empty apartment, lower level, direct access, no sign of break-in. They want her scared, scared enough to be cooperative, to give them what they want, tell them everything she knows. Backhand.” Eve swung her own through the air. “She goes down—face bruises, elbow knocks the floor. When they’re done, and it doesn’t take very long, one of them snaps her neck. Manually?”

“Yes, almost certainly, and left to right. From the angle, the bruising, the break, my conclusion is left to right, from behind.”

“Behind again. He’s right-handed. Strong, trained. It’s not that easy to snap a neck. Prepared, controlled enough not to mess her up too much, but not especially professional. Military maybe or para, used to kills on the field where you don’t have to clean things up before the cops get there. I found a little blood on a paint tarp bunched up on the floor. Apartment’s being rehabbed. It’s going to be her blood.”

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