Home > Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(3)

Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(3)
J.D. Robb

“We’re out of the one-three-six.”

“And your CO?”

“Sergeant Gonzales, sir.”

“If you want in on the canvass, I’ll clear it with your CO. Be here at oh-seven-thirty.”

“Yes, sir!” She all but snapped a salute.

Mildly amused, Eve walked down the stairs, cleared the locks and codes, and entered the lower unit.

“Lights on full,” she ordered, pleased when they flashed on.

The living area—she assumed as it wasn’t yet furnished—provided a generous space. The walls—what was painted—glowed like freshly toasted bread, and the floors—what wasn’t covered with tarps—gleamed in a rich dark finish. Materials, supplies, all stacked neatly in corners, provided evidence of ongoing work.

Tidy, and efficient, probably down to the final details.

So why was one tarp bunched, unlike the others, exposing a wide area of that gleaming floor?

“Like someone slipped on it, or wrestled on it,” she said as she walked over, let her recorder scan the width, the length before she bent to straighten it.

“Lots of paint splatters, but . . .”

She crouched, took out her flashlight and shined it over the tarp. “That sure looks like blood to me. Just a few drops.”

She opened her kit, took a small sample before marking the spot for the sweepers.

She moved away, into a wide galley-style kitchen, more gleaming and glowing under protective tarps and seals.

By the time she’d done the first pass-through—master bedroom and bath, second bedroom or office and bath—Peabody came in.

“I started runs on the wits,” Peabody began. “The woman’s loaded. Not Roarke loaded, but she can afford that coat and those really mag boots.”

“Yeah, it showed.”

“He’s doing just fine, too. Second-generation money, but he’s earning his own. He’s got a D&D, but it’s ten years back. Her deal is speeding. She’s got a shitload of speeding tickets, mostly to and from her place in the Hamptons.”

“You know how it is when you want to get to the Hamptons. What do you see, Peabody?”

“Really good work, attention to detail, money well spent, and deep enough pockets to be able to spend it on really good work and attention to detail. And . . .” Unwinding a couple feet of her mile of scarf, Peabody stepped over to Eve’s marker. “What might be blood on this tarp.”

“The tarp was bunched up, like a rug when you take a skid on it. All the others are laid out fairly smoothly.”

“Accidents happen in construction. Blood gets spilled. But.”

“Yeah, but. Blood on a tarp and a body outside the door. Her lip’s split, and there’s dried blood on it. Not a lot of blood, so somebody might not even notice any dripped on the tarp, especially when the tarp bunched up.”

“They brought her in here?” Forehead furrowed, Peabody looked back at the door. “I didn’t see any signs of forced entry, but I’ll check again.”

“They didn’t force it. Maybe picked it, but that takes time. More likely they had the code, or a damn good reader.”

“Putting all that into the mix, it’s not a simple mugging gone bad.”

“No. He’s not smart. The killer. If he’s strong enough to break her neck, why smack her? She’s got a bruise on the right cheek and that split lip.”

“Punched her. Left jab.”

“I don’t think a punch, that’s really stupid. Backhand. A guy only slaps a woman if he wants to humiliate her. He punches if he’s pissed, drunk, or doesn’t give a shit about blood and damage. He backhands when he wants to hurt, and intimidate. Plus it looked like a backhand—knuckles on bone.”

She’d been hit in the face enough to recognize the signs.

“Smart and controlled enough not to punch, not to beat on her,” Eve said, “but not smart enough to leave the area clean. Not smart enough just to take the tarp with him. She’s got what looks like a rug burn on the heel of her right hand, and blue fibers on her pants, maybe carpet from a vehicle.”

“You think somebody grabbed her, forced her into a vehicle.”

“Possible. You have to get her here, to this empty unit, do what you do. He’s smart enough to take her valuables, including the coat, to play the bad mugging card. But he left her boots. Good boots, looked fairly new. If you’re a mugger who’d take the time to drag off the coat, why leave her boots?”

“If he brought her in here, he wanted privacy,” Peabody pointed out. “And time. It doesn’t look like rape. Why get her dressed again?”

“She was going to or coming from work.”

“From,” Peabody confirmed. “When I ran her I got an alert. Her husband contacted the police. She didn’t come home. Working late, but didn’t come home. She spoke to him via ’link as she was leaving the office—according to the alert—and that was shortly after twenty-two hundred.”

“That’s a lot of data for an alert, especially one on a woman who’s a few hours late getting home.”

“I thought so, too, so I ran him. Denzel Dickenson, Esquire. He’s Judge Gennifer Yung’s baby brother.”

“That would do it.” Eve blew out a breath. “This just got sticky.”

“Yeah, I got that.”

“Call in the sweepers, Peabody, and flag it priority. No point in not covering all asses when dealing with the judge’s dead sister-in-law.”

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