Home > Treachery in Death (In Death #32)

Treachery in Death (In Death #32)
J.D. Robb

1

THE OLD MAN LAY DEAD ON A SCATTERED PILE of candy bars and bubble gum. Cracked tubes of soft drinks, power drinks, sports drinks spilled out of the smashed glass of their cooler in colorful rivers. Tattered bags of soy chips spread over the floor of the little market, crushed to pulp.

On the wall behind the counter hung a framed photo featuring a much younger version of the dead man and a woman Eve assumed was his widow standing arm-in-arm in front of the market. Their faces shone with pride and humor, and all the possibilities of the future.

That young, happy man’s future had ended today, she thought, in a puddle of blood and snack foods.

In the middle of death and destruction, Lieutenant Eve Dallas stood studying the body while the first officer on scene filled her in.

“He’s Charlie Ochi. He and his wife ran this market for damn near fifty years.”

The muscle jumping in his jaw told Eve he’d known the victim.

“Mrs. Ochi’s in the back, got the MTs with her.” The muscle jumped again. “They smacked her around some on top of it.”

“They?”

“Three, she said. Three males, early twenties. She said one’s white, one’s black, and one’s Asian. They’ve come in before, got run off for shoplifting. They had some kind of homemade device, the best she can say. Jammed the security cam with it.”

He jerked his chin toward the camera. “Stoned senseless, she thinks, laughing like hyenas, stuffing candy bars in their pockets. Smacked her with some kind of sap when she tried to stop them. Then the old guy came out, they smacked him but he kept at them. One of them shoved the device into his chest. Mrs. Ochi said he dropped like a stone. They grabbed a bunch of shit—candy, chips, like that—laughing all the while, smashed the place up some and ran out.”

“She gave you a description?”

“Pretty good one, too. Better yet, we’ve got a wit saw them run out who recognized one of them. Bruster Lowe—goes by Skid. Said they took off south, on foot. Wit’s Yuri Drew. We’ve got him outside. He called it in.”

“Okay, stand by, Officer.” Eve turned to her partner. “How do you want to work it?” When Peabody blinked her dark eyes, Eve told her, “You take primary on this one. How do you want to work it?”

“Okay.” Peabody’s detective shield wasn’t spanking, but it was still pretty shiny. Eve let her take a moment, align her thoughts.

“Let’s run Lowe, get an address, a sheet if he’s got one. We might get known companions. We need to get the descriptions out now, add the names when and if. I want these ass**les picked up quick and fast.”

Eve watched her former aide, and current partner, gain confidence as she went.

“We need the sweepers here. These dickheads probably left prints and trace everywhere. We’ll see what we’ve got on security before they jammed it, leave the rest to EDD.”

Peabody, dark hair pulled back from her square face in a short, bouncy tail, looked down at the body. “Better do the numbers, confirm his ID.”

“On that,” Eve said and Peabody blinked again.

“Really?”

“You’re primary.” Long legs braced, Eve read off the screen of her PPC. “Lowe, Bruster, aka Skid, Caucasian, age twenty-three. No current address. Last known on Avenue B—his mother’s place. Got a sheet, and an unsealed juvie record. Illegals possession, malicious mischief, shoplifting, destruction of private property, vehicle boosting, blah blah.”

“Cross-reference for—”

“Done. You’re not the only one who can work one of these things,” Eve reminded her. “Cross-referencing arrests nets us Leon Slatter, aka Slash, mixed-race male, age twenty-two, and Jimmy K Rogan, aka Smash, black male, age twenty-three, as known companions most probable to be involved.”

“That’s really good. Addresses?”

“Slatter’s got one, on West Fourth.”

“Excellent. Officer, take the data from the lieutenant. I want these three individuals picked up. My partner and I will aid in the search when we’re done here, but let’s get this going.”

“You got it.”

“I’ll take the wit,” Peabody told Eve. “You take the wife. Okay?”

“You’re—”

“Primary. Got it. Thanks, Dallas.”

It was a hell of a thing to be thanked for passing on a dead body, Eve thought as she crouched to confirm the ID with her pad. But they were murder cops, after all.

She spent another few minutes examining the body—the bruising on the temple, the arms. She had no doubt the ME would confirm none of them had been fatal. But the homemade electronic jammer pushed into the chest had most likely given Ochi a jolt that had stopped his eighty-three-year-old heart.

She stood, took another look around at the useless destruction. They’d run a nice place from what she could see. The floors, the window, the counter sparkled clean under the spilled drinks, the spatter of blood. The stock that hadn’t been dumped or smashed sat tidily shelved.

Fifty years, the first on scene had said, she thought, running a business, providing a service, living a life, until a trio of f**kheads decide to destroy it for a bunch of candy bars and soy chips.

After a dozen years as a cop, nothing human beings did to other human beings surprised her. But the waste and carelessness of it still pissed her off.

She walked into the back, into the small combination office and storeroom. The medical tech was packing up his gear.

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