Calculated in Death - J. D. Robb Page 0,3

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.”

She pushed a hand through her hair, recalculated. She’d intended to go by the victim’s office building, retracing the likely route, getting a feel for the area. Then backtracking before continuing to the victim’s residence, gauging the ground, figuring the timing, the direction. But now—”

“The husband’s been pacing the floor for hours by now. Let’s go give him the bad news.”

“I hate this part,” Peabody murmured.

“When you don’t, it’s time to find another line of work.”

• • •

The Dickensons rated one of the four penthouse condos with roof garden atop one of the Upper East Side’s dignified buildings. All elegant gray stone and glass, it rose and rounded above a neighborhood where nannies and dog walkers ruled the sidewalks and parks.

Night security required clearance, which equaled, to Eve, a pain in the ass.

“Dallas, Lieutenant Eve, and Peabody, Detective Delia.” She held her badge up to the security screen. “We need to speak with Denzel Dickenson. Penthouse B.”

Please state the nature of your business, the butter-smooth computerized voice intoned.

“That would come under the heading of none of yours. Scan the badges and authorize access.”

I’m sorry, Penthouse B is secured for the night. Access to the building and any unit therein requires clearance from the manager, an authorized tenant, or notification of emergency status.

“Listen to me, you half-ass, chip-brained dipshit, this is official police business. Scan the badges and clear access. Otherwise I’ll have warrants issued immediately for the arrest of the building manager, the head of security, and the owners on the charge of obstruction of justice. And you’ll be in a junk pile by dawn.”

Inappropriate language is in violation of—

“Inappropriate language? Oh, I’ve got plenty more inappropriate language for you. Peabody, contact APA Cher Reo and begin processing warrants for all appropriate parties. Let’s see how they like getting dragged out of bed at this hour, cuffed, and transported to Central because this computerized tin god refuses access to police officers.”

“All over that, Lieutenant.”

Please submit your badges for scan, and place your palm on the palm plate for verification.

Eve held up her badge with one hand, slapped her other on the palm plate. “Clear the locks. Now.”

Identification is verified. Access granted.

Eve shoved through the door, strode across the black marble lobby floor to the glossy white elevator doors flanked by two man-sized urns exploding with red spiky flowers.

Please wait here until Mr. and/or Mrs.