Home > In Death #36 - Calculated in Death(5)

In Death #36 - Calculated in Death(5)
Author: J.D. Robb


“Mr. Dickenson, I have to ask. Were there any problems in your marriage?”

“No. I’m a lawyer. My sister’s a criminal court judge. I know you have to look at me. So look,” he said with eyes welling again. “Look. Get it done. But tell me what happened to my wife. You tell me what happened to Marta.”

Fast, Eve knew. Fast and brief. “Her body was found shortly after two this morning at the base of an exterior stairway of a building approximately eight blocks from her office. Her neck was broken.”

His breath came out, tore, sucked back again. “She wouldn’t have walked that far, not at night, not alone. And she didn’t fall or you wouldn’t be here. Was she—was she raped?”

“There was no indication of sexual assault from the initial examination. Mr. Dickenson, did you attempt to contact your wife between your last call and our arrival here?”

“I’ve been calling her ’link every few minutes. I started around ten-thirty, I think, but she didn’t answer. She’d never have let me worry like this, all this time. I knew . . . I need a minute.” He got shakily to his feet. “I need a minute,” he repeated and rushed out of the room.

The dog looked after him, then walked cautiously to Peabody, lifted a paw to her knee.

“Sometimes it’s worse than others,” Peabody murmured, and gave the dog what comfort she could.

2

EVE SHOVED TO HER FEET, TOOK A TURN around the room as much to release tension as get a more solid feel for the Dickenson household.

Framed photos scattered around—family shots for the most part showing the victim in much happier days with her husband, with the kids. Other shots of the kids—a girl of serious beauty still on the innocent side of puberty and a boy with an infectious cuteness that matched the voice on security.

Art tended toward landscapes, waterscapes, all in soft, pretty colors. The kind of art people could actually understand, Eve mused. Nothing splashy or pompous, not in the art, not in the furnishings. They’d gone for comfort and what Eve supposed was kid-friendly. Maybe dog-friendly. Family-friendly.

But there was serious money here. The real estate alone spoke of it in quiet, discreet tones.

The fireplace—shown in one of the photos with Christmas stockings and kids and the big red flowers people decided they had to have at Christmas—still simmered. Real fireplace with real wood. He’d kept the home fires burning, Eve thought with another stab of pity that she reminded herself did neither victim or survivor any good.

“Big space,” Eve said idly.

“Two kids and a dog this size? They need it.”

“Yeah. No house in the ’burbs, so they made one in the city. He’s a corporate lawyer, right?” She remembered from the quick run she’d done.

“Yeah, full partner. Grimes, Dickenson, Harley, and Schmidt.”

“Why do law firms actually sound like law firms? What’s his deal?”

Peabody balanced her PPC and the dog’s massive head. “Specializes in estate planning, tax law. Money stuff.”

“Like our wit. Interesting. See if there’s a connection between Dickenson and his firm and Whitestone and his.”

“Dickenson’s firm has two floors in . . . Roarke’s building—his headquarters.”

“More juicy real estate.”

“No cross on him and the wit, but they might have some clients who overlap.”

“I just bet they do.” She paused at the sound of the front door opening, turned.

Judge Gennifer Yung rushed in. Her stride hitched when she saw Eve, and for a moment—just a moment—her body seemed to sag. Then her shoulders straightened, her face went blank. She crossed to Eve in front of a slight-bodied man of Asian descent.

“Lieutenant.”

“Judge Yung. I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you. My brother?”

“He needed a minute.”

Judge Yung nodded. “Daniel, this is Lieutenant Dallas, and Detective Peabody. My husband, Doctor Yung.”

“The children,” Dr. Yung said. “Do they know?”

“They’re sleeping. I don’t believe they know anything’s wrong.”

The dog had already deserted Peabody, tail slapping like a whip as he wiggled around the judge and her husband.

“All right, Cody, good boy. Sit down. Sit.”

A striking woman with brown skin smooth, dark eyes prominent, a reputation for the fierce and fearless on the bench, Judge Yung laid a hand on Cody’s head, stroked. Stroked.

“I’m going to speak with Denzel. I know you have questions, and I know time is always at a premium, but I’m going to take a few moments with—” She broke off when Denzel came out, his face ravaged.

“Genny. Oh God, Genny. Marta.”

“I know. Honey, I know.” She went to him, wrapped her arms around him.

“Someone broke her neck.”

“What?” The judge pulled back, took her brother’s face in her hands. “What?”

“They said her neck . . . Why didn’t I make her take the car service? Why didn’t I call them and make her take it?”

“Ssh now. Ssh. Come with me. We’re going to go in the other room for a while. Just lean on me, baby. Daniel.”

“Yes, of course.” Yung turned to Eve. “Would you like some coffee?”

She thought she could kill for some, but didn’t want to take the time. “We’re fine. Were you home when your brother-in-law contacted your wife?”

“Yes. It was about midnight, and he was frantic by then. Marta wasn’t answering her ’link and was nearly two hours late. He’d already contacted night security, and they had her logged out about ten, I believe. He’d called the police, but as you know there’s little done when a person is, seemingly, late coming home. So he called his sister for help.”

“I take it, as far as you know, Mrs. Dickenson wasn’t in the habit of being late.”

“Absolutely not. That is, not without letting Denzel know. She wouldn’t worry him that way, any more than he would worry her. We knew something was wrong, but I never . . . Not this.”

“How well did you know Mrs. Dickenson?”

“Excuse me, can we sit? This is very hard. I feel . . .” He lowered into a chair. “I feel not altogether myself.”

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