Home > In Death #26 - Strangers in Death(2)

In Death #26 - Strangers in Death(2)
Author: J.D. Robb


Peabody’s dark brown eyes popped. “Wowzer!”

“Yeah, fully loaded. Place like this has to have good security, so we’ll check that. Two domestic droids—we’ll check their replay. Take a look at his house ’links, pocket ’links, memo, date, address books. Tom had company. He didn’t hoist himself up like this.”

“Cherchez la femme.It’s French for—”

“I know it’s French. We could also be cherchez ing the…whatever ‘guy’ is in French.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

“Finish with the body,” Eve ordered. “I’ll take the room.”

It was a hell of a room, if you went for a lot of gold accent, shiny bits, curlicues. Besides the big bed in which Anders had apparently died, a sofa, a couple of oversized scoop chairs, and a full-service sleep chair offered other places to stretch out. In addition to the AutoChef, the bedroom boasted a brass friggie, a wet bar, and an entertainment unit. The his and hers bathrooms both held jet tubs, showers, drying tubes, entertainment and communication centers within their impressive acreage. The space continued with two tri-level closets with attached dressing areas.

Eve wondered why they needed the rest of the house.

She should talk, she admitted. Living with Roarke meant living in enough space to house a small city with all the bells and whistles big, fat fists of money could buy. He had better taste—thank God—than the Anderses. She wasn’t entirely sure she could’ve fallen for him, much less married him, if he’d surrounded himself with gold and glitter and tassels, and Christ knew.

But as much stuff as there was jammed into the space, it all looked…in place, she decided. No sign or sense anything had been riffled through. She found a safe in each closet, concealed so a child of ten with dirt in both eyes could have found them. She’d check with the wife on those, but she wasn’t smelling theft or burglary.

Walking out into the main bedroom again, she took another, hard look around.

“Prints verify ID as Anders, Thomas A., of this address,” Peabody began. “Gauge gives me three thirty-two as time of death. That’s really late or really early to be playing tie-me-up, tie-me-down games.”

“If killer and vic came up here together, where are his clothes?”

Peabody turned toward her lieutenant, pursed her lips. “Considering you’re married to the hottest guy on or off the planet, I shouldn’t have to tell you that the point in the tie-me-wherever game is to be naked while you’re doing it.”

“One of the other points is to get each other naked. If they came in here together,” Eve considered, “if they came up here for games, is he going to strip down, then hang up his clothes or dump his shorts in the hamper? You got that on the menu”—she gestured to the sex toys—“you’re not thinking about tidy. Clothes get pulled, tugged, torn, yanked off—fall on the floor. Even if this is an old game with a usual playmate, wouldn’t you just toss your shirt over the chair?”

“I hang up my clothes. Sometimes.” Peabody shrugged now. She angled her head to study the scene again, absently tossed back the hair that fell over her cheek. “But, yeah, that’s going to be when I’m not thinking about jumping McNab, or he’s not already jumping me. Everything looks pretty tidy in here, and in the rest of the house I got a look at on the way up. Vic could’ve been a neat freak.”

“Could. The killer could’ve come in when he was already in bed. Three in the morning, surprise, surprise. Then things got out of hand—accidentally or on purpose. Killer comes in—the probability’s high the vic or another household member knew the killer. No sign of break-in, and there’s a high-end security system. Maybe this is another part of the game. Comes in after he’s asleep. Surprises him. Wakes him up. Trusses him up, works him up. Toys and games.”

“And went too far.”

Eve shook her head. “It went as far as he or she meant it to go. The erotic asphyxiation oops doesn’t play.”

“But…” Peabody studied the body again, the scene, and wished she could see whatever Eve could. “Why?”

“If it was all in fun, and went wrong, why did the killer leave the noose around Anders’s neck? An accident, but you don’t loosen it, try to revive when he starts choking, convulsing?”

“Maybe in the throes…Okay, that’s a stretch, but if it happened fast, and she or he panicked…”

“Either way, we’ve got a corpse, we’ve got a case. We’ll see what the ME thinks about accidental. We’ll go interview the housekeeper, let the sweepers in here.”

Greta Horowitz was a sturdy-looking woman with a long rectangle of a face and a no-nonsense ’tude Eve appreciated. She offered coffee in the big silver and black kitchen, then served it with steady hands and dry eyes. With her strong, German-accented voice, direct blue eyes, and Valkyrie build, Eve assumed Greta handled what came her way.

“How long have you been here, Ms. Horowitz?”

“I am nine years in this employment, and in this country.”

“You came to the U.S. from…”

“Berlin.”

“How did you come to be employed by the Anderses?”

“Through an employment agency. You want to know how I came here and why. This is simple, and then we can speak of what is important. My husband was in the military. He was killed twelve years ago. We had no children. I am accomplished in running households, and to work I signed with an agency in Germany. I came to wish to come here. A soldier’s wife sees much of the world, but I had never seen New York. I applied for this position, and after several interviews via ’link and holo, was hired.”

“Thank you. Before we get to what’s important, do you know why the Anderses wanted a German housekeeper, particularly?”

“I am House Manager.”

“House Manager.”

“Mr. Anders’s grandmother was from Germany, and as a boy he had a German nanny.”

“Okay. What time did you arrive this morning?”

“Six. Precisely. I arrive at six precisely every morning but Sunday, which is my full day off. I leave at four, precisely, but for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I leave at one. My schedule can be adjusted as needed, and with sufficient notice.”

“When you arrived at precisely six this morning, what did you do? Precisely?”

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