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Calculated in Death

J. D. Robb


  Naked in Death

  Glory in Death

  Immortal in Death

  Rapture in Death

  Ceremony in Death

  Vengeance in Death

  Holiday in Death

  Conspiracy in Death

  Loyalty in Death

  Witness in Death

  Judgment in Death

  Betrayal in Death

  Seduction in Death

  Reunion in Death

  Purity in Death

  Portrait in Death

  Imitation in Death

  Divided in Death

  Visions in Death

  Survivor in Death

  Origin in Death

  Memory in Death

  Born in Death

  Innocent in Death

  Creation in Death

  Strangers in Death

  Salvation in Death

  Promises in Death

  Kindred in Death

  Fantasy in Death

  Indulgence in Death

  Treachery in Death

  New York to Dallas

  Celebrity in Death

  Delusion in Death


  Publishers Since 1838

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  USA / Canada / UK / Ireland / Australia / New Zealand / India / South Africa / China

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Copyright © 2013 by Nora Roberts

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  Published simultaneously in Canada

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Robb, J. D., date.

  Calculated in Death / J.D. Robb.

  p. cm

  ISBN 978-1-101-60924-8

  1. Dallas, Eve (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Policewomen—New York(State)—New York—Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3568.O243C35 2013 2012039839


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


  Also by J. D. Robb

  Title Page



  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22


  Poverty wants much; but avarice, everything.


  Money without honor is a disease.


  A KILLER WIND HURLED BITTER NOVEMBER air, toothy little knives to gnaw at the bones. She’d forgotten her gloves, but that was just as well as she’d have ruined yet another overpriced pair once she’d sealed up.

  For now, Lieutenant Eve Dallas stuck her frozen hands in the warm pockets of her coat and looked down at death.

  The woman lay at the bottom of the short stairway leading down to what appeared to be a lower-level apartment. From the angle of the head, Eve didn’t need the medical examiner to tell her the neck was broken.

  Eve judged her as middle forties. Not wearing a coat, Eve mused, though the vicious wind wouldn’t trouble her now. Dressed for business—suit jacket, turtleneck, pants, good boots with low heels. Probably fashionable, but Eve would leave that call to her partner when Detective Peabody arrived on scene.

  No jewelry, at least not visible. Not even a wrist unit.

  No handbag, no briefcase or file bag.

  No litter, no graffiti in the stairwell. Nothing but the body, slumped against the wall.

  At length she turned to the uniformed officer who’d responded to the 911. “What’s the story?”

  “The call came in at two-twelve. My partner and I were only two blocks away, hitting a twenty-four/seven. We arrived at two-fourteen. The owner of the unit, Bradley Whitestone, and an Alva Moonie were on the sidewalk. Whitestone stated they hadn’t entered the unit, which is being rehabbed—and is unoccupied. They found the body when he brought Moonie to see the apartment.”

  “At two in the morning.”

  “Yes, sir. They stated they’d been out this evening, dinner, then a bar. They’d had a few, Lieutenant.”


  “My partner has them in the car.”

  “I’ll talk to them later.”

  “We determined the victim was deceased. No ID on her. No bag, no jewelry, no coat. Pretty clear her neck’s broken. Visually, there’s some other marks on her—bruised cheek, split lip. Looks like a mugging gone south. But . . .” The uniform flushed slightly. “It doesn’t feel like it.”

  Interested, Eve gave a go-ahead nod. “Because?”

  “It sure wasn’t a snatch and run, figuring the coat. That takes a little time. And if she fell or got pushed down the stairs, why is she over against the side there instead of at the bottom of the steps? Out of sight from the sidewalk. It feels more like a dump. Sir.”

  “Are you angling for a slot in Homicide, Officer Turney?”

  “No disrespect intended, Lieutenant.”

  “None taken. She could’ve taken a bad fall down the steps, landed wrong, broke her neck. Mugger goes down after her, hauls her over out of sight, takes the coat, and the rest.”

  “Yes, sir.”

  “It doesn’t feel like it. But we need more than how it feels. Stand by, Officer. Detective Peabody’s en route.” As she spoke, Eve opened her field kit, took out her Seal-It.

  She coated her hands, her boots as she surveyed the area.

  This sector of New York’s East Side held quiet—at least at this hour. Most apartment windows and storefronts were dark, businesses closed, even the bars. There would be some after-hours establishments still rolling, but not close enough for witnesses.

  They’d do a canvass, but odds were slim someone would pop out who’d seen what happened here. Add in the bitter cold, as 2060 seemed determined to go out clinging with its icy fingers, most people would be tucked up inside, in the warm.

  Just as she’d been, curled up against Roarke, before the call.

  That’s what you get for being a cop, she thought, or in Roarke’s case, for marrying one.

  Sealed, she went down the stairs, studied the door to the unit first, then moved in to crouch beside the body.

  Yeah, middle forties, light brown hair clipped back from her face. A little bruising on the right cheekbone, some dried blood on the split lip. Both ears pierced, so if she’d been wearing earrings, the killer had taken the time to remove them rather than rip them off.

  Lifting the hand, Eve noted abraded flesh on the heel. Like a r
ug burn, she mused before she pressed the right thumb to her ID pad.

  Dickenson, Marta, she read. Mixed-race female, age forty-six. Married Dickenson, Denzel, two offspring, and an Upper East Side address. Employed Brewer, Kyle, and Martini, an accounting firm with an office eight blocks away.

  As she took out her gauges, her short brown hair fluttered in the wind. She hadn’t thought to yank on a hat. Her eyes, nearly the same gilded brown as her hair, remained cool and flat. She didn’t think about the husband, the kids, the friends, the family—not yet. She thought of the body, the position, the area, the time of death—twenty-two-fifty.

  What were you doing, Marta, blocks from work, from home on a frigid November night?

  She shined her light over the pants, noted traces of blue fiber on the black cloth. Carefully, she tweezed off two, bagged them, marked the pants for the sweepers.

  She heard Peabody’s voice over her head, and the uniform’s answer. Eve straightened. Her leather coat billowed at the hem around her long, lean frame as she turned to watch Peabody—or what she could see of her partner—clomp down the steps.

  Peabody had thought of a hat, had remembered her gloves. The pink—Jesus pink—ski hat with its sassy little pom-pom covered her dark hair and the top of her face right down to the eyes. A multicolored scarf wound around and around just above the plum-colored puffy coat. The hat matched the pink cowboy boots Eve had begun to suspect Peabody wore even in bed.

  “How can you walk with all that on?”

  “I hiked to the subway, then from the subway, but I stayed warm. Jeez.” One quick gleam of sympathy flicked across Peabody’s face. “She doesn’t even have a coat.”

  “She’s not complaining. Marta Dickenson,” Eve began, and gave Peabody the salients.

  “It’s a ways from her office and her place. Maybe she was walking from one to the other, but why wouldn’t she take the subway, especially on a night like this?”

  “That’s a question. This unit’s being rehabbed. It’s empty. That’s handy, isn’t it? The way she’s in the corner there? She shouldn’t have been spotted until morning.”

  “Why would a mugger care when?”

  “That’s another question. Following that would be, if he did, how’d he know this unit’s unoccupied?”

  “Lives in the area?” Peabody suggested. “Is part of the rehab crew?”

  “Maybe. I want a look inside, but we’ll talk to the nine-one-one callers first. Go ahead and notify the ME.”

  “The sweepers?”

  “Not yet.”

  Eve climbed the stairs, walked to the black-and-white. Even as she signaled to the cop inside, a man pushed out of the back.

  “Are you in charge?” Words tumbled over each other in a rush of nerves.

  “Lieutenant Dallas. Mr. Whitestone?”

  “Yes, I—”

  “You notified the police.”

  “Yes. Yes, as soon as we found the—her. She was . . . we were—”

  “You own this unit?”

  “Yes.” A sharply attractive man in his early thirties, he took a long breath, expelling it in a chilly fog. When he spoke again, his voice leveled, his words slowed. “Actually, my partners and I own the building. There are eight units—third and fourth floors.” His gaze tracked up. No hat for him either, Eve mused, but a wool topcoat in city black and a black-and-red-striped scarf.

  “I own the lower unit outright,” he continued. “We’re rehabbing so we can move our business here, first and second floors.”

  “Which is what? Your business?”

  “We’re financial consultants. The WIN Group. Whitestone, Ingersol, and Newton. W-I-N.”

  “Got it.”

  “I’ll live in the downstairs unit, or that was the plan. I don’t—”

  “Why don’t you run me through your evening,” Eve suggested.


  “Stay in the car where it’s warm, Alva.”

  “I can’t sit anymore.” The woman who slid out was blonde and sleek and tucked into some kind of animal fur and thigh-high leather boots with high skinny heels. She hooked her arm through Whitestone’s arm.

  They looked like a set, Eve thought. Both pretty, well-dressed, and showing signs of shock.

  “Lieutenant Dallas.” Alva held out a hand. “You don’t remember me?”


  “We met for five seconds at the Big Apple Gala last spring. I’m one of the committee chairs. Doesn’t matter,” she said with a shake of her head as the wind streamed through her yard of hair. “This is horrible. That poor woman. They even took her coat. I don’t know why that bothers me so much, but it seems cruel.”

  “Did either of you touch the body?”

  “No.” Whitestone took over. “We had dinner, then we went for drinks. At the Key Club, just a couple blocks down. I was telling Alva what we’ve been doing here, and she was interested, so we walked over so I could give her a tour. My place is nearly done, so . . . I was getting out my key, about to plug in the code when Alva screamed. I didn’t even see her, Lieutenant, the woman. I didn’t even see her, not until Alva screamed.”

  “She was back in the corner,” Alva said. “At first, even when I screamed I thought she was a sidewalk sleeper. I didn’t realize . . . then I did. We did.”

  She leaned into Whitestone when he put an arm around her waist. “We didn’t touch her,” Whitestone said. “I stepped over, closer, but I could see . . . I could tell she was dead.”

  “Brad wanted me to go inside, where it’s warm, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t wait inside knowing she was out here, in the cold. The police came so fast.”

  “Mr. Whitestone, I’m going to want a list of your partners, and of the people working on the building.”

  “Of course.”

  “If you’d give that and your contact information to my partner, you can go home. We’ll be in touch.”

  “We can go?” Alva asked her.

  “For now. I’d like your permission to go inside the unit, the building.”

  “Sure. Anything you need. I have keys and codes,” he began.

  “I’ve got a master. If there’s any trouble, I’ll let you know.”

  “Lieutenant?” Alva called her again as Eve turned to go. “When I met you, before, I thought what you did was glamorous. In a way. Like the Icove case, and how it’s going to be a major vid. It seemed exciting. But it’s not.” Alva’s gaze swept back toward the stairs. “It’s hard and it’s sad.”

  “It’s the job,” Eve said simply, and walked back toward the steps. “We’ll wait to canvass until morning,” she told Officer Turney. “Nobody’s going to tell us much if we wake them up at this hour. The building’s vacant, not just the unit. See that the wits get where they need to go. What’s your house, Turney?”

  “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 h
er 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.”