Calculated in Death - J. D. Robb

Poverty wants much; but avarice, everything.

PUBLILIUS SYRUS

Money without honor is a disease.

BALZAC

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.”

“Okay.”

“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