New York Dead (Stone Barrington Series #1)by Stuart Woods
"(A) Hollywood slick and fast-moving" (Los Angeles Daily News) mystery from the bestselling author of Palindrome. After witnessing a horrifying incident, NYPD cop Stone Barrington finds himself hopelessly entwined in the increasingly shocking life--and death--of the country's hottest and most beautiful TV anchorwoman. See more details below
"(A) Hollywood slick and fast-moving" (Los Angeles Daily News) mystery from the bestselling author of Palindrome. After witnessing a horrifying incident, NYPD cop Stone Barrington finds himself hopelessly entwined in the increasingly shocking life--and death--of the country's hottest and most beautiful TV anchorwoman.
Read an Excerpt
New York Dead
Elaine's, late. The place had exhausted its second wind, and half the customers had gone; otherwise she would not have given Stone Barrington quite so good a table--number 4, along the wall to your right as you enter. Stone knew Elaine, had known her for years, but he was not what you would call a regular--not what Elaine would call a regular, anyway.
He rested his left leg on a chair and unconsciously massaged the knee. Elaine got down from her stool at the cash register, walked over, and pulled up a chair.
"Not bad," he said.
"How about the knee?" Anybody who knew him knew about the knee; it had received a .22-caliber bullet eleven weeks before.
"A lot better. I walked up here from Turtle Bay."
"When's the physical?"
"Next week. I'll tap-dance through it."
"So what if you fall on your ass, tap dancing?" Elaine knew how to get to the point.
"So, then I'm a retiree."
"Best thing could happen to you."
"I can think of better things."
"Come on, Stone, you're too good looking to be a cop. Too smart, too. You went to law school, didn't you?"
"I never took the bar."
"So take the bar. Make a buck."
"It's fifteen years since I graduated."
"So? Take one of those cram courses."
"Maybe. You're coming on kind of motherly, aren't you?"
"Somebody's gotta tell you this stuff."
"I appreciate the thought. Who's the guy at the bar?" To a cop's eye the man didn't fit in somehow. He probably wouldn't fit anywhere. Male Caucasian, five-six, a hundred and seventy, thinning brown hair, thick, black-rimmed glasses adhesive-taped in the middle.
"In the white coat? Doc."
"That his name or his game?"
"Both. He's at Lenox Hill, I think. He's in here a lot, late, trying to pick up girls."
"In a hospital jacket?"
"His technique is to diagnose them. Weird, isn't it?"
Doc reached over to the girl next to him and peeled back her eyelid. The girl recoiled.
Stone laughed out loud and finished the Wild Turkey. "Bet it works. What girl could resist a doctah?"
"Just about all of them is my guess. I've never seen him leave with anybody."
Stone signaled a waiter for the check and put some cash on the table.
"Have one on me," Elaine said.
"Rain check. I've had one too many already." He stood up and pecked her on the cheek.
"Don't be such a stranger."
"If I don't pass the physical, I'll be in here all the time. You'll have to throw me out."
"My pleasure. Take care."
Stone glanced at Doc on the way out. He was taking the girl's pulse. She was looking at him as if he were nuts.
Stone was a little drunk--too drunk to drive, he reckoned, if he had owned a car. The night air was pleasant, still warm for September. He looked up Second Avenue to see a dozen cabs bearing down on him from uptown. Elaine's was the best cab spot in town; he could never figure out where they were all coming from. Harlem? Cabdrivers wouldn't take anybody to Harlem, not if they could help it. He turned away from them; he'd walk, give the knee another workout. The bourbon had loosened it up.
He crossed Eighty-eighth and started downtown, sticking to the west side of the street. He lengthened his stride, made a conscious effort not to limp. He remembered walking this beat, right out of the academy; that was when he had started drinking at Elaine's, when he was a rookie in the 19th Precinct, on his way home after walking his tour. He walked it now.
A cop doesn't walk down the street like anybody else, he reflected. Automatically, he checked every doorway as he swung down Second Avenue, ignoring the pain, leaning on the bourbon. He had to prevent himself from trying the locks. Across the street, half a dozen guys spilled out of a yuppie bar, two of them mouthing off at each other, the others watching. Ten years ago, he'd have broken it up. He would have now, but it didn't look like it would last long. The two guys turned away from each other, hurling insults. Neither was willing to throw the first punch.
At Eighty-sixth Street, two hookers were working the traffic. He'd have ignored them on his beat; he ignored them now. He remembered when Eighty-sixth was Germantown, when the smell of sauerbraten wafted from every third doorway. Some-where along here there had been a place called the Gay Vienna that served kalbshaxe--a veal shank that looked like a gigantic drumstick. The place had had a zither player, the only one he'd ever heard. He'd liked it. He'd lived over on Eighty-third, between York and East End, had had a Hungarian landlady who made him goulash. She'd put weight on him, too much weight, and it had stuck. He'd lost it now, five weeks on hospital food. He was down to a hundred and eighty, and, at six two, he looked slender. He vowed not to gain it back. He couldn't afford the alterations.
Stone rubbed his neck. An hour in one of Elaine's hard, armless chairs, leaning on the table, always made his neck and shoulders tight. About Seventieth Street, he started to limp a little, in spite of himself. In the mid-Sixties, he forgot all about the knee.
It was just luck. He was rolling his head around, trying to loosen the neck muscles, and he happened to be looking up when he saw her. She was free-falling, spread-eagled, like a sky diver. Only she didn't have a parachute.
Con Edison was digging a big hole twenty yards ahead, and they had a generator going, so he could barely hear the scream.
Time slowed down; he considered whether it was some sort of stunt and rejected the notion. He thought she would go into the Con Ed hole, but she didn't; instead, she met the earth, literally, on the big pile of dirt the workmen had thrown up. She didn't bounce. She stuck to the ground as if she had fallen into glue. Stone started to run.
A Con Ed man in a yellow hard hat jumped backward as if he'd been shotgunned. Stone could see the terrified expression on his face as he approached. The man recovered before Stone got there, reached down, and gingerly turned the woman onto her back. Her eyes were open.
Stone knew her. There was black dirt on her face, and
her red hair was wild, but he knew her. Shit, the whole city knew her. More than half the population--all the men and some of the women--wanted to fuck her. He slowed just long enough to glance at her and shout at the Con Ed man. "Call an ambulance! Do what you can for her!" He glanced up at the building. Flush windows, none open; a terrace up top.
He sprinted past the scene, turned the corner of the white-brick, 1960s apartment building, and ran into the lobby. An elderly, uniformed doorman was sound asleep in a chair, tilted back against the wall.
"Hey!" Stone shouted, and the man was wide awake and on his feet. The move looked practiced. Stone shoved his badge in the old man's face. "Police! What apartment has a terrace on the Second Avenue side?"
"12-A, the penthouse," the doorman said. "Miss Nijinsky."
"You got a key?"
The doorman retrieved a key from a drawer, and Stone hustled him toward the elevators. One stood open and waiting; the doorman pushed twelve.
"What's the matter?" the man asked.
"Miss Nijinsky just took a dive. She's lying in a pile of dirt on Second Avenue."
"She's being introduced to him right now."
It was a short building, and the elevator was slow. Stone watched the floor numbers light up and tried to control his breathing. When they hit eleven, he pulled out his gun. As the elevator slowed to a stop on twelve, he heard something, and he knew what it was. The fire door on twelve had been yanked open so hard it had struck the wall. This noise was followed by the sound of somebody taking the steel steps of the fire stairs in a hurry. The elevator door started to open, and Stone helped it.
"Stay here, and don't open the apartment door!" he said to the doorman.
The fire door was opposite the elevator; he yanked it open. From a floor below, the ring of shoe leather on steel drifted upward. Stone flung himself down the stairs.
The guy only had a floor's start on him; Stone had a chance. He started taking the steps two at a time. "Stop! Police!" he shouted. That was procedure, and, if anybody was listening, he wanted it heard. He shouted it again.
As he descended, Stone got into a rhythm--bump de bump, bump de bump. He concentrated on keeping his footing. He left the eighth floor behind, then the sixth. New York Dead. Copyright © by Stuart Woods. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >