Origin in Death (In Death Series #21)by J. D. Robb, Susan Ericksen (Read by)
A pioneer of modern reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, Dr. Wilfred B. Icove, is found dead in his office—murdered in a chillingly efficient manner: one swift stab to the heart. Struck/b>/i>
Detective Eve Dallas tracks the cunning, cold-blooded killer of a doctor and his son in this novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling In Death series.
A pioneer of modern reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, Dr. Wilfred B. Icove, is found dead in his office—murdered in a chillingly efficient manner: one swift stab to the heart. Struck by the immaculate condition of the crime scene, Dallas suspects a professional killing. Security disks show a stunningly beautiful woman calmly entering and leaving the building—the doctor’s final appointment.
Known as “Dr. Perfect,” the saintly Icove devoted his life to his family and his work. His record is clean. Too clean for Dallas. She knows he was hiding something and suspects that his son—and successor—knows what it is. Then, like father, like son, the young Dr. Icove is killed…with the same deadly precision.
But who is the mystery woman—and what was her relationship with the good doctors? While her husband, Roarke, works behind the scenes, Dallas follows her darkest instincts into the Icoves’ pasts. What she discovers are men driven to create perfection—playing fast and loose with the laws of nature, the limits of science, and the morals of humanity…
“The 21st chapter of this amazing series is filled with all the dark drama, intricate character dynamics and fascinating futuristic details that have made these books such winners. The ongoing love story between Eve and Roarke just keeps getting richer, as do the developing relationships of all those in Eve's life.”—RT Book Reviews
More Praise for the In Death series
“Robb is a virtuoso.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“It’s Law & Order: SVU—in the future.”—Entertainment Weekly
“J. D. Robb’s In Death novels are can’t-miss pleasures.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben
“Anchored by terrific characters, sudden twists that spin the whole narrative on a dime, and a thrills-to-chills ration that will raise the neck hairs of even the most jaded reader, the J. D. Robb books are the epitome of great popular fiction.”—New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane
Read an Excerpt
Blood is thicker than water.
There will be time to murder and create.
DEATH SMILED AT HER, AND KISSED HER GENTLY ON THE cheek. He had nice eyes. She knew they were blue, but not like the blue in her box of crayons. She was allowed to draw with them for one hour every day. She liked coloring best of all.
She could speak three languages, but she was having trouble with the Cantonese. She could draw the figures, and loved to make the lines and shapes. But it was hard for her to see them as words.
She couldn’t read very well in any of the languages, and knew the man she and her sisters called Father was concerned.
She forgot things she was supposed to remember, but he never punished her—not like others did when he wasn’t there. She thought of them as The Others, who helped the father teach her and care for her. But when he wasn’t there, and she made a mistake, they did something that hurt her, and made her body jump.
She wasn’t allowed to tell the father.
The father was always nice, just like he was now, when he sat beside her, holding her hand.
It was time for another test. She and her sisters took a lot of tests, and sometimes the man she called Father got wrinkles in his forehead, or a sad look in his eyes when she couldn’t do all the steps. In some of the tests he had to stick her with a needle, or hook machines to her head. She didn’t like those tests very much, but she pretended she was drawing with her crayons until they were over.
She was happy, but sometimes she wished they could go outside instead of pretending to go outside. The hologram programs were fun, and she liked the picnic with the puppy best of all. But whenever she asked if she could have a real puppy, the man she called Father just smiled and said, “Some day.”
She had to study a lot. It was important to learn all that could be learned, and to know how to speak and dress and play music, and discuss everything she’d learned or read or seen on-screen during her lessons.
She knew her sisters were smarter, faster, but they never teased her. They were allowed to play together for an hour in the morning and an hour before bed, every day.
That was even better than the picnic with the puppy.
She didn’t understand loneliness, or might have known she was lonely.
When Death took her hand, she lay quietly and prepared to do her best.
“This will make you feel sleepy,” he told her in his kind voice.
He’d brought the boy today. She liked when he brought the boy, though it made her feel shy. He was older, and had eyes the same color blue as the man she called Father. He never played with her or her sisters, but she always hoped he would.
“Are you comfortable, sweetheart?”
“Yes, Father.” She smiled shyly at the boy who stood beside her bed. Sometimes she pretended the little room where she slept was a chamber, like the ones in the castles she sometimes read about or saw on-screen. And she was the princess of the castle, under a spell. The boy would be the prince who came to save her.
But from what, she wasn’t sure.
She hardly felt the needle stick. He was so gentle.
There was a screen in the ceiling over her bed, and today the man she called Father had programmed it with famous paintings. Hoping to please him, she began to name them as they slid on, then off.
“Garden at Giverny 1902, Claude Monet. Fleurs et Mains, Pablo Picasso. Figure at a Window, Salvador Da . . . Salvador . . .”
“Dalí,” he prompted.
“Dalí. Olive Trees, Victor van Gogh.”
“I’m sorry.” Her voice began to slur. “Vincent van Gogh. My eyes are tired, Father. My head feels heavy.”
“That’s all right, sweetheart. You can close your eyes, you can rest.”
He took her hand while she drifted off. He held it tenderly in his while she died.
She left the world five years, three months, twelve days, and six hours after she’d come into it.
WHEN ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS FACES ON OR off planet was beaten to a bloody, splintered pulp, it was news. Even in New York City. When the owner of that famous face punctured several vital organs of the batterer with a fillet knife, it was not only news, it was work.
Getting an interview with the woman who owned the face that had launched a thousand consumer products was a goddamn battle.
Cooling her heels in the plush-to-the-point-of-squishy waiting area of the Wilfred B. Icove Center for Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery, Lieutenant Eve Dallas was fully prepared to go to war.
She’d had just about enough.
“If they think they can turn me out a third time, they’re ignorant of the greatness of my wrath.”
“She was unconscious the first time.” Content to lounge in one of the luxurious, overstuffed chairs and sip some complimentary tea, Detective Delia Peabody crossed her legs. “And heading into surgery.”
“She wasn’t unconscious the second time.”
“Recovery and Observation. It’s been less than forty-eight, Dallas.” Peabody sipped more tea and fantasized what she would have done if she were here for face or body sculpting.
Maybe she’d just start with hair extensions. No pain, some gain, she decided, combing her fingers through her dark, bowl-cut ’do.
“And self-defense looks pretty clear.”
“She put eight holes in him.”
“Okay, maybe a little excessive, but we both know her lawyer’s going to claim self-defense, fear of bodily harm, diminished capacity—all of which any jury’s going to buy.” Maybe blonde hair extensions, Peabody thought. “Lee-Lee Ten is an icon. Perfection of female beauty, and the guy played a mighty tune on her face.”
Broken nose, shattered cheekbone, broken jaw, detached retina. Eve ran through the list in her head. She wasn’t looking to hang a homicide on the woman, for God’s sake. She’d interviewed the medical tech who’d treated Ten on-scene, and she’d investigated and documented the scene itself.
But if she didn’t close this case down today, she was going to be dealing with the drooling hounds of the media yet again.
If it came to that, she’d be tempted to play a tune on Ten’s face herself.
“She talks to us today, and we shut this down. Or I’m slapping her bevy of attorneys and reps with obstruction of justice.”
“When’s Roarke due home?”
With a frown, Eve stopped pacing long enough to look at her partner. “Why?”
“Because you’re getting a little edgy . . . edgier than usual. I think you have Roarke-withdrawal.” Peabody let out a wistful sigh. “Who could blame you?”
“I’m not having anything-withdrawal.” She muttered it, and began pacing again. She had long legs on a long body, and felt a little confined in the overly decorated space. Her hair was shorter than her partner’s, a deer-hide brown worn carelessly choppy around a lean face with large brown eyes.
Unlike many of the patients and clients of the Wilfred B. Icove Center, physical beauty wasn’t one of her priorities.
Maybe she missed her husband, she admitted. It wasn’t a crime. In fact, it was probably one of those marriage rules she was still trying to learn after more than a year in the game.
It was rare for Roarke to take a business trip that lasted more than a day or two now, and this one had stretched to a week.
She’d pushed for it, hadn’t she? she reminded herself. She was very aware he’d set a lot of his work aside in the past months to help with hers, or just to be there when she needed him.
And when a man owned or had interest in nearly every area of business, art, entertainment, and development in the known universe, he had to keep a lot of balls in the air.
She could handle not being juggled in for a week. She wasn’t a moron.
But neither was she sleeping very well.
She started to sit, but the chair was so big, and so pink. It gave her an image of being swallowed whole by a big, shiny mouth.
“What’s Lee-Lee Ten doing in the kitchen of her three-level penthouse at two in the morning?”
“AutoChef in her bedroom, another in the living area, one in each guest room, one in her home office, one in her home gym.”
Eve wandered to one of the banks of windows. She preferred the dull, rainy day outside to the perky pink of the waiting area. Fall of 2059 had, so far, proved cold and mean.
“Everyone we’ve managed to interview stated that Ten had dumped Bryhern Speegal.”
“They were completely the couple over the summer,” Peabody put in. “You couldn’t watch a celeb report on-screen or pick up a gossip mag without . . . not that I spend all my time on celebrity watch or anything.”
“Right. She dumps Speegal last week, according to informed sources. But she’s entertaining him in her kitchen at two in the morning. Both of them are wearing robes, and there is evidence of intimate behavior in the bedroom.”
“Reconciliation that didn’t work?”
“According to the doorman, her security discs, and her domestic droid, Speegal arrived at twenty-three fourteen. He was admitted, and the household droid was dismissed to its quarters—but left on-call.”
Wineglasses in the living area, she thought. Shoes—his, hers. Shirt, hers. His was on the wide curve of the stairs leading to the second level. Her bra had been draped over the rail at the top.
It hadn’t taken a bloodhound to follow the trail, or to sniff out the activity.
“He comes over, he comes in, they have a couple of drinks downstairs, sex comes into it. No evidence it wasn’t consensual. No signs of struggle, and if the guy was going to rape her, he wouldn’t bother to drag her up a flight of steps and take off her clothes.”
She forgot her image of the chair long enough to sit. “So they go up, slap the mattress. They end up downstairs, bloody in the kitchen. Droid hears a disturbance, comes out, finds her unconscious, him dead, calls for medical and police assistance.”
The kitchen had looked like a war zone. Everything white and silver, acres of room, and most of it splashed and splattered with blood. Speegal, the hunk of the year, had been facedown, swimming in it.
Maybe it had reminded her, just a little too horribly, of the way her father had looked. Of course, the room in Dallas hadn’t been so shiny, but the blood, the rivers of blood, had been just as thick, just as wet after she’d finished hacking the little knife into him.
“Sometimes there’s no other way,” Peabody said quietly. “There’s no other way to stay alive.”
“No.” Edgy? Eve thought. More like losing her edge if her partner could see into her head that easily. “Sometimes there’s not.”
She rose, relieved when the doctor stepped into the room.
She’d done her homework on Wilfred B. Icove, Jr. He’d stepped competently into his father’s footsteps, oversaw the myriad arms of the Icove Center. And was known as the sculptor to the stars.
He was reputed to be discreet as a priest, skilled as a magician, and rich as Roarke—or nearly. At forty-four, he was handsome as a vid star with eyes of light, crystalline blue in a face of high, slashing cheekbones, square jaw, carved lips, narrow nose. His hair was full, swept back from his forehead in gilded wings.
He had maybe an inch on Eve’s five-ten, and his body looked trim and fit, even elegant in a slate gray suit with pearly chalk stripes. He wore a shirt the color of the stripes, and a silver medallion on a hair-thin chain.
He offered Eve his hand, and an apologetic smile that showed perfect teeth. “I’m so sorry. I know you’ve been waiting. I’m Dr. Icove. Lee-Lee—Ms. Ten,” he corrected, “is under my care.”
“Lieutenant Dallas, NYPSD. Detective Peabody. We need to speak with her.”
“Yes, I know. I know you’ve tried to speak with her before, and again, my apologies.” His voice and manner were as groomed as the rest of him. “Her attorney’s with her now. She’s awake and stable. She’s a strong woman, Lieutenant, but she’s suffered severe trauma, physically and emotionally. I hope you can keep this brief.”
“That’d be nice for all of us, wouldn’t it?”
He smiled again, just a twinkle of humor, then gestured. “She’s on medication,” he continued as they walked down a wide corridor accented with art that highlighted the female form and face. “But she’s coherent. She wants this interview as much as you do. I’d prefer it wait at least another day, and her attorney . . . Well, as I said, she’s a strong woman.”
Icove passed the uniform stationed at his patient’s door as if he were invisible. “I’d like to attend, monitor her during your interview.”
“No problem.” Eve nodded to the uniform, stepped inside.
It was luxurious as a suite in a five-star hotel, strewn with enough flowers to fill an acre of Central Park.
The walls were a pale pink, sheened with silver, accented with paintings of goddesses. Wide chairs and glossy tables comprised a sitting area where visitors could gather to chat or pass the time with whatever was on-screen.
Privacy screens on a sea of windows ensured the media copters or commuter trams that buzzed the sky were blinded to the room inside, while the view of the great park filled the windows.
In a bed of petal pink sheets edged with snow-white lace, the famous face looked as if it had encountered a battering ram.
Blackened skin, white bandages, the left eye covered with a protective patch. The lush lips that had sold millions in lip plumper, lip dye, lip ice, were swollen and coated with some sort of pale green cream. The luxurious hair, responsible for the production of bottomless vats of shampoo, conditioner, enhancements, was scraped back, a dull red mop.
The single visible eye, green as an emerald, tracked over to Eve. A sunburst of color surrounded it.
“My client is in severe pain,” the lawyer began. “She is under medication and stress. I—”
“Shut up, Charlie.” The voice from the bed was hoarse and hissy, but the lawyer thinned his lips and shut up.
“Take a good look,” she invited Eve. “The son of a bitch did a number on me. On my face!”
“I know you. Don’t I know you?” The voice, Eve realized, was hissy and hoarse because Lee-Lee was speaking through clamped teeth. Broken jaw—had to hurt like a mother. “Faces are my business, and yours . . . Roarke. Roarke’s cop. Ain’t that a kick in the ass.”
“Dallas, Lieutenant Eve. Detective Peabody, my partner.”
“Bumped hips with him four—no five years ago. Rainy weekend in Rome. Holy God, that man’s got stamina.” The green eye sparked a moment with bawdy humor. “That bother you?”
“You bump hips with him in the last couple years?”
“Regretfully, no. Just that one memorable weekend in Rome.”
“Then no, it doesn’t. Why don’t we talk about what happened between you and Bryhern Speegal in your apartment night before last?”
“Lee-Lee.” This gentle admonishment came from her doctor.
“Sorry, sorry. Will doesn’t approve of strong language. He hurt me.” She closed her eyes, breathed slowly in and out. “God, he really hurt me. Can I have some water?”
Her lawyer grabbed the silver cup with its silver straw and held it to her lips.
She sucked, breathed, sucked again, then patted his hand. “Sorry, Charlie. Sorry I told you to shut up. Not at my best here.”
“You don’t have to talk to the police now, Lee-Lee.”
“You’ve got my screen blocked so I can’t hear what they’re saying about me. I don’t need a screen to know what the media monkeys and gossip hyenas are saying about all this. I want to clear it up. I want to have my goddamn say.”
Her eye watered, and she blinked furiously to stem a tide of tears. And in doing so earned points of respect from Eve.
“You and Mr. Speegal had a relationship. An intimate relationship.”
“We fucked like rabbits all summer.”
“Lee-Lee,” Charlie began, and she pushed her hand at him. A quick, impatient gesture Eve understood perfectly.
“I told you what happened, Charlie. Do you believe me?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then let me tell it to Roarke’s cop. I met Bry when I got a part in a vid he was shooting here in New York last May. We were in the sack about twelve hours after the how-do-you-dos. He’s—he was,” she corrected, “gorgeous. Toss-your-skirt-over-your-head gorgeous. Dumb as a toad, and—as I found out night before last—vicious as a . . . I can’t think of anything that vicious.”
She sucked on the straw again, took three slow breaths. “We had some laughs, we had great sex, we got a lot of play on the gossip circuit. He started to get a little too full of himself. I want this, you’re not doing that, we’re going here, where have you been, and so on. I decided to break it off. Which I did, last week. Just let’s chill this awhile, it’s been fun, but let’s not push it. Pissed him off some, I could tell, but he handled it. I thought he handled it. We’re not kids, for God’s sake, and we weren’t starry-eyed.”
“Did he make any threats at that time, was he physical in any way?”
“No.” She lifted a hand to her face, and though her voice was steady, Eve saw her fingers trembled lightly. “He played it like, ‘Oh yeah, I was trying to figure out how to say the same thing—we’ve about wrung this dry.’ He was flying out to New L.A. to do some promos for the vid. So when he called, said he was back in New York, wanted to come up and talk, I said sure.”
“He contacted you just before eleven P.M.”
“Can’t say for sure.” Lee-Lee managed a crooked smile. “I’d had dinner out, at The Meadow, with friends. Carly Jo, Presty Bing, Apple Grand.”
“We spoke with them,” Peabody told her. “They confirm your dinner engagement, and stated that you left the restaurant about ten that evening.”
“Yeah, they were going on to a club, but I wasn’t in the mood. Bad call on my part, as it turns out.” She touched her face again, then let her hand fall to the bed.
“I went home, started reading this script for a new vid my agent sent me. Bored the shit—sorry, Will—out of me, so when Bry called, I was up for some company. We had some wine, talked the talk, and he made a couple moves. He has some good ones,” she said with a hint of a smile. “So we took it upstairs, had ourselves an intense round of sex. After, he says something like, ‘Women don’t tell me when to chill,’ and he’ll let me know when he’s finished with me. Son of a bitch.”
Eve watched Lee-Lee’s face. “Pissed you off.”
“Big-time. He’d come over there, got me into bed just so he could say that.” Color joined the bruising on her cheeks. “And I let him, so I’m as pissed at myself as I am at him. I didn’t say anything. I got up, grabbed a robe, went downstairs to settle down. It pays—and it can pay damn well—not to make enemies in this business. So I go in the kitchen, going to smooth out my temper, figure out how to handle this. I’m thinking maybe I’ll make an egg-white omelette.”
“Excuse me,” Eve interrupted. “You get out of bed, you’re angry, so you’re going to cook eggs?”
“Sure. I like to cook. Helps me think.”
“You have no less than ten AutoChefs in your penthouse.”
“I like to cook,” she said again. “Haven’t you seen any of my culinary vids? I really do that stuff, you can ask anybody on production. So I’m in the kitchen, pacing back and forth until I can calm down enough to break some eggs, and he waltzes in, all puffed up.”
Lee-Lee looked over at Icove now, and he walked to her bedside, took her hand.
“Thanks, Will. He strutted around, said when he paid for a whore, he told her when to clock out, and this was the same thing. Hadn’t he bought me jewelry, gifts?” She managed to shrug a shoulder. “He wasn’t going to let me spread it around that I’d tossed him over. He’d do the tossing when he was damn good and ready. I told him to get out, get the hell out. He pushed me, I pushed back. We were yelling at each other, and . . . Jesus, I didn’t see it coming. The next thing I know I’m on the floor and my face is screaming. I can taste blood in my mouth. Nobody’s ever hit me before.”
Her voice trembled now, and thickened. “Nobody ever . . . I don’t know how many times he hit me. I think I got up once, tried to run. I don’t know, I swear. I tried to crawl, I screamed—tried. He pulled me up. I could hardly see, there was so much blood in my eyes, and so much pain. I thought he was killing me. He shoved me back against the counter—the island counter, and I grabbed it so I didn’t fall. If I fell, he’d kill me.”
She paused, closed her eyes for a moment. “I don’t know if I thought that then, or later, and I don’t know if it’s true. I think—”
“Lee-Lee, that’s enough.”
“No, Charlie. I’m going to have my say. I think . . .” she continued. “When I look back now, I think maybe he was done. Maybe he was finished hitting me, maybe he realized he’d hurt me more than he’d meant to. Maybe he just meant to mess up my face some. But at that moment, when my own blood was choking me, and I could hardly see, and my face felt like someone had set it on fire, I was afraid for my life. I swear it. He stepped toward me, and I . . . the knife block was right there. I grabbed one. If I’d been able to see better, I’d have grabbed a bigger one. I swear that, too. I meant to kill him, so he didn’t kill me. He laughed. He laughed and he reared back with his arm, like he was going to backhand me.”
She’d steadied again, and that emerald eye stayed level on Eve’s face. “I ran that knife into him. It slid right into him, and I pulled it out and stabbed him again. I kept doing it until I passed out. I’m not sorry I did it.”
And now a tear escaped, ran down her bruised cheek. “I’m not sorry I did it. But I’m sorry I ever let him put his hands on me. He broke my face to pieces. Will.”
“You’ll be more beautiful than ever,” he assured her.
“Maybe.” She brushed carefully at the tear. “But I’ll never be the same. Have you ever killed someone?” she asked Eve. “Have you ever killed someone and not been sorry?”
“Then you know. You’re never the same.”
When they were finished, Lawyer Charlie followed them into the hall.
“Reverse your thrusters, Charlie,” Eve said wearily. “We’re not charging her. Her statement is consistent with the evidence and other statements we’ve documented. She was physically assaulted, in fear of her life, and defended herself.”
He nodded, and looked slightly disappointed that he wouldn’t be required to jump on his expensive white horse and ride to his client’s rescue. “I’d like to see the official statement before it’s released to the media.”
Eve made a sound that might have passed for a laugh as she turned and walked away. “Bet you would.”
“You okay?” Peabody asked as they headed for the elevators.
“Don’t I look okay?”
“Yeah, you look fine. And speaking of looks, if you were going to go for Dr. Icove’s services, what would you pick?”
“I’d pick a good psychiatrist to help me figure out why I’d let somebody carve on my face and/or body.”
The security to get down was as stringent as it had been to get up. They were scanned to ensure they’d taken no souvenirs, and most important, any images of patients who were promised absolute confidentiality.
As the scans were completed, Eve watched Icove rush by, then key into what she saw was a private elevator camouflaged in the rosy wall.
“In a hurry,” Eve noted. “Somebody must need emergency fat sucking.”
“Okay.” Peabody exited the scanner. “Back on topic. I mean, if you could change anything about your face, what would it be?”
“Why would I change anything? I’m not looking at it most of the time anyway.”
“I’d like more lips.”
“Two aren’t enough for you?”
“No, jeez, Dallas, I mean plumper, sexier lips.” She pursed them as they got on the elevator. “Maybe a thinner nose.” Peabody ran her thumb and forefinger down it, measuring. “Do you think my nose is fat?”
“Yes, especially when you’re poking it into my business.”
“See hers.” Peabody tapped a finger on one of the automated posters lining the elevator walls. Perfect faces, perfect bodies, modeled for passengers. “I could get that one. It’s chiseled. Yours is chiseled.”
“It’s a nose. It sits on your face and allows you to get air through two handy holes.”
“Yeah, easy for you to say, Chiseled Nose.”
“You’re right. In fact, I’m starting to agree with you. You need plumper lips.” Eve balled a hand into a fist. “Let me help you with that.”
Peabody only grinned and watched the posters. “This place is like the palace of physical perfection. I may come back and go for one of their free morphing programs, just to see how I’d look with more lips, or a skinny nose. I think I’m going to talk to Trina about a hair change.”
“Why, why, why, does everybody have to change their hair? It covers your scalp, keeps it from getting wet or cold.”
“You’re just scared that when I talk to Trina she’s going to corner you and give you a treatment.”
“I am not.” She was, too.
It was a surprise to hear her name paged through the elevator’s communication system. Frowning, Eve cocked her head.
“This is Dallas.”
“Please, Lieutenant, Dr. Icove asks that you come, right away, to the forty-fifth floor. It’s an emergency.”
“Sure.” She glanced at Peabody, shrugged. “Reroute to forty-five,” she ordered, and felt the elevator slow, shift, ascend. “Something’s up,” she commented. “Maybe one of his beauty-at-any-price clients croaked.”
“People hardly ever croak from face and body work.” Peabody ran a considering finger down her nose again. “Hardly ever.”
“We could all admire your skinny nose at your memorial. Damn shame about Peabody, we’d say, and dash the tears from our eyes. But that is one mag nose she’s got in the middle of her dead face.”
“Cut it out.” Peabody hunched her shoulders, folded her arms over her chest. “Besides, you couldn’t dash the tears away. You’d cry buckets. You’d be blinded by your copious tears and wouldn’t even be able to see my nose.”
“Which makes dying for it really stupid.” Satisfied she’d won that round, Eve stepped off the elevator.
“Lieutenant Dallas. Detective Peabody.” A woman with a—hmmm—chiseled nose and skin the color of good rich caramel rushed forward. Her eyes were black as onyx, and currently pouring tears. “Dr. Icove. Dr. Icove. Something terrible.”
“Is he hurt?”
“He’s dead. He’s dead. You need to come, right away. Please, hurry.”
“Jesus, we saw him five minutes ago.” Peabody fell in beside Eve, moving quickly to keep up with the woman who all but sprinted through a hushed and lofty office area. The glass walls showed the storm still blowing outside, but here, it was warm, with subdued lighting, islands of lush green plants, sinuous sculptures, and romantic paintings—all nudes.
“You want to slow down?” Eve suggested. “Tell us what happened?”
“I can’t. I don’t know.”
How the woman managed to stand much less sprint on whip-thin heels Eve would never understand, but she bolted through a pair of double doors of frosted sea green and into another waiting area.
Icove, pale as death but apparently still breathing, stepped out of an open doorway.
“Glad to see the rumors of your death are exaggerated,” Eve began.
“Not me, not . . . My father. Someone’s murdered my father.”
The woman who’d escorted them burst into fresh and very noisy tears. “Pia, I want you to sit down now.” Icove laid a hand on her shaking shoulder. “I need you to sit down and compose yourself. I can’t get through this without you.”
“Yes. All right. Yes. Oh, Dr. Will.”
“Where is he?” Eve demanded.
“In here. At his desk, in here. You can . . .” Icove shook his head, gestured.
The office was spacious yet gave the feeling of intimacy. Warm colors here, cozy chairs. The view of the city came through tall, narrow windows in this room, and was filtered by pale gold screens. Wall niches held art or personal photographs.
Eve saw a chaise in buttery leather, a tray of tea or coffee that looked untouched on a low table.
The desk was genuine wood—good old wood by her estimate, in a masculine, streamlined style. The data and communication equipment on it was small and unobtrusive.
In the desk chair, high-backed and buttery leather like the chaise, Wilfred B. Icove sat.
His hair was a thick, snowy cloud crowning a strong, square face. He wore a dark blue suit, and a white shirt with thin red pencil stripes.
A silver handle protruded from the breast of the jacket, just under a triangle of red that accented the pocket.
The small amount of blood told Eve it had been a very accurate heart shot.
“I’ll go get the field kits, and call it in.”
“Who found him?” Eve asked Icove.
“Pia. His assistant.” He looked, Eve thought, like a man who’d just taken an airjack in the gut. “She . . . she contacted me immediately, and I rushed up. I . . .”
“Did she touch the body? Did you?”
“I don’t know. I mean to say, I don’t know if she did. I . . . I did. I wanted to . . . I had to see if there was anything I could do.”
“Dr. Icove, I’m going to ask you to sit down over there. I’m very sorry about your father. Right now, I need information. I need to know the last person who was in this room with him. I want to know when he had his last appointment.”
“Yes, yes. Pia can look it up on his schedule.”
“I don’t have to.” Pia had conquered the tears, but her voice was rusty from them. “It was Dolores Nocho-Alverez. She had an eleven-thirty. I . . . I brought her in myself.”
“How long was she here?”
“I’m not sure. I went to lunch at noon, as always. She needed the eleven-thirty, and Dr. Icove told me to go ahead to lunch, as usual, and he’d show her out himself.”
“She’d have to go out through security.”
“Yes.” Pia got to her feet. “I can find out when she left. I’ll check the logs now. Oh, Dr. Will, I’m so sorry.”
“I know. I know.”
“Do you know this patient, Dr. Icove?”
“No.” He rubbed his fingers over his eyes. “I don’t. My father didn’t take many patients. He’s semiretired. He’d consult when a case interested him, and sometimes assist. He remains chairman of the board of this facility, and is active on several others. But he rarely did surgery, not for the last four years.”
“Who wanted to hurt him?”
“No one.” Icove turned to Eve. His eyes were swimming, and his voice uneven, but he held on. “Absolutely no one. My father was beloved. His patients, through over five decades, loved him, were grateful to him. The medical and scientific communities respected and honored him. He changed people’s lives, Lieutenant. He not only saved them, he improved them.”
“Sometimes people have unreal expectations. A person comes to him, wants something impossible, doesn’t get it, blames him.”
“No. We’re very careful with whom we take into this facility. And, to be frank, there was little my father would consider unrealistic in expectations. And he proved, time and again, he could do what others considered impossible.”
“Personal problems. Your mother?”
“My mother died when I was a boy. During the Urban Wars. He never remarried. He has had relationships, of course. But he’s been, by and large, married to his art, his science, his vision.”
“Are you an only child?”
He smiled a little. “Yes. My wife and I gave him two grandchildren. We’re a very close family. I don’t know how I’m going to tell Avril and the kids. Who would do this to him? Who would kill a man who’s devoted his life to helping others?”
“That’s what I’m going to find out.”
Pia came back in, a few strides ahead of Peabody. “We have her going through exit security at twelve-nineteen.”
“Are there images?”
“Yes, I’ve already asked security to send up the discs—I hope that was the right thing,” she said to Icove.
“Yes, thank you. If you want to go home for—”
“No,” Eve interrupted. “I need both of you to stay. I don’t want either of you to make or receive any transmissions or speak with anyone—or each other—for the time being. Detective Peabody is going to set you both up in separate areas.”
“Uniforms coming up,” Peabody stated. “It’s routine,” she added. “There are things we need to do, then we’ll need to talk to you both, get statements.”
“Of course.” Icove looked around, like a man lost in the woods. “I don’t . . .”
“Why don’t you both show me where you’d be most comfortable while we’re taking care of your father?”
She glanced back at Eve, got the nod while Eve opened her field kit.
Alone, Eve sealed up, switched on her recorder, and for the first time moved over to examine the body.
“Victim is identified as Wilfred B. Icove, Doctor. Reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.” Still, she took out her Identi-pad, checked his prints and his data. “Victim is eighty-two, widowed, one son—Wilfred B. Icove, Jr., also a doctor. There is no sign of trauma other than the death wound, no sign of struggle, no defensive wounds.”
She took out tools, gauges. “Time of death, noon. Cause of death, insult to the heart—went right through this really nice suit and shirt with a small instrument.”
She measured the handle, took images. “It appears to be a medical scalpel.”
Manicured fingernails, she noted. Expensive, yet subtle, wrist unit. Obviously a proponent of his own medical area as he looked more a fit and toned sixty than eighty-plus.
“Run Dolores Nocho-Alverez,” she ordered when she heard Peabody come back. “Either she stuck our friendly doctor, or she knows who did.”
She stepped back, heard Peabody open a can of Seal-It. “One wound, only takes one when you know what you’re doing. She had to get close, had to be steady. Controlled, too. No rage. Real rage doesn’t let you just pop a blade in and walk away. Maybe pro. Maybe a hit. Woman’s pissed off, she’d mess him up.”
“No blood on her with that kind of wound,” Peabody pointed out.
“Careful. Well thought out. In at eleven-thirty, out by, what, twelve-oh-five, max. She’s through security at twelve-nineteen. It takes that long to get downstairs, through the scanners. Just long enough to make sure he’s dead.”
“Nocho-Alverez, Dolores, age twenty-nine. Citizen of Barcelona, Spain, with an address in that city, another in Cancún, Mexico. Nice-looking woman—exceptionally nice.” Peabody looked up from the screen of her hand unit. “Don’t know why she’d need a consult for a face job.”
“Gotta get a consult to get close enough to kill him. Check on her passport, Peabody. Let’s see where Dolores has been staying in our fair city.”
Eve circled the room. “Cups are clean. She doesn’t sit and drink . . .” She lifted the top of the silver pot, wrinkled her nose. “Flower petal tea—and who can blame her? I bet she doesn’t touch anything she doesn’t need to touch, and deals with that when she’s done. Sweepers won’t find her prints. Sits there.” She gestured to one of the visitor chairs facing the desk. “Has to go through the consult, talk. Has to fill thirty minutes until the assistant goes to lunch. How’d she know when the assistant goes to lunch?”
“Could have heard the vic and the admin talk about it,” Peabody put in.
“No. She already knew. She’s scoped it out, or had inside data. She knew the routine. Admin’s at lunch till one, giving the killer plenty of time to do the job, get out of the building, before the body’s discovered. Moved in close.”
Eve walked around the desk. “Flirting with him, maybe, or giving him some sad tale of having one nostril a millimeter smaller than the other. Look, look at my face, Doctor. Can you help me? And slide that blade right into his aorta. Body’s dead before his brain can catch up.”
“There’s no passport issued in the name of Dolores Nocho-Alverez, Dallas. Or any combination of those names.”
“Smelling like pro,” Eve murmured. “We’ll run her face through IRCCA when we get back to Central, see if we get lucky. Who’d put out a hit on nice old Dr. Wilfred?”
“That’s where we start.”
I cove’s office was bigger and bolder than his father’s. He went for a sheer glass wall with wide terrace beyond, a silver console rather than a traditional desk. His seating area boasted two long, low sofas, a mood screen, and a fully stocked bar—health bar, Eve noted. No alcohol, at least visible.
There was art here as well, with one portrait dominating. She was a tall, curvy blonde with skin like polished marble and eyes the color of lilacs. She wore a long dress of the same hue that seemed to float around her, and carried a wide-brimmed hat with purple ribbons trailing. She was surrounded by flowers, and the astonishing beauty of her face was luminous with laughter.
“My wife.” Icove cleared his throat, gestured with his chin toward the portrait Eve studied. “My father had it done for me as a wedding gift. He was like a father to Avril, too. I don’t know how we’ll get through this.”
“Was she a patient—client?”
“Avril.” Icove smiled up at the portrait. “No. Just blessed.”
“Big-time. Dr. Icove, do you know this woman?” Eve handed him a hard copy of the image Peabody had printed out from her hand unit.
“No. I don’t recognize her. This woman killed my father? Why? For God’s sake, why?”
“We don’t know that she killed anyone, but we do believe she was, at least, the last person to see him alive. Her information indicates she’s a citizen of Spain. Resides in Barcelona. Have you or your father connections to that country?”
“We have clients all over the world, and off planet as well. We don’t have formal facilities in Barcelona, but I—and my father—have traveled extensively to consult when the case warrants.”
“Dr. Icove, a facility like this, with its various arms and endorsements, its consultations, generates a powerful amount of income.”
“Your father was a very wealthy man.”
“And you’re his only son. His heir, I assume.”
There was a beat of silence. Slowly, with great care, Icove lowered himself into a chair. “You think I’d kill my own father, for money?”
“It would be helpful if we could eliminate that area of investigation.”
“I’m already a very wealthy man myself.” He bit off the words as his color rose. “Yes, I’ll inherit a great deal more, as will my wife and my children. Other substantial sums will go to various charities, and to the Wilfred B. Icove Foundation. I want to request another investigator on this matter immediately.”
“You can,” Eve said easily. “You won’t get one. And you’ll be asked exactly the same questions. If you want your father’s murderer brought to justice, Dr. Icove, you’ll cooperate.”
“I want you to find this woman, this Alverez woman. I want to see her face, to look into her eyes. To know why—”
He broke off, shook his head. “I loved my father. Everything I have, everything I am, began with him. Someone took him from me, from his grandchildren. From the world.”
“Does it bother you to be known as Dr. Will rather than your full title?”
“Oh, for God’s sake.” This time he put his head in his hands. “No. Only the staff call me that. It’s convenient, less confusing.”
Won’t be any confusion anymore, Eve thought. But if Dr. Will had plotted and planned and paid for his father’s death, he was wasting his time in the medical field. He’d double his fortune in vids.
“Your field is competitive,” Eve began. “Can you think of a reason why someone might want to eliminate some of the competition?”
“I can’t.” He left his head in his hands. “I can hardly think at all. I want my wife, and my children. But this facility will continue without my father. He built it to last, he built toward the future. He always looked ahead. There was nothing to be gained by his death. Nothing.”
There’s always something, Eve thought as they headed back to Central. Spite, financial gain, thrills, emotional satisfaction. Murder always offered a reward. Why else would it remain so popular?
“Round us up, Peabody.”
“Respected, even revered physician, one of the fathers of reconstructive surgery as we know it in this century, is killed, efficiently and in a controlled manner in his office. An office in a facility that has strong security. Our primary suspect for this crime is a woman who walked into that office, by appointment, and left again in a timely fashion. While reputedly a citizen and resident of Spain, she has no passport on record. The address given on her official documentation does not exist.”
“Our primary suspect is a professional, or a talented amateur, who used a false name and information to gain entry to the victim’s office. Motive, as yet, murky.”
“Well, yeah. It sounds chillier than unknown, and like we’re going to clear the air and see it.”
“How’d she get the weapon through security?”
“Well.” Peabody looked out the window, through the rain to an animated billboard celebrating vacation packages for sun-washed beaches. “There’s always a way around security—but why risk it? Place like that has to have scalpels around. Could’ve got an assist on the inside, had one planted. Or she might’ve gotten in at another time, copped one, planted it herself. They’ve got tight security, yeah, but they’ve also got privacy issues. So no security cams in patient rooms or in the hallways in patient areas.”
“They’ve got patient areas, waiting areas, gift shop areas, office areas, operating and exam areas. And that’s not counting the attached hospital and emergency areas. Place is a fricking maze. You’re cool enough to walk in, stab a guy in the heart, and walk out again, you do your recon. She knew the layout. She’s been in there before, or done a hell of a lot of sims.”
Eve threaded through the sluggish traffic and into the garage at Cop Central. “I want to review the security discs. We’ll run our suspect through IRCCA and imaging. Maybe we’ll pop a name or an alias. I want full background on the vic, and a financial from the son. Let’s eliminate him from the field. Or not. Maybe we’ll find unexplained and large sums of money transferred recently.”
“He didn’t do it, Dallas.”
“No.” She parked, slid out of the car. “He didn’t do it, but we run it anyway. We’ll talk to professional associates, lovers, ex-lovers, social acquaintances. Let’s get the why of this.”
She leaned back against the wall of the elevator as they started up. “People like suing doctors, or bitching about them—especially over elective stuff. Nobody gets out clean. Somewhere along the line, he’s botched a job, or had a patient pissed at him. He’s lost one, and had the grieving family blaming him. Payback seems the most likely here. Killing the guy with a medical instrument. Symbolism, maybe. Heart wound, same deal.”
“Seems to me heavier symbolism would have been to cut up his face, or whatever body part was involved if it was payback on a procedure.”
“Wish I didn’t agree with you.”
Cops and techs and Christ knew who else started piling on when they reached the second level, main. By the time they hit five, Eve had had enough, muscled her way off, and switched to a glide.
“Hold on. I need a boost.” Peabody hopped off, arrowed toward a vending area. Thoughtfully, Eve trailed after her.
“Get me a thing.”
“A what thing?”
“I don’t know, something.” Brow knitted, Eve scanned her choices. How come they put so much health crap in a cop shop? Cops didn’t want health crap. Nobody knew better that they weren’t going to live forever.
“Maybe that cookie thing with the stuff inside.”
“Why do they give this stuff such stupid names? Makes me embarrassed to eat it. Yeah, the cookie thing.”
“Are you still not interacting with Vending?”
Eve kept her hands in her pockets as Peabody plugged in her credits and choices. “I work with a mediator, nobody gets hurt. If I interact with one of these bastards again, someone will be destroyed.”
“That’s a lot of venom for an inanimate object that dispenses Gooey Gos.”
“Oh, they live, Peabody. They live and they think their evil thoughts. Don’t believe otherwise.”
You have selected two Gooey Goos, the scrumptious crispy treat with the gooey center. Go with the Goo!
“See,” Eve said darkly as the machine began to list the ingredients and caloric content.
“Yeah, I wish they’d shut the hell up, too, especially about the calories.” She passed one of the bars to Eve. “But it’s programmed in, Dallas. They don’t live or think.”
“They want you to believe that. They talk to each other through their little chips and boards, and are probably plotting to destroy all humankind. One day, it’ll be them or us.”
“You’re creeping me out, sir.”
“Just remember, I warned you.” Eve bit into the cookie as they turned toward Homicide.
They split the duties, with Peabody veering off to her desk in the bull pen and Eve heading into her office.
She stood in the doorway a moment, studying it as she chewed. There was room for her desk and chair, one unsteady visitor’s chair, a filing cabinet. She had a single window that wasn’t much bigger than one of the drawers in the filing cabinet.
Personal items? Well, there was her current candy stashed, where it had—to date—gone undetected by the nefarious candy thief who plagued her. There was a yo-yo—which she might play with occasionally while thinking her thoughts. With her door locked.
It was good enough for her. In fact, it suited her fine. What the hell would she do with an office even half the size of either of the doctors Icove? More people could come in and bother her if there was actually room for that. How would she get anything done?
Space, she decided, was another symbol. I’m successful so I have all this room. The Icoves obviously believed in that route. Roarke, too, she admitted. The man loved to have his space, and lots of toys and goodies to fill it up.
He’d come from nothing, and so had she. She supposed they just had different ways of compensating for it. He’d bring gifts back from this business trip. He always managed to find time to buy things, and seemed amused with her discomfort at the constant shower of gifts.
What about Wilfred B. Icove? she wondered. What had he come from? How did he compensate? What were his symbols?
She sat at her desk, turned to her computer, and began the process of learning about the dead.
While she gathered data on her computer, she tagged Feeney, Captain of the Electronic Detectives Division.
He came on-screen, hangdog face, wiry ginger hair. His shirt looked as if he’d slept in it—which was, always, oddly comforting to Eve.
“Need a run through IRCCA,” she told him. “Big-deal face and body sculptor went out in his office this morning. Last appointment looks like our winner. Female, late twenties, name and address—which is Barcelona, Spain—”
“Olé,” he said dourly, and made her smile.
“Gee, Feeney, I didn’t know you spoke Spanish.”
“Had that vacation at your place in Mexico, picked up a few things.”
“Okay, how do you say ‘bull’s-eye in the heart with a small-bladed instrument’?”
“Good to know. No passport under the listed name of Nocho-Alverez, Dolores. Addy in sunny Spain is bogus. She got in and out clean through heavy security.”
“You smelling pro?”
“I’ve got a whiff, but no motive on my horizon. Maybe one of your boys can match her through the system, or through imaging.”
“Shoot me a picture, see what we can do.”
“Appreciate it. Sending now.”
She clicked off, sent the ID image, then, crossing fingers that her unit could handle another simultaneous task, fed the security disc from the Center into a slot to review.
Eve hit her AutoChef up for coffee, sipped as she scanned. “There you are,” she murmured, and watched the woman currently known as Dolores walk to a security station at the main level. She wore slim pants, a snug jacket, both in flashy red. Mile-high heels in the same shade.
Not afraid to be noticed, are you, Dolores, Eve mused.
Her hair was glossy black, wore long and loosely curled around a face with cut-glass cheekbones, lush lips—also boldly red—and heavy-lidded eyes nearly as dark as her hair.
She passed through security—bag scan, body scan—without a hitch, then strolled at an easy, hip-swaying pace toward the bank of elevators that would take her to Icove’s level.
No hesitation, Eve noted, no hurry. No attempt to evade the cameras. No sweat. She was cool as a margarita sipped under a pretty umbrella on a tropical beach.
Eve switched to the elevator disc and watched the woman ascend—serenely. She made no stops, made no moves, until she exited on Icove’s floor.
She approached reception, spoke to the person on duty, signed in, then walked a short distance down the corridor to the ladies’ room.
Where there were no cameras, Eve thought. Where she either retrieved the weapon where it had been planted for her, or removed it from her bag or person where it had been disguised well enough to beat security.
Planted, most likely, Eve decided. Got somebody on the inside. Maybe the one who wanted him dead.
Nearly three minutes passed, then Dolores stepped out, went directly to the waiting area. She sat, crossed her legs, and flipped through the selection of book and magazine discs on the menu.
Before she could pick one, Pia came through the double doors to lead her back to Icove’s office.
Eve watched the doors close, watched the assistant sit at her own desk. She zipped through, while the stamp flashed the passage of time until noon, when the assistant removed a purse from her desk drawer, slipped on a jacket, and left for lunch.
Six minutes later, Dolores came out as casually as she’d gone in. Her face showed no excitement, no satisfaction, no guilt, no fear.
She passed the reception area without a word, descended, crossed to exit security, passed through, and walked out of the building. And into the wind, Eve thought.
If she wasn’t a pro, she should be.
No one else went in or out of Icove’s office until the assistant returned from lunch.
With a second cup of coffee, she read through the extensive data on Wilfred B. Icove.
Guy was a fricking saint,” she said to Peabody. The rain had slowed to an irritating drizzle, gray as fog. “Came from little, did much. His parents were doctors, running clinics in depressed areas and countries. His mother was severely burned attempting to save children from a building under attack. She lived, but was disfigured.”
“So he goes into reconstructive surgery,” Peabody finished.
“Inspired, one assumes. He ran a portable clinic himself during the Urban Wars. Traveled to Europe to help with their urban strife. Was there when the wife got hit while volunteering. Son was a kid but already on his way to becoming a doctor, and would later on graduate from Harvard Medical at the age of twenty-one.”
“Betcha. Senior worked with his parents, but wasn’t with them when his mother was hurt, thereby escaping death or injury. He was also in another part of London working when the wife got hit.”
“Either really lucky or really unlucky.”
“Yeah. He’d already moved into reconstructive surgery by the time he was widowed, his mother’s case pushing him into making it his mission. Mom was, reputedly, a wowzer. I pulled out a file photo, and she looked pretty hot to me. There’s also file photos of what she looked like after the explosion, and we could say grim. They were able to keep her alive, and do considerable work on her, but they weren’t able to put her back the way she was.”
“All the king’s horses?” Peabody saw Eve’s blank look. “Never mind.”
“She self-terminated three years later. Icove dedicates himself to reconstructive, and continuing his parents’ good works, volunteers his services during the Urbans. Lost his wife and raised his son, devoted his life to medicine, founded clinics, created foundations, took on what were assumed to be hopeless cases—often waiving his fee—taught, lectured, sponsored, performed miracles and fed the hungry from a bottomless basket of bread and fish.”
“You made that last part up, right?”
“Doesn’t feel like it. No doctor’s going to practice for sixty years, more or less, without dealing with malpractice suits, but his are well below the average, less than you’d expect, especially considering his field of practice.”
“I think you have sculpting prejudice, Dallas.”
“I’m not prejudiced about it. I just think it’s dumbass. Regardless, it’s the kind of field that draws suits, and his record for them is dead low. I can’t find a single stain on his record, no political ties that might prompt a hit, no history of gambling, whoring, illegals, diddling patients. Nothing.”
“Some people are really just good.”
“Anybody this good has a halo and wings.” She tapped the generated files. “There’s something in there. Everybody’s got a deep and dark somewhere.”
“You wear your cynicism well, sir.”
“Interestingly, he was the legal guardian of the girl who grew up to become his daughter-in-law. Her mother, also a doctor, was killed during an uprising in Africa. Her father, an artist, ditched his little family shortly after Avril Hannson Icove was born. And was, subsequently, killed by a jealous husband in Paris.”
“Lot of tragedy for one family.”
“Isn’t it just.” She pulled up in front of the Upper West Side town-house where Dr. Icove, the surviving one, lived with his family. “Makes you think.”
“Sometimes tragedy haunts families. It’s like a karma thing.”
“Do Free-Agers believe in karma?”
“Sure.” Peabody stepped out on the curb. “We just call it cosmic balancing.” She walked up a short flight of steps to what she assumed was the original door, or a hell of a reproduction. “Some place,” she said, running her fingers over the wood as the security system asked their purpose.
“Lieutenant Dallas, Detective Peabody.” Eve held her badge up to be scanned. “NYPSD, to speak with Dr. Icove.”
One moment, please.
“They’ve got a weekend place in the Hamptons,” Peabody continued. “A villa in Tuscany, a pied-à-terre in London, and a little grass shack on Maui. They’ll add two other prime properties to their personal geography with Icove Sr.’s death. Why couldn’t McNab be a rich doctor?”
Ian McNab, EDD hotshot, was Peabody’s cohab and apparently the love of her young life.
“You could ditch him for one,” Eve suggested.
“Nah. Too crazy about his bony butt. Look what he gave me.” She dug under her shirt, drew out a four-leaf-clover pendant.
“To celebrate the completion of my physical therapy and complete recovery from being injured in the line. He says it’s to keep me from being hurt again.”
“Riot gear might work better.” She saw Peabody’s pout form, and remembered partnership—and friendship—had certain requirements. “It’s pretty,” she added, taking the little charm in her palm for a closer look. “Nice of him.”
“He comes through when it counts.” Peabody tucked it back under her shirt. “Makes me feel, I don’t know, warm knowing I’m wearing it.”
Eve thought of the diamond—big as a baby’s fist—she wore under her shirt. It made her feel silly, and awkward, but warm, too, she supposed. At least since she’d gotten used to its weight.
Not its physical weight, she admitted, but the emotional. It took time, at least in her experience, to grow accustomed to carrying love.
The door opened. The woman from the portrait stood framed in the entrance with a shower of gold light behind her. Even eyes swollen from weeping couldn’t diminish her outrageous beauty.
“I’M SORRY TO HAVE KEPT YOU WAITING, AND IN the rain.” Her voice matched her, a lovely and rich tone, thickened by grief. “I’m Avril Icove. Please come in.”
She stepped back into a foyer accented by a chandelier—each teardrop crystal was illuminated with soft gold light. “My husband is upstairs, finally resting. I hate to disturb him.”
“We’re sorry to intrude at this time,” Eve said.
“But . . .” Avril managed a sad smile. “I understand. My children are home. We took them out of school, brought them home. I was upstairs with them. This is so hard for them, so hard for all of us. Ah . . .” She pressed a hand to her heart. “If you’d come up to the second floor. We entertain on the main level, and it doesn’t seem appropriate for this.”
“The family living areas are on the second floor,” she began as she turned to the stairs. “Can you tell me, is it all right to ask? Do you have any more information on the person who killed Wilfred?”
“The investigation is in its early stages, and very active.”
Avril glanced over her shoulder as she reached the top of the stairs. “You really do say things like that. I enjoy crime drama,” she explained. “The police really do say things like that. Please, make yourselves comfortable.”
She gestured them into a living room done in lavenders and forest greens. “Can I get you some tea or coffee? Anything at all.”
“No, thanks. If you’d come back with Dr. Icove,” Eve told her. “We’d like to speak to both of you.”
“All right. This may take a few minutes.”
“Nice,” Peabody commented when they were alone. “You expect elegant, like the main level, but this is nice and homey.” She looked around, taking in the sofas, the sink-into-me chairs, shelves holding family photographs and memorabilia. One wall was dominated by a nearly life-size family portrait. Icove, his wife, and two pretty children smiled out at the room.
Eve stepped up to it, read the signature on the bottom right corner. “Her work.”
“Beautiful and talented—I could hate her.”
Eve wandered the room, studying, accessing, dissecting. Family-oriented look, she decided, with feminine touches. Actual books rather than disc copies, entertainment screen concealed behind a decorative panel.
And all tidy and ordered, like a stage set.
“She studied art at some fancy school, according to her records.” Eve slid her hands into her pockets. “Icove was named her legal guardian through parental stipulation in her mother’s will. She was six. After she graduated from college, she married Junior. They lived, primarily, in Paris for the first six months, during which she painted professionally, and had a successful showing.”
“Before or after her father’s unfortunate demise?”
“After. They came back to New York, to this residence, had two kids—she took professional-mom status after number one. She continues to paint, portraits being her primary interest, but rarely takes commissions, and donates the proceeds to the Icove Foundation, thereby keeping her professional mother status.”
“You got a lot of data in a short amount of time.”
“Straightforward,” Eve said with a shrug. “No criminal on her, not even minor brushes. No previous marriage or cohab, no other children on record.”
“If you factor out the dead parents, dead in-laws, it’s a pretty perfect life.”
Eve glanced around the room again. “Sure looks that way.”
When Icove stepped in she was facing the doorway. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have heard him. The carpet was thick, and his shoes made no sound over it. He wore loose pants and a pullover rather than his suit. And still managed to look as if he were wearing one, Eve noticed.
Roarke could do that, too, Eve thought. No matter how casually attired, he could radiate authority in a finger snap.
“Lieutenant, Detective. My wife will be here in another moment. She’s checking on the children. We deactivated the domestics for the day.”
He moved to a floor cabinet, opening it to reveal a mini AutoChef. “Avril said she offered you refreshment but you declined. I’m having coffee, if you’d like to change your minds.”
“Coffee’d be good, thanks. Just black.”
“Sweet and light for me,” Peabody added. “We appreciate you seeing us, Dr. Icove. We know this is difficult.”
“Unreal, more like.” He programmed the unit. “It was horrible at the Center, there in his office. Seeing him like that, knowing nothing could be done to bring him back. But here, at home . . .”
He shook his head, drew out cups. “It’s like a strange, sick dream. I keep thinking my ’link will buzz and it’ll be Dad, wondering why we don’t all have dinner on Sunday.”
“Did you often?” Eve asked. “Have dinner together.”
“Yes.” He passed the coffee to her, to Peabody. “Once a week, sometimes twice. He might just drop by to see the kids. The woman? Have you found the woman who . . .”
“We’re looking. Dr. Icove, records indicate everyone on your father’s personal staff at the Center has been with him three years or longer. Is there anyone else, anyone he had cause to dismiss or who left unhappily?”
Meet the Author
J. D. Robb is the pseudonym for a #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including the bestselling In Death series. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.
- Keedysville, Maryland
- Date of Birth:
- Place of Birth:
- Silver Spring, Maryland
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The 'In Death' series just gets better and better as the characters develop. I love that JD Robb/Nora Roberts put so much into developing each personality. Oringin n Death stands out for a great and bone-chilling crime, and is the best in the series.
A much lauded doctor is murdered and Eve gets the case. She uncovers more than murder and knows the doctor should not be lauded. This was good. Eve has to deal with family. Roarke's family is coming from Ireland to partake of an American Thanksgiving dinner. Neither knows what to do but they will figure it out along with murder. There were several times I laughed out loud as Eve and Roarke try to navigate family and friends as family. I like how Eve is learning to handle her "family" so she doesn't hurt their feelings. I also like that she is learning to fight and forgive within that "family." This is a good series that deals not only with the police work but the softening of Eve as she protects the city she cares about and the people she loves.
This time we find the determined Lt Dallas chasing an extremely intelligent killer of not one, but two renowned doctors, but could it be that the killer is actually saving lives? If you like a good crime drama and a bit of the futuristic, then this book is for you. In fact, the entire series is for you. This particular book brings into it a bit more reality as it addresses human gene manipulation and cloning which are very prominent discussions in today's world, so perhaps this series isn't as futuristic as it first seems. As always the author brings us well developed characters, plot lines, humor and just a bit of sexiness to twist into the murderous story line.
Tbe more Robb pushed the poir, abused clone button, the more Iwanted to ralph. They're not human, they have no rights. Get over it.
Well worth reading a second or even a third time! The whole series is a grand and satisfying futuristic tour through a very imaginative plot and character development exercise. No two books are the same but keep adding details that make it hard to wait for the next book to come along.
I really am enjoying this series. I love all the secondary characters. The only thing that really bothers me about these books is Eve's Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Everything is always all about her and her case. When its not, she manipulates it back to being about her and what she has going on. I felt sorry for Roark in this one when he was so obviously worried and she copped her "too bad for you, now about my case" attitude. I wish her character would, at least once in a while, let the moment be about someone else, maybe Eve could drop by Mavis' place just to see how she is, rather than only contacting her when she wants something from her. Or, helping Roark out with his family's visit for a couple of hours, rather than dumping more of her stuff on him.
Out if all of them so far, this is my least favorite. I got bored and sometimes confused because of all the characters. Not as much subplots with our favorite supporting characters this time.
This was a tough story for Eve. She had to discover the killer of some hotshot doctor, but at the same time Roarke decided to invite his family for Thanksgiving. I love Roarke and during this book was the first time for me to see him a little nervous, he was scared and way to obsessed with the holidays, but he still helped Eve during those most difficult moments. I loved the story, super different and a total match with the timing of this book. Since this series take place in the near future and almost everything is man-made. I had a pretty clear idea of the person responsible and that Eve would be on her side. She always consider people who suffered like her the victim, and tries to help most of the time. I loved her little trouble with Mira, makes things between them more family like for me. And Roarke family was hilarious.
Where do we really come from? What really makes us who we are? Is it what our parents tell us what to do? Is it the environment that makes us who we are? Or is it just DNA? Does our DNA make us think? Make us do things that other people won't do? What if you had the opportunity to become God, and clone yourself over and over again and become the perfect human being there can ever be? What would you do? Eve Dallas has a tough case. A very prominant doctor is dead. A doctor that is loved, liked, cherished and has a very clean record. Very very clean. To others, there would be nothing wrong on the doctor, he is no criminal. Not according to Dallas's gut. She senses something on this doctor and when someone else dies her suppisions come true. But what will Dallas do in order to get justice for the criminals and for the wicked?
I started reading this series after I found out they are by Nora Roberts, and they did not disappoint! Every book in the series is great and no less than you would exect from this author!
I read the entire series from the public library. Now I am Buying them and reasons them in the order published. I have enjoy them each time
these books are best for the open minded who enjoy a great mystery and who can ignore or read the explicit sex themes amnd continue with the story. I also like the thoughts of reading about the future 2059. will it really be like what is described. the author must have studied about it. I find it rather fascinating. I do not belioeve it would be good for club discussions, unless mystery buffs might like the future and love somewhat bizarre murders. I have the whole series and will continue as long as she can come up with more,