Excerpt from TALKING TO THE DEAD

This is a cut from the next book:

The first time I saw Jonah was in the squad room of a NY cop-shop, as I mentioned. I had come looking specifically for someone to talk to about the Evie Rockfort murder, although I really didn’t hold out any hope any cop would be happy to see me, let alone hear what I had to say.

I had managed to get from the desk sergeant to the second floor, where Jonah’s desk was, by suggesting I had information to share but not giving the exact nature of that information. I had worn what my gran’mère Edith would have called “low couture” but which was a perfectly good Calvin Klein dress-and-coat ensemble I had snagged at a consignment store specifically because it encouraged trust in upscale clients or donors. I didn’t wear it often but I wanted to counterbalance my upcoming “crazy” statements with a non-crazy look. And matching beige pumps and bag.

Jonah worked at the Twentieth Precinct on West 82nd St., not a part of the city I frequented. But it was where Evie had been found, in her ultra-chic apartment in the ultra-chic West Seventies. Not very imaginative, but then neither was Evie, from what I had gathered.

First note: people are the same after death as they were in life.

The second floor was relatively calm after the chaos of the ground level. It was a big, open room with offices around the perimeter, lots of desks in the center and plain-clothed men and women at those desks, talking on the phone, writing notes, typing on computers, yelling or yakking to other officers. The desk sergeant (not the one Jonah punched, I discovered later) had said to take the right-hand aisle, trek all the way down, and I’d find Detective Munro with his back to the wall. If he was in, which the sergeant couldn’t guarantee, but if not, Detective Sawyer would probably take my statement.

The sergeant said all this in a paternal tone that made me realize that in my “Sunday best” I apparently looked as dangerous as a kid at an Easter egg hunt. Well, kudos on my disguise, I decided. But if he patted me on the head…

He didn’t, and I went on along to see Detective Munro.

Various desks had various miscreants sitting at them alongside officers I assumed were taking statements or typing out indictments or whatever. I identified the officers as the ones with the guns and the miscreants as those without: a safe bet, I thought. About half of the miscreants were handcuffed to their chairs, and none of them were wearing Calvin Klein.

I was glad I had decided that white gloves would just be a snarky touch.

I had left my sunglasses on, despite the dim interiors, and was glad I had when I became aware that the occupant of the desk toward which I aimed was staring at me. Not staring at him exactly but using the glasses as cover, I got the impression of a very large man in a white shirt seated at the desk at the end of the aisle, facing me, with his back to the wall indeed. When I reached him, unlike the men I had grown up with, he didn’t stand but instead glanced at the man seated at the desk on his right and then tilted his chair back against the wall.

“Can I help you?” His voice was rough, gritty, and deep, and his tone non-committal. His white shirt was rumpled and his tie was slightly loosened. It was a blazing shade of mustard with blood-red lozenges on it: a gift, I hoped, or the man had terrifically bad taste. Maybe he was color-blind.

“Are you Detective Munro?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

A pause while we sized each other up. He was obviously rude; I thought I might like him. A lot.

“I’d like to talk to you about Evie Rockfort. Is there someplace… more private we can go?”

He ran his eyes up and down me once more. “Are you a friend of Evie’s?”

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