Vengeance in Death:In Death 06

By: J. D. Robb

chapter one

The business of murder took time, patience, skill, and a tolerance for the monotonous. Lieutenant Eve Dallas had them all.

She knew the act of murder required none of these. All too often a life was taken on impulse, in rage, for amusement, or simply out of stupidity. It was the last of these, in Eve’s mind, that had led one John Henry Bonning to throw one Charles Michael Renekee out a twelfth-story window on Avenue D.

She had Bonning in Interview and calculated that it would take another twenty minutes tops to shake a confession out of him, another fifteen to book him and file her report. She might just make it home on time.

“Come on, Boner.” It was her veteran cop talking to veteran bad guy. Level ground, her turf. “Do yourself a favor. A confession, and you can go for self-defense and diminished capacity. We can tie this up by dinnertime. I hear they’re serving pasta surprise in lockup tonight.”

“Never touched him.” Bonning folded his oversized lips, tapped his long, fat fingers. “Fucker jumped.”

With a sigh, Eve sat down at the little metal table in Interview A. She didn’t want Bonning to lawyer himself and gum up the works. All she had to do was keep him from saying those words, steer him in the direction she was already heading, and she had a wrap.

Second-rate chemi-dealers like Bonning were invariably slow-witted, but sooner or later he’d whine for a representative. It was an old shuffle-and-dodge, as timeless as murder itself. As the year 2058 stumbled to an end, the business of murder remained basically unchanged.

“He jumped—a quick gainer out the window. Now why’d he do that, Boner?”

Bonning furrowed his ape-sized forehead into deep thought. “Because he was a crazy bastard?”

“That’s a good guess, Boner, but it’s not going to qualify you for round two of our stump-the-cops sweepstakes.”

It took him about thirty pondering seconds, then his lips stretched out into a grin. “Funny. Pretty funny, Dallas.”

“Yeah, I’m thinking of moonlighting as a stand-up. But, going back to my day job, the two of you were cooking up some Erotica in your porta-lab on Avenue D, and Renekee—being a crazy bastard—just got some hair up his ass and jumped out a window—right through the glass—and dived twelve stories, bounced off the roof of a Rapid Cab, scared the living shit out of a couple of tourists from Topeka in the backseat, then rolled off to leak his brains onto the street.”

“Sure did bounce,” Bonning said with what passed for a wondering smile. “Who’da thought?”

She didn’t intend to go for murder one, and figured if she went for murder two the court-appointed rep would bargain Bonning down to manslaughter. Chemi-dealers greasing chemi-dealers didn’t make Justice flip up her blindfold and grin in anticipation. He’d do more time for the illegals paraphernalia than he would for the homicide. And even combining the two, it was doubtful he’d do more than a three-year stretch in lockup.

She folded her arms on the table, leaned forward. “Boner, do I look stupid?”

Taking the question at face value, Bonning narrowed his eyes to take a careful study. She had big brown eyes, but they weren’t soft. She had a pretty, wide mouth, but it didn’t smile. “Look like a cop,” he decided.

“Good answer. Don’t try to hose me here, Boner. You and your business partner had a falling out, you got pissed off, and you terminated your professional and personal relationship by heaving his dumb ass out the window.” She held up a hand before Bonning could deny again. “This is the way I see it. You got into, maybe dissing each other over the profits, the methods, a woman. You both got hot. So maybe he comes at you. You’ve got to defend yourself, right?”

“Man’s got a right,” Bonning agreed, nodding rapidly as the story sang to him. “But we didn’t get into nothing. He just tried to fly.”

“Where’d you get the bloody lip, the black eye? How come your knuckles are ripped up?”

Bonning stretched his lips into a toothy grin. “Bar fight.”

“When? Where?”

“Who remembers?”

“You’d better. And you know you’d better, Boner, after we run the tests on the blood we scraped from your knuckles, and we find his blood mixed with yours. We get his DNA off your fat fingers, I’m going for premeditated—maximum lockup, life, no parole.”

His eyes blinked rapidly, as if his brain was processing new and baffling data. “Come on, Dallas, that’s just bullshit. You ain’t gonna convince nobody I walked in there thinking to kill old Chuckaroo. We were buds.”

Her eyes steady on his, Eve pulled out her communicator. “Last chance to help yourself. I call my aide, have her get the test results, I’m booking you on murder one.”

“Wasn’t no murder.” He wanted to believe she was bluffing. You couldn’t read those eyes, he thought, wetting his lips. Couldn’t read those cop’s eyes. “It was an accident,” he claimed, inspired. Eve only shook her head. “Yeah, we were busting a little and he . . . tripped and went headlong out the window.”