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.Even though Heat despisedthis part of the job, it was thepart she was best at.Sheconnected, having once beenin a similar chair fillingKleenex herself.So shenavigated the interview gently,yet alert for signs of guilt, lies,and inconsistencies.Unfortunately spouses proved worthy suspects.Withdelicacy, she probed themarriage, money, vices,mental health, and hints ofinfidelity. Roy only had onemistress, she said. His job.He was so dedicated.I knowsome people hear civil servantand think laziness.Not myRoy.He never left his work atthe office.He took publichealth personally.He called them his restaurants and neverwanted a sickness on hiswatch.All this only confirmed theresearch Heat s team had doneso far.Roy Conklin s financeswere in line with his paygrade.Roach s restaurantchecks revealed a manconsistently called tough butfair.Neither his wife nor hiscolleagues knew him to haveany enemies, recent erratic behavior, or new people in hislife. It just makes no sense,said Olivia Conklin.Then thenew widow wailed out thesingle, heart-crushed wordNikki heard from all grieversafter the sudden theft of a life.That word was the beacon thatguided Detective Heat in herwork:  Why? As Heat and Rook walkedback to her car, past the tidyrow of Sunfish trailered in thesailing school parking lot,Nikki s gaze roamed out to theglistening open water.Sheimagined the smart pop ofDacron as wind filled her sailand she tacked out into LongIsland Sound.Then shepictured Roy Conklin standingright there his last living dayand wondered if he d savored that view or if his heart hadfelt too heavy with fear orguilt at some horrible secret hekept from his wife a secretthat got him killed and left herasking why.Or, Nikkispeculated, did poor Roynever see it coming, either?Then her phone rang andyanked Heat into her othercase.Sailing would have towait.Back to juggling.The call came from the police in Hastings-on-Hudson,a quaint village about a halfhour upriver from New YorkCity.Hastings only employedtwo detectives in its smalldepartment, and Heatmaintained regular contactwith them, checking forsightings of one of the town sresidents she needed to talk to.Vaja Nikoladze was justone of numerous people Heathad put feelers out to, all seen as persons of interest becauseher mother tutored piano intheir households prior to hermurder.Nikoladze, aninternationally renownedbiochemist who had defectedfrom the former SovietRepublic of Georgia, had beeneliminated as a suspect in hermother s case.But since TylerWynn frequently booked hermom s piano jobs as CIA spydates, Heat wanted to know if the Georgian expat had hadany recent contact with thefugitive.But just like the elusiveSyrian UN attach and theother prominent clients Heathad reached out to, Nikoladzehad been unresponsive,leaving Nikki frustrated,waiting weeks for a chance atcontact that could bring abreak in that case.She gave Nikoladze the benefit of the doubt.He hadbeen friendly and cooperativewhen Heat and Rook firstvisited him three weeksbefore.But since that timeVaja had been away showinghis prized Georgian shepherdsat various out-of-statecompetitions.Now theHastings detective was callingto alert Nikki that her personof interest had just beenspotted back in town. Wrenched but resolute not tolet it drop, Heat juggled theConklin ball up in the air andheaded north.As she pulledonto the Saw Mill Parkway, aflicker of anticipation filledher.She knew better than toget ahead of herself, but Nikkidared to hope she mightfinally be moving forwardafter almost a month ofrelentless disappointment.Forty minutes later, steam cleaning rubber floor matsoutside the kennel on his backpasture, Vaja Nikoladzelooked up at the undercoverpolice car pulling off the two-lane that ran between hisneighborhood s horse pasturesand woodlots.Even from adistance, the small man lookedsurprised when he heard themcrunch the pea gravel of hiscar park.As they made theirway across the vast lawn, deep-throated barks echoedinside the long outbuildingbefore Nikki even spoke. Afternoon.Nikoladze didn t reply, butinstead pulled a push broomfrom a bucket of soapy waterand power steamed the foamout of the short bristles.Thetwo of them waited, not eventrying to engage over the noisyjet spray of the pressurizednozzle.When he had finished, he cut the steam, leaned thebroom against the wall, anddraped the thick black rubbermats over the decorativerailing to drip dry in the sun.Unlike their cordial visitweeks prior, Vaja gave everysign now that he wantednothing to do with DetectiveHeat or her ride-alongjournalist. I have a telephone, youknow [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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