Vendetta in Death (In Death #49)

“The killer’s female, or wants us to think so,” Peabody said. “If the message left has validity, possibly someone he cheated with or raped. But …he was a trim guy, but you’d still need muscle to get him in and out of a vehicle—had to have one—and spread him out on the sidewalk. Maybe she—if it’s a she—had a partner.”

“Definitely possible. The angle of the ligature marks on the wrists indicates he was restrained with his hands and arms held over his head—taking at least some of his weight. You could haul him up that way with muscle or with a pulley. Lower him onto some sort of dolly, wheel him up a ramp into a vehicle, wheel him out. It’s a lot, but somebody gave all of it some thought. They sure as hell knew where he lived in New York, when he’d be here. And I didn’t find any defensive wounds.”

The top floor held more generous units, for a total of six. The McEnroy apartment had the northeast corner with a wide, double-door entrance.

A cam, palm plate, swipe, solid locks.

Eve pushed the buzzer.

The McEnroys are currently not receiving visitors. Please leave your name, your reason for this visit, and your contact information. Thank you.



Eve held up her badge. “Dallas, Lieutenant Eve, Peabody, Detective Delia, on police business. We need to speak with anyone now in residence.”

One moment while your identification is verified.



Eve waited out the scan, held another minute before she heard the locks disengage.

A house droid opened the left-side door. He stood—like the building—dignified in a dark suit. The sturdy body style told Eve he could likely double as a bodyguard. He spoke in a, well, dignified Brit accent while he looked over Eve and Peabody with eerily steady blue eyes.

“I’m sorry, Lieutenant, Detective, but Mr. McEnroy has not yet returned from an engagement. Ms. McEnroy and the children are out of town on holiday and not expected back for five more days. Is there anything I can help you with at this time?”

“Yeah, you can give us Ms. McEnroy’s location and her contact information.”

“Again, I apologize, but that information is private.”

“Not anymore. Mr. McEnroy won’t be returning from his engagement, as he’s on his way to the morgue.”

She watched those steady eyes flicker. Processing the unexpected.

“This is very unfortunate.”

“You could say. We’re coming in.”

“Yes, please do.”

He stepped back, closed the door behind them.

The wide foyer opened into a generous living space. She could see hints of the Hudson through the tall windows, showing silver in the morning light.

The living area boasted a recessed viewing screen above a long, slim fireplace, upscale furniture in quiet tones of blues and greens, some framed cityscapes, a scatter of fancily framed family photos, and no clutter whatsoever.

“What time did Mr. McEnroy leave the premises?”

“At nine-eighteen last evening.”

“Where was he going?”

“I don’t have that information.”

“Was he alone?”

“Yes.”

“What was he wearing?”

Again she saw the flicker as the droid searched memory banks.

“Black Vincenti trousers, a Box Club light blue sweater, silk and cashmere blend, a black leather Leonardo jacket, black leather Baldwin loafers, and matching belt.”

The specificity of detail reminded her there were times droids came in very handy.

“When did the rest of the family leave New York?”

“Two days ago, at eight A.M. The Urban Ride Car Service picked up Ms. McEnroy, the children, and their tutor to take them to the shuttle. From there they traveled to Tahiti, and are in residence at the South Seas Resort and Spa, in beach villa Paradise, for their holiday.”

Yeah, she thought, very handy. “Has Mr. McEnroy entertained any guests in their absence?”

“I don’t have that information. I am habitually disengaged when Mr. McEnroy departs, and reengaged when he wishes my assistance.”

“You’ve got a door cam. I need the feed.”

“Of course. The security hub is just off the kitchen.”

“Take it, Peabody. Contact info for Ms. McEnroy.”

This time, without hesitation, the droid reeled off a number. “What time is it in Tahiti?”

He blinked. “It is currently twelve-thirty-three A.M. in Tahiti.”

“That’s just stupid,” Eve muttered.

“I don’t understand.”

“Me, either. I’m having Crime Scene come up, go through this unit, and EDD will take all electronics in. Are there other droids in residence, or any housekeeping staff, human or otherwise?”

“There are small tool droids for cleaning floors and other tasks.

There is a tutor for the children, but as I relayed, she is also on holiday with Ms. McEnroy at this time. Mr. McEnroy’s administrative assistant and other business staff in this location are often called to the residence but, by and large, Mr. McEnroy works daily, when in New York, from his base in the Midtown Roarke Tower building.”

“Huh. I’ll let you know if I have more questions. What have you got, Peabody?” she asked when her partner came back.

“He left when the droid says, wearing what the droid says. No one came to the door until we did. He overwrote the previous seventy-two, but just a standard from what I can tell. EDD can get under that.”

“Tag McNab, and get sweepers up here.”

Eve made her way to the master bedroom. More soft, tasteful colors, more tasteful art. Though the bed’s headboard spread like a peacock fan, the fabric covering it followed that soft and tasteful tone with a quiet peach one a few shades lighter than the fluffy duvet, which itself was shades lighter than the pillow shams, the stylishly arranged throw.

But the kicker was an all-directional vid camera on tripod placed in the center of the room.

She checked it, found it cued up for voice command, and currently no vids in its storage.

She went back out, called the droid. “Up here.”

“Of course.”

He climbed the stairs, followed her back into the bedroom. She gestured to the camera. “Is that usually here?”

“No. I have not seen that instrument before.”

“Here, or at all?”

“At all, Lieutenant.”

“Okay. You can go back down, stand by.”

She checked the drawers in the polished pewter bedside tables, found e-readers in both that she tagged for EDD, condoms in the one closest to the windows, a nail buffer and hand lotion in the one closest to the attached bath.

No sex toys or enhancements.

Interesting.

Curious, she turned down the duvet, ran a hand over the sheets, bent down, sniffed. Crisp and fresh and smelling very faintly of lavender.

She walked back out to the droid. “Master bedroom sheets. When were they put on fresh?”

“Yesterday morning. Ten A.M.”

“Did Mr. McEnroy request the change, or is that the usual?”

“When Mr. McEnroy is alone in residence, the sheets are changed daily.”

“And when the family is in residence?”

“Twice weekly.”

“Where are the sheets you took off yesterday morning?”

“With the laundry service.”

“Too bad. Peabody, we’ll start in the master.”

“McNab’s on his way. Sweepers should be up in twenty. Well,” Peabody added as they stepped into the master and she saw the camera.

“Yeah, all-directional vid cam, set to voice activation, in the bedroom. Sheets changed twice a week when the wife’s with him, daily when she’s not.”

Peabody curled her lip. “He taps his side pieces in the bed he shares with his wife, and records the action?”

“That’d be my take. And I’m betting he’s got toys stashed somewhere. Start in his closet. I need to talk to his wife.”

She contacted the resort first, confirmed Geena McEnroy, her daughters, and a Frances Early were currently guests, their check-in date, checkout date.

Then she used the contact the droid had given her, prepared to notify next of kin.

Geena answered on the third beep with blocked video and a sleepy voice. “Yes, hello?”

“Geena McEnroy?”

“Yes, speaking.”

“This is Lieutenant Eve Dallas with the New York Police and Security Department.”

“What? Oh my goodness!” The voice leaped alert, the video flashed on to reveal a pretty, sleep-rumpled woman with tousled brown hair, alarmed blue eyes. “Was there a break-in?”

“No, ma’am. Mrs. McEnroy, I regret to inform you your husband is dead. His body was found earlier this morning. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

“What? What? What are you talking about? That’s not possible. I spoke to Nigel just this afternoon—here. I-I-It would have been evening there. You’ve made a mistake.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. McEnroy, there’s no mistake. Your husband was killed early this morning, approximately three A.M., and has been officially identified.”

“But you see, that’s not possible. You said there hadn’t been a break-in. Nigel would have been home, in bed, at that hour.”

“According to your house droid’s statement and your apartment security feed, your husband left your West Ninety-first Street apartment shortly after nine last evening. His body was found”—no need for the harsh details now, Eve thought—“a short time ago. Again, I’m sorry for your loss.”

“But …” Confusion, the edge of annoyance, simple disbelief began to melt into shock and shock to grief. “What happened? What happened to Nigel? An accident?”

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