Today's Reading

Peabody programmed the address on the in-dash. "You feel okay, right?"

"I'm fine. Didn't the vampires draw my blood and clear me?"

"Yeah, but I'll feel better when they ID the toxin." Peabody frowned

out the window of the car. "He laid there for hours. The good of that is whatever it was dissipated, so we're all not dead. The bad is he laid there for hours."

"Yeah, and think about that. Have the delivery in the morning, knowing nobody's going to go in there until late afternoon. It makes it look like a specific kill. Just Abner."

As she pushed through traffic, Eve took a contact from Officer Shelby on her wrist unit. "What've you got, Shelby?"

"They tracked the package to a drop-off kiosk on West Houston, sir. It was logged in through the after-hours depository—that's self-serve—at twenty-two hundred hours."

"Security cam?"

"Yes, sir. And the cam had a glitch at twenty-one-fifty-eight until twenty-three-oh-two."

"An idiot would call that a coincidence."

"Yes, sir. Officer Carmichael, who is not an idiot, has requested EDD examine the security camera and feed at this depository. However, if the killer proves to be an idiot, she used her credit account, via her 'link, to pay for the overnight shipping. Said payment was charged to the account of a Brendina A. Coffman, age eighty-one, apartment 1A, 38 Bleecker Street."

"We'll check her out now. Good work, Shelby."

Peabody didn't have time to grab the chicken stick before Eve wheeled sharp around a corner to change direction.

"Get a warrant," Eve ordered Peabody. "We need to look at Coffman's credit history."

"Brendina Coffman." Peabody read off her PPC as Eve fought her way to Bleecker. "Married to Roscoe Coffman for fifty-eight years, lived at the current address for thirty-one years. A retired bookkeeper who worked for Loames and Gardner for—wow—fifty-nine years. No criminal in the last half century or so, but a couple of dings in her twenties. Disorderly conduct and simple assault. They have three offspring—male, female, male, ages fifty-six, fifty-three, and forty-eight. Six grandchildren from ages twenty-one to ten."

"Start running the rest of them," Eve ordered. "It's not going to be an idiot," she muttered. "We don't have that kind of luck. But run them."

"Okay, well, the oldest offspring is Rabbi Miles Coffman of Shalom Temple, married to Rebekka Greene Coffman for twenty-one years—and she teaches at the Hebrew school attached to the temple. They have three of the kids—twenty, eighteen, and sixteen, female, male, and male, respectively—nothing flagged on the kids, no criminal on the parents."

With no available parking in sight, Eve double-parked, causing much annoyance on Bleecker. Ignoring it, she flipped up her On Duty light. "Keep going," Eve said as she got out, studied the sturdy old residential building. A triple-decker of faded brick, no graffiti, clean windows, some of them open to the cool spring evening.

"Marion Coffman Black, married to Francis Xavior Black, twenty-three years—no, twenty-four as of today; happy anniversary—is currently employed, as she has been for twenty years, as bookkeeper in the same firm as her mother was. Couple dings in her twenties for illegal protests, nothing since. Son, twenty-one, a student at Notre Dame, daughter, age nineteen, also at Notre Dame."

"Hold that thought," Eve advised as they approached the gray door of the entrance to 1A.

Decent security, she noted, but nothing fancy. She pressed the buzzer.

The woman who answered looked pretty good for eighty-one. She had a bubble of ink-black hair Eve figured wouldn't move in a hurricane, lips freshly dyed stop-sign red, rosy cheeks, and eyes heavily shadowed and lashed.

She wore a deep blue cocktail dress with a high neck, long sleeves, and gave Eve and Peabody a frowning once-over from nut-brown eyes.

"We're not buying."

"Not selling," Eve said, and held up her badge.

Brendina's face went sheet white under the rosy. "Joshua!"

"No, ma'am." Peabody spoke quickly. "It's not about your son. Mrs. Coffman's son Joshua's on the job," Peabody told Eve. "It's not about Sergeant Coffman, ma'am."

"Okay. Okay. What is it then?"

"If we could come in for a moment," Eve began. "We're leaving—if Roscoe ever finishes primping."

"We'll try not to take much of your time."

This excerpt ends on page 21 of the hardcover edition.

Monday we begin the book THE CASE OF THE REINCARNATED CLIENT by Tarquin Hall.

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