brand.”

“Sexual assault?”

“My prelim on-scene indicates no. I’ll wait and see what the ME says on that one. She was still dressed in club clothes. When the owner settles down some, we’ll have her check to see if anything was taken. I saw what appeared to be antiques, original artworks, upscale electronics. My initial search of the crime scene turned up some jewelry in a drawer. It looked like good stuff, but I’m no judge. Possibly, it was a standard B and E that went wrong, but-”

“And here you are a judge.”

“It didn’t look like it. It doesn’t feel like it. It looks like, and feels like, somebody breaking in looking for something, or someone, specific. It looked like this woman came home before he was finished.”

“Bad timing, all around.”

“Absolutely. It was known that the owner was out of town. Could be he wasn’t expecting anyone to be there. She walked into the bedroom, he stepped in behind her, slit her throat from ear to ear, and either continued his search or left.”

“No, not your average B-and-E man. They want in and out quickly, no mess, no fuss. No weapons. You get an extra boot on your time if you get tagged carrying.”

“You’d know.”

He merely smiled. “As I was never tagged, or booted, I find that dry sarcasm inappropriate. He didn’t burgle in the traditional sense,” Roarke continued, “so traditional burglary wasn’t the purpose.”

“My thought. So we run Gannon and Jacobs-owner, victim-and see if anything pops that would make someone want them dead.”

“Ex-spouses, lovers?”

“According to the witness, Jacobs liked to play. No specific playmate. Gannon has a recent ex. Claims they parted ways amicably, and no hard feelings, about a month back. But people can be really stupid about that sort of thing, hold grudges, or torches.”

“You’d know.”

She went blank for a moment, then had an image of Roarke pounding the crap out of one of her colleagues and a former one-nighter. “Webster wasn’t an ex. You have to be naked with somebody for more than two hours for them to qualify as an ex. It’s a law.”

“I stand corrected.”

“You can stop looking smug anytime. I’ll run the ex. Chad Dix. Upper East addy.” It wasn’t pizza, she mused, but the lobster salad wasn’t bad. She scooped up more as she flipped through her mental files. “The victim was a travel agent, worked for Work or Play Travel, midtown. Know them?”

“No. Don’t use them.”

“Some people travel for reasons other than work or play. Smuggling, for instance.”

He lifted his glass, contemplated his wine. “To some points of view, smuggling might fall into the categories of either work or play.”

“It’ll get boring to keep saying ‘you should know.’ We’ll look into the travel agency, but I don’t think Jacobs was a target. It was Gannon’s house, Gannon’s things. She was out of town, known to be out of town.”

“Work or play?”

“Work. She was on some sort of a tour deal for a book. It’s the book that interests me.”

“Really? Now you have my attention.”

“Look, I read.” She scooped up more lobster. “Stuff.”

“Case files don’t count.” He gestured with his fork. “But go on. What interests you about this book?”

“Do too count,” she retorted. “It’s some sort of family story, but the big hook is a diamond heist, early twenty-first, here in New York. It-”

“The Forty-seventh Street job. Hot Rocks. I know this book.”

“You read it?”

“As a matter of fact. The property was auctioned last year. Starline acquired.”

“Starline? Publishing? That’s yours.”

“It is. I caught the pitch from the acquiring editor in one of the monthly reports. It interested me. Everyone-well, everyone with certain interests-knows about the Forty-seventh Street job.”

“You’d have those certain interests.”

“I would, yes. Close to thirty million in diamonds walks out of the Exchange. About three-quarters of them are scooped back up. But that leaves a lot of sparkling stones out there. Gannon. Sylvia… Susan… no, Samantha Gannon. Of course.”

Yeah, Roarke was a guy who came in handy. “Okay, so you know what you know. Her grandfather recovered or helped recover the stones they got back.”

“Yes. And her great-grandfather-mother’s side-was one of the team who stole them.”

“Is that so?” She leaned back, considered. “We didn’t get into that end.”

“It’s in the book. She doesn’t hide the connection. In fact, the connections, the ins and outs, are strong selling points.”

“Give me the highlights.”

“There were four known members of the heist team. One was an inside man, who handled the switch. The others posed as clients or part of the investigative team after the diamonds were discovered missing. Each scheduled a meeting with one of the designers or wholesalers upstairs. Each picked up a novelty item planted by the inside man. A ceramic dog, a rag doll, and so on.”

“Back up. A doll?”

“Hide in plain sight,” he explained. “Innocuously. In each blind was a quarter share of the take. They walked in, walked out in broad daylight. Legend has it-and Samantha Gannon perpetuates this in her book-that two of them had lunch a block or so away with their share on their person.”

“They just walked out.”

“Brilliant in its simplicity, really. There’s a retail section, street level. Almost a bazaar. And in those days-still in these from time to time-some of the jewelers walk from store to store, from shop to shop, carrying a fortune in gems tucked into paper cups they call briefkes. With enough balls, data and some inside assistance, it’s easier than you might think to walk off with sparkles in the daylight. Easier by far than an after-hours job. Do you want coffee?”

“Are you getting it?”

“I will.” He rose to go into the kitchen. “They’d never have gotten away with it,” he called out. “There are careful records kept for stones of that sort. It would take a great deal of patience and willpower to wait until enough time had passed to turn them, and careful research and a strong sense of character to select the right source for that liquidation. Human nature being human nature, they were bound to get nipped.”

“They got away with a chunk.”

“Not exactly.” He came back in with a pot and two cups. “Things went wrong almost immediately, starting with dishonor among thieves-as there invariably is. One of the lot, who went by the name of Crew, decided why take a quarter when you can take all. He was a different sort than O’Hara-that’s the great-grandfather-and the others, and they should’ve known better than to throw in with him. He lured the inside man-probably promising a sweeter deal. He gave him two bullets in the brain. They used bullets with alarming regularity back then. He took his dead partner’s share, and so had half.”

“And went after the others.”

“He did. News traveled, and they rabbited before he got to them. And that’s how they ended up bringing O’Hara’s daughter into it. It got messy, as you’ll see when you read the book yourself. Another of them was killed. Both Crew and the insurance cop sniffed out the trail. The cop and the thief’s daughter fell in love, happily enough, and she helped him with the recovery of the half O’Hara had access to. Though they rounded up Crew as well, with some drama and heroics, he was killed in prison less than three years after his term began. They found his original share tucked away in a safe-deposit box here in the city, tracked from a key he had on his person at the time of arrest. But he never revealed where the other portion of the diamonds was.”

“More than fifty years ago. They could be long gone by now. Right back in some jewelry case in the form of rings, bracelets, whatever.”

“Certainly. But it’s more fun to imagine them hidden inside some ceramic cat getting dusty on a shelf in a thrift store, isn’t it?”

The fun didn’t register with her, but the motive did. “She talks about the family connection in her book, missing diamonds. Sexy stuff. Somebody’s going to decide she must have them, or know where they are.”

“There’s a disclaimer in the book, of course. But yes, some are bound to wonder if she or someone in her family has them. If they’re still out there, and unset, they’d be worth a great deal more today than they were at the beginning of the century. The legend alone bumps the value.”

“How much?”

“Conservatively, fifteen million.”

“There’s nothing conservative about fifteen million. That kind of number could push a lot of people to go on a treasure hunt. Which, if pursuing that angle, narrows the field to, what, a couple million people?”

“More, I’d think, as she’s been on a media tour. Even those who haven’t bought or read the book could have heard the basic story in one of her interviews.”

“Well, what’s life without a challenge? Did you ever look for them? The Forty-seventh Street diamonds?”

“No. But it was always entertaining to speculate about them with friends over a pint in the pub. I recall, in my youth, there was some pride that Jack O’Hara, the one who got away, was an Irishman. Some liked to imagine he’d nicked the rest of them after all and lived out his days hog high on the proceeds.”

“You don’t think so.”

“I don’t know. Had he managed it, Crew would have rolled on him quick as a dog rolls on a flea that bites his back. It’s Crew who had that ice, and took the location to hell with him. Out of spite, perhaps, but more-I think, more because it made them his. Kept them his.”

“Obsessed, was he?”

“He’s painted that way in the book, and from what I’ve gleaned, Samantha Gannon made it a mission to be as truthful and accurate as possible in the telling.”

“All right, let’s take a look at our cast of characters.” She moved over to the computer on her desk. “I won’t have the ME’s or forensic reports until tomorrow earliest. But Gannon stated the place was locked and security was on when she returned. I took a good look, and entry wasn’t forced. He either came in with Jacobs or got in himself. I’m leaning toward the latter, which would require some security experience, or knowledge of the codes.”

“The ex?”

“Gannon states she changed the codes after the breakup. Doesn’t mean he didn’t cop to the changes. While I’m looking at him, you could get me whatever you can on the diamonds, and the people involved.”

“Much more entertaining.” He topped off his coffee, took it with him to his adjoining office.

She set up a standard run on Chad Dix, and brooded into her coffee while her computer pooled the data. Cold, wasteful, pointless. That was how Andrea Jacobs’s murder struck her. It wasn’t a

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