Professor Eric Lipton lived in the fashionable neighborhood of Terrytown. It was where a lot of the old money lived, expensive real estate directly adjacent to the wide, placid stretch of the Colorado River running through the center of Austin. Lipton's place was a big white contemporary speckled with GlassBlock cubes that allowed light without compromising privacy. A wrought-iron fence surrounded the property. Although it was night, landscape lights illuminated the house and the lawn that sprawled under carefully manicured trees cut into geometric designs. It was a big-money place, and Bolinger could tell by the shape it was in that Lipton was the kind of person who squeezed his toothpaste out of the tube from the bottom up. White gravel crunched under Bolinger's tires as he pulled into a semicircular drive and underneath a tall, flat-roofed portico supported by a cluster of narrow white columns.

Lipton came to the door in a white satin sweat suit and expensive Polo leather slippers. His glare was hostile. He was a tall, angular man whose figure suggested that of a swimmer. He had none of the usual stoop for someone of his height and age. His hair was a wavy faded blond, flowing back from his face as if he'd just come out of the wind. His skin was tan, but its orange tint told Bolinger he was the kind of person who'd spent time under an ultraviolet light. His high, rugged cheekbones, perfect teeth, and the weathered skin around his bright blue eyes reminded Bolinger of the tennis pro who had tried to teach him how to serve on his last vacation in Fort Lauderdale.

'Can I help you?' the professor asked with a disinterested sniff.

Bolinger knew that was not what he meant. The last thing on earth he wanted to do was help. Something about the professor didn't smell right.

'Professor Lipton? I'm Sergeant Bolinger,' the detective said. 'One of your students has been killed, and I wanted to ask you some questions about her. Would you mind coming downtown with me?'

Lipton looked him up and down. A light, airy laugh spilled from his mouth.

'Do you know my area of expertise, Sergeant?' he asked snidely.

'Yes, sir. I do'

'Then you shouldn't have even asked if I would go with you. This is my world, Sergeant. My view of the police is a… an adversarial one…

'However,' he continued as if he were lecturing a class, 'I don't wish to imply that mine is a hostile or secretive nature. You can come in, Sergeant. You can ask me whatever you like. I'm a reasonable man… I'll give you five minutes.'

Lipton looked down at his watch, marking the time, then said simply to Bolinger, 'Anything more would be a waste of my time and yours. My knowledge of Ms. Sales is quite limited.'

'How did you know it was Marcia Sales?' Bolinger said, his blood racing and his eyes narrowing at the sound of her name coming so unexpectedly from the professor's mouth.

Lipton's eyes flickered with panic, for a moment, nothing more. Then he said calmly, 'Why, Sergeant, you told me.'

'No,' Bolinger said with a crooked smile. 'No, I didn't.'

'Get the hell out of here!' Lipton said, flaring up angrily. 'Don't you come here to my home making insinuations! You forget that I know my rights! I'm not some street thug. I don't have anything to say to you! You want to talk? Call my lawyer!'

The door slammed in Bolinger's face, but still he smiled. He had his man.


A slip of the tongue wasn't much. Bolinger knew that getting a warrant based on that alone might not float. But it was enough for him to stake out the house. And he was confident that by the middle of the next day the crime lab would come up with something. When they didn't, Bolinger felt his stomach sink.

'Cleanest crime scene I've ever seen,' was what the crime lab's captain told him.

Bolinger had twenty men working under him on this one, and so far, no one had turned over anything concrete. He knew it was Lipton. But he needed something solid. A hunch never convicted anyone. That took hard evidence.

Ten minutes later, Farnhorst burst into his office with a mammoth grin.

'Got what you need, Bob!' he said, waving a paper triumphantly in the air. He slapped it down on Bolinger's desk and said, 'Did a computer cross-check on the area and I came up with this!'

Bolinger followed the detective's thick finger to the spot on the page that chronicled a code ten-seventeen, a hit-and-run property damage. Apparently, the day before at two-thirty in the afternoon, a woman whose car was parked on the street opposite Marcia Sales's address had seen a maroon Lexus sedan back out of the driveway and into her car. The driver, whom she couldn't identify, sped off without stopping, but the woman had noted the license plate number as the car tore down the street. The car belonged to Lipton.

'Yes!' Bolinger said, slapping the paper. 'Get me a warrant, Mo. I want the house and the car turned inside out, and I want him under a light before lunch.'

Bolinger closed the door to his office, then opened the window before taking out a cigarette and lighting up. He rubbed his eyes and gulped down what was left of his coffee, taking time to crush a few grounds between his teeth. Sleep was something that would have to wait. This was how it was done, classic detective work. Most homicides were solved in the first forty-eight hours or they weren't solved at all. He'd known when he saw him that Lipton smelled, and now he had him.

Earlier in the morning, Alice Vreeland had confirmed for him that the girl hadn't died of asphyxiation but from having some of her insides cut out. She had bled to death. Alice told him he was looking for a pretty sharp knife.

'Sharp enough to shave,' Vreeland had commented.

'By the way,' she had continued, 'I've got to go back to the house. I thought they had everything, but I can't find her gall bladder. No one picked one up, did they?'

Bolinger rubbed his eyes some more and wondered again at her macabre comment. Unsure of whether or not she was trying to be funny, he hadn't reacted. Now he wondered if, instead of an oversight, there was some reason the gall bladder was missing. He'd never heard of anything like it, but he'd never seen a body like that, either, half choked to death and split open like a butchered cow. Bolinger shuddered at the thought. An image came screaming into the forefront of his mind. It was the look on Don Sales's face and the sound of his horror when he walked into that room. How deep must that pain be?

Bolinger picked up the phone. He wanted to give the father something, an offering of condolence. The only way he knew to do that was to show how hard he was working to pin down the killer. He wanted to call Sales and tell him about the apparent hit-and-run. Then he thought better of it. He'd wait until they had Lipton in the bag. There was no reason to build the man's hopes on circumstantial evidence. Who knew? They might get lucky and find the knife with the girl's blood all over it, although from the cleanliness of the crime scene, he doubted it. Whoever killed the girl knew what they were doing. A crime scene that clean was almost unheard of.

Bolinger worked up some paper. It was nearly two hours before Farnhorst returned.

'We got him, Bob,' he said triumphantly. 'Guy was getting ready to take a little trip. He'd booked a ticket to Toronto and was already on his way north on Thirty-five towards the airport when I caught up with the surveillance team to bring him in. When we tried to pull him over, he made a run for it. Wrecked his car, then hopped out and ran into some woods. He didn't get very far. Had a couple bags packed, his passport, and about twenty thousand dollars in cash.'

Bolinger stuck a pen in his mouth and started to chew on it. 'Shit, good job.'

'But this is what you're really gonna like,' Farnhorst said, holding forth a plastic bag containing what looked like a woman's underwear.

Bolinger took the bag and looked at it quizzically.

'We found this stuffed into the bottom of his duffel bag…' Farnhorst said. 'It's a woman's bra and panties…

'There's blood on them, Bob,' he said quietly. 'I wanted to show you before I send them to the lab… I think they might be hers.'



'And he wants me to represent him!' Casey said.

She spoke in a tone just this side of obnoxious but still loud enough for everyone else at the table to hear. It was an elegant political fund-raiser for the governor at a thousand dollars a plate. Women in gowns and diamonds, men in tuxedos and gold Swiss watches turned their heads. Casey tossed back her titian hair and laughed frivolously. Her own diamond necklace danced in the candlelight.

With her long, pretty fingers draped loosely over his shoulder, she said to her husband, 'Tony wants me to go up to Minnesota and represent a rock star. A rock star! What next?'

Polite chuckles filled the air, but everyone's interest was piqued. It wouldn't surprise a single one of them if Casey Jordan represented a rock star. They only wanted to know which one.

Tony looked up sullenly from the remains of a bloody prime rib and said, 'Pierce Culpepper.'

General murmurs of acknowledgment filled the air.

'He lives in Minnesota?' someone asked.

'That's where he's from originally,' another person answered.

Dessert arrived: strawberry shortcake made with fresh berries and cream. Casey watched jealously as Tony dug into his own and took hers aside for himself as well. Her days of having both dessert and a real waistline were over. At thirty-seven, her body still demanded a second look, but it came only at a price.

'He was arrested for assault,' Tony dutifully explained through a mouthful of calories, 'and he wants Casey to represent him.'

'Did he do it?' someone from the other end of the table asked.

Tony shrugged. His thick eyebrows, like his hair, were graying. He was a portly man with thick jowls anchoring his basset hound face. Its greatest distinction was a

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