Joe smiled. It encouraged Danny. ‘Detective Joe Lucchesi: investigating your death and your taste. What were your last movements? And why did you choose those drapes with that carpet? Find out after the break. This season, green kitchens are all the rage. Speaking of rage, savage beatings are-’

‘All right, already,’ said Joe. ‘Let me think.’

Ethan Lowry’s office was tidy and minimalist. Across one white wall was a long grey desktop, mounted on steel legs. A twenty-inch flat-screen monitor sat at the centre, running the screensaver – a slideshow of Lowry’s family photos. Joe hadn’t set his up on his laptop yet, because he couldn’t think of anything he wanted to be reminded of. He paused in front of this happy montage of a dead man’s life. From the photos and the food deliveries, it was clear that Ethan Lowry had worked hard to slim down. The new, lighter body he had fought for was sad and pointless, lying in a pool of blood by his front door. The camera, a professional digital SLR, was on a low table to the right, beside two tall stacks of clear plastic drawers. Joe pulled a few of them open: receipts, paper clips, rubber bands, stamps.

‘Look,’ he said to Danny, ‘he was a good designer.’ The bottom drawer was filled with design awards that were gathering dust. ‘And,’ said Joe, ‘he was obviously modest enough not to display them. Which would lead me to believe he might have been quite a nice guy.’

Danny rolled his eyes.

Underneath the desk, the cables that ran from the computer, the printer, the disk drive and the lamp were grouped together neatly with cable ties and ended in plugs with icons. On the floor beside a well-made single bed in the corner was a pair of navy track pants, with a white T-shirt and a pair of white jersey boxer shorts thrown on top. A bunch of letters addressed to Ethan Lowry in girlie script and tied with rubber bands lay beside them. A seventeen-inch PowerBook was on top of the bed, its tiny white light pulsing. Beside it was a remote control vibrator and a short, stiff leather whip. Joe lifted up the screen of the laptop, which quickly flashed up a series of images from soft-porn DVD covers; oiled, topless men in jeans bearing down on tiny, lost blondes. Huge-breasted lesbian liplocks, cheerleaders, repairmen, soldier girls, soldier boys, police officers.

‘We’re a few shy of the Village People,’ said Danny, moving up beside him.

‘Tame,’ said Joe.

‘He’s no Marv.’ Marvin was one of the first dead bodies they had to guard as rookies, a morbidly obese victim of his own eating habits. All he had in his apartment when they found him was a tower of Krispy Kreme boxes, a mountain of crispy Kleenex and the sickest collection of amateur porn that Joe or Danny had ever admitted to seeing.

They moved into the master bedroom. Another tidy space, with a queen-sized bed and a pale green satin throw folded over the bottom half.

‘I wish Gina would let me have a bed this easy to climb into,’ said Danny. ‘Instead of taking a hundred fucking pillows out of the way first. Does that make sense to you ever, why women do that?’


There were books and bottles of water on each nightstand, some headache pills and a bracelet on the wife’s side, a wallet and a watch on the husband’s side. There was a chair in the corner with a pair of jeans and a grey sweatshirt on it. Up a step on the left-hand side of the room was a raised dressing area that appeared to be Mrs Lowry’s domain and the most disturbed by the attack. There was makeup, shoes, belts and bags everywhere. In a corner, two linen baskets were stuffed and spilling over with clothes, a suitcase lay half unpacked, the dressing table was covered with hair products and more makeup. A small stool was upturned on the floor. Joe studied the room for several minutes before deciding the perp hadn’t made it in here. It looked more like a case of opposites attract.

Joe took notes of where he needed photographs to be taken and checked with Kendra when he got back to the hallway. He drew a sketch of the apartment, marking in the smallest of details.

After three hours, everyone was winding down and heading back to the twentieth precinct.

‘What do you think?’ said Danny as they got into the car.

‘Well, it’s not a burglary,’ said Joe.

‘Yeah, with the wallet just lying around-’

‘Two wallets,’ said Joe.


‘Yeah. In the hallway, the little table was knocked over. There’s a kind of bashed-up wallet there. And a new one.’

‘Both the vic’s?’ said Danny.

‘Both have his cards in it. And money.’

‘Yeah and then the expensive watch on the nightstand and shit…’ said Danny.

‘With the computer and the sex toys and the naked body, it could be something sexual.’

Danny nodded. ‘Do you think maybe he had something going on on the side? Blazkow said the wife was in Jersey with her ma for the night.’

Joe nodded. ‘I’d say yeah.’

He took out his cell phone. He had eight missed calls. Six were from Anna: one voicemail, four hang-ups and a final voicemail:


With her accent, Joe liked when Anna said asshole. He didn’t like the volume, though, and the crash of the phone as she slammed it down. He looked at his watch. He hadn’t made Shaun’s meeting. And he hadn’t called.

‘Shit,’ he said. ‘Shit. I forgot to call Anna.’

‘You’re a dead man,’ said Danny, reversing out of the space. ‘Speaking of dead men, did you hear why Rufo lost all that weight?’


‘His brother died, forty-nine years old, heart attack. Bam. No warning.’

‘Yeah, I remember that.’

‘No, but there’s more. Apparently, at the funeral, Rufo had a few too many and one of the guys heard him tell some old aunt that he didn’t want to go down the same road as his brother because

– wait for it – he’d never been in love. Specifically, he’d never found true love.’



‘I’m seeing him in a whole new way now.’

‘Yeah,’ said Danny, ‘in soft focus, running through a cornfield.’

‘How long ago was that?’

‘Three years ago.’

‘And we haven’t seen him with a woman yet.’

‘It’s sad. For all of us. He could have kept his fuller figure and we could have been spared the salad, quinoa, couscous talk.’

‘You go ahead in,’ said Joe when they got to the twentieth precinct. He walked past the entrance and called Anna. ‘Hey, honey, I’m sorry. I’m not gonna make-’

‘I know,’ said Anna. ‘Because I’ve already been to the school and now I’m back home.’

‘I caught a homicide. I’ve been tied up, honey. How did it go?’

‘Oh, well the principal was there and she started off by-’

Joe saw Cullen and Blazkow walk from their car into the building. ‘Honey? I’m sorry. I can’t get into the details right now. But did it go OK?’

‘That depends,’ she said stiffly.

‘I gotta go, look, I’m sorry. I’ll call you when I get back to the office, OK? It’ll probably be late. I love you.’

‘I love you too,’ she said, her voice tired.

Joe made his way up to the second-floor office. Everyone was standing around drinking coffee.

‘So what have we got?’ he said.

‘Closed homicide, no witnesses? A bag of shit,’ said Blazkow.

‘Any video?’ said Joe.

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