"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

NYT best-selling thriller: The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie (excerpt)

Available February 25/14 in trade paperback
“Cause of death, Rashid?” asked Gemma, when he’d finished with the thermometer. “Was he strangled? And if so, with what?”
Rashid peered more closely at the face and neck. “There’s some evidence of petechiae in the eyes, but that’s not conclusive. And there’s some bruising on the throat, possibly from a ligature, but don’t quote me on it. No hand prints visible. I’ll know more when I can take it down to the tissue. Sometimes bruising doesn’t show up on the skin, as you know.”
Mike, now gloved, crossed the room and began checking the contents of the wallet. “Several major credit cards under the name of Vincent Arnott,” he said. “National Health Insurance card, ditto. No banknotes, so they might have been taken. We’ll check the trousers for a money fold. And the driving license, also as Vincent Arnott.”  Holding it by the edge, he brought it to Gemma. 
She inspected the tiny photo. It certainly seemed to be the man on the bed. He had been handsome, in a severe way, with regular features set off by his thick, silver hair. She wondered if he had been vain about it.
Melody stepped closer and entered the address into her phone, then Mike bagged the wallet.
Going back to the clothing on the chair, Mike said, “Let’s see what it has in its pockets,” with a hiss on the sibilants, and Gemma grinned. Balding, fortyish, Mike was known for a serious addiction to fantasy novels. 
After checking the shirt and pullover, he handed them to Sharon to bag. Then he unfolded the trousers, first patting the rear pockets, then reaching gently into the front. From the right-hand pocket, he pulled out a money fold with a magician’s “Ta da,” then rifled through the folded notes. “Roughly fifty pounds, but we’ll log it. So you can probably assume he wasn’t robbed, and that he was right-handed. Nothing in the left-hand pocket, so let’s check the jacket.”
“There’s not a single crumpled receipt,” said Gemma as she watched. “No cinema ticket stubs, no chewing gum, no cigarette packet wrappers, no bits of paper with scribbled phone numbers. I’d say we can assume that he folded his own clothes.”
“Obsessively neat,” agreed Rashid. “And apparently not because he was hiding his identity, or he’d not have been carrying ID and credit cards.”
“House or flat keys.” Mike held up two Yale keys on a heavy silver key ring.
“No car keys?” asked Gemma.
“Not unless he put them somewhere else in the room.”
Melody had pulled up the driving license address on her phone map. “He lived in Belvedere Road. That’s just on the south side of the hill. He could easily have walked here.”
“Maybe this will help.” Mike held up an expensive mobile phone, retrieved from an inside anorak pocket. “Let us print it before you have a go.”
He dusted and taped the phone’s glass surface before passing it to Gemma. 
Switching it on, Gemma saw that it was fully charged. Evidently Arnott hadn’t used it much the previous evening. Nor had its owner gone in for apps. The wallpaper was standard provider issue. No photos. No music. There was no email account, and only a handful of numbers under the phone contacts.
“What did he need that kind of phone for?” asked Shara, who had been looking over Gemma’s shoulder. She sounded disgusted. “He could have used a cheap pay-as-you-go. What a waste.”
Gemma nodded absently, her attention focused on the few tagged numbers. “Home. Kathy.” She glanced at Melody. “His wife, do you think? And chambers.”
“As in a surname?” Melody asked.
“It’s not capped.” Gemma met her partner’s widening eyes. “Oh, hell. Don’t tell me the man was a bloody barrister.”

Deborah Crombie is a New York Times Notable author and has been nominated for and won many awards including the New York Times Book of the Year. She is a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, three cats, and two German shepherds.

Author's website:  http://www.deborahcrombie.com/

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