Authors: Beverly Connor
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Horror, #Suspense, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery, #Police Procedural, #Detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Mystery & Detective - General, #Mystery & Detective - Police Procedural, #Fallon, #Women forensic anthropologists, #Georgia, #Diane (Fictitious character)
a lot you can learn about the perp from
them. This one is going to be more complicated,’’ said
Diane as she examined the ropes. ‘‘This guy knew his
knots.’’ She grinned up at Lynn and Raymond. ‘‘I love
it when they know how to tie knots."
saw that reaction a lot—a knot is just a knot
to most people. ‘‘Yeah, I do. They’ve saved my life
more than once.’’
that?’’ asked Raymond.
‘‘I’m a caver. We rely on ropes and knots.’’
‘‘Quite a few. Not many in Georgia, even though I
grew up here. But one of my employees at the mu
seum is introducing me to some of the Georgia caves.’’
‘‘I’ve always wanted to see the one in Mexico with
all the crystals,’’ Lynn said.
‘‘The cave is called Lechuguilla,’’ said Diane. ‘‘The
‘‘Yeah, that’s it.’’
‘‘Those are gypsum crystals. They’re even more im
pressive in person.’’
‘‘You’ve been there?’’ asked Lynn.
‘‘Yes, I have. A couple of microbiologist friends in
protected cave. I was lucky to get the chance.’’
‘‘It appears to be very beautiful,’’ said Lynn.
husk that used to house a young woman. ‘‘The line of
work I’m in, it’s very rejuvenating to be able to look
at something so breathtakingly beautiful.’’
‘‘It’s a handcuff knot.’’
‘‘It’s good as a handcuff and for hobbling horses.
the end through the loops. I guess he didn’t want her
wiggling her fingers.’’
‘‘Easier to cut them off,’’ said Raymond. ‘‘Did he
do that while they were alive?’’
able to tell.’’
‘‘I think I can secure the outer loops without cutting
them, but I’ll have to cut the loops on the handcuffs,’’
She took a blue cord and secured all the loops to
noose around the neck—tying them off before cutting
the loop free.
‘‘It’s like cutting an umbilical cord,’’ said Lynn.
through the autopsy room.
‘‘I don’t believe it,’’ said Lynn. ‘‘They got someone
to fix whatever was wrong.’’
‘‘Just needed a little motivation,’’ said Raymond.
‘‘Oh, it feels good,’’ said Lynn. She took in a deep
breath, as if the cool air made everything smell better.
‘‘Let’s get this done. What do you say, Raymond?’’
She turned to Diane. ‘‘I hope you don’t mind me
running you off to the other room. I like to have as
few people as possible in the room when I’m working
on a body this decomposed.’’
‘‘Believe me, I don’t mind. I’ll take these ropes back
to the lab and start my team working on them, and
then I’ll come back. Do you intend to do the other
two victims today?’’
‘‘I’d like to try. Raymond and I will collect the in
As Diane was going out the door, Lynn started the
Museum of Natural History was housed
in a beautiful gothic three-story granite structure that
began its life as a museum in the late 1800s. The build
ing was converted into a private medical clinic in the
1940s, and was now converted back to a museum. It
had large rooms with Romanesque moldings, polished
granite floors and rare wall-sized murals of dinosaurs
animals dragged their tails behind them.
had a sense of peace as director of the mu
seum. It was a place of scholarship, learning and fun—
and she ruled. Thanks to the late founder, there were
no bureaucrats between her and what she wanted to
do for the museum. It was idyllic, a dream career. She
couldn’t imagine going back into forensics—working
his murdered friends, that she enjoyed the hunt, the
puzzle. Good thing too, for it kept the wolves from
the ornate wood doors of the museum.
. when Diane carried the evidence
from Lynn Webber’s autopsy lab to her crime lab on
the third floor of the museum.
on the clothes,’’ she told Jin. ‘‘Wait on the
thing.’’ Jin took the boxes and attached crime
lab tracking labels to them. He and Diane signed the
labels, and he locked the boxes away. ‘‘This is a big
case. People are talking about it.’’
Both the mayor of Rosewood and the chief of detec
tives are going to be riding us pretty hard.’’
away. We can have some results for the sheriff by the
end of the day.’’
a couple of technicians were in the lab, filling
out papers. David’s insect-rearing chambers sat in en
vironmentally controlled containers in the entomology
and the others in the field?’’ she asked.
‘‘She said you’re the one who got Detective Janice
Warrick demoted last year.’’
‘‘Not me. Janice botched a case and contaminated
a crime scene. She’s responsible for her own career
‘‘I guess Neva only knows what she’s heard in the
‘‘How’s she doing?’’
‘‘She’s scared all the time.’’
she’s going to screw up. She didn’t want this job. He
assigned her to it.’’ Jin shrugged, clearly not under
standing why anyone wouldn’t want a plum job like
this one. ‘‘David’s got her out now. Showing her how
to look for things. David’s a good guy.’’
‘‘Yes, he is.’’ Diane didn’t like hearing that about
Neva. This was the kind of case they couldn’t mess
up. ‘‘I’m going to check in with the museum, then I’m
going back to the autopsy.’’
Jin nodded. ‘‘Want me to have David call you?’’
‘‘No. I’ll talk with him later.’’
‘‘When you analyze the rope, I want to watch. I’ve
never done that.’’
‘‘You know anything about knots?’’
‘‘I was a Boy Scout.’’
‘‘Can you tie knots?’’
knots. Study the types.’’
with summer school students on a field trip. Loud ex
cited chatter swept out of the dinosaur room as she
passed it on the way to her ofﬁce.
When she reached the main foyer, it was not the
mixture of excitement from children and admonitions
wooden anthropoid cofﬁn lying on its back on a large
metal cart next to the information desk.
Diane walked over to the large mummy case in the
shape of a human figure and looked over at Jennifer
on duty in the information station.
‘‘They brought it in about an hour ago.’’
At that moment a line of students with two adults
at each end came into the museum.
‘‘We’re from the Rosewood Summer Library Pro
gram,’’ one of the adults announced to Jennifer and
then turned and cautioned the children—ﬁve girls and
three boys—to stay together. They weren’t listening.
Their attention had immediately focused on the cofﬁn.
‘‘Is there a real mummy inside there?’’ asked a lit
That’s what I’d like to know,
Jennifer, dressed in black slacks and a museum teeshirt, stepped from the booth and greeted them. She
nodded her head vigorously.
‘‘Yes, there is. It just arrived, and it will be going
up to our conservation lab. We’re all very excited. We
was about four thousand years ago.’’
Jennifer was more forthcoming to the children than
to Diane. That seemed to be one of her characteristics.
‘‘Can we see him?’’ asked a blond curly-haired boy
of about eight.
The docent arrived before Jennifer had to answer,
firm and kind. The herd of children, pulling the adults
behind them, skipped and bounced out of sight on the
first leg of their tour.
Diane turned back to Jennifer. ‘‘What’s this?’’ she
began, just as Kendel Williams came through the dou
ble doors leading from the administrative ofﬁces.
Kendel had fine brown hair turned under in a 1940s
style, cut to a length just above the padded shoulders
of her gray tailored suit. She had brown eyes, straight
had described her to Diane when Kendel had come
to interview for the position of assistant director.
Diane—soft where Diane was hard. One of the things
she had liked about Kendel was that her looks were
years’ of experience in upper museum administration.
What Diane had discovered in the interview and from
the people she called for references was that Kendal
was tough when it came to championing her museum
That was a strength Diane didn’t have. She under
stood the museum’s structure and administration, but
she was also an outsider among those career museum
had been plucked from the technical field of forensic
some people inside the museum culture resented that.
The relationships among museums were a mixture
of intense competition and helpful collaboration. Kendel was familiar with most of the major museums and
how they worked and who she could work with. Diane
about yesterday morning. I don’t usually go off like
‘‘It’s all right. I understand that you didn’t expect
second day on the job.’’
giving Diane another opportunity to rue the day she
had told the herpetologists they could create a terrar
ium for live snakes.
‘‘And make sure the terrarium is escape proof.’’
At least they were able to keep one of her condi
tions. It was a harmless black snake that escaped. The
wouldn’t think of trying to catch it. The herpetologist
and his assistants hadn’t even caught a glimpse of it.
Kendel was quickly followed by Andie Layne, Di
ane’s assistant; Jonas Briggs, staff archaeologist; and
Korey Jordan, head conservator. They gathered with
Diane around the mummy case.
Diane looked at Andie. ‘‘I seem to remember saying
mummies come across my desk.’’
bounced as she laughed. ‘‘And you won’t. This is a
see inside it.’’ His white teeth were bright against his
‘‘Lionel-Kirk inherited it from his father in New York
around twenty years ago. His father had inherited it
from his grandfather in England, who inherited it from
his father, we think. We’re working provenance now.’’
‘‘Is there anything in it?’’
Jonas Briggs answered. Retired from Bartram Uni
versity in Rosewood, and now the museum’s only ar
chaeologist, he had been the first to express a desire
for an exhibit on Egyptology. At the moment, he was
beaming. ‘‘There is indeed. There is a mummy inside.’’
sure it’s the mummy that belongs with the case,’’ Kendel warned. ‘‘At the time this was acquired, mummies
were a popular tourist item and the Egyptian sellers
did some mixing and matching of mummy cases and
think he—or she—was the centerpiece of a Victorian
mummy unwrapping party. They were all the rage at
around and watch the host unwrap a mummy. We’re
lucky this one survived. Most from unwrapping parties
were burnt as firewood.’’
‘‘We were just about to take it up to the conserva
tion lab and have a look,’’ said Korey.
Diane motioned toward the elevator. ‘‘By all means.
Let’s have a look at our mummy.’’