Authors: Unknown Author
Tags: #Elise Title
MONDAY, 10:35 A.M.
AUGUST 5, 1997
DETECTIVE MITCHELL OATES, a burly African American, was standing a few feet from an open doorway to one of those
-style bedrooms in a posh town house in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill. He stepped aside to give his partner, Leo Coscarelli, a better view of the body. The two detectives had been teamed up for close to three years now. Oates, at thirty-one, was the younger by two years, but you wouldn’t know it to look at them. Coscarelli had the guileless face and lean, wiry body of a postadolescent. Coscarelli’s boyish looks, surprisingly, had turned out to be his biggest asset as a homicide detective. Many suspects over the past seven years had made the mistake of thinking the lieutenant was wet behind the ears, and therefore a pushover. What often happened was, they’d let their guard down, get sloppy, and find out the hard way that it was never smart to judge a book by its cover.
Oates had been at the crime scene for about fifteen minutes. Coscarelli had just arrived. Like his partner, Coscarelli was supposed to be off-duty that day, but given the high-profile victim, he'and Oates had been handpicked by the Homicide chief to take charge of the case.
When the call came in at 10:05
to hightail it over to the Slater home, Coscarelli was still in bed. But he wasn’t sleeping. And he wasn’t alone. He was having sex with Suzanne Holden, an ex-druggie and -prostitute he was endeavoring to “rehabilitate. ” In hindsight, he wished the call had come in a few minutes earlier. Then it could have been one of those “saved by the bell” situations—the situation being one he definitely should not have been in in the first place. But “saving bells” rarely went off in real life.
Coscarelli peered down at the bare-chested body of the criminal defense attorney—revered or reviled, depending on whether you were the defendant or the plaintiff.
“You knew him, right?” Oates muttered.
“Who in Homicide doesn’t know Matthew Slater?” Coscarelli answered, noting, with a modicum of envy, that for a guy in his late forties, Slater was enviably buff. Not that all those workouts at the gym were going to do the poor bastard much good now— unless you counted looking pumped in your casket.
Coscarelli looked over his shoulder at Oates. “So, what’s the story?”
“Call came in at nine-oh-five
A local unit got here at nine-twenty
with a couple of paramedics. Slater was pronounced dead by one of the EMT boys. Coroner and CSI team are on the way.”
“Media got here quick enough.”
Coscarelli squatted down, took in the dead attorney’s facial bruising, including what looked to be a badly broken nose. But he doubted it was the punch, or more likely, punches, that killed Matthew Slater. “Gotta wait for the ME, but my money’s on manual strangulation.” Not touching the corpse, he pointed to the darker bruise marks around the lawyer’s neck. “Who found him?”
“Joyce Halber . . . Slater’s secretary. She got worried because the boss didn’t show up at the office for an important breakfast meeting scheduled for eight
and she couldn’t reach him on his cell phone. So she drove over. Got here at approximately eight forty-five
When he didn’t answer her rings or knocks, she let herself in. Oh—she had a key to the house. Said Slater had given it to her when she first started working for him three years ago. Anyway, like I said . . . she came over here, unlocked the door—”
“She said it was locked?” Coscarelli interrupted.
Oates flipped open a notebook and retrieved a handwritten report from the cop who’d arrived on the scene first. “Yep.”
Oates continued, referring to the report. “She looked downstairs first, then figured he must have overslept—she said that he took sleeping pills on occasion. So she went upstairs and found him right where he is now. She swears she didn’t touch him or anything else in the room.”
Coscarelli nodded. “I’d say by the looks of our corpse and the smell, our killer struck a good two, three days ago. Nobody missed Slater before this morning?”
Oates shrugged. “It was the weekend. According to what the secretary told the uniform, the Slaters have a place out on Martha’s Vineyard. The wife spends the summer there, and Slater flies out most weekends. Halber assumed he was there. Just before I talked to the secretary on the phone, I heard from the sheriff on the Vineyard. He’d just come back from informing the wife.”
“How’d he get word so quickly?”
“Efficient secretary.” Coscarelli paused briefly. “So, how’d the wife take it?”
“Sheriff said she didn’t break down or nothing. His interpretation, she was probably in shock.” Oates cocked a thick eyebrow. “Could be shock, I guess. Anyway, she told the sheriff her husband phoned her Friday afternoon saying he was staying in the city to work on a brief. She didn’t try reaching him and wasn’t surprised that he never contacted her over the weekend. It’s supposedly the way he is when he’s deep into a case.”
Coscarelli rose to his feet. “Secretary tell you what case he was working on?”
Oates gave his partner a crafty smile. “According to Halber, our boy was in between cases at the moment.”
THURSDAY, 8:33 P.M.
“You ready for her, Lieutenant?”
Coscarelli lifted his eyes from the typed statement to the darkskinned, heavyset cop standing at the door. He caught the uniform’s slight inflection on the “her,” but he let it pass. He might as well get used to it. Chances were high this was going to be the hottest copy since O.J., a shoo-in for Court TV if it went to trial. Exploitation in the name of edification. A surefire spectator sport. And a profitable one. For everyone but the defendant.
“We got her fingerprinted and booked. Her one call was to her lawyer.” The cop smiled slyly. “You’d never guess, to look at her. Just thought I’d let you know.”
Coscarelli glared at the uniform, who motioned behind him with his hand, then stepped aside.
Lynn Ingram appeared in his doorway as Coscarelli was slipping her statement into the murder book. He gave an involuntary start when he saw her. Hector Rodriquez was right. No way he’d have guessed. And it wasn’t even that she was all dolled up in some ultrafeminine dress, or sported high-heeled shoes, big hair, or went over the top on the makeup. Anything but. To the naked eye, Coscarelli could discern no cosmetics save for a touch of gloss that accentuated full, sensual lips and a whisper of blush accentuating the high cheekbones of a fashion model. If she’d undergone rhinoplasty, her plastic surgeon had to have been top-caliber because her straight, slightly elongated nose perfectly suited her face. That face was both striking, and unnervingly delicate, framed by ash-blonde hair that fell softly to her shoulders, straight, silky, tastefully styled. Even her outfit was decidedly understated, expensively tailored. Slim black suede jeans and an off-white cashmere blazer worn open over a teal-blue, fitted T-shirt that was a pretty good match to her eyes.
There was no getting around it. The tall, slender but nicely endowed twenty-eight-year-old certainly did look the epitome of femininity. With the exception of her hands. Even with the expertly manicured nails and the slender, shapely fingers, there was no question that Lynn Ingram’s hands were large. Still, plenty of tall women had large hands. And Coscarelli judged Ingram’s height to be close to six feet.
Coscarelli couldn’t help wondering what it would have been like if he’d met Lynn Ingram under
circumstances. Would he ever have surmised the truth? No, he was sure he wouldn’t have—as sure as he was that he would have most definitely found himself attracted to her. But then, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d been attracted to an “inappropriate” woman. Ingram’s presr ence.reminded him of the morning he’d been called to the Slater murder scene. A morning when he’d let his attraction to another inappropriate woman—namely a young and beautiful ex-drug addict/prostitute—get seriously out of hand. Since then he’d been working hard to get his errant libido back in check. Lynn Ingram wasn’t helping his progress. ,
He caught a faint smile on Ingram’s face, like she had a good idea of his reaction to her. That shook him a little. She shook him. More than a little.
Fighting the urge to clear his throat, he said, “You don’t have to say anything, or even be in here, until your lawyer arrives.” “You mean I can wait in a cell. No thanks.” There was a hint of huskiness in her tone, but it was more sexy than it was masculine. He was impressed that she seemed not to be making an attempt to artificially raise the pitch of her voice.
“I’m going to turn on a tape recorder.”
He hit the
button on the compact machine on his desk, his eyes fixed on her face as he stated for the record, “This is Lieutenant Leo Coscarelli with Lynn Ingram. The date is Thursday, November twenty-fourth. The time is—” He took a quick glance at his watch. “Eight thirty-eight
“Do I sit down?” she asked.
He gestured to a straight-backed wooden chair on the other side of his desk.
She gave his nondescript cubicle of an office a quick glance, then considered him for a few moments before crossing to the chair. Was she checking him out as a cop, thinking that he looked way too young for Homicide? Or was she merely checking him out as a man? Or both? No way to read this one. But he couldn’t pull his eyes off her.
She crossed the small space, moving with a dancer’s grace, lowering her long, slender body into the proffered chair.
“I imagine you thought I’d look more like a drag queen.” Coscarelli wasn’t walking into that one. “Look, Ms. Ingram, I’m sure your lawyer advised you not to say anything until—”
Coscarelli’s eyebrows shot up. He hadn’t picked up that tidbit in her statement. “Medical doctor?”
“We don’t all earn our keep as drag queens, Detective. I’m a clinical psychologist with a specialty in pain management. I work with Dr. Harrison Bell, an anesthesiologist, at the Boston Harbor Community Pain Clinic. I’ve been there since I got my Ph.D. from Boston University two years ago. ” She crossed one long leg over the other, looking surprisingly contained for someone who’d just walked in off the street and voluntarily confessed to a murder she’d committed over three months ago. Maybe she was putting it on. Passing, not only as a woman, but as one who was remarkably self-possessed given the situation. Coscarelli had to admit that Ingram’s talent for “passing” was highly successful, if he was any judge. Then again, if what she said in her statement
was true, Lynn Ingram had gone a major step past merely
“That’s how I met Matt,” she went on evenly. Coscarelli was certain that Ingram was going against the direct advice of her attorney. Still, that was her choice, the proof that he had in no way coerced her recorded on tape. “He had chronic joint pain in his right knee due to an old college soccer injury. He started coming in for treatment in May after being referred to the clinic by one of his law partners—”
“And that partner would be?”
“He’s the attorney you indicated in your statement would be representing you.”
“That’s right, Detective. I phoned him a short while ago. Needless to say, he was most unhappy that I’d already given a statement.” She shrugged. Even this gesture had a distinctly natural feminine quality. “Aaron’s flying in from La Guardia Airport. He keeps an apartment in Manhattan because his firm also has offices there. Actually, he and Matt shared the apartment. They were friends as well as law partners.”
“And yet you chose Hirsh?”
“He’s the best. And he’s my friend as well.”
Coscarelli gave her a closer look.
She smiled, revealing even, pearl-white teeth. “Just a friend, Detective.”
“Why did you make a statement before Hirsh got here?” Coscarelli asked.
“To be honest, I didn’t know I was going to do it. I was having dinner with a friend just down the street. Putting it lightly, I haven’t had much of an appetite for the past three months, and my friend expressed concern. I told him it was nothing. But, quite obviously, that was a lie. I’ve been in a state of torment since that awful night. I selected the restaurant, by the way. I’m sure Freud would make something of the fact that it’s one block away from police headquarters. And the wise doctor would be right. I even parked my car directly across the street from this building. I left the restaurant, started for my car and . . . found myself walking in here instead. I shouldn’t have acted so precipitously. Meaning I should have waited and come in with Aaron. But the damage is already done. I made a statement. I stand by that statement. When Aaron gets here, that will still be my statement.” “Why turn yourself in now?”
Her gaze fixed on his. “Conscience.” He saw a sadness brim up in her deep-blue eyes, but he didn’t trust it.
Ingram drew her eyes away, focusing on the poor excuse for a Christmas cactus sitting on top of his file cabinet. The plant hadn’t bloomed this past Christmas, or the two before that. Coscarelli wasn’t sure why he kept it around. Maybe he was waiting for a miracle.