Ice, p.1

Ice, page 1

 

Ice
 



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Ice


  Praise for Ed McBain & the 87th Precinct

  “Raw and realistic…The bad guys are very bad, and the good guys are better.”—Detroit Free Press

  “Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series…simply the best police procedurals being written in the United States.”—Washington Post

  “The best crime writer in the business.”—Houston Post

  “Ed McBain is a national treasure.”—Mystery News

  “It’s hard to think of anyone better at what he does. In fact, it’s impossible.”—Robert B. Parker

  “I never read Ed McBain without the awful thought that I still have a lot to learn. And when you think you’re catching up, he gets better.”—Tony Hillerman

  “McBain is the unquestioned king…light years ahead of anyone else in the field.”—San Diego Union-Tribune

  “McBain tells great stories.”—Elmore Leonard

  “Pure prose poetry…It is such writers as McBain who bring the great American urban mythology to life.”—The London Times

  “The McBain stamp: sharp dialogue and crisp plotting.”—Miami Herald

  “You’ll be engrossed by McBain’s fast, lean prose.”—Chicago Tribune

  “McBain redefines the American police novel…he can stop you dead in your tracks with a line of dialogue.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

  “The wit, the pacing, his relish for the drama of human diversity [are] what you remember about McBain novels.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

  “McBain is a top pro, at the top of his game.”—Los Angeles Daily News

  Ice

  AN 87TH PRECINCT NOVEL

  Ed McBain

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  Text copyright (c)1983 Hui Corporation Republished in 2011

  All rights reserved.

  Printed in the United States of America.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

  Published by Thomas & Mercer P.O. Box 400818

  Las Vegas, NV 89140

  ISBN-13: 9781612181677

  ISBN-10: 1612181678

  The city in these pages is imaginary.

  The people, the places are all fictitious.

  Only the police routine is based on established

  investigatory technique.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  It was still snowing hard when she came out of the theater.

  The snow, wind driven, struck her face sharply as she stepped into the alley and closed the stage door behind her. She glanced upward, shaking her head as though reprimanding God, and grimaced at the myriad tiny darts of white swirling in the reflected glow of the hooded light hanging over the door. Reflexively, she lifted the collar of her coat, and then yanked the muffler from around her throat and draped it over her head like a scarf. Holding the ends together just under her chin, she began walking toward the street at the end of the alley.

  In this city, there were only two good seasons, and even they were sometimes lousy. Winter and summer, you could forget entirely; they were either too hot or too cold. Like this winter, which had started in November instead of when it was supposed to. London was worse, she supposed. No, London was better. Well, at least London was dependable; London was always lousy. Well, that wasn’t quite true, either. She could remember days, when she was living there—ah, those lovely balmy summer days, strolling up Piccadilly, blonde ponytail swishing behind her, nineteen years old then and worlds ahead to conquer. Summertime in London.

  The snow underfoot was at least a foot deep.

  Luckily, she had decided to put on boots before leaving her apartment for the performance tonight, not because she was expecting snow—the snow hadn’t begun until sometime after the curtain went up—but only because it was so damn cold. The boots afforded at least some protection. They were shin-high, her blue jeans and leg warmers tucked into them, her long gray cavalry officer’s coat coming almost to their leather tops. There wasn’t a taxicab in sight. Naturally. This city. She had lingered too long in the dressing room, leisurely cold-creaming off her makeup, getting out of the silver-spangled costume all the dancers wore for the finale, and then into her sweater, jeans, socks, leg warmers, and boots. She’d made her big mistake in listening so long to Molly. Molly was having trouble with her husband again. Molly’s husband was an unemployed actor who seemed to hold her responsible for having landed a part in a hit musical while he was still running around town auditioning. Never mind that Molly’s weekly salary paid the rent and put food on the table. Never mind that Molly, like all the gypsies in the show, busted her ass doing complicated routines six nights a week, not to mention Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Molly’s husband kept railing at her, and in the dressing room Molly kept repeating his angry tirades, and it was all you could do to get out of there by 11:00 if you weren’t careful. It was twenty past 11:00 now; Molly had gone on forever.

  All the cabs had been snatched up by audiences pouring out into the night when the shows broke all up and down the street. She could either walk north to Lassiter and hope to catch an uptown bus on the corner there, or she could walk south to the Stem, and then four blocks east to the subway station, where she could catch an uptown train. The avenue bordering the theater on the north was perhaps the roughest in the entire city, thronged with hookers and pimps at all hours of the day, but especially after dark. Besides, with this snow, would the buses be running on schedule? No, the subway would be best.

  When she reached the brightly lighted Stem, however, she was surprised to find that it was still crowded with people, despite the rotten weather. She stood on the street corner for a moment, debating whether it wouldn’t be simpler just to walk home. She lived only ten blocks from the theater. If she took the subway, it meant walking the four blocks to the station, and then another block to her apartment building when she got off the train. Besides, would the subway be safer than the Stem at this hour of the night?

  She decided to walk.

  She walked with a dancer’s peculiarly duck-footed waddle. She had been a dancer ever since she was nine—sixteen years now—including four years of study at the Sadler’s Wells in London. She had been living then with an oboe player, a young man who could never understand why dancers looked so graceful onstage and so oddly awkward off. Walking duck-footedly, but briskly, she smiled at the memory, and thought again of London, and longed idiotically for the wet and gloomy winters there—winters without the stubborn cold that held this city in its icy grip for months on end. This was February. Spring was only a bit more than a month away. But where was it? She paced herself as if she were doing a routine, head ducked against the wind and the snow, so many strides to the corner, so many strides to the corner after that, pause there for the traffic light—five six seven eight—striding out again, the tails of her gray coat flapping in the wind, the snow swirling around her, the blinking lights on the rooftop billboards flashing palely through the fierce sharp flakes.

  It was ten minutes to midnight when she reached her own corner.

  She turned left at the familiar phone booth, banked with snow now, and began walking toward her building in the midd
le of the block.

  In this city, the neighborhoods changed rapidly. Ten blocks farther downtown, it would have been extremely dangerous to stand on a street corner waiting for a bus at this time of night. But here, only half a mile uptown from the theater, the block between the Stem and Lassiter was a safe, secluded enclave of juxtaposed brownstones, high-rises, and small shops. Her own building was midway between the two avenues. The shops, at this hour, were shuttered and dark. She passed the streetlamp two buildings down from her own and was approaching her own building when the man stepped out of the shadowed doorway to the service entrance.

  Her head was still ducked against the blinding snow; at first, she only sensed his presence. She stopped. He was holding a gun in his hand. She knew only sudden lurching terror. She opened her mouth to scream, or to plead, or to shout for help, but the gun exploded and she felt a searing sensation below her left breast, and then she fell over backward onto the sidewalk, into the snow, blood bubbling from the wound and soaking the gray cavalry officer’s coat.

  He stood over her.

  He glanced briefly over his shoulder.

  He leveled the pistol at her head then and fired two shots directly into her face.

  The girl lay wet and gray and red against the white snow.

  The snow was still falling. A patrol car was angled in against the curb, its blinking red dome lights flashing red onto the redstained snow around the girl. Two detectives from Midtown East stood looking down at the dead girl. Behind them, the two patrolmen who’d first responded to the call were putting up wooden police barricades and cardboard CRIME SCENE placards. One of the detectives was named Henry Levine, and he had been working for the police department since he was twenty-one. He was now forty-six. He looked down at the dead girl’s shattered face without blinking. His partner was twenty-eight years old. He had been a cop for six years, and had only recently been promoted to detective/3rd grade. The plastic-encased card clipped to the lapel of his overcoat identified him as Ralph Coombes. In the color photograph behind the plastic, he looked like a teenager.

  “I never saw anything like this in my life,” he said.

  “Yeah,” Levine said.

  “Did you?”

  “Yeah,” Levine said. He looked over his shoulder to where the two patrolmen were working on the barricades. One of the wooden crossplanks refused to seat itself properly on the sawhorses. The patrolmen were swearing.

  “You gonna be all night there?” Levine asked.

  “This thing don’t fit right,” one of the patrolmen said.

  “Her face all blown away,” Coombes said, shaking his head.

  “Leave it alone,” Levine said to the patrolmen. “Come here a minute, willya?”

  The heavier of the two patrolmen left the stubborn plank to his partner. He walked over through the snow, and put his hands on his hips.

  “Who reported it?” Levine asked.

  “Guy coming home from work. Lives there in the same building.”

  “What’s his name?”

  “I didn’t get his name. Frank!” he called to his partner. “You get that guy’s name?”

  “What guy?” his partner yelled back. He had finally managed to get the crossplank seated on the sawhorses. Dusting off his gloves, he walked to where the other patrolman, his hands still on his hips, was standing with Levine. “What guy you talking about?” he asked.

  “The guy who called it in,” Levine said.

  “Yeah, I got it here in my pad, just a second.” He took off one glove, and began leafing through his pad. “I can’t find it,” he said. “What the hell did I do with it?”

  “But he lives in the girl’s building, huh?” Levine said, sighing.

  “Yeah.”

  “And he’s the one who called 911?”

  “Yeah. Whyn’t you go ask him yourself? He’s inside there with the Homicide dicks.”

  Levine looked surprised. “Homicide’s here already?”

  “Got here before you did.”

  “How come?”

  “They were cruising, picked up the Ten-Twenty-nine on the squawk box.”

  “Come on,” Levine said to his partner.

  The two Homicide detectives were standing in the lobby of the building with a man wearing a plaid mackinaw and a blue watch cap. The man was tall and thin and he looked frightened. The two Homicide detectives were burly and broad and they looked self-assured. They framed the thin frightened man like belligerent bookends.

  “What time was this?” one of the Homicide detectives asked. His name was Monoghan.

  “About twelve-thirty,” the man said.

  “Half-past midnight?” the other Homicide detective asked. His name was Monroe.

  “Yes, sir.”

  “How’d you happen to find her?” Monoghan asked.

  “I was coming home from work. From the subway.”

  “You live in this building?” Monroe asked.

  “Yes, sir.”

  “And you were walking home?” Monoghan asked.

  “From the subway?” Monroe asked.

  “Yes, sir.”

  “What kind of work do you do, you’re getting home so late?”

  “I’m a bank guard,” the man said.

  “You get home this time every night?” Monoghan asked.

  “Half-past midnight?” Monroe asked.

  “Yes, sir. I’m relieved at twelve, it takes me a half hour to get home by subway. The subway station’s a block away. I always walk home from the subway.”

  “And that’s when you found the girl?” Monoghan asked.

  “Walking home from the subway?” Monroe asked.

  “Yes, sir.”

  “Look who’s here,” Monoghan said, spotting Levine as he came toward them.

  Monroe looked at his watch. “What took you so long, Henry?”

  “We were on a coffee break,” Levine said, deadpan. “Didn’t want to rush it.”

  “Who’s this?” Monoghan asked.

  “My partner. Ralph Coombes.”

  “You look a little green around the gills, Coombes,” Monroe said.

  “A little Irish around the gills,” Monoghan said.

  “You sure you two guys’ll be able to handle this without your mamas here to wipe your asses?” Monroe said.

  “At least the cops in Midtown East have mamas,” Levine said.

  “Oh, hilarious,” Monoghan said.

  “Sidesplitting,” Monroe said.

  “This here’s Dominick Bonaccio,” Monoghan said. “Man who found the body. He was coming home from work.”

  “From the subway station,” Monroe said.

  “Right, Bonaccio?” Monoghan said.

  “Yes, sir,” Bonaccio said. He looked even more frightened now that two other detectives had joined them.

  “You think you can take over now?” Monoghan asked Levine. “The squeal’s officially yours, am I right?”

  “That’s right,” Levine said.

  “Better call your mamas first,” Monroe said.

  “Tell ‘em you’re gonna be freezin’ your asses off tonight,” Monoghan said, and laughed.

  “You feel like pizza?” Monroe asked him.

  “I thought Chink’s,” Monoghan said. “Okay, you guys, it’s yours. Keep us informed. In triplicate, if you don’t mind.”

  “We’ll keep you informed,” Levine said.

  The Homicide detectives nodded. First Monoghan nodded and then Monroe nodded. They looked at each other, looked at the two detectives from Midtown East, looked at Bonaccio, and then looked at each other again.

  “Okay, pizza,” Monoghan said, and both cops walked out of the building.

  “Choke on it,” Levine said, under his breath.

  Coombes already had his notebook in his hand.

  “Do you know who the girl is?” Levine asked Bonaccio.

  “Yes, sir.”

  “How come? Her face is gone.”

  “I recognize the coat, sir.”

  “Uh-huh,
Levine said.

  “It’s a new coat. I met her in the elevator on the day she bought it. She told me she got it in a thrift shop.”

  “Uh-huh,” Levine said.

  Coombes was writing.

  “What’s her name?” Levine said.

  “Sally. I don’t know her last name.”

  “Lives here in the building, huh?”

  “Yes, sir. Third floor. She always gets on and off the elevator on the third floor.”

  “Would you know what apartment?”

  “No, sir, I’m sorry.”

  Levine sighed. “What apartment do you live in, sir?”

  “6-B.”

  “Okay, go to sleep, we’ll get in touch with you if we need you. Would you know where the super’s apartment is?”

  “On the ground floor, sir. Near the elevator.”

  “Okay, thanks a lot. Come on,” he said to Coombes.

  The rest was routine.

  They awakened the superintendent of the building and elicited from him the information that the dead girl’s name was Sally Anderson. They waited for the assistant ME to pronounce the girl officially dead, and then they waited while the Crime Unit boys took their pictures and their prints. They went through the dead girl’s shoulder bag after everyone else was through with her. They found an address book, a tube of lipstick, a small packet of Kleenex tissues, an eyebrow pencil, two sticks of gum, and a wallet containing several photographs, $23 in fives and singles, and a card identifying her as a member of Actors Equity. The ambulance carted her off to the morgue while they were making their drawings of the crime scene.

  It was not until later that morning that Detective Steve Carella and the 87th Precinct were drawn into the case.

 
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