Home > In Death #15 - Purity in Death

In Death #15 - Purity in Death
Author: J.D. Robb


J.D. Robb - In Death #15 - Purity in Death

Purity in Death (In Death #15)
J.D. Robb

mystery/romance/sf/thriller/fantasy

In_Death_15/index

 

Prologue

The heat was murder. July flexed her sweaty muscles, eyed the goal, and drop-kicked New York into the sweltering steam bath of summer. Some managed to escape, fleeing to their shore homes where they could sip cold drinks and bask in ocean breezes while they did their business via telelink. Some loaded up on supplies and hunkered down inside their air-cooled homes like tribes under siege.

But most just had to live through it.

With humatures into the triple digits, and no end in sight, moods turned surly, deodorants failed, and petty annoyances elbowed even the mildest of souls toward violence.

Emergency medical centers were jammed with the wounded soldiers of summer, 2059. Many who, under normal conditions, wouldn't so much as jaywalk saw the inside of police stations and holding tanks, forced to call lawyers to explain why they had attempted to throttle a coworker, or shove a complete stranger under the wheels of a Rapid Cab.

Usually, once cooled off, they didn't know why but sat or stood, blank-faced and baffled, like someone coming out of a trance.

But Louie K. Cogburn knew just what he was doing, why he did it, and how he intended to keep right on doing it. He was a small-time illegals dealer who primarily hawked Zoner and Jazz. To increase his profit margin, Louie cut the Zoner with dried grass scored from city parks, and the Jazz with baking powder he bought in warehouse-sized bins. His target clientele were middle-class kids between the ages of ten and twelve in the three school districts closest to his Lower East Side apartment.

This cut down on travel time and expense.

He preferred straight middle-class as the poor generally had their own suppliers within the family ranks, and the rich copped to the grass and baking powder too quickly. The target age group fit Louie's brand of logic. He liked to say if you hooked 'em young, you had a client for life.

So far this credo hadn't proved out for him as Louie had yet to maintain a business relationship with a client through high school graduation.

Still, Louie took his business seriously. Every evening when his potential clients were doing their homework, he did his. He was proud of his bookkeeping, and would certainly have earned more per annum as a number cruncher for any midlevel firm than he did dealing. But he was a man who felt real men worked for themselves.

Just lately if there'd been a wash of dissatisfaction, a touch of irritability, a jagged edge of despair after he spent an hour running his business programs on his third-hand desktop, he put it off to the heat.

And the headache. The vicious bastard of a headache no dose of his own products could ease.

He lost three days of work because the pain had become the focus of his world. He holed up in his studio flop, stewing in the heat, blasting his music to cover up the raging storm in his head.

Somebody was going to pay for it, that's all he knew. Somebody.

Goddamn lazy-assed super hadn't fixed the climate control. He thought this, with growing anger while his beady, reddened eyes scanned numbers. He sat in his underwear, by the single open window of his one-room apartment. No breeze came through it, but the street noise was horrendous. Shouts, horns, squealing tires on pavement.

He turned up the trash rock he played out of his ancient entertainment unit to drown out the noise. To beat at the pain.

Blood trickled out of his nose, but he didn't notice.

Louie K. rubbed a lukewarm bottle of home-brew over his forehead. He wished he had a blaster. If he had a goddamn blaster he'd lean out the goddamn window and take out a goddamn city block.

His most violent act to date had been to kick a delinquent client off his airboard, but the image of death and destruction fueled him now as he sweated over his books and madness bloomed in his brain like black roses.

His face was pale as wax, rivulets of sweat pouring down from his matted brown hair, streaming down his narrow cheeks. His ears rang and what felt like an ocean of grease swayed in his belly. Heat was making him sick, he thought. He got sick, he lost money. Ought to take it out of the super's hide. Ought to.

His hands trembled as he stared at the screen. Stared at the screen. Couldn't take his eyes from the screen.

He had an image of himself going to the window, climbing out on the ledge, beating his fists at that hot wall of air, at the noise, at the people below. A blaster in his hands, doling out death and destruction as he screamed at them. Screamed and screamed as he leaped.

He'd land on his feet, and then . . .

The pounding on his door had him spinning around. With his teeth bared he climbed back in the window.

"Louie K., you ass**le! Turn that f**king music down in there!"

"Go to hell," he muttered as he hefted the ball bat he often took to recreation areas to insinuate himself with potential clients. "Go to hell, go to hell. Let's all go to hell."

"You hear me? Goddamn it!"

"Yeah, I hear you." There were spikes, big iron spikes drilling into his brain. He had to get them out. On a thin scream, he dropped the bat to tear at his own hair. But the pounding wouldn't stop.

"Suze is calling the cops. You hear me, Louie? You don't turn that shit down Suze is calling the cops." Each word was punctuated with a fist against the door.

With the music, the pounding, the shouts, the spikes all hammering in his head, the sweat drowning him, Louie picked up the bat again.

He opened the door, and started swinging.

Chapter 1

Lieutenant Eve Dallas loitered at her desk. She was stalling, and she wasn't proud of it. The idea of changing into a fancy dress, driving uptown to meet her husband and a group of strangers for a business dinner thinly disguised as a social gathering had all the appeal of climbing in the nearest recycler and turning on Shred.

Right now Cop Central was very appealing.

She'd caught and closed a case that afternoon, so there was paperwork. It wasn't all stalling. But as the bevy of witnesses had all agreed that the guy who'd taken a header off a six-story people glide had been the one who'd started the pushy-shovey match with the two tourists from Toledo, it wasn't much of a time sucker.

For the past several days, every case she'd caught had been a variation on the same theme. Domestics where spouses had battled to the death, street brawls turned lethal, even a deadly combat at a corner glide-cart over ice cones.

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