He lowered his window and inhaled the dank bayou air. “What do we have, Bev?” Beverly Stutt was a forty-five year old fireball who had somehow found her way to Locke County after more than twenty years in New York City’s police department. Exactly how she wound up in Jack’s jurisdiction was the subject of much gossip among the working-class residents of the rural county but Jack didn’t care. He appreciated the attention to detail Beverly paid to her work and the deliberateness she brought to every one of her cases. “There are no petty crimes,” she would tell the younger deputies, “there are only petty criminals.”
“Okay, Jack.” She waited for him to work his hands into a pair of yellow latex gloves. “The Lincoln belongs to a Paige Bennett. She lives out near the old pump station in Bittern Bayou.”
“Oh, yeah, I’ve heard about her. She bought the old strawberry farm last year, right?”
“Um, yeah,” said Beverly glancing at her notepad. “Anyway, apparently she’s some kind of book writer because she missed a meeting this morning with her agent.”
Beverly jerked her head in the direction of the white Cadillac parked across the road. “The agent claims she got worried when Bennett wouldn't answer the phone so she came out, found the house empty and then found the car sitting here like this. She called it in as a missing persons about an hour ago.”
“A missing persons?” Jack studied the immaculately groomed woman, who was leaning against the white car and picking invisible lint from her shoulders. “How long has our supposed vic been missing?”
Beverly rolled her brown eyes and said in a low voice, “Two hours.”
Jack frowned and glanced again at the woman. She was now picking at her nails and examining the backs of her hands in the early morning sunlight. She was obviously annoyed and wanted Jack to know it.
“Yeah,” said Beverly, following is gaze. “She’s a real piece of work. Threatened to call the governor’s office if I didn’t get you out here ASAP.” She shrugged. “But, hey, I was working the school zone so at least I was close.” She flashed him a wry smile. “And there was no way I was turning her over to Zach. That woman would’ve eaten him alive.”
“Okay,” said Jack. “I take it you’ve got a full statement from her already.”
“Yeah.” Beverly sighed. “Look, Jack, I’m sorry. I probably should have held off before I called you in but . . . well, this one just doesn’t feel good. I got a brand new laptop and a leather briefcase full of credit cards sitting right there on the front seat and the keys are still in the ignition. And when I first got here that coffee cup was still warm to the touch.”
“You do prints yet?”
“Yep. Won’t know for sure until we get a set of hers to compare to but right now it looks like all the prints belong to the same person. I got prints off the steering wheel and both sides of the driver’s door.”
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