Excerpt of Alice in Jeopardy by Ed McBain
(Page 3 of 10)
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"Mm," he says.
"Ah, here it is," she says, and finds the key to the lockbox, and
then opens the box, and removes the key to the front door. "The owners are
up north," she says over her shoulder, "they also have a home in North
Carolina." She inserts the key into the lock on the front door, twists the
key, opens the door, turns to him, and says, "Please come in."
The view is truly breathtaking.
From just inside the front door, one can see through the living room to the
sliding glass doors at the rear of the house, and beyond those doors to the
wooden platforms that drop gradually from one to the other, down to the dock
where a thirty-two-foot Seaward Eagle is moored to the pilings. Out over the
bay, a squadron of central casting pelicans swoop low over the calm silent
"Nice," Webb says.
"And you get this same magnificent view from every room in the
house," she says.
"Was it a boating accident?" he asks.
"Yes," she says briefly, and leads him through the living room,
past the fireplace...
"That's fossil stone," she says. "The chimney's been restored,
with a new flue and top. The cedar floors are new, too, throughout the entire
"Out here on the Bay?" he asks.
"The Gulf," she says, again briefly, and opens one of the sliding
doors. "All the windows and doors were replaced during the renovation, this
hardware is all new," she says, and steps out onto the first of the
"The decks were all replaced and enlarged, too," she says.
"Highest grade, clean-cut, dense dry wood and stainless steel
...and walks him down to the dock itself.
"Note the swimming pool and privacy garden just off the master
bedroom," she says.
The Allenbys' power cruiser sits bobbing gently alongside the dock.
"The dock is new, forty feet long. It can hold one large and two small
boats, or a second boat up to twenty feet. Dual 50 AMP service to the dock. Full
access to the Gulf of Mexico, no bridges on the way."
"When did you start selling real estate?"
"Almost six months ago," she says.
"Lots of widows in the real estate game," he says.
"I hadn't noticed."
"Widows and divorcées. Keeps them busy, I suppose."
She wants to tell him that this is more than busywork, this is her way of
starting a new life, her way of coping with the aftermath of her husband's
senseless death, when her very existence was shattered...
She catches herself, looks out over the water.
"It's so utterly still here," she says.
She allows him to stand on the dock in silence for a while, savoring the
solitude and the majestic view.
"Come," she says, "let me show you the rest of the
Inside again, she shows him the kitchen with its custom teak countertop and
hand-built, hand-painted kitchen cabinets, its Miele and Thermador appliances...
"A water softener has been added to the entire house," she says,
"and there's a new two-zone air-conditioning system with all new ducts. All
the plumbing and plumbing hardware was replaced, too, including a new line to
the street. There's a new irrigation system, a new well pump, a new shell
driveway. In effect, you'd be getting a brand new house that just happens
to be a historic landmark as well."
She takes him into the large room on the southern end of the house. From
Frank Allenby's spacious desk, the view over the bay is spectacular.
"This is actually a second bedroom," she says, "it has its own
private bath. But the Allenbys live here alone, so Frank uses it as an
"They say it takes a year," Webb says.
"I beg your pardon?"
"To get over a divorce or a death."
She says nothing.
"I've been divorced for nine months now. You suppose they're
right?" he asks.
From Alice in Jeopardy, chapter 1, pages 3-23. Copyright © 2005 by Hui Corp.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt maybe reproduced without
written permission from the publisher.