"That might be stretching it by one or two hundred. A dozen I could
dredge up with no effort at all." I took a sip of my beer. "Why do you
ask, lovely one? Is this leading somewhere? It's getting fairly egotistical on
"I know, but I asked for it. Please continue, for I am fascinated."
"I was really good at it," I said with no apologies. "You
never want to give up something you have that much juice for. When I lost it, I
missed the hell out of it. You know all this, there's no use lying, I really
missed it, I always will."
I thought of my police career and the whole story played in my head in an
instant, from that idealistic cherry-faced beginning to the end, when I had
taken on a brute, used his face for a punching bag, and lost my job in the
process. "But I was lucky, wasn't I? The book trade came along and it was
just what I needed: very different, lots of room to grow, interesting work, good
people. I figured I'd be in it forever."
"And indeed, you may well be. But nothing's perfect."
I mustered as much sadness as I could dredge up on a $3,000 day. "Alas,
"If you had to give this up, how would you feel about it?"
"Devastated. You mean I get lucky enough to find two true callings in
one lifetime and then I lose them both? Might as well lie down in front of a
bus. What else would I do? Be a PI? It's not the same after you've been the real
"How would you know? You've never done it: not for any kind of a
"I know as a shamus you've got no authority. You don't have the weight
of the department behind you, and where's the fun in that? You're just another
A moment later, I looked at her and said, "So why are you here on a
workday? How come you're not in your lawyer's uniform? What's going on with your
case? And after all is said and done, am I finally allowed to ask what this
problem is all about?"
"The judge adjourned for the afternoon so he could do some research. I
think we're gonna win, but of course you never know. Right now it's just a
hunch. So I've got the rest of the day off. And let's see, what was that other
question? What's this all about? I need your help."
"Say no more."
"Something's come up. I want you to go to Paradise for me."
"You mean the town in western Colorado or just some blissful state of
"The town. Maybe the other thing too, if you can be civilized."
"Tough assignment. But speaking of the town, why me?"
"You're still the best cop I know. I trust your instincts. Maybe I'm
just showing you that if you did want to do cases, you'd have more work than
you've got time for."
"The great if. Listen, being a dealer in so-called rare books leaves me
no time for anything else anyway. Why do you keep trying to get me out of the
"I'm not! Why would I do that? You could do both, as you have already so
Our food came. The waitress asked if there was anything else and went away.
Erin took a small bite, then looked up and smiled almost virginly.
"Let's say I want you to go to Paradise and look at some books. You
should be able to do that. Look at some books and see if they might be worth
anything. Because if they're not, the defendant may lose her house paying for
"It would be damned unusual for any collection of books to pay for the
exorbitant fees you lawyers charge. Is there any reason to think these might be
anything special? What did she say when she called you?"
"She didn't call, her attorney did. Fine time to be calling, her
preliminary hearing's set for tomorrow."
She didn't have to elaborate. The most critical hours in any investigation
are always the ones immediately after the crime's been committed. "Her
attorney says she mentioned selling her husband's book collection," she
said. "But she's afraid they aren't worth much."
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...