"Rub it in, Kincaid. You have no idea how
much I miss my amber ales." She looked down again at the contents of her
"Sorry," I said sheepishly. "Starbucks?"
"You're on," she said, opening the first
Jessica and I each issued fifteen
separate cases in the next fifty-six minutes. I won two prosecutorial sprints
of the three. A quick read of the police report, a few taps on the ten-key pad
for the badge numbers of the arresting officers, and a few more strokes for
the applicable sections of the criminal code, and -- voilà! -- out popped a
If the pace seems callous, don't blame
me; blame the system, at least when it comes to issuing custodies. These are
the cases filed against suspects who were booked the previous night. If a
custody case isn't ready for arraignment by the time the suspect is called on
the 2 P.M. docket, the court cuts the suspect loose. Free lattes weren't our
only motivation for rushing.
As eight-thirty was rolling around and
the rest of the office was finally strolling in, a young woman I recognized as
the intake unit's receptionist interrupted our case-issuing sprints.
"You're Kincaid, right?" she asked.
I nodded, scrawling my illegible
signature at the bottom of yet another complaint.
"You've got a call from an officer. I'll
transfer it back," she said.
"Who is it?" I asked.
"Who pays attention? They asked for you,
"Thanks a bunch," I muttered, under my
breath. I couldn't figure out who would be calling me at intake, but for the
moment it was an excuse to ditch my post, at least for a few minutes.
I picked up the transferred call.
"Good morning, Ms. Kincaid. It's Jack
Walker." Otherwise known as one of my favorite Major Crimes Team detectives.
"So my sources were right. You've worked your way all the way up into the
glorious misdemeanor unit."
"Rumor's out already, huh? You calling to
"I'm busting you out of there. We got a
body up in Hillside. I'm told you're our gal."
"Yeah? By whom?"
"That'd be one Senior Deputy District
Attorney Russell Frist." He enunciated my supervisors name in the deep booming
staccato voice used widely in law enforcement circles to mimic Russ Frist.
Apparently Russ had decided this call-out would be mine.
"You need me to come up there?" I asked.
"Definitely," he said. "This one's gonna
be a doozy."
As my Jetta putted up the steep incline
on Burnside toward what Walker had helpfully described as "the parking lot of
those big pink condos," I considered the scenarios possibly awaiting me at the
top of the hill -- none of them good. Protocol requires the bureau to connect
with our office immediately on every new homicide, just to be sure a DA works
the case from the start. But most cases don't warrant the physical presence of
a prosecutor at the crime scene. What made this one so special?
When I turned into the parking lot of
sprawling Vista Heights, I silently cursed Jack Walker. There must have been
eight hundred condos perched on the overlook above north-west Portland,
surrounded by acres of parking lot. I cruised the main road surrounding the
complex -- as well as its various offshoots -- at a steady five miles per
hour, thanks to the frequent and enormous speed bumps spread throughout the
property. I finally knew I'd reached the right place at the dead end of one of
the side roads when I spotted a flurry of cop activity behind the familiar
yellow crime-scene tape.
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