"Oh God," I muttered as my world suddenly got too dark to see. "We're sure?"
"Well, he's missing."
"You mind explaining to me why I'm just now being told about this?"
I felt anger rising, and it was all I could do not to hurl it at him, for all unnatural deaths in Virginia were my responsibility. I shouldn't have needed Marino to inform me about this one, and I was furious with my Northern Virginia office for not calling me at home.
"Don't go getting pissed at your docs up in Fairfax," said Marino, who seemed to read my mind. "Fauquier County asked ATF to take over here, so that's the way it's going."
I still didn't like it, but it was time to get on with the business at hand.
"I'm assuming no body has been recovered yet," I said, and I was writing fast.
"Hell no. That's going to be your fun job."
I paused, resting the pen on the call sheet. "Marino, this is a single-dwelling fire. Even if arson is suspected, and it's a high-profile case, I'm not seeing why ATF is interested."
"Whiskey, machine guns, not to mention buying and selling fancy horses, so now we're talking about a business," Marino answered.
"Great," I muttered.
"Oh yeah. We're talking a goddamn nightmare. The fire marshal's gonna call you before the day's out. Better get packed because the whirlybird's picking us up before dawn. Timing's bad, just like it always is. I guess you can kiss your vacation goodbye."
Reprinted from POINT OF ORIGIN by Patricia Cornwell by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1998 by Cornwell Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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