Magozzi gestured toward a rusty old Weber in the corner of the porch.
Gino nudged it with his foot and it collapsed. "We're going to need duct tape."
Magozzi hefted a suspicious-looking, dark orange brick of cheese. "Twelve-year cheddar? Is that legal?"
Gino grinned. "That stuff'll make you weep with joy, I promise. Got it at a great little cheese house in Door County. Somebody forgot about a wheel in the cellar and found it twelve years later, covered in about a foot of mold. Nirvana, my friend. Pure nirvana. It's amazing what a cow and some bacteria can do."
Magozzi sniffed it and cringed. "Oh yeah. Every time I see a cow I think, Hey, wouldn't it be great to get some bacteria and really do something with this thing. Why do you have a file folder in the cooler?"
"It's a cold case."
Gino lifted the grill and another leg fell off in a shower of rust. "This one's from ninety-four. Thought we could take a look at it later. You know, just to keep our hand in, in case anyone ever kills somebody in this town again. You remember hearing anything about the Valensky case?"
Magozzi sat down on the chaise and opened the folder. "Sort of. The plumber, right?"
"That's the one. Shot seven times, three of them in places I don't even want to think about."
"Plumbers charge too much."
"Tell me about it. But other than that, this guy was damn near a candidate for sainthood. Some Polack who actually made it out of the war alive, emigrated to the good old U. S. of A., started a business, married, had three kids, deacon at his church, scout leader, the whole American dream, then bled to death on his own bathroom floor after someone used him for target practice."
"Hell no. According to the reports in there, everybody loved him. Case dried up in about two seconds."
Magozzi grunted and tossed the folder on the floor. "Most guys with a free Sunday would probably find something else to do, like sit on a bench at Lake Calhoun and count bikinis."
"Yeah, well, I'm a crime fighter, I have a higher purpose." Gino ran a hand through his hedge of closely cropped blond hair, reconsidering. "Besides, it's probably too early for bikinis."
They got the call before Magozzi had finished duct-taping the legs back on his grill. Gino had gone inside to unload the cooler, and when he came back out to the porch he was beaming.
"Hey, want to go see a body?"
Magozzi sat back on his heels and frowned. "You found a body in my kitchen?"
"Nah. Phone rang while I was in there, so I picked up. Dispatch got an honest-to-God homicide call. Uptown Nursery. The owner's wife found him this morning by one of the greenhouses and figured it was a heart attack, because the guy is pushing eighty-five and what else would drop a man that age? So she called the funeral director. He finds a bullet hole in the guy's head and calls nine-one-one."
Magozzi looked wistfully at the grill and sighed. "So what happened to the on-duty guys who are supposed to be taking this?"
"Tinker and Peterson. Just what I wanted to know. They just took a call at the train yard over in Northeast. Found some poor bastard tied to the tracks."
"Nah, don't worry. Train never hit him."
"So he's okay?"
"Nope, he's dead."
Magozzi looked at him expectantly.
"Don't look at me. That's all I got." He jumped when his shirt pocket spit out an irritating, tinny version of Beethoven's Fifth.
"What is that?"
Gino pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and stabbed viciously at buttons half the size of his chubby fingers. "Goddamnit. Helen keeps programming in all these weird rings 'cause she knows I got no clue how to change it."
Excerpted from Live Bait by P.J. Tracy Copyright © 2004 by Patricia Lambrecht and Traci Lambrecht. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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