Excerpt from High Five by Janet Evanovich, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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High Five

A Stephanie Plum Mystery

by Janet Evanovich

High Five by Janet Evanovich X
High Five by Janet Evanovich
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  • First Published:
    Jun 1999, 292 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2000, 255 pages

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"RGC. The police said Fred never got there. Fred had a whole list of errands he was going to do. He was going to the cleaners, the bank, the supermarket, and RGC."

"And you haven't heard from him."

"Not a word. Nobody's heard anything."

I had a feeling there wasn't going to be a happy ending to this story.

"Do you have any idea where Fred might be?"

"Everyone thinks he just wandered away, like a big dummy."

"What do you think?"

Mabel did an up-and-down thing with her shoulders. Like she didn't know what to think. Whenever I did that, it meant I didn't want to say what I was thinking.

"If I show you something, you have to promise not to tell anyone," Mabel said.

Oh boy.

She went to a kitchen drawer and took out a packet of pictures. "I found these in Fred's desk. I was looking for the checkbook this morning, and this is what I found."

I stared at the first picture for at least thirty seconds before I realized what I was seeing. The print was taken in shadow and looked underexposed. The perimeter was a black plastic trash bag, and in the center of the photo was a bloody hand severed at the wrist. I thumbed through the rest of the pack. More of the same. In some the bag was spread wider, revealing more body parts. What looked like a shinbone, part of a torso maybe, something that might have been the back of the head. Hard to tell if it was man or woman.

The shock of the pictures had me holding my breath, and I was getting a buzzing sensation in my head. I didn't want to ruin my bounty hunter image and keel over onto the floor, so I concentrated on quietly resuming breathing.

"You have to give these to the police," I said.

Mabel gave her head a shake. "I don't know what Fred was doing with these pictures. Why would a person have pictures like this?"

No date on the front or the back. "Do you know when they were taken?"

"No. This is the first I saw them."

"Do you mind if I look through Fred's desk?" "It's in the cellar," Mabel said. "Fred spent a lot of time down there."

It was a battered government-issue desk. Probably bought at a Fort Dix yard sale. It was positioned against the wall, opposite the washer and dryer. And it was set on a stained piece of wall to wall carpet that I assumed had been saved when new carpet was laid upstairs.

I pawed through the drawers, finding the usual junk. Pencils and pens. A drawer filled with instruction booklets and warranty cars for household appliances. Another drawer devoted to old issues of National Geographic. The magazines were dog-eared, and I could see Fred down here, escaping from Mabel, reading about the vanishing forests of Borneo.

A cancelled RGC check had been carefully placed under a paperweight. Fred had probably made a copy to take with him and had left the original here.

There are parts of the country where people trust banks to keep their checks and to simply forward computer-generated statements each month. The Burg isn't one of those places. Residents of the Burg aren't that trusting of computers or banks. Residents of the Burg like paper. My relatives hoard cancelled checks like Scrooge McDuck hoards quarters.

I didn't see any more photos of dead bodies. And I couldn't find any notes or sales receipts that might be connected to the pictures.

"You don't suppose Fred killed this person, do you?" Mabel asked.

I didn't know what I supposed. What I knew was that I was very creeped out. "Fred didn't seem like the sort of person to do something like this," I told Mabel. "Would you like me to pass these on to the police for you?"

Reprinted from HIGH FIVE by Janet Evanovich, a St Martin's Press publication, by permission of St Martin's Press. © 1999 by Janet Evanovich.

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