I remembered Marino's telling me he would drop by the scene, and I got angrier. He gets some rookie to basically give me an order, and then if Marino can fit it in, he might swing by and see how -we're doing?
"Fielding, when's the last time you talked to him?" I asked.
"Weeks. Pissy mood, too."
"Not half as pissy as mine's going to be if and when he finally decides to show up," I promised.
Dockworkers watched me climb out of my car and pop open the trunk. I retrieved my scene case, jumpsuit and shoes, and felt eyes crawl all over me as I walked toward the unmarked car and got more annoyed with each labored step, the heavy case bumping against my leg.
The man in the shirt and tie looked hot and unhappy as he shielded his eyes to gaze up at two television news helicopters slowly circling the port at about four hundred feet. "Darn reporters," he muttered, turning his eyes to me.
"I'm looking for whoever's in charge of this crime scene," I said.
"That would be me," came a female voice from inside the Caprice. I bent over and peered through the window at the young woman sitting behind the wheel. She was darkly tanned, her brown hair cut short and slicked back, her nose and jaw strong. Her eyes were hard, and she was dressed in -relaxed---leg faded jeans, -lace---up black leather boots and white -T---shirt. She wore her gun on her hip, her badge on a ball chain tucked into her collar. Air-conditioning was blasting, light rock on the radio surfing over the cop talk on the scanner.
"Detective Anderson, I presume," I said.
"Rene Anderson. The one and only. And you must be the doc -I've heard so much about," she said with the arrogance I associated with most people who -didn't know what the hell they were doing.
"I'm Joe Shaw, the port director," the man introduced himself to me. "You must be who the security guys just called me about."
He was about my age, with blond hair, bright blue eyes and skin lined from years of too much sun. I could tell by the look on his face that he detested Anderson and everything about this day.
"Might you have anything helpful to pass along to me before I get started?" I said to Anderson over loud blowing air and rotating helicopter blades. "For example, why there are no police securing the scene?"
"Don't need 'em," Anderson said, pushing open her door with her knee. "It's not like just anybody can drive right on back here, as you found out when you tried." I set the aluminum case on the ground. Anderson came around to my side of the car. I was surprised by how small she was.
"Not much I can tell you," she said to me. "What you see is what we got. A container with a real stinker inside."
"No, there's a lot more you can tell me, Detective Anderson," I said. "How was the body discovered and at what time? Have you seen it? Has anybody gotten near it? Has the scene been contaminated in any way? And the answer to the last one had better be no, or I'm holding you responsible."
She laughed. I began pulling the jumpsuit over my clothes.
"Nobody's even gotten close," she told me. "No volunteers for that one."
"You don't have to go inside the thing to know what's there," Shaw added. I changed into the black Reeboks and put on the baseball cap. Anderson was staring at my Mercedes.
"Maybe I should go work for the state," she said.
I looked her up and down.
"I suggest you cover up if you're going in there," I said to her.
"I gotta make a couple calls," she said, walking off. "I -don't mean to tell people how to do their jobs," Shaw said to me. "But what the hell's going on here? We got a dead body right over there and the cops send in a little shit like that?"
Reprinted from Black Notice by Patricia Cornwell by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 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."
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