Tender Is LeVine: A Jack LeVine Mystery

Tender Is LeVine: A Jack LeVine Mystery by Andrew Bergman Read Free Book Online

Book: Tender Is LeVine: A Jack LeVine Mystery by Andrew Bergman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Bergman
is Linda.” Linda was quite petite at age thirteen, maybe five feet tall, with curly black hair and a prepubescent body. She was pale and deeply sad and totally unapproachable. Barbara stood about five-eight in flat shoes, and her funereal duds could not conceal a body that Jane Russell would have been proud to call her own. She had thick black hair, brown, almond-shaped eyes, a beautifully sculpted nose, and a mouth you couldn’t look at for very long without becoming thoroughly ashamed of yourself. “And this is Mr. LeVine,” Mrs. Stern told her children, “who Papa had hired to help him.” I had been transformed from a Broadway shamus into an angel of mercy.
    Barbara shook my hand. The warmth of her long fingers went through me like a low-voltage shock.
    “I’m so terribly sorry,” I told her. And I was. Linda, the little one, turned away from me and began to cry. Hilde took her in her arms. Barbara just stared evenly at me.
    “What’s going on?” she said quietly. “Who the hell would shoot my father?”
    “I really have no idea.”
    “He hired you to do what? The thing with Toscanini?” She looked back over her shoulder toward Hilde, who was now leading Linda out—of the room, presumably back to her bedroom.
    “He told you about it?”
    She stepped closer to me and lowered her voice.
    “He could confide in me a lot more easily than he could in my mother.” I’ll bet he could. This was a girl you would confide the secret of the atom bomb to without a second thought. “My mother was always on him, castrating him, doubting him…. He told you his theory?”
    “About?” I answered, Mr. Neutral.
    “About.” She was not patient, this fabulous girl. “About Toscanini being missing. About the double conducting the orchestra.”
    “Yes he did.”
    “And do you think it’s a completely nutsy notion?”
    “It appeared to be, at first blush.”
    “What about second blush?”
    “I just started on this yesterday. The first thing I find out about it is that your father’s been murdered.”
    “Which means that it’s probably true. He wasn’t shot down like a dog for no reason.”
    “I agree.”
    “You do.”
    “Yes. But that doesn’t necessarily confirm that Toscanini is among the missing.”
    “So you think it’s a coincidence ? Come on.”
    “I didn’t say that. Listen, you’re an Ivy League girl—”
    She rolled her eyes. “What does that mean? That I’m a goddamn prodigy? I’m not.”
    “Okay, I stand corrected. You’re of average intelligence—”
    “Mr. LeVine—”
    “All I’m saying, Miss Stern, is that I’m sure you realize that while the death of your father is highly suspicious, it’s still a giant leap in logic to say that it necessarily follows that Toscaninis been snatched.”
    “So you don’t think he’s missing? I don’t follow.”
    “I have no idea. Right now I’m principally concerned with who killed your father.”
    “I understand, but my father hired you to find out what happened to Toscanini. Maybe I’m just a chump, but in his memory”—her eyes teared up—“I’d like you to keep doing that….” Tears now flowed. “Shit.…”
    “I can do both. It’s not an either-or situation. In fact, everything says that there is a connection. So if Toscanini is in fact missing, then figuring out what happened to your father will lead me to what Sherlock Holmes used to refer to as the final solution.”
    “We don’t talk about final solutions in this house,” she said. “Too many dead relatives. And now this goddamn thing.” She wiped away more tears. “Jesus God, of all the people, my father.”
    “I understand.”
    Barbara dried her eyes and pointed to the pack of Luckies in my jacket pocket.
    “May I?”
    I handed her a cigarette and lit her up. She took a very deep drag, sighed, and walked toward the hallway, in the direction of her younger sister’s heart-rending wailing. I followed at a discreet and gentlemanly distance, until I could see

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