The Mercedes Coffin

The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman Read Free Book Online

Book: The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Faye Kellerman
Tags: Fiction, General, Suspense, Romance, Mystery & Detective
skeleton in his closet?”
    Oliver said, “I remember the cops being frustrated about that. I think we all would have been more comfortable dealing with the whack if the vic had some bad habits.”
    “Interesting that you say that,” Decker said. “Arnie Lamar remarked that the Little homicide was particularly sad because he was such a nice guy.” His eyes drifted to Oliver’s. “What did you think of Homicide’s handling of the case?”
    “They worked it pretty hard for about six months. Then it just froze. I recall that Arnie and Cal kept at it from time to time, but this wasn’t a case with a lot of forensics. There was some ballistic evidence, a couple of prints that Arnie would run from time to time. And DNA? Pshaw, my friend, pshaw.” Oliver waved his hand in the air and chanted, “Ice, ice, baby.”
    “What did you think of Cal and Arnie?” Decker asked.
    Oliver gave the questions some thought. “They were competent. I liked Arnie more than Silent Cal, but that doesn’t mean that Cal was a bad Dee. Have you talked to Vitton yet?”
    Decker shook his head no. “Just Lamar.”
    “What’d you think of him?” Marge asked.
    “He’s all right… seemed to care.” To Oliver, Decker said, “Did you ever work with either of them on any homicide case?”
    “Sure, on the homicides that we worked in teams of five. They were competent if not inspiring. They seemed like a tight twosome.”
    “Lamar said he rarely talks to Vitton now that they’re both retired. Cal’s apparently a brooder.”
    “I can see that,” Oliver said. “I think he went through a bad divorce.”
    Decker said, “Did you ask any of Little’s colleagues about Darnell Arlington?”
    Marge flipped through her notes. “Marianne Seagraves from the English Department remembered him — and I quote — as a big black boy with a big chip on his shoulder. Darnell didn’t have a father and his mother had a drug problem. Marianne said that Little tried his best with Darnell — after-school tutoring, lunch off campus, lots of heart-to-hearts, Christmas presents — but no one was surprised when Arlington was expelled.”
    “Any history of violence?” Decker asked.
    “Darnell had his fair share of fights. No weapons other than his fists as far as Marianne can remember.”
    “Did you locate him?”
    “I found a high school gym coach named Darnell Arlington who lives near Akron, Ohio, but I haven’t verified that it’s the same Darnell Arlington.”
    Oliver said, “How many Darnell Arlingtons are out there?”
    “According to Find-it Yellow Pages, there are four: one in Texas, one in Louisiana, one in Wisconsin, and one in Ohio.”
    “That’s the problem with these search engines,” Oliver griped. “They bring up all this irrelevant information.”
    “Yes, but they bring up relevant information as well,” Marge told him. “Like my grandfather used to say, you take the good with the bad.”
    THE PHONE CALL came at nine in the evening on the cell. Decker had been working at home in his pajamas, scouring through the Little file, trying to find a scintilla of an overlooked clue. He regarded the number and realized it was Vitton.
    “Thanks so much for calling me back, Detective. At your convenience, I’d like to meet with you for an hour or so regarding the Bennett Little homicide—”
    “You can stop right there, Lieutenant. Arnie called me up and told me you were at his place on some kind of a mission. I’ll tell you what you already know. If I would have thought of something new, I would have told someone a long time ago.”
    “I realize that, Detective. I don’t expect a breakthrough. Just your thoughts and insights—”
    “No new thoughts. Definitely no new insights. You taking time out to talk to me would be a total waste because I don’t have anything to tell you.”
    “Sometimes just by talking, new things pop up.”
    “We’re talking now. Nothing new is popping up.”
    Decker gritted his teeth.

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