Donovan had hit a dead end in the MacGregor case. That Dr. Earl had been her best suspect and even she was lukewarm at best. The kid didn’t strike Donovan as the type to have a torrid affair or a psychotic crush. Just to be sure, Donovan had visited Marston’s and confirmed with a salesgirl there that Emma Earl had been there that night. It didn’t seem likely there were two young redheaded girls with size-15 feet.
With Earl ruled out, Donovan had no leads to follow. Forensics had turned up nothing in the house or from the body. Maybe they could have kept the body longer for another autopsy, but Donovan doubted it would have turned up anything. Whoever had killed Sarah MacGregor had done a professional job of it, leaving nothing behind, especially not witnesses.
About the only thing she could do was hope the killer got sloppy and started bragging about it in some bar. That none of the thieves in this town had any honor could always be counted on. Most of the hoods in this town would snitch on their grandmothers for a nickel, provided they knew who their grandmothers were.
So when the call came over the radio of a body found in the industrial sector, Donovan decided to answer it. Maybe this case would be a bit easier. If nothing else it would keep her occupied while she waited for her snitches to beat the bushes.
When she had first started, a scene like the one in the alley would have left her nauseous and sleepless for days. Now she only reached into her jacket for a fresh cigarette before bending down to inspect the body that had been just about cut in half. From the look of it, a few rats had already used the corpse as a snack, which would only make her job more difficult.
“Great,” she muttered. “Nothing ever easy.”
She was glad Officer Early was on the scene; she hadn’t gotten a chance to have coffee with Lois in the last couple of days. “What do we got?” Donovan asked.
“Night watchman was doing his rounds and found this guy here,” Early said.
Early nodded, tossing a wallet to her. There was no driver’s license, just a bus pass for Roscoe Caffee. It wasn’t a picture ID, but they might be able to get a match on the prints. From the look of him—what hadn’t been turned into a rat buffet—Caffee was the type who had run afoul of the law on more than one occasion.
“Night watchman see anyone?”
“Not a soul. Just the rats nibbling on the body.”
“Fantastic. Got another winner here.”
Early nodded again. “No luck on the MacGregor case?”
“Nothing so far. Had someone in mind. Didn’t pan out.”
“Shit,” Early said. That she had swore meant she was especially agitated as Early had tried to cut down on that too after she became a mother. “I was hoping you’d find that bastard. I don’t know what this city’s coming to when someone shoots a pregnant woman in the stomach.”
“There are a lot of animals out here,” Donovan said. She turned back to Caffee’s body. An animal is what it looked like had been at Caffee. Not the rats, but something like a grizzly or a wolverine. Other than the zoo, though, she doubted there were any of those running around Rampart City. “What the hell you suppose could do something like that?”
“An axe maybe?”
“Yeah, maybe.” Donovan was not a forensic expert, but she doubted a simple axe could have done this, not unless the killer had worked for a while at it. In which case it seemed like there would have been a more widespread mess. As it was, Caffee’s blood and cuts were relatively localized, none of him splattered against the walls.
Playing her flashlight around the alley, she could something on the fence, about halfway up. She spit out her cigarette and then began scrambling up the fence. It had been a while since she’d had to do this professionally, but she hadn’t lost her touch.
Keeping one hand on the fence and the other on her flashlight, she looked closer at what she had seen. Blood. At least it sure as hell looked like blood. From the look of it, she could see more of it just a few inches away.
She swung down to the ground to examine Caffee again. This time she saw what she had missed the first time: holes in his shoulders. Not just the typical bullet hole, but holes that went all the way through him, like someone had hammered a big nail through him. “Jesus Christ,” she whispered.
“You got something?” Early asked.
Donovan motioned to the fence. “Looks like he was on the fence and someone shot him twice in the shoulders. Must have been a real high caliber to go through him. When it gets light we’ll have to look around for the bullets or casings.” She looked down at Caffee again. “He must have fell and then the killer finished him off.”
“Holy cow,” Early said. “Why go to that much trouble to shoot him in the shoulders? Why not just shoot him in the heart or the head?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he had something the killer wanted.”
“You think it might be a mob hit then?”
“Doubt it. Vendetta’s goons aren’t this messy. Not unless they want to make a point. Of course he could be a small fish who got in over his head in something.” She shrugged. “Too bad we can’t just ask the poor bitch.”
Donovan was still looking around for anything and waiting for the forensics people to arrive when Early came running over to her. “We got three more in another factory about a mile away. Another night watchman.”
“It’s really jumping tonight,” Donovan grumbled, reaching for another cigarette. “Must be my birthday.”
She left Early at the crime scene to wait for the others while she went to see these three other victims. As Early had indicated, it was another rundown factory in the industrial sector. There was another beat cop on the scene with an elderly man in a security uniform. According to the security guard, he had been walking around on his rounds and found three dead vagrants and a dead dog.
“Stay here with the officer. I’ll be right back.”
Donovan had walked into enough of these abandoned buildings that the empty, dusty spaces no longer gave her the creeps. The rats didn’t scare her either. What did scare her was the thought of so many places to hide for a shooter. Of course if the killer had any brains he would have made tracks a while ago, but some couldn’t resist hanging around to see what they had wrought or to add another victim to the list.
She took her pistol out as she crept into the factory. Had she simply walked in it would have been quick enough, but without any backup, she took it slow, keeping an eye out for anyone who might still be here. Sweeping her gun around the factory, she heard a piece of metal hit the floor. From the light tinkle of it, it was probably an old tool. Goddamned rat, she told herself.
It was easy enough to find the scene of the crime. She only had to find the barrel that was still burning. Around this were three vagrants lying on the ground. Each one had a bloody hole in the throat that went clear through. The gray mutt lying nearby had a similar hole through the middle of its torso. She didn’t have a measuring tape with her, but she was pretty damned sure the holes would match those in Roscoe Caffee’s shoulders.
A new scenario formed in her mind. Someone might have been holding a meeting here, running drugs or guns and these three plus Caffee had stumbled onto the deal. The killer took out the vagrants and dogs and then chased Caffee down. That worked, except for the barrel. The flaming barrel and position of the vagrants would mean they were already here sitting around. Maybe someone wanted to clean out the riffraff for a meeting later. Except why leave the bodies for the watchman to find?
She thought of what she and Early had discussed about Caffee. Maybe he had something Vendetta wanted and she’d sent one of her assassins out to hunt him down. The vagrants then would all be collateral damage. Donovan shook her head and then flicked her cigarette into the barrel. Too damned many questions and not nearly enough answers.
When she came back outside, the officer told her about the explosion at the Plaine Museum. “Just fucking great,” Donovan grumbled. She’d let someone else take that one. She had enough mysteries for right now.
That was until she heard that one Dr. Emma Earl had been admitted to the emergency room. Then she was grabbing the radio to tell them she would be on the scene in five minutes.