1. The Report
“Thank you for taking the time to meet with us,” she said, extending her hand. I remembered that hand, from a year and a half ago, as being particularly warm. Three silver bracelets slid down her arm and rested against her wrist as she reached across my desk. Her sari was deep blue with gold embroidery along the edges. I had not forgotten her eyes—irises so dark they were almost black—or her voice, the deep lilt, the tone, the inflections, all telling me more about my cloistered, Ivory Tower, world, although not intentionally, I’m sure, than her words. Dr. Aparajita Chatterjee, Polk County medical examiner, introduced her companion. “This is detective Burkholder from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.”
“Broderick Burkholder.” His handshake was stronger than it needed to be. He handed me a card, which I glanced at, mainly out of courtesy, and slipped into my top desk drawer. A thought flashed through my mind: if you were casting a movie, and Bruce Willis was not available, you’d call Broderick Burkholder.
“We’re sorry to interrupt your spring break,” continued Dr. Chatterjee. “I’m sure you had plans to slip off with your wife to some warm exotic place for a romantic interlude.” She smiled. I had no plans to slip off with Mykala to anywhere exotic, although I had plenty of wishes—to be twenty-five again with no children and no pets, to win PowerBall, to be on an airplane to Hawaii, to be anywhere except behind my desk, on a cloudy late Friday afternoon in March, one of the most miserable seasons in Iowa, about to be handed the autopsy report resulting from an execution-style murder of a faculty member in the Department of Geology, of which I am now chairman.
“You okay with this?” asks Burkholder. “Sometimes people throw up.”
(Check out my web site for links to the first of the Gideon Marshall Mystery Series, entitled BE CAREFUL, DR. RENNER, and the second, THE STITCHER FILE. Both are currently available on all e-readers.)