Read The Last Dance Online

Authors: Ed McBain

The Last Dance

BOOK: The Last Dance
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ALSO BY ED McBAIN

The 87th Precinct Novels

Cop Hater

The Mugger

The Pusher
(1956)

The Con Man

Killer's Choice
(1957)

Killer's Payoff

Killer's Wedge

Lady Killer (1958)

'
Til Death

King's Ransom
(1959)

Give the Boys a Great Big Hand

The Heckler

See Them Die
(1960)

Lady, Lady, I Did It!
(1961)

The Empty Hours

Like Love
(1962)

Ten Plus One
(1963)

Ax
(1964)

He Who Hesitates

Doll
(1965)

Eighty Million Eyes
(1966)

Fuzz
(1968)

Shotgun
(1969)

Jigsaw
(1970)

Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here
(1971)

Sadie When She Died

Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man
(1972)

Hail to the Chief
(1973)

Bread
(1974)

Blood Relatives
(1975)

So Long As You Both Shall Live
(1976)

Long Time No See
(1977)

Calypso
(1979)

Ghosts
(1980)

Heat
(1981)

Ice
(1983)

Lightning
(1984)

Eight Black Horses
(1985)

Poison

Tricks
(1987)

Lullaby
(1989)

Vespers
(1990)

Widows
(1991)

Kiss
(1992)

Mischief
(1993)

And All Through the House
(1994)

Romance
(1995)

Nocturne
(1997)

The Big Bad City
(1999)

The Matthew Hope Novels

Goldilocks
(1978)

Rumpelstiltskin
(1981)

Beauty and the Beast
(1982)

Jack and the Beanstalk
(1984)

Snow White and Rose Red
(1985)

Cinderella
(1986)

Puss in Boots
(1987)

The House That Jack Built
(1988)

Three Blind Mice
(1990)

Mary, Mary
(1993)

There Was a Little Girl
(1994)

Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear
(1996)

The Last Best Hope
(1998)

Other Novels

The Sentries
(1965)

Where There's Smoke

Doors
(1975)

Guns
(1976)

Another Part of the City
(1986)

Downtown
(1991)

AND BY EVAN HUNTER

Novels

The Blackboard Jungle
(1954)

Second Ending
(1956)

Strangers When We Meet
(1958)

A Matter of Conviction
(1959)

Mothers and Daughters
(1961)

Buddwing
(1964)

The Paper Dragon
(1966)

A Horse's Head
(1967)

Last Summer
(1968)

Sons
(1969)

Nobody Knew They Were There
(1971)

Every Little Crook and Nanny
(1972)

Come Winter
(1973)

Streets of Gold
(1974)

The Chisholms
(1976)

Love, Dad
(1981)

Far From the Sea
(1983)

Lizzie
(1985)

Criminal Conversation
(1994)

Privileged Conversation
(1996)

Short Story Collections

Happy New Year, Herbie
(1963)

The Easter Man
(1972)

Children's Books

Find the Feathered Serpent
(1952)

The Remarkable Harry
(1959)

The Wonderful Button
(1961)

Me and Mr. Stenner
(1976)

Screenplays

Strangers When We Meet
(1959)

The Birds
(1962)

Fuzz
(1972)

Walk Proud
(1979)

Teleplays

The Chisholms
(1979)

The Legend of Walks Far Woman
(1980)

Dream West
(1986)

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

About the Author

SIMON & SCHUSTER
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

Visit us on the World Wide Web:
http://www.SimonSays.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2000 by Hui Corp.

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Simon & Schuster
and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Designed by Jeanette Olender

ISBN 0-7432-0047-0

eISBN 9780743200479

This, yet another time, is for my wife—DRAGICA DIMITRIJEVIĆ-HUNTER

The city in these pages is imaginary. The people, the places are all fictitious. Only the police routine is based on established investigatory technique.

The Last Dance
1

“HE HAD
heart trouble,” the woman was telling Carella.

Which perhaps accounted for the tiny pinpricks of blood on the dead man's eyeballs. In cases of acute right-heart failure, you often found such hemorrhaging. The grayish-blue feet sticking out from under the edge of the blanket were another matter.

“Told me he hadn't been feeling good these past few days,” the woman was saying. “I kept telling him to go see the doctor. Yeah, I'll go, I'll go, don't worry, like that, you know? So I stopped by this morning to see how he was, found him just this way. In bed. Dead.”

“So you called the police,” Meyer said, nodding.

Because he'd expected to go out on a narcotics plant this morning, he was wearing blue jeans, a sweat shirt, and Reeboks. Instead, he'd caught this one with Carella and here he was. On a fishing expedition with a woman he felt was lying. Burly and bald, he posed his question with wide, blue-eyed innocence, just as if it did not conceal a hand grenade.

“Yes,” she said, “I called the police. That was the first thing I did.”

“Knew straight off he was dead, is that right?”

“Well … yes. I could see he was dead.”

“You didn't take his pulse or anything like that, did you?” Carella asked.

Looking trimmer and fitter than he had in a long while—he had deliberately lost six pounds since his fortieth birthday—he was dressed casually this morning in dark blue trousers, a gray corduroy jacket, a plaid sports shirt, and a dark blue knit tie. He had not anticipated this particular squeal at a little past ten in the morning. In fact, he had scheduled a ten-fifteen squadroom interview with a burglary victim. Instead, here he was, talking to a woman he, too, felt was lying.

“No,” she said. “Well, yes. Well, not his pulse. But I leaned over him. To see if he was still breathing. But I could see he was dead. I mean … well, look at him.”

The dead man was lying on his back, covered with a blanket, his eyes and his mouth open, his tongue protruding. Carella glanced at him again, a faint look of sorrow and pain momentarily knifing his eyes. In these moments, he felt particularly vulnerable, wondering as he often did if he was perhaps unsuited to a job that brought him into frequent contact with death.

“So you called the police,” Meyer said again.

“Yes. Told whoever answered the phone …”

“Was this 911 you called? Or the precinct number direct?”

“911. I don't know the precinct number. I don't live around here.”

“Told the operator you'd come into your father's apartment and found him dead, is that right?”

“Yes.”

“What time was this, Miss?”

“A little after ten this morning. It's Mrs., by the way,” she said almost apologetically.

Carella looked at his watch. It was now twenty minutes to eleven. He wondered where the medical examiner was. Couldn't touch anything in here till the ME pronounced the victim dead. He wanted to see the rest of the body. Wanted to see if the legs matched the feet.

“Mrs. Robert Keating,” the woman said. “Well,
Cynthia
Keating, actually.”

“And your father's name?” Meyer asked.

“Andrew. Andrew Hale.”

Better to let Meyer stay with it for now, Carella thought. He had noticed the same things Carella had, was equally familiar with the telltale signs of a hanging, which this one resembled a great deal, but you couldn't hang yourself lying flat on your back in bed with no noose around your neck.

“How old was he, can you tell us?”

“Sixty-eight.”

“And you say he had heart trouble?”

“Two heart attacks in the past eight years.”

“Serious?”

“Oh yes.”

“Bypasses?”

“No. Two angioplasties. But his condition was very grave. He almost lost his life each time.”

“And he continued having trouble, is that it?”

“Well … no.”

“You said he had heart trouble.”

“Two serious heart attacks in eight years, yes, that's heart trouble. But he wasn't restricted in his activities or anything.”

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