Forgotten in Death (In Death #53) by J. D. Robb



“Officers! Stay with the victim until the morgue arrives. Secure the scene until the sweepers get here. Where?” she asked the woman.

“We’re about a block up.”

“Part of this construction site?”

“No, no, it’s not part of this. This is Singer Family Developers. We’re on Hudson Yards Village, residential and office buildings, a shopping arcade, and a green space.”

To save time, Eve left her vehicle; taking a block on foot would be quicker.

“Let’s have a name.”

“Oh, sorry. I’m Darlie Allen.”

“And how do you know my witness?”

“Your … oh, you mean Manny. Some of us go for a beer—or a cold otherwise—when we knock off. We just hung out a couple of times since we started. He just started with Singer. And we’re, you know, going to go out this weekend. He tagged me about that poor woman. He was really upset. And somebody told him you were in charge, and then when we found the body, I came to find you.”

“How’d you find the body?”

“We already demoed the main part of the old building. It was a restaurant. We were jacking up the floor, the old concrete platform. The boss says it’s substandard—hell, a good chunk of it had already decayed—so we’re taking it all. I was watching because I want to learn how to use the jack, and this big piece broke off, and I could see how they were right about it being a crap job in the first place all that time ago, because there was a lot of hollow, and that’s not safe. There’s a cellar below—and that’s already had some cave-in. And it was in there.”

“A body under the concrete? We’re talking remains then. Bones?”

“Yeah, but they came from a body. It’s not like an animal. I didn’t look real close after, because it was sort of awful. But I saw how it was mostly dirt and rotten supports and broken beams under the platform, and the body—remains—that was in a kind of hollow place.”

They came to a set of iron steps manned by a security droid. It nodded at Darlie.

“You’re cleared, Ms. Allen, Lieutenant Dallas, Detective Peabody.”

“It’s up on the platform over the old tracks. We’re revitalizing what they started before the Urbans, then that got all screwed, so they threw up all this substandard after just to get them up, you know.”

“Yeah.”

Boots rang on metal.

“It’s going to be done right this time. Mackie says we’re building an urban jewel, and we’re building it to last.”

She didn’t see a jewel. She saw construction chaos, with a section roped off, and farther north the beginnings of a skeleton that, she assumed, would be one of the residential buildings.

“Who’s in charge?”

“Mackie. I’ll get him.”

“Yeah, do that. But who owns it? Who’s in charge of the project?”

“Um. You are.”

Eve looked into Darlie’s big, puzzled green eyes. And said, “Crap.”

Darlie raced off to where a number of people stood around the roped-off area.

“I can tag Roarke,” Peabody offered. “He’s going to want to know.”

“Yeah.” Her husband, the owner of almost everything in the universe, would want to know. “We’ll see what we’ve got first. Crap,” she said again, and started over as a Black guy who looked like he could curl a couple of the airjacks without breaking a sweat peeled away from the rope and came toward them.

She judged him at about forty, ridiculously handsome, and built like a god in his work jeans, safety vest, and hard hat.

“Jim Mackie, just Mackie’s good. I’m the job boss. I had them rope off the section where we found it. Her, I guess.”

“Her?”

“Yeah, I’m thinking her because it’s them. Sorry. It looks to me like maybe she was a woman. A pregnant woman when it happened, because there’s what looks like baby or infant or fetus remains with her. Sorry.”

He took off the hat, swiped his arm over his forehead. “That got me shook some. The little, um, skeleton.”

“Okay. How about you move your people away from there, and my partner and I will take a look.”

“You got it. If you need to go down to her? I gotta fix you into a safety harness. The old stairs collapsed even before we took down the building. I don’t trust the supports, and the street-level building below is just as bad—condemned for good reason. This was a shit-ass job. Sorry, sorry. I’m upset.”