EXCERPT: 'The Scarpetta Factor'

"Sure," Lucy said. She got off the phone and turned the sound up again on YouTube, Mick Fleetwood still going at it on the drums. Both hands on MacBooks as if she was in her own rock concert playing a solo on keyboards, she clicked on another weather update, clicked on an e-mail that had just landed in Hannah Starr's inbox. People were bizarre. If you know someone has disappeared and might even be dead, why do you continue to send e-mail? Lucy wondered if Hannah Starr's husband, Bobby Fuller, was so stupid it didn't occur to him that the NYPD and the district attorney's office might be monitoring Hannah's e-mail or getting a forensic computer expert like Lucy to do it. For the past three weeks Bobby had been sending daily messages to his missing wife. Maybe he knew exactly what he was doing, wanted law enforcement to see what he was writing to his bien-aimée, his chouchou, his amore mio, the love of his life. If he'd murdered her, he wouldn't be writing her love notes, right?

From: Bobby Fuller Sent: Thursday, December 18, 3:24 P.M. To: Hannah Subject: Non posso vivere senza di te

My Little One, I hope you are someplace safe and reading this. My heart is carried by the wings of my soul and finds you wherever you are.

Don't forget. I can't eat or sleep. B.

Lucy checked his IP address, recognized it at a glance by now. Bobby and Hannah's apartment in North Miami Beach, where he was pining away while hiding from the media in palatial surroundings that Lucy knew all too well—had been in that same apartment with his lovely thief of a wife not that long ago, as a matter of fact. Every time Lucy saw an e- mail from Bobby and tried to get into his head, she wondered how he would really feel if he believed Hannah was dead.

Or maybe he knew she was dead or knew she wasn't. Maybe he knew exactly what had happened to her because he really did have something to do with it. Lucy had no idea, but when she tried to put herself in Bobby's place and care, she couldn't. All that mattered to her was that Hannah reaped what she sowed or eventually did, sooner rather than later. She deserved any bad fate she might get, had wasted Lucy's time and money and now was stealing something far more precious. Three weeks of Hannah. Nothing with Berger. Even when she and Lucy were together, they were apart. Lucy was scared. She was seething. At times she felt she could do something terrible.

She forwarded Bobby's latest e-mail to Berger, who was in the other room, walking around. The sound of her feet on hardwood. Lucy got interested in a website address that had begun to flash in a quadrant of one of the MacBooks.

"Now what are we up to?" she said to the empty living room of the town house she'd rented for Berger's surprise birthday getaway, a five- star resort with high-speed wireless, fireplaces, feather beds, and linens with an eight- hundred thread count. The retreat had everything except what it was intended for—intimacy, romance, fun—and Lucy blamed Hannah, she blamed Hap Judd, she blamed Bobby, blamed everyone. Lucy felt haunted by them and unwanted by Berger.

"This is ridiculous," Berger said as she walked in, referring to the world beyond their windows, everything white, just the shapes of trees and rooflines through snow coming down in veils. "Are we ever going to get out of here?"

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