EXCERPT: 'The Scarpetta Factor'

"Now, what is this?" Lucy muttered, clicking on a link. A search by IP address had gotten a hit on a website hosted by the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center.

"Who were you just talking to?" Berger asked.

"My aunt. Now I'm talking to myself. Got to talk to somebody."

Berger ignored the dig, wasn't about to apologize for what she'd say she couldn't help. It wasn't her fault Hannah Starr had disappeared and Hap Judd was a pervert who might have information, and if that hadn't been enough of a distraction, now a jogger had been raped and murdered in Central Park last night. Berger would tell Lucy she needed to be more understanding. She shouldn't be so selfish. She needed to grow up and stop being insecure and demanding.

"Can we do without the drums?" Berger's migraines were back. She was getting them often.

Lucy exited YouTube and the living room was silent, no sound but the gas fire on the hearth, and she said, "More of the same sicko stuff."

Berger put her glasses on and leaned close to look, and she smelled like Amorvero bath oil, and had no makeup on and she didn't need it. Her short, dark hair was messy and she was sexy as hell in a black warm- up suit, nothing under it, the jacket unzipped, exposing plenty of cleavage, not that she meant anything by it. Lucy wasn't sure what Berger meant or where she was much of the time these days, but she wasn't present—not emotionally. Lucy wanted to put her arms around her, to show her what they used to have, what it used to be like.

"He's looking at the Body Farm's website, and I doubt it's because he's thinking of killing himself and donating his body to science," Lucy said.

"Who are you talking about?" Berger was reading what was on a MacBook screen, a form with the heading:

Forensic Anthropology Center University of Tennessee, Knoxville Body Donation Questionnaire

"Hap Judd," Lucy said. "He's gotten linked by his IP address to this website because he just used a fake name to order...Hold on, let's see what the sleaze is up to. Let's follow the trail." Opening Web pages. "To this screen here. FORDISC Software Sales. An interactive computer program that runs under Windows. Classifying and identifying skeletal remains. The guy's really morbid. It's not normal. I'm telling you, we're onto something with him."

"Let's be honest. You're onto something because you're looking for something," Berger said, as if to imply that Lucy wasn't honest. "You're trying to find evidence of what you perceive is the crime."

"I'm finding evidence because he's leaving it," Lucy said. They had been arguing about Hap Judd for weeks. "I don't know why you're so reticent. Do you think I'm making this stuff up?"

"I want to talk to him about Hannah Starr, and you want to crucify him."

"You need to scare the hell out of him if you want him to talk. Especially without a damn lawyer present. And I've managed to make that happen, to get you what you want."

"If we ever get out of here and he shows up." Berger moved away from the computer screen and decided, "Maybe he's playing an anthropologist, an archaeologist, an explorer in his next film. Some Raiders of the Lost Ark or another one of those mummy movies with tombs and ancient curses."

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