Excerpt: 'Book of the Dead'

"She got up because of her cat yowling and happened to look out her widow to see a dark luxury sedan driving away from the construction site as if in no hurry. She said it turned right on dell'Anima, a ¬one-¬way street. Continue, please." The animation resumes. The gray man lifts the colorfully wrapped body out of the car trunk and carries it to a nearby aluminum catwalk that is barricaded only by a rope, which he steps over. He carries the body down a wooden plank that leads into the site. He places the body to one side of the plank, in the mud, and squats in the dark and quickly unwraps a figure that turns into the dead body of Drew Martin. This is no animation, but a three-dimensional photograph. One can see her ¬clearly—¬her famous face, the savage wounds on her slender, athletic, naked body. The gray man balls up the colorful wrapping and returns to his car. He drives off at a normal rate of speed. "We believe he did carry the body instead of dragging it," Captain Poma says. "Because these fibers were only on the body and on the soil beneath it. There were no others, and although this ¬isn't proof, it certainly does indicate he ¬didn't drag her. Let me remind you, this scene has been mapped with the laser mapping system, and the perspective ¬you're seeing and the position of objects and the body are completely precise. Obviously, only people or objects that ¬weren't videotaped or ¬photographed—¬such as the killer and his ¬car—¬are animated."

"How heavy was she?" the minister of the interior asks from the back row. Scarpetta replies that Drew Martin weighed one hundred and thirty pounds, then converts that to kilograms. "He had to be reasonably strong," she adds. Animation resumes. Silence and the construction site in ¬early-¬morning light. The sound of rain. Windows in the area remain dark, the businesses closed. No traffic. Then the whine of a motorcycle. Getting louder. A red Ducati appears on Via di Pasquino, the rider an animated figure in a rain slicker and a ¬full-¬face helmet. He turns right on dell'Anima and suddenly stops, and the bike drops to the pavement with a loud thud, and the engine quits. The startled rider steps over his bike and hesitantly steps onto the aluminum catwalk, his boots loud on metal. The dead body below him in the mud looks more shocking, more gruesome, because it's a ¬three-¬dimensional photograph juxtaposed to the motorcyclist's rather stilted animation.

"It's now almost half past eight, the weather, as you can see, overcast and raining," Captain Poma says. "Please move ahead to Professor Fiorani at the scene. That would be image fourteen. And now Dr. Scarpetta, you can, if you will, examine the body at the scene with the good professor, who ¬isn't here this afternoon, I'm sorry to say, because, can you guess? He's at the Vatican. A cardinal died." Benton stares at the screen behind Scarpetta, and it knots her stomach that he is so unhappy and ¬won't look at her.

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