spring surprised Jesse. In the years since he’d come to
Paradise he never remembered, from year to year, how pretty spring
was in the Northeast. He stood now among the opening flowers and
the new leaves, looking at a dead man, hanging by his neck from the
limb of a tree in the park, on Indian Hill, overlooking the
Peter Perkins was taking pictures. Suitcase Simpson was running
crime-scene tape and shooing away onlookers. Molly Crane sat in a
squad car, talking with a woman in jogging clothes. Molly was
writing in her notebook.
“Doesn’t look like his neck is broken,” Jesse
“Hands are free,” Jesse said.
“Nothing to jump off of,” Jesse said. “Unless he
went up in the tree and jumped from the limb.”
“Open his coat,” Peter Perkins said.
Jesse opened the raincoat. An argyle sweater beneath the coat was
dark and stiff with dried blood.
“There goes the suicide theory,” Jesse said.
“ME will tell us,” Perkins said, “but my guess is
he was dead before he got hung.”
Jesse walked around the area, looking at the ground. At one point
he squatted on his heels and looked at the grass.
“They had already shot him,” Jesse said. “And
dragged him over . . .”
“Sometimes I forget you grew up out west,” Perkins
Jesse grinned and walked toward the tree, still looking down.
“And looped the rope around his neck . . .”
Jesse looked up at the corpse.
“Tossed the rope over the tree limb, hauled him up, and tied
the rope around the trunk.”
“Good-sized guy,” Perkins said.
“About two hundred?” Jesse said.
Perkins looked appraisingly at the corpse and nodded. “Dead
weight,” Perkins said.
“So to speak,” Jesse said.
“Maybe more than one person involved,” Perkins
“ID?” Jesse said.
“None,” Perkins said. “No wallet,
Another Paradise police car pulled up with its blue light
revolving, and Arthur Angstrom got out.
“Anyone minding the store?” Jesse said.
Angstrom was looking at the hanging corpse.
“Maguire,” Angstrom said. “Suicide?”
“I wish,” Jesse said.
The blue light on Angstrom’s cruiser stayed on.
“Murder?” Angstrom said.
“Peter Perkins will fill you in,” Jesse said.
“After you shut off your light.”
Angstrom glanced back at the cruiser, and looked at Jesse for a
moment as if he were going to argue. Jesse looked back at him, and
Angstrom turned and shut off his light.
“Car keys?” Jesse said.
“So how’d he get here?”
“Walked?” Perkins said.
Angstrom joined them.
“Or came with the killers,” Jesse said.
“Or met them here,” Perkins said, “and one of
them drove his car away after he was hanging.”
“Or took a cab,” Jesse said.
“I can check that out,” Angstrom said.
Jesse looked at his watch.
“Eight thirty,” he said. “Town cab should be open
“I’ll call them,” Arthur said. “I know the
“Arthur, you’re the cops, you don’t have to know
“Sure,” Angstrom said, “of course.”
He walked to his car. Jesse watched him go.
“Arthur ain’t never quite got used to being a
cop,” Peter Perkins said.
“Arthur hasn’t gotten fully used to being
Arthur,” Jesse said.
Excerpted from HIGH PROFILE: A Jesse Stone Novel ©
Copyright 2011 by Robert B. Parker. Reprinted with permission by
Putnam. All rights reserved.