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Salvation in Death

At the mass of the dead, the priest placed the wafer of
unleavened bread and the cheap red wine on the linen corporal
draping the altar. Both paten and chalice were silver. They had
been gifts from the man inside the flower-blanketed coffin resting
at the foot of the two worn steps that separated priest from

The dead had lived a hundred and sixteen years. Every day of
those years he’d lived as a faithful Catholic. His wife had
predeceased him by a mere ten months, and every day of those ten
months he’d grieved for her.

Now his children, grandchildren, great- and
great-great-grandchildren filled the pews of the old church in
Spanish Harlem. Many lived in the parish, and many more returned to
it to mourn, and to pay their respects. Both his surviving brothers
attended the rite, as did cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and
neighbors, so the living packed those pews, the aisles, the
vestibule to honor the dead with the ancient rite.

Hector Ortiz had been a good man, who’d led a good life.
He’d died peacefully in his bed, surrounded by photographs of
his family and the many images of Jesus, Mary, and his favorite
saint, Lawrence. St. Lawrence had been grilled to death for his
faith and in the way of irony became the patron saint of

Hector Ortiz would be missed; he would be mourned. But the long,
good life and easy death lent a flavor of peace and acceptance to
the Requiem Mass --- and those who wept shed the tears more for
themselves than for the departed. Their faith assured them, the
priest thought, of Hector Ortiz’s salvation. And as the
priest performed the ritual, so familiar, he scanned the faces of
the mourners. They looked to him to lead them in this final

Flowers and incense and the smoking wax of candles mixed and
merged their scents in the air. A mystical fragrance. The smell of
power and presence.

The priest solemnly bowed his head over the symbols of flesh and
blood before washing his hands.

He’d known Hector, and in fact had heard his confession
--- his last, as it came to be --- only a week before. So, Father
Flores mused as the congregation rose, the penance had been the
last Hector had been given.

Flores spoke to the congregation, and they to him, the familiar
words of the Eucharistic Prayer, and through to the Sanctus.

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.”

The words and those following were sung, as Hector had loved the
music of the Mass. Those mixed voices rose up, tangling in the
magically scented air. The congregation knelt --- a baby’s
fretful wail, a dry cough, rustles, whispers --- for the

The priest waited for them to quiet, for the silence. For the

Flores implored the power of the Holy Spirit to take the gifts
of wafer and wine and transform them into the body and blood of
Christ. And moved, according to the rite, as representative of the
Son of God.

Power. Presence.

And while the crucified Christ looked down from behind the
altar, Flores knew he himself held the power now. Held that

“Take this, all of you, and eat it. For this is my
body,” Flores said, holding up the host, “which will be
given up for you.”

The bells rang; heads bowed.

“Take this and drink it. This is the cup of my
blood.” He raised the chalice. “The blood of a new and
everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for others for
the forgiveness of sin. Do this in memory of me.”

“Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come

They prayed, and the priest wished them peace. They wished peace
to each other. And again, raising voices, they sang --- Lamb of
God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us
while the priest broke the host, placed a piece of it in the
chalice. The ministers moved forward, stopping short of the altar
as the priest lifted the chalice to his lips.

He was dead the moment he drank the blood.

St. Cristóbal’s Church in Spanish Harlem knelt
quietly between a bodega and a pawnshop. It boasted a small gray
steeple and was innocent of the graffiti that tagged its
near-neighbors. Inside, it smelled of candles, flowers, and
furniture polish. Like a nice, suburban home might smell.

At least it struck Lieutenant Eve Dallas that way as she strode
down the aisle formed by rows of pews. In the front, a man in black
shirt, black pants, and white collar sat with his head bowed and
his hands folded.

She wasn’t sure if he was praying or just waiting, but he
wasn’t her priority. She skirted around the glossy casket all
but buried in red and white carnations. The dead guy inside
wasn’t her priority either.

She engaged her lapel recorder, but when she started to climb
the two short steps to the platform that held the altar --- and her
priority --- her partner plucked at Eve’s arm.

“Um, I think we’re supposed to, like,

“I never genuflect in public.”

“No, seriously.” Peabody’s dark eyes scanned
the altar, the statues. “It’s like holy ground up there
or something.”

“Funny, it looks like a dead guy up there to

Eve walked up. Behind her, Peabody gave a one-legged bounce
before following.

“Victim has been identified as Miguel Flores, age
thirty-five, Catholic priest,” Eve began. “The
body’s been moved.” She flicked a glance up to one of
the uniforms securing the scene.

“Yes, sir. The victim collapsed during Mass, and there was
an attempt to revive him while the nine-one-ones were placed. A
couple of cops were on scene attending the funeral. That
guy’s funeral,” he added with a chin point at the
casket. “They moved people back, secured. They’re
waiting to talk to you.”

Since she’d sealed her hands and feet before coming in,
Eve crouched. “Get prints, TOD, and so on, for the record,
Peabody. And for the record, the victim’s cheeks are bright
pink. Facial injuries, left temple and cheekbone, most likely
incurred when he fell.”

She glanced up, noted the silver chalice on the stained white
linen. She rose, walked to the altar, sniffed at the cup. “He
drink from this? What was he doing when he collapsed?”

“Taking Communion,” the man in the front row
answered before the uniform could speak.

Eve stepped to the other side of the altar. “Do you work

“Yes. This is my church.”


“I’m the pastor.” He rose, a compact and
muscular man with sad, dark eyes. “Father López. Miguel
was officiating the funeral mass, and was taking Communion. He
drank, and he seemed, almost immediately, to seize. His body shook,
and he gasped for air. And he collapsed.” López spoke
with the faintest of accents, an exotic sheen over rough wood.
“There were doctors and other medicals here, and they tried
to revive him, but it was too late. One said, one thought, it was
poison. But I don’t believe that could be.”


López merely lifted his hands. “Who would poison a
priest in such a way, and at such a time?”

“Where did the wine come from? In the cup?”

“We keep Communion wine locked in the tabernacle, in the

“Who has access?”

“I do. Miguel, Martin --- that is, Father Freeman --- the
Eucharistic ministers serving the Mass.”

A lot of hands, Eve thought. Why bother with a lock?
“Where are they?”

“Father Freeman is visiting family in Chicago, and
expected back tomorrow. We have --- had --- three ministers today
due to the large attendance at the Requiem Mass.”

“I’ll need their names.”

“Surely you can’t believe --- ”

“And this?”

He actually paled when Eve lifted the silver disk holding the
wafer. “Please. Please. It’s been

“I’m sorry, now it’s evidence. There’s a
piece missing. Did he eat it?”

“A small piece is broken off, put in the wine for the rite
of fraction and commingling. He would have consumed it with the

“Who put the wine in the cup and the . . .” What the
hell did she call it? Cookie? Cracker?

“Host,” López supplied. “He did. But I
poured the wine into the receptacle and placed the host for Miguel
before the Consecration. I did it personally as a sign of respect
for Mr. Ortiz. Miguel officiated, at the family’s

Eve cocked her head. “They didn’t want the head guy?
Didn’t you say you were the head guy?”

“I’m pastor, yes. But I’m new. I’ve only
had this parish for eight months, since Monsignor Cruz retired.
Miguel’s been here for more than five years, and married two
of Mr. Ortiz’s great-grandchildren, officiated at the Requiem
for Mrs. Ortiz about a year ago. Baptized --- ”

“Just one minute, please.”

Eve turned back to Peabody.

“Sorry to interrupt, Father. ID match,” Peabody told
Eve. “TOD jibes. Drink, seize, collapse, die, red cheeks.

“Educated guess. We’ll let Morris confirm. Bag the
cup, the cookie. Pick one of the cop witnesses and get a statement.
I’ll take the other after I have López show me the
source of the wine and the other thing.”

“Should we release the other dead guy?”

Eve frowned at the casket. “He’s waited this long.
He can wait a little longer.” She turned back to López.
“I need to see where you keep the . . .” Refreshments?
“The wine and the hosts.”

With a nod, López gestured. He walked up, turned away from
the altar to lead Eve through a doorway. Inside cabinets lined one
wall, and on a table stood a tall box, deeply carved with a cross.
López took keys from the pocket of his pants and unlocked the
door of the box.

“This is the tabernacle,” he explained. “It
holds unconsecrated hosts and wine. We keep a larger supply in the
first cabinet there, also locked.”

The wood gleamed with polish, she noted, and would hold prints.
The lock was a simple key into a slot. “This decanter here is
where you took the wine for the cup?”

“Yes. I poured it from here to the vessel, and took the
host. I brought them to Miguel at the beginning of the Eucharistic

Purplish liquid filled the clear decanter to about the halfway
point. “Did the substances leave your hands at any time
before that, or were they unattended?”

“No. I prepared them, kept them with me at all times. To
do otherwise would be disrespectful.”

“I have to take this into evidence.”

“I understand. But the tabernacle can’t leave the
church. Please, if you need to examine it, can it be done here?
I’m sorry,” he added, “I never asked your

“Lieutenant Dallas.”

“You’re not Catholic.”

“What gave you the first clue?”

He smiled a little, but the misery never left his eyes. “I
understand you’re unfamiliar with the traditions and rites of
the church, and some may seem strange to you. You believe someone
tampered with the wine or the host.”

Eve kept both her face and her voice neutral. “I
don’t believe anything yet.”

“If this is so, then someone used the blood and body of
Christ to kill. And I delivered them to Miguel. I put them in his
hands.” Beneath the misery in his eyes, Eve saw the banked
embers of anger. “God will judge them, Lieutenant. But I
believe in earthly laws as well as God’s laws. I’ll do
whatever I can to help you in your work.”

“What kind of priest was Flores?”

“A good one. Compassionate, dedicated, ah, energetic,
I’d say. He enjoyed working with young people, and was
particularly good at it.”

“Any trouble recently? Depression, stress?”

“No. No. I would have known, I would have seen it. We live
together, the three of us, in the rectory behind the church.”
He gestured vaguely, as if his mind was crowded with a dozen other
thoughts. “We eat together almost daily, talk, argue, pray. I
would’ve seen if he’d been troubled. If you think he
might have taken his own life, he wouldn’t. And he would
never do so in such a way.”

“Any trouble with anyone? Someone with a grudge, or a
problem with him --- professionally or otherwise?”

“Not that he mentioned, and as I said, we talked

“Who knew he’d be doing the funeral

“Everyone. Hector Ortiz was a fixture in the parish. A
well-loved and well-respected man. Everyone knew about the funeral
mass, and that Miguel was officiating.”

As she spoke, she crossed to a door, opened it. The May sunlight
beamed through the exit. The door had a lock, she noted, nearly as
simple as the one on the wooden box.

Easy in, easy out.

“Were there any masses earlier today?” she asked

“The six o’clock weekday Mass. I

“And the wine, the host came from the same supply as the
funeral mass?”


“Who got it for you?”

“Miguel. It’s a small service, usually no more than
a dozen people, maybe two. Today, we expected less as the funeral
would be so well attended.”

Come in, Eve mused, attend Mass. Go back, poison the wine. Walk
away. “About how many did you bring in this

“At morning Mass? Ah . . . Eight or nine.” He paused
a moment, and Eve imagined him going back, counting heads.
“Yes, nine.”

“I’ll need that list, too. Any unfamiliar faces in
that one?”

“No. I knew everyone who attended. A small group, as I

“And just you and Flores. Nobody assisting.”

“Not for the six o’clock. We don’t generally
use a minister for the morning weekday service, except during

“Okay. I’d like you to write down, as best you can
remember, the vic’s --- Flores’s movements and
activities this morning, and the times.”

“I’ll do that right away.”

“I’m going to need to secure this room as part of
the crime scene.”

“Oh.” Distress covered his face. “Do you know
how long?”

“I don’t.” She knew she was brusque, but
something about all the . . . holiness made her twitchy. “If
you’d give me your keys it would be simpler. How many sets
are there?”

“These, and a set at the rectory. I’ll need my key
to the rectory.” He took a single key off the chain, gave Eve
the rest.

“Thanks. Who was Ortiz and how did he die?”

“Mr. Ortiz?” A smile, warmer, moved into his eyes.
“A fixture of the community, and this parish, as I said. He
owned a family restaurant a few blocks from here. Abuelo’s.
Ran it, I’m told, with his wife up until about ten years ago,
when one of his sons and his granddaughter took over. He was a
hundred and sixteen, and died quietly --- and I hope painlessly ---
in his sleep. He was a good man, and well loved. I believe
he’s already in God’s hands.”

He touched the cross he wore, a light brush of fingers.
“His family is understandably distressed by what happened
this morning. If I could contact them, and we could complete the
Requiem Mass and hold the Commitment. Not here,” López
said before Eve could speak. “I’d make arrangements,
but they need to bury their father, grandfather, their friend. They
need to complete the ritual. And Mr. Ortiz should be

She understood duty to the dead. “I need to speak to
someone else now. I’ll try to move this along. And I’ll
need you to wait for me at the rectory.”

“I’m a suspect.” The idea didn’t appear
to shake him or surprise him. “I gave Miguel the weapon that
may have killed him.”

“That’s right. And right at the moment, pretty much
anyone who walked into the church and gained access to this room is
a suspect. Hector Ortiz gets a pass, but that’s about

He smiled again at that, just a little. “You can probably
eliminate the infants and toddlers, of which there were

“I don’t know. Toddlers are pretty suspicious.
We’ll need to take a look at Flores’s room at the
rectory. As soon as I can, I’ll see about moving Mr. Ortiz
from the scene.”

“Thank you. I’ll wait at home.”

Eve led him out, locked the door, then told the closest uniform
to bring in the second police witness.

While she waited, she circled Flores again. Good-looking guy,
she mused. About six feet --- hard to tell body type with the funny
robes, but she’d scanned his official ID. That had him
weighing in at a trim one-sixty.

He had even features, a lot of dark hair with a few glints of
silver running through it. Smoother, she thought, than López.
Leaner, younger.

She supposed priests came in all types and sizes, just like
regular people.

Priests weren’t supposed to have sex. She’d have to
ask somebody the root of that rule, if she found it could apply.
Some priests also ignored the rule, and got their jollies, just
like regular people. Maybe Flores didn’t care for

Who would?

Maybe he’d diddled the wrong person. Angry lover or angry
spouse of lover. Worked particularly well with young people, she
mused. Maybe he liked to poke into the underage well. Vengeful

Or ---

“Lieutenant Dallas?”

Eve turned to see a hot number in sedate black. Petite would be
the word, Eve supposed, as the woman hit maybe five-five in her
black dress heels. Her hair was jet black as well, sleeked back
into a quiet knot. She had huge, almond-shaped eyes in a kind of
simmering green.

“Graciela Ortiz. Officer Ortiz,” she added, almost
as an afterthought.

“Officer.” Eve came down from the altar.
“You’re related to Mr. Ortiz.”

“Poppy. My great-grandfather.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you. He lived so well, and long. Now he’s
with the angels. But Father Flores . . .”

“You don’t think he’s with the

“I hope he is. But he didn’t live long, or die
peacefully in his bed. I’ve never seen death like
that.” She took a breath, and there was a shudder in it.
“I should have acted more quickly, to preserve the scene. My
cousin and I --- Matthew is with Illegals --- should have acted
sooner. But I was closer. Matt was in the back of the church. I
thought --- we all thought --- Father had had some sort of attack.
Dr. Pasquale and my uncle, who is also a doctor, tried to help him.
It happened very quickly. In minutes. Three, four, no more than
that. So the body was moved, and the scene compromised. I’m

“Tell me what happened.”

Graciela relayed the events, set the scene as López

“Did you know Flores?”

“Yes, a little. He married my brother. I mean to say he
officiated at the marriage of my brother. Father Flores also gave
time to the youth center. I do the same, when I can, so I knew him
from there.”


“Outgoing, interested. He seemed to relate to the street
kids. I thought he’d probably been there and done that in his

“Did he show any interest in any particular kid or

“Not that I noticed. But I didn’t run into him there

“He ever move on you?”

“Move . . . No.” Graciela seemed shocked, then
thoughtful. “No, no moves, no sense he considered it. And I
never heard of him breaking that particular vow.”

“Would you have?”

“I don’t know, but my family --- and there are a lot
of them --- is very involved in the church and this is our home
parish. If he was going to move on someone, odds are the someone
would’ve been related or connected to the Ortiz family. And
family gossip runs pretty hot and strong. My aunt Rosa housekeeps
for the rectory and not much gets by her.”

“Rosa Ortiz.”

“O’Donnell.” Graciela smiled. “We
diversify. Is it homicide, Lieutenant?”

“Right now it’s suspicious death. You might talk to
family members, get their impressions.”

“Nobody’s going to be talking about much else for
days,” Graciela commented. “I’ll see what I can
find out from those who knew him better than I did.”

“Okay. I’m going to have your great-grandfather
released from the scene. You and your cousin should take that
detail as soon as we’re clear.”

“We appreciate that.”

“Where’s your house?”

“I’m with the two-two-three, here in East

“How long on the job?”

“Almost two years. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer,
changed my mind.”

Probably change it again, Eve thought. She just didn’t see
a cop in those sizzling green eyes. “I’m going to get
my partner, and we’ll clear the casket. If anything regarding
Flores occurs to you, you can reach me at --- ”

“Cop Central,” Graciela finished. “I

As Graciela clicked out on her funeral heels, Eve took one more
scan of the crime scene. A lot of death for one small church, she
mused. One in the coffin, one at the altar, and the one looking
down on both from the really big cross.

One dies in his sleep after a long life, one dies fast --- and
the other gets spikes hammered through his hands and feet so they
can hang him on a cross of wood.

God, priest, and the faithful, she thought. To her way of
thinking, God got the worst deal of the three.

“I can’t decide,” Peabody said as they walked
around to the rectory, “if the statues and candles and
colored glass are really pretty or really creepy.”

“Statues are too much like dolls, and dolls are creepy.
You keep expecting them to blink. And the ones that smile, like
this?” Eve kept her lips tight together as she curved them
up. “You know they’ve got teeth in there. Big, sharp,
shiny teeth.”

“I didn’t. But now I’ve got to worry about

The small, unimposing building that housed the rectory had
flowers in a pair of window boxes --- and, Eve noted, minimum
security. A standard lock, those flower-decked windows open to the
spring air, and no palm plate, no security cameras.

She knocked, then stood on long legs in simple trousers, on feet
planted in worn boots. The pale gray blazer she’d shrugged on
that morning covered her weapon harness. The frisky May breeze
fluttered through her short, brown hair. Like her legs, her eyes
were long, a whiskey brown. They didn’t sizzle like
Graciela’s --- and were all cop.

The woman who answered had an explosion of dark curls tipped
with gold around a pretty face. Her red-rimmed eyes scanned Eve,
then Peabody. “I’m sorry, Father López is unable
to take visitors today.”

“Lieutenant Dallas, NYPSD.” Eve drew out her badge.
“And Detective Peabody.”

“Yes, of course. Forgive me. Father said to expect you.
Please come in.”

She stepped back. She wore a red carnation on the lapel of her
black mourning suit --- and both over a beautifully curved body.
“It’s a terrible day for the parish, for my family.
I’m Rosa O’Donnell. My grandfather . . . It was his
funeral mass, you see. Father is in his office. He gave me this for
you.” She held out an envelope. “You asked him to write
out what Father Flores did today.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“I’m to let Father know if you need to see

“No need at this time. You can tell him that we’ve
released Mr. Ortiz. My partner and I need to see Father
Flores’s room.”

“I’ll show you upstairs.”

“You cook for the rectory,” Eve began as they moved
from the tiny foyer to the stairs.

“Yes, and clean. Some of this, some of that. Three men,
even priests, need someone to pick up after them.”

The stairs rose straight to a narrow hallway. The walls were
white and adorned here and there with crucifixes or pictures of
people in robes looking benign or --- to Eve’s eye ---
sorrowful. Occasionally annoyed.

“You knew Father Flores,” Eve prompted.

“Very well, I think. You cook and clean for a man, you
come to know who he is.”

“Who was he?”

Rosa paused outside a door, sighed. “A man of faith, and
humor. He enjoyed sports, watching them, playing them. He had . . .
energy,” she decided. “And put much of that into the
youth center.”

“How did he get along with his housemates? The other
priests,” Eve explained when Rosa looked blank.

“Very well. There was respect between him and Father
López, and I’d say they were friendly. Easy with each
other, if you understand.”


“He was friendlier, well, closer, you know, with Father
Freeman --- they had more in common, I’d say, outside the
church. Sports. He and Father Freeman would argue about sports, as
men do. Go to games together. They ran together most mornings, and
often played ball at the center.”

Rosa sighed again. “Father López is contacting Father
Freeman now, to tell him. It’s very hard.”

“And Flores’s family?”

“He had none. He would say the church was his family. I
believe his parents died when he was a boy.” She opened the
door. “He never had calls or letters from family, as Fathers
López and Freeman often do.”

“What about other calls, other letters?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Who was he connected to? Friends, teachers, old

“I . . . I don’t know.” Her brows drew
together. “He had many friends in the parish, of course, but
if you mean from outside, or from before, I don’t

“Did you notice anything off --- in his mood, his routine,

“No, nothing.” Rosa shook her head. “I came in
to fix breakfast for him and Father López this morning, before
the funeral. He was very kind.”

“What time did you get here?”

“Ah . . . about six-thirty, a few minutes later than

“Was anyone else here?”

“No. I let myself in. I have a key, though. As usual,
Father López forgot to lock up. The fathers came back from
Mass shortly after, and I gave them breakfast. We all talked about
the service, then Father Flores went into the office to work on his

She pressed her fingertips to her lips. “How could this
have happened?”

“We’ll find out. Thank you,” Eve said by way
of dismissal, then stepped into the room.

It held a narrow bed, a small dresser and mirror, a night table,
a desk. No house ’link, she noted, no computer. The bed
looked to be neatly made, and over its head a picture of Christ on
the cross hung next to a crucifix. Seemed like overkill to Eve.

There were no personal photographs in evidence, no loose credits
scattered over the dresser. She saw a Bible, a rosary of black and
silver and a lamp on the bedside table, a comb and a pocket
’link on the dresser.

“That explains why he didn’t have a ’link on
him,” Peabody commented. “I guess they don’t take
them when they do a service.” As she turned, the sassy little
flip at the ends of her dark hair bounced. “Well, I guess
this won’t take long, considering he didn’t have a
whole lot.”

“Take a look in the other rooms. Just a scan from the
doorway. See if they’re the same as this.”

As Peabody went out, Eve opened a dresser drawer with her sealed
hand. White boxers, white undershirts, white socks, black socks.
She pawed through, found nothing else. Another drawer held
T-shirts. White, black, gray --- some with team logos emblazoned on
the front.

“They’ve got more stuff,” Peabody announced.
“Photographs, man junk.”

“Define ‘man junk,’” Eve said as she
drew out the bottom drawer.

“Golf ball on a display tee, pile of discs, a pair of
boxing gloves, that kind of thing.”

“Check the closet here.” Eve drew the bottom drawer
all the way out, checked the bottom, the back.

“Priest’s suits, two sets with pants, and one of
those dresses. A pair of black shoes that look worn, two pairs of
high-tops, one pair looks shot. Shelf . . .” Peabody paused
as she rummaged. “Cooler-weather gear. Two sweaters, two
sweatshirts, one hooded sweat jacket --- Knicks.”

After checking all the drawers, backs, bottoms, sides, Eve
pulled the small dresser out from the wall, checked the back of the

With Peabody, she moved to the desk. It held a date book, a few
memo cubes, a short stack of brochures on the youth center, the
Yankees’ schedule, and another for the Knicks.

Eve checked the last entries in the date book. “Vigil for
Ortiz at the funeral home last night. Yankees game Wednesday.
Let’s see if anyone went with him. He’s scheduled for
FHC --- need to find out what that is --- for a week from this
coming Sunday at two. Got a few games and sessions at the youth
center on here. Pre-C counseling. Need to get the meaning of that.
Two of those --- last Monday and Tuesday. Names of whoever he was
counseling in here. We’ll run them down. The funeral’s
on here. A teaching gig at St. Cristóbal’s Friday, a
baptism a week from Saturday. All priestly, except for the

She bagged the date book. “Take a look at the
’link,” she told Peabody, then began on the little
night table.

She flipped through the Bible, found a few small pictures of
saints. In Hebrews, she read an underscored line: And thus,
having had long patience, he got the promise.
And in Proverbs:
With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and

Interesting. She bagged the Bible for evidence. Inside the
drawer were a couple more community flyers, and a mini-game player.
She found a silver medal taped behind the drawer. “Well,
well. Why does a priest tape a religious medal behind a

Peabody stopped her own search. “What kind of

“It’s a woman, with the robe thing, hands folded,
and it looks like she’s standing on a pillow or something
with a little kid holding her up.”

“It’s probably the Virgin Mary, and the Baby Jesus.
And, yeah, weird place for a medal.”

Carefully, Eve peeled the tape away, turned the freed medal
over. “Lino, May La Virgen de Guadalupe watch over you
--- Mama.
Dated May 12, 2031.”

“Rosa said she thought his parents died when he was a boy
--- and he’d have been about six at this date,” Peabody
commented. “Maybe Lino’s a nickname, a term of
affection in Spanish?”

“Maybe. Why tape it to the back of a drawer instead of
wearing it, or keeping it in a drawer? Are priests allowed to wear
jewelry?” Eve wondered.

“Probably not big honking rings or chains, but I’ve
seen them wearing crosses and medals and stuff.” To get a
closer look, Peabody squatted down. “Like that sort of

“Yeah. Yeah. So why is this hidden? You hide something so
nobody sees it, and you hide it close when you want to look at it
in private now and then. This mattered to him, whether it was his,
a friend’s or relative’s, or he picked it up in a
secondhand store, it mattered. It looks like silver,” she
murmured, “but it’s not tarnished. You have to polish
silver to keep it shiny.”

After another study, she bagged it. “Maybe we can trace
it. What about the ’link?”

“Logged transmissions, in and out from Roberto Ortiz ---
that would be the late Mr. Ortiz’s oldest surviving son. A
couple to and from the youth center, and the oldest last week to
Father Freeman.”

“Okay, we’ll have a look and listen. Let’s
call the sweepers in for a pass, then I want this room

She thought of the two underlined passages, and wondered what
riches and honor Flores waited for.

Excerpted from SALVATION IN DEATH © Copyright 2011 by J. D.
Robb. Reprinted with permission by Putnam Adult. All rights

Salvation in Death
by by J. D. Robb

  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • hardcover: 353 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399155228
  • ISBN-13: 9780399155222