A is for Alibi Page 4

"What can I do for you?" he said, but his tone didn't indicate any particular desire to help.

"I'd like to look at the files on Laurence Fife.”

He arched an eyebrow at me ever so slightly. "It's against department policy. We're not running a public library here.”

"I didn't ask to take them out. I just want to look. You've let me do that before.”


"I've given you information more times than that and you know it," I said. "Why hesitate on this?”

"That case is closed.”

"Then you shouldn't have any objections. It's hardly an invasion of anyone's privacy.”

His smile then was slow and humorless and he tapped a pencil idly, loving, I imagined, the power to turn me down cold. "She killed him, Kinsey. That's all there is to it.”

"You told her to get in touch with me. Why bother with it if you don't have a doubt yourself?”

"My doubts have nothing to do with Laurence Fife," he said.

"What then?”

"There's more to this one than meets the eye," he said evasively. "Maybe we'd like to protect what we've got.”

"Are 'we' keeping secrets?”

"Oh I got more secrets than you ever dreamed about," he said.

"Me too," I said. "Now why are we playing games?”

He gave me a look that might have been annoyance and might have been something else. He's a hard man to read. "You know how I feel about people like you.”

"Look, as far as I'm concerned, we're in the same business," I said. "I'm straight with you. I don't know what kind of gripes you have with the other private investigators in town, but I stay out of your way and I've got nothing but respect for the job you do. I don't understand why we can't cooperate with one another.”

He stared at me for a moment, his mouth turning down with resignation. "You'd get more out of me if you'd learn to flirt," he said grudgingly.

"No I wouldn't. You think women are a pain in the ass. If I flirted, you'd pat me on the head and make me go away.”

He wouldn't take the bait on that one but he did reach over and pick up the phone, dialing Identification and Records.

"This is Dolan. Have Emerald bring me the files on Laurence Fife. " He hung up and leaned back again, looking at me with a mixture of speculation and distaste.

"I better not hear any complaints about the way you handle this. If I get one call from anyone—and I'm talking about a witness who feels harassed or anyone else, including my men or anybody else's men—you're up shit creek. You got that?”

I held up three fingers beside my temple dutifully. "Scouts honor.”

"When were you ever a Scout?”

"Well, I was a Brownie once for almost a week," I said sweetly. "We had to paint a rose on a hanky for Mother's Day and I thought it was dumb so I quit.”

He didn't smile. "You can use Lieutenant Becker's office," he said when the files arrived. "And stay out of trouble.”

I went into Becker's office.

It took me two hours to sort through the mass of paperwork but I began to see why Con had been reluctant to let me look because just about the first thing that came to light was a series of Telexes from the West Los Angeles Police Department about a second homicide. At first, I thought it was a mistake—that communiqués from another case had been inadvertently sandwiched into the wrong file. But the details nearly leapt off the page and the implications made my heart go pitty-pat. An accountant named Libby Glass, Caucasian, female, age twenty-four, had died from ingesting ground oleander four days after Laurence Fife died. She had worked for Haycraft and McNiece, a business-management firm representing the interests of Laurence Fife's law firm. Now what the hell was that about?

I flipped through copies of investigators' reports, trying to piece together the story from terse departmental memorandums and penciled summations of telephone calls flying back and forth between the Santa Teresa and West Los Angeles police departments. One memo noted that the key to her apartment had been found on the key ring in Laurence Fife's office desk drawer. A lengthy interview with her parents didn't add anything. There was an interview with a surly sounding exboyfriend named Lyle Abernathy, who seemed convinced that she was romantically involved with a "certain unnamed Santa Teresa attorney," but no one had pinned it down much beyond that. Still, the connection was ominous enough and it looked like Nikki Fife's alleged jealous rage might have included the object of her husband's philanderings as well as the man himself. Except that there wasn't any proof.

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