Having established her reputation with the enormously successful, two-time Emmy Award-winning television series Prime Suspect, author/screenwriter Lynda La Plante enhanced it with her more recent popular CBS TV miniseries, Bella Mafia. The same unbeatable storytelling power she brings to her films is the engine that drives her new thriller, Cold Heart, from its disturbing beginning to its shocking climax.
A single gunshot into a Beverly Hills swimming pool ends the life of movie mogul Harry Nathan, a man with so many enemiesincluding a widow and two ex-wivesthat the challenge for PI Lorraine Page at first seems to be the surfeit of suspects. Newly established as an independent private investigator, Lorraine comes to the case hungry and determined to succeedbut Harry Nathan's death is the beginning, not the end, of a trail of lust and conspiracy leading to the darkest corners of the international art world. A sordid trail of video evidence implicates other leading Hollywood figures in the case, while Lorraine finds her own investigations hampered by the personal intervention of new police chief Jake Burton, a man who appears to know everything bad about her but still seems determined to know more.
As the failures of her past come back to haunt her, Lorraine finds that solving this murder is no longer just a job, it's about recapturing her own self-worth. A first-rate crime story, a love story, and moreit's precisely the kind of superior suspense novel we've come to expect from Lynda La Plante, one of the preeminent originators of realistic crimedrama.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster Ltd|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)|
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Cindy Nathan wore dark glasses, a short powder-blue dress, white sandals, and a silver chain and padlock, fastened tightly, like a dog collar, around her neck: a gift from her loving spouse, Lorraine had no doubt. She didn't have a purse, just a small white-leather wallet.
"Please sit down. Sorry about my dog. He's supposed to be trained, but he hasn't got it quite right yet. Can I offer you tea or coffee?"
"No, nothing, thank you." She was perched on the edge of the chair.
"How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine, get sick in the mornings, but they say the first few months are the worst," Cindy said. "Do you have children?"
Lorraine nodded. "Two daughters. They live with their father." She said it quickly, wanting to avoid a long conversation about births and pregnancies.
"Harry's other kid didn't live--this would have been his only child. It would be terrible if it was born in prison."
Lorraine looked at her fingers. "Do you think that's a possibility?"
"That's why I'm here. I need someone on my side."
"What about your lawyer?"
"Oh, I have a whole team of lawyers, L.A.'s best."
"And what do they say?"
"Oh, they seem pretty sure I did it. They don't say it, it's just how they ask me all these questions, over and over."
"Do you know what the evidence is against you, Mrs. Nathan?"
Cindy looked down at her toenails, painted electric blue. "Well, the gun was mine."
"Are your fingerprints on it?"
"And they have the gun?"
"The police found it in the bushes by the pool."
"Did you fire it, Mrs. Nathan?"
"But you've said you did not kill your husband."
"Yes, but you asked if I fired it and I did," Cindy said, with achildish sort of exactness. "A few times, just practicing. Once I fired it at Harry, but I missed and there were blanks in it anyway."
Lorraine picked up a pen and twisted it in her fingers. "Did you fire your gun on the day your husband was found dead?"
"Where did you leave it the last time you used it?"
"In our bedroom, on my side of the bed, in a silver box. Harry had guns all over the house--he was paranoid about security. He had a license, and he even had a gun in his car."
"Could I come out to the house, Mrs. Nathan?"
Cindy nodded. "Will you say that you're going to give me a massage? I don't want them to know. I don't think they would like it, you know, me hiring you without telling them."
"Who are you referring to, Mrs. Nathan?"
"Oh, the lawyers and the staff."
Lorraine leaned back in her chair. "Did you love your husband, Mrs. Nathan?"
"As his widow, are you his main beneficiary?"
"I get the house and the stock he had in the company, and his second wife, Kendall, gets his share in the gallery on Beverly Drive, though the will says that if there should be issue of our marriage, then the kid would be the main beneficiary and I get a lot less. The most valuable stuff is the art in the house--Harry was a collector. Feinstein says it's mine as part of the contents of the house, but Kendall's got some attorney to write claiming she and Harry agreed to split it so her half wasn't his to leave. There's something about Sonja too, but Feinstein says it won't add up to more than a few mementoes. It's all very complicated . . . ' Her voice trailed off.
"I'll come and see you tomorrow, all right?"
Cindy nodded, then opened her wallet. "You gave me your card, so I got the check all ready. All you got to do is fill in the amount. I don't know how much you charge, but I want you to look after me, exclusive, so that will be extra, and I'll pay extra because I don't want you to tell anybody that you're working for me. If it gets out, I'll deny it, and I'll get one of my fancy lawyers to sue you. Do you have client confidentiality?"
Decker ushered Cindy Nathan out of the office and into the elevator, while Lorraine remained at her desk, staring at the looped, childish writing. She had suggested Cindy engage her on a weekly basis, and said it would be three hundred dollars a day plus expenses.
Cindy had counted on her fingers, then leaned over to use Lorraine's felt-tipped pen. "I'm going to pay you five thousand dollars a week, and I want you for a month to start with. Then, if everything works out all right for me, I won't need you anymore."
When Decker returned, Lorraine held up the check between her fingers. He took it and looked stunned.
"Shit! Twenty grand! What in God's name do you have to do for that?"
Lorraine perched on the side of the desk. "Long time ago, one of the boys arrested this old guy for passing dud checks. When he was questioned he shrugged his shoulders and . . . he was crazy. He'd found the checkbook in a supermarket."
"I don't follow. What's that got to do with Cindy Nathan?"
"I think she's crazy--the elevator's certainly not quite going to the top floor. I wouldn't be surprised if that check bounced. On the other hand, she's a wealthy widow."
Decker chuckled. "Well, hell, let's bank it first thing in the morning, and if she's out to lunch we're laughing."
Lorraine clicked her fingers to Tiger. "Yeah, you go ahead and do that. Oh, that phone call Cindy denies making." Decker nodded. He still felt awful about the recording.
"Cindy has quite a high-pitched voice. If she got hysterical, like she'd just shot her husband, it's likely her voice would go up a notch. Whoever made that call, if my memory serves me well, had quite a deep, almost throaty smoker's voice." She gave him that cockeyed, smug smile. He said nothing.
Lorraine still hovered at the doorway. "Did Mrs. Nathan come with a chauffeur?"
"I have no idea," Decker said. As the door closed behind her he shut his eyes, tried to remember the voice. Had it been deep, throaty as she had just said? He could not remember.
According to the doorman in the lobby, Cindy Nathan had walked into the building. He had seen no driver, and she had not left keys for the valet-parking facility. She had asked him which floor Page Investigations was on, and then used the intercom phone to the office. "I'm sorry if I did anything wrong," the doorman said apologetically.
"You didn't," Lorraine replied as she left, with Tiger straining at the leash. But she knew intuitively that something was wrong. Nothing quite added up. She felt good, though, and she was twenty thousand dollars better off. Page Investigations was up and rolling.
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