Copycat, A Short Story from A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman, Rosemary Herbert, Sue Grafton

By Tony Hillerman, Rosemary Herbert, Sue Grafton

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Altman then nodded toward the author. "But I have to say that Mr. Carter here's been a huge help. " Appraising Carter carefully, Fletcher said, "I have to admit I never got a chance to read your book, but I always wanted to meet you. An honest-to-God famous author. " Carter gave an embarrassed laugh. " Carter said, "I appreciate that. Is she around town? " "Oh," Fletcher said. "Well, we're not going out anymore. She left the area. " He headed back to Robbery. There was now nothing to do but wait for the lab results to come back, so Wallace suggested coffee at Starbucks.

Clara shivered in her bathrobe, standing on the sidewalk along with a clutch of chattering neighbors as they watched the firemen extinguish the blaze and offered words of sympathy to the dismayed owner of the car, who lived a few doors away. Finally the onlookers grew bored, or repulsed by the bitter smell of the burnt rubber and plastic, and they returned to their beds or their late-night snacks or their mind-numbing TV. But their vigilance didn't flag; the moment they stepped inside, every one of them locked their doors and windows carefully—to make certain that the stran-gler would not wreak his carnage in their homes.

The man ignored the question and dug a book out of his battered briefcase. Altman got a look at the title. Two Deaths in a Small Town. He'd never heard of it. " He opened the book to a yellow Post-It tab and pushed it forward. " The detective pulled on his CVS drugstore glasses and leaned forward. The hunter knew that now that he'd killed once, the town would be more alert than ever. Its soul would be edgier, its collective nerves would be as tense as an animal trap's blue-steel spring. Women would not stroll the streets alone, and those who did would be looking around themselves constantly, alert for any risk.

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