Chapter 3 The Party on the Hill

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Doctor Hara gently lifted the side of the dead woman's coat and pulled a gardening glove out from underneath her. "That fabric explains the marks on her neck. You see that imprint that looks like a weave pattern?"

Riggs inspected the glove and the marks. "Those marks are on both sides of her neck. Where's the right-handed glove?"

"If it's around here, we'll find it," one of the other policemen piped in.

Riggs rubbed his chin. "And how did it get underneath her body?" Riggs pushed the front brim of his hat upward slightly as reviewed the events. "The man attacked the woman here, she manages to scream, and the Foresters came running. Dr. Forester turns on the porchlight and shouts from his doorway," Riggs pointed to the door, "so the murderer drops the woman and runs toward the street. But if he was wearing the glove, it should be lying beside her."

"Hey Sgt., you'll want to have a look at this." Fisher said as he pointed his flashlight. "We've got footprints."

Riggs turned on his flashlight. The driveways were both gravel, but some of the soil was damp between the gravel and the grass.

Fisher went on, "Based on the thickness of the tread, I'd say these were boots. They're larger than Dr. Forester's, by the way. You can see his shoe prints here. This must be where he ran down to chase the murderer, you can see the heel marks are deep. The boot prints are bigger, and just as fresh. But we haven't been able to find any of the boot prints near the body because Forester trampled the area while he was trying to help the woman."

Riggs used his flashlight to follow the prints to the side walk. "It looks like Dr. Forester may be have been wrong," he said, "he thought the murderer turned left, but these boot prints look like the murderer may have been heading right, toward the end of the street. Too bad, we lose them on the pavement."

"If he went through the vacant lot, we'll find more prints."

Riggs stepped into the street. "But he may not have gone that far. He could have run toward the dead-end, but what if instead of continuing on, he turned and ran behind Mrs. Kent's house."

Fisher frowned. "Do you think he's still hiding?"

"Possibly, or he could have continued up the hill." Riggs looked at the elegant home above them. It was glowing like a theater on opening night. A window was open and he could hear faint laughter and a piano version of Rhapsody in Blue. "I think I'd better go have a talk with the neighbor, Kent. This woman was dressed for a party and Woodrow Kent seems to be the only one in the neighborhood who's hosting a party at the moment."

Riggs walked up to the grand house. From the open glass doors above, he could hear several voices and some dishes clanging. And he could see a plume of smoke from someone's cigarette.

He rang the bell.

Instead of the traditional ring, the button produced an ethereal gong. The door was opened by a middle-aged maid, who let Riggs in without bothering to ask him anything besides his name. She led him up an open, wide flight of stairs, to the grand open living room on the upper floor. Riggs took off his hat.

The room had several modern paintings and a flagstone fireplace on the left towered elegantly up to the sloping, high-beamed ceiling. A fire crackled softly and the room smelled of dry pine and new leather. The glass wall that faced the city gave a commanding view of the skyline. There was a movie projector, a wet bar, and an enormous banana tree in the corner. For all the noise, there were only nine or ten people in the room, all talking in small groups. The music was being performed at a gleaming grand piano. And near the center of the room was a seven foot sculpture depicting a pink curving form that would have made Riggs' mother blush. The right side of the grand room was a large open kitchen with warm lights shining down from the cupboards.

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