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Authors: Dorothy Salisbury Davis

Scarlet Night

BOOK: Scarlet Night
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PRAISE FOR THE WRITING OF DOROTHY SALISBURY DAVIS

“Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Josephine Tey … Dorothy Salisbury Davis belongs in the same company. She writes with great insight into the psychological motivations of all her characters.” —
The Denver Post

“Dorothy Salisbury Davis may very well be the best mystery novelist around.” —
The Miami Herald

“Davis has few equals in setting up a puzzle, complete with misdirection and surprises.” —
The New York Times Book Review

“Davis is one of the truly distinguished writers in the medium; what may be more important, she is one of the few who can build suspense to a sonic peak.” —Dorothy B. Hughes,
Los Angeles Times

“A joyous and unqualified success.” —
The New York Times
on
Death of an Old Sinner

“An intelligent, well-written thriller.” —
Daily Mirror
(London) on
Death of an Old Sinner

“At once gentle and suspenseful, warmly humorous and tensely perplexing.” —
The New York Times
on
A Gentleman Called

“Superbly developed, gruesomely upsetting.” —
Chicago Tribune
on
A Gentleman Called

“An excellent, well-controlled piece of work.” —
The New Yorker
on
The Judas Cat

“A book to be long remembered.” —
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
on
A Town of Masks

“Mrs. Davis has belied the old publishing saying that an author’s second novel is usually less good than the first. Since her first ranked among last year’s best, what more need be said?” —
The New York Times
on
The Clay Hand

“Ingeniously plotted … A story of a young woman discovering what is real in life and in herself.” —
The New York Times
on
A Death in the Life

“Davis brings together all the elements needed for a good suspense story to make this, her fourth Julie Hayes, her best.” —
Library Journal
on
The Habit of Fear

“Mrs. Davis is one of the admired writers of American mystery fiction, and
Shock Wave
is up to her best. She has a cultured style, handles dialogue with a sure ear, and understands people better than most of her colleagues.” —
The New York Times Book Review
on
Shock Wave

Scarlet Night
A Julie Hayes Mystery
Dorothy Salisbury Davis

For Sarah at seventeen

Contents

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Twenty-two

Twenty-three

Twenty-four

Twenty-five

Twenty-six

Twenty-seven

Twenty-eight

Twenty-nine

Thirty

Thirty-one

Thirty-two

Thirty-three

Thirty-four

Thirty-five

Thirty-six

Thirty-seven

Thirty-eight

Thirty-nine

Forty

Forty-one

Forty-two

Forty-three

Forty-four

Forty-five

Forty-six

Forty-seven

Forty-eight

Forty-nine

Fifty

Fifty-one

Fifty-two

Fifty-three

Fifty-four

Preview:
Lullaby of Murder

About the Author

ONE

W
HILE JEFF WENT DOWNSTAIRS
again for the rest of the luggage Julie opened doors and windows. She had been gone a month—a month in Paris—but the feeling when she opened the folding doors to the living room was of a room closed up for years. And in a way it had been. With her husband away so much of the time, she rarely entered it, never sat in it when she was alone, and always hurried the cleaning of it. It was a Henry James kind of room, full of Victorian furniture, valuable bric-a-brac, and presences. The
objets d’art
suggested a collector who was at home abroad. And that was Jeff, a New York newspaper columnist with carte blanche to the world.

Julie opened the inside shutters, letting in the sunlight, and turned then as though drawn by an evil spirit to the one thing she truly hated in the room, the painting of Jeff over the mantel. It was the artistry of his first wife, Felicia, a tricky piece of work which Julie had once compared in her own mind to the crabbed “Judgment” card in her Tarot deck. Wherever you went in the room Jeff’s eyes pursued you. Only they weren’t Jeff’s eyes, they were Felicia’s Jeff’s eyes.

The man himself came in, sniffed the dry muskiness, and took a long homecoming look around him. The smell, Julie thought, suggested elegant old ladies in taffeta shaking out lace handkerchiefs. What it was, actually, was the moth repellent exhaled by the vacuum cleaner.

“Don’t you use this room when I’m not here, Julie?”

“Not much.”

“Why not, for heaven’s sake?”

“Ghosts,” Julie said, not altogether flippant.

Jeff looked at her, an eyebrow raised.

“I’m kidding. No! I’m not…Jeff, are you passionate about Felicia’s portrait of you?”

He looked at it from across the room as though he had forgotten it was there.

Having at long last brought up the subject, she plunged ahead: “It’s spooky. It isn’t you, really. Those eyes are nasty. You know what it’s like? It’s as though she wanted to paint a judge and used you for a model.”

Jeff grinned. “That’s very funny. Her father was a judge.”

“Oh, boy.”

He flinched. “I wish you’d stop saying that.”

“I’ll try. I will try.”

He came and stood beneath the portrait and looked up at it.

“You’re better looking than that,” Julie said.

“I’d have to agree with you,” he said dryly.

It was his distinguished air that Felicia had tried to catch. He had a strong face with wise dark eyes, and the tough mouth of someone who had to be shown. There were little pouches under his eyes that Felicia had overlooked. Or maybe they weren’t there in her day. His hair was starting to gray now—at forty. He was a head taller than Julie, just under six feet, slight, but muscular, and fifteen years older. Which sometimes seemed a lot.

He took the picture from the wall and Julie thought of her psychotherapist and all the time they had spent on the subject of that painting until the doctor had finally said, “Couldn’t you simply ask him to remove it?”

The mountain had turned out to be a molehill after all.

Jeff said: “We can take it up to the attic when we take the luggage and hide it there.”

“Why don’t we pack it up and send it to Felicia?”

He made a face of mock reproof. Felicia had recently remarried. “The question is, what do we do for a replacement?” The outline of where the painting had hung was plainly visible.

Julie almost said, “Move.” But she didn’t.

“We ought to look at pictures,” Jeff said. “That’s something we do nicely together.”

Which confirmed her suspicion that he had been sorting out the days and nights ahead, his, hers, and theirs, now that he was to make New York his headquarters for a while.

“I wish I’d said something in Paris.”

“We’ll find something. I shouldn’t want a reproduction. I’m sure you wouldn’t either.”

“Let’s take our time,” Julie said, which wasn’t like her. But whatever came in was going to have to make it among some pretty exalted company—a Rembrandt etching, an early Picasso, a Daumier drawing, two good Impressionists.

“I’m glad you feel that way,” Jeff said, on his way to answer the first telephone call since their return.

Julie went to the window and looked down on the street traffic—light on Sunday: a few cars, more taxis. The apartment was the second floor through of one of the last of the nineteenth-century townhouses left on Sixteenth Street. It faced a church and backed against the outer reaches of the garment industry, with a tired catalpa tree slouching in a garden where no flowers grew. But the house itself was well kept up. Jeff had lived there before his first marriage. In his and Julie’s four years together it remained his in character. Not because he wanted it that way, but because Julie had not known how to change it. One thing she hadn’t wanted to do was make a hash of the place just to prove that Julie as well as Geoffrey Hayes lived there. And now that Felicia’s painting was going, she thought, she might not want to change it at all. Furthermore, she decided almost at the same instant, she was through with psychotherapy. Until further notice.

They agreed that night, having coffee in the living room, that something had to be done soon about the bald spot over the mantel.

“What would you say to a good mirror if we can find the right style?” Jeff suggested.

“Not much.” She wasn’t fond of mirrors. But if Jeff wanted one…“Maybe,” she added, trying to sound hearty.

“What we had better do,” Jeff said, quite aware, “when either of us has an hour or two to spare is drop in on some of the better galleries—and if we see something we like, we can go back together and give ourselves time to consider it.”

“Fine,” Julie said. An hour or two to spare…that was Julie’s whole problem: she had far too much time to spare and Jeff no time at all. The old floundering feeling and the depression that came with it began to descend. Do something, Julie.

She got up instantly and went to her desk in the bedroom. She looked up the phone number for Lieutenant Donleavy, Mid-Manhattan Homicide. He might or might not be on duty, Sunday night. He was there.

“This is Julie Hayes, Lieutenant. I don’t know if you remember me…”

“The little fortune-teller. I’m not ever going to forget you, Mrs. Hayes. What can I do for you?”

Julie was chagrined at the description, the little fortune-teller. She had come close to serious trouble that spring—before she joined Jeff in Paris—by setting up as “Friend Julie, Reader and Advisor” in a shop on West Forty-fourth Street. She said, “I wondered if you could tell me what happened to Rita Morgan.”

Rita Morgan was the prostitute she had mistaken for a child and tried to help.

“She’s still under psychiatric observation, but I’ll give you an educated guess as to what will happen.”

“Please.”

“Off the record, you understand. I don’t think she’ll ever come to trial.”

Rita Morgan had murdered Julie’s friend, Pete Mallory, who also had tried to help her.

“She’d be a great witness for the prosecution,” Julie said. “I never knew of anybody so self-destructive.”

“It’s a pity she didn’t do herself in, instead of Mallory,” Donleavy said, going short on sympathy. “Do you want to see her?”

“I don’t think so, and I don’t think she’d want to see me. There’s not much point.”

“That’s being sensible.”

“Lieutenant, I’ve gone out of the fortune-telling business.”

“I was teasing you. I don’t think you were ever really in it. Were you now?”

“Not for long. It was a lark. You’re right. Thank you, Lieutenant.”

“Any time, Mrs. Hayes.”

It was like a dream and more bizarre than most, Julie thought, sitting a moment after she put down the phone. She remembered very clearly leaving her therapist’s office that April morning, angry and hurt because the doctor had said that until Julie was ready to find gainful employment and help herself, the therapy was a waste of Jeff’s money. It didn’t wash with Doctor Callahan that Jeff liked “his little girl,” his “child bride,” his wife the dilettante. “Rubbish. He will like a woman better. And so will you, which is more important.” She had known even then that Doctor was right, but she had felt abandoned, and when someone handed her a flyer on Fifth Avenue, advertising “Madame Tozares,” like a mischievous child, she had decided to go into the business of reading the Tarot cards and advising.

BOOK: Scarlet Night
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