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Authors: Jessica Fletcher

You Bet Your Life

BOOK: You Bet Your Life
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Table of Contents
 
 
A Friend in Need
Martha was the last one in. She slid onto the seat and lifted the phone, familiar by now with the routine.
“Jessica, thank you so much for coming. I’m embarrassed to be talking to you in such a place.”
“Martha, I tried to reach you many times,” I said.
“I know. Please forgive me. I was so humiliated to be in here, and then so depressed. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone but my lawyer. God, it’s grim in here.”
“Are you all right? I mean, do they mistreat you?”
“No. It’s just that—” She started to weep, sat up straight, drew some deep breaths, and forced a smile at me through the glass. “I’m sorry. I haven’t cried for weeks, but seeing you...”
“No need to be sorry, Martha. I certainly understand.”
“Everyone in here claims they’re innocent. The guards think it’s a joke. But I swear to you I didn’t kill him.”
I nodded. I meant it when I said I believed her....
Other books in the
Murder, She Wrote
Series
 
Manhattans & Murder
Rum & Razors
Brandy & Bullets
Martinis & Mayhem
A Deadly Judgment
A Palette for Murder
The Highland Fling Murders
Murder on the QE2
Murder in Moscow
A Little
Yuletide Murder
Murder at the Powderhom Ranch
Knock
’Em
Dead
Gin & Daggers
Trick or Treachery
Blood on the Vine
Murder in a Minor Key
Provence—To Die For
SIGNET
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Signet Printing, October 2002
 
Copyright © 2002 Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. Murder, She Wrote is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
 
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
eISBN : 978-1-440-67361-0

http://us.penguingroup.com

For Bill, Eleanor and Hy
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
For generous contributions of their time, knowledge, and experience, we’d like to thank the following people:
 
At the Clark County Detention Center: Sgt. James A. Morganti, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
 
At the Clark County Courthouse: Manager of Court Operations Michael W. Ware and District Judge Kathy A. Hardcastle.
 
At Bellagio: Director of Guest Services Paul Berry and his associate Linda Love; and Jacqueline Montoya, Director of Wedding Chapels.
 
And journalist Ulf Buchholz.
 
All efforts were made to accurately reflect the information provided, although some liberties were taken for the sake of the story. Any errors are solely ours.
Chapter One
It’s called the Strip, and a more mundane name for such a fanciful boulevard would be hard to find. Where else in the world can you see a twenty-foot statue of Julius Caesar, a pirate ship, a pyramid, the New York City skyline, and the Eiffel Tower, all within a mile of each other?
No more than five minutes after my taxi made the turn out of Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport, I was craning my neck to see the astonishing architecture, giant-screen advertisements, and flashing lights, blazing night and day, for which the city is justly famous.
“You ever been here before?” the driver asked.
“I was here two years ago,” I said, “but the city changes so quickly.”
“Yeah, Las Vegas is constantly changing. We got a new Aladdin Hotel. They blew up the old one in 1998. Blew up the Dunes, too. That was a good one. Saw it on TV. The Sands and the Hacienda also got imploded—that’s what they call it. We like to blow up old hotels.”
“Any still standing?”
“Not too many. The Stardust is still here, of course. Wayne Newton sings there.”
“The city likes spectacular events of all kinds, I gather.”
“You could say that. We got some good ones goin’ on all the time—the pirate ship battle at Treasure Island, the volcano at the Mirage, the fountains at the Bellagio. Broadway shows. Chorus girls. The best restaurants in the world. Siegfried and Roy—everyone wants to see their white tigers. You never get bored here.”
“Do you have a favorite hotel?”
“Not really. It’s kind of old hat to me by now. Been here twenty years. The wife likes the Venetian. That’s where the Sands used to be. They’ve got gondola rides on what they call the Grand Canal and guys singing opera and kissing her hand. And when the kids were little, they liked Circus Circus.”
“I heard that Las Vegas hotels were trying to attract more family business. Is that still true?”
“Used to be the case, but it’s shifting back around now. You can’t take kids into the casinos, and that’s where the money is. The MGM Grand closed down most of its theme park. The hotels would rather have the parents leave their kids at home and spend their time here gambling. The Strip is really more of an adult playground than a place for kids.”
My hotel, the Bellagio, was in the middle of the playground. At the base of the drive leading to the front entrance was an enormous sign, its moving figures advertising the Cirque du Soleil show “O” that was being featured at the hotel. Signs for other hotels and other shows competed for attention on either side of the street, not unlike the colorful billboards and moving signs of Times Square in New York, but multiplied and spread out over a mile.
The driver pulled up under the enormous porte cochere of the Bellagio, and a uniformed bellman opened the cab door for me.
“Welcome to the Bellagio. Are you checking in?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I’ll take care of your luggage,” he said, handing me a ticket.
I thanked him, paid the cabdriver, and looked around. In front of the hotel was a huge lake where the famous fountains of the Bellagio would dance to music later that afternoon. Across the street was the Eiffel Tower, a half-size version of the French original. Seth Hazlitt and I had taken a ride to the top when we were here two years earlier for a friend’s wedding. We could see all of Las Vegas below—the Strip with its skyscraper hotels, bright, flashing lights, palm trees, and water displays, a mecca for thirty-five million visitors a year. And farther out, where the burgeoning population of one of the fastest-growing cities in the country had put up flatter buildings—homes and schools and shopping centers. And beyond the buildings to the dry expanse of still-untamed desert, and to the dramatic folds of the Spring Mountains to the west. The noise of Las Vegas had been muffled on top of the faux Eiffel Tower, where the wind ruffled our hair and the distant view reminded us that nature was even more stunning than anything man could build.
BOOK: You Bet Your Life
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