Alchemy, Chap 3 (beginning)




“You have five minutes to explain why you didn’t tell me that Cardozo is dead.  Because that’s how long I’m going to wait before I call the cops.  And they’ll be with you five minutes after they find Cardozo.”

“I didn’t know,” Ernesto said.

“Yeah, and I’m the rightful Queen of France. Four minutes ten seconds.” I had bought a disposable phone to use in calling the don or Ernesto.  And I hoped the FBI’s surveillance of Cardozo’s place was limited to intermittent drive-bys, that they didn’t have a camera installed somewhere that would have recorded my license plate.

“I didn’t know.  You think I haven’t been questioned before?  I didn’t know, and nothing you say can change that.”

“That’s it, then: we’re done, and don’t come around again, because I don’t want a federal entourage bird-dogging me.”

“Don’t get your undies in a bundle,” Ernesto grumbled.  I heard him muttering in the background, and the don’s lighter, higher baritone.

It was Don Pasquale who came back on the phone.  “Did you see anyone else?”

“You mean, like the female occupant of the house, whose existence you didn’t bother to mention?  No.  And neither of them left as much as an ATM card behind, let alone a passport.  Who was she?”

I thought I heard a faint sigh of relief.  Qualcuna di nessun’importanza.  Molto bene, molto bene e mille grazie.”

Someone of no importance—Pasquale always spoke Italian to me.  He added, as a murmured after-thought, that I could call the police.

Peppy and I had waited until we reached the toll-road before calling the don.  Even though, he, too, had given me the number of a disposable phone to use in calling him, I didn’t think I could be too careful.  Now, driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on the keypad, I did that most reckless act—dialed with one eye on the road and one on the phone.  I got directory assistance to connect me to the Glen Ellyn police department, and, speaking in my falsetto register, reported a dead body in unincorporated Glen Ellyn.  “I don’t know the exact address—it’s one of those mansions off St. Charles Road with a pond out back.”


I turned the phone off and flipped it out the window, where the traffic behind me quickly reduced it to rubble.

  • It’s getting better and better.

    Hope that’s not V I in the photo.

  • Pascale

    Excellent ! This thread is just so nice !
    It’s like having regular appointment with VI – Like “I’ll meet you for a quick coffee” or something … We catch up with her news and she disappears into the night again – only to come back some days later with more news.
    It truly is a treat for us readers.

  • ab

    Can’t wait to read on.

    What is a disposable phone? Is it made of cardboard…? (Joking).

  • ab

    Well put, Pascale!

  • V I is one of my best friends. Just now she’s out crushing mobile phones…

  • Bookwitch, in a way, this is your blog–you’re the one who pushed me to do it. And I like the fact that it’s this little group of people who come together-even though I’ve met only Annika and Ann in person, it seems like a little book club on the Web. The drawback to a blog over a discussion board is that contributors can’t initiate a discussion, so if there’s a topic you want to post as ablog post, that fits our little group, e-mail me the file and I’ll put it up as a guest post.

  • Hello Ms Paretsky.
    So pleased to meet you here in the wonderful world of bloggers. I am going to add a link to your blog on mine (reviewing crime fiction), and to help my readers I should like to put links to the first chapters of “Alchemy”. I have not been able to find the first chapter, however. Could you perhaps help me?

    Greetings from a Danish crime fiction lover 🙂

  • Just to tell you that I have posted a short introduction to your blog plus your first chapter.
    And I am way behind; I have been so busy blogging that I have only read that first chapter yet. I will catch up, however.


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