It's been eighteen hours since Paula Wittlauer threw herself out of her seventeenth floor apartment that early Friday morning in September and crash landed into the street just down from Mathew Scudder's own residence. Among the others at Armstrong's the night before, Paula had served Scudder and talked to him while she worked her last shift. Everything had seemed normal and he had no indication at all that she was in distress. Just a few hours later, for some reason, she took off all her clothes and went off the balcony in one final swan dive.
The death bothers him on so many levels so when Ruth Wittlauer, Paula's sister, is sure it wasn't suicide, Scudder doesn't dismiss her out of hand. Considering her lifestyle, Paula's death may be a suicide--intentional or accidental. It could have been something entirely else so he agrees to look into the matter.
What follows is an entertaining noir type short story previously published in "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine" in 1977 and again in "The Night & the Music: The Mathew Scudder Stories" published in 2011. It depicts a somewhat cynical detective in New York long before the towers fell working a case that is both complicated throughout and yet simply explained at the end. It's a solidly good short story and far better than a lot of the novels out there today.
Material snagged during the author's recent free e-book promotion.