A moving exploration of conflict, loss and love from award-winning author Graham Swift. In 1972, Robert Beech, First World War survivor and present-day armaments maker, is killed by a car bomb. The event breaks the career of his son Harry, a news photographer, and comes close to destroying his granddaughter Sophie.
Ten years later, the Falklands War has begun and both Harry, now working as an aerial photographer, and Sophie, visiting an analyst in New York, are haunted by a past that has scarred and divided them.
"What's this about, Commander?"
"Belle was right. I admire your work. I was intrigued to find us on the same program. You don't generally accept
"No. I like the streets."
"So did I. It's like a virus in the blood." He leaned back, nursed his drink. The faint tremor in his hand surprised
her. "But working the streets doesn't mean being on them, necessarily. Someone has to command-from a desk, an office, a
war room. A good cop, a smart cop, moves up the ranks. As you have, Lieutenant."
"A good cop, a smart cop, closes cases and locks up the bad guys."
He gave one short laugh. "You think that's enough for captain's bars, for a command star? No, the word 'naive' never
came up in any of the reports I've read on you."
"Why should you read reports on me?"
"I may be retired from active duty, but I'm still a consultant. I still have my finger in the pie." He leaned forward
again. "You've managed to work and close some very high-profile cases in the murder book, Lieutenant. While I don't
always approve of your methods, the results are unarguable. It's rare for me to judge a female officer worthy of
"Excuse me. Back up. Female?"
He lifted his hand in a gesture that told her he'd had this discussion before and was vaguely weary of it. "I believe
men and women have different primary functions. Man is the warrior, the provider, the defender. Woman is the
procreator, the nurturer. There are numerous scientific theories that agree, and certainly social and religious weight
"Is that so?" Eve said softly.
"Frankly, I've never approved of women on the force, or in certain areas of the civilian workplace. They're often a
distraction and rarely fully committed to the job. Marriage and family soon-as they should for women-take priority."
"Commander Skinner, under the circumstances, the most courteous thing I can think of to say is you're full of shit."
He laughed, loud and long. "You live up to your reputation, Lieutenant. Your data also indicate that you're smart and
that your badge isn't something you just pick up off the dresser every morning. It's what you are. Or were, in any
case. We have that in common. For fifty years I made a difference, and my house was clean. I did what had to be done,
then I did what came next. I was full commander at the age of forty-four. Would you like to be able to say the same?"
She knew when she was being played, and kept her face and tone neutral. "I haven't thought about it."
"If that's true, you disappoint me. If that's true, start thinking. Do you know, Lieutenant, how much closer you would
be right now to a captaincy if you hadn't made some ill-advised personal decisions?"
"Really?" Something began to burn inside her gut. "And how would you know the promotion potential of a homicide cop in
"I've made it my business to know." His free hand balled into a fist, tapped lightly, rhythmically on the tabletop. "I
have one regret, one piece of unfinished business from my active duty. One target I could never keep in my sights long
enough to bring down. Between us, we could. I'll get you those captain bars, Lieutenant. You get me Roarke."
Excerpted from "Out of this World" by J. D. Robb. Copyright © 2001 by J. D. Robb. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.