Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 18


DUSTIN FOUND IT,” T.J. reported. “He knows cars better than I do. Since it’s a guy thing and all.”

Rafe said, “So the cruise control was engaged. McBrayer was drunk; he could have done it accidentally.”

“Dustin says he couldn’t have. Something about the way the cruise button is on the wheel. Of course, the wheel is mangled as hell right now, but he swears it’s a safety issue or something.”

Isabel straightened after looking into what was left of Hank McBrayer’s car, and said, “Dustin thinks somebody else set the cruise control?”

T.J. shrugged. “I admit I thought it was pretty far out. But we checked the rear end of the car, which is mostly intact, and found signs of a jack. Lift the rear wheels off the ground, put it in gear and push the accelerate button on the wheel, set the cruise control, and, when you’re ready, shove the car off the jack. The marks on the car are consistent.”

“There would have been tread marks on the road at the point it came off the jack,” Rafe said.

“Dustin’s out now, backtracking from the scene of the so-called accident. We also found a bit of rope on the front floorboard. I’m thinking it was used to tie off the steering wheel to keep the car going in a straight line. And if that’s not enough, I’m pretty sure the headlights were off.” She shook her head. “A nice, neat little way to kill somebody. With McBrayer reeking of alcohol and enough in his blood to knock out a squad of marines, who would suspect it was anything but an accident?”

“Good work,” Rafe told her. “You and Dustin.”

“Thanks. I’ll tell him you said so. And I’ll send up the report when he gets back and I finish up with the car.”

As they left the basement garage of the police station and headed upstairs to the offices, Isabel said, “A diversion. That accident happened only a couple of miles from the Brower house; the patrol on watch outside would have been the closest squad car.”

“I wonder if he aimed McBrayer’s car at one he could see coming or just trusted to luck he’d hit something or someone eventually?”

“I don’t think our boy trusts much to luck,” she said. “Finds a dark, straight stretch of road in a little-frequented area, sets up the car with McBrayer passed out inside. And waits until he sees headlights. By the time the other driver even saw the car coming at her, it was too late.”

“The pay phone he called Emily from was only a few blocks from the scene of the-accident. He probably waited for the patrol car to pass him, then called her.”

“I have the feeling that killing two more people just so he could lure Emily out was another of his taunts: Look at me, look how clever I am.”

“You don’t think it was a personal grudge against McBrayer?”

“No, I think he was convenient. From what I got talking to Ginny last night, her father’s Sunday-night binges were hardly a secret around here. The killer found McBrayer, maybe even followed him to one of those basement bars you talked about. Then all he had to do was wait for his mark to pass out or be thrown out.”

“And use him as a tool to get what he wanted. Emily.” Rafe grasped her arm to stop her as they entered the hallway leading to the conference room. “Tell me something. Truthfully.”

“Sure, if I can.”

“He’ll come after you next.”

“Maybe. Probably. Especially if the news breaks that I’m psychic. He’d view that as an increased threat, I think.”

“Will he wait a week?”

Isabel hesitated, then shook her head. “I’d be surprised if he did. Emily was damage control; she knew something he didn’t want her to tell. Or at least he believed she did. I’m guessing something about that box of photographs.”

“But you he wants.”

“Even without the psychic nudge, yeah. Me and the last blonde on his list, whoever she is. And he’s moving faster, getting sloppy. We shouldn’t have found jack marks on that car, far less a bit of rope that didn’t belong in it. He’s feeling pressure, a lot of it. Whatever is driving him is driving him hard.”

Rafe hesitated, but they were alone, and he finally said, “Whatever happened earlier did open up the shield for you, didn’t it?”

“A bit. But the voices are still distant.” She looked at him steadily. “There’s still a part of you I can’t get at.”

“I trust you,” he said.

“I know. You just don’t trust you.”

He shook his head. “I don’t get it.”

Isabel had to smile. “I’m not surprised. See, I think I figured out something. We both have control issues and we both know it. The difference is, I don’t trust someone else to run the show, and you don’t trust yourself to.”

“That’s a control issue?”

“Yes. I have to learn to let go, to trust someone else without giving up who I am. And you have to learn to trust yourself in order to be who you need to be.”

Somewhat cautiously, Rafe said, “Are you channeling this Bishop of yours?”

“I know how it sounds, believe me. Why do you think I’ve been fighting this so hard? But the truth is, neither one of us has enough faith in ourselves.”

“Isabel, that sounds to me like something that will take time to get itself resolved. We don’t have time.”

Isabel began moving down the hallway toward the conference room. “No, we don’t. Which is why we’ll have to take care of our issues on the fly.”

“I was afraid you were going to say that.”

“Don’t worry. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years it’s that we can make giant leaps when we have to.”

“That’s the part that worries me,” Rafe said. “Why we might have to.”

“Alan, I don’t have time for this,” Mallory told him as they stood just inside the foyer of the police department.

“Make time,” he insisted. “Look, Mal, I know you don’t want us publicly linked, but I’ve been doing some digging, and there’s something you need to know.”

Warily, she said, “About the case? Then why tell just me?”

“Call it a good-faith gesture. I could have put it in today’s paper, but I didn’t.”

After a moment, she said, “I’m listening.”

“I know there were two other sets of murders, one five and one ten years ago, in two other states.”

“How did you-”

“I have sources. Never mind that. I also know that the FBI has sent investigators back to those towns to ask more questions.”

Mallory hesitated, then said grudgingly, “We don’t have the reports yet.”

“There hasn’t been time, I know. But one of my sources had occasion to talk to an investigator from the second series of murders.”

“‘Had occasion’? Alan-”

“Just listen. The investigator said there was something about the first murder that bugged him. It was just a little thing, so minor he didn’t even put it in any of his reports. It was an earring.”


“They’d found her body out in the open, of course, the way all the others would be found. But the investigator checked out her apartment. And when he searched her bedroom, he found an earring on her dresser. Never found a match for it.”

“So? Women lose earrings all the time, Alan.”

“Yeah, I know. But what bugged the investigator was that the victim didn’t wear earrings. She didn’t have pierced ears.”

Mallory shrugged. “Then a friend must have lost it.”

“None of her friends claimed it. Not one. A valuable diamond earring, and nobody claimed it. It was an unanswered question, and it bugged him, has ever since.”

Patiently, she said, “Okay, he found an earring he could never explain. How do you expect that to help us?”

“It’s a hunch, Mal, and I wanted to let you know I was following it up. I’ve already talked to a friend of the second victim in Florida, and she claims to have found a single earring among her friend’s things. I have somebody checking out the Alabama murders too. I think it has something to do with how he got the women to meet him.”

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