Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 8

Dice Flanders shoved her tortoiseshell glasses up on her nose. "When you and Sherlock bring down the bad guys, sugar, you be sure and ask them what the devil Schiffer Hartwin's bad boy was doing here, won't you?"

"You can count on it, Dice," Savich said.

"Well, if that's it," Maitland said, motioned for Savich to take the photos, and stood. "Any questions, funnel them through me. Savich, hang on a minute."

As Dice Flanders passed him, she patted his face. "I sure liked hearing you play your guitar at the Bonhomie Club last week. Your new country western tune nearly made me weep. If I weren't old enough to be your mama, I'd give Sherlock a run for her money."

Savich laughed. "Sherlock wrote it."

"Talented girl, curse her," Dice said, and gave a little wave as she walked out of the conference room. "You guys take care of this mess, all right? And be careful."

The air changed around Savich, became heavy, pressed against his face, as if charged somehow, just as it had the previous night in Chevy Chase in the senator's backyard. Nikki? Please, not just yet. Come back later.

The air immediately softened. Savich was aware that Mr. Maitland was talking to him. "Savich, bring your brain back to the party. Where'd you go?"

Savich shook his head, smiled, wondering how he'd looked in those seconds. Had his lips moved? Surely not. "Just an errant thought, sir."

Maitland said, "Savich, you and Sherlock need to be on an FBI helicopter in two hours. Pack some clothes, I don't know how long you guys will have to be there. You'll be staying at the Norman Bates Inn in Stone Bridge proper-yeah, someone's got a twisted sense of humor there, but it's the closest lodging. Schiffer Hartwin's U.S.A. headquarters is located at the edge of Stone Bridge, Van Wie Park right behind it. You need anything, call me or Dice. Keep us in the loop, every step."

Savich barely made it back to his office when he picked up a faint jasmine scent. He turned his back to his office door and looked out his open window to the small park across the street. He smiled at the sight of Old Sal feeding her pigeons. She must have gotten her Social Security check. He said, "Tell me what's going on with your husband, Nikki."

There was no answering voice in his mind. But he felt a pressure in the air against him. He didn't speak again, he thought, Why were you coming to your husband, Nikki? What's wrong?

The answer came high and frantic. Danger. David's in such danger. He doesn't understand, doesn't realize what will happen to him. You've got to stop it, you've got to, he can't-

His office door opened and Ollie Hamish, his second in command, stepped in. It was as if the air itself whooshed out of the room.

"Savich, I-hey, I'm sorry to disturb you, I can leave."

It didn't matter, she was gone. Savich said easily, "No problem, Ollie. I just wanted to tell you Sherlock and I are going to Stone Bridge, Connecticut, to investigate the murder of a German national."

"Yeah, I heard."

"This place is five million square feet," Savich said, shaking his head, "but when it comes to buzz, you'd think you were in a tree house, word gets around so fast. I just found out about it myself."

Ollie grinned. "The good stuff always spreads like a grease fire, you know that. Ruth was in the women's room and in comes Dice Flanders, humming the song you sang at the Bonhomie Club. Ruth asked her what she was doing on the fifth floor and Dice told her a bit about this Helmut Blauvelt mutilation murder."

Savich had to smile. "The men's room is gossip central too. Okay, before Sherlock and I head out, let's talk about the Hoven killings in Jefferson City."



Monday afternoon

Special Agent in Charge Bowie Richards, too young for his position, some said, stood beside Savich and Sherlock and the M.E., Dr. Ella Franks. Together they looked down at the devastated corpse of a middle-aged man laid out on the morgue table in a stark white room in the basement of Stone Bridge Memorial Hospital. His face and head were a bloody pulp. Dr. Franks had pulled a green sheet down to his chest.

Savich said, "Tell us what happened to him, Dr. Franks."

"This was no crime of passion. Whoever killed this man was cold-blooded and methodical. He used the proverbial blunt instrument and swung with a great deal of power, one hard hit first, to the back of the head, the kill blow. His skull was crushed in and he was dead before he hit the ground. But the killer didn't stop there." She pointed to various shattered bones on the man's smashed face. "You can see how the blows are carefully placed to the same areas on both sides, to destroy the facial bones and eye sockets." She lifted the sheet to show his arms and hands. "His killer cut off his fingers as well, in clean strokes with a smooth metal blade. It was probably to keep us from identifying him, but as it turns out, it wasn't a problem. We managed to get his identity fast because of Bowie." Ella gave him a fat smile, and nodded at him.

Bowie said, "I recognized the dental work wasn't American and called a dentist friend of mine who'd served a tour of duty abroad. He came over and immediately recognized the dentistry as German. We started searching through the middle-aged males who'd come into the country from Germany during the past three days, and Blauvelt popped up right away. The German BND helped us access his digital X-rays, and they were a match."

Sherlock said, "Good work, Bowie. Dr. Franks, have you done a tox screen on him? Any drugs on board?"

Dr. Franks said, "No, not a single aspirin in his system. That's a bit of a ha-ha since he worked for a drug company. Now, I have learned a number of interesting things about him. First, his stomach contents revealed that Helmut ate a lovely dinner about three hours before his death-oyster and caviar appetizers followed by stuffed venison, julienned potatoes and carrots and radicchio, accompanied by red wine. There's only one restaurant in our immediate vicinity that serves all that stuff under one roof."

She gave them a big smile.

Bowie said, "That would be Chez Pierre in Monmouth, ten miles west of Stone Bridge. I was hoping Helmut dined with his killer."

Dr. Franks lowered the pale green sheet.

"Now look at this." They stared down at an inflamed, five-inch scar low on his abdomen. "Helmut Blauvelt's bosses didn't even give him a chance to heal from an appendectomy before they shipped him over here. I'd say his appendix didn't come out more than five days ago."

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