Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 18

Bender the Elder said, "The fact that Mr. Royal used a password a thief could guess means nothing. Mr. Toms personally examined Mr. Royal's computer before the hard drive was removed by the IT department. There was no attempt to access anything of value."

Andrew Toms's electric yellow tie blasted back the sharp sunlight pouring through the conference room window, making him either a sartorial masterpiece, or color-blind, Bowie couldn't make up his mind. "That is correct," Toms said, his pen on the table. Tap, tap, tap.

Bowie said easily, "I'm only pointing out that given the simplicity of your password, Mr. Royal, we can't assume your thief necessarily works inside your company or has everyday access to your office. I'm thinking of a possible whistleblower."

"Whistleblower, Agent Richards?" Bender the Elder arched one of his eyebrows a good inch. "Do you have any evidence of that?"

Bowie leaned forward. "Tell us, Mr. Royal, who do you think broke into your office Sunday night?"

"I have given this a lot of thought, naturally," Royal said, voice dripping sincerity, "and I can think of no one at all, either working for me or outside my business. It makes little sense, as I have already told Agent Savich. And I will say it again, there was nothing all that sensitive on my desktop computer. There is far more valuable information on our servers, but that is highly restricted."

Bowie said, "It's really past time for you to turn away from your lawyers' script and step into the light, Mr. Royal. Your computer was accessed, you know it, we know it. Now, what was in the file or files that were copied?"

Apprentice Toms said, "Mr. Royal has told you the truth, Agent Richards. He has also told you it doesn't matter to your murder investigation."

Toms, young though he was, was blessed with the mellifluous voice of a seasoned vicar. Maybe that was why he'd become the alchemist's apprentice. Bowie mowed right over that beautiful vibrant voice. "Surely you realize that your problems are just beginning, Mr. Royal. The thief, this woman, she's got copies of files you obviously shouldn't have had on your computer, given that they could be accessed by anyone who could type in your dog's name. I don't imagine your masters in Germany are very pleased with you, Mr. Royal, just as I have no doubt Mr. Bender here is keeping them fully informed about what's happening across the pond."

"Agent Richards," Toms said, "Mr. Royal isn't here to be insulted. As for calling our corporate executives in Germany his 'masters,' you are merely baiting him, and, I might add, showing your jingoistic prejudices."

Bowie never took his eyes of Royal. "Any prejudices on my part are the least of your problems. The fact is, Mr. Royal, regardless of what that woman took, no matter if it is related to Mr. Blauvelt's murder, your future is in this woman's hands. If these two crimes are connected, and you impede our investigation, you can be indicted for murder as an accessory after the fact."

Royal shot a look at Bender the Elder, but kept his mouth shut. Bowie wanted to smack him.

Bender the Elder cleared his throat. This aristocrat of lawyers had worked for Schiffer Hartwin over a decade, five years longer than Caskie Royal had been CEO. He cleared his throat again to draw all attention to him, even making Savich look up finally from MAX. He straightened his aviator glasses. "I will say this once, Agent Richards. Mr. Royal has no idea who the thief was or what the thief was after. What was on Mr. Royal's computer that night is irrelevant, and we cannot help you tie this break-in to the unfortunate murder of Mr. Blauvelt, as you persist in trying to do, with no proof whatsoever.

"Now, Agent, is there anything else you would like to ask Mr. Royal to justify your asking him here, to the local police department?" He looked around the spare conference room with its functional table and dozen uncomfortable chairs, as if expecting a roach or two to scuttle across the floor.

Sherlock spoke for the first time, her eyes locked on Royal's face. "Actually, we're close to locating your thief, Mr. Royal. You see, we found a witness who saw her. And once we have her, we may not need you or your company's help any longer. That would not be in your best interest, Mr. Royal.

"I do not believe either you or Ms. Alvarez murdered Helmut Blauvelt. You don't seem to me to be murderers. But he is dead nonetheless, and he had an appointment to see you yesterday."

"No! I told you, I didn't even know Mr. Blauvelt was in the U.S.!"

"Mr. Royal, a waiter at Chez Pierre overheard Mr. Blauvelt speaking on his cell phone Sunday evening. He spoke of you, seeing you on Monday morning. Come now, Mr. Royal, as I said, I don't believe you killed him, so why not tell us the truth? Don't you want to help us catch Mr. Blauvelt's murderer?"

Bowie went still at her smoothly delivered lie.

Bender the Elder opened his mouth, but Royal shouted over him, "All right! It doesn't matter anyway. So I knew Blauvelt was coming, but only the day before he arrived, and it was he who called me, not the directors in Germany. Mr. Blauvelt gave me no indication why he was here, and I did ask him, but he said it would wait for our meeting. I was mildly alarmed because I know his reputation. I did not see him before his murder and that's the truth. That's all I know. It doesn't help you at all because he's dead."

"Whatever it was that led to the break-in, could it be that Mr. Blauvelt was here to deal with the situation, or the person responsible?"

"I don't know."

"His death could mean someone was desperate, about to be exposed. Have you thought about the fact you might be next?"


Apprentice Toms and Bender the Elder talked over each other, Bender winning out with his booming cauldron-stirring voice. To Sherlock's delight, he actually smacked his fist on the tabletop and lost it, his breath coming harsh and fast. "You baited Mr. Royal into saying this. I don't like your unnecessary scare tactics, Agent Sherlock, that insult both Mr. Royal and Schiffer Hartwin! And your name-Sherlock!-it's absurd, you made it up, right? It is meant to be funny?"

Sherlock gave him a sweet smile. "Maybe it is funny. I'll tell you, though, it gives some people pause, Mr. Bender. Does it give you pause, sir?"

"I am not the bad guy in your silly plot, Agent Sherlock!"

"No sir, I'm sure you're a fine, honorable man. However, Mr. Royal did, finally, admit he'd been lying. He knew Mr. Blauvelt was here, knew he was coming to see him. We're past that lie, aren't we, Mr. Royal?"

Royal didn't say anything, only nodded.

Sherlock looked over at Dillon, who had his head down, working on MAX. She knew he'd heard her questions, knew he'd heard her lie that pushed Royal into some truth about Blauvelt. The small smile on his mouth gave him away.

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