Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 24

"Erin, who could possibly connect me to the break-in, and why would they even think of it? Schiffer Hartwin has undoubtedly gotten a truckload of furious complaints from patients."

She leaned close, lowered her voice. "Listen, everyone now knows the person who broke into Royal's office was a woman. Obviously they don't know who I am, at least not yet, but if they find me, they can and will connect me to you. The FBI will investigate the loudest voices against the company, if they don't solve this murder quickly."

Erin looked at him steadily. "Did Helmut Blauvelt contact you, sir?"

Dr. Kender shook his head. "No, he did not contact me. I have had no communication at all, either from Blauvelt or from anyone else at Schiffer Hartwin."

On the other hand, why would the snake warn his prey before sinking in his fangs? "Listen to me, you're not taking them seriously enough. What some of the drug companies have done curdles my belly. Until now, they've played corporate fun and games over patent extensions, skewing the data they present to the FDA to get new drugs approved, misleading the public about side effects. When asked about it, they defend the indefensible because billions of dollars are at stake. They seem to be willing to do just about anything to keep the money flowing in. But not murder, Dr. Kender. This is a whole different level of serious."

"You're wrong, Erin. Take the antidepressant drug Paxil. GlaxoSmithKline did not disclose that Paxil was ineffective or could be dangerous when taken by children. How many children might have become suicidal or even committed suicide as the result of lies and cover-ups like that? Wouldn't their deaths be the same as murder?"

She shook her head. "I'm sure no one at any of the drug companies wants people to die, Dr. Kender."

"That's a circular argument, Erin. The fact is, people have died. And so what? No one gets indicted, no one goes to jail. The drug companies simply pay out huge fines and go about their business. Like Pfizer. They were so blatantly unethical, last year our government fined Pfizer two point three billion dollars, yet no one was held responsible and charged, no one was sent to jail. Nothing happened that might have made a difference. I'll tell you, sometimes I think we're a failed species."

He shook his head. "Do you know that while negotiating this huge fine, Pfizer was being charged in another case in Nigeria alleging they'd done illegal drug studies on hundreds of children? That there were claims that Pfizer didn't tell parents their children were part of a trial? And claims that the Nigerian approval on which Pfizer relied was a sham?

"My bet is they'll get away with paying out a half billion dollars to the families and to government officials, of course-shareholders' money."

Erin reached out her hand and laid it over his. "All of that may be true. However, what's important is what's in front of us to deal with now. Schiffer Hartwin know they've got big problems here, and both they and the FBI are looking for the woman who broke in, looking for me. They could be watching us right this minute." Both of them looked around the dining hall.

"Everyone's a teacher or under twenty-two," Dr. Kender said. "Stop worrying. Caskie Royal, he's the one who should be worrying. He's the one who left the damning information on his computer. May I read the documents now?"

She leaned down to retrieve the pages from her ancient black leather briefcase. "Read, then we'll talk about what to do."

When he finished, he looked up, eyes glistening, grinning like a maniac. "You've got them! There's enough here to show reckless disregard, enough to lose them a great deal of money and force them to start making Culovort again. I can take this material to the media, and at the same time, get it sent to the Justice Department. I can tell all of them these documents were sent to me anonymously. You'd be safe then."

"Maybe for thirty minutes," she said. "Neither of us is invisible, Dr. Kender, and I'll have a bull's-eye painted on my chest. Even if the FBI were willing to keep my identity a secret for a while-and there is the small matter of breaking and entering-Schiffer Hartwin would eventually find out who I am. Neither of us is sitting in a good place here, Dr. Kender. Don't forget we'd also be suspects in Blauvelt's murder, and we don't know who killed him. I'd like to ask you to hold off going public with these papers, even anonymously. I want to give the FBI a chance to solve this murder first."

Dr. Kender took a drink of his now tepid tea, gave her a crooked grin, and patted his mouth with his cloth napkin. "I've always believed cops were fascists. But maybe the FBI are the ones to help us now."

Erin said matter-of-factly, "You're a professor at an East Coast university. Of course you believe cops are fascists, it's hard-wired into the walls here, but they're not. I know three of them who only want to catch criminals."

"You mean us?"



Early Wednesday afternoon

Veteran lobbyist Dana Frobisher cut the huge fried shrimp and lovingly laid it on her tongue. She didn't particularly like shrimp, but it was deep-fried, beautifully spiced, and the fact was, shoe leather would taste delicious if it was fried. She savored the taste, ate another shrimp, then opened her eyes to smile at Senator David Hoffman, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a long-time powerhouse on the Hill. She'd met him half a dozen times over the years, but she'd never sat across a private table from him, and, wonder of wonders, at his invitation. When his head staffer, Corliss Rydle, had called her executive assistant, Jeremy Flynn, and said Senator David Hoffman wanted to ask her to lunch, she could hardly believe it. And here she was, less than a week later, eating fried shrimp with the great man. He was fit and good-looking. He didn't look as old as she knew him to be, not that it mattered since he didn't, according to Jeremy, screw around with his aides or anyone else. What mattered was the senator could give her clout and influence with a flick of his pinkie finger.

"I've never eaten at the Foggy Bottom Grill before," she said, ate another shrimp, and saluted him with her water glass. No wine at lunch, a longtime promise she'd made to herself when she'd first arrived in Washington fifteen years before. She was pleased to see he was drinking fizzy water as well, a slice of lemon perching on the edge of the glass.

Hoffman raised his glass and smiled at her. "I see you like the shrimp. I usually order the shrimp myself, astronomical fat content be damned. I figure stuffing the fat-covered shrimp in my mouth once a week isn't going to clog my arteries. I'm pleased you're enjoying it."

"Oh, yes, it's nearly a spiritual moment." She ate another shrimp, patted her mouth with her napkin, and leaned back. The time had come to go beyond pleasantries. She was through with her shrimp now, good as it was, and she was ready to hear what he had in mind. Dana gave him a lovely sweet smile, tried to keep the excitement out of her voice. "Now, if I can do anything for you, Senator, I'd like to hear it. Otherwise, I have a couple of matters of my own that might interest you-"

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