Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 33

"Tough decision." Erin wiped her hands on a dish towel, found herself twisting it over and over. "Well, maybe it's not all that great a distance. I made it up to New Haven today to see my client, did it in under fifty minutes."

"What client?"

Big mouth, big mouth. Didn't matter. Who cared? "He's a professor at Yale, an old friend of my dad's. We ate in the Berkeley dining room, his college when he went there thirty years ago. Quite a place."

"What are you doing for him?"

Shut up, shut up. "Confidential, Agent Richards. Pull out my fingernails, you still can't make me talk. Tell me about Kesselring."

Why doesn't she want to tell me? He said, "Kesselring wanted to see Blauvelt's body today and that was when I decided to deal with him myself. I called Dr. Ella Franks and she met us at our local morgue, in the basement in the Stone Bridge Memorial Hospital. I have to admit he asked her good questions, and he said right off he didn't believe the killer obliterated his face to prevent identification. We've all been wondering about that."

Bowie thought back to the cold sterile room, standing across the autopsy table from Blauvelt's body. Bowie had watched Kesselring carefully as he stared down at Blauvelt's ruined face. "Dr. Franks, you said the killer struck a half-dozen blows to his face?"

Dr. Franks nodded. "Yes, exactly half a dozen, like his killer counted the hits. It was postmortem. Why do you think the murderer did this to him?"

Kesselring never looked away from Blauvelt's face. He said with complete certainty, "Rage, psychotic rage. Someone was really over the edge, so wound up he just didn't stop. He wanted to-how do you say it-erase the man, yes, that's it, the killer wanted to erase him, and he did."

And Bowie had said to him, "If the killer didn't care about his being quickly identified, then why did he cut off Blauvelt's fingers? Why not cut off his feet?"

Kesselring was silent a moment, chewing this over, and admitted it was strange. "Perhaps the psychotic rage had burned itself out, perhaps the killer heard someone coming. Perhaps he planned to come back and bury Blauvelt, but he was prevented from doing so."

All of that made sense, Bowie thought, and cursed under his breath.

Bowie had noticed that Dr. Franks, who admired him, dammit, respected what he said, was looking at Kesselring with something of the same expression he'd seen on Dolores Cliff's face. It burned his gut.

Bowie shook his head at the memory of his own conceit. He said to Erin, "Then Kesselring asked to visit the Schiffer Hartwin offices. The lawyers were camped out there. Caskie Royal refused to see us, sent us a message to talk to his lawyers. Kesselring and I met briefly with Bender the Elder. He was cordial to Kesselring, but of course offered no help at all.

"Then Kesselring wanted to speak to Carla Alvarez. We were both surprised when she agreed to see us, but then she simply smiled at us, and said she had no comment on the advice of their legal staff. And she didn't budge. I think she saw us just to rub our noses in it."

Erin asked, "What about the guy who's manager of accounting, Turley Drexel?"

"What do you know about Turley Drexel?"

"Didn't Sherlock tell you? She said when she walked into Alvarez's office the morning Blauvelt's body was discovered, she interrupted Alvarez and Turley Drexel in a loud and nasty argument. She didn't know what it was about, but could there be something there?"

"I'll check on that." He ran his fingers through his dark hair, making it stand on end. "This is precisely why there should be only one team working a case. This could be important, yet I didn't know about it."

"It's called debriefing, Bowie. I'll bet you haven't told Sherlock all about Kesselring yet, have you?"

"That's beside the point, I-well, smack me in the head. Okay, you're right. And you can stop that now."

"Stop what?" He was standing two feet away from her, staring at her hard.

"Stop being such a smart-mouth, even if you're right. It burns me."

Erin gave him a fat smile. Without thinking, she took a single step toward him, leaned up, and kissed him, fast and light and easy, and stepped back. She laughed. "Suck it up, Agent Richards," and she snapped his thigh with the towel.

"Georgie's almost asleep," Sherlock said from the kitchen doorway. "Since the walls are so thin in apartments, you know, I heard most of what you guys talked about." She raised an eyebrow, looked from one to the other. "Interesting."

"What's interesting?" Bowie asked, lips seamed.

"What you said about Kesselring. Where's he at this evening?"

"He's dining at Chez Pierre. He wanted to see where Blauvelt had his last meal. He wanted to speak to Estafan, see if he could find other witnesses. I wonder what the owner Paul Remier thinks of him."

Sherlock frowned. "Seems like a waste of time to me. He could read the reports, they're very thorough. Why is he rewalking in all our steps?"

"Maybe he doesn't think the FBI is thorough enough," Erin said. "Or more likely, he thinks you're holding out on him."

Bowie looked thoughtful. "Or maybe Kesselring knows more than he's told us and wants to see if anyone else does too."



Thursday morning

Why hadn't Dr. Kender called? Surely he'd had plenty of time to think things through. Erin looked over at her fireplace, at the two loose bricks she'd dug out to stash a copy of Caskie Royal's papers. She'd awakened that morning feeling urgent, wanting to get something rolling or-or what? She didn't know, but she felt restless and unfocused. She felt something bad was coming, and it was driving her nuts.

Fifteen minutes later, Erin gave up and dialed Dr. Kender's number. She got his voice mail. She checked the schedule he'd given her, and sure enough, he was teaching a graduate class on Ahmose I, first ruler in the Eighteenth Dynasty, who finished the campaign to expel the Hyksos rulers from Egypt, something she knew since she'd read the course syllabus. If he didn't call her by noon, she'd try again. She was anxious to talk over taking the next step, releasing the papers, come what may. What was holding him up?

She grabbed her car keys and decided to see for herself. She drove past the Schiffer Hartwin corporate headquarters outside Stone Bridge, past the local police station with its American flag flying outside in a nicely planted flowerbed. She admitted she'd hoped to see a sign of Bowie, but she only saw two uniformed officers walking purposefully toward their patrol car. She knew Police Chief Amos had to be hating every minute the feds were there.

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