Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 46

Bowie said, "Okay, thinking time is over. Here's what happened." He told Kesselring about the alarm being turned off at the Royal house, about how Mrs. Royal had awakened, heard the single shot that killed her husband. He left out Savich and Sherlock's part and a bit more as well. No reason for Kesselring to know every little single detail. ". . . Since Mr. Royal's murder is all part of this case, the FBI will be in charge, not the local police department."

"This is very distressing," Kesselring said after a moment of silence. He turned to Erin. He didn't look happy. "Why are you here?"

"Surely you remember that someone blew up my Hummer yesterday, Agent Kesselring. The FBI wants to keep an eye on me."

The door opened and Dr. Adler Dieffendorf marched in, looking for all the world like a king on the hunt for his throne. He said without preamble, "Agent Kesselring, are these the FBI agents who are supposed to capture poor Helmut's murderer and explain Caskie Royal's death?"

"Yes," Kesselring said in an emotionless voice, "they are."


The great man paid Kesselring no more attention and immediately strode forward, his hand extended. "Ladies, gentlemen, I am Adler Dieffendorf, managing director of Schiffer Hartwin Pharmaceutical. This is my director of sales and marketing, Werner Gerlach."

Bowie made introductions, then waved Dieffendorf and Gerlach to their chairs. Kesselring remained standing, his arms crossed over his chest, and he leaned against the conference room wall.

Dieffendorf sat forward, his long face concerned, his elegant hands clasped on the table in front of him. "I will tell you, Agents, it came as a tremendous shock to us yesterday when Mr. Royal, our longtime company CEO, literally ran away from us on our drive here to Stone Bridge.

"Then, this morning, we were told Mr. Royal was murdered last night! The murderer was himself murdered? It seems too incredible to be true. Who could have killed him? Was he associating with violent criminals?

"I would have more readily understood if Mr. Royal had taken his own life, out of remorse, perhaps, or to make amends for a wrongdoing, but Agent Kesselring assures us he was murdered. We are over our heads, Agents. We do not know what is happening here. It seems his murder and that of my good friend, Helmut Blauvelt, must somehow be connected, but we do not know how or why. We have asked Agent Kesselring to assist us, but he seems to be unable to be of much use. We very much need your help in these matters."

Nicely presented, Bowie thought, looking from Dieffendorf's sincere, concerned face, to Gerlach's, who also looked back at him openly. But Gerlach looked pale, and his lips were seamed tight.

Bowie had imagined Dieffendorf would have charisma; to hold his position as managing director of Schiffer Hartwin for so many years, he'd have to have something going for him. He'd never had any major missteps, until now.

He'd also shown he could be self-deprecating, always an engaging stance, and he seemed charming and fluent. Bowie suspected he'd rehearsed his eloquent monologue, but perhaps not. The man was intelligent and smooth. He was a respected figure in Germany and in the world of drug companies. He was, Bowie noted, well dressed, but not flamboyantly so, like Kesselring and Herr Gerlach. He appeared quietly dignified, a man to be trusted.

"It is our intention to solve these cases," Bowie assured him. "Would you like to add anything, Mr. Gerlach?"

Gerlach blinked, then slowly shook his head. "Not at the moment. I believe my colleague has expressed our sentiments very well."

Werner Gerlach was a small man, exquisitely dressed, his suit even more expensive than Kesselring's. He looked very tightly wound, held together by sheer willpower. The man had his own powerful position in Schiffer Hartwin, overseeing the sales and marketing of all their drugs, and he'd been there for as many years as Dieffendorf. Gerlach, Bowie saw, never looked away from Adler Dieffendorf for long.

Sherlock smiled and said to Gerlach, "I hope you and Herr Dieffendorf slept well last night? No jet lag?"

Gerlach said with only a slight accent, "One always tries, naturally, but with all the uncertainty surrounding our trip here, no, I did not sleep well. I usually don't in a foreign country."

Dieffendorf looked at Savich. "I have heard of you."

Savich arched a dark eyebrow.

Dieffendorf continued, "I have heard of both you and Agent Sherlock. I have met Quincy and Laurel Abbott. I knew their father. I was shocked to hear what they were accused of doing."

Sherlock said, "I myself am hoping they will go to jail for such a long time they'll build a wing with their names on it."

"That is clever, Agent Sherlock. If they are guilty, I trust they will."

Bowie said, "Both you and Herr Gerlach speak excellent English."

Dieffendorf said politely, "Thank you. We still have a bit of an accent, one does, you know, when one doesn't learn another language until one is older. Both Werner and I attended Columbia Business School here in the early 1970s."

Bowie leaned forward. "Mr. Dieffendorf, Mr. Gerlach, you do realize that you, Mr. Bender, and Mr. Toms were the last people to see Mr. Royal alive? Since you freely admit he ran away from you, it would seem obvious he must have been afraid. Of you?"

"Naturally not!" Mr. Dieffendorf immediately calmed himself. He pulled back, drew a deep breath. "That is absurd, Agent Richards. Mr. Royal had nothing to fear from us."

"Then why did he run? Tell me, what exactly did you discuss with him?"

"We made it clear we wanted the truth from him about the papers, that we would hold him accountable for his actions at the production plant in Missouri. He swore to us there were no so-called Culovort papers, that it was absurd that he, the CEO, would purposefully shut down this drug's production. He assured us there had simply been miscalculations during a planned expansion at the Missouri plant that had adversely affected production. He claimed he knew nothing about our production problems in Madrid, that he could not possibly have predicted that.

"He also said he knew nothing about Herr Blauvelt's murder, that his shock was as great as anyone else's. But then this grown man, our own American CEO at that, suddenly runs off from our meeting-at a rest stop for heaven's sake! It was the most astounding behavior from a man of substance I have ever seen in my professional career. As if he were a schoolboy, trying to escape a scolding. It was dishonorable and undignified."

"Then why did he run, Mr. Dieffendorf ? Was he afraid of what you would do to him?"

"How could he be? I made no physical threat. Why would I? You see, I knew he was lying, but when I taxed him with it, he still would not admit to any wrongdoing. I suppose he knew, in your American slang, the jig was up. He must have feared we would expose him to the police and that is why he ran. He did not want to go to jail. He doubtless planned to leave the country."

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