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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 20

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"I wish I knew that precisely, Agent. Looking into this murder is the task assigned me, as it is yours. You must know from the files we sent you that Herr Helmut Blauvelt was never arrested for any crime. He has never been shown to be consorting with any criminal organizations or abetting any fraudulent schemes, despite the rumors about him, which you yourselves, of course, have heard. I have heard them as well. They are, I am forced to say, groundless, even if they are delicious tales. We are opening this case with an open mind, simply as the murder of a German citizen on foreign soil.

"According to the company, Herr Blauvelt was their special emissary, a trusted employee of some talent whose job was to collect information and report back the exact nature of any problems he uncovered. He did, upon several occasions, discover evidence of local malfeasance, both within and against the company, but he was never authorized to take action against any individual. That was neither his job nor his responsibility.

"Schiffer Hartwin is very concerned about his vicious murder and that is why they specifically asked my agency that I be sent here, to assist you in discovering the truth."

Sherlock said, "You were not introduced to me, Agent Kesselring. I am Special Agent Sherlock."

"I know who you are, Agent Sherlock." For an instant, Kesselring looked directly at Sherlock, and his eyes went hot and dangerous. Savich went on red alert. What was that all about? Then Kesselring blinked, nodded, his eyes calm again, assessing her.

"Tell me, Agent Kesselring, what problem, specifically, could be so pressing here in Stone Bridge, Connecticut, U.S.A., that required Blauvelt's presence here? Surely you don't believe it was some personal business of his, as Schiffer Hartwin claims?"

He said to her, professor to student, "My superiors sent me here to assist in the apprehension of the person or persons who killed Herr Blauvelt. As for his reasons for being here, the nature of his business, again, Agent, I have no idea yet beyond what Schiffer Hartwin management has told me. Mr. Royal didn't help you?"

"Only that Blauvelt had made an appointment to see him," Bowie said. "Do you have any theory about this, Agent Kesselring?"

"Have you considered that Herr Blauvelt might have been murdered by one of your American muggers, a rather obvious possibility I would think, since his clothes and wallet were taken. He could have been, simply, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even in Germany these things occasionally occur, to everyone's chagrin and regret."

Bowie said, "Perhaps you could tell us why this American mugger beat Mr. Blauvelt's face into pulp, Agent Kesselring, and cut off his fingers, if all he wanted were his possessions?"

Kesselring went still a moment, taking this in. He said, "A crude attempt at hiding his identity. Occasionally a thug is also a psychopath. Then there is violence, ugly and vicious. We may be searching for such a man, gentlemen-ladies-a man who may be listed in your NCIC-your National Crime Information Center. I doubt this is the only time he has taken a life, and in such a repugnant manner."

Sherlock said, "Why do you think Herr Blauvelt's body was found in Van Wie Park, right behind the Schiffer Hartwin building? Another coincidence?"

Kesselring turned to look at her. Again, his eyes went hard and hot. "That is a curious thing, I will admit. It's the kind of thing that makes our lives crazy."

An attempt at humor? Sherlock didn't think so. His voice was flat, almost without expression. Those eyes of his when he looked at her, she couldn't begin to understand what was behind his beautiful eyes.

At that moment, Bowie would swear he heard Agent Dolores Cliff sigh. He nearly sighed himself, reminded that her brain was temporarily off the planet. He rose and walked over to Agent Kesselring. "I'm assigning Agent Graham Painter to work with you whenever you are in need of assistance. Agent Painter will get you settled at our local B-and-B." Bowie heard Dolores make a small distressed sound, but didn't acknowledge the sound or Dolores. He was going to keep Dolores and Kesselring as far apart as he could. As for Graham, he was a perfect foil, a good old boy from Little Rock, so easy in his manner and speech you'd think his IQ was about as high as that of the hamburger he was eating. But Graham was sharp and steady and wouldn't get taken in, like Dolores. He could get along with Godzilla, if he had to, and might even get a kick out of Kesselring. Better still, he would keep Kesselring out of their hair.

Bowie said to the group, "I'll be back shortly, after I introduce Agent Kesselring to Agent Painter. He can tell Agent Painter how he wishes to proceed finding this psychopathic mugger. Agent Cliff, you will remain here."

Dolores looked like she was going to say something, but under Bowie's cold eye, she slowly nodded.

When the conference room door closed behind the two men, Sherlock said quietly, "This isn't good, Dillon, not good at all. Do you think it's possible Kesselring is in Schiffer Hartwin's pocket? Here to sweep whatever he can under the rug?"

"Oh, no," Agent Cliff said, sitting forward. "Andreas feels so badly about all this. I know he wouldn't-"

Sherlock said, "Get it together, Agent Cliff, or I'll have to deck you."

Dolores jerked back. "I don't think you have any right to say that to me." Her surprise gave way to insult and then to sheer mean. "You don't look all that tough. I don't think you could do it."

Sherlock couldn't help it, she laughed. "Keep that attitude, Agent Cliff, really, you need to, particularly around Kesselring."

"Easy for you to say, married to him."

Sherlock had to agree. "You got me on that one."

Savich, who'd been on MAX again, looked up. "There's a French pharmaceutical house, Laboratoires Ancondor, that owns the patent on an oral chemotherapy drug called Eloxium. It appears to have different side effects from the usual 5-FU with Culovort. Some of the side effects of Eloxium can remain with the cancer patient for life.

"Here's the kicker-if an oncologist has to switch the patient to the new oral medication, even if Culovort were to subsequently become available, there's no switching the patient back, at least from what I've read. And the oral drug is very expensive since it's not off patent like Culovort."

"Hmm," Sherlock said. "Makes you wonder if there might be some sort of collusion going on between Schiffer Hartwin and Laboratoires Ancondor? Shutting down Culovort production so patients are forced to Eloxium? Remember Carla Alvarez talked about a windfall profit. You don't think-"

Savich said, "I don't know but I'll call Mr. Maitland, have him contact Dice, see what she can dig up."

Dolores Cliff said, "I know drug companies do crappy things, but to stop producing a drug for people with life-threatening cancer to force them to another, very expensive drug? That would be disgusting."

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