Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon

Danny would never forget the morning he’d arrived at Lyle Renalto’s Beverly Hills mansion, pulling back the bedclothes to find the lawyer naked and in a state of obvious sexual arousal, laughing at him. Angela Jakes was gone, Renalto delighted in informing him. Overwhelmed by the pressure of Danny’s “aggressive” questioning, according to Lyle, she had decided to begin a new life overseas. Hiding behind attorney-client privilege, Renalto stubbornly and steadfastly refused to divulge any further information to the police.

It was around this time that Danny McGuire had his first contacts with Interpol. Logging in to the I-24/7, Interpol’s global database designed to assist member countries’ local forces in tracking suspects across borders, he eventually traced Angela Jakes to Greece and began liaising daily with the authorities in Athens, trying to track her down, but to no avail. Meanwhile, back in L.A., his other leads dried up one by one, like tributaries of a drought-stricken river. Andrew Jakes’s killer had vanished, just like his wife and the stolen art and jewelry. Indeed, all that was left of the Jakeses’ life together was Andrew’s fortune, which found its way safely (and tax-free) into the coffers of two different children’s charities, both of which were naturally delighted to receive it.

Danny’s LAPD superiors were deeply embarrassed. They ruthlessly killed any press interest in the Jakes case, ostensibly so as not to encourage “copycat killings” but actually to cover their own hides. The case was closed. Motive: theft. Assailant: unknown. Danny was moved off of homicide onto the fraud squad, a clear demotion, and told to forget about Angela Jakes if he wanted to keep his job.

But he couldn’t forget. How could anyone forget that haunting face? And he didn’t want to keep his job. Quitting the force, he spent the next two years and virtually all his savings traveling around Europe frantically searching for Angela. Working as a private individual, he found he got precious little cooperation from local police forces, and had to rely on unscrupulous private detectives to help him keep the trail alive. Finally, broke and depressed, he wound up in France, where an old contact in Lyon told him Interpol was hiring and suggested he apply for a job there.

Slowly Danny rebuilt his shattered career. He joined as a junior member of a crime IRT (Interpol Response Team) and rapidly earned a reputation for himself as a brilliant original thinker and strategist. IRTs could be deployed anywhere in the world within twelve to twenty-four hours of an incident in order to assist a member country’s forces. Adaptability, quick thinking and an ability to work as a team under strained circumstances were all key to the unit’s success. Danny McGuire excelled at every level. He won plaudits for his bravery and skill in a Corsican gangland murder case. Not many foreign cops could have persuaded people in that tight-knit community to talk, but Danny won over hearts and minds, successfully convicting five of the gang leaders. After that there was the ax murder of an Arab sheikh in North Africa—that one wasn’t so tough to crack; the guy helpfully left his prints all over the victim’s apartment—and the disappearance of a beauty queen in rural Venezuela. The girl in question was the mistress of a wealthy Russian oil magnate, and it proved a great case for Danny, who got a nice clean conviction. (Not so great for the beauty queen. Her body parts were eventually found in trash bags in a Maracay motel.)

Danny enjoyed the work and the novelty of living in France, and began to feel his confidence slowly coming back. Meeting and marrying Céline had been the icing on the cake. But through all his later triumphs, as he rose meteorically through Interpol’s ranks, he never forgot Angela Jakes. Who was she before she married her husband? Why did she run? He knew it couldn’t have been his questioning that scared her off, as Lyle Renalto claimed. There must have been another reason. Most importantly of all, Who had raped her and killed her husband in such a hideous, bloody manner? The official line, that a robbery had gotten spectacularly out of hand, was clearly nonsense. Art thieves didn’t slash an old man’s throat so forcefully they all but severed his head.

In the end it was Céline who had finally persuaded Danny to drop it. Sensing that there was more to her new husband’s feelings for Angela Jakes than professional interest, she told him straight out that she felt threatened.

“She’s gone,” she told him tearfully, “but I’m here. Aren’t I enough for you?”

“Of course you are, darling,” Danny assured her. “You’re everything to me.”

But for years afterward, in his dreams, Angela Jakes still bewitched him with her milky-white skin and reproachful chocolate eyes:

“Find the animal who did this.”

Danny promised he would, but he had failed. The animal was still out there.

Gradually, however, Danny did move on. His marriage to Céline was supremely happy. Two months ago, when Danny got promoted to head up the entire IRT division, running twenty-eight global response teams for both crime and disaster assistance, it felt as if everything had come full circle since the nightmare of 420 Loma Vista and Andrew Jakes’s murder. Professionally as well as personally, Danny McGuire was finally at peace.

Then he got the first e-mail.

Matt Daley’s first message had been titled simply Andrew Jakes. Just seeing those two words on a screen made Danny McGuire’s blood run cold. Daley gave little away about his own background, saying merely that he was an “interested party” and that he had “new information” on the case that he wanted to discuss with Danny in person. Dismissing him as a crackpot, Danny didn’t reply. But the e-mails kept coming, then the phone calls to Danny’s office, at all times of the day and night. Finally, Danny responded, informing Mr. Daley that if he had any new information he should make it available to the LAPD homicide division. But Daley wouldn’t be fobbed off. Insisting that he had to talk to him personally, Matt Daley announced that he was flying to Lyon next week and that he “wouldn’t leave” until Danny had agreed to see him.

Now, true to his word, he was here. Mathilde, Danny’s excellent secretary, had called an hour ago. A “blond American gentleman” was sitting outside Danny’s office, claiming he had an appointment and that it was urgent. What did Danny want her to do?

I want you to send him away. I want you to tell him to stop reminding me about Angela Jakes and to get the hell out of my life.

“Tell him I’m on my way in. But I don’t have long. He’ll have to make it quick.”

“MR. DALEY.” THERE WAS NO WARMTH in Danny McGuire’s tone. “You’d better come in.”

McGuire’s office was large and comfortable. Matt knew that the former detective had done well for himself since he left the LAPD, but he was surprised to find just how well. Photographs of a stunning, redheaded young woman were everywhere.

Matt picked one of them up idly. “Your wife?”

McGuire nodded curtly.

“She’s very beautiful.”

“I know. And she’s at home right now, waiting for me.” Danny glared at him. “What can I do for you, Mr. Daley?”

Matt’s heart rate quickened. So much for small talk. He took a deep breath and said, “You can reopen the investigation into Andrew Jakes’s murder.”

Danny frowned. “And why would I want to do that?”

“Because there’s new evidence.”

“Like I told you in my e-mail, Mr. Daley, if you have relevant evidence you should report it to the L.A. police. This case is no longer my business, or within my jurisdiction.”

“You’re Interpol,” said Matt reasonably. “The whole world’s within your jurisdiction, isn’t it?”

“It’s not as simple as that,” Danny McGuire muttered.

“Well, I think it is.” Matt Daley leaned forward, fixing Danny with a gimlet stare. He was as stubborn in person as he had been on the telephone. “The LAPD doesn’t give a shit. They closed the case and gave up. That’s why you quit.”

Danny said nothing. He couldn’t argue with that.

Matt Daley’s next words turned his blood to ice.

“What if I told you there’d been another murder?”

Danny McGuire forced himself to sound calm. “There are a lot of murders, Mr. Daley. All over the world, every hour of every day. We humans are a violent bunch.”

“Not like this.” Reaching into his briefcase, Matt Daley pulled out a thick paper file and slammed it down on Danny’s desk. “Same exact MO. Old man violently slaughtered, young wife raped, leaves all the money to charity, then disappears.”

Danny McGuire’s mouth went dry. His hands shook as he touched the file. Could it be true? After all this time, had the animal struck again?

“Where?” The word was barely a whisper.

“London. Five years ago. The victim’s name was Piers Henley.”

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