That’s true, thought Danny, remembering his own years in the wilderness, begging for help finding Angela Jakes, before he joined Interpol. It felt like a lifetime ago now.
“Anyway, it took me awhile after that to track you down. I couldn’t believe it when I discovered you were at Interpol. That you were actually in a position to help me.”
Danny McGuire frowned. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I agree that the two cases have similarities. But for my division to get involved, for Interpol to authorize an IRT, we have to be approached by a member country’s police force directly.
Matt leaned forward excitedly. “We’re not talking about ‘similarities.’ These crimes are carbon copies. Both the murder victims were elderly, wealthy men, married to much younger wives. Both wives were raped and beaten. Both wives conveniently disappeared shortly after the attacks. Both estates wound up going to charity. No convictions. No leads.”
Danny McGuire felt his heart rate began to quicken.
“Even so,” he said lamely, clutching at straws. “It could be a coincidence.”
“Like hell it could. The guy even used the same knot on the rope he used to tie the victims together.”
A double half hitch. Danny McGuire put his head in his hands. This couldn’t be happening. Not after ten years.
“Look, I know you have procedures you have to follow,” said Matt Daley. “Protocol and all that. But he’s still out there, this maniac. Matter of fact,” he announced, playing his trump card, “he’s in France.”
“What do you mean?” Danny asked sharply. “How could you possibly know something like that?”
Matt Daley leaned back in his chair. “Two words for you,” he said confidently. “Didier Anjou.”
LUCIEN DESFORGES SAUNTERED DOWN THE RUE Mirage with a spring in his step. Life, Lucien decided, was good. It was a gorgeous late spring day in Saint-Tropez with omens of summer everywhere. On each side of the road running from La Route des Plages down to the famous Club 55, bright pink blossoms were already bursting forth from the laurel bushes, pouring like floral fountains over the whitewashed walls of the houses. Lucien had often been struck by those whitewashed walls. It seemed incongruous to have such humble exteriors surrounding such lavish mansions, each one stuffed full of every luxury money could buy.
Lucien was on his way to one of those very mansions, one that many Tropeziens considered the grandest of them all: Villa Paradis.
Terrible name, thought Lucien. Talk about vulgar. But then what was one to expect from a former pop star and matinee idol, a street kid from Marseille who made fantastically, miraculously good? Certainly not good taste.
Villa Paradis was owned by one of Lucien’s clients. One of his best, most important, most consistently lucrative clients. True, he wasn’t always the easiest of clients. His continued association with the organized criminals he grew up with, two-bit Marseillais mafiosi with a taste for extortion, fraud and worse, had caused Lucien innumerable headaches over the years, as had his utter inability to keep it in his pants (or, if out of his pants, safely shrink-wrapped in Durex). But at the end of the day, Lucien Desforges was a divorce lawyer. And if there was one thing Villa Paradis’s owner knew how to do, expensively, publicly and repeatedly, it was get divorced.
Over his morning coffee in Le Gorille earlier, Lucien had laughed out loud when he realized that he had, in actual fact, forgotten how many divorces he had handled for this particular client. Was it four, or five? Would this one make five? Lucien had made so much money in fees from this man, he’d lost count. Que Dieu bénisse l’amour!
Keying the familiar code into the intercom on the gate, Lucien wondered how long he could draw out this latest marital parting of the ways. His client had only been married to this particular wife for a matter of months, so the case wouldn’t be as lucrative as some of those from the past. If only the old goat had fathered a child with her. Then we’d really be in business. But as the gates swung open and the crystal-blue Mediterranean twinkled before him like an azure dream, Lucien reminded himself never to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The point was that Didier Anjou was getting divorced.
It was going to be a beautiful day.
THE MARRIAGE HAD BEGUN SO WELL. Which was strange, given that all of Didier Anjou’s other marriages had begun so very, very badly.
First there was Lucille. Ah, la belle Lucille! How he’d wanted her! How he’d pined! Didier was twenty at the time, and starring in his very first movie, Entre les draps (Between the Sheets), which was exactly where Didier longed to be with Lucille Camus. Lucille was forty-four, married, and played Didier’s mother in the movie. The director had begged her to take the role. He’d always had a soft spot for Lucille.
It was probably why he’d married her.
In 1951, Jean Camus was the most powerful man in French cinema. He was a Parisian Walt Disney, an old-world Louis B. Mayer, a man who could make or break a young actor’s career with a nod of his shiny bald head or a twitch of his salt-and-pepper mustache. Jean Camus had personally cast Didier Anjou as the male lead in Entre les draps, plucking the handsome boy with the black hair and blacker eyes from utter obscurity and propelling him into a fantasy world of fame and fortune, of limousines and luxury…and Lucille.
Looking back, decades later, Didier consoled himself with the fact that he’d never really had a choice. Lucille Camus was a goddess, her body a temple begging, no, demanding to be worshipped. Those swollen, matronly breasts, those obscenely full lips, always parted, always tempting, inviting…Didier Anjou could no more not seduce Lucille Camus than he could breathe through his elbows or swim through solid stone. Elle était une force de la nature!
Of course, had he stopped at seduction, things might have worked out better than they had. Unfortunately, three weeks into their affair, Didier got Lucille pregnant.
“I don’t see the problem.” A baffled Didier defended himself, dodging another hurled item of china that Lucille had propelled furiously onto a collision course with his skull. “Chérie, please. Just say it is Jean’s. Who’s to know?”
“Everyone will know, you cretin, you imbecile!” Didier ducked as another plate narrowly missed his windpipe. “Jean’s infertile!”
“Well then, you’ll just have to get rid of it.”
Lucille was horrified.
“An abortion? What do you think I am, a monster?”
“But, chérie, be practical.”
“Jamais! Non, Didier. There is only one solution. You must marry me.”
The Camus divorce was the talk of Cannes that year. A heavily pregnant Lucille Camus married her boy-toy lover, and for a few wonderful months, Didier was genuinely famous. But then the baby died, Jean Camus took the grief-wrecked Lucille back, and the ranks of the film community closed around them. For the next eight years, until Jean died, Didier Anjou couldn’t get so much as a laundry-detergent commercial in France. He was washed up at twenty-three.
It wasn’t until he hit thirty that things finally started to look up. Didier married his second wife, Hélène Marceau, a beautiful, innocent heiress from Toulouse. Hélène was a virgin, unwilling to sleep with Didier until they were married. This suited Didier perfectly. He fucked around throughout their courtship, all the while looking forward to the day when he would take possession of Hélène’s tight chatte and fat bank balance. Who could ask for more?
The wedding was a coup, the happiest day of Didier’s life. Until night fell and, alone at last in the marital bed, Didier discovered why his new bride had been so coy about sleeping with him. It appeared that poor Hélène had grotesquely deformed genitals, a secret she’d kept since birth. The whole innocent, scared-of-sex shtick had been a front, a ploy. The bitch had trapped him!
The union was miserable from the start, yet Didier stayed with Hélène for five years. Naturally he cheated on her constantly, siphoning off every last franc of her fortune into privately produced movies, all of them star vehicles for himself. Hélène knew what her husband was up to, but loved him helplessly anyway. Didier had this effect on women. Each day Hélène prayed fervently that Didier would see the light and come to return her love, despite her unfortunate physical affliction. But it never happened. At thirty-five, famous for the second time in his life and rich for the first, Didier Anjou finally divorced Hélène Marceau. He was back on the market.
Next came Pascale, another heiress who made Didier even richer and bore him two sons but took a regrettably inflexible view about his extramarital dalliances.
One of these dalliances, Camille, became the fourth Madame Anjou the year Didier turned fifty. Thirty years his junior and stunningly beautiful, the top fashion model of her day, Camille reminded Didier of himself at her age. Physically perfect, selfish, ambitious, insatiable. It was a match made in heaven. But after three years of marriage, Camille slept with Didier’s teenage son, Luc. With Lucien Desforges’s help, Didier cut both of them off without a penny and vowed never to marry again.