He retired to Saint-Tropez, where he became legendary for his vanity, in particular for the vast collection of toupees that he housed in a special dressing room at Villa Paradis, much to the amusement of the Russian hookers who regularly warmed his bed there. No one, least of all his lawyer, ever expected Didier Anjou to take another wife.
But four months ago, out of the blue, the old roué had done just that, secretly marrying a Russian woman whom none of his friends had ever heard of, never mind met. Her name was Irina Minchenko, and the general assumption was that she was one of the hookers and had somehow managed to bewitch Didier into wedlock.
The general assumption was wrong. In her midthirties, aristocratic and educated, Irina was wealthy in her own right. Even if she’d been poor, she was far too beautiful and smart to be a hooker. From the day they met, at a house party in Ramatouelle, Didier was besotted.
He took his new bride to Tahiti for their honeymoon, to a secluded beachside cottage. For the first time in his life, Didier Anjou did not want the media to follow him. He told Lucien, by now a friend, “Irina is too exquisite to be shared with the world. Whenever I see someone so much as look at her, man or woman, I want to kill them. It’s crazy what she does to me!”
Whatever Irina did to him, it’s over now, Lucien thought wryly, strolling around onto the villa’s private rear terrace. Just two weeks back from the honeymoon and Didier Anjou had called him, literally howling with rage and fury.
“I want a divorce!” he’d screamed into the phone. “I want to fuck that bitch over, do you hear me? I won’t give her a goddamn penny!”
That was last night. Hopefully Didier would be in a calmer mood this morning. It was too early for screaming.
Unfortunately, when Lucien Desforges stepped through the French windows into the living room, the screams were deafening. But they weren’t Didier’s.
They were his own.
DANNY MCGUIRE STARED AT MATT DALEY for a long time. Or rather, he stared into space for a long time. Matt’s crooked, genial, hopeful face just happened to be in the way.
Of course, Danny knew about Didier Anjou’s murder. Like everybody else in France, he’d heard about it on the TV and read about it in the papers. Everyone from Le Monde to Le Figaro had published accounts of Anjou’s colorful romantic past and speculated as to which wronged husband or unpaid creditor might have ordered a hit on the elderly roué. But little had been written about the matinee idol’s latest wife, other than that she was Russian and was believed to have returned to her home country after the killing. Certainly Danny had heard nothing about a rape. He said as much to Matt Daley.
“No official complaint was ever made,” Matt agreed. “But the blogs are alive with rumors that Mrs. Anjou was sexually assaulted by the killer, and that the guy who discovered the crime scene found the two of them tied up together. Problem is that, once again, the widow’s not around to ask. She’s gone.”
“Yes, but only back home to Russia. She hasn’t vanished like the others.”
Matt shrugged. “So the papers say. But who knows what the truth is. The police down there are so corrupt they make Chicago City Hall look like the Peace Corps.”
Danny laughed. But it was a hollow laugh, one filled with foreboding. If Andrew Jakes’s killer really was still out there, repeating his awful crimes, then two more innocent men’s deaths were on Danny McGuire’s conscience. And what about the widows, the beautiful young women who had so conveniently disappeared just weeks after the killings? If they were dead too, he had even more blood on his hands. This man, this animal, would be getting more emboldened with every successful hit. Danny couldn’t just sit by and do nothing, let him strike again. On the other hand, what he’d told Matt Daley was true. It wasn’t just his reluctance to reopen old wounds and upset Céline that was holding him back. Without a local police force requesting Interpol’s help, officially Danny’s hands were tied.
He told Matt Daley, “We can’t be sure it’s the same man. I don’t know about Sir Piers Henley, but Didier Anjou had a long line of people who wanted him dead.”
“I agree we can’t be sure,” said Matt excitedly. “That’s why we need to reopen the case. Or start a new case, looking at all three murders together. There’s so much we don’t know. All I can tell you is I feel in my bones that this is one guy, one crazed fucking lunatic, and that we’re getting closer to him.”
Danny McGuire thought, He’s using we already. He’s assuming I’m in.
“I’ll make some calls to Scotland Yard and the local French police. See what I can dig up. But I can’t promise anything.”
If Matt was disappointed, he hid it well. “I understand. I know it probably sounds weird, seeing as my father abandoned my sister and me and all. But I’d like to see justice done for him. I figured, if you had this information, maybe you could help.”
“What will you do now?” asked Danny. “Are you heading back to the States?”
Matt looked at him incredulously. “Back to the States? Hell no. Why would I do that? Like I told you, I think the killer’s here, in France. I’m on a flight to Nice at six o’clock tonight. I should be in Saint-Tropez by ten.”
“Be careful,” Danny warned. “If the Mafia was involved in Didier Anjou’s death, you could be putting yourself in danger.”
“You don’t really believe it was a Mafia hit? Come on. That’s just lazy detective work, the path of least resistance.”
“I don’t know,” said Danny. “I don’t know anything concrete at this point and neither do you, Mr. Daley. Blog gossip does not a homicide case make. Plus, even if you’re right, and the three killings are all connected…”
“…which they are. You know they are.”
“…local French police don’t take kindly to outsiders trampling all over their turf and meddling in their investigations. Especially Americans.”
Matt threw his arms out wide in a gesture of innocence. “Don’t worry about me.” He grinned. “I’ll charm them into submission.”
LATER THAT AFTERNOON, IN THE DEPARTURES lounge at the Lyon airport, Matt Daley tried out his charm on his wife.
“I’ll be here another week, honey, ten days at most. I’ll bring you back some goodies from Chanel, how about that?’”
“I don’t want goodies!” Raquel snarled. “I want our share of that money! Don’t you realize that every day you’re gone, those fucking charities are spending our cash? I can’t fight this alone, Matt, and I can’t fight it with no money. There’s a lawyers’ meeting on Tuesday in Beverly Hills. I expect you there.”
“But, honey, this Anjou murder—”
“Is not gonna pay our bills,” snapped Raquel. “I mean it, Matt. Either get home by Tuesday or don’t bother getting home at all.”
ACROSS TOWN, AT HOME WITH CÉLINE, Danny McGuire lay sprawled out on the bed in postcoital bliss.
“How did it go today?” his wife asked him. “Your meeting, with that American. Your stalker! What did he want in the end?”
“Hmm? Oh, nothing.” Reaching out, Danny caressed her breast. “He’s some TV guy, making a documentary about the LAPD. It wasn’t important.”
It was the first time Danny could ever remember lying to her. The guilt of it lay heavy in his stomach, like lead.
That night, while Céline McGuire slept, Danny lay awake, thinking of Angela Jakes’s perfect face.
MATT DALEY STARED OUT OF THE window of Hélène Marceau’s medieval château feeling like he’d strayed into the pages of a fairy tale. It wasn’t just the house. It was the entire town of Eze, a ludicrously picturesque hilltop village less than twenty miles outside Monte Carlo. Walt Disney couldn’t have drawn the place better, with its turrets and steeples, its winding cobblestone streets, its gas lamps and flower boxes and quaint, higgledy-piggledy artisans’ cottages. Matt thought: It’s perfect. A ready-made movie set for Beauty and the Beast.
Twenty years ago, Hélène Marceau would have made a wonderful Belle. Even now, in her fifties, Didier Anjou’s ex-wife number two was an attractive woman. With her slender figure, fine bone structure and sparkling emerald eyes, Hélène could still turn heads. Of course, everybody in Eze knew the rumors: that Hélène was déformée, down there. But it didn’t seem to have prevented her from landing two more husbands after Didier, both of them wealthy. The furniture in this room alone must be worth six figures.
“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, Mr. Daley.” Hélène’s English was perfect. “But Didier and I hadn’t had any contact for many years. I read of his death in the newspaper, like everybody else.”