“Are you sure about that?”
“Quite sure,” said Lucien. “Face au Monde, I believe the charity was called. Some surgical thing in Paris having to do with cleft palates. They help children.”
DANNY MCGUIRE SPED UP THE TREADMILL, hoping the pain in his legs might distract him. It didn’t.
There was a fully equipped gym at Interpol headquarters, but Danny preferred to frequent Sport Vitesse on the Rue de La Paix. Partly because he needed to get away from other Interpol officers every now and then. As much as he enjoyed his job running the IRT division, the organization itself was bureaucratic and inward-looking, a veritable shrine to red tape. But mostly because the treadmills at the club all faced giant windows overlooking the rush-hour traffic, which reminded him of L.A. Danny loved living in France, the slower pace of life, the history, the architecture, the food. But there were occasional moments when he missed the States, Monday Night Football and buffalo wings. Meeting Matt Daley had brought his homesickness back with a vengeance.
Danny McGuire liked Matt Daley. He liked his honesty, his sense of humor, his tenaciousness. But he wished with all his heart Matt Daley had never tracked him down.
Since the second Matt had walked out of his office, Danny had thought of nothing but the Jakes case and these other, apparently linked homicides. After Matt called him in high excitement from Saint-Tropez to announce that Irina Anjou had also left all her husband’s money to a children’s charity, he finally broached the subject with his superiors.
“The May-December marriages, the rapes, the frenzied nature of the killings, the binding of the victims together. These alone suggest a pattern. But the fact that all three widows evaporated after the fact, and all handed over their inheritance to kids’ charities, including Irina Anjou…it’s got to be worth checking out, hasn’t it, sir?”
Deputy Director Henri Frémeaux blinked inscrutably, his fat face giving nothing away. In his midsixties, totally bald and with the sort of distended belly that might have looked jolly on a less humorless man, Henri Frémeaux was everything Danny McGuire disliked about Interpol: officious, unyielding, deliberately narrow-minded. He was also brilliantly intelligent, a dogged problem solver with a first-class logical mind. But that wasn’t why Henri Frémeaux had risen to the top at Interpol. That he’d achieved by slavish adherence to the rules.
“Which member country has requested our assistance?” he asked Danny bluntly. “I don’t recall seeing anything like this come across my desk.”
“No, sir. It hasn’t yet. I received the information from a private source.”
Deputy Director Frémeaux’s eyebrows slowly lifted. “A private source?”
“Assistant Director McGuire. As I hardly need to remind you, Interpol is not like other law enforcement agencies. Our purpose is to function as an administrative liaison between the law enforcement agencies of our member countries, providing communications and database assistance.”
Danny sighed. “Yes, sir. I’ve read the manual. But if this killer is out there, preparing to strike again, then don’t we have a duty to act?”
“No. Our duty is clear: to provide communications and database assistance to our member countries, when requested. Has such a request been made with regard to these crimes?”
Danny might as well have been talking to a brick wall.
It was the same story with Scotland Yard. Chief Inspector Willard Drew had been a lowly detective inspector when he ran the Henley murder investigation. He received Danny’s phone call with a frostiness bordering on arctic.
Yes, Tracey Henley had left the country. No, the authorities were not aware of her current whereabouts, but neither did they suspect any foul play. No, no one had ever been charged with Sir Piers Henley’s murder, despite exhaustive interviews of over eighty possible suspects. No, Chief Inspector Drew had not the slightest interest in reopening the file “because some minor French film star got bumped off by a local mafiosi.”
Danny understood Willard Drew’s defensiveness. He’d felt the same way himself, after Andrew Jakes’s killer got away. The failure stung, like salt in an open wound. But he was also frustrated by it.
The French police were even worse, taking days to return Danny’s call, then laughing off his suggestion of links with the L.A. and London murders as “fanciful” and Matt Daley’s evidence as “circumstantial at best.” No one wanted to reopen this case, to prize the lid off such a horrible, violent, blood-slick can of worms. Around the globe, the sound of collective hand washing was deafening.
Sweat poured down Danny’s back, pooling at the base of his spine as his feet pounded the moving rubber track beneath him. As he ran, his own doubts came creeping back. Yes, the French police were lazy and the British defensive. But were they also right? Lots about the three murders didn’t add up. Interpol’s I-24/7 database was the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in the world, maintaining collections of fingerprints and mug shots, lists of wanted persons, DNA samples and travel documents. Their lost and stolen travel-document database alone contained more than twelve million records. But after an exhaustive search, Danny had found no other crimes that even vaguely matched the Jakes, Henley and Anjou cases. If it really was one killer, why had he waited so long between attacks? And why had he chosen victims so geographically spread out? What did he do between murders? How was he supporting himself? Almost all serial killers that Danny knew of worked within a territory, a familiar “killing patch,” and stuck to it. Professional assassins moved around, but they focused on their targets; they didn’t hang around and rape innocent bystanders.
And there were other discrepancies in Matt’s “carbon-copy” killings. Didier Anjou and Andrew Jakes had both been knifed to death. Sir Piers had had his brains blown out. Jewelry was stolen from the Henley and Jakes homes, but not from Didier Anjou’s, despite the fact that he had an extensive collection in plain view on his bedroom dresser. And what of the Jakes art thefts? The rare Victorian miniatures? Where did they fit into a possible motive?
Exhausted, Danny slowed the treadmill to a fast walk, letting his heart rate drop. Matt Daley was on his way back to Los Angeles. At some point next week Danny would have to call him, to update him off the record on “progress.” What a joke. He had nothing, nothing except a single number: three.
Three victims. Andrew Jakes, Sir Piers Henley, Didier Anjou.
Three missing wives. Angela Jakes, Tracey Henley, Irina Anjou.
Hardly the breakthrough of the century.
Instinctively, Danny felt that the key to unraveling the mystery lay in the rape of the young wives. Somewhere behind these crimes was a woman hater. A violent, sexually motivated beast.
He thought about his own wife, Céline, and felt a wave of revulsion and disgust wash over him, tinged with fear. If anything should happen to her, anything, he didn’t know what he would do. He wondered for the umpteenth time about the beautiful Angela Jakes and the other women, Tracey and Irina. Were they alive, living new, unobtrusive lives somewhere, as the police in L.A., London and Saint-Tropez all so badly wanted to believe? Or were they dead too, their three corpses rotting in unmarked graves, silent victims of this most ruthless and cunning of killers?
MATT DALEY PULLED INTO HIS DRIVEWAY feeling as nervous as a teenager on his first date. He’d been gone for almost three weeks, the longest he’d been physically apart from Raquel since they married. Despite her anger—since he refused to fly home for her lawyers’ meeting a week ago, she hadn’t contacted him once and had refused to return his calls or e-mails—Matt was surprised to find that he’d missed her. The break had given him a renewed determination to put things right with his marriage.
I’ve been neglecting her, he told himself. No wonder she spends so much time chasing an imaginary pot of gold in her lawyer’s office. Why wouldn’t she, with me cooped up in my office all day, or flitting around the world trying to solve these murders?
The thought crossed his mind that if he actually cracked this case, with Danny McGuire’s help, if he found the killer and brought him to justice, he might make Raquel proud of him again. Then he could write a screenplay about it, sell it to a major studio, and make more money than even Raquel could dream of. It was a nice fantasy, but in the meantime he had to spend more time with her. And he would. Now that he was back, he’d make everything right between them again.
Inside, the house was in darkness. Matt pushed aside his disappointment. It’s still early, he told himself. She’ll be home soon. At least this way he’d have time to shower and change after his long-haul flight. Air France’s economy seats had clearly been designed by a double-jointed munchkin and Matt’s lower back was killing him.