Not that it really mattered. He wasn’t here on vacation. He was here on a mission.
It had seemed such a simple proposition on the phone to Danny McGuire. Danny’s division at Interpol was now “actively assisting” the Hong Kong Chinese police. In practice, this meant little more than that the two organizations were exchanging information. There was no talk of a response team on the ground or anything like that. But McGuire at least now had the legitimate Interpol-endorsed go-ahead to devote time to the case, including delving deeper into the prior murders “where relevant.” Matt’s job was to fly out to Hong Kong, meet with Lisa Baring, the widow of the latest victim, and find out whatever he could. He would then feed that information back to Danny—strictly off-the-record, of course.
“If my bosses found out I was using civilian contacts in the field, or meddling in a member country’s domestic investigation, I’d be canned faster than a dolphin in a tuna net.”
Ignoring Claire’s handwringing injunctions to be careful, Matt had hopped on the Qantas flight to Hong Kong with high hopes. So far those hopes had shown no sign of realization. Making contact with Lisa Baring was proving to be mission impossible. Miles Baring, her husband, had been Hong Kong’s Donald Trump, and his murder and the sexual attack on his stunning young wife were front-page news on the island. Media interest in the case was heightened by an almost total lack of available information. The Hong Kong police ran a tight ship and were not prone to giving press conferences merely to satisfy the curiosity of a salacious public. Miles and Lisa Baring had always fiercely guarded their privacy, and Mrs. Baring clearly saw no need to break this habit simply because her husband had been slaughtered in cold blood. Ensconced in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Gascoigne Road, she had made no public statement and apparently had no intention of doing so. Thanks in part to Interpol’s warnings, the hospital building was surrounded by armed police. Other patients’ visitors were strictly monitored, and not even deliverymen or medical staff came and went without a daily grilling. As for Mrs. Baring herself, the only people allowed access to her were her doctors and Chief Superintendent Liu, the Chinese detective in charge of the local investigation.
Unable to use Danny McGuire’s name, or claim any connection with Interpol, Matt had fallen back on tried and tested telephone ruses.
He was a reporter with 60 Minutes, putting together a piece on the wonderful efficiency of Liu and his team.
He was an attaché from the U.S. embassy, paying a courtesy visit to a fellow citizen in distress. (Lisa Baring was American by birth, a New Yorker, if the papers were to be believed.)
He was a lawyer bearing vital documents that only Mrs. Baring was permitted to sign off on.
The answer was always the same: “No visitors.”
Initially Matt stayed at a little guesthouse on the Peak. But the proprietress asked him to leave after a sinister-looking unmarked car with smoked windows took to parking outside the building day and night, leaving only when Matt did. Matt told Danny McGuire about the car.
“Do you think the Chinese might be watching me?”
Danny sounded worried. “I don’t know. It’s possible, although I can’t think why. Be careful, Matt. Remember, the killer may still be local. While Lisa Baring’s in Hong Kong, there’s a good chance he’s sticking around, biding his time till he can spirit her away like he did the others.”
“You think he tricked the other widows into leaving?”
“I think it’s possible, yes. Maybe he had an accomplice, someone who lured the women away from the safety of their own homes and police protection so he could finish them off too.”
Matt wasn’t convinced. “If he wanted the wives dead, why not just kill them at the scene? Why go to all the trouble of two separate murders?”
“I don’t know,” said Danny. “Maybe as far as he’s concerned, it’s no trouble. Maybe he enjoys it.”
“All we know for sure about this guy is that he’s dangerous as hell and he doesn’t mess around. If he suspects you’re on to him, you could be in real danger.”
Matt moved to the Marriott, a large, faceless hotel downtown, and the dark car disappeared. Occasionally he still had the eerie sensation that he was being followed, on the DLR, Hong Kong’s subway, or on his way to the Starbucks next to the hospital, where Lisa Baring remained under armed guard. But he never saw anyone, or had anything concrete to report back to Danny.
With his funds running low and still no nearer to talking to the elusive Mrs. Baring, Matt was seriously contemplating flying back home empty-handed when an e-mail arrived from Danny McGuire’s personal Gmail address.
“Delete this as soon as you’ve read it,” Danny wrote. “Liu sent it through today. I thought it might give you some leads.”
The next word of the e-mail sent Matt’s heart rate racing.
Lisa S. Baring
16/09/2006, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong
I confirm that my name is Lisa Baring, and that I am the wife of Miles Baring, deceased. I confirm that I was with the deceased on the night of his death, 04/09/2006, at 117 Prospect Road, Hong Kong. I confirm that the account given below is a true and complete record of events, to the best of my knowledge and memory.
Miles and I were at home as usual. Anita, our cook, had made a dinner of chicken and rice and we shared a bottle of red wine. I would not say that either of us was intoxicated. After dinner, we retired upstairs to our bedroom, where we watched television—CNN global business news—and made love. We turned out the lights at around 10:30 P.M. and both went to sleep.
I woke to find a masked man holding a knife to my throat. I saw Miles move toward the panic button beside our bed, but the man shouted at him to stop or he would cut my throat. Miles did as he asked. The man tied me up first with rope and placed me on the floor. He said if either of us made a sound, he would kill us. Miles asked him what he wanted, but he did not reply. Instead he moved toward Miles. Miles tried to fight him off, and that was when the man stabbed him.
I know I screamed. I was not aware of Miles screaming, only of his being stabbed again and again. There was a lot of blood. I felt certain that one of the servants would have heard something by this point, but no one came. I must have passed out.
When I came to, the man was raping me. He cut me with the knife on my back, buttocks and legs. Miles was lying on the floor bleeding. I do not know whether he was dead or not. I think he was. After approximately five minutes the man stopped raping me. I don’t think he ejaculated. He produced a gun, which I had not seen before. I remember thinking it was strange that he had chosen to use a knife to subdue us when he had a gun all along. I assumed he was going to kill me, but instead he turned and fired a single shot into Miles’s head at close range. It was very quiet. Then he dragged Miles’s body over to me and tied the two of us together with the same rope he had used on me before. He covered my mouth with duct tape. And he left.
I did not see him steal or attempt to steal anything from the room. He did not ask either me or Miles at any time about the safe. I have no idea what happened after he left the room, how he escaped from the property. I lay on the floor for a further five hours until one of the maids, Joyce, discovered us early the next morning and called the police.
I confirm that at no time did I recognize the man who attacked us, either from his voice or any other physical characteristic. I confirm that our infrared security system had been disabled, but I have no knowledge as to when or how this happened.
Lisa S. Baring
Matt read the statement again and again, his mind crowded with questions. So much of what Lisa Baring said didn’t make sense. Why had the servants not heard anything, or seen the man once he entered the house? There must have been scores of them there that night. How was a sophisticated security system disabled without anybody realizing? Why would Miles Baring, an intelligent man in his late seventies, decide to physically challenge an armed assailant rather than press a panic button? He must have had opportunities to reach for the button while his wife was being tied up. Why, as Lisa Baring herself pointed out, did the attacker use a knife when he had a gun with a silencer?