Richard Sturi concluded, “In my opinion, it is a poor use of our limited time and resources to focus on who the killer might be and why he does what he does. We simply do not have enough factual evidence to answer those questions. This data tells us how he operates, when and where he kills. Look here.” Sturi flashed between screens so fast that Danny saw nothing but a blurry rainbow. “The rate at which he commits his crimes appears to be increasing rapidly.”
“No ‘appears’ about it,” said Danny. “Nothing happened for four years after the Jakes case, but the Baring murder occurred a year after Didier Anjou’s.”
“Ah. But you are assuming that Sir Piers Henley was his first kill after Andrew Jakes.”
Demartin’s eyes widened. “You think there was another murder in between? One that we don’t know about?”
“I don’t think anything. Thinking’s not my job. But statistically, such a case is likely, yes. Probably in South America, in 1998 or early 1999. I’m looking into it.”
“Jeez.” Danny whistled. “Okay. Go on.”
“He kills every two to three years, moving east around the globe, changing his identity, and possibly his appearance, between each strike. He is highly intelligent and a skilled manipulator. The age difference between his victims and their wives is dropping an average of five years with each murder.”
“The victims are getting younger?”
“No. The wives are getting older. As, of course, is our killer.”
Danny thought about this, grasping for something that had eluded him up to now. The age thing felt significant, but he didn’t know why. After a long silence, he asked, “Do you think the wives are dead?”
Richard Sturi hesitated. “Probably. There is no plausible reason, at least none that I can think of, for him to keep them alive.”
“Except for Lisa Baring,” Demartin said again.
Except for Lisa Baring. How Danny wished Matt Daley had gotten further with Mrs. Baring. He’d picked a hell of a time to drop off the radar.
“Okay. Division of labor. As you know, we’ve only been allotted eight hours per week of official work time on Azrael. We all have other cases that need our attention, so I don’t want to overload you. Richard, I want you to keep doing what you’re doing. But nothing goes directly onto the I-24/7 database. Any stats and projections connected with this investigation come to me first. Understood?”
The German raised an eyebrow but nodded his consent. Delaying the inputting of data onto Interpol’s systems was highly irregular. But not as irregular as disobeying a direct instruction from a superior officer.
“Claude, for now I need you to focus on forensics. See if there’s anything in the semen, blood or fingerprint analyses that the local police missed.”
“Yes, sir. If you don’t mind my asking, what will you be working on?”
“I’m going to make a few inquiries in Los Angeles,” said Danny. “There’s a man there I’d like to talk to again. An attorney by the name of Lyle Renalto.”
INSPECTOR LIU COULD NOT REACH ASSISTANT Director Danny McGuire. According to McGuire’s secretary, an obstructive French matron named Mathilde, McGuire was at a meeting and was not expected back in the office “for some time.” So much for Interpol’s promised 24/7 support.
Irritated, Liu left a message.
Mrs. Baring had a lover whom they now suspected of involvement in her husband’s murder. As such, Mrs. Baring herself was now a suspect in the investigation. She remained in Bali, and photographic evidence suggested that this man was staying with her there. Could Assistant Director McGuire organize an Interpol response team to help Liu and his men gain access to the villa and, if necessary, arrest the suspects? The Indonesian authorities were being less than helpful.
Hanging up, Liu looked at his watch. Four P.M., Hong Kong time.
If he didn’t hear from McGuire by morning, he’d take matters into his own hands.
CÉLINE MCGUIRE WAS NOT A HAPPY woman.
She was not happy because the boeuf bourguignon she had so painstakingly cooked for her husband had been reduced to a viscous, charred mass at the bottom of a casserole dish.
She was not happy because she’d done her hair and put on her prettiest dress, all for nothing.
She was not happy because all the excuses Danny was about to give her for his lateness would be lies, but she was too frightened to challenge him with the truth:
Angela Jakes was back in their lives.
Sometimes Céline likened Angela Jakes to a mistress. Pretty pathetic to be jealous of a woman your husband has never made love to and never will, a woman who’s almost certainly dead. This time around, Céline saw Angela more as an addiction, like alcohol or crystal meth or a glistening white line of freshly cut cocaine. After five happy years, Danny had fallen off the wagon. The addict’s lies had already started.
“Frémeaux called me into a meeting.”
“Mathilde’s off sick so I got stuck with a load of paperwork.”
“The IRT division’s up for a review next month. I’m gonna have to put in some extra hours.”
Céline had checked out each story, but she already knew what she’d find. If you want to lie through your teeth, Danny, you shouldn’t have married a fellow detective. He hadn’t even had the balls to tell her that a new investigation—Azrael—had been authorized, still less that he was heading the team. But if Danny’s lies were laughably transparent, Céline’s own tactics were just as risible. Fancy meals. Date nights. Sexy clothes. As if she stood a chance against his addiction. Against Angela.
“Sorry I’m late.” Danny burst through the door, a stack of files under one arm and a bursting-at-the-seams briefcase under the other. “You didn’t cook, did you?”
“What do you think?” snapped Céline, glancing over her shoulder at the smoky remains of the beef.
Danny looked stricken. “I’m sorry, honey. You should have told me.”
“I should have told you? I should have told you?” She stormed past him, an angry flash of red silk, grabbing her coat from the peg by the door on her way out. “Fuck you, Danny. And fuck Azrael.”
Before Danny could say another word, she was gone.
Azrael. So she knows already. Shit.
His instinct was to go after her, but he knew from experience that when Céline was this mad she needed space. Anything he said to her now would only fan the flames of her wrath. Wearily, he set down his work on the kitchen table. It had been a long, draining, fruitless afternoon. He’d spent most of it on the phone to L.A., tracking down every lead and calling in every favor he could think of in an effort to get hold of Lyle Renalto. But no one had seen or heard of the guy since 1997. He quit his law practice in that year apparently, barely twelve months after Andrew Jakes’s murder and ten since Angela’s disappearance. The same year Danny left town himself.
According to colleagues, Lyle was supposed to be taking up a new position back in New York—he was from the city originally—but Danny could find no trace of him in any of the public-records databases he checked there. Phone and utility bills, DMV, Social Security Administration, all had drawn a blank. Of course it was early days. But key players in the Jakes investigation had an uncanny tendency to evaporate into thin air just when Danny wanted to talk to them. Already the old feelings of frustration and helplessness and despair had started to return. Back in L.A. in the nineties, Danny had felt as if the truth he was seeking was a wet bar of soap: in his grasp one moment, but slipping through his fingers the next. Was that how it was going to be with Azrael?
He wondered for a moment who had spilled the beans about the investigation to Céline, then let it go. What did it matter, really? He should have told her himself. Now she would never understand, never forgive him. Unless I solve the case quickly. Unless I succeed this time, catch this bastard and put an end to this nightmare once and for all.
After a hastily made supper of a Brie-and-jambon baguette washed down with ice-cold Sam Adams—the French did a lot of things right but beer wasn’t one of them—he began working through his mountain of notes. It was almost ten before he got as far as checking his voice mails. Three were internal memos about budgeting, one was a lead on a case his division was working on in Bogotá and the fifth was from his mother in L.A. asking if he’d remembered his grandmother’s ninetieth birthday (he hadn’t). But it was the sixth and final message, from Inspector Liu, that made the hairs on Danny’s arms stand on end.
Lisa Baring had a lover. All of a sudden Demartin’s wild theory wasn’t looking so way out there anymore. Was it Lyle Renalto, all these years later, using a different name and identity? He’d be older, of course, in his late forties by now, but he was probably still attractive enough to lure a lonely, bored young housewife into his net.