Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon

Liu said something about him staying at the Barings’ Bali villa. If it were true, if there was even a chance of it being true, they couldn’t let him slip away again.

He thought about calling Liu back, but decided it could wait. What if Renalto, or whoever it was, was packing his bags right now, and Lisa’s. Spiriting her away so he could kill her like he had the others? Liu had asked for help with the local Balinese police, and that’s what Danny was going to give him.

Danny dialed the number for the Interpol switchboard.

“I need clearance for an operation in Bali. Put me through to the chief of police in Jakarta.”


Interpol could go fuck itself and so could the Indonesians.

This is my investigation. I’m done asking for permission.


They had not requested Interpol assistance and knew nothing about the Azrael murders.

The Hong Kong police had already made a nuisance of themselves, harassing private citizens on Indonesian territory. Having failed to observe the basic courtesies, Inspector Liu now had the audacity to demand their cooperation, asking them to issue an arrest warrant despite having provided no evidence of any criminal activity by anybody at Villa Mirage.

Inspector Liu (and Interpol) could stick their demands where the sun didn’t shine.

Depressed, Danny returned to his mountainous to-do list, but his heart wasn’t in it. Maybe he should call Céline? She still wasn’t home, which was unlike her. After a fight, she typically stormed off for a few hours then came home a few glasses of wine later ready for a screaming match and some passionate make-up sex.

Pushing the paperwork to one side, a fax cover sheet slipped out of the file; Danny noticed that it was also from Liu’s office in Hong Kong. How had he missed it earlier? Behind the cover sheet was a scanned photograph. It was black and white and grainy. Clearly it had been taken from some distance. It showed a man and a woman on a balcony, embracing. Danny looked at the man closely, scanning what little he could see of his features for any resemblance to Lyle Renalto. It was impossible. The picture quality was too poor. Although there was something familiar about the image. The shape of the head, the stance as the man extended his hand toward the woman—Mrs. Baring, presumably—the way that the facial features looked stretched out, almost as if he were cracking a huge smile…

Danny’s stomach lurched.

Oh my God. No.

It can’t be.

Shaking, he picked up the phone.


MATT DALEY WAS SITTING BY THE pool, enjoying the sunset and sipping one of Mrs. Harcourt’s perfectly mixed gin and tonics, when his cell phone rang. Danny McGuire’s number flashed across the screen.

Damn, thought Matt. He felt guilty about McGuire. Guilty that he’d been avoiding the guy’s calls, guilty that he hadn’t told him about Lisa. He couldn’t fully explain his silence, even to himself. It was just that what he had with Lisa felt so private and so precious, he was scared that once he cracked the door to the outside world, the floodgates would open and the dream would be shattered.

But he had to talk to McGuire at some point. For one thing, there was still a deranged killer out there, a maniac who had to be caught, for Lisa’s sake as much as anyone’s. Bracing himself for the inevitable abuse, he picked up.

“Danny, hi. I’m sorry I’ve been so tough to get hold of.”

“Listen to me very carefully, Matt.” Danny McGuire’s voice sounded strained rather than angry. “You need to get out of there. Right now.”

“Out of where?” Matt laughed. “You don’t even know where I am.”

“You’re in Bali, staying at Lisa Baring’s villa.”

The laugh died on Matt’s lips. How the hell did Danny McGuire know that? “I was going to tell you.”

“Tell me what? That you were lovers?” For the first time a note of anger crept into McGuire’s voice.

“Tell you I was here,” said Matt stiffly. “That I’d met her. For what it’s worth, we aren’t lovers.” Yet.

“It’s not me you have to convince,” said Danny. “It’s Inspector Liu. Were you aware that the Chinese view Lisa Baring as a suspect in her husband’s killing?”

Matt laughed out loud. “That’s insane. Lisa had nothing to do with Miles’s death, and that’s a fact.”

“Is it? Or do you just want it to be?”

It was a warm night, but Matt suddenly felt a distinct chill in the air.

Danny went on: “She had lovers, Matt. At least one that the police are aware of. Possibly more.”


“Matt, listen to me. She brought men to the house for sex while Miles was at work.”

“You’re wrong.” You have to be wrong.

“It gets worse. Liu thinks you’re one of them. His men have been watching the pair of you at the villa. You’ve been under surveillance for weeks now. You were supposed to be lying low and instead you end up a goddamn suspect!”

“A suspect?” Matt spluttered. “That’s ridiculous. I wasn’t even in Hong Kong when Miles Baring was murdered.”

“I know that,” said Danny. “That’s why I’m telling you all this now and not racing to have you arrested like Liu and his men. But you haven’t exactly helped your own cause, my friend.”

“I can’t believe the Chinese have been spying on us,” Matt said indignantly.

At this, Danny lost his temper. “It’s a murder investigation! Hello? You’re not out there on vacation. Or had you forgotten?”

Matt hadn’t forgotten, but he certainly wanted to. He wanted to forget all of what he’d just heard, especially the lies that McGuire had told him about Lisa. He wanted to take Lisa far, far away, to protect her and love her and never have to think about death or pain or betrayal ever again. He tried to keep calm.

“You don’t know Lisa, okay? I do. She would never have cheated on Miles. She just isn’t that sort of person.”

Danny McGuire’s eye roll could practically be heard down the telephone line. “Come on, man…”

“And even if she did, so what?” Matt’s voice grew increasingly desperate. “It doesn’t make her a killer.”

“No, it doesn’t. But it might make her an accomplice.”

“To what, her own rape?”

“Maybe it wasn’t rape. Maybe it was consensual.”

“Take that back,” Matt said quietly.

“I’m sorry,” said Danny, picking up the hurt and anger in Matt’s voice. “I’m not saying this is what I think.”

“I should hope not.”

“I still have no idea what happened that night. But Liu has Lisa in his sights, and he has good reason for it. She did have a boyfriend—still does, for all we know. She was the only person who stood to gain financially from Miles’s death. She instructed her staff not to come to the top floor the night of the attack. She was the only person, other than her husband, who knew how to disable the security alarm. And by the way, it was disabled earlier in the day, if you want to talk about facts. Whoever killed Miles Baring had inside help.”

Matt didn’t want to hear it. “If Liu had enough evidence to arrest Lisa, he’d have done it. But he hasn’t. He’s grasping at straws because he’s got nothing. Just like you had nothing in the investigation of my father’s murder.”

It was a low blow, but Danny had no choice but to suck it up. All he wanted was for Matt Daley to get out of Bali, before this whole thing blew up in both their faces. If anyone linked Matt Daley to Danny McGuire, Operation Azrael would be over and so would Danny’s career.

“Do you remember what you said to me the day we met, in my office in Lyon?” Danny asked.

“‘What kept you so long, you time-wasting bastard’?” quipped Matt.

“After that. You said: ‘It’s the wives. They’re the key to all this.’ Do you remember that?”

“Not Lisa.”

“Why not Lisa?” Danny challenged him. “Because you’re in love with her?”

Yes! “No. Of course not.”

“How long have you known this woman, Matt? A month? Two? Has it occurred to you she might be using you?”

“Hmm, let me see,” said Matt. “She’s a drop-dead gorgeous millionairess; and I’m an out-of-shape, bankrupt, soon-to-be-divorced ex–comedy writer. Yeah, I can see where you’re coming from. She’s definitely using me.”

Danny smiled. Daley was infuriating, but his deadpan humor still hit home.

“I meant, using you for information. You know as much about these murders as the police, if not more. If Lisa’s boyfriend was behind them…”

“He wasn’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Because she doesn’t have a boyfriend! Haven’t you been listening to a word I said?”

Danny’s exasperation got the better of him. “Let me break it down for you. If you don’t get out of that villa—assuming you aren’t hacked to death in your bed by your girlfriend’s lover in the meantime—Liu’s men will arrest you and they will throw you into some stinking Chinese jail, and I will not, repeat not, come riding to your rescue.”

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Categories: Sidney Sheldon