Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon

Initially he’d been focusing his own energy on trying to track down Lyle Renalto, unable to shake the idea that Angela Jakes’s lawyer was a key piece of the puzzle. It was Claude Demartin who’d put forward the “lover-killer” theory, although the seeds of Danny’s distrust in Lyle Renalto had been sown more than a decade ago, when first they’d met at Angela’s hospital bedside. But after weeks of intensive digging, trawling through databases in every country connected with Azrael, as well as all the major U.S. cities, he’d drawn a complete and total blank. The first official reference to Lyle Renalto was a tax return filed in Los Angeles just a year before Andrew Jakes was killed. Before that, there was nothing. And a year after the murder, poof, he was gone again, as if he’d never existed.

Angela Jakes’s words on the night of the murder floated back across Danny’s mind. “I have no life.” Lyle Renalto had no life either. Officially, neither Angela nor Lyle had either a past or a future. Looking for some sort of pattern, Danny began digging into the backgrounds of the other victims’ widows, Tracey Henley and Irina Anjou. In both cases it was the same thing. There were marriage certificates, but no birth certificates. No family had ever come forward to search for these missing women, or even officially to report them missing. They too apparently “had no life” before or after the terrible crimes that came to define them.

“Oh, there you are. I’ve been trying to get hold of you all morning.” Mathilde, Danny’s secretary, pounced on him the moment he walked through the door. She ran through the long litany of requests and demands on Danny’s time, the myriad other IRT cases that he’d been neglecting and the names of the various colleagues who were baying for his blood. When she was finally done, Danny headed into his private office. As an afterthought, Mathilde called out to him, “Oh, and Claude Demartin called. He says he has news and would you call him back as soon as possible.”

AT THE PENINSULA, THINGS BEGAN MOVING at lightning speed. Every morning, almost every hour, Lisa Baring had the same thought: I’ve got to stop this. We can’t simply run away. But Matt’s enthusiasm, his self-belief, was so strong and so intoxicating that she allowed herself to be swept along with it, to believe the impossible: that maybe, with him, she could escape. Outrun her destiny. Be happy.

Matt spent the bulk of each morning making Skype calls from his computer. Having decided air travel was too risky, he’d planned a route using only boats and trains, booking under false names and transferring money anonymously via DigiCash from Lisa’s Alpha Offshore account. Matt hoped that, in Asia at least, a hefty bribe would prove an acceptable alternative to picture ID. The plan was for Matt to leave first, in the small hours of the morning. Assuming they were being watched twenty-four hours a day by Inspector Liu’s men, the idea was that Matt’s departure would lure the surveillance crew away from the hotel. He would then have to lose them somewhere on the DLR and head for the harbor. This should provide enough distraction for Lisa to slip out at six A.M., dressed in the plain knee-length blue uniform worn by all the Peninsula maids, hopefully without being noticed.

Lisa asked Matt, “How on earth are we going to get hold of a uniform? Hit some poor girl over the head?”

“No. We’ll ask her nicely. Failing that, we’ll try a fifty-dollar bill and a signed photograph of Matt LeBlanc.”

Lisa laughed out loud.

“You think I’m kidding? Friends is still huge over here.” Sure enough, he pulled a sheaf of publicity head shots out of a drawer. “You’d be amazed how far these go with our Chinese friends. Like cigarettes in jail.”

Lisa shook her head. “So our grand escape plan begins with Joey Tribbiani?”

“Uh-huh. Have some faith, Lise. I know what I’m doing.”

After Lisa’s getaway, the next stage was a fishing boat to the mainland, where a “fixer”—Mr. Ong—had agreed to arrange their passage via the South China Sea and Sunda Strait to Cape Town. From there a long series of overnight train rides would ultimately bear them north. It would be a month at least before they arrived in Casablanca.

“Simple,” said Matt, which made Lisa laugh again, because, of course, the plan was anything but simple. In truth, it was fraught with danger at every turn. But Matt’s confidence was unshakable, and the fantasy too sweet and perfect to resist.

We’ll live anonymously in some tranquil riad, watching the birds flit around the fountain in the courtyard. All will be peace and calm and beauty.

He’ll never find me.

The madness will end.

At nine o’clock the night before they were due to leave, Matt left a sealed envelope with cash at the front desk. Running for his life or not, Matt Daley wasn’t the sort of guy to disappear without paying his bill. Upstairs in their suite, he and Lisa drank a last nightcap of whiskey and settled down for a few short hours of sleep.

The alarm was set for two A.M.

For the plan to work, Matt had to be on his way before three A.M.

CLAUDE DEMARTIN HAD BEEN ON THE autoroute for five straight hours before he took the exit marked Aix-en-Provence. Skirting the ancient city itself, he finally pulled in outside a nondescript light-industrial complex.

Wedged between the autoroute and the railway line, Laboratoire Chaumures was a forensic facility used by all the police forces of southern France. Two days earlier, Danny McGuire had received a call from one of their senior research technicians, confirming that the lab had indeed provided DNA sample analysis on the Anjou murder and rape case last year.

“But there were no such results filed in the police case notes,” said Danny.

The technician sighed. “No. I’m afraid that’s typical. Unless there’s a trial and the prospect of fortune and glory, the Tropezien police’s attitude to evidence preservation is laissez-faire, to say the least.”

Thirty-six hours later, Claude Demartin was meeting the technician face-to-face. His name was Albert Dumas. In his early fifties, tall, thin and angular, with a white lab coat so crisp you could get a paper cut from looking at it, and a pair of round, wire-rimmed glasses perched on the end of his volelike nose, he was instantly recognizable to Demartin as a fellow forensics nerd. The two men took to each other instantly.

“Come inside, Detective.” Dumas pumped Claude Demartin’s hand enthusiastically. “I think you’ll be excited by what we found.”

Inside, the lab was one giant, open-plan space, with a series of glass-enclosed cubicles arranged around the perimeter. Some of these were offices, simple, IKEA-furnished affairs. Others were teaching rooms, set up with whiteboards, benches and laser pointers, and with banks of microscopes neatly arranged along the back walls. Others still were labs. Albert Dumas led Claude Demartin into one of the offices, where a neat stack of printouts sat next to a computer on the desk.

“So the local police kept no record of this data?” asked Claude.

“So your boss told me. I can’t say I was surprised.”

“But you keep your own independent records?”

Dumas sounded offended. “Of course. We have semen analysis, hair analysis, blood work, fingerprints. It’s all here. I’ve run a comparison with the data you sent us from the other cases.”


“The bad news is that the blood work you’ve sent us is pretty much useless.”

Claude frowned. That’s supposed to get me excited?

“The Henley samples had clearly been contaminated somehow in the Scotland Yard lab.”

“How about the Jakes results?”

Albert Dumas flipped through his printouts. “No blood other than the victims’ was found at the Los Angeles crime scene. Which was the same with the Anjou case, by the way.”

“So we’ve got nothing?”

“Not quite. Hong Kong was a little more promising. There were three distinct samples taken from the Barings’ home. But the blood that did not come from the victims themselves was standard type O, I’m afraid.”

“Which narrows our suspect pool to about forty percent of the world population,” Claude Demartin said bleakly. “Terrific. So what’s the good news?”

“Ah, well.” Dumas brightened. “At first I thought there wasn’t any. Most of the fingerprints were compromised, so there were no clear matches there, and the semen results were conflicted.”

“Conflicted how?”

“Both Mrs. Henley and Mrs. Jakes had had intercourse with their husbands on the nights in question, and there was no ejaculation during the Baring rape. That left us with only one decent semen sample: ours, from Irina Anjou. I sent the data to Assistant Director McGuire’s office first thing this morning while you were driving down here, but unfortunately it didn’t match with any of the sex offenders on Interpol’s systems.”

Demartin waited for the “but.” Please let there be a “but.”

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