True blue, p.40
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       True Blue, p.40

           David Baldacci

  “Still nice.”

  Mace was about to shoot off another stinger but paused. “Yeah, maybe it is.”

  “So you really think you need to go to Newark?”

  “The lady lawyer freaked on me when I mentioned that Jamie Meldon had been murdered too after meeting with Diane. She knew him; that was clear.”

  “But if you go there’s no guarantee they’ll see you.”

  “And if I don’t go it’s a hundred percent that they won’t see me. At least if I make the trip I’ll have a shot.”

  “Do you want me to go too?”

  “No, you’ve got your hands full.”

  “What about your work for Altman?”

  “He has no problem with me chilling for a bit. He feels really guilty about Psycho. And he’s been spending a lot of time with Alisha. At least he can get his project off the ground with her.”

  “What about the brother?”

  “He was here and now he’s not.”

  Roy was looking at the screen as he was talking to her. “Wait a minute.” He clicked a function key and split the screen with one document residing in each half.

  Mace leaned forward next to him. “What is it?”

  “On the left is a set of wire transfer instructions that Diane and I did for a deal in the Middle East. Well, the buyer was in the Middle East, but the seller was in Ohio.”

  “What were they selling?”

  “Manufacturing facilities tied to the automotive industry. They made things like windshield wipers, radiators, and stuff. It was part of a string of plants that were bought in five different states in a cluster sale. Happened after all the turmoil in Detroit. Total price was nearly a billion dollars.”

  “There’s that billion number again. So what’s the problem?”

  “Well, the closing instructions we wrote out show where, when, and how the money was supposed to be paid. There were lots of contingencies, recording of deeds for the land, requisite corporate filings with the various state commissions, that sort of thing. It also includes the ABA routing number, bank account, and other required money transfer information.”

  “Roy, you’re putting me to sleep.”

  “Okay, our instruction letter is on this side of the screen. Now, over here is the confirmation we got back from DLT.”

  Mace scanned the page. “I’m no math whiz, but the numbers seem to add up.”

  “Yeah, the dollar figures do, but look at that.” He pointed near the bottom of the page at a long number comprised of many digits.

  “But isn’t that the ABA routing number you mentioned?”

  “It is a routing number, but it’s different than the one on our instruction sheet, and I don’t know what it’s doing here. Now, I know the money for this deal was received by the seller, or else I can assure you we would have heard about it.”

  “So what is that number? A mistake?”

  “I guess it could be.”

  “Okay, how does that help us?”

  “I don’t know, I’m just sort of guessing here. It would be helpful to see the corresponding file or other supporting docs that DLT has.”

  “So do we just go in and ask them for it?” Mace said sarcastically.

  “Maybe there’s another way.”

  “I’m listening.”

  “It’s possible they don’t know I’ve been canned from Shilling. I just talked to someone from DLT yesterday to go over some details of a deal Diane and I were working on. If I call them and set up an appointment to go over there and meet, I might be able to sneak a peek at their records.”

  “But if they are involved in something that got your partner killed, you could be in danger.”

  “I’ve been shot at, chased, threatened, done the two-step with a guy named Psycho, and gotten thrown in jail. All since meeting you,” he added.

  Mace looked uncomfortable.

  “What’s the matter?” he asked.

  “But I was with you when all that happened. You’d be going into DLT solo.”

  “I’m a lawyer, which means I can talk my way out of just about anything.”

  “The thing is, Roy, these people don’t talk. They kill.”


  THANK YOU for seeing me at such a late hour, Beth.”

  Jarvis Burns was seated opposite the chief in her office. He glanced around the room. “May you spend many productive years here.”

  “I’m trying, Jarvis, I’m trying. What’s up? Your call was… “

  “Uninformative?” Burns said. “I don’t like communicating over the phone.”

  “NSA isn’t supposed to spy on Americans’ phone calls, and certainly not on American intelligence agents.”

  “But still, one can never be too safe.” He sat back, lifted his bad leg up, and crossed it over the other. “I won’t waste your time, but I believe I owed you a heads-up.” He paused and then added quietly, “Agents Reiger and Hope are dead.”

  Beth sat forward, her stare piercing. “What the hell happened?”

  “Ambush, apparently. They were beaten—looks like torture, actually—and then their throats were slashed.”

  “Where did it happen?”

  “We’re not sure. The preliminary indicates they were not killed where they were found. Lack of blood and such.” He tapped her desk with his index finger. “They were found in a Dumpster in South Alexandria.”

  “A Dumpster? Same as Jamie Meldon.”

  “Precisely, but not the same method of murder. Knife versus bullet.”

  “You said torture?”

  “Bones broken, sternum cracked. Yes, torture.”

  “It could be Naylor’s cronies. His butt is sitting in jail waiting for trial on domestic terrorism charges.”

  “I’m fully aware of Roman Naylor’s atrocities.”

  “The point is, I told Reiger and Hope that we should have been in on this. We could have worked with them and maybe nailed those assholes.”

  “It wasn’t my call, Beth. Hell, it’s not even my case. I was sent here because we’d previously arranged for Reiger and Hope to fill you in, at least in a limited way. In fact, Director Donnelly insisted on my coming to tell you. I guess he felt obligated in a way. I didn’t really know the two men, but they were still agents of this government. And we’re going to do everything in our power to get the bastards who did this.”

  “Is there anything I can do?”

  “We’re working with the FBI, but I’m going to see if there’s a role you can play.”

  “I’ll be ready and willing to do whatever I can, Jarvis.”

  “I know, and believe me, I won’t forget it.”

  He rose to leave. “Beth, a personal question?”


  “Is it true that your sister was arrested?”

  She eyed him impassively. “How did you hear about that?”

  “Beth, please. If we can’t keep track of what’s going on in our own backyard what chance do we have with the Iranians and North Koreans?”

  “It was a misunderstanding. She was never charged. She said that some people in a car were, uh, shooting at her.”

  “Shooting at her. Where was she?”

  “In D.C. Trinidad.”

  “Trinidad? When?”

  “Middle of the night.”

  “Okay,” Burns said slowly, shaking his head in amazement. “People shoot at each other with some frequency there, particularly at that time of night.”

  “She should’ve known better.”

  “But what in the world was she down there for?”

  “She went back to the place where she was kidnapped. She said she just wanted to see it.”

  “Why would she want to do that?”

  Beth sighed. “I think she has it in her head that if she finds who set her up, she can have her record expunged and can rejoin the force. That’s all she wants, Jarvis. To be a cop again.”

  “Well, I wish her every success with that of course, but it is, well, it is—”

  “A long shot? Yeah, she knows.”

  “And the Tolliver case?”

  “What about it?”

  “There was a false fire alarm there the other night. At the law firm.”

  Beth looked puzzled. “I didn’t think you worried about things like that.”

  “Normally, I wouldn’t. But we have data triggers, Beth. For example, a surge in hospital admissions with folks complaining of symptoms that resemble anthrax exposure coupled with suspicious air quality feed from our sensors in the Metro. So a murder in a Georgetown law firm followed by a false alarm at the same building soon thereafter that wasted a great deal of emergency resources gives me some concern. Flight lessons in Florida where beginner pilots didn’t want to learn how to take off and land? In hindsight perfectly clear, but before 9/11 it seemed trivial, insignificant. Thus I can’t afford to take anything, no matter how small, for granted. So the law firm activity could have been a diversion of some kind.”

  “A diversion for what purpose?”

  “We may not know until it’s too late. I get paid to worry about the entire jigsaw puzzle, Beth. That’s why my gut is full of holes and I’m losing my hair at a rapid pace. Any clue on who pulled the alarm?”

  Beth’s face was unreadable. “Not yet. We’re working on it.”

  “Well, let me know if you have anything.”

  “Will do.”

  “Oh, and tell your sister to just chill, Beth. You lost her for a couple of years already. You don’t want to lose her permanently.”

  As Burns left the building he felt good about himself. He had just given Mace Perry an out. If Mace stood down on this, she got to live. It was her choice. And if she didn’t stand down, it became his choice.


  USING A CREDIT CARD Altman had provided, Mace bought an online train ticket to Newark for the next morning. Then she drove over with Roy to interview the Captain. When they got to the jail, the two received a shock. Mona Danforth and two homicide detectives were talking to the Captain in a small interrogation room. Mona had her legal pad out and was scribbling notes fast.

  Roy nearly kicked the door open after he’d spotted them through the glass and chicken wire window cut in the door.

  “What in the hell are you doing?” he yelled.

  Mona and the cops looked up while the Captain stuffed a whole Twinkie in his mouth.

  “Hey, Roy,” he said between gooey bites.

  “You just blew your whole case!” Roy said to Mona, who just sat there smiling.

  “And you are?” she said smoothly.

  “His lawyer, lady! That’s who I am.”

  Mona’s smile faded. “The name is Mona Danforth, not ‘lady.’ I’m the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. So show some respect.”

  Mace stepped in behind Roy. “Interim attorney, Mona,” she pointed out. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

  “What the hell are you doing here?” Mona exclaimed.

  “She’s here with me, meaning she’s allowed. But you are not. And like I said, you just blew up your whole damn case.”

  “Really? And how exactly did I do that, Mr….?”

  “Kingman. My client has been charged. He has counsel of record. His Sixth Amendment rights have attached. You are not allowed to have any contact with him unless I am present.”

  “Well, you must be a little rusty, Mr. Kingman.”

  “Excuse me?”

  “That was the law. But it’s not anymore. The Supreme Court overturned that requirement. Now if the defendant asks to meet with the police he can do so without his attorney present and no prejudice attaches unless you can prove coercion. I can get you a copy of the opinion if you’d like so you can come up to speed on basic criminal law.”

  “And you’re trying to tell me that he just asked to talk with you?”

  “Why don’t you ask him yourself?” Mona turned to the Captain and patted his hand gently. “Go on, Lou, you can talk to them.”

  “Lou? He’s my client!” shouted Roy. “Not yours!”

  Mace noticed that the poor Captain’s gaze was locked on the lovely prosecutor’s body. Mona’s skirt was short and her blouse open just enough to show some cleavage.

  “Now don’t be mean to hon, Roy,” said the Captain. He gave Mona’s hand a squeeze before she quickly removed it from his reach.

  “She’s not hon,” explained Roy. “She’s the lady who’s trying to put you in prison for the rest of your life, Lou.”

  “She brought me Twinkies.”

  “He asked for them,” Mona said quickly. “And then told my people that he wanted to talk to us.”

  “Did you, Captain?” Mace asked him.

  “I think so, yeah. Twinkie’s damn good. These ain’t stale, Roy, not like them others.”

  Mona stood, as did the two detectives. She said, “Well, I think that wraps it up for now. I’ll give you some alone time with him.”

  “I’m entitled to it by the law, so don’t pretend you’re doing me any favors.” He eyed her full legal pad. “And I’m still filing a motion to suppress anything he might’ve told you. And I’m going to demand a full investigation on this whole damn thing ’cause it stinks, Supreme Court decision or not.”

  “I am curious about one thing,” Mona said imperturbably.

  “What’s that?”

  “Since I’m listing you as a material witness in this case—you did find the body after all and may still be considered a person of interest—how is it that you’re going to represent Mr. Dockery in this matter with such a blatant conflict?”

  Roy looked like someone had just gutted him with a hatchet.

  Mona’s smile deepened. “I can see from your poker face that you really hadn’t thought about that. I tell you what, Roy, I’ll waive any objection I might have to this little point of legal ethics, and if the judge agrees, you can be Mr. Dockery’s lawyer.”

  “And why would you do that?” said Roy cautiously.

  “Oh, you mean the quid pro quo? Well, let’s put it this way, I hate defense counsel’s motions to suppress. And I also hate demands for investigations. I think what we need here is a blank slate.” She stared up at him expectantly, her look about as condescending and triumphant as one face could achieve.

  “So in other words I forget the stunt you just pulled and

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