More Twisted: Collected Stories, Vol. IIby Jeffery Deaver
New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver, “the grand master of the plot twist” (Booklist), is back with more diabolical tales of suspense.
Deaver, author of the Lincoln Rhyme series (The Bone Collector, etc.), crafted first-rate thrills in the story collection Twisted. Here he presents sixteen more/i>/i>/b>/i>/i>
New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver, “the grand master of the plot twist” (Booklist), is back with more diabolical tales of suspense.
Deaver, author of the Lincoln Rhyme series (The Bone Collector, etc.), crafted first-rate thrills in the story collection Twisted. Here he presents sixteen more tales—including an all-new Lincoln Rhyme entry—spawned from his darkly brilliant imagination. From a stressed-out commuter to a death-row inmate, Deaver’s characters are never what they seem—and every jaw-dropping curveball he delivers is nothing less than “ingeniously devious” (People).
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Read an Excerpt
CHAPTER AND VERSE
Reverend . . . can I call you 'Reverend'?"
The round, middle-aged man in the clerical collar smiled. "That works for me."
"I'm Detective Mike Silverman with the County Sheriff's Department."
Reverend Stanley Lansing nodded and examined the ID and badge that the nervously slim, salt-and-pepper-haired detective offered.
"Is something wrong?"
"Nothing involving you, sir. Not directly, I mean. Just hoping you might be able to help us with a situation we have."
"Situation. Hmm. Well, come on inside, please, Officer . . ."
The men walked into the office connected to the First Presbyterian Church of Bedford, a quaint, white house of worship that Silverman had passed a thousand times on his route between office and home and never really thought about.
That is, not until the murder this morning.
Reverend Lansing's office was musty and a gauze of dust covered most of the furniture. He seemed embarrassed. "Have to apologize. My wife and I've been away on vacation for the past week. She's still up at the lake. I came back to write my sermon and to deliver it to my flock this Sunday, of course." He gave a wry laugh. "If there's anybody in the pews. Funny how religious commitment seems to go up around Christmas and then dip around vacation time." Then the man of the cloth looked around the office with a frown. "And I'm afraid I don't have anything to offer you. The church secretary's off too. Although between you and me, you're better off not sampling her coffee."
"No, I'm fine," Silverman said.
"So, what can I do for you, Officer?"
"I won't keep you long. I need some religious expertise on a case we're running. I would've gone to my father's rabbi but my question's got to do with the New Testament. That's your bailiwick, right? More than ours."
"Well," the friendly, gray-haired reverend said, wiping his glasses on his jacket lapel and replacing them, "I'm just a small-town pastor, hardly an expert. But I probably know Matthew, Mark, Luke and John better than your average rabbi, I suspect. Now, tell me how I can help."
"You've heard about the witness protection program, right?"
"Like Goodfellas, that sort of thing? The Sopranos."
"More or less, yep. The U.S. Marshals run the federal program but we have our own state witness protection system."
"Really? I didn't know that. But I guess it makes sense."
"I'm in charge of the program in the county here and one of the people we're protecting is about to appear as a witness in a trial in Hamilton. It's our job to keep him safe through the trial and after we get a conviction we hope then we'll get him a new identity and move him out of the state."
"A Mafia trial?"
"Something like that."
Silverman couldn't go into the exact details of the case how the witness, Randall Pease, a minder for drug dealer Tommy Doyle, had seen his boss put a bullet into the brain of a rival. Despite Doyle's reputation for ruthlessly murdering anyone who was a threat to him, Pease agreed to testify for a reduced sentence on assault, drug and gun charges. The state prosecutor shipped Pease off to Silverman's jurisdiction, a hundred miles from Hamilton, to keep him safe; rumor was that Doyle would do anything, pay any money, to kill his former underling since Pease's testimony could get him the death penalty or put him away for life. Silverman had stashed the witness in a safe house near the Sheriff's Department and put a round-the-clock guard on him. The detective gave the reverend a generic description of what had happened, not mentioning names, and then said, "But there's been a setback. We had a CI a confidential informant "
"That's a snitch, right?"
"I learned that from Law and Order. I watch it every chance I get. CSI too. I love cop shows." He frowned. "You mind if I say 'cop'?"
"Works for me. . . . Anyway, the informant got solid information that a professional killer's been hired to murder our witness before the trial next week."
"A hit man?"
"Oh, my." The reverend frowned as he touched his neck and rubbed it near the stiff white clerical collar, where it seemed to chafe.
"But the bad guys made the snitch found out about him, I mean and had him killed before he could give us the details about who the hit man is and how he planned to kill my witness."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," the reverend said sympathetically. "I'll say a prayer for the man."
Silverman grunted anemic thanks but his true thoughts were that the scurvy little snitch deserved an express-lane ride to hell not only for being a loser punk addict, but for dying before he could give the detective the particulars about the potential hit on Pease. Detective Mike Silverman didn't share with the minister that he himself had been in trouble lately in the Sheriff's Department and had been shipped off to Siberia witness protection because he hadn't closed any major cases in a while. He needed to make sure this assignment went smoothly, and he absolutely could not let Pease get killed.
The detective continued, "Here's where you come in I hope. When the informant was stabbed, he didn't die right away. He managed to write a note about a Bible passage. We think it was a clue as to how the hit man was going to kill our witness. But it's like a puzzle. We can't figure it out."
The reverend seemed intrigued. "Something from the New Testament, you said?"
"Yep," Silverman said. He opened his notebook. "The note said, 'He's on his way. Look out.' Then he wrote a chapter and verse from the Bible. We think he was going to write something else but he didn't get a chance. He was Catholic so we figure he knew the bible pretty well and knew something in particular in that passage that'd tell us how the hit man's going to come after our witness."
The reverend turned around and looked for a Bible on his shelf. Finally he located one and flipped it open. "What verse?"
"Luke, twelve, fifteen."
The minister found the passage and read. "'Then to the people he said, 'Beware! Be on your guard against greed of every kind, for even when someone has more than enough, his possessions do not give him life.'"
"My partner brought a Bible from home. He's Christian, but he's not real religious, not a Bible-thumper. . . . Oh, hey, no offense."
"None taken. We're Presbyterians. We don't thump."
Silverman smiled. "He didn't have any idea of what that might mean. I got to thinking about your church it's the closest one to the station house so I thought I'd stop by and see if you can help us out. Is there anything in there you can see that'd suggest how the defendant might try to kill our witness?"
The reverend read some more from the tissue-thin pages. "This section is in one of the Gospels where different disciples tell the story of Jesus. In chapter twelve of Luke, Jesus is warning the people about the Pharisees, urging them not to live a sinful life."
"Who were they exactly, the Pharisees?"
"They were a religious sect. In essence they believed that God existed to serve them, not the other way around. They felt they were better than everyone else and put people down. Well, that was the story back then you never know, of course, if it's accurate. People did just as much political spinning then as they do now." Reverend Lansing tried to turn on the desk lamp but it didn't work. He fiddled with the curtains, finally opening them and letting more light into the murky office. He read the passage several times more, squinting in concentration, nodding. Silverman looked around the dim place. Books mostly. It seemed more like a professor's study than a church office. No pictures or anything else personal. You'd think even a minister would have pictures of family on his desk or walls.
Finally the man looked up. "So far, nothing really jumps out at me." He seemed frustrated.
Silverman felt the same way. Ever since the CI had been found stabbed to death that morning, the detective had been wrestling with the words from the gospel according to Luke, trying to decipher the meaning.
Beware! . . .
Reverend Lansing continued, "But I have to say, I'm fascinated with the idea. It's just like The Da Vinci Code. You read it?"
"It was great fun. All about secret codes and hidden messages. Say, if it's okay with you, Detective, I'd like to spend some time researching, doing some thinking about this. I love puzzles."
"I'd appreciate it, Reverend."
"I'll do what I can. You have that man under pretty good guard, I assume?"
"Oh, you bet, but it'll be risky getting him to court. We've got to figure out how the hit man's going to come at him."
"And the sooner the better, I assume."
"I'll get right to it."
Grateful for the man's willingness to help, but discouraged he had no quick answers, Silverman walked out through the silent, deserted church. He climbed into his car and drove to the safe house, checked on Ray Pease. The witness was his typical obnoxious self, complaining constantly, but the officer babysitting him reported that there'd been no sign of any threats around the safe house. The detective then returned to the department.
In his office Silverman made a few calls to see if any of his other CIs had heard about the hired killer; they hadn't. His eyes kept returning to the passage, taped up on the wall in front of his desk.
"Beware! Be on your guard against greed of every kind, for even when someone has more than enough, his possessions do not give him life."
A voice startled him. "Wanta get some lunch?"
He looked up to find his partner, Steve Noveski, standing in the doorway. The junior detective, with a pleasant, round baby face, was staring obviously at his watch.
Silverman, still lost in the mysterious Bible passage, just stared at him.
"Lunch, dude," Noveski repeated. "I'm starving."
"Naw, I've gotta get this figured out." He tapped the Bible. "I'm kind of obsessed with it."
"Like, you think?" the other detective said, packing as much sarcasm into his voice as would fit.
That night Silverman returned home and sat distractedly through dinner with his family. His widower father had joined them, and the old man wasn't pleased that his son was so preoccupied.
"And what's that you're reading that's so important? The New Testament?" The man nodded toward the Bible he'd seen his son poring over before dinner. He shook his head and turned to his daughter-in-law. "The boy hasn't been to temple in years and he couldn't find the Pentateuch his mother and I gave him if his life depended on it. Now look, he's reading about Jesus Christ. What a son."
"It's for a case, Dad," Silverman said. "Listen, I've got some work to do. I'll see you guys later. Sorry."
"See you later sorry?" the man muttered. "And you say 'you guys' to your wife? Don't you have any respect "
Silverman closed the door to his den, sat down at his desk and checked messages. The forensic scientist testing the murdered CI's note about the Bible passage had called to report there was no significant evidence to be found on the sheet and neither the paper nor the ink were traceable. A handwriting comparison suggested that it had been written by the victim but he couldn't be one hundred percent certain.
And, as the hours passed, there was still no word from Reverend Lansing. Sighing, Silverman stretched and stared at the words once again.
"Beware! Be on your guard against greed of every kind, for even when someone has more than enough, his possessions do not give him life."
He grew angry. A man died leaving these words to warn them. What was he trying to say?
Silverman had a vague memory of his father saying good-bye that night and later still an even more vague memory of his wife saying good night, the den door closing abruptly. She was mad. But Michael Silverman didn't care. All that mattered at the moment was finding the meaning to the message.
Something the reverend had said that afternoon came back to him. The Da Vinci Code. A code . . . Silverman thought about the snitch: The man hadn't been a college grad but he was smart in his own way. Maybe he had more in mind than the literal meaning of the passage; could it be that the specifics of his warning were somehow encoded in the letters themselves?
It was close to four a.m. but Silverman ignored his exhaustion and went online. He found a website about word games and puzzles. In one game you made as many words as you could out of the first letters from a saying or quotation. Okay, this could be it, Silverman thought excitedly. He wrote down the first letters of each of the words from Luke 12:15 and began rearranging them.
He got several names: Bob, Tom, Don . . . and dozens of words: Gone, pen, gap . . .
Well, Tom could refer to Tommy Doyle. But he could find no other clear meaning in the words or any combination of them.
What other codes were there he might try?
He tried an obvious one: assigning numbers to the letters, A equaled 1, B 2 and so on. But when he applied the formula all he ended up with were sheets of hundreds of random digits. Hopeless, he thought. Like trying to guess a computer password.
Then he thought of anagrams where the letters of a word or phrase are rearranged to make other words. After a brief search on the web he found a site with an anagram generator, a software program that let you type in a word and a few seconds later spit out all the anagrams that could be made from it.
For hours he typed in every word and combination of words in the passage and studied the results. At six a.m., utterly exhausted, Silverman was about to give up and fall into bed. But as he was arranging the printouts of the anagrams he'd downloaded, he happened to glance at one the anagrams that the word possessions had yielded: open, spies, session, nose, sepsis . . .
Something rang a bell.
"Sepsis?" he wondered out loud. It sounded familiar. He looked the word up. It meant infection. Like blood poisoning.
He was confident that he was on to something and, excited, he riffled through the other sheets. He saw that "greed" incorporated "Dr."
And the word "guard" produced "drug."
Okay, he thought in triumph. Got it!
Detective Mike Silverman celebrated his success by falling asleep in his chair.
He awoke an hour later, angry at the loud engine rattling nearby until he realized the noise was his own snoring.
The detective closed his dry mouth, winced at the pain in his back and sat up. Massaging his stiff neck, he staggered upstairs to the bedroom, blinded by the sunlight pouring through the French doors.
"Are you up already?" his wife asked blearily from bed, looking at his slacks and shirt. "It's early."
"Go back to sleep," he said.
After a fast shower he dressed and sped to the office. At eight a.m. he was in his captain's office, with his partner, Steve Noveski, beside him.
"I've figured it out."
"What?" his balding, joweled superior officer asked.
Noveski glanced at his partner with a lifted eyebrow; he'd just arrived and hadn't heard Silverman's theory yet.
"The message we got from the dead CI how Doyle's going to kill Pease."
The captain had heard about the biblical passage but hadn't put much stock in it. "So how?" he asked skeptically.
"Doctors," Silverman announced.
"I think he's going to use a doctor to try to get to Pease."
Silverman told him about the anagrams.
"Like crossword puzzles?"
Noveski said nothing but he too seemed skeptical of the idea.
The captain screwed up his long face. "Hold on here. You're saying that here's our CI and he's got a severed jugular and he's playing word games?"
"Funny how the mind works, what it sees, what it can figure out."
"Funny," the senior cop muttered. "Sounds a little, whatsa word, contrived, you know what I mean?"
"He had to get us the message and he had to make sure that Doyle didn't tip to the fact he'd alerted us. He had to make it, you know, subtle enough so Doyle's boys wouldn't figure out what he knew, but not so subtle that we couldn't guess it."
"I don't know."
Silverman shook his head. "I think it works." He explained that Tommy Doyle had often paid huge fees to brilliant, ruthless hit men who'd masquerade as somebody else to get close to their unsuspecting victims. Silverman speculated that the killer would buy or steal a doctor's white jacket and get a fake ID card and a stethoscope or whatever doctors carried around with them nowadays. Then a couple of Doyle's cronies would make a halfhearted attempt on Pease's life they couldn't get close enough to kill him in the safe house, but causing injury was a possibility. "Maybe food poisoning." Silverman explained about the sepsis anagram. "Or maybe they'd arrange for a fire or gas leak or something. The hit man, disguised as a med tech, would be allowed inside and kill Pease there. Or maybe the witness would be rushed to the hospital and the man'd cap him in the emergency room."
The captain shrugged. "Well, you can check it out provided you don't ignore the grunt work. We can't afford to screw this one up. We lose Pease and it's our ass."
The pronouns in those sentences may have been first person plural but all Silverman heard was a very singular "you" and "your."
In the hallway on their way back to his office Silverman asked his partner, "Who do we have on call for medical attention at the safe house?"
"I don't know, a team from Forest Hills Hospital, I'd guess."
"We don't know who?" Silverman snapped.
"I don't, no."
"Well, find out! Then get on the horn to the safe house and tell the babysitter if Pease gets sick for any reason, needs any medicine, needs a goddamn bandage, to call me right away. Do not let any medical people see him unless we have a positive ID and I give my personal okay."
"Then call the supervisor at Forest Hills and tell him to let me know stat if any doctors or ambulance attendants or nurses anybody don't show up for work or call in sick or if there're some doctors around that he doesn't recognize."
The young man peeled off into his office to do what Silverman had ordered and the senior detective returned to his own desk. He called a counterpart at the county sheriff's office in Hamilton and told him what he suspected and added that they had to be on the lookout for any medical people who were close to Pease.
The detective then sat back in his chair, rubbing his eyes and massaging his neck. He was more and more convinced he was right, that the secret message left by the dying informant was pointing toward a killer masquerading as a health care worker. He picked up the phone again. For several hours, he nagged hospitals and ambulance services around the county to find out if all of their people and vehicles were accounted for.
As the hour neared lunchtime, his phone rang.
"Silverman." The captain's abrupt voice instantly killed the detective's sleep-deprivation haze; he was instantly alert. "We just had an attempt on Pease."
Silverman's heart thudded. He sat forward. "He okay?"
"Yeah. Somebody in an SUV fired thirty, forty shots through the front windows of the safe house. Steel-jacketed rounds, so they got through the armored glass. Pease and his guard got hit with some splinters, but nothing serious. Normally we'd send 'em to the hospital but I was thinking about what you said, about the killer pretending to be a tech or doctor, so I thought it was better to bring Pease straight here, to Detention. I'll have our sawbones look 'em both over."
"We'll keep him here for a day or two and then send him up to the federal WP facility in Ronanka Falls."
"And have somebody head over to the Forest Hills emergency room and check out the doctors. Doyle's hired gun might be thinking we'd send him there and be waiting."
"Already ordered," the captain said.
"When'll Pease get here?"
"I'll have the lockup cleared." He hung up, rubbed his eyes again. How the hell had Doyle found out the location of the safe house? It was the best-kept secret in the department. Still, since no one had been seriously injured in the attack, he allowed himself another figurative pat of self-congratulations. His theory was being borne out. The shooter hadn't tried to kill Pease at all, just shake him up and cause enough carnage to have him dive to the floor and scrape an elbow or get cut by flying glass. Then off to the ER and straight into the arms of Doyle's hit man.
He called the Detention supervisor at the jail and arranged to have the existing prisoners in the holding cell moved temporarily to the town police station, then told the man to brief the guards and warn them to make absolutely certain they recognized the doctor who was going to look over Pease and his bodyguard.
"I already did. 'Causa what the captain said, you know."
Silverman was about to hang up when he glanced at the clock. It was noon, the start of second guard shift. "Did you tell the afternoon-shift personnel about the situation?"
"Oh. Forgot. I'll do it now."
Silverman hung up angrily. Did he have to think of everything himself?
He was walking to his door, headed for the Detention Center intake area to meet Pease and his guard, when his phone buzzed. The desk sergeant told him he had a visitor. "It's a Reverend Lansing. He said it's urgent that he sees you. He said to tell you that he's figured out the message. You'd know what he means."
"I'll be right there."
Silverman grimaced. As soon as he'd figured out what the passage meant that morning the detective had planned to call the minister and tell him they didn't need his help any longer. But he'd forgotten all about it. Shit. . . . Well, he'd do something nice for the guy maybe donate some money to the church or take the reverend out to lunch to thank him. Yeah, lunch would be good. They could talk about TV cop shows.
The detective met Reverend Lansing at the front desk. Silverman greeted him with a wince, noticing how exhausted he looked. "You get any sleep last night?"
The minister laughed. "Nope. Just like you, looks like."
"Come on with me, Reverend. Tell me what you came up with." He led the man down the corridor toward intake. He decided he'd hear what the man had to say. Couldn't hurt.
"I think I've got the answer to the message."
"Well, I was thinking that we shouldn't limit ourselves just to the verse fifteen itself. That one's just a sort of introduction to the parable that follows. I think that's the answer."
Silverman nodded, recalling what he'd read in Noveski's Bible. "The parable about the farmer?"
"Exactly. Jesus tells about a rich farmer who has a good harvest. He doesn't know what to do with the excess grain. He thinks he'll build bigger barns and figures he'll spend the rest of his life enjoying what he's done. But what happens is that God strikes him down because he's greedy. He's materially rich but spiritually impoverished."
"Okay," Silverman said. He didn't see any obvious message yet.
The reverend sensed the cop's confusion. "The point of the passage is greed. And I think that might be the key to what that poor man was trying to tell you."
They got to the intake dock and joined an armed guard who was awaiting the arrival of the armored van carrying Pease. The existing prisoners in the lockup, Silverman learned, weren't all in the transport bus yet for the transfer to the city jail.
"Tell 'em to step on it," Silverman ordered and turned back to the minister, who continued his explanation.
"So I asked myself, what's greed nowadays? And I figured it was Enron, Tyco, CEOs, internet moguls. . . . And Cahill Industries."
Silverman nodded slowly. Robert Cahill was the former head of a huge agri-business complex. After selling that company he'd turned to real estate and had put up dozens of buildings in the county. The man had just been indicted for tax evasion and insider trading.
"Successful farmer," Silverman mused. "Has a big windfall and gets in trouble. Sure. Just like the parable."
"It gets better," the minister said excitedly. "There was an editorial in the paper a few weeks ago I tried to find it but couldn't about Cahill. I think the editor cited a couple of Bible passages about greed. I can't remember which but I'll bet one of them was Luke twelve, fifteen."
Standing on the intake loading dock, Silverman watched the van carrying Randy Pease arrive. The detective and the guard looked around them carefully for any signs of threats as the armored vehicle backed in. Everything seemed clear. The detective knocked on the back door, and the witness and his bodyguard hurried out onto the intake loading dock. The van pulled away.
Pease started complaining immediately. He had a small cut on his forehead and a bruise on his cheek from the attack at the safe house but he moaned as if he'd fallen down a two-story flight of stairs. "I want a doctor. Look at this cut. It's already infected, I can tell. And my shoulder is killing me. What's a man gotta do to get treated right around here?"
Cops grow very talented at ignoring difficult suspects and witnesses, and Silverman hardly heard a word of the man's whiny voice.
"Cahill," Silverman said, turning back to the minister. "And what do you think that means for us?"
"Cahill owns high-rises all over town. I was wondering if the way you're going to drive your witness to the courthouse would go past any of them."
"So a sniper could be on top of one of them." The reverend smiled. "I didn't actually think that up on my own. I saw it in a TV show once."
A chill went through Silverman's spine.
He lifted his eyes from the alley. A hundred yards away was a high-rise from whose roof a sniper would have a perfect shot into the intake loading dock where Silverman, the minister, Pease and the two guards now stood. It could very well be a Cahill building.
"Inside!" he shouted. "Now."
They all hurried into the corridor that led to the lockup and Pease's babysitter slammed the door behind them. Heart pounding from the possible near miss, Silverman picked up a phone at the desk and called the captain. He told the man the reverend's theory. The captain said, "Sure, I get it. They shoot up the safe house to flush Pease, figuring they'd bring him here and then put a shooter on the high-rise. I'll send a tactical team to scour it. Hey, bring that minister by when you've got Pease locked down. Whether he's right or not, I want to thank him."
"Will do." The detective was miffed that the brass seemed to like this idea better than the anagrams, but Silverman'd accept any theory as long as it meant keeping Pease alive.
As they waited in the dim corridor for the lockup to empty out, skinny, stringy-haired Pease began complaining again, droning on and on. "You mean there was a shooter out there and you didn't fucking know about it, for Christ's sake, oh, sorry about the language, Father. Listen, you assholes, I'm not a suspect, I'm the star of this show, without me "
"Shut the hell up," Silverman snarled.
"You can't talk to me "
Silverman's cell phone rang and he stepped away from the others to take the call. "'Lo?"
"Thank God you picked up." Steve Noveski's voice was breathless. "Where's Pease?"
"He's right in front of me," Silverman told his partner. "He's okay. There's a tac team looking for shooters in the building up the street. What's up?"
"Where's that reverend?" Noveski said. "The desk log doesn't show him signing out."
"Here, with me."
"Listen, Mike, I was thinking what if the CI didn't leave that message from the Bible."
"Then who did?"
"What if it was the hit man himself? The one Doyle hired."
"The killer? Why would he leave a clue?"
"It's not a clue. Think about it. He wrote the biblical stuff himself and left it near the body, as if the CI had left it. The killer'd figure we'd try to find a minister to help us figure it out but not just any minister, the one at the church that's closest to the police station."
Silverman's thoughts raced to a logical conclusion. Doyle's hit man kills the minister and his wife at their summer place on the lake and masquerades as the reverend. The detective recalled that the church office had nothing in it that might identify the minister. In fact, he seemed to remember that the man had trouble even finding a Bible and didn't seem to know his desk lamp bulb was burned out. In fact, the whole church was deserted and dusty.
He continued the logical progression of events: Doyle's boys shoot up the safe house and we bring Pease here for safekeeping at the same time the reverend shows up with some story about greed and a real estate developer and a sniper just to get close to Silverman . . . and to Pease!
He understood suddenly: There was no secret message. He's on his way. Look out Luke 12:15. It was meaningless. The killer could've written any biblical passage on the note. The whole point was to have the police contact the phony reverend and give the man access to the lockup at the same time that Pease was there.
And I led him right to his victim!
Dropping the phone and pulling his gun from its holster, Silverman raced up the hall and tackled the reverend. The man cried out in pain and gasped as the fall knocked the wind from his lungs. The detective pushed his gun into the hit man's neck. "Don't move a muscle."
"What're you doing?"
"What's wrong?" Pease's guard asked.
"He's the killer! He's one of Doyle's men!"
"No, I'm not. This is crazy!"
Silverman cuffed the fake minister roughly and holstered his gun. He frisked him and didn't find any weapons but figured he'd probably intended to grab one of the cops' own guns to kill Pease and the rest of them.
The detective yanked the minister to his feet and handed him off to the intake guard. He ordered, "Take him to an interrogation room. I'll be there in ten minutes. Make sure he's shackled."
"You can't do this!" the reverend shouted as he was led away roughly. "You're making a big mistake."
"Get him out of here," Silverman snapped.
Pease eyed the detective contemptuously. "He coulda killed me, you asshole."
Another guard ran up the corridor from intake. "Problem, Detective?"
"We've got everything under control. But see if the lockup's empty yet. I want that man inside ASAP!" Nodding toward Pease.
"Yessir," the guard said and hurried to the intercom beside the security door leading to the cells.
Silverman looked back down the corridor, watching the minister and his escort disappear through a doorway. The detective's hands were shaking. Man, that was a close one. But at least the witness is safe.
And so is my job.
Still have to answer a hell of a lot of questions, sure, but
"No!" a voice cried behind him.
A sharp sound, like an axe in a tree trunk, resounded in the corridor, then a second, accompanied by the acrid smell of burnt gunpowder.
The detective spun around, gasping. He found himself staring in shock at the intake guard who'd just joined them. The young man held an automatic pistol mounted with a silencer and he was standing over the bodies of the men he'd just killed: Ray Pease and the cop who'd been beside him.
Silverman reached for his own gun.
But Doyle's hit man, wearing a perfect replica of a Detention Center guard's uniform, turned his pistol on the detective and shook his head. In despair Silverman realized that he'd been partly right. Doyle's people had shot up the safe house to flush out Pease but not to send him to the hospital; they knew the cops would bring him to the jail for safekeeping.
The hit man looked up the corridor. None of the other guards had heard or otherwise noticed the killings. The man pulled a radio from his pocket with his left hand, pushed a button and said, "It's done. Ready for the pickup."
"Good," came the tinny reply. "Right on schedule. We'll meet you in front of the station."
"Got it." He put the radio away.
Silverman opened his mouth to plead with the killer to spare his life.
But he fell silent, then gave a faint, despairing laugh as he glanced at the killer's name badge and he realized the truth that the dead snitch's message hadn't been so mysterious after all. The CI was simply telling them to look out for a hit man masquerading as a guard whose first name was what Silverman now gaped at on the man's plastic name plate: "Luke."
And, as for the chapter and verse, well, that was pretty simple too. The CI's note meant that the killer was planning the hit shortly after the start of the second shift, to give himself fifteen minutes to find where the prisoner was being held.
Right on schedule . . .
The time on the wall clock was exactly 12:15.
Copyright © 2006 by Jeffery Deaver
Meet the Author
Jeffery Deaver is the international, #1 bestselling author of more than twenty-seven suspense novels, including The Bone Collector, which was made into a film starring Denzel Washington. He lives in North Carolina.
- Washington, D.C.
- Date of Birth:
- May 6, 1950
- Place of Birth:
- Chicago, Illinois
- B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law
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