Sacred Evil

Page 5


“I can be a team player, and you know it.”
“That’s why you’re in charge, Jude. Have you seen the news already?” Green asked.
“Oh, yeah.” He looked at Green across the desk. “Yes, the media is giving the bastard just what he wants. Notoriety.”
“That’s true. Now, as to the team… This unit was established by a man we worked with down here years ago. Adam Harrison. Similar crimes. Attacks on historical properties, and a perp who was in love with Edgar Allan Poe and started killing people like the victims in Poe stories. Anyway, it’s a different thing to go after a man like this, and the head of this team is an agent who worked the behavioral sciences aspect of crimes for years. One of the team is already in transit—the others will be here tomorrow. I’m setting them up with an apartment in Blair House. You’ll actually meet…” He paused for a minute, looking at a memo on his desk. “You’ll meet Miss Whitney Tremont at Blair House at two, get her settled in and then head for the autopsy.”
“I’m taking her to autopsy?”
“I thought Blair House was closed for renovations.”
Green nodded. “It is—the preservationists won’t let the place be torn down, and it’s not due for construction crews to begin work for another few weeks. I want the team in the area. I’ll set up a meeting for you tomorrow with the team and the team head, Special Agent Jackson Crow.”
Jude stood. It was decided, and he knew it. So much for his social life. Wait—he didn’t really have a social life. Since he and Jill had parted last spring, he’d enjoyed three one-night stands and a two-week dating whirl. Actually, he’d had three one-night stands—enjoyed two.
“All right. I want Hannah Mills in Tech.”
“She’s yours.”
Jude nodded again. “And I have priority at autopsy—now, and if this does go further?”
“I just called Fullbright. He’ll be your man, and he will be ready to meet with you at three this afternoon—the autopsy is already scheduled.”
Jude nodded again. “I’m going back to the scene until then. I’ll meet your Miss Tremont at two, and we’ll be at autopsy together at three. And don’t give me that resigned look. I’ll call Ellis and get his team moving, too.”
“You’re the best I’ve got, Jude. And I’m giving you priority all the way,” Green told him.
Jude wasn’t sure he was the best that the deputy chief had. Hell, he’d just watched his partner get shot in a situation that should have never ended as it had.
But this was what he did; he’d known all his life that, like his father and grandfather—and great-grandfather before that—he’d wanted to be a cop. He’d been lucky; he’d gone to college and gotten degrees in criminology and psychology, something his father and grandfather hadn’t been able to acquire. But they’d both been good cops. The kind who put the bad guys away.
This was one bad guy they were going after and they all knew it.
“I’ll do my absolute best, sir,” Jude said.
“I know you will.”
He had been dismissed. He headed straight to Tech Support, where he discovered that Green had put through a call to Hannah Mills. Hannah was excited; she’d never actually spoken directly to Green before.
She was a whiz with computers, and if a piece of information was available anywhere, Hannah could find it. At one time in history, she would have been called a spinster. She was a slender woman with bottle-thick wire glasses, brown hair worn in a bun each day and a mind that could work as quickly as a computer.
“I’m making printouts for you, they’ll be popping out as we speak,” she told Jude.
“She was with the movie crew?” Jude asked.
“She was portraying prostitute Mary Green. She was an extra, I believe, but she had a fair amount of screen time. Maybe even a line or two. Anyway, I have a list for you. The producer, the director, the name of the off-duty officer patrolling…a liaison with the movie and television unit. I think it’s all here. And when you want more, you call me, day or night!” She stood up in her little cubicle and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you, Jude! Thank you for asking for me.”
“Thank you for being a good tech. I do have something for you. I want you to find out all you can about a Captain Tyler, a Vietnam vet.”
“Oh, that Tyler. I thought you meant one of the thousand others on the island of Manhattan.”
“Very funny. This one would have been in and out of local veterans’ hospitals.”
“On it,” she assured him.
“And one more—I want everything you can find about a government group put together by a man named Adam Harrison. Team head is Jackson Crow.”
“The name is familiar. I’ll get right on it.”
Jude returned to lower Broadway, opting to walk back to the scene. On a television screen, through an appliance-shop window, he could see that Deputy Chief Green himself was speaking to the media. He urged citizens to calm down and be vigilant.
He put a in call to Ellis and let him know that he and his group were to join Jude and the feds. Before he had reached the scene of the crime again, he had everyone in motion; they would start with initial interviews of everyone on the movie set. He looked at the list Hannah had given him; he could get one of the feds to make sure that this list and the list that Smith was able to garner matched. Like it or not, he was working with the feds. Might as well make use of them.
With careful steps, he walked from the set to where the body had been found, reimagining the victim’s probable search for a cab, and how the killer had come upon her. All the while he searched for Captain Tyler as well. But though he made new acquaintances with several of the homeless people on the streets, he didn’t find Tyler.
He felt a growing sense of anger.
Someone out there was either amusing himself at the expense of the police, or sincerely thought himself the reincarnation of a legendary killer.
The victim probably hadn’t had time to scream. New York had been teeming with life just blocks away—the population was huge.
Just as it had been in the crowded tenements of Whitechapel and the East End of London.
The killer had probably surprised her; choked her to unconsciousness before slitting her throat.
His phone rang. It was Hannah.
“What’s up? What have you got?”
“Info, but not on the victim—on your team,” Hannah told him.
There was a strange excitement in her voice.
“They’re a special team, all right. They’ve barely been around a year, but they’ve already solved a number of really bizarre cases. Jude—they’re a paranormal team. They don’t just investigate, they appear to talk to ghosts. They’re highly respected for what they’ve done, but they’re also a bit on the outside, even of the FBI itself. Only the head guy, that Jackson Crow, has been a special agent for a long time. But he’s supposed to be one of the best behavioral guys out there. They sound good, really good. But weird, too. You must have heard something about this group. They solved a creepy murder in New Orleans that had to do with all kinds of political corruption.”
“I might have heard something,” he said. He winced. Leave it him to wind up with the “special” team. Which reminded him…
“Thanks, Hannah. I have to meet one of the agents now, and it’s good to be forewarned.”
He hung up. On to meet his spiritualist or medium or whatever. He’d been told he had to work with the team; he would. He’d be polite. He’d spend the days and nights reminding himself that all help was needed at the moment.
The days and nights ahead suddenly seemed extremely long.
Be polite. Collect the “special” agent. And then on to autopsy.
Blair House.
It stood behind a wall and next to an area where a massive construction project seemed to be under way—except that the construction crews didn’t appear to be out. The house was barely a block away from Wall Street, and another block from Broadway, within easy distance of St. Paul’s, Trinity and the World Trade Center site.
Blair House itself was as out of sync with the current pulse of the city as the churches with their early American graveyards.
As far as the financial concerns of humanity went, it only made sense to tear down the old to make way for the new.
But, Whitney Tremont had been glad to hear, Blair House was not going to be torn down. It was slated for a great deal of renovation; federal money was coming in to tend to a federal project—it was said that among the many places George Washington slept, Blair House was one of his favorites.
A low brick wall obscured much of the facade, while wrought-iron detail, tangled with ivy, rose from the wall. She could see the house from the sidewalk only because the driver who had picked her up from the airport had provided her with keys, and she had opened the gate while awaiting her NYPD liaison, Detective Jude Crosby.
The brick path to the house was overgrown, as was the house’s yard area. To the left, there was a charming pagoda overrun with ivy and flowering plants and to the right, a fountain that no longer trickled water was in a similar state.
The house itself was Greek Revival—several steps led up to a porch with fine Ionic columns. The front door was double-wide with etched-glass porticoes.
The off-white paint was peeling. The columns obviously needed help as well.
“It’s not as bad as it looks.”
She turned, startled. She had been giving the house so much attention that she hadn’t noticed the tall man who had walked up to her on the sidewalk.
He was actually hard not to notice; he was a good six foot three and built like a linebacker.
“I wasn’t thinking that it was bad,” she told him. “I was just thinking that it’s beautiful, and I’m glad they’re not tearing it down.” She offered him a hand. “Special Agent Whitney Tremont, Detective Crosby. Thank you for being here.”