Home > Leverage in Death (In Death #47)(11)

Leverage in Death (In Death #47)(11)
Author: J.D. Robb


“The what? Like the next one coming?”

“Yeah, like the next one coming. But Sunday. They could take the weekend, be back Monday if this is still going hot. Tuesday, maybe, if we nail it—because it goes late, I guess. What I’m saying about that admin kid runs true. We gotta have a life. Don’t say anything yet. Give it a day or two.”

“Fine,” she grumbled as he armed himself with fizzies. “Now I’ve got to ask Roarke, if I decide to spring her, to provide transpo.”

“You oughta talk to Nadine about that. She’s going for sure. She’s probably got something lined up they could hitch to.”

“Maybe. Shit. It’s bad enough she did all this with Icove, now she’s got me reading the manuscript deal for the Red Horse case she’s done.”

“Yeah? How is it?”

Eve’s shoulders sagged. “It’s fucking good. I hate that. I’ve gotta go.”

Oscars, my ass, she thought as she strode away. How was she supposed to think about the freaking Oscars when she had twelve in the morgue? Most of them in pieces.

She put it aside to worry about later, hopped on a glide. And put her brain in the job.

She strode into Homicide, blinked once at the bug-eyed multicolored fish on Jenkinson’s virulent blue tie, and kept on going until she hit the comforting dull colors of her office.

Because the swallow of rat soup still sat uneasy, she locked her door before stepping over to her AutoChef. She programmed an alfalfa power smoothie, her latest hiding place for her candy stash.

“Son of a bitch!” She pulled out an actual alfalfa power smoothie. “Son of candy-stealing bitch of a bastard!”

Not only had the nefarious Candy Thief snatched her chocolate, he/she had taken the time and trouble to replace it with the actual item on the freaking menu.

She had to respect that.

When she caught the son of a bitching bastard—and she would, oh, she would—she’d hang the thief out her window by the heels. Naked.

But she’d do so with respect.

For now, she unlocked her door, programmed black coffee, then set up her book and board.

To satisfy herself, she started a couple of runs while she updated her notes, requested a search and seizure warrant for electronics at Econo’s New York base, and for Willimina Karson’s personal e’s.

She heard Peabody’s familiar clomp as she finished up. “We’re ready when you are, Dallas.”

Eve gathered her files. “The Rogan/Greenspan’s domestic’s husband has a ding back when he was sixteen,” she said as they walked. “Underage drinking at an unsupervised party where the kids were stupid enough to get so loud the neighbors called the cops. Otherwise, he’s clean. He’s worked for the same company for twelve years. They live within their means. And a check on Loren Able verifies everything he told us.”

She walked into the conference room, scanned the board Peabody had set up, approved.

Baxter and Trueheart sat at the conference table. Trueheart, young and earnest, went over his notes with a tube of ginger ale at his elbow. Baxter, slick in his suit, kicked back with cop coffee in one hand while he studied the board.

“A lot of players, LT,” Baxter said.

“There’ll be more to come. I’m getting warrants for Econo. EDD will go through the office data, and Karson’s personal electronics, to start. Pearson’s son and daughter and his wife will be available for interview tomorrow morning. Whitney just informed me his wife and Pearson’s are close friends.”

Baxter winced. “That’s a not good on top of the already bad.”

“What have you got?”

Baxter looked at Trueheart. “Head it up, partner.”

“Sir, we took statements from a total of thirty-three Quantum employees. The company has three floors of offices at that location, and most had been evacuated when we arrived. Those who’d stayed to help the injured or had come back after the all clear we were able to interview. We’ll follow up with the others.”

“We focused initially on what we’ll call Ground Zero,” Baxter continued. “Most who weren’t in the conference room did the skedaddle. Can’t blame them. Some came back—loyalty or curiosity. I’m going to say nobody stood out on the first round. Trueheart’s started a standard run on the full list of employees, so we’ll take a closer look once we have the results.”

“If you knew a bomb was in the building, in the possession of, or on the person of an individual under extreme duress, what would you do?”

“I believe I’d be late for work,” Baxter answered.

“Let’s find out who wasn’t in the building. Who took a sick day, got there late, had a vacation day scheduled. Or just didn’t show up. Cross-check anyone from Econo who missed the meeting, or was, again, late to arrive.”

She pushed back from the table, walked to the board. “We’re looking for two unsubs, likely male. Potentially average height, and in fit condition. We have no other description at this time. However, due to a response text to Rogan’s admin, I lean toward at least one of them having some military training. If so, it strikes as most probable some of that training would be in explosives. And/or one or both of the unsubs has a connection to someone who can create a reliable, effective suicide vest or has the ability to build one himself.”

“Salazar’s good,” Baxter put in. “She should be able to ID some of the components. Bomb builders usually have a style, a signature.”

“We’ll hope for that.” She looked at Peabody. “You’re up.”


Shifting, Peabody swiped her notepad. “I ran it through IRCCA for like crimes. Most uses of these vests are political. But we’ve got a few where they were used in robberies. Usually financials. The closest to this is the abduction of a bank employee, two years ago in Chicago. The abductors strapped him into a vest, forced him to enter the bank. The abductors fitted him with an earbud, and held the controls for the vest on remote. Police responded to a silent alarm, surrounded the bank, but the guy relayed the threat that if anyone left the building, they’d blow the vest.”

“What were the demands?” Eve asked.

“Two hundred and fifty million wired to a numbered account. After four hours of the standoff, the owner of the bank opted to wire the funds. The guy in the vest? His son-in-law, and the father of two of his grandchildren. Once the transfer went through, the robbers contacted the hostage negotiator directly, told him thanks. They cleared the bank, the bomb squad deactivated the vest.”

“They didn’t go boom,” Baxter commented.

“No, and they didn’t get away with it, either. The bank guy, however scared shitless, paid attention. They wore masks, but they sealed up instead of wearing gloves. He caught a tat on the left wrist of the guy who strapped him into the vest.”

“Oh, those identifying marks,” Baxter said with a grin.

“Yeah. Prison tat. And though the second one didn’t say much, the guy recognized his voice. Worked in the bank—and had a brother who’d done time. They tracked down the third guy—the bomb maker—on a beach in Mexico. Bomb signature.

“Anyway, it’s not similar except for the use of the vest and the abduction. Though they snatched the guy on his way to work, strapped him up, sent him in after slapping him around a little.”

“And they didn’t get away with it,” Eve added, studying the board. “Only morons don’t learn from their mistakes or the mistakes of others. No identifying marks, no direct connection to the tool you intend to use. Make him responsible—and make sure it blows. Any more like it?”

“Well, a couple where the bad guys used a dupe like this. We had one in New York about twenty years back, but the bomb went off during negotiations. Faulty switch. Another in Vegas where some bystander tackled the dupe, and boom. Every one I found that wasn’t political was motivated by straight cash, and I didn’t find one that worked.”

“It’s interesting.” Eve walked up and down in front of the board. “Here you have two guys. Could’ve been more who stayed out of sight or never came into the house, but let’s go with two. Two’s smarter, less chance of mistakes or rivalry or leaks. They don’t snag a bank employee—though those assholes played a smart card by grabbing somebody who mattered to the main money guy. They don’t rush it through. Grab, strap, go. They take some time, create fear, layers and layers of it because they’re going to put the control in the victim’s hand.”

“What if he couldn’t do it?” Trueheart asked. “If, even with his family on the line, he couldn’t pull the trigger?”

“They lose the time and effort, but they walk away. They had to have him wired so they’d know what he was doing.”

Stepping to the board, she tapped Melody’s photo. “The kid said they made her call for him, scream for him into a ’link. Record that, play that through an earpiece. And still, if he balks, they walk. Maybe they kill the family, maybe they don’t, but they walk. Mission abort.”

She set it aside to play with later.

“Here’s what Peabody and I have.”

She ran them through the interviews, the evidence, the theories.

“So they’ve been at it since at least December,” Baxter calculated. “Had Rogan as the mark. Maybe had others, too, before they settled on him.”

“I’d say the probability they had others as potentials is high,” Eve agreed. “He suited best.”

“If it came down to balk and walk, what would they lose? A few months’ work,” Baxter considered, “whatever they paid for the e-toys and bomb—or paid a bomb maker. Not that big an investment.”

“What were they investing in?” Trueheart wondered. “I can see a kind of domestic terrorism.”

When he paused, Baxter circled a hand in the air. “Continue, young master.”

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