Jason Arnott had awakened late on Sunday morning with flulike symptoms and decided not to go to the Catskill house as planned. Instead he spent the day in bed, getting up only long enough to prepare some light food for himself. It was at times such as this that he regretted not having a live-in housekeeper.

On the other hand, he thoroughly enjoyed the privacy of having the house to himself without someone underfoot. He brought books and newspapers to his room and spent the day reading, in between sipping orange juice and dozing.

Every few hours, however, he compulsively pulled out the FBI flyer to reassure himself that no one could possibly tie him to that grainy caricature of a picture.

By Monday evening he was feeling much better and had completely convinced himself that the flyer was not a threat. He reminded himself that even if an FBI agent showed up at the door to subject him to routine questioning because he had been one of the guests at a Hamilton party, they would never be able to connect him to the theft.

Not with that picture. Not with his phone records. Not with a single antique or painting in this house. Not with the most scrupulous financial check. Not even with the reservation at the hotel in Washington the weekend of the robbery at the Hamilton home, since he had used one of his fake identities when he checked in.

There was no question. He was safe. He promised himself that tomorrow, or certainly by Wednesday, he would drive up to the Catskills and spend a few days enjoying his treasures.

Jason could not know that the FBI agents had already obtained a court order allowing them to tap his phone and were now quietly surveying his house. He could not know that from now on he wouldn’t make a single move without being observed and without being followed.