‘So, have you come to apologize?’
Anna Friedrich lounges back in her expensive white leather sofa and crosses her impossibly long legs. Doyle tries not to let himself be distracted by those legs, but it’s difficult when they’re so naked and exposed. Not that she’s indecent in any way. She is wearing a baggy woolen sweater and a band of black material that at least has pretensions of being a skirt. But those legs do tend to dominate the view. He thinks it must be like being an umpire at a tennis match for nudists. How the hell can you be expected to keep score?
‘Apologize for what, Ms Friedrich?’
‘For the way you treated Andrew? For the way you tried to label him as a criminal?’
‘We were doing our job. You know better than most that we had to ask him those questions.’
‘There are ways of asking.’
‘He was linked with two murder victims. It was important that we got to the truth.’
‘Yes, well, you didn’t, did you? Because if you had, Andrew would still be alive.’
Doyle didn’t come here for an argument. To curtail it, he drags his gaze away from Anna Friedrich and her legs, and sets it free to wander around the room. In response, the room shouts money back at him. Doyle doesn’t think he could even afford the wallpaper: it would probably cost less to paper the room in hundred-dollar bills. There’s enough scarce hardwood in the furniture here to make conservationists weep. And the carpet is so plush it makes him feel as though he has bath sponges tied to his feet.
‘Your boyfriend working today?’
‘Yes. In Saudi Arabia.’
‘Boy, that’s some commute.’
She doesn’t smile. ‘He’s in the oil business. He’s over there a lot.’
‘Shaking it with the sheikhs, huh? I bet it’s hot out there right now.’
‘Detective, do you really want to get into a discussion about climates, or is there another purpose to your visit here this afternoon?’
‘Actually I came to ask you about your ex-husband.’
‘Why? Are you still trying to pin the earlier murders on him?’
‘No. But I do want to find out who killed him.’
‘Really? Then I suggest your time would be better spent elsewhere. I have already been interviewed by the police. Several times, in fact. I have told them everything I can.’
‘Everything. No, Andrew did not have any enemies. No, he was never threatened to my knowledge. No, he did not have any financial worries. No, he did not tell me of any meetings arranged at his apartment on the night of his murder. No, he-’
‘Did he know any Indians?’
She stares at him. ‘What?’
‘Did he know any Indian people? I’m thinking psychologists here. Indian psychologists.’
She continues to stare. ‘Are you trying to be funny, Detective? Throwing out random questions like that just to prove a point? What’s next? Are you going to ask me if he ever ate pistachio ice cream on a Friday? If you’ve come here just to piss me off, then I should warn you-’
‘Actually I’m serious.’
She is silent for a moment while she searches Doyle’s face.
‘You really want to know if Andrew knew any Indian psychologists?’
Another pause. ‘All right. Well, then, I guess the answer is probably yes.’
‘Andrew was a renowned and well-connected psychotherapist. He attended many conferences and worked with many people. My guess is that he probably had professional dealings with people who were from India.’
‘But nobody specific that you can think of? No close friends that you were ever introduced to?’
‘No. Not that I can recall.’
Damn, thinks Doyle.
‘Okay, I got another one for you. Mount Sinai Hospital. Did your husband ever do any work there?’
‘No. I don’t know. Why are you-’
‘What about Indian doctors at Mount Sinai?’
‘Enough! Detective Doyle, what the hell are you doing here? I am on the edge of picking up my phone and calling your superiors. What the fuck is this?’
Doyle thinks he should go now. This is getting him nowhere. What’s stopping him is that he has more questions in his pocket. The problem is, Anna Friedrich isn’t going to supply him with answers. Not as things stand. She’s a lawyer. She knows how cops work. With most people, Doyle could get away with claiming that he’s merely pursuing something that cropped up during the investigation. But that won’t wash with this lady. She’s too smart and too savvy for that.
‘I. . I’m trying to make a connection.’
‘Well you’re going the wrong way about it, Detective. You really think this is the way to establish a rapport with me?’
Doyle almost cracks a smile. ‘Uh, no. I don’t mean a connection between us. I mean between the victims.’
Friedrich waves a hand as if to say,
‘I thought we already discussed your fanciful connection. In your interrogation room. Back when Andrew was still alive and you still had someone you could harass.’
‘Yeah. Yeah, I know. But. . but I still think there’s something.’
‘We’ve been through this. The only concrete thing you had was that the murdered ex-cop was once a client of Andrew’s for a very brief time. And before you say anything, I still don’t believe that the Mellish girl ever even met Andrew, let alone had some kind of secret liaisons with him. He told me he didn’t know her, and I believe him. So that’s it. That’s all you have. And what it doesn’t do is get you any closer to finding my ex-husband’s murderer. So now, if you wouldn’t mind. .’
She uncrosses her legs, starts to rise. She’s about to show him the door.
‘That’s not all,’ he says, and he surprises himself by how loudly and firmly he says it.
‘It’s not all I have. I think there’s more to it.’
She lowers herself onto the sofa again. ‘What do you mean?’
Doyle says nothing.
‘Detective? What do you mean, there’s more to it?’
Go now, Doyle tells himself. Get out of here. Before you say something that will land you in deep shit. This woman’s a lawyer. A good lawyer. One false move with her and she’ll have you licking her shoes.
But he finds himself unable to get up from his chair.
He says, ‘I think it goes wider than most people think. Beyond the three victims you’ve just mentioned.’
She shakes her head, clearly mystified. ‘What are you talking about?’
‘There have been other murders recently. You may have read about them or heard about them on the news. All over the city. Totally different MOs. Nothing to tie them together. Nothing obvious, anyhow.’
‘Okay, so all the more reason for you to get one off the books by finding my husband’s killer, wouldn’t you say?’
‘That’s not what I mean. I think there’s someone. . someone out there.’
‘Someone out. . Who? Detective, you’re making absolutely no-’
And then the lightning bolt strikes. He sees it in her face, the way her mouth drops open.
‘You’ve got to be shitting me. A serial killer? You’re talking about a serial killer?’
Doyle’s nod is a subtle one. He almost can’t believe it himself when it’s stated so clearly, so baldly.
She says, ‘Let me be clear about this. The NYPD is now of the opinion that a number of murders recently committed in this city were the work of one person, and my ex-husband was one of his victims. Have I got that right?’
‘Uhm, not exactly.’
‘Not exactly? How not exactly?’
‘It’s not the official line of the NYPD that these murders are the work of a serial killer.’
‘Okay, I get the picture. They don’t want to panic the city. But
In response, Doyle puts out his hand and waggles it from side to side, a pained look on his face.
She says, ‘Jesus Christ, Detective. This is like talking to Lassie. A little help here, if you please. You want a crayon so that you can draw me a picture?’
‘It’s not what the NYPD believes. It’s what I believe.’
‘You. Just you?’
The room goes silent. Doyle is not sure which way this will go. He suspects she is probably wishing for her ex-husband to be back in the room. Someone who knows about people who are one sandwich short of a picnic.
She says, ‘Why? Why do you believe that?’
He shrugs. ‘A hunch. A feeling.’
‘Uh-huh. Tell me, do you hear voices in your head at night? Can you tell what dogs are saying when they bark? What do your police buddies think about this hunch of yours?’
Doyle casts his mind back to when Cesario slapped him on the arm and said it was worth a shot.
‘Not a lot.’
Friedrich smacks her lips. ‘Great. So you’re flying solo. You’re ignoring the advice of your Department, refusing to follow their example, and instead you’re following up your own half-baked theories. Actually, scratch that. Theory is too grand a term for this. You’re relying on intuition. You’re clutching at straws, scrabbling for a connection that isn’t there. Hence all the bizarre questions about Indian psychologists and hospitals. You want there to be a link so that you can tell yourself you’re right. It doesn’t matter how insignificant that common thread is, as long as it exists. It doesn’t matter that it won’t help you solve any of these murders. You just want to prove something. Isn’t that right, Detective?’
‘No. That’s not right.’ But she has wounded his confidence. Of course there’s a link. The victims were all killed by the same man. But what if that’s all there is to it? What if there’s no rhyme or reason? What if the victims were selected purely on the basis of a pin stuck in a telephone directory?
No, he thinks. I refuse to believe that. There has to be something, and maybe Anna Friedrich is the only person who can tell me what it is.
‘I think you should go now,’ she says, and once more she gets to her feet.
‘Just give me a few more minutes of your time. Please. I just have one or two more questions.’
‘About your marriage to Dr Vasey. About why you split up.’
‘Are you serious? You really expect me to start talking about highly personal stuff like my marriage breakdown on the basis of your gut feeling? Forget it, Detective. You’re asking too much. I can’t help you. Now if you don’t mind. .’
She puts her arm out, gesturing to the door, requesting him to leave.
He gets up, but instead of heading for the door he moves directly to Friedrich and looks her in the eye.
‘I am not wrong. He is out there. He has killed several times already and he will kill again. Look at what’s happened. Ask yourself why the city has recently seen a number of unsolved, apparently motiveless murders. Ask yourself why the police don’t seem to have made any progress on catching your husband’s killer. Could it be because they’re looking in the wrong places? Could it be because maybe I’m right about this? And if I have it ass backwards, so what? What harm could it do to answer a couple of lousy questions? Indulge me. Lunatic that I seem, let me have what I want so that you can get me out of your hair. Please.’
She maintains the eye contact, reading him. He lets her in. Lets her see that this isn’t some bullshit game he’s playing.
She glides away and sits down.
‘Take a seat, Detective. What do you want to know?’
He accepts the invitation without hesitation, in case she changes her mind.
‘Your marriage to Dr Vasey didn’t work out. I’m not asking for all the details, but can you give me a rough idea of what went wrong?’
‘Nothing dramatic, if that’s what you’re wondering. No third party or anything like that. We were just too wrapped up in our careers. Both ambitious. Both wanting to succeed. Neither of us had any time for the other. It wasn’t really a marriage.’
‘So you dissolved it. Was that by mutual consent?’
‘So whose idea was it? Yours?’
‘One of us had to do it. We couldn’t have carried on as we were.’
‘How did Andrew take it?’
‘He was devastated?’
‘Well, I wouldn’t go that far. He was upset. But he was still in control. It didn’t stand in the way of his work.’
‘Are you sure? I mean, could he have been worse than he seemed?’
‘No. If anything, he seemed worse than he was.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘Andrew had a flair for melodrama. He liked to throw tantrums. He turned on emotions like a tap when it suited him. I knew him well enough to tell when it was real and when it was phony.’
‘So you don’t think he was as badly affected by your split-up as he claimed?’
‘No, I don’t believe he was. I think he had already accepted we were doomed as a couple. I just don’t think he liked the idea of me calling the shots.’
Shit, thinks Doyle. This doesn’t fit. Square pegs and round holes.
‘Then you don’t think he would have needed to seek counseling?’
Her eyebrows shoot up. A pair of arrowheads aimed at the sky. ‘Detective, have you forgotten what Andrew did for a living?’
‘Yeah, I know, but don’t shrinks see other shrinks when their heads are messed up? Or do they just do it themselves?’
She laughs. ‘You know, I’m not sure about that one. What I do know is that Andrew would never have consulted another therapist. He was too concerned about his reputation ever to consider such a thing.’
‘Okay,’ he says. ‘Thank you. I appreciate your honesty.’
He stands up, ready to leave now.
‘You didn’t get what you wanted to hear, did you?’
‘I’m sorry. Maybe. . well, maybe it’s telling you something.’
He takes the long walk to the door.
She catches up with him. Says, ‘This means a lot to you, doesn’t it?’
‘You don’t know how much.’
‘Then I wish you luck.’
He nods. And then he leaves, wishing he could rely a little less on luck and a lot more on certainty.