Chapter 44


    Byrne couldn't sleep. The images of the four corpses rode a slow carousel in his mind. He got up, poured himself an inch of bourbon, flipped on the computer, logged onto the Net, launched a web browser. He cruised the headlines on, visited a few other sites, not really reading or comprehending.

    Have you found them yet? The lion and the rooster and the swan? Are there others? You might think they do not play together, but they do.

    He got onto YouTube. Once there, he typed in Christa-Marie Schönburg's name. Even before he was done typing, a drop-down window opened, listing a number of possibilities.










    Byrne had no idea where to begin. In fact, he really had no idea what he was doing, or exactly what he was looking for. On the surface he imagined he was looking for a portal, admittedly obscure, to the case. Something that might trigger something else. Something that might begin to explain Christa-Marie's impenetrable note to him. Or maybe he was looking for a young detective who had walked into a house in Chestnut Hill in 1990 and there began a long, dark odyssey of bloodshed and tears and misery. Maybe he was really looking for the man he used to be.

    The final entry on the list was:

    Christa-Marie Schönburg Interview

    Byrne selected it. It was three minutes long, recorded on a PBS show in 1988. Christa-Marie was at the height of her fame and talent. She looked beautiful in a simple white dress, drop earrings. As she answered questions about her playing, her celebrity at such a young age, and what it was like to play for Riccardo Muti, she vacillated between confident career woman, shy schoolgirl, enigmatic artiste. More than once she blushed, and put her hair behind one ear. Byrne had always thought her an attractive woman, but here she was stunning.

    When the interview was complete Byrne clicked on the Bach entry. The browser took him to a page that linked to a number of other Christa-Marie Schönburg videos. Her entire public life was shown in freeze-frames down the right-hand side of the page - bright gowns and brighter lights.

    He clicked on Bach Cello Suite No. 1. It was a montage video, all still photographs. The photographs in the montage, one slowly dissolving into the next, showed Christa-Marie at a number of ages, a variety of poses and settings: in a studio, smiling at the camera, a side view on stage, a low-angle photograph of her at nineteen, a look of intense concentration on her face. The last photograph was Christa- Marie at nine years old, a cello leaning against the wall next to her, almost twice her size.

    Byrne spent most of the next hour watching the YouTube offerings. Many were collage-type videos, assembled by fans, but there were also live performances. The last video was Christa-Marie and a pianist in a studio, playing Beethoven's Sonata No. 3 in A. At the halfway point, in close-up, Christa-Marie looked up, straight at the lens, straight at Byrne.

    When the piece finished, Byrne went to the kitchen, took two Vicodin, chased it with a swig of Wild Turkey. Probably not the prescribed way, but you had to go with what worked, right?

    He looked out the window at the empty street below. In the distance was the glow of Center City. There was another body out there, another body waiting to be discovered, a raw, abraded corpse with a strip of blood-streaked paper around its head.

    He glanced at the kitchen clock, although he didn't need to.

    It was 2:52.

    Byrne grabbed his coat, his keys, and went back out into the night.

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