Chapter 63


    Saturday, October 30


    Jessica jogged down third street. at this early hour the running was not as bad as she'd thought it was going to be. Traffic was sparse, and the only people on the streets were those opening their bakeries and coffee shops, city crews, other joggers and cyclists. The hard part of running through a city was the uneven sidewalks, the curbs, the occasional stray dog.

    There was a light drizzle, a condition that the weather report said would end by mid-morning. Jessica wore her rain gear and an Eagles ball cap. She was wet, but not soaked. The temperature was in the high forties. Perfect jogging weather.

    As she turned the corner onto Wharton she thought about her and Byrne's meeting with Frederic Duchesne. She thought about the photograph on the wall of the Prentiss Institute, the picture of Christa-Marie Schönburg wearing the bracelet they had seen in Joseph Novak's apartment.

    This morning they would get the background information on Carnival of the Animals, and they could begin to work on what might be the killer's twisted method.

    She turned the corner and saw someone standing in front of her house. Again. She slowed up.

    This time it was not Dennis Stansfield. It was Kevin Byrne. As Jessica approached she got a better look at him. She had never seen him look worse. His face was drawn and pale. He hadn't shaved. He was wearing the same clothes he'd had on yesterday. And he was just standing in the rain. He didn't seem to be looking for her, didn't seem to be doing anything. He was just standing in the cold rain, holding a large envelope in his hands. Just a few feet from where he stood was an awning that would have provided him shelter.

    Jessica came to a stop, then walked the last few yards.

    'Hey,' she said, catching her breath.

    Byrne turned to look at her. 'Hey.'

    'Want to come in? You're getting soaked.'

    Byrne just looked up at the sky, letting the rain fall on his face.

    'Come on inside,' Jessica said. 'I'll make some coffee, get you a towel.'

    'I'm okay.'

    Jessica took him by the arm, led him under her neighbor's awning. She shook the rain off her ball cap, brushed some of the water from Byrne's shoulders. 'What's up?'

    Byrne was silent for a few moments. He pointed across the street, at a novelty sign in the window of a row house. It read PARKING FOR ITALIANS ONLY.

    Jessica offered a smile. 'South Philly. What are you going to do?'

    Byrne turned the envelope over and over in his hands. The moment drew out. 'I don't think I know how to do this anymore, Jess.'

    He looked down the street, remained silent. Lights flickered on in some of the windows. Another morning in Philadelphia.

    Jessica turned him to face her fully. 'There are two dozen people working these cases. Every resource available is on this. We're going to shut him down. Take the day. I'll call you every hour on the hour. If something breaks I'll—'

    'We heard from the lab,' Byrne said, interrupting her. 'From Irina. We have a fix on the murder weapon.'

    'Well, that's good, right? That's a good thing.'

    'The killer is using strings from an instrument.'

    'An instrument?'

    Byrne looked down the street, back. 'The wire is a string from a cello, Jess. He's strangling them with a string from a cello. That explains the animal hair on the wire. It's horsehair from the bow.'

    The implications of this were deep, and Jessica knew now why her partner had been up all night. There could no longer be any excuse for not bringing Christa-Marie Schönburg in for questioning. There were too many connections.

    Jessica knew she had to tread lightly. 'How do you want to handle this?'

    Byrne said nothing. A city street-sweeper trolled slowly by. They took a step back, closer to the building. When it had passed Byrne turned to her.

    'When I walked into that house, twenty years ago, I felt something, you know? It was my first case as a lead investigator, and I had it all in my hand. I saw the body, the weapon, the blood. I saw the suspect, I knew the motive. I saw it all in one second. One big picture, no parts.' He looked at Jessica. He was on the edge. 'I said to myself this is what you were meant to do.'

    Jessica wanted to jump in. It wasn't the right moment.

    'I don't see it like that anymore,' Byrne said. 'Now it's all in pieces, and I'm scared that I made a mistake. I'm scared I can't do it anymore.'

    'You're wrong, Kevin. I have no doubt that you can do this. I don't know anybody who does this better. But you know what scares me?'


    'What scares me is that this killer might go underground. That he might finish this up and disappear forever.'

    'He's not done.'

    Byrne said this with such finality that it stopped Jessica cold. 'What do you mean? How do you know?'

    Byrne held up the large envelope. It was soaked. He didn't seem to care. 'This came in at four o'clock this morning.'

    'What is it?'

    Byrne pulled the document out of the envelope. But he didn't look at it, didn't hand it to Jessica. He just let it get wet. 'A body was found yesterday in a town called Garrett Corners.' 'How does this concern us?'

    'It looks like it's connected,' Byrne said. 'We have to go there. We're expected.'

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