Chapter 74


    Jessica could not find her partner. she had stopped by Byrne's apartment, visited all his familiar breakfast and coffee haunts, checked his favorite watering holes, hoping not to find him. She had not.

    Byrne had not called into the unit nor, more importantly, shown up for his deposition, his on-the-record statement about his whereabouts on the night Eduardo Robles had been killed. Jessica knew that the inspector had smoothed it over with the DAs office, but it was unlike Byrne in any number of ways, not the least of which was his commitment to keeping his word.

    Jessica spent the remainder of the morning reading through the material on Carnival of The Animals. There were indeed fourteen movements, not all of them devoted to animals. One was called Fossils; another, Pianists; yet another, Finale. For some reason the killer had chosen eight of the movements. But they were all there, and it was all making slow sense.

    Beyond this, all these victims were related to cold cases. They were all suspects in homicides. Or suspected of complicity in homicides.

    The connection to a group like Societe Poursuite and a man named George Archer could not be overlooked.

    All these people were in some way culpable. In the eyes of their killer, they were all guilty of something. But why these people? What linked them? Why the cases of Antoinette Chan, Marcellus Palmer, Marcia Kimmelman and Melina Laskaris? Why not any of the other hundreds of unsolved cases sitting in the dusty books on the shelf?


    At one o'clock Jessica put a call into the Department of Motor Vehicles. If George Archer had a driver's license in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, they would be able to get a photograph.

    She skipped lunch and spent the early afternoon on the phone with the lab and the DAs office. Michael Drummond was in court, but his secretary promised Jessica that he would get back to her.

    By four o'clock she learned that there was no one named George Archer registered at any hotel in the greater Philadelphia area.

    She also put in a call to Chief Rogers Logan in Garrett Corners. At her request Logan paid a visit to Archer Farms. George Archer had not returned to his house.


    As the first half of Jessica long day wound down, there were no new leads. The three other lead detectives - Josh Bontrager, Nicci Malone, and Dennis Stansfield - were all on the street, chasing down their leads. Josh had interviewed members of the Chan family. All had concrete alibis. Nicci Malone had taken the morning to drive to Weirton, West Virginia to speak to Marcellus Palmer's son and daughter-in-law. She learned nothing of value. God only knew what Stansfield - obsessed now more than ever with Kevin Byrne - was doing.

    It seemed the Byrne/Stansfield conflict had settled for the time being. There would probably be some kind of fallout from the incident, but it wouldn't be tonight. The homicide unit had a few other things with which to be concerned.


    Jessica arrived home around five-thirty, made a quick dinner for her and Sophie. After dinner Sophie modeled her Snow Fairy costume. She looked adorable.

    Outside, the wind picked up, swirling leaves in the street. Perfect Philly Halloween weather. And there was never a shortage of atmosphere or things to do in Philly on Halloween.

    There was the Ghost Tour, which took participants on a candlelight excursion to Society Hill and Independence Park. There was the tour of Eastern State Penitentiary, once voted the number one haunted house in America. Then there was the Mutter Museum, and the home of Edgar Allan Poe.

    But if Philadelphia was attached to its horrific past, it was nothing if not creative. Jessica had already seen news footage of people trick- or-treating in pink body suits, with a band of paper wrapped around their heads. The new favorite costume in Philly, it seemed, was the victim of a serial murderer.

    Jessica took Sophie out for trick-or-treating early. This year was different from previous years. Trick-or-treating among row houses was a frontal assault. Within an hour, they hit a hundred or so houses. Sophie returned with a pair of bulging pillowcases.


    While Sophie divvied up her swag on the living-room floor, Jessica showered and prepared for her undercover assignment at the hotel.

    Before she left the house, she caught her reflection in the hallway mirror. Not bad, she thought. The simple black dress was okay, if a little tight. Time to ease up on the cannoli from Termini's.

    The hard part, of course, was the gun. Though in many ways the perfect accessory, most designers did not allow for the bulk of a weapon when creating a line. It was never the Smith & Wesson collection for Dior, or Vivienne Westwood presents Frocks with Clocks.

    Just to be on the safe side, she packed a small duffel with jeans and a hoodie, stowed it in the car. She had no idea where this night would take her.


    The team met in Le Jardin's Loss Prevention office. There were ten detectives in all, including Josh Bontrager, Dennis Stansfield, Nicci Malone, and Nick Palladino. Most were in plain clothes, the remaining few had on PPD windbreakers.

    They were briefed by John Shepherd on the layout of the floors, the location of surveillance cameras, the hotel protocol for emergencies. They went briefly over the program for the evening, which included a lavish dinner, a number of speakers, along with a keynote address by the attorney general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition, in the smaller meeting rooms there were various panels and demonstrations. According to Shepherd, excluding front- and back-of-the-house staff and personnel, there were close to one thousand people in the building.

    Every so often Jessica glanced at the door. Byrne had not shown.

    After John Shepherd had completed his briefing, Dana Westbrook addressed the task force. They had received more than seventy DMV photographs of men named George Archer. None were registered to the man at the Archer Farms. The sheriffs office, in addition to detectives from the Pennsylvania State Police, were showing the photographs to neighbors and vendors in the area, trying to match the photo with the man who ran Archer Farms.


    For the first hour Jessica worked the reception table, just outside the Crystal Room. The double-length conference table was draped with white bunting, and carried a few hundred name tags, programs, and pins bearing the slogan He escapes who is not pursued.

    As people filed by, Jessica watched their movements, their behaviors. Overall, it was a rather staid-looking group. Conservatively dressed, quiet in demeanor, polite in manner. In the course of an hour she handed out more than fifty name tags.

    At eight o'clock three men approached from across the lobby, one of them quite inebriated. They were in their forties, white, casually dressed. As they got closer, the shortest one - the drunk one - did his best to focus on the table, on the name tags, and finally on Jessica.

    'Whoa!' he said, reeling a little.

    'Welcome,' Jessica said.

    'My name is Jukka Tolonen,' the tall blond man said, introducing himself.

    'Jay Bowman,' said the other. Jessica scanned the table, found the name tags she was looking for, handed them both a tag and a program.

    'Thanks,' the two men said in tandem, both sounding a little embarrassed for their friend.

    'You know,' the drunk one said, 'I've been coming to this convention for, I don't know, five years? Most of the women look like Mrs. Marble.'

    Jessica was pretty sure the man meant Miss Marple. 'What's your name?' she asked.

    The man looked at his friends. 'You hear that? She asked my name, dude. She's hitting on me!'

    'I think she wants to give you your name tag,' Tolonen said. He had an accent. Maybe Finnish. 'Oh.'

    The drunk man made a production of reaching into his pocket for his wallet. He pulled it out, made a bigger deal of extracting one of his business cards, a big smile on his face as if this were the cleverest bit ever. 'It looks like I'm somebody named Barry Swanson,' he said. 'Like the frozen dinner.'

    Like the frozen adolescence, Jessica thought. She handed Barry Swanson his ID and a program. Swanson immediately dropped it all on the floor. Tolonen picked up the material, clipped the name tag on his wobbly friend.

    'Sorry,' Bowman said to Jessica. 'He's a forensic chemist. He doesn't get out much.'

    Jessica watched them walk away, wondering how crimes ever got solved.


    When Jessica was relieved by a member of the task force, a detective out of West Division named Deena Yeager, she walked over to the front desk, surveyed the crowded lobby. David Albrecht had not gotten permission to film inside the ballroom, but he was allowed to shoot footage in the lobby and out on the street. Jessica saw that he had snagged some talking-head interview time with some pretty heavy hitters.

    Just about everyone in the room had some connection to law enforcement. There were retired detectives, prosecutors, forensic professionals of every discipline, men and women who worked in the processing of fingerprints, hair and fiber, blood, documents. There were pathologists, anthropologists, psychologists, people who worked in behavioral science and mathematics. She'd heard there was a small contingent from Keishicho, the Metropolitan Tokyo Police Department.

    She saw Hell Rohmer and Irina Kohl, pretending to be merely colleagues. It didn't take a seasoned detective to detect the occasional brush of hands, or the more than occasional longing glance. She saw judges, lawyers, bailiffs, along with a handful of ADAs.

    She did not see Kevin Byrne.

The Echo Man
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