Pop Goes The Weasel James Patterson

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I said a few words to the patrolmen who'd just arrived, the first on the scene after me. Then I took them with me.

The helpful doorman told me which floor Shafer's therapist's apartment was on. The number was 10D, the penthouse. Like all buildings in DC, the Farragut was restricted to a height no more than the Capitol dome.

I took the elevator with the two uniformed cops, both in their twenties, both scared shitless I'd bet. I was close to rage. I knew I had to be careful; I had to act professionally, to control my emotions somehow. If there was an arrest, there would be questions to answer, such as what I was doing here in the first place. Pittman would be on my case in a second.

I talked to the policemen on the way up, more to calm myself than anything else.

'You okay, Detective?' one of them asked me.

'I'm fine. I'm all right. The killer might still be in the building. The victim was a detective, one of our own. She was on surveillance here. The suspect has a relationship with a woman upstairs.'

The faces of both young cops tightened. It was bad enough to have seen the murdered woman in her car, but to learn that she was a policewoman, a detective on surveillance, made it worse. Now they were about to confront a cop killer.

We hurried out of the elevator to apartment 10D. I led the way and pressed the bell. I saw what appeared to be drops of blood on the hallway carpet near the door. I noticed the blood on my hands, saw the two cops staring at them.

No answer from inside the apartment, so I pounded my fist on the door. Was everyone okay in there? 'Police, open up! DC police!'

I could hear a woman shouting inside. I had my Glock out, the safety off. I was angry enough to kill Shafer. I didn't know if I could hold myself back.

The uniformed patrolmen took their pistols out of their holsters, too. After just a few seconds I was ready to kick down the door, search and seizure constraints or not. I kept seeing Patsy Hampton's face, her dead, vacant eyes, the savage wounds in her crushed throat.

Finally, the door to the apartment slowly opened.

A blonde woman was standing there. Dr. Cassady, I assumed. She wore an expensive-looking light-blue suit with lots of gold buttons, but she was barefoot. She looked frightened and angry.

'What do you want?' she demanded. 'What the hell is going on here? Do you know what you've done? You've interrupted a therapy session.'

Chapter Seventy-Three Geoffrey Shafer stepped into the doorway and stood a few feet behind the irate therapist. He was tall and imposing and very blond. He was the Weasel, wasn't he?

'What the hell's the problem here? Who are you, sir, and what do you want?' he asked, in a clipped English accent.

'There's been a murder.' I said. 'I'm Detective Cross.' I showed them my badge. I kept looking past Shafer and Dr. Cassady, trying to spot something that would give me probable cause to come inside the apartment. There were lots of plants on the sills, hanging in windows -philodendron, azalea, English ivy. Dhurrie rugs in light pastels, overstuffed furniture.

'No. There's certainly no murderer here,' the therapist said. 'Leave this instant.'

'You should do as the lady says,' Shafer said.

Shafer didn't look like a murderer. He was dressed in a navy suit, a white shirt, moire tie, a pocket square. Impeccable taste. Completely unruffled and unafraid.

Then I glanced to look at his shoes. I almost couldn't believe it. The gods had finally smiled at me.

I pulled out my Glock and pointed it at Shafer. At the Weasel. I went up to him and bent on one knee. My whole body was trembling. I examined the right leg of his trousers.

'What the hell are you doing?' he asked, pulling away from me. 'This is completely absurd.

'I'm with the British Embassy,' Shafer then stated. 'I'll repeat, I'm with the British Embassy. You have no right to be here.'

'Officers.' I called to the two patrolmen who were still outside the door. I tried to act calm, but I wasn't. 'Come here and look. You see this?'

Both patrolmen moved closer to Shafer. They entered the living room.

'Stay out of this apartment!' The therapist raised her voice close to a scream.

'Remove your trousers.' I said to Shafer. 'You're under arrest.'

Shafer lifted his leg and gave a look. He saw a dark stain, Patsy Hampton's blood, smudged on the cuff of his trousers. Fear shot through his eyes and he finally lost his cool.

'You put that blood there! You did it,' he yelled at me. He pulled out an identification badge. 'I am an official at the British Embassy. I don't have to put up with this outrage. I have diplomatic immunity. I will not take off my trousers for you. Call the embassy immediately! I demand diplomatic immunity.'

'Get out of here now!' Dr. Cassady yelled loudly. Then she pushed one of the patrolmen.

It was just what Shafer needed. He broke free, and ran back through the living room. He rushed into the first room down the hallway, slammed the door, and locked it.

The Weasel was trying to get away. It couldn't happen. I couldn't let it. I got to the door seconds behind him. 'Come out of there, Shafer! You're under arrest for the murder of Detective Patsy Hampton.'

Dr. Cassady came screaming down the hall after me.

I heard the toilet flush in the bathroom. No, no, no! I reared back powerfully, and kicked in the door.

Shafer was pulling off his trousers, standing on one leg. I tackled him hard, knocked him over, then held him face down against the tile floor. He screamed curses at me, flailed his arms, bucked his lower body. I pushed his face harder into the floor.

The therapist tried to pull me off Shafer. She was scratching my face, pounding my back with her fists. It took both policemen to restrain her.

'You can't do this to me!' Shafer was yelling at the top of his voice, twisting and turning beneath me, a powerful stallion of a man.

'This is illegal. I have diplomatic immunity!'

I turned to one of the officers.

'Cuff him.'
Chapter Seventy-Four It was a long and very sad night at the Farragut, and I didn't leave until past three. I had never lost a partner before, although I had once come close with Sampson, in North Carolina. I realized that I'd already come to think of Patsy Hampton as a partner, and a friend. At least we had the Weasel in custody. I slept in the next morning, allowing myself the small luxury of not setting the alarm. Still, I was wide awake by seven. I'd been dreaming about Patsy Hampton, and also about Christine; different, vivid scenes with each of them, the kind of frenetic dreams where you wake up feeling as tired as when you went to bed. I said a prayer for both of them before I finally rolled out of bed. We had the Weasel. Now I had to get the truth out of him.

I slipped on a somewhat worn white satin robe. Muhammad Ali had worn it in his training camp in Manila before the Joe Frazier fight. Sampson gave it to me for my fortieth birthday. He appreciated that, while most people would use the robe as some kind of sacred exhibit in their house, I routinely wear it to breakfast.

I love the old robe, which is unusual for me since I'm not particularly into mementos and souvenirs. Maybe part of it is that I'm supposed to resemble Ali physically, or so people tell me. I might be a little better looking, but he was definitely the better man.

When I got down to the kitchen, Nana and the kids were sitting at the table watching the small portable TV she keeps there, but doesn't use very often. She prefers to read or chitchat and, of course, cook.

'Ali.' Jannie looked up at me and grinned, but then her eyes went back to the TV. 'You should watch this, Daddy.'

Nana muttered into her cup of tea, 'Your British murderer is all over the news this morning. TV and the newspaper, too. "Diplomatic Immunity May Bar Prosecution of British Embassy Suspect","Spy Linked to Detective Slay". They already interviewed people in Union Station and on Pennsylvania Avenue. Everybody's mad as a hatter about this diplomatic immunity disgrace, as they call it. It's just terrible.'

'I'm mad. It's not right,' Damon said. 'Not if he did it. Did he, Dad? Did he do it?'

I nodded. 'He did it.' I poured milk into my coffee. I wasn't quite ready to deal with Geoffrey Shafer, or the kids, or especially the terrible, senseless murder the night before. 'Anything else on the news?'

'The Wizards kicked butt,' Damon said with a straight face. 'Rod Strickland had a double-double.'

'Shhhh.' Nana gave us both a mighty look of irritation. 'CNN carried stories from London. The media there is already comparing this to that unfortunate nanny case in Massachusetts. They say that Geoffrey Shafer is a decorated war hero and that he claims, with good reasons, he was framed by the police. I assume that means you, Alex.'

'Yes, it does. Let's watch CNN for a few minutes.' I said. Nobody objected, so I switched the channel. A hard knot was forming in my stomach. I didn't like what I was seeing and hearing on TV.

Almost immediately, a reporter came on the screen from London. He introduced himself, and then proceeded to give a pompous thirty-second summary of the previous evening's events.

The reporter looked gravely into the camera. 'And now, in a dramatic development, we have learned that the Washington Police Department is investigating a bizarre twist. According to the American press, the senior detective who arrested Geoffrey Shafer might himself be a suspect in the murder case.'

I shook my head and frowned. 'I'm innocent,' I said, to Nana and the kids. They knew that of course.

'Until proven guilty,' said Jannie, with a little wink.
Chapter Seventy-Five There was a loud hubbub out in front of the house and Jannie ran to the living-room window to look. She hurried back to the kitchen with wide eyes, loud-whispering, 'It's TV cameras and the newspapers outside. CNN, NBC, lots of them, like that other time with Gary Soneji. Remember?'

'Of course we remember,' said Damon. 'Nobody's retarded in this house except you.'

'Oh good Lord, Alex,' Nana said, 'don't they know decent people are eating breakfast?' She shook her head, rolled her eyes. 'The vultures are here again. Maybe I should throw some meat scraps out the front door.'

'You go talk to them, Jannie.' I said, and looked back at the TV. I don't know why I was feeling so cynical, but I was. My remark quieted her down for a half-second, but then she figured it was a joke. She pointed a finger at herself. 'Gotcha!'

I knew they wouldn't go away, so I finally took my mug of coffee and headed toward the front door. I walked out into a beautiful fall morning, temperature probably in the low sixties.

Leaves rustled merrily in the elm and maple trees, dappled sunshine fell on the heads of the TV crew and print journalists gathered at the edges of our front lawn.

The vultures.

'Don't be absurd and ridiculous around here,' I said, and then calmly sipped my coffee as I stared at the noisy press mob. 'Of course I didn't kill Detective Patsy Hampton, or frame anyone for her murder.'

Then I turned on my heels and walked back inside without answering a single question from any of them.

Nana and the kids were right behind the big wooden door, listening. 'That was pretty good,' Nana said, and her eyes sparkled and beamed.

I went upstairs and got dressed for work. 'Go to school. Now!' I called back to Jannie and Damon. 'Get straight As. Play nicely with your friends. Pay no attention to the craziness everywhere around you.'

'Yes, Daddy!'

Chapter Seventy-Six On account of his request for diplomatic immunity, we weren't allowed to question Geoffrey Shafer about Detective Hampton's murder, or anything else. I was incredibly frustrated. We had the Weasel, and we couldn't go near him.

Investigators were lying in wait for me that morning at the station house, and I knew it was going to be a long and excruciating day. I was interviewed by Internal Affairs, then the city's chief counsel, and finally Mike Kersee from the district attorney's office.

Pay no attention to the craziness everywhere around you, I reminded myself over and over, but my own good advice wasn't working too well.

Around three o'clock, the district attorney himself showed up. Ron Coleman is a tall, slender, athletic-looking man; we had worked together many times when he was coming up in the DA's office. I had always found him to be conscientious, well-informed, and directionally committed to rationality and sanity. He'd never seemed very political, so it was a shock to almost everyone when Mayor Monroe appointed him the DA. Monroe loves to shock people though.

Coleman made an announcement. 'Mr. Shafer already has an attorney, and he is one of the bright stars of our galaxy. He has retained none other than Jules Halpern. Halpern's probably the one who planted the story that you're a suspect, which you aren't, as far as I know.'

I stared at Coleman. I couldn't believe what I'd just heard. 'As far as you know? What does that mean, Ron?'

The DA shrugged. 'We're probably going to go with Cathy Fitzgibbon on our side. I think she's our best litigator. We'll back her up with Lynda Cole and maybe Daniel Weston, who are also top-notch. That's my take on it as of this morning.'

I knew all three of the prosecutors and they had good reputations, particularly Fitzgibbon. They were on the young side, but tireless, smart, dedicated, a lot like Coleman himself.

'You sound like you're preparing for a war, Ron.'

He nodded. 'As I said, Jules Halpern is Shafer's defense attorney. He rarely loses. In fact, I don't know if he's ever lost a big case like this one. He turns down all the losers, Alex.'

I looked directly into Coleman's dark eyes. 'We have Patsy Hampton's blood on the killer's clothes. We have blood in the bathroom drain, and I'll bet we'll have Shafer's fingerprints somewhere in Hampton's car before the end of the day. We may have the wire hanger he used to strangle her. Ron?'

'Yes, Alex. I know what you're going to say. I know your question. It's the same one that I have.'

'Shafer has diplomatic immunity. So why bring in Jules Halpern?'

'That's a very good goddamn question we both came up with. I suspect Halperns been hired to get us to drop the charges completely.'

'We have substantial evidence. He was washing Patsy Hampton's blood off himself in the bathroom. There's residue in the sink.'

Coleman nodded and shrank back into his easy chair. 'I don't understand why Jules Halpern is involved. I'm sure we'll know before too long, though.'

'I'm afraid we'll know soon.' I said.

I decided to leave the station by the back way that night, just in case there was press lying in wait out front on Alabama Avenue. As I stepped outside, a small, balding man in a light-green suit popped out from behind the adjacent stone wall.

'That's a good way to get yourself shot,' I told him. I was only half-kidding.

'Occupational hazard,' he lisped. 'Don't shoot the messenger, Detective.'

He smiled thinly as he handed me a white letter-sized envelope. 'Alex Cross, you've hereby been served with a Summons and Complaint. Have a nice night, Detective,' he said in his sibilant whine. Then he walked away as surreptitiously as he'd appeared.

I opened the envelope and quickly scanned the letter. I groaned. Now I knew why Jules Halpern had been retained, and what we were up against.

I had been named in a civil suit for 'false arrest' and 'defamation of the character of Colonel Geoffrey Shafer'. The suit was for fifty million dollars.
Chapter Seventy-Seven The next morning I was summoned to the District of Columbia Law Department offices downtown. This was not good, I decided. The city's chief counsel, James Dowd, and Mike Kersee from the DA's office were already ensconced in red leather club chairs.

So was Chief of Detectives Pittman, and he was putting on quite a show from his front-row seat. 'You mean to tell me that because Shafer has diplomatic immunity he can avoid criminal prosecution in criminal court? But he can traipse right into our civil court and get protection against false arrest and defamation?'

Kersee nodded and made clucking noises with his tongue and teeth. 'Yes, sirree-bob, that's it, exactly. Our ambassadors and their staffs enjoy the same kind of immunity in England and everywhere else around the world. No amount of political pressure will get the Brits to waive immunity. Shafer is a war hero from the Falklands.

Supposedly, he's pretty well-respected inside the Security Service, although lately he seems to have been in some trouble.'

'What kind of trouble?' I asked.

'They won't tell us.'

Pittman was still badgering the lawyers. 'What about that clown from the Baltic Embassy? The one who wiped out the sidewalk cafe? He went to trial.'

Mike Kersee shrugged. 'He was just a low-level staffer from a low-level country that we could threaten. We can't do that with England.'

'Why the hell not?' Pittman frowned and thumped his hand hard against the arm of his chair. 'England isn't worth shit anymore.'

The phone on Dowd's desk rang, and he raised his hand for quiet. 'That's probably Jules Halpern. He said he'd call at ten and he's an efficient bastard. If it is, I'll put him on the speaker box. This should be as interesting as a rectal exam with a cactus.'

Dowd picked up and exchanged pleasantries with the defense attorney for about thirty seconds. Then Halpern cut him off. I believe we have matters of substance to discuss. My schedule is rather tight today. I'm sure you're hard pressed as well, Mr. Dowd.'

'Yes, let's get down to business,' Dowd said, raising his thick, curly black eyebrows. 'As you know, the police have a qualified privilege to arrest anyone if they have probable cause. You simply don't have a civil case, Counselor--'

Halpern interrupted Dowd before he had finished speaking. 'Not if that person identifies himself from the outset as having diplomatic immunity, which my client did. Colonel Shafer stood in the doorway of his therapist's apartment waving his British Secret Service shield like a stop sign, saying that he had immunity.'

Dowd sighed loudly into the phone. 'There was blood on his trousers, Counselor. He's a murderer, Counselor, and a cop killer. I don't think I need to say anymore on the subject. With respect to the alleged defamation, the police also have a qualified privilege to talk to the press when a crime has been committed.'

'And I suppose that the chief of detectives' statement in front of reporters, and several hundred million others around the world, isn't slander per se?'

'That's correct, it isn't. There's a qualified privilege with respect to public figures such as your client.'

'My client is not a public figure, Mr. Dowd. He is a very private individual. He is an intelligence agent. His very livelihood, if not his life, depends on his being able to work undercover.'

The chief counsel was already exasperated, possibly because Halpern's responses were so calm, and yet always delivered rapid-fire. 'All right, Mr. Halpern. So why are you calling us?'

Halpern paused long enough to make Dowd curious. Then he began again. 'My client has authorized me to make a very unusual offer. I have strongly advised him against it, but he maintains his right to do so.'

Dowd looked startled. I could tell that he hadn't been expecting any kind of deal offer. Neither had I. What was this about?

'Go ahead, Mr. Halpern,' said Dowd. His eyes were wide and alert as they roamed around the room looking at us. 'I'm listening.'

'I'll bet you are, and all your esteemed colleagues as well.'

I leaned forward to hear every word.

Jules Halpern continued with the real reason for his call. 'My client wants all possibility of a civil case being brought against him waived.'

I rolled my eyes. Halpern wanted to make certain that no one could sue his client in civil court after the criminal court case was concluded. He had no doubt seen how O. J. Simpson had been set free in one court, then bankrupted in the other.

'Impossible!' said Dowd. 'There's no way in hell that will ever happen. No way.'

'Listen to me. There is a way, or I wouldn't have broached the subject. If this is done, and if he and I can be convinced of a speedy route for a criminal trial, my client will waive diplomatic immunity. Yes, you heard me correctly. Geoffrey Shafer wants to prove his innocence in a court of law. He insists on it, in fact.'

Dowd was shaking his head in disbelief. So was Mike Kersee. His eyes were glazed with astonishment as he glanced across the room at me.

None of us could believe what we had just heard from the defense attorney.

Geoffrey Shafer wanted to go to trial.

Book Four Trial and Errors CHAPTER Seventy-Eight Conqueror had watched her work Kensington High Street for nearly six weeks. She became his obsession, his fantasy woman, his 'game piece'. He knew everything there was to know about her. He felt, he knew, that he was starting to act like Shafer. They all were, weren't they?

The girl's name was Noreen Anne and a long time ago, three years to be exact, she had traveled to London from Cork, in Ireland, with lovely dreams of being a fashion model on the world stage.

She was seventeen then, nearly five foot ten, slender, blonde, and with a face that all the boys and even older men back home told her was destined for magazine covers, or maybe even the cinema.

So what was she doing here on Kensington High Street at half past one in the morning? She wondered about it as she forced a coquettish smile and occasionally waved a hand at the leering men in slowly passing cars that made the rounds of the High Street, DeVere Gardens, Exhibition Road.

They thought she was pretty all right, just not pretty enough for British or American magazine covers, and not good enough, not classy enough to marry, or be someone's girlfriend.

Well, at least she had a plan, and she thought it was a good one. Noreen Anne had saved nearly two thousand quid since she'd begun to walk the streets. She thought she needed another three thousand or so, and then she would head back to Ireland. She'd start a small beauty shop, because she did know the secrets of beauty, and also a lot about the dreams women have.

So, in the meantime, here I am in front of Kensington Palace Hotel, she thought. Freezing my fine butt off.

'Excuse me, miss,' she heard, and turned with a start. She hadn't heard anyone come up on her.

'I couldn't help noticing you standing here. You're an extraordinary beauty. But of course you know that, don't you?'

Noreen Anne felt relief the moment she saw who it was. This one wouldn't hurt her, couldn't if he tried. She could hurt him if it came to that.

He was old, in his late sixties or seventies; he was obscenely fat; and he was seated in a wheelchair.

And so she went off with Conqueror.

It was all part of the game.
Chapter Seventy-Nine The Americans had promised a speedy route to trial and the fools had actually delivered.

Five months had passed since the murder of Detective Patsy Hampton. Alex Cross had been shuttling back and forth to Bermuda, but still had no idea where Christine had disappeared to. Shafer had been out of jail, but on a very short leash. He hadn't played the game once since Hampton's murder. The game of games had been on hold and it was driving him mad.

Now Shafer sat in his black Jag in the parking lot directly under the courthouse, feeling hopeful. He was eager to stand trial on the count of Aggravated, Premeditated Murder in the First Degree. The rules of play had been established, and he appreciated that.

The suppression hearing from weeks before was still a vivid memory for him. He relished every minute of it -the preliminary hearing was held before jury selection, to determine what evidence would be allowed at the trial. It was held in the spacious chambers of Judge Michael Fescoe. The judge set the rules, so in a way he was the gamemaster. How fabulously droll, how delicious.

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