Local writer, Ridley Pearson, released his most current work in April, 2004. The Body of David Hayes reveals an affair between Detective Lou Boldt’s wife, Liz, and David Hayes, a young computer specialist at the bank where she is an executive. When Liz ends the relationship after reconciling with her husband, Hayes engages in a daring embezzlement scheme. Now, years later, Hayes is trying to retrieve the money he hid from the Russian mob, and contacts Liz hoping to gain access to the bank’s mainframe. Liz is torn between wanting to protect the bank and needing to protect her family. Boldt, ripped apart by the discovery of his wife’s possible blackmail, must skate a delicate line between determined detective and jealous husband if he is to find the money while exposing and stopping Hayes.
Pearson is the bestselling author of 14 novels including, Probable Cause, Beyond Recognition, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (a New York Times #1 bestseller), and The Art of Deception. The first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in detective fiction at Oxford University, Pearson is currently working on a documentary film for the Animal Planet channel with local film producer Steven Crisman. He also co-created (with local Kitty McCue) a dramatic television series for the Showtime cable network. For more information about Pearson’s books, visit his Web site at www.ridleypearson.com.
Boldt felt a measure of pride at having successfully distracted Danny Foreman away from asking again about the forensic evidence that Boldt found inconsistent at the scene. Veteran cops rarely snuck something past one another, and Boldt had done just that by focusing Foreman on himself—a subject most people found irresistible.
“You know what happens when I call in the lab techs?” Foreman asked. “They’re going to go room by room,” he said, “dusting, developing prints.”
Boldt felt a spike of heat travel up his spine.
“Thing about latents,” Foreman said. “They can’t be dated. They could be from yesterday, or they may be six years old, and they all look the same.”
Boldt paced back to the doorway and glanced into the bedroom again. This time the film that played in his head had his naked wife grabbing headboards, touching the bedside lamp, pressing her sweating palm on the wall. With her prints in the WSW database, it would be only a matter of time until she’d be placed in the cabin and questioned. A matter of time until she’d have to detail the affair with Hayes.
He felt himself shrink and recoil. Would Foreman now suggest or offer to destroy evidence and wipe down the cabin? Where was this going? What was it Foreman wanted?
“I need her to go along with whatever they ask her to do,” Foreman said.
There it was, words hanging between them, as if stopped in space and floating. Boldt’s response determined their power or impotence.
“I need her safe,” Boldt said.
“You walk out of here now, and there’s no record of your having been here. What forensics finds or doesn’t find is a product of what there is to find in the first place. But when the prelims on this cabin come back clean for Liz, you’ll know why. She gets another call, and I’m the first one you contact. She gets asked to do something for these people and she does it. No more substitutions, coach. If they were gonna snatch her up, they’d have done it. Clearly, she’s of more use to them on the outside. They aren’t going to harm her, they’re going to use her. And you’re going to let them.”
The message didn’t surprise Boldt, but Foreman’s edgy, demanding tone did. The ordeal that Foreman had gone through had taken its toll. Boldt had no idea what it was like to have fingernails pulled, no idea what that did to a person.
“It’s seventeen million dollars, Danny. WestCorp was insured. They’re not out a cent. I know they’d love to prevent something similar from happening again, but the only person who seems to really give a damn about closing this case is you. As for me … my concern is for Liz, and only Liz. I want her out. I want her disconnected. Neither of us needs to relive this. All it can do is hurt us. What you’re asking is impossible. It’s the one thing I’m working against: her involvement. As to my condoning the destruction of evidence—I can’t do that either. Her prints or not, the cabin needs to be gone over by the technicians. We need every scrap of evidence there is. And I’ll tell you why,” he said. “Because this crime scene—whatever happened here, whoever it happened to—is wrong. Can I put my finger on it? No, I can’t. Not yet. But it’s wrong. You don’t do this twice to the same guy. I just don’t see professionals doing that. That’s why we need the technicians. That’s why I’m going to stay right here with you until they arrive. Liz’s prints can and will be explained, no matter the outcome. Does anyone think she possesses the strength to tie David Hayes into a chair? Even with Rohypnol? Not a chance. She will not participate beyond serving as a comm center. They want to call her, fine. Beyond that, it’s surrogates, undercover officers, and that’s that.”
“You’re going to make this decision for her?” Foreman asked. “Without her?”
“You tried to blackmail me a minute ago, Danny. Extort me. For what? A six-year-old case that no one cares about? Look in the mirror. There are reasons the original investigating officer doesn’t get the lead when a case resurfaces. You embody those reasons. You’re burned out, Danny. You blame that case for Darlene’s illness, even her death, for all I know. You’re hanging on to this one and it’s going to take you with it. Let it go, man! Pass it off to someone less personally attached.”
“Is that what you’re going to do?” Foreman asked, his voice steady and calm, but belying an undercurrent of raw energy that raised Boldt’s hackles. “Practice what you preach, soldier.”
Boldt felt a severe stab of pain in the center of his chest and nearly buckled over with it. He was living this case, something every detective knew not to do. It caught up to you, this kind of thing.
Foreman’s voice sounded distant to Boldt. He hadn’t realized he’d gone blind in one eye until the condition cleared like a window shade lifting.
“Fine,” Boldt lied. But he could see clearly again out of both eyes. His hearing returned to normal, losing that echo. He realized they were like two high school kids who entered into a brawl as opponents, but rose from the pile bloody and shaking hands. “I can’t do what you ask. I’ve got to say no to the evidence tampering, and no to Liz doing anything for Hayes or whoever’s behind this. I’ll take what comes my way is, I guess, what I’m saying to you. You want to play hardball, that’s up to you.”
“It’s not up to me,” said Foreman. “Never has been. If there’s a body out there, I want to find it. Fast. Yes. Because maybe it leads us to who did this ahead of whatever they have planned for Liz.”
“Whatever. If Hayes survived, or if he gave up whatever’s necessary to get that money back, then there’s only one person this is gonna come back on, Lou, and that’s Liz. Slice it, dice it, I don’t care. It’s going to be Liz. She has access, and she has history. Who would you come after?”
Boldt knew he was right, though wanted to talk himself out of it. This being Wednesday evening, the bank reception celebrating the merger was now just a few days away. The embezzled money had to be wired out ahead of that deadline or be lost. It seemed hard to imagine that by Monday morning everything would be back to normal.
“There’s stuff I’ve got to do,” he said. “So who makes the call? It’s Wednesday night, Danny.” He held this leverage over Foreman—SID processed evidence at all hours. Foreman’s private lab likely did not. It was to both their benefits if Boldt made the call, if SPD did the work.
“So make the call.”
Boldt saw a flicker of thought register in Foreman’s eyes. Just a flicker, but enough to sense he’d been had. Danny Foreman knew he’d never have his evidence in time unless SPD’s lab handled the crime scene. He had purposefully manipulated Boldt into making the offer to involve SPD’s lab. The involvement of the lab would mean Boldt, or one of his squad, would inherit the paperwork, the meetings, the explanations, the press, the analysis. Danny Foreman had just encumbered Boldt, leaving himself free to pursue the money trail. More to the point, Foreman knew Boldt would not walk away from any crime scene.
“I don’t like being run, Danny.”
“I suckered into a phony tip or I’d have been here to prevent this. At the very least, to witness it. How do you think I feel?”
“So who did that to you? Not me.”
“Come Sunday night, you and Liz are gonna see there’s only one way to play this. She walks into that bank. She does what he asks—they ask—and we follow that money to the scumbag who’s causing all this trouble. You aren’t there yet, but you’ll get there, Lou. I know you will.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.”
“That tape ever gets seen, it’ll sure as hell end her career, and it won’t help yours any.”
“We’ll land on our feet.”
“And I’ll be there to catch you.”
“Sure you will, Danny.”
Boldt raised his phone and called Bernie Lofgrin directly, ready to involve the lab.
He sensed he was making a huge mistake.
Published by arrangement between Sun Valley Magazine, Author and Writers House LLC. Excerpted from THE BODY OF DAVID HAYES by Ridley Pearson, published by Hyperion. Copyright 2004 Page One, Inc.