The house was old Portland. Mason estimated that it had been built around 1900, give or take twenty years. Multiple gables and a wraparound porch gave it an open, friendly look. Impeccably maintained, the two-story house showcased a velvet lawn of snow, manicured landscaping, and pure white siding. Tall, stately old firs added to the prestigious aura of the neighborhood.
People who lived up here didn’t have big box homes with three-car garages and pools. No evenly spaced snout houses where the sole difference was the shade of the exterior paint. That wasn’t what these homeowners wanted; they wanted quality, history.
Mason pulled up behind a Land Rover at the curb. He noted all the cars parked on the narrow street, a few blanketed by nature like they hadn’t budged since the first snowfall a week ago. Most of the homes had a narrow driveway leading to the back of the house, where gardening tools probably filled the old single-car garage.
Ray stepped out of the Blazer and eyed the expensive vehicles lining the street. Mercedes, Lexus, BMW. “How do these people sleep at night with their cars parked on the street? Do they have invisible force fields to keep out the car thieves?” Mason knew Ray locked up his two-year-old Chevy in the garage every night.
Through the snowfall, Mason noticed a square sticker on the rear window of the freshly parked Land Rover. It was a parking permit for The Oregonian.
“I don’t think she’s alone.”
Michael Brody was trying to take over the interview. The tall man was intense, nearly rude. Mason bit his cheek and kept his temper in check. He’d allowed Brody to sit in once the man had agreed to be there exclusively as support for Dr. Campbell, not as a reporter.
“Is it possible the wrong man was put in prison a decade ago? Or maybe Cal Trenton was a copycat murder?” Brody asked.
“I’m not going to speculate. We’re looking at every angle.” Mason had already repeated the same line three times. The damned reporter had a mind that never stopped hypothesizing and scrutinizing. Mason had checked out the man after reading his front-page coverage of the case. Everyone had said the man was obsessive when he was sniffing out a story and brutally honest in his writing.
Mason purposefully turned to Dr. Campbell, hoping Brody would shut up for a minute. She tensely perched on the edge of the couch in the huge formal living room. A room that looked straight from a snobby decorating magazine. Dark hardwood floors gleamed, white baseboards and crown moldings set off the designer wall paint.
Dr. Campbell wore a red ski sweater and jeans. With her hair pulled back, she looked eighteen. If you didn’t look in her eyes. They were cautious, measuring, and guarded. She exuded a professional, calm control that reminded Mason of a skilled surgeon during a routine tonsillectomy. If he hadn’t seen her struggling to hold herself together last Saturday morning, he’d believe nothing could rattle her.
Brody hovered over her, sitting on the arm of the couch, coiled to attack if something threatened her.
He reminded Mason of a hawk.
“Are you sure you’ve never met Calvin Trenton before?” Mason asked again. He was still trying to find a connection between Trenton’s badge and Suzanne’s remains.
Dr. Campbell threw up her palms. “I cross paths with hundreds of patients every year. I don’t keep track of names. Plus, I’ve worked with several police departments in investigations, including Lakefield and Corvallis. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d met him.”
Ray’s cell phone rang. Glancing at it, he rose from his chair and stepped into the kitchen for some privacy.
Pausing the interview until Ray returned, Callahan searched for polite small talk. Something he was lousy at. “Nice house.”
She grabbed at the offered branch. “Thank you. It belonged to my parents. This is where I grew up.”
“Your parents don’t live here anymore? Just you?”
Dr. Campbell shook her head. “My mother died several years ago. Dad couldn’t bear to live here any longer, and he couldn’t bring himself to sell it. Now it’s mine.”
“Your father’s the chief medical examiner of Oregon.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yes.” She didn’t expand.
Brody cleared his throat and silently communicated something to Dr. Campbell as she glanced his way. She gave him a tiny shake of her head.
Mason felt shut out.
These two were tight. Their body language spoke of intimacy, but they didn’t act like a dating couple. “How do the two of you know each other?”
They exchanged another look. Brody shrugged and pulled out his iPhone, giving it his attention, letting her answer the question.
She gave the reporter a glare, but turned polite eyes on Mason. “We met downtown. I didn’t have a ride home late one night, and Michael offered to drive me.”
She accepted a ride from a stranger? Mason didn’t think so. His expression must have reflected his disbelief because she hurried to clarify.
“I was having a problem with my um…date, outside a restaurant. He’d had too much to drink, and Michael stepped in when things started to get…rough.”
From the shuttered look on her face, Mason figured “rough” was putting it mildly. With grudging respect, he took an appraising look at the hawk on her right.
“I broke his nose.” Brody mildly tossed out the comment. He was still focused on his iPhone. Before Mason could comment, Ray appeared.
“Mason.” Pale, he spoke from the doorway to the kitchen and jerked his head for Mason to join him.