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“You going in now?” Knox asked.

“Yes,” Sean said.

“You wait here, miss,” Knox ordered.

“She’s working with me, Detective,” Sean said. “She’ll be with my people on this.” He kept speaking even though Knox’s frown made it apparent that he planned to argue. “This case is looking more and more like an in-house situation, Detective. Madison knows all the players on the stage now, and I may not. She probably knows the killer, and I would say fairly well.”

“In-house,” Knox muttered. “The Archer kid was the only one here, Agent Cameron. Yeah, I guess you’d call that in-house.”

“Come on, Knox,” Sean said. “You’re a good detective or you wouldn’t be on this. And you know as well as I do that what’s most obvious isn’t always the truth.”

“In this case? I don’t know. I really don’t.” Knox wasn’t being a wiseass, Madison thought; he was serious. The subdued way he spoke scared her for Eddie more than anything else.

Sean said, “We’re not going with obvious. We’re investigating. Madison is familiar with the working of this studio and the cinema, inside and out. She’s with me.” The last was quiet and firm.

Madison watched Knox’s inner struggle. His longing to argue was clearly there, but he didn’t persist. She wondered what kind of power Sean and his people had—exactly who they were, she wasn’t sure.

Knox nodded. “Hands gloved, feet bagged,” he said.

“Of course,” Sean agreed.

At the entry there was a box of supplies. Madison followed suit as Sean put plastic covers over his shoes and pulled latex gloves on his hands. She fumbled awkwardly as she tried to get the gloves on, perhaps because Knox was behind them, watching her every move.

The three of them went inside.

A tech in a jumpsuit was leaving, a plastic box filled with vials in his arms. He nodded. As they headed through the theater, she saw that Sean looked at everything, from the Art Deco popcorn stand to the rugs, the cinema itself—and the office. As they reached the tunnel, she heard two of the techs talking.

“Hazmat will have fun with this one,” someone said.

“This is nothing! You should’ve seen that murder site up on the hill. The killer wrote in blood everywhere. Wonder if that place will ever sell,” another voice responded.

“This is Hollywood—you can sell anything,” the first man said. “Let’s finish up here. I’m ready for a drink.”

The techs nodded as they passed Knox, Sean and Madison.

“Your team’s covered everything?” Knox asked.

“Sir, if we covered any more, we’d have to take the walls,” the man said.


As they made their way down, Madison felt as if the place was closing in on them. It was actually a broad throughway, maybe fifty feet in width and a hundred and fifty in length.

When they reached the tunnel, she felt dizzy. The smell of blood was overwhelming.

The museum in the tunnel had always been fascinating. It was an homage to a bygone era of film, one that played an important role in the evolution of movies. Although Madison preferred romantic comedy, fantasy, adventure and horror, she loved the feel of the little museum. She’d learned new respect for film noir because of it, and she was impressed by the accuracy and detail of the old tableaux.

Today, it was different. The artistry seemed to be gone; it was merely a tunnel with props and policemen. There were little plastic clips with numbers, a photographer was still snapping photos and tape outlined the place where the body had fallen. The last tableau at the rear, the Sam Stone movie scene, was out of kilter. It had been photographed, fingerprinted and invaded.

Madison focused on that tableau, not wanting to see the blood on the floor.

It wasn’t prop blood. It wasn’t chocolate, as Hitchcock had used for the black-and-white murder scene in Psycho. It was real blood, and the person who’d shed that blood was now dead.

Thankfully, the body had been taken to the morgue. Despite what Madison had said, and despite all the time she spent creating creatures that were sometimes heroic and most often terrible, she felt somewhat squeamish about being down here. She wondered if she’d ever be able to come to the museum again without thinking about what had happened last night.

She’d come for a reason! she reminded herself. She had to be here.

She stood several feet from the tape that marked the position of the body and tried not to see the remaining techs or pay attention to Sean Cameron as he moved about the room. Eventually he came to the marked-out tape line.

She realized that he was standing as still as she was, as if he felt the air and was waiting for some kind of message that would speak to him in silence from the tunnel.

The photographer packed up his equipment and told Knox he was done. Soon the other techs left, too, and then there were just the three of them. For a moment, the silence around them seemed…unnatural.

“Sam Stone and the Curious Case of the Egyptian Museum.” Sean was looking at the tableau. “And Alistair Archer swears that someone—something—came out of that tableau and attacked Jenny Henderson.”

“The priest—Amun Mopat, I understand,” Madison said.

“Indeed, the priest. And he’s still wearing his robe.”

“There’s something missing—something off in the scene,” Madison said as she studied the tableau.

“I have that feeling, too. But what?” Sean asked. He stared at it, frowning.

Madison continued to study it, as well. Mannequins, snakes and the items in the “Egyptian Museum” had been moved by the police and put back, but they weren’t experts on how the display had been set up. There was something wrong, but she couldn’t pin it down.

Sam Stone was entering, ready to wrest the priest, Amun Mopat, away from Dianna Breen. The sarcophagus, the mummy fallen to the floor, the stand with the canopic jars—all still there. So was the statue of the ancient Egyptian warrior, tilted to the wrong side, and the jackal and the sphinx.

“I wish I knew this place as well as Alistair does,” Sean said.

Madison watched in silence as Sean noted where the body had been and he walked to the tableau, not touching the velvet cord that separated the scene from the hall passage. He stepped over the cord. There wasn’t much he could do to mess up what had been a perfect recreation, since the police and the techs had already been through the entire place. She found it oddly disturbing, as if the characters were now out of focus, and far more haunting than the ferocious and bloody scenes in the studio.

Madison tried to shut herself off, tried to focus on the victim.


But she didn’t feel the presence of anyone near her. She stood there alone in her little world, frozen. She could envision Alistair and Jenny coming here, Alistair walking ahead, Jenny sensing someone at her back, crying out desperately for help….

And then feeling a knife cut through her throat.

Madison gave herself a furious mental shake. She was in the tunnel; the murder had happened only a few feet from where she was standing.

But there was nothing here that wasn’t solid and real.

Jenny Henderson’s body was at the morgue. If she was hanging around the place she’d been murdered, hoping to communicate, Madison could feel no impression of her.

She walked a step closer to the blood, hoping that didn’t make her ghoulish. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the scene. Jenny must have coerced Alistair into bringing her to the studio. Jenny was an actress, a budding actress who needed every possible opportunity. No casting was done at the studio, but she probably believed she could learn something that might give her an edge when they were casting bit parts.

Had Jenny and Alistair paused to look at the tableaux? Or had Jenny’s mind been on her agenda—and Alistair’s mind on Jenny?

She took note of where the body had lain. There was a distance of perhaps twenty feet to the door. Alistair had walked ahead….

“All right,” Sean said, startling her. “Here’s how I heard the story from Eddie—how it was told to him by Alistair. Jenny convinced him to bring her over—she wanted to get into the studio, see the costumes and the Egyptian creatures. Or the mythical creatures the Egyptian priest, Amun Mopat, brought to life. And according to Alistair—” Sean paused, approaching the door that separated the tunnel from the studio “—he came this way, and turned.”

“And saw a monster—or the priest,” Madison said.

“Which means—” Sean paused again, walking to the display “—that the killer was in the tableau. As soon as Alistair passed by, the killer came down.” Sean moved up to the display, then got down, his movements silent. “The robed figure left his position and crawled over the velvet cord and attacked Jenny Henderson. He’d left Sam Stone and his femme fatale where they belonged as he stepped down to seize Jenny, and cut her throat.”

Sean was suddenly standing behind Madison.

For a moment, she could feel the fear, feel as if the killer’s breath touched her….

She felt his hands on her shoulders, and the other girl’s fear seemed to fill her. She could practically see—feel, touch!—what had happened.

Her throat closed; she could barely scream.


The sound didn’t leave her lips. She managed to step forward before she began trembling noticeably.

She almost slipped on the blood.

Deep in his own thoughts, Sean hardly noticed her.

“This place, the movie—they have everything to do with the murder,” he said, repeating what he’d told her before. “Everything.”


Madison stared at Sean Cameron, feeling frozen at first, and completely lost. There was nothing she could do here. She’d hoped there would be, but she felt nothing except cold and fear and dread. She could picture what had happened but she couldn’t see a face. She imagined the mannequin of the priest moving, saw him walking swiftly….