Page 23

“Right, there you go, kid. You’re lucky as hell,” Bogie told her.

Madison stared at Sean. “You…you really see Bogie?” she whispered.

“Clear as day.”

“Yup, he sees me,” Bogie said, pleased.

Madison had no idea what to do or how to react.

Sean leaned toward her. “So, here’s the thing. I know you saw our victim, as well. I know you spoke to her, and that she replied.”

“You…you heard,” Madison said weakly.


She was afraid she was going to fall off the chair. In a way, her life, her private life, had remained easy. She’d been able to tell herself that she was imaginative—she was, thank God, which was why she had the job she did—but that she wasn’t really so strange. That it wasn’t real, it was all in her head.

And now she was sitting here with someone who was making it real.

She didn’t think she liked this reality. Actually, no, she knew she didn’t. Reality was Alistair Archer accused of murder, and Jenny Henderson dead on a table in the morgue.

She realized then that Sean was looking at her with far more than speculation.

He was looking at her with hope.

She managed to speak through numb lips. “She doesn’t know.”

He sighed, leaning back, his eyes still on her. “Yeah, same thing I got,” he said wearily. “Except she was pretty honest with you, gave you more detail. We’re going to have to interview her roommate and the friend she was with.”

“You were expecting something different?”

“Something more,” he said. “Well, I hate to say it, but we’re going back to the morgue tomorrow. We have to find out who else she saw that day. She says people knew she planned to drop in on Alistair. We have to know who those people are.”

“I’m sure this young woman wants to help you.” Bogie spoke quietly. “And I’m sure she’s scared, and uncertain, and hoping to move on from…haunting a morgue. But I know she’ll help you all she can. Now, just how crazy the morgue workers are going to think you are—well, that I can’t say.”

Sean turned to Madison and grimaced. “Yeah, he’s got a point. They’ll think we’re crazy if we insist on trip after trip to the morgue.” He looked directly at Bogie. “Maybe, when the crew gets in, you could join us. Talk Jenny Henderson into…coming home with us.”

“What?” Madison didn’t mean to squeak out the question—but she already lived with one ghost.

“Away from the morgue, at least. She could haunt the studio or the Black Box Cinema,” Sean told her.

“God, no,” Bogie said. “She was killed there.”

“There has to have been a place she loved,” Sean mused. “We just have to figure out where. Then she can leave the morgue and haunt a place that made her happy. Until she’s ready to move on.”

Madison glanced over at Bogie.

“Hey, I gotta say, I’m not sure why I’m still hanging around,” Bogie said. “Maybe it’s for the reruns. Life can’t be rerun, but you can now see those old shows over and over again.” He pointed a finger at Madison. “Or maybe it’s for you, kid.”

Sean leaned toward Madison once more. “Most of the time, despite forensics, when perpetrators are caught, it’s because someone had a theory. Forensics can be brilliant tools, but they don’t mean much unless you have a direction in which to take them. Sure, you can get DNA, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find it in the system. But I’m willing to bet this culprit doesn’t have any kind of rap sheet. So we need a theory. The official theory now is that Alistair did it. Our theory is that someone else did, someone who has a bone to pick with Jenny, Alistair or most likely Eddie. Could Jenny have provoked that kind of hatred at her age? Probably not, but it is possible. Could the killer want Alistair out of the picture? Yes, but he’ll go to prison for life, which doesn’t really remove him. Does his incarceration and the stigma of murder hurt Eddie Archer? To the bone. So I think the murderer is out to make Eddie’s life miserable and perhaps close down the cinema and the studio.”

“Why not kill Alistair, too?” Madison asked.

“The living can suffer much more—suffer unto death,” Sean said.

She nodded slowly, then shook her head. “I still can’t imagine anyone close to Eddie trying to hurt him. Helena needs Eddie. I can’t believe she’d hurt him or Alistair, even if she had the wits to do it. You know Archer’s partner, Andy Simons. There’s no reason I can think of for him to do this. And you know my boss—your old boss—Mike Greenwood. Mike lives for the studio. He’d be out of a job that he loves if the studio fell apart. Let’s see…Benita. They’re divorced. I’m not sure she’s happy about that. I actually thought she did care about him, but who knows? There were some rumors about her and other men…. But she’s not that familiar with the studio, anyway. And then you’ve got…”

“Then you’ve got?”

She sighed. “The forty-plus people who are usually at the studio and the twenty-plus who come in on specific projects.”

“Madison, we have to look at those who are closest to him. I’ve explained why I don’t believe we’re looking beyond that list.”

“But everyone close to Eddie loves him!” she protested.

“That’s what we see on the surface,” Sean said. “We have to get below that.”

As he spoke, Madison heard her cell phone ring. She was going to ignore it, but he said, “Answer—it might be the curious.”

She frowned, not sure what he meant, but she pulled out her phone. Caller ID informed her that it was her supervisor, creative head of the studios, Mike Greenwood. “My boss,” Madison said.

“Answer him.”

She nodded. “Hi, Mike,” she said, watching Sean as she answered.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m fine, Mike.”

“Eddie told me you were helping Sean Cameron. That just beats all—Sean, a G-man!” Mike said. “Anyway, thanks for that. I wasn’t sure if you knew that the studio’s closed for another day. I don’t know when—or even if—they’ll let us reopen the cinema. Anyway, the police have finished with the studio, but they’re holding off one more day because the FBI team comes in tonight.”

“Everything is so…so surreal right now, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. And we’re really going to have to crank it up when we get back in. Not just to do our part for the American economy, but for Eddie. What he’s going through is painful enough. He doesn’t need to be worried about his studio, too.”

“Mike, I’ll crank it up. You know that.”

“Hard to believe how the world can change, huh? As in overnight,” Mike said. “I was in there on Saturday, covering up, making sure we were ready to plow in come Monday morning. Who the hell knew when I cleared the place out on Saturday that Monday wasn’t really coming.”

“Well, it came—just differently,” Madison said. “We’ll get through this,” she added.

“You think?” Mike sounded weary, defeated.

She kept her eyes on Sean, wondering if he could hear Mike. His face never gave a thing away.

“Of course. Eddie is the best,” she said. How many times had she insisted on that fact, one way or another, in the past two days?

“Yeah, well, we’ll have to put on our game face and move forward, right?”

“You got it, Mike.”

He informed her that he had a few more calls to make, and rang off.

“Mike,” she told Sean lamely. “As you’ve no doubt guessed. He’s a great boss. He runs a tight ship, and everyone respects him—and we always hope he’ll come to the work picnics and Christmas parties ’cause he’s a lot of fun.”

Sean shrugged, a half smile on his lips. “Don’t forget I worked for the guy. But either we’re all lying to ourselves and Alistair is guilty—which isn’t true, we know that from Jenny—or one of these nice, great people is guilty.”

Madison was thoughtful. “I’m going with the new wife. I don’t hate her or anything, but she’s a user with a capital U.”

“I still believe it has to do with the remake of Sam Stone and the Curious Case of the Egyptian Museum,” Sean said. “I don’t know what her association with the old movie could have been.”

“If it was someone associated with the movie, that person would have to be pretty damned old by now,” Bogie pointed out.

Madison nodded. “No one old enough to have been in the movie or to have worked on it is still at the studio, in any capacity.”

“But there was that death on the set,” Bogie said.

“Pete Krakowski?” Sean glanced at Madison. “I read everything I could about the movie when I was on the plane. But while there were rumors running rampant, it appears to have been an accident—partially caused by the fact that Krakowski clowned around on set. His widow was compensated. Still, we should dig a lot deeper.”

“I don’t know. Helena’s out for herself,” Madison said.

“And you said she wasn’t bright enough,” Sean reminded her. He stood and looked at Bogie, who’d been contemplating the two of them. “Plus Eddie is kind of her ticket into the movies. She needs him around.”

“But not Alistair.”

“We’ll start sorting it all out,” Sean said. He walked over to Bogie. “Sir, it was a pleasure to meet you. This is the kind of thing that makes it possible to live with my crazy sixth sense or whatever it is. I was, still am and will always be a huge fan.”

Bogie was on his feet. Sean towered over him, but Bogie retained the essence that made him such a unique man, even larger in reality than on the screen. “Thank you, son. Thank you. And for whatever it’s worth, I’m here.”