“Thank you, sir.”
“Bogie. You can call me Bogie.”
“Bogie,” Sean said, smiling. He reached out to shake Bogie’s hand; Bogie reached out in turn. Madison had to blink. It appeared that they’d actually shaken hands.
Sean looked back at her. “All right, I’m on my way to the police station to meet up with my crew. So our plan for tomorrow, if you’re up for it, is to return to the morgue and then the studio.”
They were both startled by a deep sigh from Bogie. “I guess I’ll go to the morgue with you. Maybe make things a little better for Miss Jenny Henderson.”
“Thank you,” Sean said solemnly.
“I’m just not sure how well it’s going to go for your team when they put everyone who works at the studio through the wringer again,” Madison said. “You’re accustomed to this kind of thing. Artists usually aren’t. Our blood and gore aren’t real. People will get edgy.”
“Yes, and if a killer is among them, that’s a good thing. The police have talked to people, and now my team will talk to them, too. Comparing their notes with what we find will be important. And anytime there’s an inconsistency, we can bring you in. Thing is, Madison, you know the studio and you know the people working there. You’ll recognize who’s telling the truth and who isn’t.”
“Just like that?” Madison asked. “I’m an artist, not a cop or an agent!”
Sean was already out the door.
She stared after him, incredulous, and then the door opened again, and he poked his head back in. “Oh, I guess I should say this just to be on the safe side—stay away from the studio unless you’re with me, and if you speak with anyone, act innocent.”
“I am innocent!”
“Innocent of knowing anything.”
“I don’t know anything,” she said flatly. “And neither do you.”
“That will change,” he said. And then he was gone, warning her to lock the door as he closed it.
* * *
The more he worked with Benny Knox, the more Sean felt he wasn’t a bad cop or a jerk, he was just a realist. And to Knox—being a realist—there was no doubt that Alistair Archer was the only one who could’ve killed Jenny Henderson.
He wasn’t sure of the detective’s feelings about him, but at least it wasn’t stone-cold hatred, and his resentment seemed to be ebbing now that a real investigation was under way.
Knox met Sean at the police station, introduced him around and then brought him to a large room dedicated to computer forensics. There, a young cop, Officer Angelo Fontini, was working with the security images from the studio and the Black Box Cinema.
“Takes the young ones to know what they’re doing with this computer stuff,” Knox said. “Hell, so much can be manipulated these days, and I gotta admit, I wouldn’t see half of it.”
Sean nodded. “I was in film, video and digital special effects before I came into law enforcement. And you’re right. It’s an area that can definitely be manipulated.”
Knox laughed. “Then you and Fontini should get along great. Right, Fontini?”
Fontini looked up; his name might be Italian, but he had blue eyes and curly blond hair, and with his ready grin, his appearance was even more cherubic. “These are pretty much straight security shots. The cameras at the studio are set to catch particular areas. They don’t rotate. I’ve tried to compare the studio film with the Black Box film. And it looks as if they both caught the same stuff. I’ve been staring at this on and off for hours, and I just don’t see how anyone could’ve been there.”
“Let’s see the film from the Friday night before the murder up to the time of the murder,” Sean said.
“That’s forty-eight hours of footage.”
“Yeah, I know. We’ll speed it up, and I’ll call stop when I want you to slo-mo.”
Fontini hit a key and began showing the footage from the Friday before the murder. Sean watched as people streamed out of the studio on Friday night, the fast-forward making them look like harried, robotic performers. They all chatted as they headed out to their cars; most left between six and six-thirty.
He saw Madison leaving the building close to seven with a tall, lean man who seemed to be in his early twenties. She paused and waved to her immediate supervisor, Mike Greenwood, and Mike waved back.
Greenwood talked to some of the departing employees, then went back into the studio. He appeared from screen to screen as he made his way into the main workroom, stopped to look around, nodded with satisfaction and returned to the guard station. Colin Bailey was on shift, and Greenwood spoke to him before leaving.
Night turned into day. Saturday morning, guard duty changed and Winston Nash came on as Colin Bailey left. A few hours later, Mike Greenwood appeared again, and in time, five other men and one woman entered the building. They all went straight to the main work area, where they completed final construction of the scaffolding he’d seen the other day. The woman made a phone call. A pizza delivery man came to the front entrance, and she hurried out to get the food. The crew ate, then finished hammering and sanding. The workers left. Once again, Mike Greenwood glanced around, checked a power saw to see that it was unplugged and headed out to speak to Nash, who was just changing places again with Bailey. Mike left.
Colin Bailey took out a Playboy magazine, placed his feet on the desk and read—or looked at pictures—for a while, and then seemed to snooze.
Sunday rolled around. Nash arrived; Bailey went home. Eddie Archer came in—there was a clock behind the guard desk, and Sean had Fontini stop the video so he could see the time. Exactly 10:00 a.m.
Eddie went into the studio, walked around and adjusted some of the tarps that were covering works in progress. When he seemed assured that all was well at the studio, he went back to the guard station, said goodbye to Nash and departed. Time passed quickly; Nash and Bailey changed places again.
Sunday evening, Alistair arrived at the Black Box Cinema and let himself in. Then, forty-four minutes later, Jenny Henderson showed up. She approached the door in a crouch, as if she believed she could escape the eye of the camera that way. She went into the Black Box Cinema. Her body hid the door for a minute, and then she disappeared inside.
Sean had Fontini roll the footage over and over again, trying to see what he was missing. Then he got it.
“Interesting,” he murmured.
“Did you see something I didn’t?” Fontini asked.
“No,” Sean said. “But what I didn’t see tells me a lot.”
“This was perfectly orchestrated. Whoever did it knows all about the security station and the security cameras. Which, once again, suggests that this person is very familiar with the studio.”
“Then it could be Alistair Archer,” Knox said quietly. He’d returned to stand behind them.
“Nope.” Sean shook his head. “No murder weapon anywhere. No bloody trail away from the scene. Come on, Knox! The killer escaped somehow—in a manner we haven’t figured out. Don’t forget, the studio is missing its robe for the remake of Sam Stone and the Curious Case of the Egyptian Museum. That robe has to be somewhere—and when it’s found, it’s going to be covered in blood. Let me see the Friday footage again, toward the end of the day.”
Fontini looked over at Knox, and Knox shrugged. They rolled the footage again. This time, Sean concentrated on the dressmaker’s mannequin in the costume department. At one point, Mike Greenwood moved it because it was in his way, shoving it behind the curtained area used as a change room when actors came for fittings.
A seamstress passed by and it was shoved farther back. By the end of the day, it was completely behind the curtain.
“One more time?” Sean asked.
“The robe was on the mannequin,” Fontini said. “And it’s gone now, you say?”
“There’s a plain brown monk’s robe on the mannequin now.”
Fontini started to run the tape again, showing the different rooms. “Stop!” Sean said suddenly.
Fontini did, frowning as he studied the various screens. Then he said, “Got it!”
“Got what?” Knox demanded.
Fontini pointed excitedly to the screens. “There’s a gap in the video that covers the entrance. Look—there’s the time on the security station camera. It’s reading 4:48. And there’s the time on the clock in the workroom—4:50.”
“The clocks could have been wrong,” Knox argued.
“They could’ve been. Who would normally notice a two-minute time difference?” Sean said. “And then again, there could be missing footage. And that’s where I think we have a theft. The new robe for the new Amun Mopat. The one worn by the murderer.”
“It might still show up somewhere in the studio,” Knox said.
“Fontini, can we tell if any footage is missing? Could someone have frozen the cameras?” Sean asked.
“It’s possible. Anything is possible,” Fontini said. “But if something was done, I haven’t found it yet. I’ll need to go through just about every computer test known to man, and even then…” He looked at Sean. “But I’ll do it,” he promised.
* * *
Madison’s assistant, Alfie, showed up at her door about forty-five minutes after Sean had left.
“You’re home! Thank God,” Alfie said in his usual dramatic way.
“Well, if you’d called, you would have known that,” Madison told him dryly.
She didn’t have to ask him in; Alfie just walked through the door as if there was no question that he was welcome. He threw himself on the couch. Ichabod, who was fond of Alfie, immediately crawled up on his lap.
Alfie was an attractive man, tall and blond and elegant in his movements. Madison watched him with affection. He was really a big kid, one who loved the movies—and loved his job. But, right now, he clearly felt anxious.