Page 38

“What?” Sean asked her.

“All this stuff was made in Egypt—exact copies of items found in real tombs,” she said. “They sometimes had secret or hidden compartments. I was trying to see if I could find anything that opened, but…it looks like what we see is what there is.”

Sean came over and began running his hands gently over the wood, trying to determine if there could be such a compartment. But his efforts failed.

He turned. Eddie was still staring at the tableau; Knox was staring at Eddie. Madison had given her attention to the large canopic jars.

“Empty,” she said, picking up the last of them. But then she paused. “Sean, this one—it seems too heavy for its size!”

He took the jar from her and studied it, stuck his gloved hand in it and saw that where he touched wasn’t the bottom.

He kept twisting the jar, and he heard a little gasp escape Madison’s lips. She was right next to him, almost on top of him. “That’s it, Sean! Keep twisting. The design is changing as you twist it…. There, look, go a bit further, and you’ll see that the two pieces on the design make a sun.”

He gave it another twist and heard a click. The false bottom in the jar lifted. Beneath that false bottom, he saw something. He touched it.

Then he pulled the missing dagger out of the canopic jar. It was covered in blood.

“Well,” he said. “Looks like we’ve found the murder weapon.”

* * *

Madison sat in the suite with the others, listening as, one by one, the team members went through their notes on the people they’d interviewed. They asked her questions and she gave her impressions, but she became well aware that there was a great deal of tedium in what they did. However, repetition was essential to ensure that nothing slipped through the cracks.

They went through the construction crew. Jane, who had interviewed the men and women who’d been working on the scaffolding, told them that every story matched and rang true. Logan had brought back copies of the security footage, and everything they saw verified what had been said. Kat Sokolov had interviewed the seamstresses, the designers and the fabricators, who hadn’t been in since Friday. Logan had spoken at length with both Andy Simons and Mike Greenwood and he’d also called in Eddie’s ex-wife, Benita Lowe, who wanted to believe that his current wife, Helena LaRoux, had been involved. In fact, Benita had said, if Helena wasn’t such an idiot, Benita would be absolutely positive that she was guilty.

“She told me Helena only pretended to care about Alistair,” Logan told them. “I believe that, but not really caring about her stepson doesn’t make her a murderer.”

“Yes, true, she may be just a scheming user,” Tyler agreed.

Kelsey had spoken with Winston Nash and Colin Bailey. Bailey had been agitated, convinced that he’d lost all their chances of finding the real killer—because he had left the guard station to rush out when Alistair had come to him, screaming hysterically.

“Everyone’s background was thoroughly investigated?” Sean asked.

“No felons in the lot,” Logan answered. “The worst we’ve found on anyone at the studio was a few unpaid parking tickets.”

“I’m not thinking so much of criminal activity. I was wondering if anyone associated with either the family or the studio had a relative who worked on the original film.”

“No one mentioned anything of the kind to the police or to us,” Logan said. “But we can delve deeper. I guess the killer wouldn’t announce that his dad had been a grip or a production assistant on the movie.”

“What about the dead man, the guy who was killed during filming? Any connections?” Sean asked.

“Not that we’ve yet discovered.”

“Anybody have any theories?” Logan threw out his arms.

“I’m willing to bet it has more to do with the movie, somehow,” Sean said.

“The movie was filmed in 1942,” Logan reminded him.

“Yes…but!” Madison said, glancing around as she interjected, hoping they wouldn’t think she was being disruptive and had nothing of importance to say.

They didn’t. The six members of the Krewe looked at her, waiting.

“There was trouble with the movie. Not with the stars, although they both had truly sad ends. I’m talking about the accident that occurred on the set—the electrical accident that killed a bit player, Pete Krakowski.”

“I’m aware of it.” Sean looked at her, frowning. “But it was an accident, right? He was electrocuted.”

Madison surveyed the group, taking a deep breath. “Bogie didn’t think it was an accident.”

“Bogie—was he connected to the movie?” Logan asked her. “Where is he…and our victim, by the way? I would’ve thought they’d hang out with us.”

“The tunnel was too much for Jenny, although she was very brave,” Sean said. “I’m sure Bogie is trying to help her find the place she wants to haunt. Maybe he’s showing her the ropes. Do you think ghosts sometimes serve as mentors to other ghosts?” he asked, his grin lopsided.

“He’s a good guy. That’s probably what he’s doing,” Madison said. “I’m sure he’ll reappear soon, since he seems willing, maybe even intrigued, to help on this. And no, he wasn’t involved with the movie. He was working on Casablanca at the time. But he knew the electricians and the grips, and he said they didn’t make mistakes. That could mean nothing. The movie was filmed well over fifty years ago now. But all the special effects were created at the studio, which was Claymore Illusions back then.”

Logan nodded gravely. “We need to look into the past. Because the past can always intrude on the present.” He suddenly yawned. “All right. Knox has taken the dagger to be analyzed by the forensics department. Tomorrow, the studio reopens. That won’t interfere with our investigation. Jane, I’ll ask you to stay at the precinct. Do whatever research you can on the internet concerning the movie. Tyler, Kat, Kelsey—you’ll examine the tunnels, see what else you can find down there. We’ll have to make sure no one can accidentally wander down to the basement to see what we’re doing.”

“I guess I’m supposed to be at work tomorrow,” Madison said hesitantly.

“That’s fine. You go to work. It’s going to be important that you do. Keep your eyes open and don’t ever go anywhere alone. I’ll be out there on the main floor, still talking to people. Even if you need to go to the ladies’ room, let me know.”

“People are going to ask me questions all day,” Madison said. “How do I put them off?”

“Just tell them that all you’ve done is answer questions about the studio,” Sean replied.

“Okay.” Madison realized she was nervous about returning to work. She knew she wouldn’t have made even a halfway decent actress; her feelings were far too apparent in her face and her voice. But she really didn’t have anything to tell anyone, so she supposed she’d do all right.

They broke up then, Jane cheerfully calling good-night as she and Kat headed out, Kelsey yawning and walking to her bedroom. Tyler offered to escort Madison across the hall and she accepted, noting that Sean and Logan were deep in conversation again, their heads bent low as they spoke.

In her own room, she lay down on her bed, exhausted, although adrenaline was racing through her system. These had been the longest days of her life.

And in a way, today had been the best.

But being in the tunnel a couple of hours ago…crawling through the mannequins…

She inhaled, cringed, sure she could still smell the blood.

Searching through canopic jars…

Those had just been props. But it didn’t matter; she was convinced she could smell blood on herself and would never be able to sleep. She stripped in a sudden frenzy and hurried into the shower. When she emerged, wrapped in a towel, she heard a soft tapping. For a moment, fear washed over her. But she was in a hotel—on a floor with six FBI agents. She walked to the door, and as she did, hope and anticipation replaced the fear. She looked through the peephole. It was Sean.

When she opened the door, he smiled at her, leaning against the frame for a moment. “I see you’re dressed for the occasion now,” he told her.

She could have asked him if it was really all right for them to be together; he was obviously dedicated to his work and his team, and she’d never want to jeopardize any of that.

But she didn’t ask. She stepped back. He walked in. She closed the door.

“A shower,” he said. “What a great plan. May I? And, of course, you’re welcome to join me. And it’s hours and hours before daylight, so feel free to use the soap any way you’d like.”

“I’ll do that,” she promised. Once she’d locked the door behind him, they headed into the shower.

When they finally slept that night, it was deep and wonderful, and yet throughout the night, she knew he was beside her.


There was no escaping the fact that the day would begin awkwardly. Sean realized that.

Naturally, everyone at the studio looked at him, Tyler and Kelsey as they walked in. Everyone nodded, not knowing who they were, but obviously assuming they were some kind of law enforcement.

Eddie Archer was a man who tried to be as honest and sincere with his people as possible. Soon after all his full-time employees had arrived, he called a general meeting in the main work area. He raised a hand to ask for silence as people gathered around him, speaking in hushed whispers. Sean and his colleagues stood by themselves, a few feet away.

“You all know what happened here,” Eddie said. “Jenny Henderson was killed in the tunnel, and my son, Alistair, was arraigned for her murder. Alistair claims his innocence, and the police and the FBI are investigating. Alistair doesn’t want the studio to go down, and he doesn’t want any of you having to look for jobs elsewhere, and since the producers of The Unholy are retaining their faith in us, we’re going back to work. We’re going to continue doing what we do best—creating special effects. Anyone who’s unhappy about being here is free to leave. But while the investigators continue doing what they do best, let’s try not to get in their way or disrupt our own lives any more than necessary. So, my friends, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you’ll stand by me and Alistair, and that we’ll get back to it.”