The only difference today was that the death had already occurred.
Was it an execution too?
Chief Inspector Gamache knew that most killers didn’t consider their act a crime. They’d somehow convinced themselves the victim had to die, had brought it on themselves, deserved to die. It was a private execution.
Was that what Renaud’s killer had believed? The power of the mind, Gamache knew, could not be underestimated. A murder was never about brawn, it began and ended in the brain and the brain could justify anything.
Gamache looked at the people around him. Men and women of all ages staring at the building as though it might get up and do something interesting.
But was he any better? After leaving Émile, he and Henri had strolled the narrow, snowy streets, thinking about the case. But also about why he was still on it. Surely his obligation was discharged? Inspector Langlois was a competent and thoughtful man. He’d solve the case, Gamache was sure of it, and he’d make sure the English weren’t unfairly targeted.
So why was he still poking around into the murder of Augustin Renaud?
Now there is no more loneliness.
“Suzanne and I have a dog, you know.”
“Really? What sort?”
“Oh, a mutt,” said Agent Morin.
As he talked, and listened, Chief Inspector Gamache sat at his desk in front of his computer following the progress of the search, or lack of progress.
It had been six hours and they still hadn’t traced the call. More and more sophisticated equipment, more experts, were brought in, and still nothing.
One team was trying to trace the call, another was analyzing the farmer’s voice, teams were combing the countryside and following leads on the ground. All coordinated by Chief Superintendent Francoeur.
Though there was no love lost between the two men, Gamache had to admit he was grateful to the Chief Superintendent. Someone had to take charge and he clearly couldn’t.
Gamache’s voice with Morin was calm, almost jovial, but his mind was racing.
Something was very wrong. It didn’t make sense, none of this did. As Morin talked about his puppy Gamache was thinking, trying to put it together.
Then he had it. Leaning into his computer he fired off an instant message.
The farmer isn’t a farmer. It was an act. Get the voice analysts to verify his accent.
They have, came Agent Isabelle Lacoste’s response. The accent’s genuine.
She was in Ste-Agathe, gathering information at the scene of the shooting.
Get them to look harder. He’s not the bumpkin he wanted us to believe. He can’t be. So what is he? In his ear he heard Morin talking about dog food.
What are you thinking? Beauvoir joined in. He was outside in the Incident Room, helping the investigation.
Suppose this wasn’t an accident? wrote the Chief, his fingers pounding the keyboard, typing quickly as his thoughts raced. Suppose he wanted to kill an agent and kidnap another? Suppose this was the plan all along.
Why? asked Beauvoir.
There was a pause on the telephone line. “What’s your dog’s name?” Gamache asked.
“We call her Bois because she looks like a log.” Morin laughed, as did the Chief.
“Tell me all about her.”
I don’t know, Gamache typed while Agent Morin told him about taking the dog home from the SPCA to Suzanne. But let’s say this is all planned, then that includes the timing. 11:18 tomorrow morning. They want us occupied until then. It’s misdirection. They want us looking one way while they do something somewhere else.
Something is planned to happen at 11:18 tomorrow morning? Both Beauvoir and Lacoste typed.
Or, typed the Chief, something that ends at 11:18 tomorrow morning. Something that’s going on right now.
There was a pause. The cursor throbbed on Gamache’s quiet screen while in his ears he heard about Bois’s current habit of eating, and pooping, socks.
So what do we do? Beauvoir asked.
Gamache stared at his blinking cursor. What do they do?
You do nothing, appeared on the screen.
Who is this? typed Gamache quickly.
Chief Superintendent Francoeur, came the equally quick response. Gamache looked up and saw the Chief Superintendent in the Incident Room at a computer also staring at him through the window. You, Chief Inspector, will continue to talk to your agent. That’s your one and only job. Inspector Beauvoir and Agent Lacoste will continue to follow my orders. There can only be one leader of this investigation, you know that. We’ll get your agent back, but you need to focus and follow a clear chain of command. Do not splinter off. That only helps the criminals.