Darkest Fear Page 43

The best negotiator, like the best species, also knows how to adapt.

“First answer my question,” Myron said. “Yes or no, was the story Stan Gibbs wrote true?”

“There is no yes-or-no answer to that,” she said. “Parts were true. Parts were not true.”

“For example?”

“The young couple was from Iowa, not Minnesota. The missing father had three children, not two.” She stopped, folded her hands.

“But there have been kidnappings?”

“We knew about those two,” she said. “We had no information about the missing college student.”

“Probably because the psycho got to her parents. They probably never reported it.”

“That’s our theory,” Kimberly Green said. “But we don’t know for sure. Still, there are major discrepancies. The families swear they never spoke to him, for example. Many of the phone calls and events don’t match what we know to be true.”

Myron saw more clearing. “So you asked Gibbs about it? About his sources?”


“And he refused to tell you anything.”

“That’s right.”

“So you destroyed him.”


“The one part I don’t get is the plagiarism,” Myron said. “I mean, did you guys somehow set that up? I can’t see how. Unless you made up a book and … no, that’s too far-fetched. So what’s the deal with that?”

Kimberly Green leaned forward. “Tell us why you went to his apartment.”

“Not until—”

“For several months we couldn’t find Stan Gibbs,” she interrupted. “We think maybe he left the country. But since he’s moved into that condo, he’s always alone. As I said before, he loses us sometimes. But he never accepts visitors. Several people have tracked him down. Old friends even. They come to his door or they call on the phone. And you know what always happens, Myron?”

Myron didn’t like her tone of voice.

“He sends them away. Every single time. Stan Gibbs sees no one. Except you.”

Myron looked up at Win. Win nodded very slowly. Myron took a look at Eric Ford before going back to Kimberly Green. “You think I’m the kidnapper?”

She leaned back with a partial shrug, looking satiated. Turning the tables and all that. “You tell us,” she said.

Win started for the door. Myron rose and followed.

“Where the hell are you two going?” Green asked.

Win grabbed the knob. Myron headed around the desk and said, “I’m a suspect. I’m not talking until I have an attorney present. If you’ll excuse me.”

“Hey, we’re just talking here,” Kimberly Green said. “I never said I thought you were the kidnapper.”

“Sounded that way to me,” Myron said. “Win?”

“He snatches hearts,” Win told her, “not people.”

“You got something to hide?” Green said.

“Just his fondness for cyber pornography,” Win said. Then: “Oops.”

Kimberly Green stood and blocked Myron’s path. “We think we know about the missing college student,” she said, her eyes locked hard on his. “Do you want to know how we found out about it?”

Myron kept still.

“Through her father. He got a call from the kidnapper. I don’t know what was said. He hasn’t said a word since. He’s catatonic. Whatever that psycho said to that girl’s father put him in a padded room.”

Myron felt the room shrink, the walls closing in.

“We haven’t found any bodies yet, but we’re pretty sure he kills them,” she went on. “He kidnaps them, does Lord knows what, and makes the families suffer interminably. And you know he won’t stop.”

Myron kept his eyes steady. “What’s your point?”

“This isn’t funny.”

“No,” he said. “It’s not. So stop playing stupid games.”

She said nothing.

“I want to hear it from your mouth,” Myron said. “Do you think I’m involved in this, yes or no?”

Eric Ford took this one. “No.”

Kimberly Green slid back into her chair, her eyes never leaving Myron’s. Eric Ford made a big hand gesture. “Please sit down.”

Myron and Win moved back to their original positions.

Eric Ford said, “The novel exists. So do the passages Stan Gibbs plagiarized. The book was sent to our office anonymously—more specifically, to Special Agent Green here. We admit that we found that issue confusing at first. On the one hand, Gibbs knows about the kidnappings. On the other hand, he doesn’t know everything and he clearly copied excerpts from an old, out-of-print mystery novel.”

“There’s an explanation,” Myron said. “The kidnapper might have read the book. He might have identified with the character, become a copycat of sorts.”

“We considered that possibility,” Eric Ford said, “but we don’t believe that’s the case here.”

“Why not?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Does it involve trigonometry?”

“You still think this is a joking manner?”

“You still think it’s smart to play games?”

Ford closed his eyes. Green looked on edge. Peck continued scribbling notes. When Ford opened his eyes, he said, “We don’t believe Stan Gibbs made up the crimes,” he said. “We believe he perpetrated them.”

Myron felt a pow. He looked up at Win. Nothing.

“You have some background in the criminal mind, do you not?” Ford asked.

Myron might have nodded.

“Well, here we have an old pattern with a new twist. Arsonists love to watch firemen put out the blaze. Oft-times they’re even the ones who report the fire. They play the good Samaritan. Murderers love to attend the funerals of their victims. We videotape funerals. I’m sure you know this.”

Myron nodded again.

“Sometimes killers make themselves part of the story.” Eric Ford was gesturing a lot now, his knotted hands rising and falling as though this were a press conference in too big a room. “They claim to be witnesses. They become the innocent bystanders who happened to find the body in the brush. You’re familiar with this moth-near-the-flame phenomenon, are you not?”


“So what could be more enticing than being the only columnist to report the story? Can you imagine the high? How mind-bogglingly close to the investigation you’d be. The brilliance of your deception—for a psychotic, it’s almost too delicious. And if you are perpetrating these crimes to get attention, then here you get a double dose. Attention as the serial kidnapper, one. Attention as the brilliant reporter with the scoop and possible Pulitzer, two. You even get the bonus attention of a man bravely defending the First Amendment.”

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