Murder One
operation distributed the drugs that killed my daughter; she died of an overdose about eight months ago. It’s been in the news.”
    “I’m sorry,” Rowe said. “My condolences.”
    “Last Friday a federal judge granted a motion to exclude evidence. I went to see David to discuss the possibility of bringing a wrongful-death suit against Mr. Vasiliev if the U.S. attorney decided not to appeal the judge’s decision.”
    “Wrongful death? You mean like O. J. Simpson?” Crosswhite asked.
    “Exactly,” Reid said.
    “You can do that?” Rowe asked.
    “We were hoping to find out,” Sloane said. “Obviously, it never got that far.”
    “So you had a personal interest in the criminal investigation,” Rowe said to Reid.
    “Very personal.”
    “Were you upset by the outcome of that investigation?”
    “I wasn’t happy about it.” Her remark sounded flippant. Then she became more serious. “I thought Judge Kozlowski made a bad decision that let a drug dealer back out into the community.” She started again toward the kitchen. “Are you sure I can’t get you something to drink? A glass of water?”
    Rowe said, “You own a handgun, Ms. Reid.”
    It wasn’t a question, and it stopped Barclay’s progress. “I do. A Smith and Wesson thirty-eight Special.” She smiled. “But don’t ask me anything more, because that pretty much exhausts my knowledge.”
    “Where do you keep it?” Rowe asked.
    “In a gun box in my bedroom closet.”
    “Can we have a look?”
    She looked to Sloane, then back to Rowe. “May I ask why?”
    “Let’s see the gun first,” Rowe said. “Then we can talk.”
    Barclay led them up the stairs to her bedroom on the second floor. Her bathrobe lay on the goose-down comforter where she had left it after they exited the shower. Barclay slid open the closet door and started to kneel.
    “We’ll open it,” Rowe said.
    She stepped back. Crosswhite bent on her knee and opened the box.
    Jerry Willins felt sick to his stomach, and judging from Julio Cruz’s constipated expression, Cruz didn’t feel much better. The aroma of Chinese food, pungent and greasy, wafted up from the restaurant below, exacerbating Willins’s nausea. He stifled a burp, which brought an acidic burn to the back of his throat.
    The third man in the room, Micheal Hurley, silently dissected them over the top of his folded hands, elbows propped on the pale yellow, wood-laminate desk that looked to have been scavenged from a 1950s science classroom and wedged in the room like an SUV in a compact parking space. An open book lay flat on the desk. Reading the spine upside down, Willins determined it to be poetry by Robert Frost.
    “Where were you?” Hurley directed the question to Cruz, his voice flat and even.
    Cruz hesitated. “In the head.”
    In between the clang and clatter of pans and the shrill shouts of the cooks speaking Chinese, Willins detected the faint smell of tobacco—restaurant employees on a cigarette break in the alley.
    Hurley’s eyes, coal black in contrast to snow-white eyebrows, shifted to Willins. “I thought I made it clear that I wanted audio and visual.”
    “You did. It was raining and—”
    “Then you should have seen who put a bullet in his head. Did you see who put a bullet in his head?”
    Willins knew the question to be rhetorical. Cruz apparently did not.
    “We didn’t see nothing. It was black out. No moon or stars. And the storm.”
    Willins said, “It was seconds, at most. By the time I even figured out it was a gunshot and not thunder, it was too late.”
    Hurley sat back. His barrel chest rose and fell while he rubbed at a goatee as white as his eyebrows. “How am I going to explain this?”
    This time Cruz exercised better judgment and did not answer. They’d had high hopes for Vasiliev, and the cost associated with the operation had not been insignificant. Hurley turned to the opposite wall,

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