suicide, any of us can.” Pretty powerful statement. And one more mark on the “homicide” side of the ledger. * * * * “So what do you think?” Toni asked as we drove away in my Jeep fifteen minutes later. Before we left our table, Ogden had phoned Holly Kenworth at Applied Cryptographic Solutions. She agreed to meet with us at two o’clock. The ACS office was in Redmond—we’d have to hustle to make it on time. We’d said our good-byes on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. “I think he’s a nice guy.” “Not about him,” she said. “About what he had to say about the case.” “Oh. Well, it sounds like ACS couldn’t have sold to Madoc even if Thomas would have wanted to—which he apparently didn’t.” “Come on, Danny,” she said. “It means more than that. It means we might have a name for the so-called ‘big bad guys’ we’ve been talking about.” She was pretty clearly getting caught up in the case. I, on the other hand, was hung up on the full-body hug and warm smile she’d given to Ogden as we left. A good firm handshake was all he got out of me. “True, I suppose,” I said. “Although it’s pretty hard to imagine someone bold enough to just up and kill a businessman if he doesn’t get his way.” “Are you kidding?” she asked. “People kill people around here for a pair of basketball shoes. Do you seriously think that a technology like Starfire wouldn’t motivate a criminal enterprise or even an unfriendly foreign power to kill to get it?” I thought for a second as I drove. “I understand all that,” I said. “You’re right, I guess. Your thesis would be that the rogue outfit MST makes a legitimate offer to buy Starfire from ACS. ACS checks with BIS, and BIS says no. Rebuffed, MST gets pissed and decides to get even. So they murder the head of ACS. My question is why? Why would they do that? What would they hope to accomplish?” “They want Starfire,” Toni said. “Okay,” I said. “We know that. We know what they hope to accomplish. The question becomes, how would they hope to pull it off? And how would killing Thomas get them there?” She thought about that for a few seconds, and then turned to me. “That’s why they pay us the big bucks,” she said cheerily. I looked at her. She was happy about seeing John Ogden. Great. I suppose that a better man than me would have been happy for her. I’d have to try harder.
I CALLED KENNY as soon as we left the restaurant and asked him to meet us in the parking lot at the ACS office at five minutes till two. “Don’t go inside without us,” I said. “Wait for us outside by your car.” If our interview with Holly Kenworth led us into an area of questions that became too technical for me (and that wouldn’t take much, believe me), I needed to have Kenny there so that I could hand the interview off to him. He’s the only one of us who’s even close to being in Holly’s league when it comes to tech proficiency. But in bringing Kenny, I was taking a chance. There’s a bit of artistry involved in conducting an interview with a potential suspect. On the one hand, you need to ask questions about things you don’t know in order to gain knowledge. On the other hand, you have to be careful not to divulge to the interview subject how much you already do know. If your subject figures out where you’re coming from and if they have anything to hide—and if they’re halfway smart—then they’ll try to modify and shape their answers to fit in with what they think you already know. It’s always better to keep your cards close to your chest. If you can question people without giving up what you know, you’re more likely to get honest answers—or at least more likely to catch them in an inconsistency. Toni, for example, is a master at interviewing—I learn from her every time I watch her question somebody. She has the ability to put people at ease and ask them seemingly unimportant