Sitting back, he stares at the three boards lined up against the wall. Kate's non-recognition of Perea's name was about par for the course. Yesterday they'd set out each board in chronological order; the left-hand board has 1999 scrawled across the top and holds the Johanna Beckett information. The centre board contains the Rico Cambrea data with 2003 at the top and the right-hand board has the Miguel Angel Parea information with the year 2005 across the top. A blow-up map of the area is clipped to the centre board and they've got tapes running from each board to the map showing the location of each murder.
There's a definite progression southwards, with the first murder taking place up at the northern end of Heights, just off 189th. The second murder is near the George Washington Bridge, on Cabrini Boulevard, and the third one is down at the southern end of Heights, on Amsterdam with 157th.
"Ok, so what does an apparently clean lawyer have to do with the Mafia and a Puerto Rican drug lord?" asks Espo as their eyes flicker from one board to the other.
"Wrong place at the wrong time?" says Rick after a momentary pause.
Espo scrunches up his face and tipping his chair back, places his feet on the table, scratching his chin with his pencil. After a bit he shakes his head, "Nuh-huh. This guy is too precise, too specific. It can't have been by chance or there'd be a spate of killings with that MO, there's gotta be a …"
He's interrupted by Ryan entering the room followed by an older man carrying a thick folder. Seeing the looks of expectation from both his companion and Castle, the Irishman grins and pulls out a chair. "This is ex-inspector John McIntyre, he's retired now but worked Organized Crime in the 33rd Precinct up till a few years ago, I think you need to hear what he has to say".
McIntyre shakes hands, takes the chair Ryan indicates and flops the folder down on the table next to his elbow. Rick observes the man as he settles back, his eyes sweeping across the boards, experienced cop that he is, his face gives little away though he does stare a little longer at the centre board than the other two. He's in his late sixties, salt and pepper hair swept back over a balding patch which frames a long intelligent face, high forehead with thick eyebrows over cool grey eyes, long, aquiline nose with a light scar running from the bridge to his left cheek just below the eye, small, thin mouth over a determined chin. The kind of cop you'd want on your case if you're the good guy, not if you're the bad guy Rick thinks.
McIntyre sits back, screws his face up in thought for a moment and then looks at the three of them, "I heard from the guys that you were looking into a cold case from back in the nineties involving the Cambreas. I always felt there was something odd going on up there at the time, but we had too much shit happening on a day-to-day basis for me to sit down and take a long look. Then there were new cases, promotions, responsibilities …" he gives an eloquent shrug and continues, "When the guys told me what you were looking into, it brought it all back. I've spent the last couple of days going through my old notes and talking to some of the others who were in the unit at the time. Most of what I'm going to tell you is based on cop instinct, hearsay, rumours ….. nothing that would stand up in court …. what I can say, is that there was some pretty weird shit going on around that time in the Heights."
Flipping open the folder, he pulls out a sheet of paper, glances through it and drops it on the table before turning back to the others. "When the FBI started to clamp down on the Mob back in the late eighties and nineties, the Families lost most of their capos and senior members, most ended up in jail or turned and became prosecution witnesses, which left the less capable underlings to run things. Ever since, they've been in decline …. most have moved into legit or semi-legit business, but they still run all the usual crap and still have a certain amount of weight on the streets, even where the gangs rule."
He pauses for a moment and runs his hand over his hair, subconsciously checking the bald patch as he does so. "Things are different today …. OC reckon there are about three hundred gangs in the city, each one based around a particular block or housing project. They're violent, almost permanently at war with one another and they're responsible for about forty percent of the city's shootings …. what OC don't see are any of these gangs taking on the Mob …. even in today's gun-saturated, drug-induced ganglands."
Checking that his audience is paying attention he points to the map and says, "Around September ninety-seven, we started to hear stories about strange goings on round Bennett Park. Now, get this, the Cambreas ran the Heights, gambling, prostitution, protection, money laundering, loan sharking and what have you, all the usual services … and then OC begin to hear rumours about games getting held up at gunpoint, pimps appearing dumped on some wasteland with bullet holes in their heads and their girls turn up working for a certain Vulcan Simmons. At first we thought it might be one of the other families making a move on the Cambreas, but that was a no-go. Looked into the drug cartels, even top gangs like the Bloods, 59 Brims …. nothing …. whoever was making the move on the Mob was keeping well off the radar."
"What about Walter Simmons?" asks Espo
McIntyre shrugs, "You know, whenever the Mob did something up there, we'd eventually find out who was involved …. snitches, doped up junkies, informants, security cam footage …. something would eventually filter back down to us, not enough for a conviction maybe, but enough to keep us in the loop … but with these cases? There were never any witnesses, or at least none willing to talk. When we looked into Vulcan Simmons, we couldn't find anything on him, he seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, no previous history, no records, no slate …. and for all we tried, there was never anything to tie him directly to any of the goings on …. not to mention the fact that he had a pretty high-powered set of attorneys to call on whenever we did pull him in for questioning …. Hest, Raynolds and Fenberg."
"Wow!" says Rick "they're top of the range!"
McIntyre nods, "So how does someone like the Simmons of ten years ago afford those guys? In fact, how does he even get to know them?"
"You think someone was bankrolling him?" asks Ryan.
"I hear you guys do a pretty good coffee round here?" was McIntyre's answer, and with a rueful grin Rick gets up, takes the orders and heads out of the room.
"What's with the writer?" asks McIntyre as soon as the door has closed.
Ryan and Espo look at each other then back at the retired cop. After a few seconds, and with a glance to the door, Espo replies "It was him that made the link …" nodding to the murder boards.
"And how did he do that?"
Espo leans back, scratches his ear and slowly grins. "The guy's a cross between a jackass and Sherlock Holmes. He spent some time with us last year doing research …. he was supposed to just trail around behind us and make his notes, but somehow he ended up being right in the middle of everything. Most of his theory building was whacky and off the wall, but he also had some insights which helped us with a couple of the cases we were working on. I'll deny it if you ever repeat it, but the guys got an instinct …. If he'd been trained, he'd have made a good cop"
"So you trust him?"
Again there's the exchange of looks between Ryan and Espo, then Kevin turns to McIntyre and says "If it's serious, yeah, I guess we would …. but we'd also scare the pants off him just to make sure!" he adds, grinning at Espo. Just then the door swings open and Castle backs in carrying four mugs of coffee.