Home > Righteous Prey (Lucas Davenport #32)(9)

Righteous Prey (Lucas Davenport #32)(9)
Author: John Sandford

   He was angered and disgusted by the sight of Sikes sprawled on the cold concrete of her garage. Lucas was . . . interested.

   As he stepped away from Sikes’ body, Virgil said, “We’re gonna have to deal with the feds. They got the gun, here.”

   “Sometimes I hate those guys,” Duncan said.

   “Yeah, well . . . I saw a couple guys in long overcoats by the front door. Like movie Gestapo. I assume . . .”

   “Yeah. FBI,” Duncan said. “If you got to play with them, please, play nice, Virgie. They’ve got all the details from One and Two, which we might need, if we get involved here.”


* * *



   LUCAS WAS DRINKING coffee from a plastic cup when they got back to him, and he asked Duncan, “Did Sikes have any protection? Bodyguards? She’s really rich . . .”

   “Not as far as I know,” Duncan said. “There were pump shotguns inside the front hall closet and a back closet next to the door from the garage. Another one in a second-floor dressing room. All three were loaded but had empty chambers.”

   “Do we know if she’d been warned of anything coming?” Virgil asked.

   “The FBI contacted her husband—he’s in New York, now on his way back—and he says they were not,” Duncan said. “No indication that she was a target.”

   Lucas: “What about the political thing?”

   “Snowmobilers for Trump on Facebook. She’s said some pretty goddamned outrageous stuff,” Duncan said. “She thought Trump was going to be reinstated as President as soon as Biden was convicted of child molestation. That’s what she said, anyway.”

   “Any reason to think the killer is local?” Virgil asked.

   “All three killings have a local feel to them—like the killer knew his way around. On the other hand, they could have come from New Jersey or Utah,” Duncan said. “She was hated by a lot of people and they’re not all local.”

   Virgil: “Because . . .”

   “Her business. She created SPACs, S-P-A-C,” Duncan said, spelling it out. “SPAC stands for Special Purpose Acquisition Company. It’s like a free-floating bunch of money that investors give you. Then you go out and buy something that’s worth a lot more than you’re paying for it and you split the eventual take with your investors. Apparently, somebody always gets screwed.”

   “I know one of them,” Lucas said. “There was a warehouse kind of place in St. Paul, off West Seventh Street, that was used by a Korean company to assemble small electric appliances.”

   “I had a shooting there when I was working for St. Paul,” Virgil said.

   “Yeah? Anyway, it’s the only piece of private property on that side of the road, and it’s right above a lake . . .”

   The warehouse had a long history of manufacturing different small appliances, mostly junk, Lucas said. Sikes’ lawyers found that she could buy the business, and the zoning would allow her to replace the building with anything she wanted, as long as it was less noxious than an assembly plant. She created a SPAC, got thirty million together, according to the Pioneer Press, bought the plant, tore it down, and was in the process of putting in four lakefront apartment buildings when she was murdered.

   “Although,” Lucas said, “It’s really more like swamp-front.”

   Virgil: “And?”

   “Kicked three hundred low-income, twelve-dollar-an-hour people out of their jobs,” Lucas said. “Just, ‘Hit the road.’ No compensation, no nothing. There was a media fuss at the time, but that went away soon enough.”

   Virgil: “Then it probably is local.”

   Duncan: “Maybe. She’s had heavy attention in the social media, both for the SPACs—there were several of them—and the snowmobiler stuff. They had a ‘Circle the Lake for Trump’ thing up at Mille Lacs, the last two Decembers, supposedly a thousand snowmobilers. I haven’t seen it, but I’ve been told there’s an anti-Sikes Facebook page. Maybe it’s still there, I dunno.”

   The cops who’d been looking at the Ferrari and Porsche suddenly broke into laughter, and then just as quickly stopped, looked around, mildly embarrassed to be laughing at a murder scene with the body still uncovered and basically underfoot. Only mildly embarrassed.

   “What’s this Northern Reach that’s supposed to get the Bitcoin money?” Virgil asked.

   “The victims of another SPAC deal,” Duncan said. “She bought up a big parcel along the river north of Minneapolis that was being rented to a truck-garden co-op. Fifty-some farmers out of business, the ones selling at the farmers’ markets around town.”

   “Oh, boy.” Virgil rubbed his nose, looked at Lucas: “The killer could have come from anywhere that has Facebook. He leaves no trace of himself as far as we know, except that he has long narrow feet. Or shoes. So, basically, after an in-depth analysis, I’d say we’re fucked.”

   “Not us, so much, as the feds,” Duncan said. “They’ve taken over. They might need somebody to do the scut work, but they’ll be doing the heavy lifting, brains-wise.”

   “Brains-wise. I wish I’d said that,” Virgil said.

   “We need to talk to them,” Lucas said. “Maybe they won’t want us around. They’re good at all kinds of things—better than we are.”

   “But we’re better at other stuff,” Virgil said. “Like the scut work that usually makes the case.”

   “There is that,” Lucas agreed.

   One of the FBI agents came out on the home’s wide stone front porch and called something down to another agent who was sitting in a black SUV. Duncan, watching him, asked, doubtfully, “They can do things better?”

   “Some things,” Lucas said. “Who’s running this circus? Has anybody seen St. Vincent?”

   “He’s inside,” Duncan said. “That’d be our best shot at a quick meet.”

   David St. Vincent was the Minneapolis agent in charge. Lucas, Virgil, and Duncan ambled over to the porch, looked up at the FBI agent, who was wearing a knee-length wool coat nowhere near as warm as a down parka, and Lucas called, “We need to talk to David.”

   The agent looked down at them: “You’re Davenport.”

   “Yeah. And this is Virgil Flowers, BCA, and Jon Duncan is coordinating for the BCA.”

   “Let me talk to Agent St. Vincent,” the agent said. “I’ll be right back.”

   And he was: thirty seconds after he went inside, the agent was back and said, “Give him five minutes. He’s on the phone to Washington. He wants to talk with you.”

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