“Would McFarland have access to real mummy wrapping?” Kelsey asked.
“Someone who worked at the center might have,” Kat said. “We’ve been focused on the Jerry McGuen and Amun Mopat. But many museums have mummies, and I’m sure the center has worked with plenty of Egyptian relics. That’s probably true of the Sand Diggers, too. If Dr. McFarland is one of their ‘associates’ and a reputable pathologist, he might have had access to a mummy at sometime.”
“Motive,” Logan said. “What would McFarland have wanted?”
“Motive seems to be the main problem with all our suspects,” Kat pointed out. “Yes, the Jerry McGuen holds untold riches. So, if someone was trying to throw off the salvage—in killing Brady Laurie—that would make sense. But it’s not going to matter how many people die, or how many times someone shouts ‘curse.’ That treasure has been discovered. The world at large won’t forget. If the center pulls out, if the film crew pulls out—someone else will go in.”
“Either Landry Salvage or Simonton’s Sea Search could be the company given the right to go in,” Logan said.
“So how would that involve a Chicago M.E.?” Tyler mused.
“We figured that more than one person has to be in on this,” Kat said. “It looked like Amanda might be part of it, but Amanda is dead.”
“McFarland was the M.E. who wanted to sign off so quickly on Brady Laurie’s death. He was adamant that it had been an accident,” Will explained. “Maybe he knew exactly what happened to Brady Laurie. And maybe he knew that whether or not he pulled the Miller autopsy, a heart attack was a heart attack, and no one could prove otherwise.”
“That sounds like a stretch,” Logan said.
“Maybe we should pay him a visit,” Tyler suggested. “Shake him up a bit.”
“I think we should go a step further.” Kat looked at Logan. “Have the police go and get him. Bring him down to the station and ask him questions there.”
“Will gave the man a hard time at the morgue, right?” Logan said. “Then Will should interrogate. With Tyler. You can play desperate lawman needing information, Tyler. And Will, you continue knocking his ability.” Logan took out his phone. “I’m going to have Sergeant Riley bring him in, since he was the first one called in on the accidental death. Will, Tyler—get down to the station. See what we can get out of the man…if anything. He could just be a pompous jerk, but at this point, we need to start real interrogations. Kelsey, spell Jane at the hospital so she can get some sleep.”
“I’d like to bring Dirk Manning the files we took from Austin Miller’s house and return there with him,” Kat said. “I still think that we’re missing something we should be seeing.”
“Good idea.” Logan made a note. “Sean will go with you two.”
“There’s another thing,” Will said slowly. “I don’t know if it means anything or not.”
They all looked at him.
“The filming has stopped, if only temporarily. Dives to the wreck have stopped. If that’s what someone wanted, it’s happened,” he said.
Logan nodded thoughtfully. “Will, call Alan King. Tell him that tomorrow you’ll dive to get more footage of the entire ship. We’ll assure the Chicago authorities and the Preservation Center—that’s Jon Hunt now, unless we go to their board—that nothing will be touched until an Egyptologist is back down with us. But, Will, you’re right. The diving has stopped. And we shouldn’t let that happen. There’s still something down there that someone wants. Either that, or it’s at the Chicago Ancient History Preservation Center.”
“And I can’t help believing the clues are at Austin Miller’s house,” Kat said.
Dr. Alex McFarland seemed to believe he’d been brought down to the police station to be helpful; after all, he was an M.E.
He sat in one of the interrogation rooms, idly looking around, then playing with his cell phone, slamming it down when it didn’t work. Will and Tyler watched for a while with Sergeant Riley.
Riley shook his head. “The man may have medical degrees up the wazoo, but he doesn’t seem that sharp to me. I mean, he doesn’t strike me as the mastermind behind three deaths and an attempted murder.”
“He might still be part of this,” Will said. He glanced at Tyler. “Want to show him that list of ‘associate’ Sand Diggers?” he asked.
“Okay, I’m moving in.”
Although Tyler was imposing—tall and Texan, with his service pistol visible at this side—he introduced himself to McFarland in a friendly fashion. The two chatted for a while. Tyler explained that he’d been with the Texas Rangers before joining a unit of the FBI. He complained about the amount of training he’d had to do all over again, drawing McFarland’s sympathy.
Then he showed him the roster.
McFarland looked startled. He thrust the roster back at Tyler. “Those Sand Diggers think they can put anybody on their list! I didn’t attend their ‘raise the Jerry McGuen party.’ I like Egyptology, but if I was going to support anything, it would be the Chicago Ancient History Preservation Center. Those folks know what they’re doing.”
Will chose that moment to go in. McFarland was immediately hostile, getting to his feet when he saw Will.
“Those folks did know what they’re doing,” Will said with a smile. “But they’re mostly dead now, aren’t they?”
“I don’t even dive!” McFarland protested. “I did nothing to harm anyone.”
“I’m not so sure. It seems to me that you might have been involved somehow. You wanted to put Brady Laurie’s death down as accidental, but it’s starting to look like you were way off base with that.”
McFarland leaned forward. “You still don’t know that’s true. There are a bunch of could-bes with what you tried to sell, Agent Chan. And there’s still a bunch of maybes. I didn’t do the autopsy on Austin Miller but I read the reports. There was a bruise on the back of Miller’s arm. As if he’d warded someone off. But he could have gotten that bruise anywhere. And even with Amanda Channel—hell, I’ve seen way too many people die under similar circumstances. She could have died of anaphylactic shock from shellfish at any time.”
Will had taken a seat across from him. Listening, he turned a pen over and over in his fingers. McFarland had realized he wasn’t at the station as an expert witness, after all. He was looking intimidated, but Will figured Logan had bargained on that.
He smiled. “I don’t know about Amanda, and I don’t even know that much about Brady. But I do know about Austin Miller.”
“What do you mean?” McFarland asked.
“I know he was sitting in his den, relishing the idea that the Jerry McGuen and Amun Mopat’s treasures were about to be found. And while he sat there, about to turn on his alarm and go to bed for the night, someone walked through the patio doors and approached him—someone dressed as a mummy. I know that when Austin reached for his pills, that so-called mummy slammed them from his hand.”
“How do you know that?” McFarland demanded, his face growing red.
“Because Austin told us,” Will said.
“Austin is dead!” McFarland screamed.
“Yeah, ain’t that a bitch?” Tyler asked quietly.
“Yeah? You talked to a dead man?” McFarland jeered. “You people are just as big a bunch of loonies as those Sand Diggers!”
“No, Dr. McFarland,” Will told him. “You think it’s only the body that can tell us what happened. What you don’t see is that there’s so much more. We study a man’s habits—and his home. And the evidence tells us that he was visited by someone dressed up as a mummy.”
McFarland looked as if he was about to explode and, at that moment, Will agreed with Riley that McFarland was no mastermind. The people behind these deaths weren’t afraid of a curse and didn’t believe in ghosts. They would’ve been startled that the Krewe had worked out exactly what happened, but wouldn’t have given themselves away so easily.
But McFarland was somehow involved.
“Look, I swear to you, I don’t know anything about what’s going on. The only time I’ve ever been to that society was when I gave a lecture on ancient embalming techniques. And—”
He stopped speaking abruptly.
“And what?” Will snapped.
McFarland let out a breath. “We, uh, talked about the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. How some of the pharaohs and other high-ranking people died. The kinds of things that wouldn’t have been obvious to the medical field a century ago. Tooth decay, poison, allergic reactions…”
“Like…shellfish allergies?” Will asked.
McFarland nodded. “It was just a lecture. People give lectures like that all the time. To police units, criminology students, clubs and societies. Look, I didn’t tell anyone how to do it! And if someone used that information, it’s not my fault!”
Kat stood in Austin Miller’s office. A number of the files and journals the man had kept lay open on his desk, but she’d become fascinated with a picture on the wall. She’d been in the room with Dirk Manning for a while, reading. Sean Cameron, who’d accompanied them, had brought along the computers belonging to Brady Laurie and Amanda Channel. He was to crack all their codes and passwords, find out if either had been doing business or communicating with anyone of interest—current suspect or not.
He worked near the entry. The patio doors were locked; the alarm had been set.
As Sean worked, he kept an eye on the house itself, watching over Kat and Dirk Manning. He’d told them that the alarm was functioning perfectly, but promised to remain on guard.
Manning had been nervous about the whole idea, but she and Sean had managed to reassure him.