Riley felt so dizzy that she thought she might faint.
She managed to stay on her feet, but then she worried that she was going to throw up, like she had back at the apartment.
This can’t be real, she thought.
This has to be a nightmare.
The cops and other people were standing around a body that was in a full clown outfit. The suit was puffy and brightly colored with huge pompoms as buttons. A pair of outsized shoes completed the attire.
The stark white face had a bizarre painted smile, a bright red nose, and exaggerated eyes and eyebrows. A huge red wig framed the face. A canvas tarp was bunched up next to the body.
It dawned on Riley that the body was actually a woman.
Now that her head was clearing, she noticed a distinct and unpleasant odor in the air. As she looked around the area, she doubted that the smell was from the body—or at least not much of it. Trash was strewn everywhere. The morning sun was bringing out the odor of various kinds of human residue.
A man wearing a white jacket was kneeling beside the body, studying it carefully. Crivaro introduced him as Victor Dahl, the DC medical examiner.
Crivaro shook his head and said to Dahl, “This is even weirder than I’d expected.”
Rising to his feet, Dahl said, “Yeah, weird. And it’s just like the last victim.”
Riley thought …
The last victim?
Had another clown been killed before this one?
“I just got briefed a little while ago,” Crivaro said to Dahl and the cops. “Maybe you folks can fill in my trainee here on what this is all about. I’m maybe not fully up to speed on this case myself.”
Dahl looked at Riley and hesitated for a moment. Riley wondered if she looked as sick as she felt. But then the medical examiner began to explain.
“Saturday morning, a body was found in the alley behind a movie theater. The victim was a young woman named Margo Birch—and she was dressed and made up pretty much like this victim. The cops figured it was a weird murder, but one of a kind. Then this corpse turned up last night. Another young woman all painted up and dressed this way.”
It hit Riley then. This wasn’t an actual clown. This was an ordinary young woman dressed up as a clown. Two such women had been bizarrely dressed and made up and murdered.
Crivaro added, “And that’s when it became an FBI case, and we got called in.”
“That’s right,” Dahl said, looking around the debris-strewn field. “There was a carnival here for a few days. It moved out on Saturday. That’s where all this junk came from—the field hasn’t been cleaned up yet. Late last night some neighborhood guy came out here with a metal detector, looking for coins that might have gotten dropped during the carnival. He found the body, which was covered by that tarp at the time.”
Riley turned to see that Crivaro was watching her closely.
Was he just making sure she was minding her own business?
Or was he monitoring her reactions?
She asked, “Has this woman been identified?”
One of the cops said, “Not yet.”
Crivaro added, “We’re focused on one particular missing person’s report. Yesterday morning a professional photographer named Janet Davis was reported missing. She’d been taking pictures at Lady Bird Johnson Park the night before. The cops are wondering if this might be her. Agent McCune is paying her husband a visit right now. Maybe he can help us make an ID.”
Riley heard sounds of vehicles stopping nearby in the street. She looked and saw that a couple of TV news vans had pulled up.
“Damn,” one of the cops said. “We’d managed to keep the clown angle about the other murder quiet until now. Should we cover her back up?”
Crivaro let out a growl of annoyance as a news crew poured out of one of the vans with a camera and a boom mic. The crew hurried out onto the field.
“It’s too late for that,” he said. “They’ve already seen the victim.”
As other media vehicles approached, Crivaro and the ME mobilized the cops to try to keep the reporters as far back from the police tape as they could.
Meanwhile, Riley looked at the victim and wondered …
How did she die?
There was no one to ask at the moment. Everybody was busy dealing with the reporters, who were noisily asking questions.
Riley carefully stooped over the body, telling herself …
Don’t touch anything.
Riley saw that the victim’s eyes and mouth were open. She’d seen that same terrified expression before.
She remembered all too well how her two friends had looked after their throats were cut back in Lanton. Most of all, she remembered the staggering amounts of blood on the dorm room floors when she’d found their bodies.
But there was no blood here.
She saw what appeared to be some small cuts on the woman’s face and neck showing through the white makeup.
What did those cuts mean? They surely weren’t large enough to have been fatal.
She also noticed that the makeup was painted on clumsily and awkwardly.
She didn’t put it on herself, she thought.
No, someone else had done that, perhaps against the victim’s will.
Then Riley felt a strange shift in her consciousness—something she hadn’t felt since those terrible days in Lanton.
Her skin crawled as she realized what that feeling was.
She was getting a sense of the mind of the killer.
He dressed her like this, she thought.
He’d probably put on the costume after she was dead, but she had still been conscious when he smeared her face with makeup. Judging from her dead, open eyes, she’d been all too aware of what was happening to her.
And he enjoyed it, she thought. He enjoyed her terror as he painted her.
Riley also understood the small cuts now.
He teased her with a knife.
He taunted her—made her wonder how he was going to kill her.
Riley gasped and rose to her feet. She felt another wave of nausea and dizziness and almost fell down again, but someone caught her by the arm.
She turned and saw that Jake Crivaro had stopped her from falling.
He was looking straight into her eyes. Riley knew that he understood exactly what she’d just experienced.
In a hoarse, horrified voice she told him …
“He frightened her to death. She died of fear.”
Riley heard Dahl let out a yelp of surprise.
“Who told you that?” Dahl said, walking toward Riley.
Crivaro said to him, “Nobody told her. Is it true?”
Dahl shrugged a little.
“Maybe. Or something like it, anyway, if she’s like the other victim. Margo Birch’s bloodstream was pumped full of amphetamines, a fatal dose that made her heart stop beating. That poor woman must have felt scared out of her mind right until the moment she died. We’ll have to do toxicology on this new victim, but …”
His voice trailed off, and then he asked Riley, “How did you know?”
Riley had no idea what to say.
Crivaro said, “It’s what she does. It’s why she’s here.”
Riley shivered deeply at those words.
Is this something I really want to be good at? she asked herself.
She wondered if maybe she should have submitted that resignation letter after all.
Maybe she shouldn’t be here.
Maybe she should have no part in this.
She was sure of one thing—Ryan would be horrified if he knew where she was right now and what she was doing.
Crivaro asked Dahl, “How hard would it be for the killer to get hold of this particular amphetamine?”
“Unfortunately,” the medical examiner replied, “it would be easy to buy on the street.”
Crivaro’s phone buzzed. He looked at it. “It’s Agent McCune. I’ve got to take this.”
Crivaro stepped away and talked on his cell phone. Dahl continued to stare at Riley as if she were some kind of freak.
Maybe he’s right, she thought.
Meanwhile, she could hear some of the questions the reporters were asking.
“Is it true Margo Birch’s murder was just like this?”
“Was Margo Birch dressed and made up the same way?”
“Why is this killer dressing his victims up like clowns?”
“Is this the work of a serial killer?”
“Are there going to be more clown murders?”
Riley remembered what one of the cops had just said …
“We’d managed to keep the clown angle about the other murder quiet until now.”
Obviously, rumors had already been circulating even so. And now there was no keeping the truth quiet.
The cops were trying to say as little as possible in reply to the questions. But Riley remembered how aggressive reporters had been back in Lanton. She understood all too well why Jake and the cops weren’t happy that these reporters had shown up. The publicity wasn’t going to make their work any easier.
Crivaro walked back toward Riley and Dahl, tucking his phone in his pocket.
“McCune just talked to the missing woman’s husband. The poor guy’s worried sick, but he told McCune something that might be helpful. He said she has a mole just behind her right ear.”
Dahl stooped down and peeked behind the victim’s ear.
“It’s her,” he said. “What did you say her name was again?”
“Janet Davis,” Crivaro said.
Dahl shook his head. “Well, at least we’ve ID’d the victim. We might as well get her out of here. I wish we didn’t have to deal with rigor mortis, though.”
Riley watched as Dahl’s team loaded the corpse onto a gurney. It was a clumsy effort. The body was stiff like a statue, and the puffily clad limbs extended in all directions, protruding from underneath the white sheet that covered it.
Finally dumbstruck themselves, the reporters gawked and stared as the gurney rattled across the field toward the ME’s van carrying its grotesque burden.
As the body vanished into the van, Riley and Crivaro pushed past the reporters and headed back to their own vehicle.
As Crivaro drove them away, Riley asked where they were going next.
“To headquarters,” Crivaro said. “McCune told me that some cops have been searching around Lady Bird Johnson Park where Janet Davis went missing. They found her camera. She must have dropped it when she was abducted. The camera is now at FBI headquarters. Let’s go see what the tech people can find out about it. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll give us some evidence.”
That word jarred Riley …
It seemed like a strange word to use when talking about something so singularly unlucky as a woman’s murder.
But Crivaro had obviously meant what he said. She wondered at how hardened he must have become, doing this work for as many years as he had.
Was he completely immune to horror?
She couldn’t tell from his tone of voice as he continued …
“Also, Janet Davis’s husband let McCune look through photos she’d taken during the last few months. McCune found a few photos that she had taken in a costume store.”
Riley felt a tingle of interest.
She asked, “You mean the kind of store that might sell clown costumes?”
Crivaro nodded. “Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?”
“But what does it mean?” Riley said.
Crivaro said, “It’s hard to say just yet—except Janet Davis was interested enough in costumes to want to take pictures of them. Her husband remembers her talking about doing that, but she didn’t happen to tell him where. McCune is now trying to figure out what store the pictures were taken in. He’ll call me then. It shouldn’t take him very long.”
Crivaro fell silent for a moment.
Then he glanced over at Riley and asked, “How are you holding up?”
“Fine,” Riley said.
“Are you sure?” Crivaro asked. “You look kind of pale, like you’re not feeling well.”
It was true, of course. A combination of morning sickness and the shock of what she’d just seen had definitely gotten to her. But the last thing in the world she wanted to tell Crivaro was that she was pregnant.
“I’m fine,” Riley insisted.
Crivaro said, “I take it you got some gut feelings about the killer back there.”
Riley nodded silently.
“Anything more I should know—aside from the possibility that he’d scared the victim to death?”
“Not much,” Riley said. “Except that he’s …”
She hesitated, then found the word she was looking for. “Sadistic.”
As they drove on in silence, Riley found herself remembering the spectacle of the body splayed atop the gurney. She felt a resurgence of horror that the victim had to suffer such humiliation and indignity even in death.
She wondered what kind of monster would wish this on anybody.
As close as she’d momentarily felt to the killer, she knew that she couldn’t begin to understand the sick workings of his mind.
And she was sure she didn’t want to.
But was that what was in store for her before this case was over?
And what about afterward?
Is this what my life is going to be like?
As Riley and Crivaro walked into the clean, air-conditioned J. Edgar Hoover Building, she still felt the ugliness of the murder scene clinging to her. It was as if the horror had gotten into her very pores. How was she ever going to shake it off—especially the smell?
During the drive here, Crivaro had assured Riley that the smell she’d noticed in the field hadn’t been from the body. As Riley had guessed, it was just from the trash left scattered from the carnival. Janet Davis’s body hadn’t been dead long enough to produce much of a smell—and neither had the bodies of Riley’s murdered friends when she’d found them back in Lanton.
Riley still hadn’t experienced the stench of a decomposing corpse.
Crivaro had said as they drove …
“You’ll know it when you smell it.”
It wasn’t something Riley looked forward to.
Again, she wondered …
What do I think I’m doing here?
She and Crivaro took an elevator to a floor occupied by dozens of forensic labs. She followed Crivaro down a hall until they came to a room with a sign that said “DARKROOM.” A lanky, longhaired young man stood leaning next to the door.
Crivaro introduced himself and Riley to the man, who nodded and said, “I’m Charlie Barrett, forensic tech. You got here just in time. I’m taking a break after processing the negatives out of that camera they found at Lady Bird Johnson Park. I was just going back in to make some prints. Come on in.”
Charlie led Riley and Crivaro into a short hallway bathed in amber-colored light. Then they passed through a second door into a room awash with the same weird light.
The first thing that really struck Riley was the pungent, acrid smell of chemicals.
Curiously, she didn’t find the smell to be at all unpleasant.
Instead, it seemed almost …
Cleansing, Riley realized.
For the first time since she’d left the field where they’d found the body, that clinging, sour stench of trash was gone.
Even the horror lifted somewhat, and Riley’s nausea disappeared.
It was a true relief.
Riley peered around through the dim, alien light, fascinated by all the elaborate equipment.
Charlie held up a sheet of paper with rows of images and examined it in the dim light.
“Here are the proofs,” he said. “It looks like she was one hell of a photographer. A shame what happened to her.”
As Charlie laid out strips of film on a table, Riley realized that she’d never been in a darkroom before. She’d always taken her own rolls of exposed film to a drugstore to be processed. Ryan and some of her friends had recently bought digital cameras, which didn’t use film at all.
Janet Davis’s husband had told McCune that his photographer wife had used both kinds of cameras. She tended to use a digital camera for her professional work. But she considered the shots she was taking in the park artwork, and she preferred the film cameras for that.
Riley thought that Charlie also seemed to be an artist, a true master at what he was doing. That made her wonder …
Is this a dying art?
Would all this skilled work with film, paper, instruments, thermometers, timers, valves, and chemicals someday go the way of blacksmithing?
If so, it seemed rather sad.
Charlie began to make the prints one by one—first enlarging the negative onto a piece of photographic paper, then slowly soaking the paper in a basin of developing liquid, followed by further soakings in what Charlie called a “stop bath” and a “fix bath.” Then came a long rinse over a steel sink under tap water. Finally Charlie hung the pictures by clips to a rotating stand.
It was a slow process, and a quiet one. The silence was only broken by the trickling sounds of liquid, the shuffling of feet, and a few words spoken from time to time in what seemed almost like reverential whispers. It just didn’t feel right to talk loudly here.
Riley found the stillness and the slowness to be almost eerily soothing after the noisy disorder at the murder scene, when cops had been struggling to keep reporters at bay.
Riley watched raptly as the images revealed themselves over several long minutes—ghostly and indistinct at first, then finally with sharp clarity and contrast when they hung dripping from the stand.
The black and white photographs captured a quiet, peaceful evening at the park. One showed a wooden footbridge extending over a narrow passage of water. Another seemed at first to be of a flock of seagulls taking flight, but when the image came into clearer focus Riley realized that the birds were part of a large statue.
Another photo showed a rough-hewn stone obelisk with the Washington Monument towering far in the distance. Other images were of paths for biking and walking that passed through wooded areas.
The pictures had clearly been taken as sunset approached, creating soft gray shadows, glowing halos, and silhouettes. Riley could see that Charlie had been correct in his opinion that Janet Davis had been “one hell of a photographer.”
Riley also sensed that Janet knew the park well and had chosen her locations long in advance—and also the time of day, when visitors were few. Riley didn’t see a single person in any of the photos. It was as if Janet had had the park all to herself.
Finally came some shots of a marina, its docks and boats and water fairly shimmering as the sun finally set. The gentle calmness of the scene was truly tangible. Riley could almost hear the gentle lapping of water and the cries of birds, could almost feel the caress of cool air on her cheek.
Then finally came a much more jarring image.
It, too, was of the marina—or at least Riley thought she could make out the shapes of boats and docks. But everything was blurred and chaotic and jumbled.
Riley realized what must have happened at the very moment she’d snapped that picture …
The camera got knocked out of her hands.
Riley’s heart jumped in her throat.
She knew the image had captured the very instant when Janet Davis’s world had changed forever.
In a fraction of a second, tranquility and beauty had turned into ugliness and terror.
As Riley stared at the blurred image, she wondered …
What happened next?
After the camera was knocked from the woman’s hands, what happened to her?
What did she experience?
Did she struggle against her assailant until he somehow subdued and bound her?
Did she remain conscious throughout her ordeal? Or was she knocked unconscious right there and then, when the picture was taken?
Did she then awaken to the horror of her final moments?
Maybe it doesn’t matter, Riley thought.
She remembered what the ME had said about the likelihood that Janet had died from an overdose of amphetamines.
If that was true, she had actually been frightened to death.
And now Riley was looking at the frozen moment when that fatal terror had really begun.
She shuddered deeply at the thought.
Crivaro pointed to the photo and said to Charlie, “Magnify everything. Not just this one, all the photographs, every square centimeter.”
Charlie scratched his head and asked, “Looking for what?”
“People,” Crivaro said. “Any people you can find. Janet Davis seems to have thought she was alone, but she was wrong. Someone was lying in wait for her. Maybe—just maybe—she caught him on film without realizing it. If you find anybody at all, get as clear a blow-up as you can.”
Although she didn’t say so aloud, Riley felt skeptical.
Will Charlie find anybody?
She had a feeling about the killer—that he was far too stealthy to let himself be accidentally photographed. She doubted that even a microscopic search of the photos would reveal any trace of him.
At that moment, Crivaro’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He said, “That’s got to be McCune.”
Riley and Crivaro left the darkroom, and Crivaro stepped away to take the call. He seemed to be excited by whatever McCune was saying to him. When he ended the call, he said to Riley …
“McCune has located the costume store where Janet Davis took some pictures. He’s on his way there, and says he’ll meet us there. Let’s get going.”
When Crivaro pulled up to the store called Costume Romp, Agent McCune was already there waiting in his own vehicle. He got out and joined Riley and Crivaro as they approached the store. It looked to Riley at first like a modest storefront establishment. The front windows were filled with costumes, of course—ranging from a vampire and a mummy to fancy dress outfits suggestive of earlier centuries. There was also an Uncle Sam costume for the upcoming Fourth of July.
When she followed Crivaro and McCune inside, Riley was startled by the vastness of the long brick interior, filled with racks loaded with what appeared to be hundreds of costumes, masks, and wigs.
The sight of so much make-believe took Riley’s breath away. The costumes included pirates, monsters, soldiers, princes and princesses, wild and domestic animals, space aliens, and every other kind of character she could imagine.
It boggled Riley’s mind. After all, Halloween only came once a year. Was there really a year-round market for all these costumes? If so, what did people want with them?
A lot of costume parties, I guess.
It occurred to her that she shouldn’t be surprised, considering the horrors she was starting to learn about. In a world where such awful things happened, it was small wonder that people wanted to escape into fantasy worlds.
It also wasn’t surprising that a talented photographer like Janet Davis would enjoy taking photographs here, in the midst of such a rich array of images. No doubt she used real film here, not a digital camera.
The monster masks and costumes reminded Riley of a TV show she’d enjoyed during the last couple of years—the story of a teenage girl who fought and slew vampires and other kinds of demons.
Lately, though, Riley had found that show less appealing.
After learning about her own ability to enter a killer’s mind, the saga of a girl with superpowers and super-obligations now seemed to cut a little too close to home for comfort.
Riley, Crivaro, and McCune looked all around but didn’t see anybody.
McCune called out, “Hello—is anybody here?”
A man stepped out from behind one of the costume racks.
“May I help you?” he asked.
The man cut a startling figure. He was tall and extremely thin, wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt that was printed to resemble a tuxedo. He was also wearing familiar “Groucho” glasses—the kind with an enormous white nose, black-rimmed glasses, and bushy eyebrows and a mustache.
Obviously taken somewhat aback, Crivaro and McCune took out their badges and told the man who they and Riley were.
Seeming utterly unsurprised to be visited by the FBI, the man introduced himself as Danny Casal, the owner of the business.
“Just call me Danny,” he said.
Riley found herself waiting for him to take off the nose glasses. But as she looked at him more closely, she realized …
Those are prescription glasses.
They also had remarkably thick lenses. Danny Casal apparently wore these glasses all the time, and he surely would be quite myopic without them.
McCune opened a manila folder.
“We have photos of two women,” he said. “We need to know if you’ve ever seen either of them.”
The eyebrows and fake nose and mustache all bobbed up and down as Danny nodded. He struck Riley as a peculiarly serious and dour man to be wearing such a getup.
McCune pulled out one photo and held it for the shop owner to see.
Danny peered at the photo through his glasses.
He said, “She’s not one of our regular customers. I can’t guarantee that she’s never been in the shop, but I don’t recognize her.”
“You’re sure?” McCune asked.
“Does the name Margo Birch mean anything to you?”
“Uh, maybe something in the news. I’m not sure.”
McCune pulled out another photo. “What about this woman? We believe she came to your establishment to take pictures.”
Riley, too, looked closely at the photograph. This must be Janet Davis. It was the first time she’d seen her living, unpainted face—smiling and happy and unaware of the terrible fate that awaited her.
“Oh, yes,” Casal said. “She was in here not long ago. Janet something.”
“Davis,” Crivaro said.
“That’s right,” Casal said with a nod. “A nice lady. A nice camera too—I’m something of a photography buff myself. She offered to pay me to let her take pictures here, but I wouldn’t accept. I was flattered that she found my establishment worthy of her efforts.”
Casal tilted his head and looked at his visitors.
“But I don’t suppose you’re here with good news about her,” he said. “Is she in some kind of trouble?”
Crivaro said, “I’m afraid she was murdered. Both of these women were.”
“Really?” Casal said. “When?”
“Margo Birch was found dead five days ago. Janet Davis was murdered the night before last.”
“Oh,” Casal said. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Riley barely noticed any change in his tone of voice or facial expression.
McCune changed tactics. He asked, “Do you sell clown costumes here?”
“Of course,” Casal said. “Why do you ask?”
McCune abruptly took another photo out of his folder. Riley almost gasped when she got a look at it.
It showed another dead woman dressed in a clown costume. She was splayed on concrete next to an alley dumpster. The costume was similar to the one that Janet Davis, the victim found in the park this morning, had worn—puffy fabric with huge pompom buttons. But the colors and patterns were somewhat different, and so was the makeup.
Margo Birch, Riley realized. The way she was found.
McCune asked Casal, “Do you sell costumes like this one?”
Riley noticed that Crivaro was scowling at McCune. McCune was obviously testing Casal’s response to the photo, but Crivaro seemed to disapprove of his blunt approach.
But like McCune, Riley was curious as to how the man was going to react.
Casal turned to look at Riley. She simply couldn’t read his expression. In addition to the bushy eyebrows and mustache, she could now see how really thick the lenses were. Although he was surely making eye contact with her, it didn’t look like it. Refracted through the lenses, his eyes appeared to be directed slightly elsewhere.
It’s like he’s wearing a mask, Riley thought.
“Is this Ms. Davis?” Casal asked Riley.
Riley shook her head and said, “No. But Janet Davis’s body was found in a similar condition this morning.”
Still with no change in his tone of voice, Casal said to McCune …
“In answer to your question—yes, we do sell this sort of costume.”
He led his visitors over to a long rack full of clown costumes. Riley was startled at how varied they were.
As Casal browsed among some tattered jackets and baggy, patched up pants, he said, “As you can see, there are several different types of clowns. For example, there’s the ‘tramp’ here, often personified as a hobo or a vagabond, with a worn-out hat and shoes, sooty sunburned makeup, a sad frown, and a painted stubble of beard. The female equivalent is often a bag lady.”
He moved on to group of more motley costumes.
“Somewhat related to the tramp is the ‘Auguste,’ a traditional European type, more of a trickster than a vagabond, an underling and a flunky. He wears a red nose and mismatched clothes and alternates between inept clumsiness and agile cunning.”
Then he shuffled through some costumes that seemed to be mostly white, some of them spangled and with colored trim.
He said, “And here we have the traditional European whiteface, the ‘Pierrot’—composed, poised, graceful, intelligent, always in control. His makeup is simple—completely white, with regular features painted in red or black, like a mime, and he often wears a conical hat. He’s an authority figure, often Auguste’s boss—and not a very nice boss. Small wonder, though, since many of Auguste’s jokes are at his expense.”
He moved through dozens of wildly different costumes, saying …
“Now here we’ve got lots of different ‘character’ clowns, based on types familiar from everyday life—cops, maids, butlers, doctors, firemen, that kind of thing. But here’s the type you’re looking for.”
He showed his visitors a row of brightly colored costumes that definitely reminded Riley of the victims in the picture and the field.
“This is the ‘grotesque whiteface,’” he said.
That word caught Riley’s attention.
Yes, that certainly described what had been done to Janet Davis’s body.
Fingering one of the outfits, Casal continued, “This is the most common type of clown, I suppose, at least here in America. It doesn’t reflect any particular type or profession or status. The grotesque whiteface is just generally clownish-looking, ridiculous and silly. Think Bozo the Clown, or Ronald McDonald—or Stephen King’s ‘It,’ to cite a scarier example. The grotesque typically wears a baggy colorful costume, outsized shoes, and white makeup with exaggerated features, including a huge wig and a bright red nose.”
Crivaro seemed to be genuinely interested in what Casal was now saying.
He asked, “Have you sold any of these grotesque-type costumes lately?”
Casal thought for a moment.
“Not that I remember—not at least during the last few months,” he said. “I could look through our receipts, but that might take a while.”
Crivaro handed him his FBI card and said, “I’d appreciate if you’d do that and get back to me.”
“I’ll do that,” Casal said. “But remember, the grotesque costume is extremely common. It might have been bought at any costume shop anywhere in the city.”
McCune smirked a little and said, “Yeah, but this isn’t just any costume store. One of the victims was here pretty recently taking pictures.”
His expression still inscrutable, Casal put his hands in his pockets and said, “Yes, I can understand why that might concern you.”
Casal looked off into space for a moment, as if deep in thought.
Then his whole body seemed to jerk to attention.
“Oh, my,” he said, finally sounding unsettled. “I just thought of something I think you’d better know.”