We’re back with King who’s also out on the water only, the narrator tells us, he’s paddling a kayak and going slower than her. Again, this is just Baldacci foreshadowing so hard that the walls are about to crumble. This is detail that will al pay off with Michelle and King have to flee the bad guys with the rescued Bruno and they have only a boat to escape. If you thought the scene where James Bond gave chase in a motorized gondola was exciting just wait.
He heard his name being called and looked up. She was standing on the rear deck of his house, calling out to him and holding up a cup of what he assumed was coffee. Joan was wearing the pajamas he kept in the guest bedroom. He took his time paddling back in and then walked slowly up to the house where she met him at the back door.
That’s an assumption that will get you killed, King. You’re better off imagining her holding a cup of hot rat poison she’s going to force on you. He goes back to the house and she says that though he was the first up he didn’t bother with coffee. Joan gets to work on breakfast and knows what he likes, because King’s tastes are fossilized. We’re told that, though Joan is a tough agent, she can be as feminine as any woman and, at times, sexually explosive.
King asks her if there’s been any news on Jennings or if he’s not cleared to hear about it. Joan says that’s FBI business and he knows it, while King says that agencies talk to each other. Joan says not really any more than they used to and that was never a lot. Then she diverts the conversation to them and King asks what she expected, that after eight years they’re just back together again. She says yes, in a fantasy of hers and starts playing footsie with him which King, at first, mistakes as accidental.
Okay, that time it was clear. Her foot had touched his leg. He was sure of that because it was still there and currently heading toward certain private areas of his person.
This would be funny if the rest of the books tone wasn’t deadly serious. If King and the characters were playing coy with each other, then it would fit and be amusing. However, Joan is being straightforward and it’s pretty clear what she’s after so this attempt at humor falls down a flight of stairs and breaks its neck. Joan then stands up, strips and swipes the dishes off the table and climbs onto it, trying to tempt him into sex.
King, being the stone faced noble hero, doesn’t react in the slightest. He comments on her not throwing her underwear and then picks up her pajamas and lays them on her before walking away. Joan seems disappointed and then laughs, saying that he’s finally grown up and she’s impressed.
Page break to King having showered and there’s a knock on the door. He finds some FBI agents and the local police chief waiting for him outside. They say that he has a pistol registered to him and he says yes, the public likes their deputies to be armed. They want to see it and King gets incredibly defiant, wanting to see a search warrant.
Though he thought they might be bluffing, they produce one and a large FBI agent tells him why they want it. King can’t believe it, saying that it would be stupid or lazy to have shot Jennings with his service revolver. He lets them in, they bag and tag the gun and leave him with a receipt. The chief tells him that they’re just checking everything and he doesn’t believe it while King says the chief doesn’t sound like he means it.
As soon as they’re gone, Joan makes an appearance. Once King’s caught her up to speed, she asks if he has an alibi. He says that he saw no one on patrol and no one saw him. Joan says that, too bad she wasn’t around before because she could have been his alibi but it’s too late for that. She says not to worry because the ballistics won’t match. King isn’t so sure, probably because he’s read ahead and knows that there was some evidence planting going on.
Then King asks her why she did that, pointing towards the kitchen table. Because having sex on a pile of bacon and scrambled eggs is just gross. She says she lost something eight years ago and was trying, stupidly, to get it back. She asks if she can come visit him again, saying she has something to ask him but will save for later. King then cleans up the mess and says that he’s sure that his life won’t be so easy to do the same to. Back to you, Michelle.
Michelle has taken a plane to North Carolina and we’re told about how she had to check her small knife and gun. How awful for you, Michelle. Then she rents a car, I hope we learn the color soon or I’ll just die, and drives out to an empty town where there’s not much because of the textile industry disappearing. The gas jockey comments on this, spits, and give Michelle her change so she can drive off.
Michelle finally ends up outside the Fairmount Hotel, the place where Clyde got shot. It’s surrounded by a fence and it’s ugly. Michelle wonders why Clyde was out here because there are so few people it probably wasn’t worth the effort for the votes. She doesn’t see any security around but decides to wander around and have a look before slipping through a hole in the fence and stealing all the copper she can find.
There’s not much for Michelle to find, other than a river that’s at the bottom of a cliff. She stares down and steps away from it slowly because she doesn’t like heights. There’s a character flaw I’m sure we’ll see again. Michelle heads inside and examines the floor plan she brought along with a flashlight. She makes her way to the room where Clyde was gunned down and suddenly the ghost of assassin’s past leaps out and conks her on the head with a candlestick. And her body wasn’t found until winter.
Or she wanders through an abandoned hotel for a bit, jumps at a sound and looks around. Michelle finds the elevators where King was looking and we’re told that the USSS had secured and locked them for Clyde’s visit. Michelle peels up carpet and finds the bloodstains and then the filing cabinets behind the front desk where there are records of Clyde’s stay.
Michelle visits his room and finds a pair of silent, staring twins before the elevator opens up and a torrent of blood rushes out. Or it’s just a plain old hotel room connected to another. Michelle goes back downstairs and searches for employment records then leaves. Back at her motel room, she starts calling maids on the list, pretending to be a documentary filmmaker. They’re all happy to interview, which confuses Michelle until she remembers she’s in the sticks and there’s nothing else to do.
Would you believe that Michelle then goes and gets a hamburger? Three guys, in cowboy hats no less, come over to flirt with her. This is the worst thing that could possibly happen so she decides to scare the third one off by showing him her gun. She finishes her dinner and goes back to her room to sleep.
Page break and the nameless, almost faceless villain is watching her room from his old Buick. He hadn’t anticipated she’d show up because he didn’t know there was another protagonist. He debates whether he should kill her now or wait until she’s got the armor of the plot to stop her. There are too many “complications” that would result from her death now, namely that she’d be out of the way, so he drives off and she gets to live to thwart the villain later.