Well, King has finally teamed up with Joan in an official capacity. I’ve always wondered exactly how a private investigator is supposed to investigate where the police fail. I guess if government law enforcement doesn’t have the man power to spare it might make sense but this is a high profile case and the police have far more resources at their legal disposal. They can obtain things like phone records where PIs cannot.
Pointless speculation aside, King and Joan fly by private jet to Ohio. They’re on their way to see Morse, the guy who’s supposedly in the mental institution. Joan had called ahead and gotten them permission already. She says the receptionist told her they could come but it wouldn’t do them much good. They start talking about Morse and it was his brother who committed him, his brother being the only family he has.
I can’t wait to see Baldacci’s portrayal of mental illness. I’m sure he’ll make a point to dispel some of the negative stereotypes and images cemented in popular culture by decades of dated movies and literature. Wait, why are all of you laughing?
Upon arrival they sit in a waiting area listening to sobs and moans of people who’s minds are gone. Because the only people in institutions are weeping husks of humanity who can’t be trusted with anything sharper than a crayon. An attendant brings Morse out and King recognizes him as the same man but Morse doesn’t say anything.
King and Joan talk about him like he’s not even there. Which is pretty fucking rude, even if Morse doesn’t say anything in the first place. That’s the kind of thing that would drive me crazy pretty quick. Then King leans in and tries to get him to talk, he doesn’t, and Joan and King speculate how he had some money from his parents and wonder where it went. Maybe his brother who had a wicked drug habit, King posits. Joan doesn’t care and is only concerned about Bruno.
Then a crazy guy—you can tell he’s crazy because he carries a stuffed rabbit— named Buddy asks if they’ve played the game with Sid(Morse). They say no and ask Buddy to show them. He fetches a tennis ball and throws it at Morse. Morse ignores it until the last second, then he reaches up and catches it. I guess Morse is one of the patients from Sleepers. Morse won’t give the ball back and Buddy says he’s mean.
They go to look at Buddy’s room, because he’s right next to Morse, and decide to peek into Morse’s room while they’re about. They look around and fill in some back story of Morse that’s particularly dull. They say his brother looks like a “Ted Bundy type” and Joan has King look under the bed. He doesn’t tell us what he finds but says they have to get out of their quickly. Before they go, Buddy demands a kiss and Joan humors him in what is supposed to be a funny moment that makes me laugh almost as much as Paolini telling a joke.
Now our idiots are off to Philadelphia to meet Bruno’s wife. The neighborhood they end up in looks rich and King asks if Bruno comes from old money. Joan says it’s from his wife’s side and Bruno grew up poor. Joan hasn’t met the wife yet and wanted King along for first impressions.
A Hispanic maid in a starched uniform complete with frilly apron and subservient demeanor showed them into the large living room. The woman almost curtsied as she left. King shook his head at this antiquated spectacle and then refocused when the small woman entered the room.
Tell me, Baldacci, what exactly a “subservient demeanor” looks like? Use your god damned words you hack. Don’t just tell me, show me! Tell me how she keeps her eyes downcast and hurries out of sight as soon as the master of the house has made her appearance.
Anywho, Catherine Bruno is a bitch. At least that’s the overall assessment by King. He thinks she would have made a good first lady because she’s pretty, I guess. He doesn’t like how full of herself she appears and that she doesn’t even mention that King’s head is bandaged. And here I thought she didn’t mention it because she’s being polite.
And being as Baldacci’s terrible at writing women, they’re automatically bitchy at one another. Not because they both want to sample King’s magic stick, but because that’s just the way they are. Joan asks questions and Cathy says she already told the police everything. Joan manages to get her to talk about how she didn’t really approve of him running for office and what he did before.
Page break to Joan and King talking about their interview and they figure Cathy wasn’t telling them everything. They decide they want to talk to the law firm Bruno worked for and then the widow of his old buddy Martin. Apparently there were some rumors that Bruno played “fast and loose” as a prosecutor and left Martin “holding the bag” so she’s not likely to be a fan of Bruno. Also, Joan got the autopsy results on Martin and it was just like Michelle found out earlier. Spike in menthol which may be poison disguised by the embalming fluid.
King wants to know what Joan thinks Mildred, the widow, can tell them. Joan says that Bruno must have thought she had something to tell him or else Bruno wouldn’t have met up with her. She also says that, from what she learned about him, he wouldn’t do anything that wouldn’t help him. Joan thinks that Mildred will tell King everything because she has a weakness for handsome men and she drinks a lot. That’s a brilliant plan, there Joan. Right up there with giving Buddy a kiss because he asked.