Enigma (FBI Thriller #21)

Enigma (FBI Thriller #21)

Catherine Coulter





To Angela Bell, FBI, who always hooks me up with the experts I need.

To Special Supervisory Agent Joshua Wilson, of FBI CARD team—child abduction rapid deployment—for detailed information on their procedures. If I got everything right, you can reward me by wearing a billboard: Enigma on both sides. If I got anything wrong, you can punish me by wearing a billboard with Enigma on only one side.

To Karen Evans, my brilliant, funny assistant and right side of my brain. Your name will live forever as the Queen of Nothing Is Impossible. May our synergy continue into the misty future.

Whenever science makes a discovery, the Devil grabs it while the angels are debating the best way to use it.

—Alan Valentine


People couldn’t move out of his way fast enough, some of them even crossed the street to avoid getting too close to him. He realized, on some level, that what was going on in his head was making him look and act crazy, but he couldn’t help that. Maybe the blur of his thoughts, the dizziness, the weakness he felt would get better. His brain tripped away from that thought so fast he couldn’t catch it long enough to consider what it meant.

At least he’d managed to get what he needed from Morley’s Gun and Sports. He’d broken in, found the AR-15 he was looking for displayed on a wall, and was aware enough to wrap it in a bag along with the Remington cartridges so people wouldn’t see he was carrying an assault rifle. And he’d found some hunting clothes on a display table, grabbed up chinos, shirts, boots, and socks. It had felt strange to be putting on real clothes, clothes that sort of fit. He’d left his green drawstring pants, smock, and slippers on the floor.

He put one foot in front of the other on the street, focused only on moving on. He waved down a passing bus and held out the money he’d stolen to the bus driver and let him pick out what was owed. The bus was a gift. Maybe he wouldn’t be too late. He sat down, breathed slowly in and out, and whispered his mantra over and over so he wouldn’t forget: I’ve got to save her; I’ve got to get to her in time.





Dr. Janice Hudson clutched Savich’s arm, her words tumbling over one another. “Thank goodness you were home, Dillon, and you came. Listen, I was outside weeding my impatiens when I saw a man ring Kara’s doorbell. She opened the door and he started yelling at her, waving his arms around, and then he shoved her inside and closed the door. I heard her scream.”

“Did he see you?”

“No, no, he didn’t. He’s a young man, Dillon, unkempt, baggy clothes, and he had a long package under his arm. I thought it could be some sort of gun.” He wanted to tell her that was unlikely, but he’d known Dr. Janice Hudson all his life; she’d been a close friend of his grandmother’s. She’d also been a psychiatrist for more than forty years, and he could only imagine what she’d seen in that time. He’d trusted her instincts enough to drop everything and run over when she’d called him.

“I called 911, too, but I don’t know how long it will take them to get here. You have to help Kara, she’s such a sweet girl. Like I told you, she’s pregnant; the baby is due in one week. She’s been renting the house for nearly six months and—”

She drew a deep breath, got herself together. “That’s not important. Dillon, when I saw his face, and the way he moved, stumbling and weaving when he stood in place, he seemed severely disturbed, probably medicated. Every now and then he screams at her—there, listen!”

It was a young man’s voice, a mad voice overwhelmed with panic. “You’ve got to understand! You have to come with me; we have to get away from them. I know they’re coming and they’ll take you. You’ve got to come away with me before it’s too late!”

“Who will take her? Before what’s too late? He sounds paranoid, delusional. He’s been yelling about the baby, ranting and cursing about some kind of gods, making no rational sense. He hasn’t said who those gods are, but I’m frightened for Kara, especially if he’s armed. I’ve dealt with people as disturbed as he is too many times in my life not to be. Dillon, you’ve got to help her, now.”

Savich turned to see a police car pull up, a Crown Vic behind it. Two officers piled out of the squad car, and behind them Detective Aldo Mayer, a man other cops called Fireplug behind his back, hauled himself out of the Crown Vic, looking harassed. Savich could let Mayer deal with this. Mayer had experience, and he’d clearly been close when the call came in. Savich saw him wave to the two officers and motion them over.

The man screamed at them through the front window. “I know they sent you, but how did they find me so fast? It’s too soon! You stay away, I’ve got a rifle. Stay back!”

He pushed the barrel of an AR-15 assault rifle out from between the drapes and fired. The cops scrambled for cover as bullets struck the side of the Crown Vic and the patrol car. There was silence again, except for the sirens in the distance.

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