Monday, July 13, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 32

"Walt," Ricky said, "where do you think the necklace comes into this?"

"If I had to guess, I'd say it was the bait. Give it to Bailey, without the provenance papers, knowing he'd probably do exactly what he did, put it away until Mr Williams returned with them."

"Which wasn't happening because he was just the… messenger so to speak," Ricky said.

"Bingo. And"—I drummed my fingers on the arm of the sofa—"Yeah. Best guess is he's working for Eber since they know each other, and he owed Eber for standing up for him in court."

"Where does Ms Dixon fit in? Other than that she claims she's William's girlfriend."

"She was probably casing out my office and what sort of security I have. Whichever man it is who wants the book, he had to be certain I wasn't holding the necklace for Bailey. He couldn't use it to blackmail him into giving up the provenance papers for the book if he didn't have it in the first place."

"Okay, that makes sense. But why steal the book when they couldn't… Oh."

"Yeah. Bailey, how often do you actually check the books you keep in that bookcase?"

"To be honest, only when I'm looking for a specific one to show a potential buyer," Philips said.

"So if the Hammett was missing, you might not notice, if the thief made certain not to leave an empty space."

"Probably not. What are you thinking?"

"A competent thief could disarm the security on the bookcase and get into it fairly easily, given a bit of time. You said the office is never locked during business hours. The same scenario we talked about so your office could be bugged holds true for stealing the book. Keep you busy helping a someone, while his, or her, partner goes into your office and steals the book. Unfortunately for them, you don't keep the provenance papers with the books." 

"Good God, no. That would really be asking for trouble," Philips said adamantly.

"Exactly. The thief takes the book back to his boss, who realizes it does him no good without the papers. So he comes up with a plan to get them. He sends Williams to you with the necklace, knowing he can then blackmail you to get the papers, because the necklace is stolen property. But he also decides it's worth finding out if the papers are in the safe so he sets up the break-in.' 

"Covering all bases," Ricky said, "and if he gets lucky and they are in the safe then he's home free and there's no chance someone will discover he's behind the theft of the book."

"Yep. But he didn't get lucky, so he carries through with his original plan."

"That scenario works for either suspect, Eber or Caiazzo."

"It does. We won't know for certain which one it is until the exchange takes place."

"What if the man sends someone else instead of coming himself?" Philips asked.

"I know what Eber looks like," I replied. "Caiazzo, however…" I went over to Ricky's computer, which was sitting on the desk in a corner of the living room. An online search for Caiazzo's name brought up several pages of information, mostly about his bookstore. There were only a few pictures of him. Most of them were candid photos from social events with the names of the people listed below them. In the majority of them he was in profile or half-turned away from the camera, talking to someone. I finally found a publicity photo from the opening of his bookstore after it had moved from its original location five years ago. It showed a man in his early fifties with dark hair, graying at the temples, and regular if not particularly handsome features. Pretty much an ordinary business man, in a suit and tie. Judging from the people standing around him, he was of average height.

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