"If Mr Philips does what Eber wants, Eber's home free," I said. "He'll have legal, and I'm using the term very loosely, possession of the Hammett and there's nothing Phillips can do about it."
"Other than reporting the theft to the police."
"At which point, Eber tells the cops about the necklace."
"How would he explain…?" Caiazzo paused, looking thoughtful, then nodded. "All he has to say to them is, this Ms Dixon told him her boyfriend had stolen it from…whomever…and taken it to Mr Philips. Probably because Philips was his…his fence."
"Something like that."
"Eber could claim when he found that out, he went to Philips with the information and Philips gave him the book to keep him from going to the police."
"I hadn't gotten that far in my thinking, but I suspect you're right. It sounds like something Eber would come up with."
Caiazzo leaned back in his chair, looking hard at me. "All of this is very interesting, not to say appalling, but why come to me?"
"Because if Eber were to…misplace…the book, and the necklace turned up somewhere only he has access to…" I paused, wondering how he'd take what I was inferring without my coming right out and saying it.
Caiazzo cocked his head, staring at me. "Interesting plan. That still begs the question. Why come to me?"
"Okay, cards on the table. If I'm wrong, feel free to say so."
He broke in, smiled tightly. "I suspect you're going to mention the malicious rumors going around in certain quarters that I have a"—he spread his hands—"very profitable sideline."
"Even if they were true, which of course I'd never admit to, why would I help you out?"
I smiled. "From the goodness of your heart?"
He laughed heartily. "I have a heart?"
Sobering, I replied, "I hope so."
"Mr Murphy, you are presuming too much. I feel sorry for Mr Philips. I understand that he's in an untenable position and stands to lose a great deal. But there is nothing I can do to help you."
"Well, it was worth a try. Sorry for taking up your time." Standing, I left it at that. He held up one hand to stop me then took a business card from the holder on his desk. Turning it over, he wrote something on the back before handing it to me. There was an address and a time—one pm. I nodded.
"It was nice to make your acquaintance," Caiazzo said, ending our meeting.
"Yours as well," I replied and left.