"Can we say the necklace is a non-issue at this point?"
"No. If it's a stolen item it has to be returned to the original owner." Tom looked at me, frowning. "What have you left out of the story? And don't lie to me."
I grimaced. "If I tell you…"
"If you don't, I'm out of here. I'll have people at the Royal Oaks in the morning and we'll move in and arrest everyone for dealing in stolen goods. That includes you."
I gave that some serious thought. "I'll tell you, but no names."
His eyebrows rose, then he agreed, adding, "For now."
I nodded. "All right. I know someone who is going to retrieve the book from Eber. The trade-off is this person gets the necklace in exchange."
"I don't like it," Tom said tightly.
"That's the way it is. The book is too valuable. Much more so than the necklace."
"You trust this person to actually do the trade?"
"Yeah, I do."
I shrugged. "Just a feeling. Sure, he could keep the book, but for some reason he seems to want the necklace and he can't get to it—given where it is. I wonder…" I had a thought. Off the wall, but.
"Maybe what Eber told Williams was the truth. The necklace really does belong to him. But… he needed more money than he could get by selling it so he comes up with a way to use it to get his hands on something much more valuable."
"Could be," Tom said thoughtfully. "Leave the necklace with Philips, steal the book, and threaten to call us if Philips reports the theft. Except… he realizes he's missing one important thing—the papers on the book. He can't sell it without them."
"He should have stuck with selling the necklace for what he could get. Now he's in trouble up to his pearly-whites."
"Presuming I can get enough information to prove he's behind the theft," Tom replied. "With your person relieving him of the book, the only way we'll have proof is if Eber actually shows up for the exchange in person—and if you and Philips can get him to say something that implicates him in the crime."
"We might," I said pensively, "be able to force the issue. When he calls Philips tomorrow with the number of the apartment he's using for the exchange then… Yeah, Philips tells him no exchange unless he shows up in person and he hints broadly that he's real sure he knows who Eber is, so he'll know if he sends a ringer."
"That could work. Let's hope Eber doesn't realize the book is gone."
"I think my… friend… knows what he's doing so that shouldn't be a problem."
"You better hope so. Okay, against my better judgment I'll help you with this. It'll take some planning. We have to figure Eber's going to have someone on Philips from the moment he leaves his home tomorrow morning. The same with you since you've been in on this from the beginning."
"If you can give me another hour of your time, I'll call Philips and get him over here. That way the three of us can put together something that'll work."
"Do it." He smiled sourly. "It's not like I didn't have anything else planned for my day off."