Edge of Apocalypse: pages 206-210 (Chapter Thirty-Six)
And we’re back with FBI Agent John Gallagher, doing his FBI thing. It’s a pretty short chapter, but what I like is that at least Parshall’s showing him detecting, which is more than I can say for when Jenkins no-showed Buck Williams’s GIRATing.
This time Gallagher is investigating the death of Roger French, who we know fits Atta Zimler’s M.O. thanks to our previous reading, as well as seeing Gallagher way back in Chapter Eight (Oh, and when I looked back there I just realized the book says he likes Ho Hos). So let’s follow along as he does his thing. First he talks to the two local police officers who first got called in. We learn that Roger French is a commercial insurance broker. They then question why the FBI’s involved.
“[A federal crime] that is currently under investigation.” Gallagher said with a half-smile. “Look, fellas, I caught the report on my laptop while I was out doing fieldwork on a case a couple states away. I had put a crime profiler submission out over interagency-net. Crimes within driving distance from upper state New York…crimes of a certain nature. Yours popped up. Here I am. Don’t mean to be pushy, but you know we feds have superior jurisdiction. So, what’s your theory?”
I like the technological up-to-date-ness of this, actually. In the old days Gallagher might not even have seen this until after the body was in the morgue and the reports were all typed up and filed away – and that could have been weeks or months after he first put out the request for information on unuusal murders of people with no known connections to organized crime.
And speaking of no connections – hell, Roger’s so clean I could use him to squeek my whiteboard if I ever had to:
Maybe a drug deal gone bad,” he suggested. When Gallagher tossed him a skeptical look, the detective added, “This part of town has developed some illegal drug traffic.”
The FBI agent had to ask the obvious, “So, is our guy here, Mr. French, a known drug dealer or user? Or maybe a frequenter at coke or heroin parties?”
The detective looked over at his partner who shook his head no.
“Any hint of drugs found here in this office?”
“Just some Tylenol in his desk.”
Gallagher had to restrain himself at that one. But he kept it professional.
“Any prior criminal record?”
Both detectives shook their heads.
“Any prior arrests? Outstanding warrants against Mr. French? Any judicial warrants of any kind out against him?”
The two detectives kept shaking their heads.
“Does your PD have anything bad to say about Mr. Roger French?” Gallagher said, now venturing into sarcasm. “Parking tickets…books not returned to the public library…”
The senior detective cleared his throat and finally said, “The deceased appears to be clean.”
For lack of better, however, the local cops are still of the belief that French might have been a dealer. His wife, apparently, has been preliminarily cleared of any suspicion of foul play. Gallagher starts filling in some of the blanks as he points out that French was likely tortured, and gets in a little dig at Iran in the process:
[Gallagher said,] “Perfectly standard interrogation technique, of course, if you live in, say, Iran. But, gentlemen, this is Philadelphia…” Then as he surveyed the body he added, “I think he put up a fight. Maybe reluctant to talk, otherwise no need to turn up the juice on this poor guy…”
The ball finally drops in this chapter when we see Gallagher put the pieces together:
“Mr. French is the son-in-law to Mr. Rocky Bridger, a retired general.”
“Where was the general detailed?”
Et voila. We learn that Gallagher also found out about the voice mail that Roger left for his wife, which puts a rough time on when the murder occurred, and he worked out how long it would take to drive from the swamp where Zimler left the dead body, to French’s workplace. By this point Gallagher’s pretty positive it’s Zimler who’s behind all this. He wraps up, leaves his card with the detectives, and heads off.
He calls his boss, Miles Zadernack, next.
“Miles, Gallagher here. That case I’ve been working on turned up something big. I think it needs a focused, special investigation.”
“What do you have?”
“My favorite subject…Atta Zimler. Miles, I think he’s entered the United States.”
“I’ve been piecing together the trail. It has all the elements of the modus operandi of our terrorist assassin.”
Unfortunately for Agent Gallagher, Zadernack appears to be pretty uninterested in picking up this trail, and orders Gallagher back to New York. We get the dun-dun-DUN cliffhanger with this final set of paragraphs:
John Gallagher clicked off his Allfone cell. His chest was burning again. Zadernack had already derailed his investigation of Ivan the Terrible, the talk radio host.
Now this. His first thought was, admittedly, one of base self-preservation. Am I getting canned? Demoted to a desk job? Reassigned to Montana? Something’s coming down. Whatever it is, this is not going to be good for John Gallagher.
What he didn’t expect, though, was something far worse.
Notice Gallagher gets an Allfone. That means he’s one of the really good guys. As opposed to that no-name Cal Jordan.
But what could be worse than being reassigned by his boss? He hasn’t done anything that wildly out of protocol, though it’s probably pushing things a bit to go ahead on an investigation that hasn’t been specifically assigned by his supervisor. Still, the ending of the chapter does make you wonder. I guess we’ll have to wait to find out, because next chapter we’re back to golfing, as only Joshua Jordan can do it.