“This isn’t an interrogation or an arrest, it’s simply an interview. I’m sure Dottoressa Wood wants to help the investigation.” The officer gave Raven a pointed look.
She blinked, not knowing what to say.
Patrick held his ground, still holding Raven’s arm.
The man cursed and removed something from underneath his jacket, flashing it under Patrick’s nose.
“I am Sergio Batelli, the ispettore from the Carabinieri. She does not have a diplomatic passport and her name is on the list of Uffizi employees. Under Italian civil code, I can acquire information from her at the police station without notifying anyone, especially the Americans. Capisce?
“Perhaps you’d like to be interviewed with her, Signor Wong. Are you lovers? How long have you known one another?”
Patrick cursed and took a step forward, but Raven intervened, placing her hand over his.
“It will be all right. I’ll just go and answer their questions. But please, tell Professor Urbano what’s happening. He’ll be expecting me in the restoration lab.”
Patrick fixed the officer with a look of defiance. “I’ll be notifying Dottor Vitali, the director of the Uffizi, and the American consulate. And I’ll be naming names, Ispettor Batelli.”
The officer shrugged.
“Dottoressa Wood.” He gestured to the street, where a police car had just pulled up to the curb, lights flashing.
Patrick squeezed Raven’s hand before sprinting in the direction of the Uffizi.
“This way.” Batelli’s voice was gruff as he and the other men led Raven to the car.
“For your information, I should state that this is not an interrogation. You are not under arrest. We are interviewing you in connection with the theft of art from the Uffizi because you work at the gallery. This conversation is being video recorded.
“Dottoressa Wood, where were you on Friday, May seventeenth?”
Batelli sat across from her in a small interrogation room in the Florence police station, his dark eyes keen and peering.
He had files in front of him, but they were closed. He wasn’t even taking notes. He was simply watching her.
Another man, wearing a dark suit, stood behind him and to his left. He’d been introduced as Alessandro Savola, an Interpol agent from Rome. He, too, was watching Raven, arms crossed, eyes alert.
She felt as if she were a sample being examined under a microscope.
She contemplated her options for a moment, staring back at the agents and wondering about her predicament.
She loved her work. She loved the Uffizi. She was willing to do anything to help the police find whoever had stolen the illustrations. That included answering the officer’s very uncomfortable, potentially hazardous questions.
“I came to work in the restoration lab. At the end of the day, a group of us went to a friend’s party.”
“Gina Molinari. She works in the archives.”
“Where did you go after the party?”
Raven focused on a spot on the wall, over his shoulder, willing herself to remember.
“I went home.”
Ispettor Batelli leaned forward in his chair.
“What time was that?”
Her eyes met his.
“I don’t remember, but the party was still going on. I said good-bye to Patrick and to Gina and walked home.”
“Do you live with anyone? Did anyone see you when you arrived home?”
“I live alone and no, no one saw me.”
“Do you have a lover? A boyfriend or girlfriend?”
“No.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“When did you first hear about the robbery?” The inspector’s voice was casual. Too casual.
“This morning, when I came to work.”
The agent’s eyes narrowed. “What about newspapers? Radio? Television?”
“I don’t take the newspaper and I don’t have a television. Sometimes I listen to the BBC in the morning but I woke up late for work and didn’t bother.”
“Why are you carrying your passport and other important documents? Aren’t you afraid of thieves?” Batelli gestured to the items, which were sitting on the desk next to her identification card.
“My old passport was going to expire. I picked this one up at the consulate the other day, but I had to present the paperwork that showed I was working in Italy legally. I must have forgotten to take everything out of my knapsack.”
“The name on your documents doesn’t match the name on your identification card.”
She clenched her teeth. “My name is Raven.”
“That’s not the name in your passport.”
That’s because the name in my passport is dead, she thought.
She tried to appear relaxed, folding her hands in her lap. “In America, it’s common for people to have nicknames.”
“What part of America are you from?”
“Your employee file states that you attended Barry University and New York University.”
“How long have you been in Florence?”
“I spent a year here while I was finishing my master’s degree from NYU. Then I returned three years ago while I was writing my dissertation. When I graduated last year, Professor Urbano hired me to work for him at the Opificio.”
Batelli’s eyes narrowed. “I thought Professor Urbano worked at the Uffizi.”
“He does, but only on contract. He runs a lab at the Opificio, which is a world-renowned restoration institute. He was hired by the Uffizi, along with his team, to work on a single project. I’m part of that team.”
“So you have a Ph.D. in art history and conservation?”
She squirmed. “And restoration. I was trained in both, but focused on restoration for my dissertation.”
“Interesting,” he said. “How is this restoration work done?”
“We begin by doing scientific research on the artwork. There’s a lab in the Fortezza da Basso where we use microscopes, spectrophotometry, and X-ray machines. Sometimes we use ultraviolet rays or infrared photography. We also do archival work, comparing previous restoration and conservation attempts with current scientific findings.”
The inspector stared. “You do all these things?”
“I help where needed, but on this project I spent most of my time removing layers of varnish from the painting so we could get at the paint beneath. Then, someone more accomplished than me fixed the cracks and flaking in the original paint. This week, we’re supposed to start applying a transparent varnish to the artwork in order to protect it. Because of the size of the piece and its age, this process could take months.”