Puller pointed at the house. “You questioned them yet?”
“Was just going to,” said Bullock. “You want to sit in?”
Puller stared at him for a moment, suddenly disquieted by how nice the chief was being to him. Even Landry raised her eyebrows at this offer.
“I’ll just be part of the peanut gallery.”
“Suit yourself. But if something occurs to you, speak up. With all the crap that’s happening I’m thinking I need all the help I can get. Otherwise I’m going to b
e the former police chief of Paradise.”
They walked inside to question Peter J. Lampert and company.
The first thing Puller noticed was that Peter Lampert was fully dressed. White slacks, dark shirt, and sandals. But his hair was slightly damp, so the guy had showered.
Showered at this hour of the night?
Maybe after having sex?
He wondered who else had showered.
Lampert was sipping a drink from a bar that spanned one entire wall of a room that seemed as big as an airplane hangar but was decorated to look like Buckingham Palace.
He came forward and held out his hand to Bullock. “Nice of you to come personally, Chief,”
he said in a pleasant voice.
Bullock nodded and shook his hand. “Sure thing, Mr. Lampert.”
Lampert’s gaze flitted across Landry and then came to rest on Puller. He gazed up at him as he jiggled the ice in his cut crystal glass. “And who do we have here?”
“John Puller,” said Puller. “Army CID.” Bullock said quickly, “He’s just here observing, Mr. Lampert.”
Lampert kept his gaze on Puller for another few seconds and then smiled and finished off his drink.
“You’re very calm for someone who just had his car blown up,” said Puller, who had decided to step out of the peanut gallery.
Lampert held up the empty glass. “That’s what thirty-year-old Macallan is for. Replenishes the spine in no time.”
Scotch, thought Puller. Like in the guesthouse. Then it just came down to who did the underwear belong to?
Two more people came into the room, a man and a woman. They looked like models for Ralph Lauren, all-American with nary a flaw. The man was in shorts and a T-shirt. The woman had on a light blue thigh-length silk robe. They apparently had been in bed when it had happened. Guy threw on whatever was handy. Lady stepped into her robe.
The woman’s hair wasn’t damp.
“James Winthrop and Christine Murdoch,” Lampert said by way of introduction. “James works with me and Chrissy is his, uh, significant other.” He gave Murdoch a little smile and then turned his attention back to Puller.
Puller checked out both of them closely. Winthrop looked scared, Murdoch simply intrigued. That was miles apart on the emotional barometer, and Puller wondered why the man and his “significant other” would be so dissimilar in their reactions to tonight’s events. After all, a bomb was a bomb.
“Ofcourse we heard the explosion,” said Murdoch.
“What time was that?” asked Bullock.
“I looked at my watch when I jumped out of bed,” she replied. “It was nearly a quarter past one.”
Landry wrote this down in her notebook.
Bullock asked, “Did either of you see or hear anything unusual before or after the explosion?”
They both shook their heads.
Bullock gazed over at Lampert. “Where were you when it happened?” he said.
“I was in my room. My wife is out of town. I was reading a book and then all hell broke loose. Before that I didn’t see or hear anything unusual.”
Puller didn’t know if Landry and Bullock had noticed the man’s wet hair. Or wondered why Lampert was, unlike his guests, fully dressed.
“Did your security personnel see anyone?” asked Bullock.
“Not a thing, apparently. I thought they were the best in the business. Right now I feel like firing all of them and starting over.”
He glanced at Puller. “Army CID?”
“And before that?”
“Then you could be a first-rate security person. Whatever Uncle Sam’s paying you, I’ll double it.”
Puller had no idea if the guy was being serious or not, but he said, “Sorry, doesn’t work that way.”
“Anything works, if you want it badly enough.”
“Yeah,” said Puller. “You have any idea who could have done this?”
“I’ve had a business career filled with ups and downs. I’ve made enemies.”
“Screwing someone in business usually leads to a lawsuit, not a bombing,” replied Puller.
“Who says I screwed anyone?” Lampert said, dropping his friendly demeanor.
Murdoch broke in. “I think he was just speaking in generalities, Peter.”
Lampert kept his gaze on Puller. “Is that what it was? Generalities?”
“Let’s assume it was. Anyone on that list who would blow up your car?”
“There might be.”
Bullock said, “We’ll need those names.” “Okay.”
To Puller, Lampert looked uninterested by the whole thing. Most people who had had a bomb go off in their front yard would have been a little more stressed out. Lampert was either really stupid or there was a lot more to all of this. And Lampert didn’t seem stupid.
“Anything else?” asked Lampert. “I need to get some sleep.”
“We’ll continue our investigation outside,” said Bullock. “And we’ll follow up tomorrow.”
“Sounds good,” Lampert replied.
Bullock and Landry turned to leave through the front door.
Murdoch and Winthrop turned to go back to their rooms.
Puller stood right where he was.
The light blue robe was quite tight. From behind Puller could see the outline of Murdoch’s underwear. And the panties in the guesthouse seemed a little small to be hers. Not conclusive of course, but interesting nonetheless.
He glanced over and saw Lampert staring at him, like he had just read Puller’s mind.
“You have any other guests staying with you, Mr. Lampert?” he asked.
A thin smile spread across Lampert’s face. “Nope. Just the hired help.”
Bullock and Landry had turned back when this exchange started. They both stared with puzzled looks at Puller.
“Just the hired help? Thanks, Mr. Lampert, that’s all I needed to know.”
Lampert smiled and held up his glass. “I’m sure it is, Mr. CID. I’m sure it is.”
Puller walked out.
Another eighty had been delivered tonight. Just like clockwork.
Four boats’ worth.
They looked just like the last shipment. Destroyed.
Mecho watched from a different spot tonight. He did not like patterns. Patterns could get you killed. He had no reason to believe that