Novel 3: Act III, Chapter 1, Scene 3a

TOC page here.

Diana and Mustapha arrive at the shelter, in order to break the news of Bill Knight’s death to Claire Longstreet, and also to find next of kin and any leads:

The sky was mostly light by the time they pulled up in front of Peachtree-Pine, but even this early, the door was open and a few people were milling about the entrance. Henry Buchanan was at the door, drinking out of a chipped coffee mug with World’s Best Dad printed on it. “Go on in,” he told them. “We all saw the news; Ms. Claire showed up a while ago, said to send you in. Who was it?”

“We can’t say,” said Diana. “We have to talk to the family, first.”

Claire Longstreet was in all black: sweater, jeans, real leather boots. She was pouring tea for herself. “My phone started ringing at four-thirty. Please tell me there’s some obvious clue and you’ll have someone in custody soon.” She grabbed two empty mugs, poured more tea, handed them out. “He was one of ours, wasn’t he?”

“One of yours,” said Mustapha.

Diana held out the tablet. “Bill Knight: I met him. You didn’t want him to talk to us. Now he’s dead.”

“Oh, no. But I don’t see how–“

“Cut the bullshit, Ms. Longstreet,” said Mustapha. “We’re not here to mess with your operation. We need a next of kin for Mr. Knight, if you’ve got it, and we need to know what meeting he was at yesterday evening.”

“Yes, yes, of course. I’m just… I’m wracked with grief, is what I am. Bill… Well, you saw him, Detective Siddal. He confronted his demons and came out the other side. His family… I just talked with his wife, three… no, four days ago now. He’s due—was due—to leave Peachtree-Pine and go back to living with her and her sons. They were going to throw him a party.” She put her face in her hands and wept.

Diana fiddled with her phone while Longstreet composed herself; then, she said, “All the information you have for his wife, please. And since he’s a member of your program, you’ll know where he went to his meeting. We need the names of the other participants in the program, and we need to talk to them, today. And you never got back to us on this fellow Red, and this time we’re not going to let you stonewall us.”

Longstreet pinched the bridge of her nose, hard enough and for long enough that Diana could see the tendons in her hand quiver with the stress. Finally, “Bill’s wife’s name is Catherine. Same last name. I can…” She got the MacBook out of her bag, typed and clicked, then took a pen and paper and wrote a few lines. She passed this to Diana. “Catherine works at AmericasMart, something about interior design. She lives with Bill’s father and the two teenage sons, but she’s mentioned several times that the business is an early-morning thing, so you should probably try her there first.” More computer work. “Bill was at the AA meeting at the Presbyterian Church on Peachtree and Fifth last night: says here it lets out at half past ten, but these AA people, they always stand around and talk, afterward. They don’t like to be alone. Henry will know if and when Bill came back.”

This is the third murder—to Claire, it’s the second—so they’re finally able to pry a next of kin and a last known location for Knight. What’s new here? Henry Buchanan is still a person of interest, and while Knight’s wife should be easy to contact, note that Longstreet didn’t answer the question about Red.

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