Paul Finley thought he had buried his wife and daughter, but a mysterious phone call and an unexpected suicide make him question everything, and everyone, he thought he knew.
Private detective Paul Finley has tried hard to leave the past behind him, especially the night an automobile accident killed his wife and daughter. But a cryptic telephone call from a former police colleague plunges him into a mystery that rises to the highest levels of power and makes question how his family actually died.
“Jerry insisted you have this,” he said, extending the envelope. “It was one of his last wishes. ‘Only to Paul Finley,’ he said. ‘If anybody knows what to do with it, Paul Finley will be that person.’”
“What is it?”
Samuel Chilumu buckled his bag closed again with a shrug. “I did not look too closely, but they appear to be police reports of some kind. That was what Jerry worked at, yes? Oh, I am sorry. I did not identify myself. I was Jerry’s nurse. He was a very weak man near the end, and Sarah thought it best he have somebody with him at all times. I would like to think we became fast friends.”
“So you were with him when he called me?”
“Yes, he had me look up your number in Brooklyn.”
“And the reason he called…”
“What is in your hand, I believe. He never went into specifics with me. But he thought it was important to give you that.”
The contents of the envelope certainly felt like paper. “You didn’t know I was coming here. I didn’t know it until an hour ago. Why didn’t you just mail it to me?”
There was slightly more tolerance in his smile. “I work at the hospital only three blocks away. It was also an opportunity to pay my respects to Jerry. The way he spoke of you, you sounded like somebody who would also be sure to pay his respects.”
I heard the ping of cheap tin; there was nothing I’d ever said or done that would have given Christman that kind of an impression.
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had never particularly liked the guy… “I didn’t see him in five years. Something doesn’t scan.”
“Make sense. He didn’t mention this envelope or you on the phone.”
“Jerry was not always serene in his final days.”...“That envelope he handed me days before he called you and told me to put it aside. It is possible that when he was speaking with you, he did not recall giving it to me. The ravages of his disease can be quite disturbing, Mr. Finley. Sometimes he was fine, other times the injections had their effect on him. The day he spoke with you on the telephone was one of his more lucid days. We can only be thankful he is reunited with his Creator.”