I checked the rearview. The Chevy Impala had fallen back, allowing two other vehicles to come between us. I downshifted and stepped hard on the gas. “Shoot ’em down turn around come on Mony,” I sang aloud. The Audi accelerated so effortlessly that I didn’t know I was topping 90 mph until I glanced down at the speedometer. I checked the rearview again. The Impala had disappeared, yet I kept accelerating anyway, weaving in and around traffic just the way the skills instructor had taught me at the police academy.
I could have slowed down, but why would you own a $65,000 sports car if you can’t wring it out every once in a while? Besides, I was carrying my St. Paul Police Department ID; the word RETIRED was stamped across the face. In case I was stopped, I had it positioned in my wallet so an officer would easily see it if he demanded to look at my driver’s license. That way I wouldn’t be embarrassed by asking for a break—see, Officer, I was on the job for eleven and a half years—and he wouldn’t be embarrassed by giving me one.
I didn’t slow down until I hit I-494, heading north to I-394 and then east again toward Minneapolis. I sang, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…”
I-394 splits at the edge of downtown Minneapolis. Go right and you’ll merge with east I-94, which eventually leads to St. Paul. Go left and you’ll end up on the doorstep of Target Field, where the Twins play baseball. I went left, worked my way around the ballpark, and drove north until I reached the city’s North Loop, also known as the Warehouse District because of the number of old warehouses that had been converted into condos, apartments, boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. As well as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the district was also ranked twelfth on Forbes magazine’s list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods. Which meant that somewhere in the country there were eleven ’hoods where you were even more likely to see people wearing skinny jeans and Clark Kent glasses and saying things like “super sweet,” “stylin’,” and “let’s bounce.”
I found an open meter in front of Riley Brodin’s building. Her address had been included in the packet of information she had sent me. Probably I should have called ahead. It’s been my experience, though, that when asking questions sneak attacks nearly always work best.
I climbed the steps and rang her bell. She called down, I identified myself, and Riley buzzed me in. Her condo was on the top floor. She met me at the door. Her makeup had been removed, her ivory hair was plastered to her skull, and she had a lemon-soap smell as if she had just stepped from the shower. It made her seem younger, but not more innocent.
“Did you find him?” she asked. “Did you find Juan Carlos?”
Riley’s shoulders sagged with the news.
“Then why are you here?” she wanted to know. “Why aren’t you out looking for him?”
“We need to talk, Riles. I’m calling you Riles because you said it was the name your close friends use, and I think you’re going to need a friend.”
She found a chair and sat down, tucking her bare feet beneath her. I sat across from her.
“What is it?” Riley asked.
“I’ve been to Navarre’s house. It’s immaculate to the point that it looks more like a museum than a home.”
“I know. He likes it that way. He said it’s because he wants it to look perfect all the time.”
It took a few seconds for me to digest that bit of news. After I did, I said, “One thing about being neat, it makes it easier to notice the things that are missing, and the only thing that’s missing from Navarre’s house is his computer. His clothes are still there, his toothbrush…”
“What does that mean?”
“It means he left in a helluva hurry. Except…”
“His car is still there, too. A BMW 328i convertible.”
Riley nodded her head as if she knew it all along.
“Does he own another car?” I asked.
“No, just the Beamer. Does that mean—do you think Juan Carlos was kidnapped?”
“I might have thought so if there weren’t so many other people looking for him, too.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Someone is watching his house, watching the restaurant. That’s one.” I hesitated, then decided there was no need to bring the Mexican Mafia into the conversation just yet. “There’s another. Navarre’s partner, his partner at Casa del Lago, Mary Pat Mulally, said that a private investigator came around asking questions and threatening her when she refused to answer them.”
“Who? Who threatened Mary Pat? Who would dare?”
“Ms. Mulally thinks it’s your grandfather.”
Now it was Riley’s turn to take a few moments.
“That doesn’t make sense,” she said at last.
“Not to us, maybe. The thing is, Riles, I don’t think Navarre is missing. I think he’s hiding.”
“Are you sure you really want to know?”
“What does that mean?”