Anne asked more questions along the lines of where I was living and what I did for money. Her interest seemed professional rather than personal, though, so I figured the smile wasn’t working and decided to give it up. We made some noises about getting together later and said our good-byes with the promise that if either of us came across Navarre, we’d inform the other. I drove the Audi down the driveway and stopped at the main road. I waited for the traffic to clear while I contemplated my next move.
I had intended to visit Navarre’s restaurant. It was located on Gideon Bay on the south side of the lake, which was easy to get to by boat, not so much if you drove. Yet I also wanted to chat with Mrs. Rogers, who apparently had a place at Club Versailles. According to my GPS, the club was just as hard to reach by car as the restaurant. It was more or less in the same direction though, so I decided to stop there first.
I checked for traffic. That’s when I noticed that the red Sentra was gone, replaced by a black Cadillac DTS with silver wheels. The young driver stared straight ahead as I maneuvered onto the main road, but I saw him tilt his head to check me out in his rearview when I drove past.
When I was police, I was briefly partnered with a fabulous female homicide investigator named Anita Pollack. Nine out of ten times she could ID the killer immediately when we arrived at the crime scene—most of the time it was that obvious to her—and then it would be just a matter of connecting the dots. On the rare occasion when we would actually have to do some detecting, she would stroke her chin and speak the way you might expect Sherlock Holmes to. Her words came to me as I watched the Caddy receding in the mirror.
“There’s fuckery afoot.”
Club Versailles took up a large chunk of a peninsula more or less in the center of Lake Minnetonka, not far from the town of Navarre, with Crystal Bay to the north and Lafayette Bay to the south. Signs warned that I was traveling a private road and that trespassers would not be tolerated. Yet I wasn’t stopped on the road, nor when I pulled into the large parking lot. There were no guards at the door, either. Just a sign that declared nonmembers must report to the front desk. The lack of security surprised me. Given that the place looked like it had been built by someone who wanted to reproduce King Louis XIV’s Sun Palace—only nicer—I half expected to see a troop of musketeers patrolling the grounds.
The carefully groomed woman at the desk was about thirty, although the pleated black skirt and white knit shirt with CLUB VERSAILLES printed in gold over her left breast made her seem younger. There was a name tag over her right breast. SARAH NEAMY, it read. I’m embarrassed to admit I would have noticed her breasts even if there hadn’t been names hanging on them.
“May I help you?” she asked. Her entire body smiled at me.
“Good morning, Sarah,” I said. “I’d like to see Mrs. Rogers if she’s available.”
She pondered my request for a moment and pointed vaguely at a wall to her left. “Her condo is over there,” she said.
When I arrived I noticed two buildings, a main building with more wings than a shopping mall and a smaller building that looked like it was competing for a spot in Guinness World Records for most balconies. So I knew what she meant.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “This is my first time here. I don’t know the rules.”
“They’re pretty simple,” Sarah said. “If you’re a member you walk around like you own the place, because technically you do. If you’re not a member, you walk around like you own the place until someone notices and says, ‘Hey.’ Mrs. Rogers, did you say?”
“It’s nearly noon on a Wednesday, so she’s probably on the patio playing poker with whoever she’s fleecing this week.”
“Mrs. Rogers told me once that she was a dealer in Reno when she was young. I’ve seen her play. I believe her.”
I had no idea where the patio was or how to get to it. I pointed more or less toward the interior of the club. “May I…?”
“Does Mrs. Rogers know you’re coming?” Sarah asked.
“We’ve never met.”
Sarah smiled some more, this time only with her face. “I’ll tell her that you’re here,” she said. “You are?”
“McKenzie. Tell her it’s regarding her estate.”
While I waited, I examined the furnishings. Very plush. Very rich. I eventually ended up in a horseshoe-shaped Queen Anne chair with a view of the parking lot. Yet, as comfortable as the chair was, I felt uncomfortable sitting in it. I stood. I’m not easily intimidated by money. After all, I’m worth nearly five million bucks. Something about Club Versailles, though, conjured up memories of my blue-collar roots. I felt a little like a Visigoth just before he sacked Rome. Gazing out at the parking lot, I was glad I drove the Audi. I would have been embarrassed if anyone there had seen me in my old Jeep Cherokee, which was a new experience for me—being self-conscious about what other people thought.
What the hell is wrong with you? my inner voice asked.
Damn if I know, I told it.
You could whip out your checkbook and buy a membership right now!