Broken Prey
Author:John Sandford

Lucas looked at Sloan, who shrugged. “Hard to tell what that is,” he said. “Maybe he didn’t want there to be any DNA, so maybe he knows about DNA and worries about it. Maybe he’s afraid of AIDS, which might mean something if we could show that Rice had some homosexual contacts.”

 

 

“The sexual . . . um, aspects . . . really look like a gay thing to me,” the tech said. “The violence and the sexual trophy-taking.”

 

Lucas and Sloan nodded. “But why was the first one a woman?”

 

“Maybe there was a gay thing, then Rice went after the woman, and his gay partner blew up,” the tech said. “Maybe he was punishing them, and that’s what all this whipping stuff is about.”

 

“Maybe,” Lucas said doubtfully.

 

“It’s a concept,” Sloan said. He didn’t care for the idea either. “We need to get this biography. I need to see if I can link Angela Larson to anything down here.”

 

“You said she was a student; there’s a state university branch down here.”

 

“I’ll look,” Sloan said. “But I did all that background on her, and nobody said nuthin’ about Mankato.”

 

 

 

WHEN THE CRIME-SCENE PEOPLE were done, the medical examiner’s assistants came in and picked the body up, zipped it into a bag, and carried it out. The blood splotch on the floor, which retained the impression of the kneeling body, looked like strange black modern art.

 

They stood over it for a moment, and then Sloan said, “I don’t think there’s much more here.” They’d been inside, looking for something, anything, for five hours. If they’d found anything useful, it wasn’t apparent.

 

“This guy . . . ,” Lucas said. He took a deep breath, let it out as a sigh. He was thinking about the killer. “This guy is gonna bust our chops.”

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

HE WAS SHORT, big nosed, red haired, pugnacious, intense, loud, never wrong, willing to bend any ethical rule, and three years out of journalism school. He had a facility with words admired by some in the newsroom. The admiration was offset by the undeniable fact that he was an ambitious weasely little asshole; and saved, to some extent, by the additional fact that at the Star-Tribune, being an ambitious weasely little asshole was not a distinguishing characteristic.

 

Ruffe Ignace stood on the corner, talking to himself—nothing in particular, snatches of old songs, possible story leads, bits of internal dialogue, comments on the passing cars and the women inside them. He bounced on his toes like a boxer, and talked to himself, all the time, like humming, or buzzing. He called the ongoing dialogue Ruffe’s Radio, and he played it all the time.

 

Boy in a Bubble, maybe there’s something there; Mmm, Lexus GX470, you old fart; hey, look that, look at that ass. Yes, Pat, there he is, Ruffe Ignace, supposedly the richest man in America. He was with the Special Forces before that, you know, a war hero, in Afghanistan, killed twenty-four Afghanis with a Bowie knife. He’s got more money and had more supermodel pussy than any other six guys in the country. Say, I’d like to get that jacket—that’s a good-looking coat . . .

 

Like that.

 

All the time.

 

A co-worker once complained that sitting next to Ignace was like sitting next to a bad-tempered bee. Ignace ignored her; and now he stood on the corner, bouncing, waiting, and buzzing.

 

 

 

HUBBARD CAME DOWN the other side of the street, bright blue double-knit blazer from JCPenney, gray slacks, brown shoes. From a hundred yards away, he held Ignace’s eyes, then turned and went into the front doors of the public library. Ignace waited through another light, then followed him.

 

 

 

RUFFE IGNACE HATED HIS NAME. Both first and last, but especially Ruffe. Ruffe—Roo-Fay—came from a French word meaning “red haired.” Since he was red haired, and since his parents had been French, he could hardly deny the truth of it. The newsroom people learned early in his career that Ruffe hated being called Rufus, which also meant red haired, so they called him that at every opportunity. A few people even tried Iggy, but that drew a response so violent and poisonous that they decided to leave it alone.

 

Ignace barely tolerated the Star-Tribune, which he considered next of kin to a suburban shopper. He looked forward to his career at the New York Times, where virtually all reporters had weird names, and where Ruffe Ignace would be considered distinguished, rather than an occasion for jokes.

 

To get there, he had to do something good. To do something really good, you needed luck and talent.

 

Ignace had the talent. In addition to his writing ability, he had a nice sense of drama and, more important, knew how to suck when he needed to. As a member of the paper’s Public Safety Team, he applied the suck liberally around the Minneapolis Police Department.

 

A part-time homicide cop named Bob Hubbard was Ignace’s best inside source. Hubbard wanted a full-time homicide desk, instead of being shuffled off to Sex or Property Crimes whenever they needed more people. Ignace promised, and delivered, attention to Hubbard’s crime-solving talent. Hubbard delivered the goods from the inside.

 

Luck was an entirely different matter. Luck either kissed you on the ass, or it didn’t. Not much you could do about it but get ready in case it happened.

 

 

 

IGNACE SLIPPED INTO THE LIBRARY two minutes behind Hubbard. They met at the library because Hubbard had never seen a cop there, and back in the Female-Problems stacks, you might go decades without seeing one.

 

Hubbard was peering into a book called The Vaginal Perspective when Ruffe turned the corner. The cop slipped the book back on the shelf and asked, shocked, “You ever see what’s in these things?”

 

Ruffe looked at the ranks of books and shuddered. “No.” To Hubbard: “Whatcha got, Bob? I got that thing on the Mikasa shop and the Mini-Cooper . . .”

 

“This ain’t funny,” Hubbard said urgently, pitching his voice to a near-whisper. He was a blond, fleshy man with pink cheeks made rosier by booze. He was holding a manila envelope. “You gotta, gotta, gotta cover for me. Honest to God, I don’t even think I oughta be here.”

 

Now Ruffe was interested. Hubbard was sweating.

 

“So whattya got?”

 

“You owe me big for this one,” Hubbard said.