A Jump To Conclusions No. 23

In the hall, I fit my comm to my ear and called Amber. “Sam,” she said, right as she picked up. “We have excellent news. My friend in University Park found the dealer who sold the weapon we found. The buyers? Abbot McKenzie and Dalton Heath, on the occasion of the founding of Heath, McKenzie, and Company. They bought a matching pair and a display case.”

“Tying Heath to the murder. I, too, have good news—the woman I spoke to, Minerve Caswell, knew both McKenzie and Heath. She says that McKenzie became withdrawn two months ago, when we would have expected him to should he have been framing Heath. More usefully, she saw Heath last night, with timing that proves conclusively that Heath was not at home at the time of the murder. Her building has cameras.”

“Well.” Once again, I could practically hear her smile. “Sounds as though we’ve some footage to watch.”


We invaded and occupied a conference room on the 72nd floor, and ten minutes later the technicians had readied video feeds from Caswell’s buildings and nearly all of the street-level cameras in Upside. We started outside Caswell’s apartment, where we found Heath arriving. The time stamp read 22:34. We ran the video backward, switching cameras to follow Heath out of the building and along the streets. Several times, he ducked into the Underground, paying in cash to take trans that didn’t lead directly toward his destination.

“Suspicious,” said Baker.

I could hardly disagree. Heath had some rudimentary knowledge of fieldcraft, and it might have fooled passerby or the police on the street, but watching it from afar revealed it as amateurish. Even so, we nearly lost him on a change of trains in Upside Central. Eventually, we followed him back to the vicinity of my apartment. He went down an alley and emerged a minute later, and then we ran out of cameras. Amber ran the video back to the first glimpse we’d had of Heath, walking calmly away from my apartment building while the Police Arm established its cordon.

Amber dispatched some uniforms to search the alley where it appeared Heath had stashed the weapon. “I’m rather more comfortable holding Heath now,” she said. “I’ve a growing pileup of circumstantial evidence to point to instead of a hunch.” She smiled, satisfied. “Do you think we might be able to force a confession?”

I mulled it over. Heath was a proud man, but he wasn’t stupid, and I doubted he would have planned such a high-profile killing with any chance of escape. He didn’t seem willing to sacrifice his freedom for vengeance, unlike McKenzie.

It was almost immaterial, though. If Heath had planned to kill McKenzie so publicly, he would have known he would be caught, and he would have aired his grievances without hesitation; therefore, he had probably killed McKenzie in the heat of the moment. A confrontation, one thing leading to another, and in a flash of anger Heath pulling the trigger.

If that was so, he would be more reticent to admit to any wrongdoing, hoping to escape the tribunal without a conviction for murder, and we’d have to draw the confession out of him. If it were McKenzie I were playing, I would have laid out the evidence before him and let his mind do my job, but Heath would take more prodding than that. I sketched out my plan for Amber.

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