“Seemed to me to fit right in with the twentieth century.”

“It’s supposed to be different now.”

“Wait for the twenty-first. That’s my advice.”

“We’re not going to wait for anything. We’re going to try to do Kosovo right.”

“Well, good luck with that. Don’t come to me for help. I’m just a policeman.”

“We’ve already got people over there. You know, intermittently, in and out.”

I asked, “Who?”

Garber said, “Peacekeepers.”

“What, the United Nations?”

“Not exactly. Our guys only.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“You didn’t know because nobody is supposed to know.”

“How long has this been happening?”

“Twelve months.”

I said, “We’ve been deploying ground troops to the Balkans in secret for a whole year?”

“It’s not such a big deal,” Garber said. “It’s about reconnaissance, partly. In case something has to happen later. But mostly it’s about calming things down. There are a lot of factions over there. If anyone asks, we always say it was the other guy who invited us. That way everyone thinks everyone else has got our backing. It’s a deterrent.”

I asked, “Who did we send?”

Garber said, “Army Rangers.”

* * *

Garber told me that Fort Kelham was still operating as a legitimate Ranger training school, but in addition was being used to house two full companies of grown-up Rangers, both hand picked from the 75th Ranger Regiment, designated Alpha Company and Bravo Company, who deployed covertly to Kosovo on a rotating basis, a month at a time. Kelham’s relative isolation made it a perfect clandestine location. Not, Garber said, that we should really feel the need to hide anything. Very few personnel were involved, and it was a humanitarian mission driven by the purest of motives. But Washington was Washington, and some things were better left unsaid.

I asked, “Does Carter Crossing have a police department?”

Garber said, “Yes, it does.”

“So let me guess. They’re getting nowhere with their homicide investigation, so they want to go fishing. They want to list some Kelham personnel in their suspect pool.”

Garber said, “Yes, they do.”

“Including members of Alpha Company and Bravo Company.”

Garber said, “Yes.”

“They want to ask them all kinds of questions.”


“But we can’t afford to let them ask anyone any questions, because we have to hide all the covert comings and goings.”


“Do they have probable cause?”

I hoped Garber was going to say no, but instead he said, “Slightly circumstantial.”

I said, “Slightly?”

He said, “The timing is unfortunate. Janice May Chapman was killed three days after Bravo Company got back from Kosovo, after their latest trip. They fly in direct from overseas. Kelham has an airstrip. I told you, it’s a big place. They land under cover of darkness, for secrecy’s sake. Then a returning company spends the first two days locked down and debriefing.”

“And then?”

“And then on the third day a returning company gets a week’s leave.”

“And they all go out on the town.”


“Including Main Street and the blocks behind.”

“That’s where the bars are.”

“And the bars are where they meet the local women.”

“As always.”

“And Janice May Chapman was a local woman.”

“And known to be friendly.”

I said, “Terrific.”

Garber said, “She was raped and mutilated.”

“Mutilated how?”

“I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to know. She was twenty-seven years old. Jodie is twenty-seven years old, too.”

His only daughter. His only child. Much loved.

I asked, “How is she?”

“She’s fine.”

“Where is she now?”

“She’s a lawyer,” he said, like it was a location, not an occupation. Then in turn he asked, “How’s your brother?”

I said, “He’s OK, as far as I know.”

“Still at Treasury?”

“As far as I know.”

“He was a good man,” Garber said, like leaving the army was the same thing as dying.

I said nothing.

Garber asked, “So what would you do, down there in Mississippi?”

This was 1997, remember. I said, “We can’t shut out the local PD. Not under those circumstances. But we can’t assume any level of expertise or resources on their part, either. So we should offer some help. We should send someone down there. We can do all the work on the base. If some Kelham guy did it, we’ll serve him up on a platter. That way justice is done, but we can hide what we need to hide.”

“Not that simple,” Garber said. “It gets worse.”


“Bravo Company’s commander is a guy called Reed Riley. You know him?”

“The name rings a bell.”

“And so it should. His father is Carlton Riley.”

I said, “Shit.”

Garber nodded. “The senator. The chairman of the Armed Services Committee. About to be either our best friend or our worst enemy, depending on which way the wind is going to blow. And you know how it is with guys like that. Having an infantry captain for a son is worth a million votes to him. Having a hero for a son is worth twice that. I don’t want to think about what happens if one of young Reed’s guys turns out to be a killer.”

I said, “We need someone at Kelham right now.”

Garber said, “That’s why you and I are having this meeting.”

“When do you want me there?”

“I don’t want you there,” Garber said.

Chapter 5

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