“Same M.O. as the last one, perimortem injuries consistent with torture,” Dr. Moore stood over the mutilated corpse strewn across the hotel front desk “this is what remains of Nicholas Gruen, hotelier and, err, more than notorious playboy. In my expert opinion, these cuts were made by the same hand that ended the banker’s life 2 days ago.”
A strong stomach is a must in my line of work. I was usually immune to blood and gore but the extent of the mutilation had even me dry retching. The body was stripped bare and splayed across the counter in a sacrificial manner, the internal organs ripped from their places and scattered around it in a bloody mess.
I put on a pair of latex gloves as Dr. Moore handed me the victims wallet; expensive leather, probably Italian, monogrammed with the initials NG. I opened it and leafed through the contents – credit cards, receipts, the business cards to three different strip clubs, and a hundred and fifty six dollars. Bateman took it from my hands and passed me back the business cards.
“Hamilton? Find a connection between the two victims; these might help, do you think you can manage that?”
“Yes, right away, sir.” Of course I could manage it, I’m twenty-four not twelve, and quite capable, thank you very much. I smiled sweetly at him and just walked away. I disliked him at best. At worst, I contemplate the most effective, but equally painful ways to kill him and dispose of his sorry body. Obviously, I would never actually do it, but I still wondered what Ryan would think.
Outside was freezing, Baltic cold. I rushed across the icy car park, my head bowed against the sleet that threatened to cut through my thick parka. I took shelter in my little car and headed for the first club.
Inside was dark, smoky and pungent. A less than alluring concoction of alcohol, sweat and cheap cologne swam about the place, nauseating and thick. Approaching the front desk, I attracted a lot of strange looks –evidently police officers they are used to wear a lot less, and don’t carry loaded guns. The host scrambled to his feet as I flashed my badge.
“We’re licensed! Look! I’ll show you!”
“Hey, calm it! I believe you. And, anyway, that’s not what I’m here. Do you recognise this man?” I held up the dead hotelier’s picture. “I know he’s been in here before, we found your card in his wallet.”
“What’s he done? Is it to do with one of our girls? We don’t let them, you know, ‘cos it’s illegal, but if one of them has, trust me, we’ll deal with it.”
“No, actually, he’s dead. He has been here before? When did you last see him?”
“What day’s it now? Tuesday? Then… Sunday night. Came in about nine, didn’t leave ‘til close. He was with Honey most of the night – the brunette in the black bra. She can probably tell you more.”
“Okay, what about this man?”
“No, Detective, don’t recognise him, but that don’t mean he hasn’t been in before. Fridays, especially the theme nights are real busy. The girls might’ve seen him, though.”
I was led through the middle of the club, past drooling men gawking at an anorexic blonde on stage and into the back room. It disgusted me, the way these girls were prepared to sell themselves to animals, but I also felt a sense of pity for them. You’d have to be pretty desperate to do this. I was glad I was alone here; Bateman would have been absolutely useless, a salivating wreck, Ryan on the other hand...