The Job (Fox and O'Hare #3)(11) by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

“Of course I do. This is Istanbul, not Siberia, though I am sure they’ve seen Back to the Future there, too.”

“What makes you so sure the thief isn’t in Istanbul anymore?”

Atalay gestured to the Bosphorus. “Look out there, Kate. Tell me what you see.”

Kate looked out at the strait. It was bustling with fishing boats, tour boats, ferries, cruise ships, freighters, patrol boats, barges, and just about every other kind of oceangoing vessel that existed, with the possible exceptions of an aircraft carrier and a four-masted Spanish galleon.

“It looks like an L.A. freeway at rush hour,” Kate said. “Only with ships.”

“For thousands of years, the Bosphorus has been the gateway to the world, which is why Istanbul is here and why it was the capital of three great empires,” Atalay said. “Once the thief was out there on the water, he could have met with a ship bound for anywhere. I’m sure that’s what he did. It’s what I would do.”

The waiter came back with a platter of cheeses, bread and olives, a skillet of fried eggs with dried spicy sausage, flat bread rolled and stuffed with meat and cheese, a sweet pastry filled with potato, and a square of clotted cream served with honey on fresh bread.

Kate dug in, and while she ate she thought about the parallels between the Gleaberg and Demirkan thefts, and the heavy-handed way Nick was being set up. It made her wonder how well the thief really knew Nick, and how closely he was following Nick’s old MO.

“I imagine you are under a lot of pressure to produce results,” Kate said to Atalay as the waiters cleared their plates and brought them tiny cups of Turkish coffee. “What steps are you taking to investigate the crime?”

“We are looking into stolen boats that the thief might have used to reach the Demirkan and make his escape. It’s a fruitless exercise, I am sure. We are also talking to the usual suspects—the former thieves, the suspected thieves, the people who sell the things that thieves take—to see what they know. But they will know nothing. We are also seeking people who have the means, and the desire, to own an object like the goblet. It is a very small group, but they will not talk. They have lawyers and functionaries to talk and lie for them. We are also questioning jewelers on the chance the thief might have been greedy and ignorant and stolen the goblet just for the stones. If that is the case, he will have to go to these jewelers to sell the stones he has pried off the piece. That prospect is too frightening to think about.”

He was like the Eeyore of cops, seeing only failure and gloom, Kate thought, staring down at her coffee. It was so thick, she wasn’t sure whether she was supposed to drink it or eat it like pudding.

“There’s a long shot we could try,” she said. “I’d like you to get the guest lists from all of the four- and five-star hotels in the city and the passenger lists of all the flights, trains, buses, and boats arriving and departing from Istanbul over the last four days, and then send them to my colleagues at the FBI.”

“What can they do with the information that we can’t?”

“Fox likes to use the names of TV characters as aliases. I have a contact who will compare your lists with names in The Complete Directory of Episodic Television Shows.”

“Those names would be meaningless to most people here, so I can see why he’d choose one,” Atalay said. “But wouldn’t it be wiser for him to choose places to stay that are less conspicuous than five-star hotels?”

“Fox likes the finer things in life.”

“Who doesn’t? Getting the airline, train, bus, and boat passenger lists will take a day at least, maybe two. I can get the hotel guest lists today, but it will take a few hours. This is a big city with many fine hotels.” He glanced at his watch and did a quick mental calculation. “If we get the guest lists by midafternoon, that means it will be ready first thing in the morning for your colleagues in the U.S.”

“That would be terrific.”

Atalay and Kate finished their coffees and walked back to the museum, where a uniformed police officer was waiting to drive Kate to her hotel.

“I would go to the station with you to help with the investigation, but I suspect I would only be in the way,” Kate said to Atalay.

“This is true. Unless you speak Turkish and have contacts in the Istanbul underworld, there is not much for you to do right now.”

Kate checked into her hotel, changed out of her wrinkled suit, and set out to be a tourist. She bypassed Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque, choosing instead to walk the congested, winding side streets. She ate food from street vendors, had another coffee, and browsed through the shops and outdoor stalls.