Home > The Shell Game (Fox and O'Hare 0.25)(4)

The Shell Game (Fox and O'Hare 0.25)(4)
Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

“I have a case for you,” he said.

Kate hung up and did a fist pump. “Yes!”

Cosmo popped up on the other side of the partition. “What?”

“I got a case.”

“Does that mean you aren’t going to eat any more of those cookies?”

“It means I’m going to put them in my top drawer and save them for later. And I’ve counted them so don’t get any ideas.”

Kate put the Tide stick away and hurried across the long cubicle-crammed bull pen to Jessup’s office.

He was sitting behind his desk, and the view behind him was incredible. To the west, she could see the Santa Monica high-rises and the Pacific Ocean. To the northwest, she could see the 405 freeway snaking through Sepulveda Pass below the hilltop Getty museum.

“Thank you, sir, for this opportunity,” she said, practically standing at attention in front of his desk. “I won’t let you down.”

Jessup slid a file across the desk to her. “A fifty-million-dollar collection of golden Peruvian antiquities is being loaned to the Getty.” Jessup aimed his thumb over his shoulder at the marble-clad museum on the hill behind him. “It arrives at LAX on Monday and I want you riding shotgun on the delivery.”

“Not to sound unappreciative, because I really, really do appreciate getting this case,” Kate said. “But what makes this FBI business?”

“That’s a good question. The antiquities were looted from Peruvian tombs in the late 1980s and sold to Garson Klepper, a collector in Cleveland. An archaeologist specializing in Peruvian antiquities saw the golden masks on display in Cleveland a few years ago, recognized them as coming from the Sipán tomb, and reported it to the FBI. We confiscated the artifacts and arrested Klepper, who admitted they were stolen, but said they were taken from another tomb elsewhere in Peru. It was a very cunning maneuver on his part. Under the National Stolen Property Act, establishing the site where a piece is taken is the key requirement for making a case for possession of stolen artifacts. Unfortunately, neither the Justice Department nor the Peruvian government could prove which site the antiquities actually came from. So the judge ruled we had to return it all to Klepper. He got away with the crime. The Peruvians were furious, and we got egg on our face. We can’t take the risk that the antiquities will be stolen, that would just add insult to injury. So you’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Now the case was a lot more interesting to her. It wasn’t just a glorified security guard job. She was being entrusted with protecting the FBI’s reputation.

“What makes you think there’s a risk of theft?” Kate asked.

“To be perfectly honest, I think the risk of theft is small to none, but Klepper is worried, and he has the Getty worried. Klepper has hired Intertect, a private security firm. They’re going to oversee the transport of the antiquities. I wanted to brief you in private before you met the Intertect agent in charge of the operation.” Jessup hit a button on his intercom and buzzed the receptionist. “Send in John Drake.”

John Drake was hard, lean muscle packaged up in a custom-tailored suit. He had beach-bum hair, a 007 attitude, and brown eyes that gave nothing away. Kate thought he was the hottest guy she’d ever seen up close.

“Explain to Special Agent O’Hare why you think the collection is in danger,” Jessup said to Drake.

“Mr. Klepper fears that Nicolas Fox has been hired by the Peruvian government to steal the collection. Apparently Mr. Klepper has an associate who was relieved of a great deal of money and believes Fox was behind it.”

“Why did this associate think it was Fox?” Jessup asked.

“It was a very clever robbery and Fox is known for being very clever.”

Drake stated all this with authority since he was Nicolas Fox.

Kate turned to Jessup. “What do we have on Fox?”

“Nothing. Not a photo or a fingerprint. We know he’s out there, but he targets wealthy, powerful people who don’t say anything when he’s swindled or robbed them because they’re afraid they’ll look like idiots.”

“The risk is minimal,” Drake said. “We feel confident we can protect the Klepper collection. There’s nothing beyond my client’s paranoia to indicate that Fox is planning something.”

“I agree,” Jessup said. “I don’t think the collection is in any real danger, but the Getty has made a request and we’re glad to help our friends at the Getty. Agent O’Hare will work with you on the security arrangements and provide you with the appropriate resources.”

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