wanted to talk about.
    “Johnny, what did you want to tell me?” Rubens asked.
    “I assume that means something.”
    “Fauna,” repeated Johnny Bib.
    “Why, Johnny? Why?”
    “Yes. I haven’t decrypted it yet. Yes. Yes. Pictures, though. JPG format; any PC could view them.”
    Frustrated and confused, Rubens just barely controlled his anger, stifling the urge to yell. He made his voice very quiet instead. “Is that all you wanted to tell me?”
    “Does he have a garden?”
    “Dr. Kegan.”
    “Why is that important?”
    Johnny Bib took a bite of the apple and then began talking. According to the material they had recovered from the computer linked to the Internet, Kegan had downloaded considerable information about plants in the past few days.
    “Why?” asked Rubens.
    “Yes,” said Johnny triumphantly.
    “What about the reformatted hard drive?”
    “Very good work. We haven’t gotten anything from it yet. Very, very good work. The plants, though. Why?”
    “Okay. Why? Does it have to do with plant bacteria or viruses?”
    “Yes,” said Johnny Bib, who had an annoying habit—a mathematical habit, it must be admitted—of acknowledging the validity of the question before actually answering it. “No. Not apparently. Funguses in a few cases, but mostly plants. So: Does he have a garden?”
    “I don’t know,” said Rubens. “We can find out. Have you checked the images for code?”
    “Yes. No.”
    Rubens really wondered if perhaps the best approach might be simply to throttle him. “Talk English, Johnny.”
    “There are no fractals, none of that sort of thing,” said Bib, referring to a type of encryption that used complicated formulas as keys, inserting the information in what looked like data for something else. “And we looked at the originals. But maybe they are code for something: apple for anthrax, that sort of thing.”
    “A substitution code?”
    “Primitive, but effective if you can’t sample a large message. And we can’t.” Johnny Bib handed over a page of names that the team had pulled off the computer. “Some of these are exotic.”
    “Are they real?”
    “Oh yes.”
    Rubens looked at the list. The names were all in Latin, with explanations about the species next to them.
    “There is one point of intersection,” said Johnny Bib.
    Rubens realized that the analyst was testing him, trying to see if he caught on. He glanced through the list; he didn’t recognize any of the words.
    But he would sooner go home than lose a game like this to the likes of Johnny Bib.
    Come to think of it, he really ought to go home. What was it, two o’clock in the morning?
    He glanced at his watch—past four. Good God.
    “They’re all from Asia.” Rubens was guessing—he truly couldn’t think of any link at all. But his tone was assured.
    Johnny Bib’s face fell. “Yes.”
    “Why, Johnny? Why? That’s the question. Was he working on plants?”
    Johnny Bib shook his head. “I don’t know.”
    “So what do we do next?”
    “I, uh, there were several zoological books in the library that Mr. Karr surveyed,” said Johnny Bib. “We’d like to take a look at them.”
    “Yes, certainly,” said Rubens. “We’ll have to work with the local authorities to get them—the New York State Police, I think.”
    “Unless he has a garden.”
    “I don’t know if he has a garden—”
    Rubens’ direct line to the Art Room rang, interrupting him.
    “They just contacted Dean,” said Telach.
    “I’m on my way.” Rubens rose. “Figure it out, Johnny. That’s your job. Whatever it takes.”
    Johnny Bib nodded.
    “And, Johnny, please don’t play those coy little guessing games with me anymore. They’re so ... obvious.”


    Lia watched Dean on the handheld as he went through the store, following the video that was being fed from the bookstore’s security system. The view switched to one of the video flies she had planted as he started outside; she

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