declaring, “Open for business soon.” It was going to be another high-end department store.
For some reason, there weren’t any workers there that afternoon, nor were there machines hustling and bustling around.
Standing by the construction site, Chen pulled out his phone and called Mr. Gu, the chairman of the New World Group. It wasn’t a long talk, but it was long enough to confirm what Wei had told him regarding Teng Jialiang, chairman of the Green Earth Group.
At the end of the conversation, Chen accidentally pressed the wrong button on the phone, which brought up the message function. He thought about writing a text-to himself-detailing the possible clues before he forgot them, but it was awkward to walk and write at the same time. So he looked up and walked over to the Eastern Sea Café, which was a little farther east. In his experience, writing down the random thoughts that passed through his mind sometimes helped him straighten out his thinking.
Eastern Sea Café, a survivor from the days of the Cultural Revolution, looked shabby, overshadowed by the new buildings that surrounded it. There he sat down and had his third cup of coffee of the afternoon while he composed a text to himself.
Teng had reason to hate Zhou, possibly enough reason for Teng to retaliate. While Teng might not have been at the meeting, people from his company were there and could have seen the pack of cigarettes. So the Internet frenzy started by the photo of the pack of 95 Supreme Majesty could well have been Teng’s revenge.
But what about after the downfall of Zhou?
The chief inspector didn’t think that after Zhou was disgraced, there was any motive-or, at least, not enough for Teng to murder Zhou at the well-guarded hotel. It was technically possible, since Teng was connected to the triads. If Teng really wanted to get rid of Zhou, however, it would’ve been easier before Zhou was shuangguied.
Chen saved the text, finished the coffee, and dialed the number for Jiang as he walked out of the café.
Chen managed to convey the simple message that it was too early to draw any conclusions regarding Zhou’s death. He didn’t say anything specific about the news in Wenhui Daily and Jiang knew better than to talk about it. Chen did not say much else, except to make sure that Jiang would remain at the hotel for the day.
Chen cut across to Jiujiang Road, where he hailed a taxi at the back of the Amanda Hotel. About five minutes later, he arrived at the office of the Housing Development Committee, which was in the Shanghai City Government Building near People’s Square. He didn’t have to take a cab for such a short distance, but a man walking up to the City Government Building might be taken by the security guards as another troublesome “complainer.”
He got past security and headed straight to the office of Deputy Director Dang of the Housing Development Committee.
On Detective Wei’s list of possible benefiters, Dang was at the top. Dang was also at the fateful meeting, seated next to Zhou at the rostrum, capable of seeing the cigarettes at close range. It was a common scenario in Party power struggles: the number two succeeded the number one after the latter fell from grace.
So Dang had motive, but he also had an alibi: Dang had been at a hotel in the county of Qingpu for a business meeting, where he then spent the night, at least according to the hotel register. Still, Qingpu was not far-he could have sneaked out after dark, if he’d known which hotel Zhou was in, or he could have hired a professional.
Passing Zhou’s office, which was still locked with an official seal, Chen came to Dang’s, which was right next door.
Dang was a tall, robust man in his early forties with beady eyes, bushy brows, and a ruddy complexion. He greeted Chen affably, then, after an exchange of a few polite words, came to the point.
“You’re not an outsider, Comrade Chief Inspector Chen, so I won’t give you the official response.
Reshonda Tate Billingsley