“She’s not the kind of woman who’d welcome anyone’s pity. But I remember looking in her eyes and seeing the pain. The kind of pain I couldn’t even imagine. And yet, such incredible strength.” Zucker fell silent for a moment, as though still moved by the memory of the woman’s grief.
This was pain that Jane could not imagine, either. She thought of her own daughter, Regina, only two and a half years old. Thought of trying to go on, year after year, not knowing if her child was dead or alive. That torment alone could drive a woman to madness.
And then to lose a husband as well …
“In the wake of any tragedy,” said Zucker, “there are always aftershocks. But what happened after the Red Phoenix went beyond the devastation to the immediate families. It’s as if the massacre had a curse attached to it. And it just kept claiming more and more victims.”
The room suddenly felt colder. So cold that Jane’s arms prickled from the chill. “What do you mean, a curse?” she asked.
“Within a month, a host of bad things happened. Detective Staines keeled over and died of a heart attack. A technician working the crime scene unit was killed in a car accident. Detective Ingersoll’s wife had a stroke and later died. Finally, there was the girl who disappeared.”
“Charlotte Dion. She was the seventeen-year-old daughter of Dina Mallory, one of the restaurant victims. A few weeks after Dina was killed in the Red Phoenix, Charlotte vanished during a school outing. She’s never been found.”
Jane could suddenly hear her own heartbeat, loud as a drum in her ears. “And you said Iris Fang’s daughter vanished, too.”
Zucker nodded. “They disappeared two years apart, but it’s still an eerie coincidence, isn’t it? Two victims of the Red Phoenix both had daughters go missing.”
it a coincidence?”
“What else would it be? The two families didn’t know each other. The Fangs were struggling immigrants. Charlotte’s parents were Boston Brahmins. There was no other connection between them. You might as well blame it on the Red Phoenix curse.” He looked at the case file. “Or maybe it’s that building. In Chinatown, they consider it haunted. They say that when you step inside, evil attaches itself to you.” He looked at Jane. “And follows you home.”
J ANE DID NOT LIKE COINCIDENCES. IN THE COMPLEX FABRIC OF LIFE they happened, of course, but she always felt compelled to examine what made the threads cross, whether it was truly random or if there was some grander design at work, a pattern that could only be seen when you traced those threads back to their origins. And so she sat at her desk trying to do exactly that, tracing five disparate threads that had tragically intersected in a Chinatown restaurant nineteen years ago.
The Red Phoenix file was not a particularly thick one. For homicide detectives, a murder-suicide is a lucky catch, the kind of case that comes neatly wrapped up with a bow, justice conveniently dispensed by the perp himself in the form of a self-inflicted bullet. The police report by Staines and Ingersoll focused not on the
of the shooting, and their analysis relied heavily on what Dr. Zucker had already told Jane and Frost about Wu Weimin.
So she looked instead at the four victims.
Victim number one was Joey Gilmore, age twenty-five, born and raised in South Boston. There was a great deal more information about Gilmore in the report, because he had a police record.Burglary, trespassing, assault and battery. That record, plus his employer’s name—Donohue Wholesale Meats—instantly caught Jane’s attention. Boston PD was all too familiar with the owner of the company, Kevin Donohue, because of his deep and enduring ties to local organized crime. Over the past four decades, Donohue had advanced through the ranks from a common street thug to one of the three most powerful names in the local Irish mafia. Law enforcement