"Why don't you take out the others? The ones of the girl. Why don't we see what that evil black quack did to that poor young girl?"
Savall took a deep breath. "Watch it with that black stuff."
Martina gestured impatiently. "That's all we need. And the thing with the girl doesn't justify aggression. You know it, I know it, Héctor knows it. And what's worse, so does that asshole's lawyer." He lowered his voice: he'd worked with Andreu for years and trusted her more than any of his other subordinates.
"He was here the day before yesterday." Martina raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, What'shisname's lawyer. I put things very clearly to him. Withdraw the charges against Salgado or his client will have a cop following him until he goes to his fucking grave."
"And?" she asked, looking at her boss with renewed respect.
"He said he had to consult him. I pushed him as much as I could. Off the record. We left it that he'd ring me this morning before ten."
"And if he agrees? What did you promise him in return?" Savall didn't have time to respond. The telephone on the desk rang like an alarm. He asked the sergeant to be quiet with a finger to his lips, then picked up.
"Yes?" For a moment his face was expectant, but instantly his expression became one of simple irritation. "No. No! I'm busy now. I'll call her later." Rather than hang up, he slammed the receiver down and, directing himself to the sergeant, added: "Joana Vidal."
The superintendent shrugged.
"Nothing new in her case, is there?"
"Nothing. Did you see the report? It's as clear as water. The boy got distracted and fell from the window. Pure bad luck." Savall nodded.
"Good report, by the way. Very thorough. It was the new girl's, right?"
"Yes. I made her do it again, but in the end it was good." Martina smiled. "The girl seems clever."
Any praise coming from Andreu had to be taken seriously. "Her record is impeccable," the superintendent said. "First in her class, unbeatable references from her superiors, courses abroad. Even Rosa, who's merciless with the newbies, wrote a complimentary report. If I remember correctly, she mentions 'a natural talent' for investigation."
Just as Martina was preparing to give one of her sarcastically feminist commentaries on the gap in talent and average IQ between the men and women of the force, the phone rang again.
At that moment, in the station's front office, the young investigator Leire Castro was using that natural talent to satisfy one of the most striking features of her character: curiosity. She'd proposed having a coffee to one of the agents who'd spent weeks giving her discreet yet friendly smiles. He seemed a good guy, she told herself, and giving him what he wanted made her feel somewhat guilty. But since her arrival at the central police station in Plaça Espanya, the enigma that was Héctor Salgado had been challenging her thirst for knowledge, and today, when she was expecting to see him appear at any moment, she couldn't take it anymore.
So it was that, after a brief preamble of small-talk, with a black coffee in her hands, controlling the desire to smoke, wearing her best smile, Leire got straight to the point. She couldn't spend half an hour gossiping in the office.
"What's he like? Inspector Salgado, I mean."
"You don't know him? Oh yeah, you arrived just as he started his 'holiday.' "
"Well, I don't know what to tell you," he continued. "A normal guy, or so he seemed." He smiled. "You never know with Argentines."
Leire did her best to hide her disappointment. She hated generalizations and the individual with the friendly smile automatically lost points. He must have noticed, because he made an effort to expand on his explanation.
Excerpted from The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill. Copyright © 2013 by Antonio Hill. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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