So every favor owed Major Crimes was called in. Throughout metropolitan London, and then the south of England, and then the length and breadth of the country, every police force was enjoined into the hunt. Every port and airport was placed on full alert, and it seemed safe to assume that if Harling left the country he did not do so by any means of public transportation, unless under a convincing and ingenious disguise. Nor, if he remained in Britain, did he, or anyone fitting his description, check into any hotel or boardinghouse or squat, nor did he take refuge in any sanctuary known to any of the countless police informants who, coaxed by threats or sometimes reckless promises, did their best to please their masters.
No, Frank Harling simply vanished and remained invisible. They raided his house in Virginia Water and in it they found evidence of four different identities he had employed. They found the wife from whom he was separated-or rather the woman who thought she was his wife, though they were obliged to tell her that Frank Harling was, among other things, a bigamist. Through her they found his modest office in Surbiton, rented in the name of UniFi Consulting, and evidence of 182 bank accounts he had maintained, each one in the name of a different and obscure corporation, through which vast amounts of money had passed. They also found a Compaq personal computer holding on its hard disk some two gigabytes of encrypted data. Major Crimes pulled another favor, and the computer experts at the FBI laboratory in Washington said they were confident they could find the key that would decrypt Frank Harling's secrets. But in the course of first copying the contents of the hard disk-a seemingly sensible precaution-they triggered the hidden program that irrevocably destroyed them. Like the man, Harling's secrets ceased to exist.
Eventually they gave up the hunt, if not in spirit then in actuality, because they did not know where else to look. They did not admit that to Grace Flint, however, for her doctors considered it important to her recovery and even her sanity that she continue to believe that Frank Harling would be found.
It took them almost a year to rebuild her shattered face. The photographs that record the progress of their painful work (painful for her, that is) are not pretty. In the interim her husband, Jamie, left her. He said it was because he could neither understand nor accept her determination to return to Major Crimes once she had recovered, a determination that never wavered. One day, not long after she had endured yet another session under the surgeon's knife, he took a mirror from her dressing table and thrust it in front of her face to reflect the livid scars and the bruising under her eyes. "Look at yourself, Grace," he said, as though she didn't know how she looked. "I can't stand this. I simply can't take it."
He packed some of his things and left their apartment, pretending it was only temporary; a breathing space, he said. It was a month before she discovered he was living in Pimlico with a woman named Caroline. Caroline, it transpired, had a child who was already one year old; a son that Jamie had fathered.
Still on sick leave, she went to the small village and the Georgian farmhouse where she had grown up, to where she knew at least the physical scars would heal.
Her father called her "Amazing Grace." In the depths of the night, he might pray that she would never again be the bait on the end of Major Crimes' hook, but Dr. John Flint did not believe it was his place to tell his daughter what to do. Though he had never understood where her instincts came from-certainly not from him-he saw it as his duty and his pleasure to love her for what she was.
In the wholly unquestioning climate he provided, Grace slowly mended. When she was not in the hospital for further bouts of reconstructive surgery, she worked in his operating theater, where the patients paid no mind to her disfigurement.
Reprinted from Flint by Paul Eddy by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Paul Eddy. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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