Today's Reading

As an investigative journalist, Tatiana was the natural target of thugs: a stab in the leg with a poisoned umbrella or sometimes a shot in the back of the head. She never looked for such dangers. She was fatalistic and, oddly enough, lighthearted. When he was with her, he looked for individuals who might wish her harm, who folded their newspapers too tightly or walked too briskly or too slowly.

Arkady went from tunnel to tunnel, back and forth from racks of fashion magazines to the electronic board of departure and arrival times and back again. There was no Tatiana. He dropped his flowers into a metal basket as he left.

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From the train station, Arkady went straight to the prosecutor's office, where Prosecutor Zurin was holding forth on a recent trip to Cuba. Four deputies in blue serge and brass buttons drew their chairs close to give Zurin their rapt attention. His white hair was starting to thin and his features starting to pucker with age, but he still enjoyed the sound of his own voice.

"I conveyed to our counterparts in Havana our profound condolences on the death of our Comrade Fidel Castro."

Arkady remembered Havana Club rum and insinuating music. A dozen years earlier he had investigated the death of a colleague floating in Havana Bay.

Zurin saw his least favorite investigator slipping down the hall.

"Renko, wait—wait, I want to talk to you. Not here. In your office."

Arkady's office was as crowded as a crab pot. Desk, chair, cabinet, coatrack, and file cabinets huddled together. The desktops of other investigators displayed photographs of their wives and children like sworn testimonials of virtue. His was bare by comparison.

Zurin shut the door behind him. "I was there, you know—at Fidel's memorial."

"I didn't know that." Arkady hoped that the prosecutor would notice that there was room for only one person to sit.

Zurin assumed a thoughtful expression. "It reminds us that the Revolution must always be guarded with vigilance. Our statistical success against violent crime should not be taken for granted."

Russian homicides had a high "solved" rate thanks to a judicial system that relied less on evidence than confession. It was easier to beat a confession out of an innocent drunk than to pry it out of a sober killer. Still, Renko had a knack for solving the most difficult cases without resorting to force.
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