Hong Kong - Saturday December 28th, 1996
Ho Chung stared miserably at the inspector.
‘It started in October, didn’t it, Chung?’ BJ said. ‘You noticed the crates in the warehouse with special markings and doctored manifests, and discovered the weapons shipments. You were already involved with the Vampires. You went back later, drugged the guards’ tea and helped yourself to the weapons. Ben Price noticed your interest in the so-called jade shipment, and checked the manifests. He found an error, went back to the warehouse, and found the crates were empty.’
Ho Chung’s eyes flicked uneasily between BJ and Bob Lee. ‘I’m not saying anything,’ he blustered,
‘Come on, Chung, we’re not stupid. It wouldn’t have taken Guy Langford long to realise it must have been you. He made the Vampires return the guns, but the site foreman overheard something.’ BJ leaned forward. ‘Guy killed him, didn’t he? He made you work for him, clearing the weapons shipments. Then Ben became suspicious again. You told him everything was above board, but he went back to check.’
He saw the growing consternation in the other man’s eyes. ‘Did you kill him? Did Guy Langford ring you when he heard Ben was at the warehouse investigating a consignment? We can check, you know. He had you over a barrel, didn’t he? He forced you to kill Ben Price.’
Beads of perspiration stood out on Chung’s broad forehead. ‘No, I didn’t, I swear by all the gods, by my ancestors ...’
‘Be careful, your ancestors won’t be very impressed. You were seen running away from the warehouse on Christmas Eve. We have a witness. We also have the other Vampires on ice. Do you think, once they know the extent of this, they won’t talk?’
Chung stared at him, his eyes dilating.
BJ rose. ‘I’ll leave you to think about it.’ He left the interview room. Bob followed him out.
‘What’s the betting, Bob, those shipments came from Chow Lin-chi, on the China Wind?’ BJ asked. ‘If Captain Ho found out about it he’d have raised a stink. I think they silenced him.’
Bob nodded. ‘I had a quiet word with One-Eye Ling today. He was very upset about Captain Ho’s death. They were like brothers. He admitted Ho carried secret jade shipments, arranged by Ho San and cleared through Customs by Ho Chung.’
BJ smiled grimly. ‘And Ho San ships jade for Sung Yen-lo.’
‘Captain Ho had a row with Ho San before he set out that day. Another link in the chain.’
‘I want that chain to go around Guy Langford’s neck,’ BJ said softly. ‘He’s a clever devil; leaves no clues. He wasn’t involved with shipping, so he tried to get his man into the warehouse instead of Roger Quong. When David vetoed that, he made Quong look inefficient instead. Bob, get a picture of Ho Sung to the hospital. See if the staff on the emergency ward recognise him as Yi’s “brother”.’
‘That would mean Guy gave the order for Yi’s death.’
‘And possibly Jenny’s. She was searching his office,’ BJ said. ‘Guy made a stupid slip of the tongue. Said he didn’t know Yi had a brother. But he was at the Christmas party when Yi came on to Jenny, boasting about the Yi brothers’ prowess with the girls. Guy told him to lay off. If Ho Chung was doing his dirty work, who better to silence Yi? Every time he killed for Guy he was bound that much closer to him.’
BJ led the way back to the interview room. Ho Chung said heavily, ‘I want to make a deal.’
BJ sat down. ‘No deals. However, if you cooperate, we’ll speak to the judge.’
Chung gave a bitter laugh. ‘I know what happened to Yeo Ping. Do you think they’ll let me live?’
‘We’ll give you protection.’
‘They got Yeo right here in your cells.’ Chung reminded him. His face was tense. ‘I’m a dead man, inspector.’
‘Yes, I rather think you are,’ BJ agreed. ‘But you can give us the man who put you in that position.’
‘You know I’m First Vampire?’
Chung put his head in his hands and gave a dry sob. ‘Just keep me alive as long as you can. I’ll tell you what you want to know.’
BJ said quietly, ‘Bob, call Brian Tan.’
On the deck of the police launch, Carol stared out across the green water. Her anorak was tightly belted, her curls tossed in the wind. BJ, his fleecy-lined jacket zipped to the neck, stood beside her, a hand on her shoulder. Mitch Mitchell waited with them, the breeze tugging at his navy windcheater. A team of police divers lounged nearby, chatting among themselves.
Carol glanced up at BJ anxiously. ‘It’s all right, you’re doing fine,’ he comforted.
Islands loomed out of the misty morning like crouching lions. An icy wind whipped plumes of spray over the launch.
Mitch said, ‘We’re on the exact course so we can roughly calculate the area by the time it took.’
Carol continued to watch the islands appearing through the mist and falling behind the launch. ‘This is close,’ she said. ‘It was a very deserted place. Guy said it was perfect for swimming in summer, if you didn’t mind sharks.’
BJ moved his friend aside. ‘There won’t be much left if we do find him.’
‘Depends how well they wrapped him up,’ Mitch debated. ‘Didn’t you say there were plastic garbage bags and sacks in the lockup?’
‘I wish Carol didn’t have to be involved,’ BJ fretted.
‘She’s a detective. Good reputation. She’s probably seen worse. Of course,’ Mitch looked at him with compassion, ‘I’m not involved with her.’
Carol turned. ‘Here,’ she exclaimed. ‘Perhaps not exactly, but do you see that island, and the one directly behind it? They were just about aligned like that.’
Inspector Mitchell shouted and the launch’s motor was cut. It pitched in the choppy swell. The divers began to don their equipment.
‘How deep is it here?’ BJ asked.
‘Guy Langford had better pray it’s deep enough,’ Mitch returned cheerfully.
It took the divers two hours to find Patrick Langford’s wrapped and weighted body. When a man rose to the surface with a triumphant shout, BJ put his arm around Carol and led her down to the cabin, firmly shutting the door.
‘I missed Benny’s funeral,’ Guy complained.
Tan nodded. ‘Yes, I’m sorry. By the way, I’d like BJ to sit in on this. He has a strong interest.’
Guy shrugged. ‘Fine by me.’
BJ looked at his tousled hair and deeply shadowed eyes. ‘Rough night, Guy?’
‘Have you ever slept in your own cells, inspector? Of course not. Some drunken idiot wanted to sing Auld Lang Syne all night.’ He rubbed his chin. ‘At least they let me shave.’
He looked from one to the other. ‘Well, are you letting me go?’
Brian shook his head. ‘Not yet, I’m afraid. Sit down, Guy.’
Guy sprawled in a chair.
Brian made the tape identification and continued, ‘There’s been a development. We’ve found Pat’s body.’
Guy looked as if he was doing sums in his head, then he smiled. ‘Congratulations. Carol, I suppose? She’s too sharp.’
‘Pat was stabbed to death. Wanda is making a statement.’
‘Yes, I suppose she is. Give me a minute, gentlemen.’
The silence in the room grew as Guy withdrew into his own thoughts. ‘All right,’ he conceded finally, ‘I admit Wanda stabbed Pat and came to me for help. It was an accident, in the heat of anger. Pat struck her, she defended herself. You’ll only prove manslaughter and Dick Forrest will make sure she gets the minimum possible sentence. I helped her dispose of Pat’s body and hid her in my bungalow. I know nothing about Lo Chin’s death,’ he added. ‘You could find a thousand similar knives in Hong Kong. If the foreman wrote to David, threatening to expose someone, perhaps David killed him.’
‘What happened to Wanda’s knife?’ BJ asked.
‘I really have no idea.’ Guy yawned. ‘Perhaps she threw it away.’
‘Can you account for Pat’s car being seen at Yau Ma Tei that night?’ Tan asked crisply.
‘I don’t have to,’ Guy reminded him. ‘Perhaps it wasn’t his. There must be other maroon Jaguars in Hong Kong.’
‘Then you’ll be able to tell us where you were between leaving the lockup in Pat’s car and arriving at his house?’
‘Driving around,’ Guy said, ‘thinking what was the best thing to do.’
‘Can you prove you were just driving around?’
Guy’s smile was crooked. ‘No, Brian,’ he said. ‘Can you prove I wasn’t?’ He stretched tiredly. ‘I’m not saying anything until I have my solicitor present. That would be best, don’t you think? Perhaps you’d call Dickie Forrest?’
‘Ho Chung has made a full confession,’ BJ remarked.
Guy looked puzzled. ‘What does that have to do with me?’
‘He’s implicated you in the deaths of Ben Price and Arthur Yi.’
‘Lying to save his own skin, no doubt. Sorry, BJ, that’s all I have to say.’
Carol was waiting in BJ’s office when he returned.
He smiled tiredly. ‘He’s a fighter. He was presented with Ho Chung’s evidence and denied it completely. Says it’s his word against Chung’s and seems to assume a Langford’s word will be believed in court. He’s probably right.’
BJ sat down heavily at his desk and rubbed his eyes.
‘Jenny’s evidence?’ Carol protested. ‘Arthur Yi called someone about her being in the office. The call can be traced.’
‘Oh, Guy admits Yi spoke to him, but claims he told him to let Jenny get on with it, she was a good girl to give up her Christmas to work. A jury, hearing Yi’s character, would assume he said what he did to frighten her into submission.’
‘But Guy ordered Ho Chung to kill Yi.’
‘He denies it,’ BJ countered. ‘He agrees he called Ho Chung on Christmas Eve, but on a business matter.’
There was a knock at the door. Brian strode in. ‘Forrest’s giving us merry hell, wants his client released,’ he blazed. ‘All we’ve got on Guy is complicity to cover up manslaughter; I can’t shake him on Ho Chung’s story. He’s agreed to surrender his passport. Forrest’s confident he’ll be acquitted and, unless we come up with better evidence, he doubts we’ve got a case.’
He perched his lanky frame on the corner of the desk. ‘Given the Langfords’ position in Hong Kong, even if we got him to trial he’d probably be patted on the head and told to go and sin no more.’
‘You’ll let him go?’ Carol asked incredulously.
Tan’s expression was gloomy. He nodded. ‘Ho Chung may yet change his story. Unfortunately, they ran into each other outside the cells. Guy just looked at him. Chung changed colour quite markedly and stammered out an apology.’
BJ rose. ‘I’ve got some things to attend to. Carol, I’ll drop you home. You look as if you could do with a rest.’
‘Has the Wong woman turned up yet?’ Tan queried.
‘Not yet, sir, we’re still looking.’
‘Your phone tap turn up anything useful?’ he asked hopefully.
BJ grinned. ‘Not to you. To me, very definitely.’
Tan sighed. ‘Well, I’ll keep Guy as long as I can, try to break him. He knows he only has to keep a cool head, say nothing and hold on. The onus of proof’s on us.’
BJ rapped at the door of the Heavenly Joy Club. The doorman opened it, his wide, bland face under tight control.
‘Tell Wing Chang I’m here,’ BJ said, ‘and Wan, don’t come back with any excuses. I’m definitely not in the mood.’
A few minutes later he was ushered into Wing’s office.
‘My dear fellow.’ The casino boss looked up from his well-stocked private bar, a Chivas Regal bottle poised. ‘You’ll have one with me? Of course you will.’ He handed a tumbler to the inspector. ‘You look tired, BJ. A policeman’s lot, as Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan proclaimed, is a difficult one. Rumours tell me there’s all sorts of activity up at Central and a very important fellow in your net.’
‘Not in my net,’ BJ told him. ‘Give DCI Tan the credit.’
‘Ah, Brian, a real fox terrier. Give him a quarry and off he goes, scrabbling here, hunting there. But surely, inspector, yours is the evidence that helped Brian to his happy conclusion?’
‘I can’t discuss this,’ BJ said abruptly, ‘and you know that perfectly well.’
Wing inclined his head. ‘Your face tells me this isn’t a social visit.’
‘You’d better sit down, Chang.’ BJ gave him the glimmer of a smile. ‘I think you may be quite shocked to hear what I have to say.’
‘Oh, dear,’ Wing murmured. Behind his thick glasses, his eyes were expressionless. ‘Well, I’m sitting. What can I do for you, BJ?’
BJ took a pull of his whisky. ‘Our phone tap revealed a quantity of information about your operation,’ he confided. ‘We have quite an interesting set of tapes about your activities.’
The other man’s mouth thinned and he remained silent. BJ continued, ‘The Jade Cat Society, for instance. A highly efficient organisation comprising yourself, Guy Langford, Sung Yen-lo, Alice Lee, Ho San, Jonathan Price and, in Shanghai, Chow Lin-chi. Extortion, illegal arms dealing ...’
‘This didn’t come from your phone tap,’ Wing Chang said quickly.
‘We arrested Ho Chung, surely rumour already told you that? He filled in the details; the rest I’d already - surmised. The tapes confirmed my suspicions.’
BJ downed the remainder of his whisky. ‘Chang, I have enough on you to kick you out of Hong Kong and make damned sure you never set foot in it again. And I guarantee you won’t be accepted in any other city in Asia. Am I making myself clear?’
Wing shifted uneasily in his chair. He removed his glasses and polished them on his coat sleeve. ‘Very clear.’
BJ smiled. ‘We understand each other, then. Perhaps it might not suit me to kick you out after all.’
The casino boss looked wary. ‘A change of heart, BJ?’
BJ shrugged. ‘It might just be your lucky day. It might be that today the gods have blessed your unworthy self with more joss than you deserve.’
Wing said tightly, ‘Then I bless the gods.’ He replaced his spectacles and his eyes were instantly magnified. ‘How might this be possible?’
BJ smiled. ‘Commander King is a customer here. He gambles, he likes your hostesses.’
Wing tugged at his collar which had suddenly grown very tight. ‘The King is a hard man. It wouldn’t be to my advantage to make an enemy of him.’
‘He’ll retire soon,’ BJ pointed out. His eyes glinted. ‘I’ll still be here. I’m a hard man, Chang, I can break you like a matchstick any time I choose. You may consider yourself very much in my debt that I’ve waited this long.’
The other man’s shoulders sagged. BJ leaned forward and, although his voice was low, Wing Chang felt a chill run through him.
BJ said, ‘Listen very carefully.’
Bob rang Brian Tan’s desk. ‘Sir, is Inspector BJ with you?’
‘He left some time ago. Had a job to do outside.’
‘Shit!’ Bob swore.
‘What’s the matter, sergeant?’
‘It’s Ho Chung, sir. He hanged himself. In his cell. Died ten minutes ago.’