“I need to return to Mr. Saunière’s office for a moment,” Fache said. “Please come find me directly, Mr. Langdon. There is more we need to discuss.”
Langdon gave a quiet wave as he disappeared into the darkness.
Turning, Fache marched angrily in the opposite direction. Arriving at the gate, he slid under, exited the Grand Gallery, marched down the hall, and stormed into the command center at Saunière’s office.
“Who gave the approval to let Sophie Neveu into this building!” Fache bellowed.
Collet was the first to answer. “She told the guards outside she’d broken the code.”
Fache looked around. “Is she gone?” “She’s not with you?”
“She left.” Fache glanced out at the darkened hallway. Apparently Sophie had been in no mood to stop by and chat with the other officers on her way out.
For a moment, Fache considered radioing the guards in the entresol and telling them to stop Sophie and drag her back up here before she could leave the premises. He thought better of it. That was only his pride talking … wanting the last word. He’d had enough distractions tonight.
Deal with Agent Neveu later, he told himself, already looking forward to firing her.
Pushing Sophie from his mind, Fache stared for a moment at the miniature knight standing on Saunière’s desk. Then he turned back to Collet. “Do you have him?”
Collet gave a curt nod and spun the laptop toward Fache. The red dot was clearly visible on the floor plan overlay, blinking methodically in a room marked TOILETTES PUBLIQUES.
“Good,” Fache said, lighting a cigarette and stalking into the hall. “I’ve got a phone call to make. Be damned sure the rest room is the only place Langdon goes.”
Robert Langdon felt light-headed as he trudged toward the end of the Grand Gallery. Sophie’s phone message played over and over in his mind. At the end of the corridor, illuminated signs bearing the international stick-figure symbols for rest rooms guided him through a maze-like series of dividers displaying Italian drawings and hiding the rest rooms from sight.
Finding the men’s room door, Langdon entered and turned on the lights.
The room was empty.
Walking to the sink, he splashed cold water on his face and tried to wake up. Harsh fluorescent lights glared off the stark tile, and the room smelled of ammonia. As he toweled off, the rest room’s door creaked open behind him. He spun.
Sophie Neveu entered, her green eyes flashing fear. “Thank God you came. We don’t have much time.”
Langdon stood beside the sinks, staring in bewilderment at DCPJ cryptographer Sophie Neveu. Only minutes ago, Langdon had listened to her phone message, thinking the newly arrived cryptographer must be insane. And yet, the more he listened, the more he sensed Sophie Neveu was speaking in earnest. Do not react to this message. Just listen calmly. You are in danger right now. Follow my directions very closely. Filled with uncertainty, Langdon had decided to do exactly as Sophie advised. He told Fache that the phone message was regarding an injured friend back home. Then he had asked to use the rest room at the end of the Grand Gallery.
Sophie stood before him now, still catching her breath after doubling back to the rest room. In the fluorescent lights, Langdon was surprised to see that her strong air actually radiated from unexpectedly soft features. Only her gaze was sharp, and the juxtaposition conjured images of a multilayered Renoir portrait … veiled but distinct, with a boldness that somehow retained its shroud of mystery.
“I wanted to warn you, Mr. Langdon …” Sophie began, still catching her breath, “that you are sous surveillance cachée. Under a guarded observation.” As she spoke, her accented English resonated off the tile walls, giving her voice a hollow quality.
“But … why?” Langdon demanded. Sophie had already given him an explanation on the phone, but he wanted to hear it from her lips. “Because,” she said, stepping toward him, “Fache’s primary
suspect in this murder is you.”
Langdon was braced for the words, and yet they still sounded utterly ridiculous. According to Sophie, Langdon had been called to the Louvre tonight not as a symbologist but rather as a suspect and was currently the unwitting target of one of DCPJ’s favorite interrogation methods—surveillance cachée—a deft deception in which the police calmly invited a suspect to a crime scene and interviewed him in hopes he would get nervous and mistakenly incriminate himself.
“Look in your jacket’s left pocket,” Sophie said. “You’ll find proof they are watching you.”
Langdon felt his apprehension rising. Look in my pocket? It sounded like some kind of cheap magic trick.
Bewildered, Langdon reached his hand into his tweed jacket’s left pocket—one he never used. Feeling around inside, he found nothing. What the devil did you expect? He began wondering if Sophie might just be insane after all. Then his fingers brushed something unexpected. Small and hard. Pinching the tiny object between his fingers, Langdon pulled it out and stared in astonishment. It was a metallic, button-shaped disk, about the size of a watch battery. He had never seen it before. “What the …?”
“GPS tracking dot,” Sophie said. “Continuously transmits its location to a Global Positioning System satellite that DCPJ can monitor. We use them to monitor people’s locations. It’s accurate within two feet anywhere on the globe. They have you on an electronic leash. The agent who picked you up at the hotel slipped it inside your pocket before you left your room.”
Langdon flashed back to the hotel room … his quick shower, getting dressed, the DCPJ agent politely holding out Langdon’s tweed coat as they left the room. It’s cool outside, Mr. Langdon, the agent had said. Spring in Paris is not all your song boasts. Langdon had thanked him and donned the jacket.
Sophie’s olive gaze was keen. “I didn’t tell you about the tracking dot earlier because I didn’t want you checking your pocket in front of Fache. He can’t know you’ve found it.”
Langdon had no idea how to respond.
“They tagged you with GPS because they thought you might run.” She paused. “In fact, they hoped you would run; it would make their case stronger.”
“Why would I run!” Langdon demanded. “I’m innocent!” “Fache feels otherwise.”
Angrily, Langdon stalked toward the trash receptacle to dispose of the tracking dot.
“No!” Sophie grabbed his arm and stopped him. “Leave it in your pocket. If you throw it out, the signal will stop moving, and they’ll know you found the dot. The only reason Fache left you alone is because he can monitor where you are. If he thinks you’ve discovered what he’s doing …” Sophie did not finish the thought. Instead, she pried the metallic disk from Langdon’s hand and slid it back into the pocket of his tweed coat. “The dot stays with you. At least for the moment.”
Langdon felt lost. “How the hell could Fache actually believe I killed Jacques Saunière!”
“He has some fairly persuasive reasons to suspect you.” Sophie’s expression was grim. “There is a piece of evidence here that you have not yet seen. Fache has kept it carefully hidden from you.”
Langdon could only stare.
“Do you recall the three lines of text that Saunière wrote on the floor?”
Langdon nodded. The numbers and words were imprinted on Langdon’s mind.
Sophie’s voice dropped to a whisper now. “Unfortunately, what you saw was not the entire message. There was a fourth line that
Fache photographed and then wiped clean before you arrived.”
Although Langdon knew the soluble ink of a watermark stylus could easily be wiped away, he could not imagine why Fache would erase evidence.
“The last line of the message,” Sophie said, “was something Fache did not want you to know about.” She paused. “At least not until he was done with you.”
Sophie produced a computer printout of a photo from her sweater pocket and began unfolding it. “Fache uploaded images of the crime scene to the Cryptology Department earlier tonight in hopes we could figure out what Saunière’s message was trying to say. This is a photo of the complete message.” She handed the page to Langdon.
Bewildered, Langdon looked at the image. The close-up photo revealed the glowing message on the parquet floor. The final line hit Langdon like a kick in the gut.
O, Draconian devil!
Oh, lame saint!
P.S. Find Robert Langdon
For several seconds, Langdon stared in wonder at the photograph of Saunière’s postscript. P.S. Find Robert Langdon. He felt as if the floor were tilting beneath his feet. Saunière left a postscript with my name on it? In his wildest dreams, Langdon could not fathom why.
“Now do you understand,” Sophie said, her eyes urgent, “why Fache ordered you here tonight, and why you are his primary suspect?”
The only thing Langdon understood at the moment was why Fache had looked so smug when Langdon suggested Saunière would have accused his killer by name.
Find Robert Langdon.
“Why would Saunière write this?” Langdon demanded, his confusion now giving way to anger. “Why would I want to kill Jacques Saunière?”
“Fache has yet to uncover a motive, but he has been recording his entire conversation with you tonight in hopes you might reveal one.”
Langdon opened his mouth, but still no words came.
“He’s fitted with a miniature microphone,” Sophie explained. “It’s connected to a transmitter in his pocket that radios the signal back to the command post.”
“This is impossible,” Langdon stammered. “I have an alibi. I went directly back to my hotel after my lecture. You can ask the hotel desk.”
“Fache already did. His report shows you retrieving your room key from the concierge at about ten-thirty. Unfortunately, the time of the murder was closer to eleven. You easily could have left your hotel room unseen.”
“This is insanity! Fache has no evidence!”
Sophie’s eyes widened as if to say: No evidence? “Mr. Langdon, your name is written on the floor beside the body, and Saunière’s date book says you were with him at approximately the time of the
murder.” She paused. “Fache has more than enough evidence to take you into custody for questioning.”
Langdon suddenly sensed that he needed a lawyer. “I didn’t do this.”
Sophie sighed. “This is not American television, Mr. Langdon. In France, the laws protect the police, not criminals. Unfortunately, in this case, there is also the media consideration. Jacques Saunière was a very prominent and well-loved figure in Paris, and his murder will be news in the morning. Fache will be under immediate pressure to make a statement, and he looks a lot better having a suspect in custody already. Whether or not you are guilty, you most certainly will be held by DCPJ until they can figure out what really happened.”
Langdon felt like a caged animal. “Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because, Mr. Langdon, I believe you are innocent.” Sophie looked away for a moment and then back into his eyes. “And also because it is partially my fault that you’re in trouble.”
“I’m sorry? It’s your fault Saunière is trying to frame me?” “Saunière wasn’t trying to frame you. It was a mistake. That
message on the floor was meant for me.”
Langdon needed a minute to process that one. “I beg your pardon?”
“That message wasn’t for the police. He wrote it for me. I think he was forced to do everything in such a hurry that he just didn’t realize how it would look to the police.” She paused. “The numbered code is meaningless. Saunière wrote it to make sure the investigation included cryptographers, ensuring that I would know as soon as possible what had happened to him.”
Langdon felt himself losing touch fast. Whether or not Sophie Neveu had lost her mind was at this point up for grabs, but at least Langdon now understood why she was trying to help him. P.S. Find Robert Langdon. She apparently believed the curator had left her a cryptic postscript telling her to find Langdon. “But why do you think his message was for you?”
“The Vitruvian Man,” she said flatly. “That particular sketch has always been my favorite Da Vinci work. Tonight he used it to catch my attention.”
“Hold on. You’re saying the curator knew your favorite piece of art?”
She nodded. “I’m sorry. This is all coming out of order. Jacques Saunière and I …”
Sophie’s voice caught, and Langdon heard a sudden melancholy there, a painful past, simmering just below the surface. Sophie and Jacques Saunière apparently had some kind of special relationship. Langdon studied the beautiful young woman before him, well aware that aging men in France often took young mistresses. Even so, Sophie Neveu as a “kept woman” somehow didn’t seem to fit.
“We had a falling-out ten years ago,” Sophie said, her voice a whisper now. “We’ve barely spoken since. Tonight, when Crypto got the call that he had been murdered, and I saw the images of his body and text on the floor, I realized he was trying to send me a message.”
“Because of The Vitruvian Man?” “Yes. And the letters P.S.”
She shook her head. “P.S. are my initials.” “But your name is Sophie Neveu.”
She looked away. “P.S. is the nickname he called me when I lived with him.” She blushed. “It stood for Princesse Sophie.”
Langdon had no response.
“Silly, I know,” she said. “But it was years ago. When I was a little girl.”
“You knew him when you were a little girl?”
“Quite well,” she said, her eyes welling now with emotion. “Jacques Saunière was my grandfather.”
“Where’s Langdon?” Fache demanded, exhaling the last of a cigarette as he paced back into the command post.
“Still in the men’s room, sir.” Lieutenant Collet had been expecting the question.
Fache grumbled, “Taking his time, I see.”
The captain eyed the GPS dot over Collet’s shoulder, and Collet could almost hear the wheels turning. Fache was fighting the urge to go check on Langdon. Ideally, the subject of an observation was allowed the most time and freedom possible, lulling him into a false sense of security. Langdon needed to return of his own volition. Still, it had been almost ten minutes.
“Any chance Langdon is onto us?” Fache asked.
Collet shook his head. “We’re still seeing small movements inside the men’s room, so the GPS dot is obviously still on him. Perhaps he feels ill? If he had found the dot, he would have removed it and tried to run.”
Fache checked his watch. “Fine.”
Still Fache seemed preoccupied. All evening, Collet had sensed an atypical intensity in his captain. Usually detached and cool under pressure, Fache tonight seemed emotionally engaged, as if this were somehow a personal matter for him.
Not surprising, Collet thought. Fache needs this arrest desperately. Recently the Board of Ministers and the media had become more openly critical of Fache’s aggressive tactics, his clashes with powerful foreign embassies, and his gross overbudgeting on new technologies. Tonight, a high-tech, high-profile arrest of an American would go a long way to silence Fache’s critics, helping him secure the job a few more years until he could retire with the lucrative pension. God knows he needs the pension, Collet thought. Fache’s zeal for technology had hurt him both professionally and personally. Fache was rumored to have invested his entire savings in