'Mr sinclair, there's no crime at Eden-Olympia. None at all.'
Pascal Zander, the new head of security, sighed with more than a hint of disappointment. 'In fact, I can say that the whole concept of criminality is unknown here. Do I exaggerate?'
'You don't,' I told him. 'We've been here two months and I haven't seen a single cigarette stub or bubble-gum pat.'
'Bubble gum? The idea is unthinkable. There are no pine cones to trip you, no bird shit on your car. At Eden-Olympia even nature knows her place.'
Zander beamed Glass Floors and White Walls at me, glad to welcome me to his den. An affable and fleshy Franco-Lebanese, he stood behind his desk, camel-hair coat over his shoulders, more public relations man than security chief. Crime might be absent from Eden-Olympia, but other pleasures were closer to hand. When his secretary, a handsome Swiss woman in her forties, brought in an urgent letter for signature, he stared at her like a child faced with a spoonful of cream.
'Good, good…' He watched her leave the office and then turned the same lecherous gaze towards me, letting it linger for a Glass Floors and White Walls few moments without embarrassment. He sat down, still wearing his coat, and shifted his rump on the leather chair. As he flicked dismissively at the onyx pen-stand he made it clear that both the chair and the desk he had inherited from Guy Bachelet, his murdered predecessor, were too small for him. Already bored by my visit, he stared at the distant rooftops of Cannes, to an older Côte d'Azur where the hallowed traditions of crime and social pathology still flourished.
For an unsavoury character, Pascal Zander was surprisingly likeable, one of the few openly venal Glass Floors and White Walls individuals in Eden-Olympia, and I found myself warming to him. I had intended to report the brutal beatings in the clinic car park, but here was a police chief who sincerely believed that he had abolished crime. He was sympathetic when I described the Russian intruder who punched me, but plainly saw our brawl as little more than an outbreak of personal rivalry between expatriates, probably over the affections of my wife.
'At Eden-Olympia we are self-policing,' he explained. 'Honesty is a designed-in feature, along with free parking and clean air. Our guards are for show, like Glass Floors and White Walls the guides at Euro-Disney.'
'Their uniforms are actually costumes?'
'In effect. If you want real crime, go to Nice or Cannes La Bocca. Robbery, prostitution, drug-dealing – to us they seem almost folkloric, subsidized by the municipality for the entertainment of tourists.'
'Unthinkable at Eden-Olympia,' I agreed. 'All the same, there was one tragic failure.'
'Dr Greenwood? Tragic, yes…' Zander pressed a scented hand to his heart. 'Every moment I spend in this chair I feel the tragedy. His behaviour was criminal, but of a kind beyond the reach of the law or police.'
'What happened to Greenwood Glass Floors and White Walls? No one seems able to say.'
'Speak to Wilder Penrose. A bolt of lightning streaks through a deceased brain. Within minutes seven of my colleagues are dead. Men and women who gave everything to Eden-Olympia. Death stalked us all that morning, with a rifle in one hand and a box of dice in the other.'
'The killings were random?'
'There's no doubt. Nothing linked the victims to their murderer.'
'Except for one thing – they were his patients. Greenwood may have believed they had some fatal disease.'
'They did. But the disease was inside Greenwood 's mind.'
Zander Glass Floors and White Walls leaned his plump chest across the desk, lowering his voice.
'We at security were heavily criticized. But how could we predict the behaviour of someone so deeply insane? You knew him, Mr Sinclair?'
'He was a colleague of my wife's in London. He seemed rather… idealistic.'
'The best disguise. There are many brilliant people at Eden-Olympia. For a few, their minds are lonely places, the cold heights where genius likes to walk. Now and then, a crevasse appears.'
'So it could happen again?'
'We hope not. Eden-Olympia would never survive. But sooner or later Glass Floors and White Walls, who can say? We are too trusting, Mr Sinclair. So many glass floors and white walls. The possibilities for corruption are enormous. Power, money, opportunity. People can commit crimes and be unaware of it. In some ways it's better to be like Nice or La Bocca – the lines are drawn and we cross them knowing the cost. Here, it's a game without rules. One determined man could…'
He seemed to stare into himself, then made an obscene gesture at the air and turned to me. 'You want my help, Mr Sinclair?'
'I'm interested in exactly Glass Floors and White Walls what happened on May 28. The route Dr Greenwood took, the number of shots fired. They might give me a clue to his state of mind. As an Englishman I feel responsible.'
'I'm not sure…' Zander's hands fretted over his gaudy desk ornaments. 'Violent assassins renounce their nationality as they commit their crimes.'
'Could I talk to the next of kin?'
'The wives of the deceased? They returned to their home countries. Grief is all that's left to them.'
'The office staff? Secretaries, personal assistants?'
'They've suffered enough. What more can they tell you? The colour Glass Floors and White Walls of Greenwood 's tie? Whether he wore brown or black shoes?'
'Fair enough. An overall report of the incident would help me. I take it you prepared one?'
'One? A hundred reports. For the investigating magistrate, for the Prefect of Police, for the Minister of the Interior, six foreign embassies, lawyers for the companies…'
'So you can lend me one?'
'They're still confidential. International corporations are involved. Claims of negligence may be brought against Eden-Olympia, which of course we deny.'
'I can't help you, Mr Sinclair.' For the first time Zander sounded like a policeman. He studied Glass Floors and White Walls the scar on my forehead and my still-bruised ear. 'Does violence intrigue you, Mr Sinclair?'
'Not at all. I try to avoid it.'
'And your wife? For a few women…'
'She's a doctor. She's spent years in casualty wards.'
'Even so. Some people find violence is a useful marriage aid. A special kind of tickler. You're so involved with the Greenwood murders, but I'm sure your motives are sincere. Sadly, you are wasting your time. All conceivable evidence was tracked down.'
'Not all…' I took the three spent bullets from my pocket and rolled Glass Floors and White Walls them across the desk. 'Rifle bullets – I found them in the garden at our villa. One was lying on the floor of the swimming pool. How it got there is hard to work out. For what it's worth, I don't think the hostages were shot in the garage.'
Zander took out a silk handkerchief and vented some unpleasing odour from his mouth. He stared at the bullets but made no attempt to examine them. 'Mr Sinclair, you did well to find them. My men told me they made a careful search.'
'You could match them Glass Floors and White Walls to Dr Greenwood's rifle.'
'The weapon is held by the Cannes police. It's best if we don't involve them again. Other traces of Greenwood will appear. The greater a crime, the longer its effects poison the air. Have you found anything else?'
'Not at the villa. But there are one or two odd things going on at Eden-Olympia.'
'I'm glad to hear it.' Zander opened a window and let in the warm air, which he inhaled in short but hungry breaths.
Recovering his poise, he turned to escort me to the door. '"Odd things"… I'd Glass Floors and White Walls almost lost hope for our business park. Good news, Mr Sinclair. Keep your eyes open for me…'
'I will. Now, the hostages…'
'Mr Sinclair, please…' Zander put an arm around my shoulders, reminding me of the strength that an overweight body can hide. 'The dead no longer care where they were shot. Tell me about your young wife. Is she enjoying her stay with us?'
'Very much.' I stepped through a side door into the corridor, where a woman assistant was waiting. 'She works far too hard.'
'Everyone does. It's our secret vice. She needs to play Glass Floors and White Walls a little more. You'll have to find some new activity that amuses her. There are so many interesting games at Eden-Olympia…'
His mouth began to purse again, showing the pink lining inside his black lips, but his eyes were fixed upon the three bullets that lay on his desk.