Capitol Offense
to get Prentiss’s old position. ‘Oh, the vanity of earthly greatness … ’”
    “Why was he in this hotel room?”
    “I don’t know all the details. I think some of his co-workers were here, too, judging from what the clerk at the front desk told me. I’m trying to track that down. Apparently they were on some kind of stakeout. Drugs, I assume.”
    “But you’re certain Dennis Thomas was here?”
    “The first responder found him in a lump on the carpet.” Mike pointed to one of the outlines on the floor. “That’s him.”
    “Why was he here?”
    “To commit murder, obviously. Why Sentz agreed to meet him, or let him into the room, I don’t know. He probably felt bad about what happened to the guy’s wife and wanted to help him. And you see what he got for his kindness.”
    “There must be more to it than that.”
    “Why? Because that’s how you get people off? By complicating things that don’t need complicating?”
    “That’s a little cynical, even for you.”
    “An officer died here, Ben. If you were expecting me to be jolly, you were sadly mistaken.” He jammed his fists into his coat pockets. “Times like this, I really miss smoking.” He stared out the hotel window. “I just wish I’d seen this coming, you know? Had some hint.”
    Like maybe having the killer come to your office to ask if you could get him off the murder he hadn’t committed yet?
    Ben couldn’t help but wonder if he was responsible, at least in part. He prided himself on his determination to do the right thing. Had he just allowed a man to be killed? A good man, a public servant?
    “I don’t suppose your forensics people have turned anything up?”
    “Not yet. Too soon. But honestly, what would they find? It’s not as if there’s much question about what happened here.”
    “Any traces of people other than the victim and the alleged assailant?”
    “Yes. But remember, this is a hotel room. People come in and out every day, leaving behind their hairs and dead skin cells.”
    “Blood?”
    “A lot from the victim. No one else.”
    “DNA traces.”
    “Not yet. But given how many people have probably stayed in this room …”
    “Right. Not helpful. Eyewitnesses?”
    “The man at the front desk vaguely recalls seeing Thomas come in. And of course he recalls seeing all the police officers roaming about. They were aware there was some sort of police operation going on in this room.”
    “And the weapon?”
    “Standard handgun. Your guy was lying on top of it.”
    “He’s not my guy.”
    “Yet. We’re tracing the registration number.”
    “Good. Let me know.”
    Mike shrugged. “That’s the law.”
    “If anything else comes up …”
    “Still planning a reelection bid?”
    Ben was startled by the abrupt change of subject. “I guess. Why? You think it’s a bad idea?”
    “I think you and campaigning will fit together about as well as me and high-heel shoes.” He grinned. “But you have surprised me before.”
    “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
    “Don’t forget you’re still honeymooning. These should be tranquil days, filled with love and laughter and promiscuity.”
    “Was that a poem?”
    “No, that was original.” He glanced over his shoulder at two nearby hair and fiber analysts. “Ben, can I have a word with you in private?”
    “Do I have to?”
    Mike took his arm. “‘Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky … ’”
    “Would you stop with the poetry already?” Ben sighed. “Why couldn’t your father have put you to bed with Peter Rabbit, like everyone else?”
    Mike pulled him to the side. “I hope you understand that I am speaking to you now as a friend, not a police officer.”
    “Am I going to like this?”
    Mike put a finger in his chest. “You do not need this case. Seriously. This is a cop killing. People do not like cop killers, particularly in conservative towns like Tulsa. There will be massive publicity. You do not need to be

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