Dragon Bones

Dragon Bones by Lisa See Read Free Book Online

Book: Dragon Bones by Lisa See Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lisa See
Tags: Fiction, Literary, General, Thrillers, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths
fax and e-mail. We send out notices to tourist hotels and restaurants. I like to think that I can find anyone here in China by nightfall.”
    “I thought you didn’t get missing persons,” Hulan said.
    “Well, there are missing persons and missing persons, Inspector. I had a situation just last week where I got a call from a family in California. A man back home had had a stroke and was officially brain-dead. They needed someone to pull the plug, but the brother, who had medical power of attorney, happened to be here on vacation. The sister-in-law made it clear that we weren’t going to find this guy in the usual places. In my job you can tell when you’re going down a certain path. You know how I deal with problems like that?”
    Hulan admitted she didn’t.
    “I ask, Would your brother—sister, father, aunt, fill in the blank—be what you might call a free spirit? These are people who travel under the radar, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t want the local Public Security Bureau turning up and finding our Joe mellowing out and smoking a joint or, worse, being a Goody Two-shoes and working with some human rights group. That would be a real diplomatic fiasco.”
    “So where was the brother?”
    “Tibet.”
    Enough said. Both sides had their watchers. Both sides had their policies. Both sides had their own reasons to track people down and spirit them away.
    “About your missing person—”
    “Brian McCarthy, a graduate student from Seattle,” Freer said. “He was reported missing on July twentieth, but I wasn’t called until Monday the twenty-second. I called his sister in the States to let her know but only got her answering machine. Next thing I heard she was on her way to the Three Gorges. And of course I informed your ministry of the details, since McCarthy was here as an expert.”
    Why hadn’t Vice Minister Zai just given Hulan McCarthy’s name? She shifted uncomfortably in her chair. She knew she was being used, but she didn’t know why.
    “McCarthy was working near a town called Bashan on the Yangzi as part of a cooperative archaeological program between China and other nations,” Freer continued. “From what I could tell in my conversations with Dr. Ma—he’s the supervisor down on the site who called me—this Brian seemed very reliable. Not the sort who’d go off without notifying his superiors.”
    “Do you have a physical description?” she asked.
    Over the phone line she heard Freer shuffle paper.
    “He was six feet two inches and one hundred and seventy-five pounds. It says here that he had blue eyes and red hair. Is that a help?”
    The body in Fong’s lab had to be that of Brian McCarthy. Over the next few minutes, Hulan provided Freer with the closely matched physical description of the body and explained how and where it had been found. They exchanged further information and made a deal of sorts. Charlie Freer would contact the sister in Bashan and help her get her brother’s body home; Hulan would tie up loose ends on the Chinese side by speaking with Dr. Ma at the archaeological site, and with the various governmental entities, which would include the Ministry of Public Security, the State Cultural Relics Bureau, and the China Travel and Tourism Administration Bureau. Freer gave her Ma’s phone number at the dig but again noted that the line was unreliable. “They have a hard line, but it’s temperamental, and I’ve never gotten through on the cell. You might try sending an e-mail.”
    Hulan gave Freer the information about whom to contact at the MPS to get the body released when the time came, then said good-bye. Next she tried phoning the supervisor at the archaeological site, but all she got was an electronic whine. She booted up her computer, accessed the Internet, and typed her message:
Dear Dr. Ma,
We have found and identified Mr. McCarthy’s body. Please inform me of the circumstances by which he might have come to be in the Yangzi.
    After sending the message,

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