“Let me get this straight,” I said to Donovan Edge over the phone. “You’re new client is a missing CIA agent?”
“Relax. It’s not the end of the world,” Donovan said. “My client is the wife of a missing CIA operations officer.”
“You’re right, it’s not the end of the world. It’s worse. You know how I feel about working with Agency people.”
“He’s got a cover job at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.”
“That doesn’t make it better.”
I don’t usually mind picking up the phone when Donovan calls. He’s the best private investigator in the DC area and even if you don’t live in or around our nation’s capital, you’ve probably seen him on TV or online, flashing his baby blues, mouth set in grim determination because being a PI is serious business, dammit. But I was thinking now that I should give a little more love to the DECLINE button on my cell phone whenever the name DONOVAN EDGE popped up.
I’m his lawyer and in law school we were encouraged to answer the phone when the client called. So there’s that. But I also perform other services as needed and I had a feeling this was going to fall under the Other Services As Needed category.
“A Mrs. Lana McGuire has hired me to find her husband, Pendleton McGuire,” Donovan said, ignoring me as he usually does when I begin to whine. “He travels often for work and usually calls her and the kids every day he’s away. He’s been on a business trip for three days and hasn’t checked in yet and she’s worried.”
“Where was he traveling to?”
“Mrs. McGuire couldn’t say. He never says where he’s going. Doesn’t talk about the job much, you understand.”
“Check with your buddies at the Agency. Anyone gone missing overseas in the last few days? That kind of thing.”
“Geeze, Donovan. This guy could be anywhere.”
“I know. Needle versus haystack. I’m sending over everything I got on him, including bio and pictures. Should hit your in-box now-ish. We’ll talk later.”
I opened my email and scanned the bare-bones information we had on our MIA CIA spook. While I listened to the sound file from Donovan’s interview with Mrs. McGuire, I Googled the crap out of our missing spy. I tried a Reverse Image Search, but came up with nothing. Nothing on the Smithsonian homepage. Nada on LinkedIn and Facebook. Zilch on the inter-webs.
“I’m talking to Mrs. Lana McGuire of Vienna, Virginia, in the matter of her missing husband, Mr. Pendleton McGuire.” Donovan’s voice came through loud and clear.
I imagined the two of them in Donovan’s spacious, sunlit corner office on K Street. Donovan’s assistant, Violet, would’ve brought them both coffee from the espressos machine in the front office.
“Mrs. McGuire do you consent to this recording?”
He told her to start from the beginning.
“My husband works for the CIA. For years Pendleton had a desk job but last year he was promoted and now he travels a lot. I mean, a lot. One month he’s in London, the next he’s in Jamaica. Then he’s in Paris or Istanbul or Tokyo or someplace. But he always checks in with me and the kids when he’s gone. Except this time.” She sounded a little panicky. “I read about that case you had in Bangkok last year, and I thought maybe you might have the right connections and could help. Also, you’ve got really good reviews online. More than a hundred four star reviews on Yelp.”
Mrs. McGuire put her coffee cup down on the table. I could hear the cup and saucer rattle as it landed on Donovan’s desk. She must have thought better of it, and picked it up again with another rattle.
“I’ve always known it was dangerous work. I mean, I’ve seen the movies and read stuff.” The coffee went down again. “I don’t know who to call at his office. I don’t even know their number. What am I supposed to do? Look up CIA and ask them where my husband is?”
“Did you see what kind of clothes he packed?”
“What kind? What do you mean?”
“Did he pack sweaters and a parka, or Bermuda shorts and t-shirts?”
“Umm. I think it was just regular stuff. A suit. His khakis. A polo shirt. Y’know, the usual guy stuff. He’s never gone for long, maybe four or five days at most. But we Skype every night at 8pm before the kids go to bed.”