It’s too late, he reminded himself. But the worry remained.
“When he was here at headquarters, he went to see Jean-Guy Beauvoir,” said Tessier.
Francoeur sat forward. “And?”
As Tessier described what happened, Francoeur felt himself relax.
There were the claw marks. How perfect this was. Gamache had pushed Beauvoir and Beauvoir had pushed Gamache.
And both men had finally fallen.
“Beauvoir won’t be any trouble,” said Tessier. “He’ll do anything we say now.”
There was one more thing Francoeur needed Beauvoir to do.
“There’s something else, sir.”
“Gamache went to the SHU,” said Tessier.
Francoeur’s face went ashen. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me that first?”
“Nothing happened,” Tessier rapidly assured him. “He stayed in his car.”
“Are you sure?” Francoeur’s eyes drilled into Tessier.
“Absolutely certain. We have the security tapes. He just sat there and stared. The Ouellets are buried nearby,” Tessier explained. “He was in the area. That’s why he went.”
“He went to the SHU because he knows,” said Francoeur. His eyes, no longer on Tessier, were flicking around, as though moving from thought to thought. Trying to follow a fast-moving foe.
“Merde,” he whispered, then his eyes focused back on Tessier. “Who else knows about this?”
“Tell me the truth, Tessier. No bullshit. Who else did you tell?”
“No one. Look, it doesn’t matter. He didn’t even get out of the car. Didn’t call the warden. Didn’t call anyone. He just sat there. How much could he know?”
“He knows Arnot’s involved,” shouted Francouer, then reined himself in and took a deep breath. “He’s made that connection. I don’t know how, but he has.”
“He might suspect,” said Tessier, “but even if he knows about Arnot, he can’t know it all.”
Francoeur again shifted his eyes from Tessier and looked into the distance. Scanning.
Where are you, Armand? You haven’t given up at all, have you? What’s going on in that head of yours?
But then another thought occurred to Francoeur. Maybe like the failure of the dam plan, and the death of Audrey Villeneuve, and even Tessier’s people missing the river with her body, maybe this was a godsend too.
It meant that while Gamache had figured out the Arnot connection, that was as far as he’d gotten. Tessier was right. Arnot was not enough. Gamache might suspect Arnot was involved, but he didn’t know the full picture.
Gamache was standing in front of the right door, but he hadn’t yet found the key. Time was now on their side. It was Gamache who’d run out of it.
“Find him,” said Francoeur.
When Tessier didn’t answer, Francoeur looked at him. Tessier glanced up from his BlackBerry.
“What do you mean?” Francoeur’s voice was now low, completely in control. The panic gone.
“We followed him,” Tessier assured his boss. “But then the signal disappeared. I think that’s a good thing,” he hurriedly said.
“How can losing Chief Inspector Gamache with only hours to go, after he’s clearly connected Arnot to the plan, be a good thing?”
“The signal didn’t die, it just disappeared, which means he’s in an area without satellite coverage. That village.”
So he hadn’t doubled back.
“What’s the village called?” he asked.
“You’re sure Gamache is there?”
“Good. Keep monitoring.”
If he’s there, thought Francoeur, he’s as good as dead. Dead and buried in a village that didn’t even register. Gamache was no threat to them there.
“If he leaves, I need to know immediately.”
“And tell no one about the SHU.”
Francoeur watched Tessier leave. Gamache had been close. So close. Within meters of finding out the truth. But had stopped short. And now they had Gamache cornered, in some forgotten little village.
* * *
“That must’ve smarted,” said Jérôme Brunel, stepping back from an examination of Gamache’s face and eyes. “There’s no concussion.”