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The Cutting Edge

Jeffery Deaver

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

  Copyright © 2018 by Gunner Publications, LLC

  Cover design by Jerry Todd. Cover razor blade photo © Steve McAlister/Getty Images.

  Cover copyright © 2018 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  Hachette Book Group supports the right to free expression and the value of copyright. The purpose of copyright is to encourage writers and artists to produce the creative works that enrich our culture.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact [email protected]. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

  Grand Central Publishing

  Hachette Book Group

  1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104

  First Edition: April 2018

  Grand Central Publishing is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Grand Central Publishing name and logo is a trademark of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

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  Library of Congress Control Number: 2017961459

  ISBNs: 978-1-4555-3642-9 (hardcover), 978-1-4555-3641-2 (ebook), 978-1-5387-1367-9 (large print), 978-1-5387-4688-2 (B&N signed edition)


  Table of Contents






  I: Plotting Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  II: Cleaving Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  III: Sawing Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  IV: Bruting Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  V: Brillianteering Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72


  Discover More Jeffery Deaver

  About the Author

  Also by Jeffery Deaver

  To the Texas crew: Dan, Ellen, Wyatt, Bridget, Ingrid, Eric and my favorite cowgirls Brynn, Sabrina and Shea.

  I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.


  Saturday, March 13



  Chapter 1

  Is it safe?”

  He considered this briefly. “Safe? Why wouldn’t it be safe?”

  “I’m just saying. It’s kind of deserted.” The woman looked around the poorly lit, shabby lobby, the floor ancient linoleum so worn it looked sanded down. They were the only ones here, standing before the elevator. The building was smack in the middle of the Diamond District in Midtown Manhattan. Because it was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, many stores and companies were closed. The March wind hissed and moaned.

  William, her fiancé, said, “I think we’re good. Only partially haunted.”

  She smiled but the expression vanished fast.

  Deserted, yes, William thought. And gloomy. Typical of Midtown offices built in the, who knew? Thirties? Forties? But hardly unsafe.

  Though not very efficient. Where was the elevator? Damn it.

  William said, “Don’t worry. Not like the South Bronx.”

  Anna chided gently, “You’ve never been to the South Bronx.”

  “Went to a Yankees game.” He’d once commuted through the South Bronx, and for some years, too. But didn’t mention that.

  From behind the thick metallic doors, gears ground and pulleys pulled. The soundtrack was creaks and squeals.

  The elevator. Now, that might not be safe. But the odds of getting Anna to walk up three flights of stairs were nonexistent. His fiancée, broad-shouldered, blond and pert, was in great shape, thanks to the health club and her charming obsession with the devil-red Fitbit. It wasn’t the exertion she objected to, with that wonderful wry glance; it was, as she’d once said, that girls don’t do stairs in buildings like this.

  Even on joyous errands.

  Practicality raised its head—yet again. “Are you sure this is a good idea, Billy?”

  He was prepared. “Of course it is.”

  “It’s so expensive!”

  True, it was. But William had done his homework and knew he was getting quality for the sixteen thousand dollars. The rock that Mr. Patel was mounting in the white-gold setting for Anna’s pretty finger was a one-point-five-carat princess cut, F, which meant virtually colorless, very close to the ideal D. The stone was graded nearly flawless—IF, meaning there were only some minor flaws (Mr. Patel had explained they were called “inclusions”) detectible only to an expert under magnification. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t huge but it was a magnificent piece of carbon that, through Mr. Patel’s eye loupe, took your breath away.

  Most important, Anna loved it.

  William came very close to saying, You only get married once. But, thank you, Lord, stopped short. Because while that was true in her case, it was not in his. Anna didn’t mind his past, or didn’t offer any evidence that she minded, but it was best not to bring up the topic (hence, editing out the story about the five years of commuting to Westchester).

  Where the hell was that elevator?

  William Sloane pressed the button again, though it was already illuminated. And they laughed at the pointless gesture.

  Behind them the door to the street opened and a man walked in. At first he was just a shadow, backlit through the greasy glass of the door. William felt a moment’s unease.

  Is this safe…?

  Maybe he’d been a little quick with the reassurance some minutes before. He and Anna would be walking out in t
en minutes with a house down payment on her finger. He looked around and was troubled to see there were no security cameras here.

  But the man walked closer and offered a pleasant smile and nod, then returned to reading his texts. He had pale skin, wearing a dark jacket and knit stocking cap, carrying cloth gloves in his phone hand—all necessary accessories on this unusually frosty March day. An attaché case too. He worked in the building…or maybe was picking up a ring for his fiancée at Patel’s too. No threat. Still, William—a health-club and Fitbit aficionado himself—was in top form and could take down a guy of this size. A fantasy, he supposed, that every man engaged in from time to time.

  Finally, the elevator arrived and the doors squealed open. They got in and the man gestured to the couple to enter first.

  “Please.” An accented voice. William couldn’t place the nationality.

  “Thank you,” Anna said.

  A nod.

  At the third floor, the door opened and the man again gestured with his palm. William nodded in response and he and Anna continued toward Patel Designs, at the end of the long, dim hallway.

  Jatin Patel was an interesting man, an immigrant from Surat, western India, the diamond-polishing center of that country—and of the world, now. When the couple had been here some weeks ago, placing their order, Patel had chatted away, explaining that the vast bulk of gem-quality diamond polishing was done there, in boiler rooms—tiny factories like apartment buildings, hot and filthy, with terrible ventilation. Only the best diamonds were cut in New York or Antwerp or Israel anymore. Because of his skill, he’d risen above the pack of cutters—thousands of them in Surat—and managed to save enough money to come to the United States and open a shop.

  He sold jewelry and diamonds retail—to the soon-to-be-Sloanes, for instance—but he was best known for his cutting of high-end diamonds from raw stones.

  On that earlier visit William had been fascinated to learn about the diamond trade, fascinated too that Patel would, from time to time, grow coy and steer the conversation away from William’s innocent questions. He supposed the diamond world was a shadowy, secretive place in many ways. Look at blood diamonds—those mined in Africa by warlords and terrorists, who used the profits to finance their horrific crimes. (The princess cut William was buying came with a guarantee that it had been ethically mined. William, though, couldn’t help but wonder how true that was. After all, was the broccoli he’d steamed last night truly organic, as the placard at their local store promised?)

  He was aware that the man who’d accompanied them in the elevator had stopped at a door just before Patel’s and was hitting the intercom.

  So he was legit.

  William chided himself for his concern and pressed the button for Patel Designs. Through the speaker came: “Yes? Who is there? Mr. Sloane?”

  “Yes, it’s us.”

  There was a click of the door and they stepped in.

  It was at that moment that a thought struck William Sloane. As in many old-time buildings, the doors to all of the businesses on this floor had transoms above them—horizontal glass panels. Here they were covered with thick bars, for security. The one above Patel’s door glowed, revealing lights inside. But the transom next door—the one the man from the elevator had stopped at—was dark.

  That business was closed.


  A sudden rush of footsteps behind them and, gasping, William turned to see the man, now with his head covered by a ski mask, charge toward them. He shoved them into the small room, where Patel sat behind a counter. The intruder moved so fast that Anna was knocked off her feet and fell hard, screaming. William turned but froze as the man pointed a gun his way—a black pistol.

  “Jesus, no! Please!”

  Despite his age, and paunchy midsection, Jatin Patel rose fast, going for what must have been a panic button. He didn’t get close. The man lunged forward and, reaching over the counter, slammed the pistol into his face. There was a horrific sound. William heard the snap of bone under the impact.

  The diamond dealer screamed. Patel, whose complexion was grayish all the time, grew grayer yet.

  “Look,” William said, “I can get you money. You can have our ring.”

  “Take it!” Anna said. Then to Patel: “Give it to him. Give him whatever he wants.”

  Drawing back his gloved hand, still holding the gun, he swung it forward into Patel’s face again and again. Crying out, begging for him to stop, Patel slumped helpless to the floor, muttering, “I can get you money! Lots of money! Whatever you want! Please, please stop.”

  “Leave him alone,” Anna cried.

  “Quiet!” The man was looking around the room. A fast glance to the ceiling. There was a video camera pointing down toward them. Then he was studying the counter, the desk behind it and several dim rooms in the back.

  With one hand toward the gunman, palm out, to reassure that he was no threat, William stepped closer to Anna. His arm went around his fiancée’s waist and he helped her up. He could feel her trembling.

  The robber ripped a light cord from the wall. He extracted a box cutter—a utility knife—from his pocket and pressed the razor blade out with his thumb. Setting down the gun, he cut the wire into two lengthy pieces. He handed one to Anna. “Tie his hands.” Nodding at William. That accent again. European? Scandinavian?

  “Do it,” William told her gently. “It’s okay.” He added in a whisper, “He could have shot us. He doesn’t want that. Tie my wrists.”


  “Yes, she will.”

  With shaking hands, she did.

  “Lie down.”

  William eased to the floor.

  Of course, he’d get the main threat out of the way—him. Then, glancing at Patel, the burglar bound Anna’s wrists and shoved her to the floor beside William, back to back.

  A chilling thought, cold as a winter stream, cut through him. William realized that the intruder had put the mask on before going into the store, to hide his face from the cameras.

  But he hadn’t worn it before. Because he needed some customers to get him through the door of Patel’s. He’d probably been waiting for a couple to follow to a company that seemed like a good target for a robbery.

  The security camera in Patel’s would have no recording of his features.

  But William and Anna could describe him.

  And that meant only one thing: The robber had tied them up so they wouldn’t fight back when he killed them.

  The man now stepped close, standing over them, looking down.

  “Look, please…”


  William prayed, If it has to happen, let him shoot us. It’ll be fast, painless. He managed a look, twisting his head hard upward. And saw that the man had left the gun on the counter.

  The gunman crouched over them, gripping the knife.

  William’s back was still facing Anna’s and, sobbing, he stretched his hand out as far as he could. It found hers. He wondered if it was her left one and if the finger he was caressing now was the one that had come so close to being graced by the princess-cut, one-point-five-carat diamond, only slightly flawed and nearly colorless.

  Chapter 2

  This was his life.

  Today was typical. Up at six, a Saturday, can you believe it? Help his mother empty all the pantry and kitchen shelves, for cleaning and laying new contact paper. Then wash the car—on this damp, grim day! Hugging his mother and father goodbye, then taking the train from their home in Queens all the way to Brooklyn, on an errand for Mr. Patel.

  Yet another train to Manhattan, to start polishing the stones that awaited him. He was on board now, as it swayed its way north.

  Saturday. When everyone else was at brunch or plays or movies…or museums.

  Or galleries.

  How unfair was this?

  Oh, forget entertainment. Vimal Lahori would be fine—in fact, he’d prefer to be—in the damp basement of the family’s house in Queens.

p; But that was not an option.

  He pulled his dark-gray wool jacket around him more tightly as he swayed with the gentle motion of the subway. The twenty-two-year-old was thin and not tall. He’d reached his present height of five feet, six inches in grade school and had had about two years’ edge over his boy classmates, until others pulled even or eclipsed him. Still, the ethnic bent of his high school, with names more Latino and East or South Asian than black or Anglo, meant he wasn’t as diminutive as many. Which wasn’t to say that he didn’t get bloodied occasionally—though the engine for the most severe torment was that his family had immigrated from Kashmir, the region claimed by the bordering rivals, India and Pakistan. Vimal was, he believed, the only boy to have been beaten up for a border dispute (ironically by two gangly seniors whose religions—one Muslim and one Hindu—should have made them sworn enemies).

  The wounds were minor, though, and the conflict soon forgotten, largely because Vimal was hardly a Kashmirista (he wasn’t even sure where the borders of his ancestral homeland lay). More important, he could move down the soccer pitch the way a honey bee zips from petal to petal; ball control will trump geopolitics any day.

  The train approached the stop at 42nd Street. The wheels shrieked and the smoky, salt odor eased into the car. Vimal unfurled and looked into the paper bag he carried. It contained a half-dozen rocks. He removed one, a piece about the size of his fist. It was gray and dark green, striated with crystals. One end was cracked flat and the other rounded. Every piece of stone on earth, big or small, could be turned into something else and, with some thought and patience, the artist could see what it should become. But this one was obvious: a bird, Vimal saw instantly, a bird that was pressing wings to body and keeping its head low to ward off the cold. He could rough out the creature in a day.

  But today was not that day.

  Today was for work. Mr. Patel was a very talented man. A genius, many people said, and Vimal knew it was true. And probably because of his brilliance Mr. Patel was also a taskmaster. Vimal had the Abington job to finish. Four pieces of stone, three carats each, more or less. He knew it would take a full eight hours, and the old man—he was fifty-five—would spend agonizing periods of that time examining Vimal’s efforts under the glass. Then have him make adjustments. And more after that.