The Bone Tree (Penn Cage #5) - Greg Iles Page 0,1

resources with the independence and assertiveness of a military officer, and Washington had allowed him all the rope he desired. The fact that New Orleans lay in a part of the country that the D.C. nabobs never thought much about had been useful in this regard. But Kaiser knew all too well that once he started passing explosive information up the chain, those same bureaucrats would instantly go into ass-covering mode and force his operation to a grinding halt. And almost nothing was more explosive than evidence tying the New Orleans Mafia and a violent offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan to Dealey Plaza.

What Kaiser most wanted was time and freedom to follow the leads he’d unearthed—to wherever they led, unhampered by oversight and regardless of consequences. J. Edgar Hoover might be long dead, but his paranoid ghost still haunted the halls of FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. Already two men had died since Kaiser and his team had driven north from New Orleans to Vidalia, and more had died in the days before that. These deaths had not gone unnoticed in Washington, and by early this evening a few reporters at national newspapers had picked up on the violent doings in the backcountry of Louisiana. None had yet learned that Kaiser had designated the Double Eagle group a terrorist entity under the Patriot Act (which gave him unprecedented power to combat the survivors of the Klan offshoot), but someone soon would, and that would only increase the political pressure to quickly resolve events.

The problem was, Kaiser saw no hope for a quick resolution. The Double Eagle group was tied to at least a dozen unsolved rape, kidnapping, and murder cases in and around Concordia Parish and Natchez, Mississippi. And while Kaiser had made remarkable progress during the past twenty-four hours, it might take weeks or even months to solve them all. The surviving Double Eagles were tough men who had never been compromised, much less infiltrated. Breaking them would be difficult. The one Eagle who had shown signs of wanting to wash his conscience clean—a terminal cancer patient named Glenn Morehouse—had been ruthlessly murdered by his old comrades two days ago, before the FBI even became aware that he’d opened talks with a crusading journalist named Henry Sexton. Sexton himself had nearly perished in a subsequent attack by unknown assailants, and he now lay in a heavily protected room in the nearby Concordia Parish hospital.

It was Sexton’s working files and notes that Kaiser hoped to access by breaching the computers of the Natchez Examiner. Early that morning, Kaiser had learned from Sexton’s girlfriend that the injured reporter had given a bundle of Moleskine notebooks containing the results of years of Double Eagle investigations to Caitlin Masters, the publisher of the Examiner. Kaiser had tried both bribes and threats to persuade Masters to allow him access to those notebooks, but so far she had refused. Just before going to bed, his wife had told him that she’d spoken to Masters (who was a great admirer of her work) about them all being on the same side, and Jordan believed the publisher would allow Kaiser access to the notebooks tomorrow. He’d made up his mind to subpoena Sexton’s records under the Patriot Act in any case. But as he’d lain awake in the dark beside his wife, he’d begun to believe that waiting even eight hours for that information would be a mistake.

Though few knew it, Kaiser had twice today visited Henry Sexton in the hospital, and during the second meeting he’d heard a story that had stunned him. According to Sexton, the 1968 kidnapping of two young black men—Jimmy Revels and Luther Davis—had been anything but a simple racist attack by the Ku Klux Klan. Glenn Morehouse, a founding member of the Double Eagles, had told Sexton that Revels and Davis had been kidnapped as part of a plan to lure Robert Kennedy to Mississippi to be assassinated. This plan had come into being after RFK announced his intention to enter the 1968 presidential race, a decision that had enraged Carlos Marcello, who’d been targeted for deportation multiple times by Kennedy, both as a senator and as attorney general. According to Morehouse, Marcello believed that if Robert Kennedy was elected president, he would be permanently deported and lose his criminal empire, which stretched from Dallas, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama. Through case work of his own, Kaiser knew this to be true.

He did not, however, know anything about the rest of