In the mid 1990s in Baltimore, the CEO of a company is found dead in his downtown office. The two Homicide Detectives assigned to the case find themselves conducting a most intriguing investigation.
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Mid October 1995 in Baltimore City, the work week starts off pleasantly enough, sunny, unseasonably warm, as though mocking the pervasive mood of fear and anxiety over crime and the economy. The number of shootings is so high, rumor has it the police are running out of crime scene tape. In spite of a national economic upturn, the city continues to hemorrhage jobs--white collar jobs--as corporations downsize or move to the suburbs. Tuesday morning, Howard Carlton Nobel, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Baltech, Inc., a computer technologies firm in downtown Baltimore, is found dead in his office, his head cut off by his own samurai sword, a memento of his trip to Tokyo.
Detectives Isaacson and Burns find themselves wandering through a bureaucratic maze of corporate downsizing, politics, greed, sex, lies, and one curious videotape. Though they uncover hard evidence and many leads, the reality of the CEO's character and the details of his death remain elusive. Was he a modern businessman, or a man obsessed with bushido, the medieval code of the samurai warrior? Was he a charismatic, effective leader, or a man fearful of his subordinates' superior knowledge and abilities? Was his death just one more senseless killing of a businessman in downtown Baltimore? Or was his demise a perverse fulfillment of the CEO's own quest to find his soul?
“President and chief executive officer. Baltech, Inc. They do computer systems. Office building on Calvert, about four blocks north of the Inner Harbor. That ought to sound good on the evening news, won’t it? Just what this city needs. CEO murdered in his downtown office.”
Detective Joseph Isaacson filled his cup and carried it to one of the small tables in the coffee room. His partner, Daniel Burns, joined him, setting his cup down on the scratched, chipped surface.
Isaacson grimaced at the taste of the coffee. “I don’t know how you can stand to drink this crap black.”
“I don’t know how you can stand to use that artificial creamer crap. Who found the body?”
“Secretary–-CEO’s executive secretary. Name's Jennifer Hill. She arrives at work. Assumes the boss is already in his office. He gets in early, stays late."