Chapter 14: Battle of wits

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A door shut loudly behind them, sending a shudder through the room. Max quickly found a seat, but it was on the opposing end of the table. His stomach was burning with discomfort. He had always been the questioner in this room, but he was now in the role of the suspect. A coursing chill ran up his spine while he sat facing the one-way mirror. He had spent plenty of time on the other side of it, watching defendants squirm and fidget. How quickly things could change?

Max had gone from hero to villain in only a couple of days. He would now face a long interrogation, but he needed to be careful with his words. His tenure in office had allowed him to be witness to the most devious, duplicitous suspects, skilled in the art of misdirection and denial and Max would now need to clone their behavior. His every answer would be vague, almost bordering on belligerent. He knew any evidence against him was just conjecture, so he could not give them anything further. Max could not be unseated from DA if they had nothing to go on.

A large man with a barreled chest ripped the seat backwards, straining its legs on the concrete. He slumped down, before setting his vision straight on his suspect.

"I'm Detective Argus, I'm conducting an interview with Max Crawford in regards to the Ben Roberts murder," a deep voice stated for the purpose of the recorder.

A sharp tone cut him off mid speech.

"I don't know you, do I?" Max queried, "we haven't come across each other before? I'm guessing you're not from this precinct?"

A set of searing eyes met his words, after his sharp interruption had angered the man.

"Please, let me finish," Argus growled, "I know you're used to conducting these interviews, but I'm in charge now. I'd ask you to only speak when instructed. Do you understand?"

Max nodded his head, but his impatience overrode his brain and he quickly spoke again.

"Just answer my question first. Are you from here?"

"I'm not from Washington," the detective replied with a huff, "I'm based out of North Carolina. Due to the nature of your position, as head of the prosecution department it was thought it would be best to have someone impartial conduct this interview to alleviate bias or prejudice."

Max's impatience red lined again and he quickly spoke.

"Who thought it best? Who approached you?"

"I'll be the one asking the questions," the man reiterated, showing his first signs of frustration, "I won't stand for rudeness or insolence. This is a very serious matter and I'll ask you to act accordingly."

"I'm sorry," Max apologized with a tweaked smile, "continue on."

"I just want you to know that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law," Argus stated, like he had done it many times before, "we're currently interviewing your investigator Sam Grant as well, so I urge you to be honest in these proceedings. Do you require a lawyer present?"

Max responded quickly.

"I wave my right. I have nothing to hide."

He knew straight away what was happening. The Mayor had brought in a hired gun to try and rattle him. This detective was obviously excellent in the art of manipulation and intimidation, similar to a CIA operative, trying to get information from a terrorist. He knew what questions to ask and how to frame them, often getting suspects to confess out of sheer confusion. Men like him were rare with only a handful of them existing in this department. They were often referred to as mentalists, only brought in on the most important cases. Their deductive powers allowed them to twist, shatter and befuddle the most astute of minds and force clear, concise confessions from even the most antagonistic of suspects.

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