"Are you writing this down?" he said.
"Of course I am."
"I need you to meet someone. He's coming from Luxembourg. I don't know how long he'll be free, so make yourself available. He's going to give you a USB to bring to me. Be very careful with it. And tell no one."
"What am I supposed to say to Grant? I have a date with a mysterious European?"
"Tell him you're going for a run. Or you need to meet an old friend. He's a big boy. He'll survive without you for forty-five minutes." Duncan sounded irritated, which irritated Marina. She pressed hard on her pencil, snapping the tip.
"Damn it," she muttered, and reached for a pen.
"Look, I know you're frustrated," Duncan said. "I know what I'm asking is annoying. But it's important, Marina. This material is highly sensitive. My source doesn't trust email, even encrypted email. He wants to hand over the data directly. I was going to fly to Geneva last week to meet him myself, but I believe I'm being followed."
Marina stifled an eyeroll. "By who?"
Duncan ignored her. "I told him you're the only person I trust." "Stop buttering me up, Duncan. I suppose I don't get to know what this is about?"
Duncan paused. In the background, Marina could hear what sounded like a snowplow. She wondered if Duncan was out of the city, holed up at his weekend house, where he was beginning to spend more and more of his time. She worried about him out there. He drank too much and socialized too little. When Duncan drank, he became dramatic and paranoid. When he got dramatic and paranoid, he usually called Marina.
"We'll talk when you're back," he said. "But, Marina...this is it. After all these years, I think we finally found him."
Marina stopped writing. "Him?"
"Very much so."
Marina paused, absorbing the enormity of what Duncan was saying. It had been eight years since Morty Reiss's suicide. Almost to the day. Or rather, it had been eight years since Morty Reiss's car was found on the Tappan Zee Bridge, a suicide note taped to the windshield. Days after his alleged suicide, Morty's hedge fund, RCM, was uncovered as one of the largest Ponzi schemes of all time. Reiss saw the writing on the wall and jumped, or so the story went. His body, however, was never found. At the beginning, Marina and Duncan harbored the same suspicion as many: that Reiss faked his own death and disappeared with his ill-gotten gains to some sun-washed country without an extradition treaty. Of all the people Marina had written stories about during her tenure at Press magazine, Reiss was perhaps the smartest, most ruthless con man she'd ever come across. Given that Marina wrote about New York society figures—Wall Street tycoons, real estate magnates, fashion designers, publicists—that was saying a lot. If anyone was smart enough to disappear along with his money, it was Reiss.
Reiss was brilliant—as brilliant as they come—but eventually all Ponzi schemes necessarily come to an end, and that was the one thing that had always niggled at Marina about the RCM story. Insider trading, embezzlement: anyone could get away with these crimes if they were clever enough. Just steal the money and ride off into the sunset. But a Ponzi scheme required an unending supply of investors. Without new investors, the whole scheme collapsed like a house of cards. So why would Reiss opt into a crime with no end? He seemed too smart for that. That is, unless he'd planned on faking his death all along.
If that was the case, Marina had to hand it to him: Reiss was potentially the most cunning financial criminal of all time.
As the years passed with no news or trace of Reiss, however, Marina's disbelief faded slowly into acceptance. Was it really possible for a man like Reiss—whose face flashed across television screens worldwide for months on end—to disappear? Marina didn't think so. It seemed too far-fetched—fantastical, even. A Hollywood plotline instead of a real news story. Reiss was smart, but he was also human. Perhaps his greed or hubris did end up getting the better of him.
While Marina's interest with Morty Reiss waned, Duncan Sander's blossomed into a full-blown obsession. After he and Marina cowrote the original expose of RCM, Duncan went on to pen several more pieces about Reiss and his coconspirator, Carter Darling. His theories about Reiss's whereabouts became outlandish and unsubstantiated, and Marina feared that Duncan's fixation had irreparably damaged his reputation as a serious journalist. Six months ago, it had almost cost him his career.