After the Quliang case, Zhao Yu had learned a valuable lesson. He learned that he had to take measures to protect himself, so he had applied for a gun permit from the Criminal Division, then obtained a pistol.
Although Miao Ying had since joined his team as the deputy team leader, she was not yet qualified to wear a gun on duty because of her relatively short time on the force. Therefore, Zhao Yu and Ran Tao, who was in charge of the field mission, were only two people with pistols in the Special Investigation Group.
However, at this moment, which was not long after Zhao Yu had pointed the gun at the stairway, he suddenly lowered it and placed it back in its holster at his waist. This was because he had heard Ran Tao’s loud voice, coming from the stairway. Immediately thereafter, he heard Wu Xiumin’s familiar and taunting lilt. A few seconds later, Ran Tao, Wu Xiumin, and Miao Ying appeared together in the hall on the first floor.
“Boss, why are you here?” Ran Tao saw Zhao Yu and hurried forward to say hello.
Upon seeing his team members and realizing that his initial terror at the sound was a false alarm, Zhao Yu frowned. He did not realize that what the system had arranged for him today would be an encounter with his own team.
Miao Ying was also surprised to see Zhao Yu. She came over to Zhao Yu with a smile and said, “Leader, this is strange behavior for you. Didn’t you say that we should have different duties in this investigation? Are you trying to steal my credit?”
Zhao Yu felt a bit offended by her misguided accusation, so he immediately replied, “I’m not here to steal anything from you! Anyway… I’m the group leader, right? So, taking stock of the overall situation is well within my jurisdiction!”
“Hey… What overall situation are you talking about?” Ran Tao asked with a laugh. “Obviously, you are here to find your girlfriend! After all, Team Leader is not so kind to care about us!”
Miao Ying laughed, then asked Zhao Yu with a slight blush, “He’s just being silly, but really… What on earth are you doing here?”
“Hmm…” Zhao Yu replied with his own question, while he pointed to the stairs and asked, “Why were you going upstairs?”
Ran Tao was opening his mouth to answer, but Miao Ying beat him it as she replied, “Zhao Yu, you got here at the perfect time. I must report something about the Golden City Police Station to you…”
With that, Miao Ying pointed to the exact spot where the victim had been hanged and said, “A young woman hanged herself in this abandoned building in the middle of the night! It’s obvious that there are some abnormalities with this crime scene, right? But… What did the Golden City Police Station do? They ruled it as being a simple suicide!”
Miao Ying shook her head, then said earnestly, “I feel that we must report how misguided and lazy their jumping to such a hasty conclusion is! After all, it is not only our duty to check on how they handled the case, but to also prevent others from repeating the same mistake and following such a bad example!”
“Hmm…” Zhao Yu mumbled, while showing no real interest in what she had just said whatsoever.
He then said absentmindedly, “Sure… Whatever you like! But… Let’s get back to talking about the specifics of the case. If we follow the plot of the novel, this woman should not have committed suicide, right?”
Miao Ying nodded her head vehemently as she said, “Correct! But… Because the body has already been cremated, there is little evidence left, which makes it difficult for us to prove anything at all! The local police didn’t even do an autopsy on her! They are completely useless!”
“Then… What about her family?” Zhao Yu shook his head in disappointment, then asked, “Don’t they want to know the truth?”
Wu Xiumin then jumped in to the conversation and said, “Well… Her circumstances were quite special! Hao Lili’s parents have been divorced for many years. Her father is said to have gone south for work, and there has been no news from him for about five years now.”
She shook her head, clearly frustrated at that dead end. “As for her mother, she is remarried and now lives in Russia. The Golden City Police did call her, but she just told the police to deal with as best as they saw fit, without showing any concern or sadness at all!”
Wu Xiumin then added, “After that, the police had to find a few of Hao Lili’s distant relatives, all of whom lived in the countryside at that time, to decide how to handle her remains.”
Wu Xiumin shook her head again, then said, “Not one of these people wanted to deal with it, so no one really had any thoughts on the matter. At that point, the police just decided to cremate her, as that was the easiest and quickest option!”
“Hmm… The fact that they had such a hard time finding anyone in her life to care what happened to her remains seems very strange!” Zhao Yu said.
He then recalled, “After all, although Hao Lili worked in a hardware store, when she died, the clothes that she was wearing were all designer brand clothes, which should have cost quite a lot of money to purchase!”
Ran Tao nodded, then said, “We thought about this, too. So, we carefully investigated Hao Lili’s contact history from her phone and other electronic devices and found out that she had a secret lover! He’s a wealthy hardware wholesaler in Zhaoyun. We contacted the local police, who have promised to bring this guy to us this afternoon!”
Wu Xiumin then jumped into the conversation and added, “But… This wholesaler said that he had broken up with Hao Lili six months before the murder, and at that time, he claimed that he had given her a good sum of money to help her in the transition.”
She then shook her head and said, “Also… We have already ruled him out as a suspect, as on the day of her death, he was traveling in Nanjiang. He even has an alibi to prove it.”
“Well… If her death was really related to the novel, then we don’t have to worry about this rich businessmen being involved, regardless of whether he has an alibi or not” Miao Ying said. “After all, that timeline of six months without contact doesn’t coincide with the plot. So, we’d better focus on checking to see who Hao Lili contacted just before her death. At the same time, the possibility that we are dealing with a random murderer, who kills for no special reason, cannot be ruled out.”
Zhao Yu thought for a few seconds, then asked, “So… What about the other victims? Do you have any leads?”
Miao Ying shook her head as she said, “So many obstacles are facing us at the moment. Broken cameras… The deaths having taken place so long ago… No witnesses… As things stand at the moment, it seems that we can only rely on luck! Regardless, the investigation of 11 Kills is still the main focus of our investigation, as we feel that there is where we have the best chance of finding new clues!”
Wu Xiumin then reported, “The only thing that we can be sure of now is that the murderer is not exactly killing according to the novel! In the novel, the victims are all males, and they are all of similar ages. Also, they all attend the same school.”
She shook her head, then added, “But, in this case, the four victims have nothing to do with each other. Whether it be gender, age, occupation, family or financial conditions, they all vary from one to the other! There is hardly any commonality among them!”
“That is to say…” Zhao Yu nodded and said, “The cause of death in this case is not due to bullying or campus violence?”
Miao Ying said, “Right. In fact, it may have nothing to do with the campus whatsoever!”
“But…” Wu Xiumin added, “Except for these differences, the other details of the case are highly consistent with the novel’s plot, including the orders of the deaths, how the victims were killed, the crime scene locations, how the real killer fabricated the scene to look like suicides, and so on… All of these things mirror the plot exactly!”
“Oh…” Zhao Yu’s nodded as he was thinking.
Wu Xiumin was quiet for a moment, not wanting to interrupt his thoughts. She then said, “I have read Han Kuan’s 11 Kills countless times, and after doing so, I went to all of the crime scenes again! From a psychological point of view, I don’t think that the murderer is killing people at random!”
“Oh?” Zhao Yu was surprised by this assertion.
Miao Ying also seemed to be hearing Wu Xiumin’s point of view for the first time, so she wore a similar look of surprise on her face as she listened very carefully to her words.
Wu Xiumin then said, “It strikes me as being an unusual psychological transfer. After reading Han Kuan’s novel, the murderer seems to have responded to the character sympathetically. That is to say, even though the murderer does not necessarily have the same experience as the character did in the book, he can still feel the same feelings!”
Her eyes were wide as she concluded, “So… Maybe this killer has a certain kind of psychological paranoia or lacks the capability to control himself or decipher reality from fiction. This would explain why the killer might imagine himself as the character in the book, then start to implement his plan to murder all of these people!”
“Oh… I understand now!” Zhao Yu nodded and grew quite excited as he said, “That is to say, the murderer must also have been bullied in some way during his life, just like the protagonist’s daughter in the book. Hence, the people he killed must have had something to do with those instances of him being bullied!”
Miao Ying nodded and said, “Yes… More specifically, maybe the person who was bullied wasn’t the murderer himself, but was one of the murderer’s relatives! That would make it just like in the novel, as it was indeed the killer’s daughter who was bullied and committed suicide. This would mean that the murdered was taking a similar kind of revenge on his victims!”
Zhao Yu looked up at the place where the victim had been hanged, nodded his head, then said, “If this is really the motive, at least this case will not be hard to crack now!”
Wu Xiumin smiled and said, “Yes! Now, we just need to investigate each victim in detail in order to find out what they have in common. Then, surely that will lead us to the murderer!”
Zhao Yu shivered as he said, “In that case, let’s go back to the police station immediately! We can report all of this and leave the rest to the local police!”
“But…” Miao Ying looked worried as she said, “We’ve already seen that their abilities are really lacking!”
“Ha ha ha ha…” Zhao Yu laughed and smiled at Miao Ying as he said, “It seems that you are still not used to the process of how the Special Investigation Group works! I can tell you responsibly that we can always press people to do better than they think that they actually can!”
He tried to convince her, “Don’t worry, I’m the best at putting pressure on people to get their acts together! As such, I can assure you that a detailed report of the four victims’ backgrounds will be on your desk this very day!”
At this point, Zhao Yu put his arms around Miao Ying’s shoulders like he usually did and said, “Come on! Let’s go! This place is so cold!”
After that, the four people left the building together. When he reached the door, Zhao Yu thought of one more thing and asked Miao Ying, “Oh, by the way, you haven’t told me why you were going upstairs just now…”
“Oh… It was nothing!” Miao Ying smacked her lips and said doubtfully, “It just feels like I’ve seen this place before!”
“No way! I didn’t know that you had been to the Golden City before?” Ran Tao asked, clearly surprised.
Miao Ying shook her head and said, “No… It just looks familiar.”
“Hey! You just reminded me of something!” Zhao Yu looked up at the unfinished building and said with mixed emotions, “I also seem to have seen this place before! Meow, do you think… Could it be because of Qiu Xinyang’s case? The ghost city of Qinshan?”
“Um… Maybe…” Miao Ying couldn’t help but look back at the gloomy building as they walked.