The group of them brought the painting back to the bureau. The ancient painting appraisal expert that Lin Qiupu invited had already arrived. He took out a magnifying glass and looked at the painting for a long time, before saying with slight excitement, "Yes, this is definitely the authentic work of Qian Yutan! If you feel uneasy, you can do a carbon-14 appraisal, but as an expert, I have a suggestion. This painting is very old, and you must be careful when appraising it, because any damage is irreversible."
Lin Dongxue expressed her gratitude to him and asked whether they needed to pay the appraisal fee, but the appraisal expert smiled magnanimously. "No need. It’s a citizen's duty to assist with detective work!"
"By the way, do you know all the collectors in Long’an?"
"I know a few."
"Have you heard of Lie Guoxiao?"
Upon hearing this name, the appraisal expert’s expression changed. "I don't know him well. I don't know him well. I still have an appointment so I’ll take my leave first. See you."
Half an hour later, Peng Sijue’s identification results came out. Liu Feng's fingerprints were found on the plastic bag that had wrapped the painting. Chen Shi asked, "Are his fingerprints on the ancient painting?"
"I'm afraid testing this is impossible!" Peng Sijue said, "Iodine vapor is used to extract fingerprints from this kind of rice paper, and the painting would be destroyed after inspection."
Chen Shi looked at the painting on the table. "The two ends of the scroll are made of red sandalwood. Can they be checked?"
He failed to persuade Chen Shi, so Peng Sijue could only inspect the ends of the scroll for fingerprints. The whole process was as careful as a surgical operation, for fear of damaging the scroll. The result was that only one set of fingerprints were found on it. Through the comparison of distinctive features, it was found that they belonged to Boss Shen.
As the result came out, Peng Sijue said in a relieved tone, "At least there’s a small discovery. It proves that this painting was indeed from Boss Shen's shop."
Chen Shi said, "Can you take a few people to Liu Feng's house and see if you can find other people's fingerprints in the house?"
"I have a lot of work on my hands!" Peng Sijue complained.
"Don't you like work the most? I’ll let you enjoy it a little longer."
"Get lost!" Peng Sijue issued an eviction order and went back to work in his laboratory.
Chen Shi showed a wry smile and left the forensics department. He and Lin Dongxue went to the evidence room and stored the painting in the safe.
Chen Shi said, "I think this whole matter is very strange. If Liu Feng really took the painting, shouldn't he hide it before surrendering himself? What is the difference between putting it under the bed and putting it on the table? Someone had pried open the door. Someone had been there after Liu Feng was arrested. They took a plastic bag with Liu Feng's fingerprints, put the painting in it, and then put it under the bed, framing him perfectly."
"If this is really the case, there has to be a prerequisite. This person knows that Liu Feng has been arrested!"
"The news of Liu Feng's arrest hasn’t been made public. Do you mean that employee?"
"I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of him."
"We can question this kid again... The framing of Liu Feng at the moment has almost constituted a complete case. What is the murderer's motive? Is it really just to shift the blame onto him?" Chen Shi muttered as he walked outside. "Hey, where's your brother?"
"I don't know. Not sure where he went after we came back. Could he be in his office?"
"Greet him for me. I'll go first, otherwise the fish in the car would go off."
"Being a consultant is so easy." Lin Dongxue smiled, "Hurry back and cook for Yueyue!"
After returning home, Chen Shi temporarily left the matter of the case behind. He concentrated on cooking, having a meal with Yueyue, watching TV, and enjoying some entertainment in the evening.
After sleeping until dawn, Chen Shi saw Lin Dongxue’s text message saying, "I'm going to die!"
Chen Shi smiled, guessing that Lin Dongxue must have worked overtime again. He immediately washed up and drove to the bureau, buying a few breakfast meals on the way.
When he got to Lin Dongxue’s office, he saw her facing the computer with dark circles under her eyes, yawning non-stop. Opposite, Xu Xiaodong was already asleep on his stomach. Lin Dongxue said to Chen Shi, "After you left yesterday, my brother brought a pile of copied videos for us to go through. Before we knew it, it was already dawn outside. It turned out that we had watched them all night!"
"Were they videos from the scene?"
"If they weren’t, could they be Zhang Yimou's movies?"
"Were you two the only ones staying up all night?"
"No, this is a ‘smoke-free zone’. I drove the smokers to the big office."
"You should eat something. You need to rehydrate yourself when you stay up overnight. I bought some millet porridge."
"I can't move my hands anymore." Lin Dongxue said coquettishly.
Chen Shi sat down to feed Lin Dongxue the porridge. Lin Dongxue's eyes were still staring at the screen. She said, "It’s strange. There’s no record of Liu Feng's visit to the pawn shop that night around the scene. Xiaodong looked at the surroundings near Liu Feng's home, and didn't see Liu Feng leaving his house either."
"Doesn't this confirm our suspicion that Liu Feng never went to the pawn shop that night? Are there other suspicious persons?"
"It’s unable to be confirmed."
"How many security cameras are there on Shangma Street?"
"There are a lot of them, but the scene of the crime happened to be in a blind spot, because the camera there recently broke down. The person applying for repair said that it had been damaged by a child living nearby with a toy gun." Lin Dongxue raised her eyebrows, "Very suspicious!"
"The murderer took the ashtray with Liu Feng's fingerprints on it to commit murder, which shows that it was premeditated. The security camera may have been broken by them in advance."
Lin Dongxue lowered her head. It was unknown whether it was because she was pondering something or if she was too tired. Chen Shi suggested, "Look at how sleepy you are. Why don’t you sleep for a bit?"
"No, I can't sleep. It's very uncomfortable waking up after sleeping on my desk. I'd rather stay up until the afternoon and go home to sleep... It's okay, I’ve long gotten used to staying up all night."
"Why don’t you go and sleep in my car?"
Lin Dongxue was contemplating it when Lin Qiupu suddenly came in and said, "Meeting!"
A bunch of people went to the meeting room. Peng Sijue’s coffee machine was borrowed and everyone used bitter and strong coffee to refresh themselves. The content of this meeting was very simple. Lin Qiupu said, "Judging from the current signs, this case is very likely a cleverly-designed framing scheme. However, we still have to focus on Liu Feng. Yesterday, I chatted with the people from the third team. They’ve been observing Lie Guoxiao for several years, but they couldn’t find a reason to search his property. This case will be a major breakthrough. I will apply for a search warrant this morning. After we get it, we will meet this Lie Guoxiao together with colleagues from the third team... If you can’t bear it any longer, you can head back and rest for a while first."
"Hurray!" Cheers came from a dark corner.
Lin Qiupu glanced at Xu Xiaodong. "Who else has something to say?"
Chen Shi said, "Aren’t we looking for the real murderer anymore? Perhaps you can investigate Lie Guoxiao, while Dongxue and I investigate the surroundings of the scene."
Lin Qiupu replied, "Let's act together. I believe that once we’ve investigated Lie Guoxiao, there’ll be new progress in the case over here as well."
Chen Shi wanted to say that this was only Lin Qiupu's wishful thinking, but he didn’t want to embarrass him in front of so many people.
The attitude of the third team was understandable. As a team that specializes in cracking down on organized crime, Lie Guoxiao was their key surveillance target. Here was finally a criminal case that had something to do with him. They naturally wouldn’t let this opportunity pass.
1. Qian Yutan is the artist’s pen name and Qian Xuan is his birth name which was mentioned in an earlier chapter.
2. A Chinese director.
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