The speaker was Lin Chen.
He patted Xing Conglian on the shoulder, who saw Mr.
Consultant walk upstairs without turning back, as if the reunion had ended.
Xing Conglian hurriedly caught up, as Lin Chen had already stepped onto the escalator.
Xing Conglian wanted to look back at Lin Chen’s “friend” again, but Lin Chen grabbed him in advance and said, “Don’t look.
“So, that friend, why is he so interested in our case” Xing Conglian asked tentatively.
Although Lin Chen’s friends were probably not a vicious guy, he didn’t necessarily look like a good person either.
At least Su Fengzi didn’t seem to be.
“I don’t know, but if he wants to talk, naturally he will follow us.”
Lin Chen seldom had a hostile expression on his face.
After mentioning Photoshop, Consultant Lin suddenly thought of something and decided to get angry.
Sure enough, when the escalator took them to the second floor, they caught a glimpse of his friend in the smoky gray suit, who was already standing at the bottom of the escalator, seemingly about to go upstairs.
“What’s the matter” Xing Conglian asked with a smile.
“We always thought that whether it was Wang Shishi or Xu Haozhen, or even Jiang Liu and Jin Xiaoan, they all met in school…”
Xing Conglian probably wanted to ask Lin Chen why he suddenly turned his back to Su Fengzi, but the other party had cleverly prevaricated this question with another answer to avoid answering it.
Xing Conglian had no choice but to follow along and ask, “Is it not”
“Su Fengzi is right.
To apply the ABC model, Wang Shishi has always kept Xu Haozhen’s signature book, indicating that the mythical C is Xu Haozhen.
Then the person who tricked Wang Shishi into entering the organization can’t be her.”
Xing Conglian roughly understood where the problem was.
Lin Chen continued, “Xu Haozhen misled me before.
She said that both she and Wang Shishi had participated in the literary club, and Jiang Liu was an officer of the student union, so they all knew each other… It’s natural for us to think that they met in school, but if this is a premeditated criminal organization, it’s impossible for it to select its members so hastily, and…”
“And they’re just ordinary classmates.
If suddenly one day someone mysterious said to you, ‘Classmate, do you know XX’ this would seem like some kind of MLM scheme and would arouse some suspicion,” Xing Conglian said.
“Yes, you asked me before, how did they select loyal victims and why no one has mutinied or reported them for so long.
To do this, they select members carefully, picking only people with certain types of personality traits.”
“But they can’t always give everyone a personality test like you do…” Xing Conglian touched his chin and thought of another possibility.
“It’s not like they could hack into the school’s system and view the students’ psychological files like Wang Chao, right”
“Whether it’s stealing information or screening by other methods, this is just the first step.
This isn’t enough… The best way is to first find the target group, trick them into coming to the trap, and then choose who takes the initiative to step into the trap.” Lin Chen increased his pace, bypassing two rows of shops and walking deeper into the store.
“Initiative is important.”
“Oh… It’s like waiting for the rabbit.
This is a process of mutual attraction.” Xing Conglian followed Lin Chen’s steps.
“In other words, somewhere in University City, there’s a trap that a student will take the initiative to step into… such as a bookstore”
“It’s not a bookstore.”
Lin Chen stopped abruptly with a look of disappointment on his face after his speculation failed.
The Siyuan Inspirational Bookstore was at No.
19, Area B, 3rd Floor, of the Phoenix Book Mall.
Xing Conglian raised his eyes and looked at the target of their trip.
At nearly 8:50, most of the rolling shutter doors had been pulled down, but the lights were still on.
In front of the store were piles of unopened packages of various sizes that held new books shipped from major publishing houses.
The situation inside the bookstore was much worse than outside.
Xing Conglian pulled the rolling shutter door up a bit and bent over to enter, finding there wasn’t even a spot to stand.
The floor was covered with books piling up, some reaching the ceiling.
There were colorful novels and magazines on and under a table.
The inside of the shop was full of teaching aids ranging from “Three-Year College Entrance Exam” to “Cambridge IELTS Complete Solutions”.
Xing Conglian was deeply concerned about the possibility of finding a clue here.
Hearing that someone had entered the store, the employee who was cleaning up emerged from behind a pile of magazines and frowned.
Come back tomorrow if you want to buy anything.”
Xing Conglian didn’t hesitate to show his badge, then said, “There’s some problems that we need your assistance with in our investigation.”
“What… What” The shopkeeper hurriedly stood up, carefully maneuvered around the books, and stepped in front of Xing Conglian.
“Do you have a record of all the outgoing books in your store”
Xing Conglian patted the young man on the shoulder and said, “Don’t be nervous.
Help me check a book’s outgoing record…” Xing Conglian then showed the book copyright information page sent to him by Wang Chao.
The young man nodded and hurried to the computer.
“‘Discrete Mathematics’ by Ye Wenzhong, right” he asked as he entered the search term, and a line of outbound records appeared shortly after.
The outbound time was 17:44 on November 19, 2011.
Xing Conglian’s gaze fell on the last line showing the outbound quantity, and he was stunned for a moment.
“More than expected.” Lin Chen’s clear voice sounded from behind him.
“I just got hired this year.
I don’t know anything about this!” The young man quickly clarified himself.
“Can you find the person who picked up the goods” Xing Conglian asked.
The young man shook his head.
“There are no records.”
“What about an invoice”
After Xing Conglian asked, he saw the young man raise his head and say with a sarcastic smile, “Mr.
Police Officer, unless our customers have special requirements, general retail doesn’t really have invoices…”
“Call your boss,” Xing Conglian said.
The young man hurriedly grabbed his phone to call his boss, and after briefly explaining the situation, he handed the phone to Xing Conglian.
“Hello, let me make a long story short.
Do you have any images of the batch of ‘Discrete Mathematics’ that was released in November 2011”
Police Officer, I have people coming and going every day here, and you’re suddenly asking me about a batch of books that came out of a warehouse five years ago I really can’t remember.”
“Even if you’re a regional distributor, it shouldn’t be common for you to suddenly export 300 copies.
What’s more, this is ‘Discrete Mathematics’ not ‘Three-Year College Entrance Exam’.
Please recall carefully.”
“To tell you the truth, I wasn’t in charge of this shop before.
My previous business partner and their family have immigrated, so I just took over… And this is asking about a book from five years ago.
Let alone telling you about it, I don’t even remember who the staff at the store were at that time.”
“Send me your former business partner’s number and contact information to this number.” After Xing Conglian finished speaking, he hung up and then shook his head at Lin Chen.
Lin Chen’s attitude instead looked relieved.
“It would be strange if that person would leave such an obvious clue.”
“They bought 300 copies five years ago.
How long has this organization existed…” Xing Conglian started thinking about whether to tell the news to Captain Jiang, who had recently become extremely nervous.
“At most, it’s something that happened in the last five years, which isn’t too long ago,” Lin Chen suddenly said.
“What did you mean when you first said that it’s not a bookstore” Xing Conglian dropped the subject and continued the unfinished conversation with Lin Chen about the trap just now.
“What he meant is that this place is so shabby that it’s hard to create a sense of love or trust at first glance.
After all, whether they like it or not, it mainly depends on face.” A slightly lazy tone came from the door of the store.
Xing Conglian didn’t even have to turn around to know who was speaking.
It was just this time, Lin Chen didn’t give the person who interrupted them any good face and didn’t even bother looking back and responding to the other party.
“If I am the mastermind behind the scenes, in order to pick my targets, I’ll first use the most scientific method to screen the people who are most easily controlled by me.
The characteristics of such people are introverted, low self-esteem, and lacking friends, but at the same time, they have to have a strong yearning and longing for a better life in their hearts.
In general, all pyramid schemes, whether they use a high level of brainwashing or not, exploit this yearning and longing.
So, if I want to attract these people to take the bait, I’ll definitely arrange a very beautiful place.
The place will be dazzling and elegant but have a relaxing atmosphere without an unattainable sense of alienation… It will not be too hidden and mysterious, as that would be too suspicious.
Most likely, it will be located in an ordinary street or alley, leaving people unsuspecting.
Members of the organization can easily lure victims here, and even those potential victims will take the initiative to come to their door…”
“A shop,” Xing Conglian said.
Lin Chen nodded.
“This is just an assumption.
If we’re looking for a store, it must first be in University City.
Its target audience is students, with the majority of them being female.
In the major categories of food and entertainment, most likely it’s a bourgeois beverage shop or a female clothing store or a bookstore…”
Xing Conglian motioned for Lin Chen to pause and then called Wang Chao.
I will serve you wholeheartedly.”
Xing Conglian handed the phone to Lin Chen.
“Wang Chao, can you find the registration records of all shops within the scope of Yongchuan University City I need to find a store within its boundaries.”
“So hacking into the Bureau of Industry and Commerce, right That’s trivial… Come on, my broadsword is already hungry and thirsty!”
“This store doesn’t have a specific name and address, so it’ll be relatively difficult to retrieve.
First, it may be a beverage shop, a clothing store, or a bookstore.
If it’s a beverage shop, exclude all milk tea shops and large coffee chains.
The store area is about 50-150 square meters… Clothing stores are more difficult.
First, exclude all brand stores in shopping malls, and then exclude men’s clothing stores.
The store area is about 20-80 square meters… And the approximate area of the bookstore is the same as the clothing store…”
“There is definitely no such bookstore in Phoenix Book Mall…” the smiling writer leaning against the doorway said.
Lin Chen glanced at the entrance, then said to Wang Chao, “Exclude all bookstores in the Phoenix Book Mall… Tell me how many similar shops there are.”
“There are 12 beverage shops, 3 bookstores, and clothing stores…” Wang Chao paused and then said, with some embarrassment, “92…”
“The book was purchased in November 2011.
If someone planned it this early, then the time the store open would be…”
“The opening time and the book purchase time won’t be too far apart.”
Xing Conglian suddenly leaned closer to the mic and said to Wang Chao, “The opening time of the store should be between June 2011 and June 2012, and there hasn’t been any register for suspension so far.”
“Shit, Captain, why didn’t you say so earlier!” When Wang Chao was talking to Xing Conglian, he obviously wasn’t well-behaved and obedient like he was to Lin Chen.
Xing Conglian could hear the teenager’s grumbling.
“There are 3 beverage shops total, no such bookstores, and 27 clothing stores.” After Wang Chao finished speaking, he suddenly shouted in surprise as if he had discovered a new world.
“Captain, do you know that the first floor of Phoenix Book Mall has the largest underground pedestrian street in Yongchuan University City… There are 2 beverage stores and 20 clothing stores that are right under your feet.
They close at 10.
Do you want to try your luck”
“I remember that Lao Jiang’s subordinates watched Cheng Weiwei for a few months.
Ask him to check their records and see if Cheng Weiwei has been to any of these stores.
First, check to see if she had been to the pedestrian street in Phoenix Book Mall, then have him send me the address.” After Xing Conglian finished speaking, he hung up.
“It’s already ten past nine,” Lin Chen said.
“There are still fifty minutes left,” Xing Conglian replied, looking at Lin Chen.
Before Xing Conglian could say anything, Lin Chen had already taken the lead and strode out of the bookstore.
He glanced at the writer at the door and gave him a menacing look, then turned the corner, as if looking for a secluded place.
Xing Conglian couldn’t help laughing.
Lin Chen stood still at the back stairway of the bookstore, turned around, grabbed the man behind him by the collar, and pushed him against the wall.
“What the hell are you doing here!”
“If I want to come back, I will.”
There was still a smile in Su Fengzi’s eyes.
Lin Chen was even more angry, “Be honest, Fengzi.
Why did you come here!”
“You don’t believe me when I say I’m here to help you solve the case”
“Criminal investigation is good material.
A handsome criminal investigator and a cool psychologist—isn’t this quite interesting”
“Tsk… You’re so angry.
Let me guess… You’re angry because you suddenly realized that I’ve been interested in this case for a long time.” Su Fengzi spoke softly, and his tone was light, as if airy like freshly baked bread.
“You’re angry, of course, because I suddenly appeared to find Fu Hao instead of looking for you and thought that I likely grasped the key evidence of this case much earlier, which is why I’ve appeared at Phoenix Book Mall instead of telling you the clues that I knew in advance, right”
Lin Chen pursed his lips and said coldly, “Speak properly.”
“Hey…” Su Fengzi stretched out his hand and gently broke Lin Chen’s fingers apart, then said, “I can only tell you that the reason I came back and was paying attention to this case is because of some very personal reasons.
The reason I know this is because these are all the clues you found.
I’m at the Phoenix Book Mall today for a book signing.
You have to believe in fate.
After all, I am a writer.”
As Su Fengzi spoke to him, the corners of his mouth were slightly raised, revealing a sly smile in his eyes.
Seeing him smile like this, Lin Chen took a step back and suddenly had a bad feeling.
He turned to leave only to hear Su Fengzi say behind him, “But I didn’t expect this.
It’s rare for me to come back, but it’s so sad to see you empathize with someone else.”
Lin Chen only felt the creeps.
At that moment, he seemed to be suddenly illuminated by a beam of light in the dark night.
The sudden light made him just want to find a place to hide himself.
He didn’t even have time to explore this inexplicable shyness—all he felt was hiding was his first priority.
Trying to control his emotions, he turned his head and said to Su Fengzi, “Is this the time to talk about this”
As if he had titillated to a certain point and it was now time to call it quits, Su Fengzi straightened out his clothes and said with a smile, “Yes, I was wrong.
Can we go now”
Walking around the corner, Lin Chen saw the captain of the criminal division leaning against the handrail waiting for him.
When Xing Conglian saw them, he swept his gaze up and down Su Fengzi, then removed his phone from his ear and said, “Lao Jiang has confirmed.
Cheng Weiwei has been to the pedestrian street below us.”
After he finished speaking, he went downstairs without saying a word.
Lin Chen wasn’t really familiar with the underground pedestrian street under Phoenix Book Mall.
After all, when he was in college, the pedestrian street was still under construction, and all similar places in University City were aimed at girls.
Guys would rarely go shopping here unless it was to accompany their girlfriends.
When he reached the underground, Lin Chen found that this place was more exaggerated than he had imagined.
Dazzling lights and all kinds of shops could be seen at a glance.
The air pressure underground was low, making the atmosphere turbid.
Although it was evening, students in twos and threes could still be seen walking, stepping on the bright tempered glass floor.
Lin Chen thought for an instant that he had walked into some two-dimensional space.
“It’s really a place of unique taste,” Su Fengzi said lightly.
Lin Chen had no intention of speaking to him again.
At this moment, Xing Conglian spoke up.
“I’ve just contacted the administrator here.
Let’s go directly to the management office.”
Xing Conglian had a good sense of direction.
He walked through piles of colorful paving and took them directly to the management office.
It was almost half past nine when they arrived, and there was only one employee on duty.
The man seemed to have predicted the arrival of Xing Conglian in advance, as he quickly got up and said, “Captain Xing, right Our manager arranged for me to receive you.”
I need the floor plan of the entire underground pedestrian street.”
“The floor plan is hanging on the wall,” the employee said as he pointed to the wall.
Xing Conglian turned sideways and made way.
Lin Chen glanced at the floor plan, took note of the general layout, and wanted to find a marker.
At this moment, Xing Conglian took a marker from the holder and handed it over.
Lin Chen nodded, apologized to the employee, and then marked the locations of all the stores on the drawing one by one based on the information provided by Wang Chao.
In an instant, many black dots appeared on the paper.
As Lin Chen looked at the marked-out store, he began to think.
If such a store truly existed, then it couldn’t be in such an eye-catching location in the first place.
It wouldn’t be in a prime location, but rather a relatively hidden spot.
He quickly crossed out all the popular stores located at the entrance of the street.
The stores on the main street were also impossible because it would be too noisy and not comfortable enough.
Thinking this way, he crossed out the four shops on both sides of the main street.
As a result, the remaining stores became 10.
Lin Chen stepped aside from the location in front of the map and said to the property management employee, “Please take a look at these stores.
Which one has a fresh and refined feeling The decoration isn’t necessarily luxurious, but it should be chic.
Although there aren’t many customers, they have been open for several years, and sometimes you wonder how this store makes a profit and why it is still open…”
When Lin Chen said this, even he himself felt that such inexplicable speculation was a bit absurd.
All of their reasoning was based on possible assumptions, and it was only Xing Conglian who would quickly help him look for such a store that even he couldn’t even determine if it truly existed.
“Based on what you said, the store that was in D15 seems to match that description.
Ah, I remember.
It has a French name and is a coffee shop that also sells books.
It’s very quiet…”
Like the dawn appearing before the horizon, when Lin Chen heard those words, he put down the marker, but when he took a step back, he suddenly stopped.
“You said… was”
“Yes, a few days ago, when I opened the office, the clerk of the store suddenly ran over and said that the store had been robbed and wanted to look at the surveillance.
We went over and took a look.
Holy crap, the entire store was empty.
The robbers took everything.
There wasn’t a single thing left in the store.”
“Did you call the police” Xing Conglian asked.
“Of course I reported it!”
“So, what about the surveillance”
When the clerk and the boss watched the video, the entire D area was dropped.”
“What do you mean dropped”
“Dropped means gone.
I’m not sure if there was a problem or maybe it was deleted by mistake, but anyway, it’s completely gone…”