Fuyang District Heping Road Police Station.

At noon, under the scorching sun, the fierce wind and rain from last night, which lasted all night, disappeared without a trace as if it had never happened. The long alley was bustling with activity, filled with vendors, loudspeakers, and various shouts, with people coming and going to the police station, electric bikes squeezing their way from the parking shed onto the road.

A girl in a white dress stumbled and stopped at the entrance of the alley.

“…” Accompanied by rapid and fluctuating breaths, she emitted faint gasps, her eyes wide open, staring at the gate of the police station. Several students passed by, waving their school bags and curiously glancing back at her.

Finally, as if determined, she took a shaky step forward.

“Beep beep!”

A car honked and drove towards her, squeezing out a path amidst the curses of pedestrians in the narrow alley. It slowly approached the girl, then the window rolled down, revealing a menacing and low voice from inside:

“Get in!”

The girl seemed as if she had been pricked by a red-hot needle and froze in her tracks.

A few curses came from inside the car, followed by someone opening the door and grabbing the girl, forcefully pulling her inside!

“…!” The girl let out a brief suppressed scream, then seemed too afraid to speak and remained silent.

The car door closed with a bang, and the window slowly rolled up. Passing through the bustling gate of the police station, it drove away along the winding alley.

Jianning Municipal Public Security Bureau.

“What the fuck were you all doing? Several big men let a little girl escape right under your noses. Is your brain full of shit?!” With a loud bang, Yan Yin slammed the stack of case files heavily onto the conference table. Several police officers below blushed and didn’t even dare to lift their heads.

“Idiots! Ignorant fools! Letting a little girl run you in circles!” Yan Yin pointed at each of them, scolding loudly so that his voice could be heard throughout the entire floor. “Don’t stay in the investigation team next quarter, go back to the logistics department and eat dirt! Come back only when you can pass the Tier 3 assessment. If you can’t pass, spend your whole life in the police station!”

The door opened, and Qin Chuan covered his mouth, coughing awkwardly.

“Um… Lao Yan, we’ve arrested Ding Jiawang and his wife. They are currently being interrogated separately in two interrogation rooms.”

Yan Yin gave a cold snort from his nose, turned around, and left, brushing his sleeve. Several detectives shivered at the same time.

“I don’t know.” Ding Jiawang sat in the shadow of the interrogation room, with obvious dark circles under his eyes. His voice was hoarse but firm. “Although Ding Dang is my daughter, she’s already a grown girl. She usually stays at school and doesn’t come home often. I shouldn’t interfere in her matters.”

Yan Yin stood with his hands behind his back outside the one-way glass, wearing a Bluetooth earpiece. The air pressure around him seemed to be so low that it could bring forth snow in June.

His current state clearly affected those in the interrogation room. When Ma Xiang spoke, his voice lacked the same strength as Ding Jiawang: “Through our investigation and inquiries, your daughter Ding Dang has been seen driving a red Toyota Camry in and out of the mall several times. However, this car is registered under the name of your wife’s niece, Liu Wanhui, through some falsification method. Are you completely unaware of this?”

“I didn’t know. I don’t know what car she has,” Ding Jiawang replied.

With a loud bang, Ma Xiang stood up abruptly, slamming a high-resolution surveillance image onto the table in front of Ding Jiawang. “You’re lying!”

Ding Jiawang’s breathing became slightly rapid.

In the picture, a red Camry was parked at the entrance of the International Financial Center shopping mall, and Ding Jiawang and his wife were getting out of the open car door.

“This is surveillance footage from the Chinese New Year period,” Ma Xiang said coldly. “You claim to not know about her having a car, so were you driving a hearse then?!”

“…I thought it belonged to her classmate,” Ding Jiawang trembled his lips and said, “She told me it was her classmate’s car, so I didn’t ask further.”

This appearance was downright stubborn. Ma Xiang looked down at him from a high vantage point, straightening his police uniform stiffly.

“Let me tell you, the two interns you brought with you, Feng Yuguang ended up dead for no reason, and Chu Ci’s life hangs in the balance. This case can’t be solved just by your stubborn resistance. Now your daughter is missing, whether she has gone into hiding or been abducted by drug traffickers, the chances of her coming back safe and sound are very slim. It would be best for you to cooperate with us, the police, immediately. The best possible outcome is at least to save your daughter’s life…”

Appearing fragile and on the verge of collapsing at any moment, Ding Jiawang suddenly spoke hoarsely, refuting, “How do you know it wasn’t Chu Ci who kidnapped my daughter?”

“You—”

“My daughter is missing, and as her father, I’m the most anxious. Instead of the police solving the case and helping me find my daughter, you inexplicably brought my wife and me to the police station. What kind of logic is that?”

Ma Xiang forcefully slammed the tabletop. “We have sufficient evidence…”

“Even if my daughter did fake her identity and buy a car pretending to be her cousin, that’s not a criminal offense, right? If faking a name to buy a car carries a prison sentence, then just sentence her!” Ding Jiawang’s face turned pale, his trembling hands under the table, but the fear of his life being ruined in an instant somehow gave him a certain strength, allowing him to withstand Ma Xiang’s intense interrogation. “You’re accusing my daughter of participating in drug trafficking based solely on a car. I’m telling you, that car doesn’t belong to my daughter! Do you have any evidence? Do you have the license plate number? How do I know if you, the police, can’t solve the case and randomly arrest someone else, using my daughter as a scapegoat?!”

Yan Yin kicked over a chair in the outer room with a resounding crash.

He had no chain of evidence!

The red Camry had its license plate removed before being burned, and the engine and chassis numbers were already scratched off. The relationship between the vehicle used in the crime and the Ding family, as well as the suspicion on Ding Dang, all relied on an intangible premise—the deduction of the license plate number by Jiang Ting.

But deduction was not criminal investigation. Deduction emphasized exciting ideas, dramatic plots, and satisfying conclusions. Criminal investigation involved a lot of tedious repetitive work, with all human and material resources devoted to pursuing evidence and constructing a complete chain of evidence.

To pin down Ding Jiawang, something more solid was needed.

His phone vibrated in his pocket, and he received a text message from someone named Lu: “Did you find the electrician?”

Yan Yin’s face darkened, and he waved his hand to stop the brave detective who wanted to approach, then picked up the toppled chair himself and walked to the corner of the window, pressing the voice button and speaking softly, “Found him. Among the technicians responsible for electrical line maintenance within the chemical plant, there are eight or nine of them, and one of them named Wang Le has been absent for two days. According to his family, he lost over a hundred thousand yuan gambling recently, all borrowed from loan sharks. He has a sufficient motive to commit the crime.”

Another text message flashed on the screen: “**?”

“Tsk, do you even need to ask? Two days ago, at 8:30 p.m., he called his wife and said he wouldn’t be coming home for dinner. That was his last phone call, and Huang is currently urgently working on his location!”

The phone fell silent.

Yan Yin stared at the dimming screen and, for no apparent reason, a thought arose in his mind: Why isn’t he replying to me?

Could it be that I spoke too harshly and offended him?

This thought had just arisen, and Vice Captain Yan was almost surprised by his own delicate, girlish mind. Then, at that moment, his phone buzzed and lit up before his eyes:

“Ding Jiawang not confessing?”

… This person. Yan Yin couldn’t help but let out a small sigh of relief, thinking, How does this guy seem to have eyes in the back of his head?

“Yes, he refuses to admit it,” Yan Yin whispered as he pressed the voice button. “I’ve already ordered an investigation into the bank accounts of the entire Ding family and all of Ding Jiawang’s activities within the chemical plant. But even if we find evidence that he secretly added extra restricted materials, it’s difficult to immediately break open that bastard’s mouth. Hey, Jiang Team, do you have any ideas? Blasting air conditioning refrigerant to spray ice shards at the suspect doesn’t count, does it?”

The person surnamed Lu did not reply, and there was no indication of “typing.”

Thirty seconds passed, then one minute.

The minute hand moved backward by two or three notches.

…Could it be that even Jiang Ting is at a loss? Yan Yin thought unexpectedly.

“I really don’t want it, take it back.” In a private room at the restaurant, Jiang Ting pushed away Yang Mei’s soup spoon several times, frowning. “I’m not Yan Yin. What are you trying to do by giving me a bowl of pig brains?”

Yang Mei said, “Stop typing on your phone and eat your meal properly. That Yan guy is practically treating you like a laborer…”

Yan Yin’s face showed a strange expression, and every few seconds, he couldn’t help but glance at his phone. After he had looked at it more than ten times, suddenly the door was knocked twice, and immediately the technical investigation director, Huang Xing, rushed in excitedly. “I’m telling you, Yan, that girl Ding—”

Buzz—

A voice message!

Yan Yin almost picked up a case file to silence Huang Xing’s mouth, but instead, he immediately opened the message and placed it close to his ear. Jiang Ting’s voice sounded as steady as ever:

“Ding Jiawang’s wife, Zhang Jiao, is a housewife who has never worked outside. Her knowledge and social connections are limited, and Ding Jiawang is unlikely to have told her the specific criminal records of Chi Rui and the others. In other words, she is unaware of whether these fugitives’ records involve illegal firearms, drug trafficking, or rape and murder.”

“When a mother gives birth to a daughter, and that daughter is beautiful, what does she worry about the most? Perhaps we can start from this aspect, hit on what the mother fears deep down, and it will be very easy to break down her defenses or even make them collapse.”

The voice message ended there, and Yan Yin slowly put down his phone, taking a thoughtful breath.

“Lao Yan!” Huang Xing finally got a chance to speak and couldn’t wait to say, “Stop staring blankly. The Huaping Road Police Station in Fuyang District just received a notice to assist in the investigation. They said they found Ding Dang’s whereabouts—she got into a black car less than 100 meters from the police station’s entrance, and the surveillance video has been retrieved!”

In an instant, Yan Yin interrupted Huang Xing, “What was she doing at the police station?”

Huang Xing didn’t react.

“She went to surrender or to expose someone,” Yan Yin muttered, “but she took a black car halfway… maybe she was being followed or even intercepted, perhaps there are several men in the black car, even more dangerous than Zhang Jiao could imagine…”

Huang Xing was confused, “What? What are you saying?”

“No time to explain, just listen to me.” Yan Yin patted Director Huang’s shoulder and strode out, saying, “Send me the surveillance footage from the Fuyang District Police Station. I’ll personally interrogate Zhang Jiao!”

· In the private room of the restaurant, Jiang Ting released the voice button, put down his phone, and just picked up the spoon when he suddenly felt a chilling, resentful gaze coming from across the table.

“…” Jiang Ting cautiously asked, “What’s wrong?”

Today, Yang Mei was wearing a brand new spring-summer dress from an international luxury brand, with light makeup, a fragrance of innocent girliness, and legendary man-slaying lipstick. She revealed her eyes from behind the large bowl of pig brain stew, blinked for a while, and slowly asked, “Who is beautiful?”

“?”

“Occasionally, I feel like I’m beautiful too… Do you think so?”

Jiang Ting: “…”

The private room fell unusually silent. Jiang Ting’s spoon froze in midair, and in the gaze of the opposite side, filled with anticipation, he pondered for a long, long time.

“That girl is suspected of drug trafficking, and you ordered pig brain instead of something else.” Jiang Ting smiled faintly and decisively changed the topic, “Yan Yin is the most beautiful.”

· The interrogation room door was forcefully pushed open. Zhang Jiao, like a phantom sealed within an invisible prison, suddenly shuddered and looked up.

Yan Yin pushed the door shut behind him, striding into the room and placing his laptop on the small iron table for interrogation. “Zhang Jiao?”

“…”

“My colleague said that since you set foot in the municipal bureau, you’ve only said one sentence: ‘My throat is uncomfortable, I can’t speak until I see a lawyer’—is that right?”

Zhang Jiao tightly closed her mouth, trembling, fearful, and vigilant.

Her health was indeed poor, and her long-term chronic illness made her unsuitable for work outside. However, Ding Jiawang’s income as a private company engineer was not enough to support a stay-at-home wife. Yan Yin’s stern gaze swept across her fish-tail wrinkles, sagging eye bags, and deep nasolabial folds, ignoring her evasive gaze. Suddenly, he sneered and pulled out a few sheets of paper from his laptop bag, slapping them in front of her. “Do you know who those people in the car are?”

Zhang Jiao glanced at them, and through the gaps between Yan Yin’s fingers, she saw the bold black letters at the top of those sheets—Notice to Assist in Investigation.

She closed her mouth tightly like an old clam.

“Did Ding Jiawang ever tell you, ‘Chemical engineering salaries are too low these days, so I’m doing some business with a few friends from the underworld, don’t go shouting about it’? Or maybe, ‘Those officials are all corrupt, and the bosses aren’t any better. If I could be as reckless as those friends of mine, our family would have become rich long ago’?”

Yan Yin looked at Zhang Jiao’s increasingly pale face and mocked, “But Ding Jiawang probably didn’t tell you what crimes those so-called underworld friends have committed, right?”

Zhang Jiao watched as he moved his hand away, and the familiar faces with unfamiliar words printed underneath came into view.

Wang Le, Chi Rui, Hu Wei Sheng—yes, she knew those people, and had seen them a few times in her husband’s presence. But the unfamiliar words printed under those familiar faces, “Child molestation,” “Robbery and rape,” “Rape and murder”…

Zhang Jiao’s head buzzed, and darkness descended before her eyes.

“Your daughter was taken away by them at the entrance of Heping Road Police Station. What was she planning to do? Surrender or inform on someone?” Yan Yin paused, smiled with a hint of sarcasm, and continued, “But it doesn’t matter what she was thinking. This blossoming young girl has been missing for nearly four hours. I suspect that everything that should have happened has already happened. If your throat doesn’t feel uncomfortable for a while longer, the police can only pray that we’re lucky enough to find her intact…”

“Help… save her!” Zhang Jiao screamed desperately, disregarding everything. “Please, save her! I’ll talk, I’ll talk! She is innocent, she doesn’t know anything!”

Yan Yin slowly straightened his body and looked down at Zhang Jiao, whose eyes were filled with teary haze.

“Wuhai, they have a ’lab’ in Wuhai,” Zhang Jiao couldn’t help but sob. “I don’t know exactly where it is, but it should be a factory. They rented it under the pretext of processing molds and packaging. Please save my daughter. Ding Dang has been ruined by her father, and those people were brought home by her father. She’s really, really naive…”

Yan Yin finally looked up and made a gesture toward the one-way glass window, through which countless detectives and forensic experts quickly sprang into action.

“How did Ding Jiawang harm her?” Yan Yin asked in a deep voice. “Did Ding Dang know about Ding Jiawang’s relationship with Hu Wei Sheng?”

Zhang Jiao seemed reluctant to speak but nodded with trembling.

“Hu Wei Sheng is more than ten years older than Ding Dang and doesn’t have much money. What did Ding Jiawang see in him? Drug trafficking channels?”

When Zhang Jiao heard the words “drug trafficking,” her trembling became even more noticeable, almost like dry leaves about to fall from a branch. However, she still managed to squeeze out a voice from her throat, “Hu… Hu Wei Sheng had a bag of powder, a particularly… potent one. It was worth a lot of money. They said that if they could analyze the structural formula and replicate it, they would be rich for the rest of their lives, extremely wealthy…”

In that instant, Yan Yin’s expression changed dramatically, and the faces of many detectives outside the interrogation room also changed.

“What kind of powder? Is it blue?” Yan Yin shouted, his voice trembling. “Where did Hu Wei Sheng get this bag of blue powder?!”

“I don’t know, I don’t know the specifics…” Zhang Jiao cried uncontrollably, nodding and shaking her head, appearing completely disoriented.

“I heard, I heard that just a tiny bit of that powder, even if dissolved in water and applied to the skin, can cause addiction… Hu Wei Sheng once got drunk and boasted that he had worked for a very big boss, and while no one was paying attention, he stole this package. If he could figure out the formula, he would be rich for the rest of his life, incredibly rich… Please, go save my daughter. I really don’t know anything anymore. Ding Dang is innocent…”

Yan Yin hastily left the interrogation room, and several detectives quickly approached him. However, he didn’t stop his footsteps, holding the freshly printed notices to assist in the investigation and shaking them.

“Get someone to shred these pieces of paper right away. Remind me this time, and when the case is solved, give a bonus to the graphic designer in the Publicity Department! Da Gou! Lao Gao asked Da Gou to bring me the bag of cupric hydroxide from last time and come with me to interrogate Ding Jiawang’s grandson! Ma Xiang, go next door and bring Di Yao!”

His subordinates responded promptly, and only when Gao Panqing took a few steps did he suddenly realize something. He turned around, his mind in a whirlwind. “Wait, Yan-ge… We tricked Hu Wei Sheng with the cupric hydroxide, but Ding Jiawang specializes in chemical engineering. He might not…”

“You don’t know anything,” Yan Yin impatiently interrupted, “Who told you that I want to use cupric hydroxide to lure Ding Jiawang? From the beginning until now, our target breakthrough has always been Di Yao. Do you understand?”

“!” Gao Panqing suddenly felt enlightened, nearly experiencing an epiphany, and turned around, floating away.

“Oh, and you,” suddenly Yan Yin’s gaze fell on Han Xiaomei, who was standing behind the desk. He seemed to remember something and pulled her into a corner.

“Yan Yan Yan… Deputy Yan…”

“Anything related to the ‘blue powder’ that Zhang Jiao mentioned, including the so-called powerful big boss, you are not allowed to mention a word to Consultant Lu without my permission.” Yan Yin stared into her eyes. “Do you understand?”

Han Xiaomei stood up straight with a start and said, “Yes!”