Fei Du said slowly, “If my guess is correct, perhaps today you should have obtained a major suspect, someone with high status and influence. Once something happens, it will be a major scandal that can affect the credibility of the system.” Fei Du’s words proved to be true— At the critical moment when the investigation team was closely monitoring the municipal bureau, the “male nurse” who had infiltrated the hospital confessed. “I was originally a nurse… I used to work at the Second Hospital and was very familiar with it. I needed a large sum of money to save my life, and I had no other choice… I was confused… I was confused. They initially asked me to infiltrate the Second Hospital and keep an eye on Yin Ping… Then today, I overheard people discussing that he was about to wake up and that he might have committed murder. Once the situation stabilized a bit, the police would take him away. After I found out about this, I contacted my employer and then they asked me… they asked me…” “For money?” Lang Qiao closed her notebook and looked at the man with an incredulous look in her eyes. “Don’t you know that murder is a crime?” The man stammered and lowered his head. Shi Haiyang asked, “Who ordered you to keep an eye on Yin Ping? Have you seen them?” “Two men came to my house with cash. They said they were their bosses… I… I also saw a car parked downstairs.” One of the investigators, who was watching the interrogation footage, turned to Luo Wen Zhou and said, “Captain Luo, please coordinate as soon as possible. We need to extract the surveillance footage from around the suspect’s residence.” At this point, Luo Wen Zhou could only comply—fifty thousand yuan in cash was found during the search of the “hospital killer’s” residence. Additionally, a nearby surveillance camera captured a luxury car appearing before and after the time mentioned by the suspect. Upon identification by the suspect, it was confirmed to be the car parked downstairs at his place. The high-definition surveillance footage captured a scene of the driver turning back and talking to someone in the back seat. The person was slightly leaning forward, and their face was clearly recognizable—it was none other than the former director of the municipal bureau, Zhang Chunjiu, who had been transferred to the second-tier position earlier in the year. The car he was sitting in, valued at six million yuan, was registered under the name of his older brother’s conglomerate as an official vehicle. Zhang Chunjiu and Gu Zhao had entered the municipal bureau around the same time and had always had a good relationship. When the Gu Zhao case occurred, Zhang Chunjiu was also a key member of the municipal bureau’s criminal investigation team, fully capable of secretly planting fingerprint films and cash. After Gu Zhao’s death, Yang Zhengfeng, who bore the main leadership responsibility, was punished, and it was during that time that Zhang Chunjiu took over Yang Zhengfeng’s position, becoming the ultimate beneficiary of Gu Zhao’s death. Moreover, the compromised field operatives and problematic surveillance equipment were all installed or replaced during his tenure. Most importantly, through file investigation, it was discovered that Zhang Chunjiu was transferred to the municipal bureau because of his significant achievements in his previous jurisdiction—he had apprehended a gang of robbers and murderers that had been operating across twenty provinces. The gang was extremely cunning and had been on the national wanted list for nearly half a year, always slipping through the cracks. But somehow, they fell into the hands of Zhang Chunjiu, an unknown young man at the time! Was his insight really that sharp, and his abilities outstanding? If he was so capable when he was young, why did he become more and more confused as he grew older? During his tenure as the head of the municipal bureau, the market district police station almost turned into a drug trafficking den, and he remained completely unaware? Everything made sense now. The investigation team was exceptionally excited. Two people were assigned to personally escort Zhang Chunjiu out of his residence, and to their surprise, they were taken aback—they found that Zhang Chunjiu’s home was located in a well-known luxury residential area in Yancheng City. There were two cars parked downstairs with a total value of over ten million yuan, and even the teacups in the house were from a famous luxury brand. The cupboard contained a row of leather goods with a unit price of over a hundred thousand yuan, a far cry from the low-key and simple image he had portrayed at the municipal bureau. All the claims of “only wearing a uniform,” “bringing his own tea,” “not using a smartphone for personal calls”… now seemed like exaggerated jokes.

“Director Zhang, you really have a wealthy background. How much does it cost per square meter to live in that residential area? I heard that without assets worth at least a billion, they won’t even let you see the houses.” “That house belongs to my older brother. This year, I was transferred to a workplace that’s a bit farther away. Since my older brother is getting older and planning to move to a quieter place, he temporarily let me live in his city residence for two years. After all, I’m about to retire.” “Your older brother? You have such a good relationship between siblings?” “My older brother is ten years older than me. He practically raised me. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say he’s like my father. We truly have a close relationship. He went into business early and accumulated some wealth… I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t think it through and only thought about the convenience. It may have caused some unfavorable consequences. But I can assure you, my older brother’s business and my work responsibilities are completely unrelated. I have never used my position to benefit him in any way. If the organization believes that my personal life is too extravagant and constitutes a violation, I accept the consequences and will reflect on it by moving back to my own home as soon as possible… But other than that, I have a clear conscience in other aspects.” The investigator chuckled, “Alright, we will verify this matter again. But do you know why we brought you here?” “I have an idea.” “Is there anything you’d like to say?” Zhang Chunjiu sat upright in his chair. He was still thin, and the slimness of a middle-aged man exuded a stern aura. His eyebrows had deep contours, and over time, they had formed a cold wrinkle. It was hard to associate this stern face with the kind, cheerful, and good-tempered older brother that Lu and the others remembered. It made people involuntarily question—can a person change so much in twenty years? What changed him? “In the past few days, I couldn’t reach Lu on the phone, and I felt something was wrong. So I tried calling a few other old friends and found that they weren’t available to talk either. Even Old Pan, who had already gone to school, was the same. I started thinking that it would soon be my turn.” Zhang Chunjiu picked up his teacup and took a sip of water, his expression unchanged. “I don’t know what I should explain, so go ahead and ask.” “We won’t hold back then,” the investigator smiled subtly, hiding a needle in cotton. “From what it sounds like, after you were transferred, did you still keep in touch with your former colleagues?” “Not frequently, but during this period, there were a few special occasions. One is the reinvestigation of the Gu Zhao case, and the other is the illness and hospitalization of Old Yang’s wife—the widow. Our group of brothers made more frequent calls.” “Oh, the Gu Zhao case,” the investigator pushed up their glasses and automatically ignored the other statement. “Do you remember the details clearly? It’s been fourteen years since it happened.” Zhang Chunjiu fell silent for a moment. “Gu Zhao… Gu Zhao’s case was like a thorn in the hearts of all of us. No one believed it at the time, but the evidence was conclusive, and we couldn’t help but believe it. To be honest, I don’t believe Gu Zhao could have done such a thing. I privately spoke with the former leaders many times, but I didn’t dare to speak up—our group of brothers lost our will, and the leaders were caught in a dilemma. Back then, I had my older family to support and my younger family to take care of.” At this point, his face revealed an expression that combined weariness and resentment. “It’s difficult… I didn’t expect that after so many years, there would be a day of reinvestigation. If Old Yang knew…” The investigator smoothly interrupted him, “Director Zhang, if Gu Zhao wasn’t involved in bribery and murder back then, who do you think is responsible for his wrongful conviction for over a decade?” “I can’t discuss the merits and faults of my superiors behind their backs, but the fact that all the informants around Gu Zhao collectively provided false testimonies, and the other side knew his every move… It indicates that there’s likely a leak within our side, someone who framed him…” Zhang Chunjiu’s brow furrowed even deeper. After pondering for a long while, he said, “I don’t know who it is, and I don’t want to suspect anyone. If you want me to believe that any of the brothers from back then could have betrayed us, it’s like asking me to believe that Gu Zhao was indeed involved in murder and bribery. I can’t do that.” The investigator remained unmoved by the mention of “deep brotherly bonds” and got straight to the point, pulling out the main question. “Director Zhang, do you remember the informant with the codename ‘Old Coal Slag,’ whose real name is Yin Chao?” Zhang Chunjiu nodded, “Yes, the one who took Gu Zhao to the Louvre? I remember it clearly. He disappeared shortly after that incident. I always felt something was off about him. A few years ago, I had a young brother who happened to be transferred to Nanwan for work. I knew Yin Chao had relatives there, so I asked that brother to keep an eye on him. If Yin Chao ever returned home, we would immediately apprehend him.” The investigator sat up a bit straighter and inquired further, “What’s the name of this young brother of yours?” “Kong Weichen.” “When Kong Weichen, accompanied by several detectives from the municipal bureau, went to investigate Yin Ping, did he make a phone call to you? What did he say?”

“He mentioned the incident where Yin Ping forged Yin Chao’s signature to deceive the demolition funds. They were about to investigate it and said they would inform me if there was any news about Yin Chao. But after that, I couldn’t contact him anymore.” Zhang Chunjiu seemed to realize that something was amiss. “What happened? What happened to Kong Weichen?” “We have reason to believe that the ‘Old Coal Slag,’ who entered the Louvre with Gu Zhao back then, was actually Yin Ping. We also believe that he holds important evidence related to the Gu Zhao case. But when we went to find him, Yin Ping went into hiding out of fear. During the pursuit, the whereabouts of the Criminal Investigation Division were leaked. Two pickup trucks loaded with flammable and explosive materials suddenly appeared, attempting to eliminate witnesses—” “What!” Zhang Chunjiu exclaimed. The investigator’s expression turned serious, and their previously amicable smile disappeared. “The other party acted faster than the police in eliminating witnesses. We have reason to suspect that they received the information before Detective Tao Ran reported it to the higher-ups. And among the few witnesses present at the scene, only Kong Weichen had made external contacts before. You were the contact person. Director Zhang, do you have an explanation for this?” “You suspect me…” Zhang Chunjiu reached a point where he bit his tongue, forcibly suppressing his shocked and angry expression. He tried to remain calm and said, “When Kong Weichen called me, he only mentioned that they were going to Yin Ping’s house. He didn’t mention anything about Yin Ping or Yin Ping being…” Zhang Chunjiu repeated the name twice but couldn’t restrain himself, showing a hint of incredulity. “How did Yin Ping become the Old Coal Slag? When did he replace someone else’s identity? Did no one notice back then? Who said this? Is there any evidence?” The investigator maintained a neutral expression and locked eyes with him for a moment, attempting to discern something from his face. “Director Zhang, do you really not know? Then do you recognize this person?” They pulled out a photo and placed it in front of Zhang Chunjiu. Zhang Chunjiu, still immersed in the bizarre news he had just heard, quickly glanced down. “I don’t recognize him.” “You don’t recognize him? Take a closer look,” the investigator leaned forward slightly. “Yin Ping had a cerebral hemorrhage due to the impact and was rushed to the hospital for treatment. He’s still in critical condition. Just yesterday afternoon, this person, disguised as a nurse, sneaked into Yin Ping’s ward with the intention of killing him. The attempt failed, and we captured him. This perpetrator confessed that you instructed him to do it.” Zhang Chunjiu was dumbfounded. After a moment, he hesitantly pointed at himself as if laughing and crying. “Me?” “We found 500,000 yuan in cash in the killer’s residence. It was the money used to pay for Yin Ping’s life.” Zhang Chunjiu’s gaze suddenly hardened. “How much?” “500,000 yuan.” A complex expression flickered across Zhang Chunjiu’s face. After a while, he bitterly smiled, took a deep breath, and slumped back heavily against the chair. “The evidence we found under Gu Zhao’s bed all those years ago was also 500,000 yuan… It’s been fourteen years. Is it still the same amount?” The investigator carefully observed his expression. “Where were you on the 11th in the afternoon?” “I don’t remember,” Zhang Chunjiu rubbed his forehead. He rubbed his eyelids and formed a third wrinkle. Fatigue became more pronounced on his face. “Any hints?” “Around 2 p.m. on the 11th, someone saw you driving a private car near the ‘Yangshuli’ community. Is that correct?” “‘Yangshuli’ community? I don’t have any recollection,” Zhang Chunjiu looked puzzled and pondered for a while. “The 11th… last Monday, right? That day, my car was subject to license plate restrictions, so I borrowed my family’s car. I went to the vicinity of Liu’an Bridge. There seemed to be several residential areas nearby, but I didn’t pay attention to their names.” “Why did you go there?” “I was originally going to the Second Hospital to visit Old Yang’s family. On the way, I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate to go empty-handed, so I had the driver drop me off at Liu’an Bridge. There’s a large shopping center there,” Zhang Chunjiu said. “I threw away the receipt, but the surveillance near the cashier should still be available. After buying the items, I went to the hospital. Yang’s widow, Fu Jiahui, and their daughter, Yang Xin, can confirm. You can ask them.” The investigator’s eye twitched slightly— the neighborhood where the hospital killer resided was called the “Yangshuli” community, indeed near Liu’an Bridge. However, it was a very small community with old and dilapidated buildings. The door numbers on the upper floors were barely legible, and the perimeter of the community didn’t even have a fence. The investigator deliberately asked this question because usually, people passing through wouldn’t pay much attention to the names of a cluster of six-story buildings. If Zhang Chunjiu simply answered, “I was just passing by,” then his suspicion would be very high. But… Could Zhang Chunjiu be pretending? Would he be so meticulous, so thorough, and so terrifying in his thoughts?