Soon: Chapter 18: The Very Intense Interrogation
Remember when I talked about how boring this part is? Well, here we go–the narrative grinds to a halt for FOUR AND A HALF PAGES as Paul “interrogates” Arthur Demetrius.
Don’t get me wrong–there’s nothing wrong with pauses in the action, long conversations, an opportunity to dig deeper into the characters. In a better book, this interrogation could be an opportunity to see Paul on the job post-conversion. Sure, he’s the one asking the questions, but he’s also at risk himself–one slip of the tongue, and he could reveal himself as a secret believer. Which, of course, would endanger not only himself, but his wife and two small children. Man’s gotta be pretty tense right about now.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now–this interrogation would never go down like this. Paul and Arthur would not be sitting companionably in easy chairs as Paul lobs softball questions at Arthur. Paul would have been met in the office by a phalanx of attorneys, who would have made it their business to be sure Arthur didn’t have to so much as open his mouth.
Really, this is just inexcusable. And it’s not like the idea of lawyers skipped Jenkins’ mind, either:
“Dr. Stepola,” [Arthur] said as Paul rose, “do I need a lawyer?”
“Oh, I don’t think so. We should be able to cover what I need without acrimony.”
“What can I do for you?”
It’s Just That Simple! Not one of the surely dozens of lawyers who are employed at Demetrius and Demetrius thought it necessary to be in the room for an interrogation from a NPO agent. “Oh, I’m sure the boss can handle it. Sure, his brother is missing and an employee has disappeared after being fired, and there are allegations of an attempt to illegally corner the silver market. But what could possibly go wrong?”
But that’s not the only idea Jenkins thinks up, then promptly discards:
Sifting through his file, Paul thought about the divination books. Funny that trying to read the future didn’t count as believing in the supernatural, according to Arthur Demetrius.
Yeah, yanno what would be great? If Jenkins described the reasoning behind this decision of the Atheistopian regime. Christianity = illegal and astrology = fine and dandy? It’s just weird, and we are never told why this is!
Which is a feeling we all need to get used to, because several things about this whole “religious incident” will never be explained.
As far as the rest of the interrogation goes, there is nothing there that we didn’t already know, or couldn’t have guessed. Arthur just denies knowledge of everything. His brother is vaguely “abroad.” He doesn’t know anything about any guards being scared out of their wits by the vault. He doesn’t know where the cursing employee is. These are all just scurrilous rumors be vengeful believers.
Paul thinks Arthur looks scared. And because Paul has so much training in psychology, body language, and interrogation techniques, we know he is right on the money, right?