Chapter 600: Dream Home
"The eighteenth floor is not easy to sell?" Lin Qiupu said, "Is it because the eighteenth floor reminds people of the Eighteen Levels of Hell? I have also bought a house before. I’ve heard that the 13th, 14th and 18th floors are unlucky. Odd numbers are considered yang, even numbers are considered yin and so on, but when people actually buy a house, it seems that nobody cares about these."
The saleswoman shook her head. "In fact, everyone still cares. Especially the middle-aged and the elderly, and some rural household buyers. I’ve seen more than one case in which only the 18th floor was left and unable to be sold.”
Chen Shi asked, "You said that this house is unique, but there are several units in this building. Shouldn't there be such a house on each floor?"
"The other floors are divided into three small houses on each floor to be sold. Only this unit is this large. In fact, this house was originally promised to the designer by the developer, but the designer immigrated abroad later, so we’re selling this house."
"Sir, are you interested?"
"Haha, you’re very good at capturing business opportunities. How many people have taken a fancy to this house?"
"The house hasn’t officially been released for sale to the public yet, but there are several families that are planning to buy it. If you want it, you can make the intention payment now."
Chen Shi was thinking about it when he suddenly heard renovation noises coming from downstairs. He said, "Eh? There are people already living in this building?"
"Some houses have already been sold."
"That's weird. When it was released for sale, weren’t the units in the whole building put on sale together?"
"Well, as I just told you, this house was originally given to the designer by the developer. When it was released last time, the designer had gone abroad, so it was left until now to be released for sale with Phase C."
"In other words, this building only has this one house that has no owner."
"Can you please provide the names of the people who want to buy this unit?"
The sales lady was hesitant and said that this was a commercial secret. It wasn’t convenient to disclose the information and she needed to inform the manager.
The three returned to the sales department. After a while, a fat manager with an oily face came over to shake hands with them and said with a smile, "Sorry, we can't provide the name-list that you want, because the unit hasn’t been officially released for sale. We’re still unsure who definitely wants this house. It was all just verbally expressed. You also know that the people who come to view houses shop here and there. Nothing’s certain.”
Chen Shi said, "There are only a few hundred customers at most. You have dozens of salesmen. One person may serve a dozen or so customers. Every customer is followed-up with for a long time. How could it be unclear?"
"The salesmen aren’t all here right now. How can I ask them? Please be more accommodating!"
"I'm curious as to why only that house was left."
"This is the situation..."
The manager’s remarks were exactly the same as the sales lady’s, with almost no change in the words used. Chen Shi observed him carefully and felt something was wrong, “Are you hiding something from us?”
"No, no!" The fat manager smiled and waved his hand. "Who would dare to do so in front of the police? The situation is really like this!"
"I guess you won't let us see the customer list, right?"
"Sorry, it's not that I'm unwilling to cooperate. These are commercial secrets, and even ordinary salesmen aren’t allowed to see them. Unless you have a clear-cut search warrant. However, what does this homicide have to do with buying a house?"
"Have you seen a movie called Dream Home?"
"I have seen it. The male and female leads’ romance was very touching. At that time, I went to the cinema with my wife to watch it. It was a well-made film.”
He could tell that he was speaking nonsense as soon as he heard him, so Chen Shi said disdainfully, "You should do a search on the Internet. That movie was not released in the mainland at all, nor did it have a romantic theme. It talked about a person killing people in order to buy a house!"
The manager smiled awkwardly, "Oh, is that so? I must have remembered it wrong. I'll watch it when I go back tonight!"
Leaving the sales department, Chen Shi said to Lin Qiupu, "Go and apply for a search warrant."
"That’s easier said than done. Without evidence, how is it possible to apply for a search warrant? Just because the deceased intended to buy a house... Having said that, do you think this can be the motive for murder?"
"Do you know how I felt when I walked into that house? I thought that the house was too wonderful. I want to live in it too much. Is it possible that the murderer is another buyer who wants this house? The house itself is also fishy. It’s clearly so large but selling at a price a lot lower than the average price, and it is the only unit left over after the last sales release. I don’t actually believe what the manager said at all. I think there’s a hidden secret!"
Lin Qiupu pondered, "How did the murderer know the information of other buyers? Even we can't get the customers’ information. How can he be so omnipotent?"
"We couldn't get it because we tried the official channel. The murderer is not someone who followed the rules. Maybe he’s a skilled hacker. Maybe he met the father and son while viewing the house."
"I seem to have an impression of the movie you have just talked about. At the time, I thought that it was crazy to kill people in order to buy a house?"
"You probably don't know what’s happening over in Hong Kong. Land is extremely expensive. The rate that housing prices are skyrocketing is daunting. Many famous stars can only live in small apartments, and there are those 4 square meter coffin rooms that are sold exclusively to working individuals. There is nothing but a bed inside each room, and they can’t even lift their heads up. That movie was based on a real case. The so-called motive is the purpose that the murderer wants to achieve through crime. Whether it’s lust, money, freedom or even limited-edition sneakers. As long as it is something humans want, it has the potential to become a motive. Why can’t a house be the motive? Everyone wants a house!"
Lin Qiupu was silent for a moment. "I have sent someone to check on the wife of the deceased. I can’t hastily bring them back to investigate this lead without evidence, unless there’s really no progress there."
Chen Shi pointed at himself, "Okay, this ‘bizarre train of thought’ lead will be followed up by me, a non-staff member!"
Lin Qiupu thought that Chen Shi was overthinking it and that this kind of motive was too exaggerated. He felt that this case wouldn’t be so complicated.
Back at the bureau, Lin Dongxue and Xu Xiaodong had returned and were chatting while eating fast food in the office. The two of them were watching a video when they saw Lin Qiupu enter and immediately sat up straight. Lin Dongxue said, "Old Chen, you’re here as well!"
"The reporters came to my house. How can I not come? Fortunately, I’m quick-witted. They didn’t recognize me."
"How was the investigation?"
"Wang Zhenlong said he didn’t know anything in reply to all our questions, but..." Lin Dongxue smiled slyly. "I learned from Old Chen's trick of a back thrust and made another trip back after the questioning to see his reaction. As a result, we photographed something."
Xu Xiaodong played the video captured on the mobile phone to show them. After watching, Lin Qiupu was shocked, and Chen Shi exclaimed, "This is too outlandish, right?!"
1. It’s the name of a movie. The literal translation of the Chinese title is “Victoria No.1”, but this is the English title. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Home
2. These coffin rooms/cubicles really exist, but there are a lot of old, socially-neglected people who live in them as well. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2017/jun/07/boxed-life-inside-hong-kong-coffin-cubicles-cage-homes-in-pictures