The intercepted photos had no identifying information. An anonymous hotel, the man’s face fuzzed. But there was something in the photo that caught Detective Cotti’s eye.
She zoomed in on the sliver of landscape between the motel curtains, just behind the girl’s haunted stare. Cerulean sky, beige sand, and in between—the weathered gray of a thatched roof. A palapa.
“Can you enhance this?” she asked.
“Chamaedorea palm,” the inspector said. “Native to Guatemala and Mexico.”
From there, Cotti narrowed it down to Pacific shore, further south than Oaxaca, and north of Tapachula, based on the dun color of the wide beach.
From Acapulco, she worked her way down the coast. At each seaside hacienda, she’d park, walk the shore, looking for a match. She was closing in, she could feel it. She parked, checked her weapon, and started down the beach.
She’d find the girl. She’d bring her home.