The Assassin (Badge of Honor Series #5)

The Assassin (Badge of Honor Series #5)

4.3 22
by W. E. B. Griffin

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A political assasin is ready to make his move. The police department's only clue is a single, perfectly typed bomb threat. And worse yet, the police aren't sure they can trust their own people. In a few short days, the corruption of one cop—and the madness of an assasin—could blow the whole city sky high...  See more details below


A political assasin is ready to make his move. The police department's only clue is a single, perfectly typed bomb threat. And worse yet, the police aren't sure they can trust their own people. In a few short days, the corruption of one cop—and the madness of an assasin—could blow the whole city sky high...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this fifth installment of Griffin's Badge of Honor series, members of Philadelphia's law enforcement community are again faced with the difficult task of protecting their city. Teamed in an uneasy alliance with the Secret Service, Philly's cops must thwart an assassination attempt on the vice president of the United States during his upcoming visit. With only a typewritten note to go on, rookie detective Matthew Payne and head of Special Operations Peter Wohl must race to unearth the wannabe assassin--a petrochemicals market analyst who believes God has commanded him to kill the veep. Although the book is nominally about Payne and Wohl and about their chase, the most visible character here is the police department, or rather the interplay between various factions therein. As with his earlier police novels, Griffin ( Men in Blue ; The Witness ) seldom treads where other authors dare not go. However, this book succeeds because of the authority with which he depicts events and locations. Additionally, the slick but restrained pace at which the story unfolds makes this an enjoyable and gripping read. (May)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Badge of Honor Series, #5
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 6.91(h) x 1.02(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

































W.E.B. Griffin’s electrifying epic series of a big-city police force . . .

"DAMN EFFECTIVE . . . He captivates you with characters the way few authors can.” —Tom Clancy

"TOUGH, AUTHENTIC . . . POLICE DRAMA AT ITS BEST . . . Readers will feel as if they’re part of the investigation, and the true-to-life characters will soon feel like old friends. Excellent reading.”

—Dale Brown, bestselling author of Day of the Cheetah and Hammerheads


The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A REAL WINNER.”New York Daily News

“NOT SINCE JOSEPH WAMBAUGH have we been treated to a police story of the caliber that Griffin gives us. He creates a story about real people in a real world doing things that are AS REAL AS TODAY’S HEADLINES.”

—Harold Coyle, bestselling author of Team Yankee and Sword Point

“FANS OF ED MCBAIN’S 87TH PRECINCT NOVELS BETTER MAKE ROOM ON THEIR SHELVES . . . Badge of Honor is first and foremost the story of the people who solve the crimes. The characters come alive.”

Gainesville Times (GA)


—Richard Herman, Jr., author of The Warbirds



W.E.B. Griffin’s bestselling saga of the heroes we call Marines...



"GREAT READING. A superb job of mingling fact and fiction ... [Griffin’s] characters come to life."

—The Sunday Oklahoman

"THIS MAN HAS REALLY DONE HIS HOMEWORK ... I confess to impatiently awaiting the appearance of succeeding books in the series." —The Washington Post



Rave Reviews


Marine Corps Gazette


A sweeping military epic of the United States Army that became a New York Times bestselling phenomenon.

"A MAJOR WORK ... MAGNIFICENT ... POWERFUL ... If books about warriors and the women who love them were given medals for authenticity, insight and honesty, Brotherhood of War would be covered with them."

—William Bradford Huie, author of The Klansman and The Execution of Private Slovik

"Brotherhood of War gets into the hearts and minds of those who by choice or circumstances are called upon to fight our nation’s wars."

—William R. Corson, Lt. Col. (Ret.) U.S.M.C., author of The Betrayal and The Armies of Ignorance

"Captures the rhythms of army life and speech, its rewards and deprivations ... A WELL-WRITTEN, ABSORBING ACCOUNT." —Publishers Weekly


—Frederick Downs, author of The Killing Zone


—Shirley Ann Grau, author of The Keepers of the House

"A MASTER STORYTELLER who makes sure each book stands on its own." —Newport News Press


Chattanooga News-Free Press

Titles by W.E.B. Griffin







Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author

Jove mass-market edition / May 1993

Copyright © 1993 by W.E.B. Griffin.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 9781440635786


Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
JOVE is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “J” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

For Sergeant Zebulon V. Casey
Internal Affairs Division

Police Department, Retired, the City of Philadelphia. He knows why.


Marion Claude Wheatley, who was thirty-three years of age, stood just under six feet tall, weighed 165 pounds, and was just starting to lose his hair, had no idea why God wanted to kill the Vice President of the United States, any more than he did why God had selected him to carry out His will in this regard, together with the promise that if he did so, he would be made an angel, and would live forever in the presence of the Lord, experiencing the peace that passeth all understanding.

He had, of course, thought a good deal about it. After all, he had a good education (BA, Swarthmore, cum laude; MBA, Pennsylvania) and as a market analyst (petrochemicals) for First Pennsylvania Bank & Trust, his brain had been trained to first determine the facts and then to draw reasonable inferences from them.

The first fact was that God was all powerful, which Marion accepted without question. But that raised the question why didn’t God, figuratively speaking, of course, just snap his fingers and cause the Vice President to disappear? Or blow up, which is how the Lord had told him He wished the Vice President to die?

Since He had the power to disintegrate the Vice President without any mortal assistance, but had chosen instead to make Marion the instrument of His will, the only conclusion that could be reasonably drawn was that the Lord had his reasons, which naturally he had not elected to share with a simple mortal.

Perhaps, Marion reasoned, later, after he had proven himself worthy by unquestioningly carrying out the Lord’s will, the Lord might graciously tell him why He had chosen the course of action He had.

And if that happened, Marion reasoned, it would seem to follow that God might even tell him how the Vice President of the United States had offended the Lord Most High.

There were a thousand ways the Vice President might have caused offense. He was of course a politician, and one did not need divine insight to understand how much evil they caused each and every day.

Marion suspected that whatever the Vice President’s offense, it was a case of either one really terrible thing, in the eyes of God, or a series of relatively minor offenses against the Lord’s will, the cumulative effect of which equaled one really terrible sin.

When the Lord had spoken with Marion, the subject of repentance and forgiveness vis-à-vis the Vice President had never even come up. Marion, of course, would not have had the presumption to raise the question himself, but certainly, if God wanted the Vice President to repent, to straighten up and fly right, so to speak, it would seem logical to expect that He would have said something along those lines. It was thus reasonable to assume that whatever the Vice President had done to offend the Lord was unforgivable.

But this was not, Marion had decided while having lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, the same thing as saying that the Vice President could not, or should not, make an effort to get himself right with the Lord. If the Lord was merciful, as Marion devoutly believed Him to be, He just might change His mind if the Vice President, figuratively or literally, went to Him on his knees and begged forgiveness.

It was even possible, if unlikely, Marion had concluded, that the Vice President was unaware of how, or to what degree, he had offended the Lord. But if that was the case, it would certainly be a Christian act of compassion, of Christian love, for Marion to let the Vice President know that he was in trouble with the Lord.

The question then became how to do so in such a way that he would not draw attention to himself. Obviously, he could not call the Vice President on the telephone. There would be several layers of people in place to protect the Vice President from every Tom, Dick, and Harry who wanted to talk to him.

The only way to do it, Marion concluded, was to write him a letter. And that was not quite as simple as it sounded. He would have to be careful to make sure the Secret Service, who protected the Vice President, did not find out who he was. Since the Secret Service would have no way of knowing that he was not some kind of nut, rather than working at the specific direction of the Lord, if they found out he had mailed the Vice President a letter telling him that he was about to be blown up, they would come and arrest him.

Going to prison, or a lunatic asylum, was a price Marion was willing to pay for doing the Lord’s work, but only after he had done it. If he was in prison, obviously, he could not blow the Vice President up.

And from what Marion had seen on television, and read in books, the Secret Service was very skilled in what they did. They would obviously make a great effort to locate him, once the Vice President showed them the letter. He was going to have to strive for anonymity.

On the way back to the office from the Reading Terminal, he went to the Post Office Annex and bought two stamped envelopes. Then he went into one of the discount stores on Market Street and bought a thin pad of typing paper.

He often worked late, so no one was suspicious when he stayed in his office after everyone else had gone home. When he was absolutely sure that there was no one in the office but him, he went to the typing pool and sat down at the first typist’s desk. He opened the top drawer and found two spare disposable ribbons.

He took the plastic cover off the typewriter, then opened it, and removed the ribbon on the machine, carefully placing it on the desktop. Then he put in a new ribbon. He addressed the envelope:

The Hon. Vice President of the United States
Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

And then he took the envelope out and tore a sheet of paper from the typing paper pad and rolled that into the typewriter. He sat there drumming his fingers on the desk for a moment as he made up his mind how to say what he wanted to say. Then he started to type. He was a good typist, and when he was finished, there wasn’t even one strikeover, and Marion was pleased.

Dear Mr. Vice President:

You have offended the Lord, and He has decided, using me as His instrument, to disintegrate you using high explosives.

It is never too late to ask God’s forgiveness, and I respectfully suggest that you make your peace with God as soon as possible.

Yours in Our Lord,

A Christian.

Marion carefully folded the letter in thirds, slipped it into the envelope, and then licked the flap and sealed it. He put it into his breast pocket.

Then he removed the ribbon from the typewriter, put the old one back in, and closed the typewriter and covered it with its plastic cover.

He tore off the section of ribbon that had the impressions of the typewriter keys on it and put it into the second stamped envelope he had purchased against the contingency that he would make an error. He carried the envelope, the pad of typing paper, and the ribbon he had used and then removed from the typewriter back into his office. He turned on his shredder and fed first the envelope with the used ribbon inside into it, and then, half a dozen sheets at a time, the typing paper. Next came the cardboard backing and cover sheet of the typing paper pad. The only thing left was the almost intact unused plastic typewriter ribbon. It was too thick to get into the mouth of the shredder, and moreover, he suspected that even if it had fit into it, it probably would have jammed the mechanism.

He took the sterling silver Waterman’s ballpoint pen that had been the firm’s gift to him at Christmas from his pocket, and held it through the little plastic inside of the typewriter ribbon. Then he fed the loose end of the ribbon into the shredder. The mechanism drew the ribbon between the cutters. It took a long time for all of the ribbon to be drawn into the shredder, but it was somehow fascinating to watch the process, and he was a little disappointed when it was all gone.

He held the plastic center in his hand and left his office for the men’s room. He went into a stall and flushed the plastic center down the toilet. Then he carefully washed his hands and left the office.

He bought a Philadelphia Ledger from the newsstand at 16th and Chestnut Streets, and grew warm with the knowledge that he had done the right thing and pleased God. There was a headline that said, VICE PRESIDENT TO VISIT.

• *

The meeting in the commissioner’s conference room on the third floor of the Police Administration Building, commonly called the Roundhouse, was convened, and presided over, by Arthur C. Marshall, deputy commissioner (Operations) of the Police Department of the City of Philadelphia.

The police commissioner of the City of Philadelphia is a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the mayor. There are three deputy commissioners in the Philadelphia Police Department. They are the first deputy commissioner, who is the highest ranking member of the Department under Civil Service regulations, and the two deputy commissioners, Operations and Administration.

Under the deputy commissioner (Operations) are four Bureaus, each commanded by a chief inspector: the Patrol Bureau, the Special Patrol Bureau, the Detective Bureau, and the Command Inspections Bureau.

Present for the Roundhouse meeting were Chief Inspector Matt Lowenstein, of the Detective Bureau, and Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin, of the Command Inspections Bureau, both of whom were subordinate to Deputy Commissioner Marshall. Also present were Chief Inspector Mario C. Delachessi, of the Internal Investigations Bureau; Chief Inspector Paul T. Easterbrook, of the Special Investigations Bureau; Staff Inspector Peter Wohl, commanding officer of the Special Operations Division; and Captain John M. “Jack” Duffy, special assistant to the commissioner for inter-agency liaison.

Internal Investigations, Special Investigations, and Special Operations in theory took their orders from the first deputy commissioner directly. In practice, however, First Deputy Commissioner Marshall and Chiefs Lowenstein and Coughlin exercised more than a little influence in their operations. There was no question in anyone’s mind that Lowenstein and Coughlin were the most influential of all the eleven chief inspectors in the Department, and that both were considered ripe candidates for the next opening as a deputy commissioner.

Part of this was because they were first-class police executives and part was because they had long-running close relations with the Honorable Jerry Carlucci, mayor of the City of Philadelphia.

Prior to running for mayor, in his first bid for elective office, Jerry Carlucci had been the police commissioner. And prior to that, the story went, he had held every rank in the Police Department except policewoman. As a result of this, Mayor Carlucci felt that he knew as much, probably more, about the Police Department than anyone else, and consequently was not at all bashful about offering helpful suggestions concerning police operations.

"Okay," Commissioner Marshall said, "let’s get this started."

He was a tall, very thin, sharp-featured man with bright, intelligent eyes.

There was a moment’s silence broken only by the scratching of a wooden match on the underside of the long, oblong conference table by Chief Lowenstein. The commissioner watched as Lowenstein applied the flame carefully to a long, thin, black cigar.

"Is that all right with you, Matt?" the commissioner asked, gently sarcastic. "Is your rope on fire? We can begin?"

"A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke. Remember that, Art," Lowenstein said, unabashed. He and Commissioner Marshall went back a long way too. Lowenstein had been one of Captain Marshall’s lieutenants when Marshall had commanded the 19th District.

There were chuckles. Marshall shook his head, and began:

"We have a problem with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs...."

"So what else is new?" Chief Lowenstein said. He was a large, nearly handsome man, with a full head of curly silver hair, wearing a gray pin-striped suit.

"Let me talk, for Christ’s sake, Matt," Marshall said.


"They’ve come to Duffy. Officially. They say they have information that drugs, specifically heroin, are getting past the Airport Unit."

"Did they give us the information?" Lowenstein asked.

Marshall shook his head, no.

“You said, ‘getting past the Airport Unit,’ ” Chief Lowenstein said. “Was that an accusation?”

“Jack?” Marshall said.

“They stayed a hairbreadth away from making that an accusation, Chief,” Captain Duffy, a florid-faced, nervous-appearing forty-five-year-old, said.

“Paul?” Marshall asked Chief Inspector Easterbrook, under whose Special Investigations Bureau were the Narcotics Unit, the Narcotics Strike Force, and Vice.

Easterbrook was just the near side of being fat. His collar looked too tight.

“Is heroin coming through the airport?” he asked rhetorically. “Sure it is. I haven’t heard a word, though, that anybody in the Airport Unit is dirty.”

Everyone looked at Chief Inspector Delachessi, a plump, short, natty forty-year-old, among whose Internal Investigations Bureau responsibilities were Internal Affairs, the Organized Crime Intelligence Unit, and the Staff Investigation Unit. Eighteen months before, he had been Staff Inspector Peter Wohl’s boss.

“Neither have I,” Delachessi said. “Not a whisper. And what is it now—two months ago?—when that Airport Unit corporal got himself killed coming home from the shore, the corporal who was his temporary replacement was one of my guys. He didn’t come up with a thing. Having said that, is somebody out there dirty? Could be. I’ll have another look.”

“Hold off on that, Mario,” Commissioner Marshall said.

“What, exactly, is the problem with Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs?” Chief Lowenstein asked. “You said there was a problem.”

“They want to send somebody out there, undercover,” Marshall said.

In the Airport Unit?” Lowenstein asked incredulously. “As a cop?”

Marshall nodded.

“They’ve made it an official request,” Captain Duffy said. “By letter.”

“Tell them to go fuck themselves, by official letter,” Lowenstein said.

“It’s not that easy, Matt,” Marshall said. “The commissioner says we’ll have to come up with a good reason to turn them down.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Lowenstein replied. “There’s no way some nice young agent of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs can pass himself off to anyone in the Airport Unit as a cop. And if there’s dirty cops out there, we should catch them, not the feds. Do you think you could explain that to the commissioner? ”

“Art and I had an idea, talking this over,” Chief Coughlin said.

Ah ha! thought Staff Inspector Peter Wohl, a lithe, well-built, just under six feet tall thirty-five-year-old. The mystery is about to be explained. This is not a conference. Whatever is going to be done has already been decided upon by Marshall and Coughlin. The rest of us are here to be told what the problem is, and what we are expected to do. I wonder what the hell I’m here for? None of this is any of my business.

“I’ll bet you did,” Lowenstein said.

Shame on you, Commissioner Marshall, Wohl thought. You broke the rules. You are not supposed to present Chief Lowenstein with a fait accompli. You are supposed to involve him in the decision-making process. Otherwise, he is very liable to piss on your sparkling idea.

“Matt, of course, is right,” Chief Coughlin went on. “There is no way a fed could go out to the Airport Unit and pass himself off as a cop. And, no offense, Mario, I personally would be very surprised if the people out there weren’t very suspicious of the corporal you sent out there when their corporal got killed.”

“He feels very strongly that no one suspected he worked for me,” Chief Delachessi said.

“What did you expect him to say?” Lowenstein said, somewhat unpleasantly. “ ‘Boy, Chief, sending me out there was really dumb. They made me right away’?”

“So what we need out there is a real cop . . .” Coughlin said.

“Are you inferring, Denny, there’s something wrong with the guy I sent out there?” Chief Delachessi interrupted.

“Come on, Mario, you know I didn’t mean anything like that,” Coughlin said placatingly.

“That’s what it sounded like!”

“Then I apologize,” Coughlin said, sounding genuinely contrite.

“What Chief Coughlin meant to say, I think,” Commissioner Marshall said, “was that if we’re to uncover anything dirty going on out there—and I’m not saying anything is—we need somebody out there who will (a) not make people suspicious and (b) who will be there for the long haul, not just a temporary assignment, like Mario’s corporal.”

The rest of you guys might as well surrender, Peter Wohl thought. If Marshall and Coughlin have come up with this brilliant idea, whatever it is, there’s only one guy who can shoot it down, and he’s got a sign on his desk reading Mayor Jerry Carlucci.

“Where are you going to get this guy?” Lowenstein asked.

“We think we have him,” Coughlin said. “We wanted to get your input.”

Yeah, you did. As long as the input is “Jesus, what a great idea, why didn’t I think of that?”

“We need an officer out there,” Commissioner Marshall said, “whose assignment will not make anybody suspicious, and an officer who is experienced in working undercover.”

“You remember the two undercover officers, from Narcotics, who bagged the guy who shot Dutch Moffitt?” Chief Coughlin asked.

“Mutt and Jeff,” Lowenstein said.

Now I know why I was invited, Peter Wohl thought.

The officers in question were Police Officers Charles McFadden and Jesus Martinez, who had been assigned to Narcotics right out of the Police Academy. McFadden was a very large Irish lad from South Philadelphia, in whom, Wohl was sure, Chief Coughlin saw a clone of himself. Martinez was very small, barely over departmental minimum height and weight requirements, of Puerto Rican ancestry. They were called “Mutt and Jeff” because of their size.

Staff Inspector Peter Wohl knew a good deal about both officers. They had been assigned to Special Operations after they had run to earth an Irish junkie from Northeast Philadelphia who had shot Captain Dutch Moffitt, then the Highway Patrol commander, to death, and thus blown their cover. Assigned, he now reminded himself, through the influence of Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin.

“They now work for Peter,” Coughlin said.

“Doing what, Peter?” Captain Delachessi asked.

“They’re Highway Patrolmen,” Wohl replied.

“They won’t be for long,” Coughlin said.

“Sir?” Wohl asked, surprised.

“We got the results of the detective exam today.” Commissioner Marshall said. “Both of them passed in the top twenty.”

“So, incidentally, Peter, did Matt Payne,” Chief Coughlin added, “He was third.”

Officer Matthew M. Payne was Peter Wohl’s administrative assistant, another gift from Chief Dennis V. Coughlin.

“I thought he might squeeze past,” Wohl replied. Matt Payne had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania cum laude. Wohl didn’t think he would have trouble with the detective’s examination.

“Well, hold off on congratulating him,” Coughlin said. “Any of them. The results of the examination are confidential until Civil Service people make the announcement. No word of who passed is to leave this room, if I have to say that.”

“Let’s try this scenario on for size,” Commissioner Marshall said. “And see if it binds in the crotch. Martinez’s name does not appear on the examination list as having passed. He is disappointed, maybe even a little bitter. And he asks for a transfer. They’ve been riding his ass in Highway, Denny tells me, because of his size. He doesn’t seem to fit in. But he’s still the guy who got the guy who killed Dutch Moffitt, and he deserves a little better than getting sent to some district to work school crossings or in a sector car. So Denny sends him out to the Airport Unit.”

Both Commissioner Marshall and Chief Inspector Coughlin looked very pleased with themselves.

If there’s going to be an objection to this, it will have to come from Lowenstein. He’s the only one who would be willing to stand up against these two.

Chief Lowenstein leaned forward and tapped a three-quarter-inch ash into an ashtray.

“That’d work,” he said. “Martinez is a mean little fucker. Not too dumb, either.”

From you, Chief Lowenstein, that is indeed praise of the highest order.

“Do you think he would be willing, Chief?” Wohl asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Coughlin said. “I already had a little talk with him. No specifics. Just would he take an interesting undercover assignment? ”

You sonofabitch, Denny Coughlin! You did that, went directly to one of my men, with something like this, without saying a word to me?

“What we would like from you gentlemen,” Commissioner Marshall said, “is to play devil’s advocate.”

“Will the commissioner hold still for this?” Lowenstien said.

“No problem,” Commissioner Marshall said.

The translation of that is that there was a third party, by the name of Carlucci, involved in this brainstorm. The commissioner either knows that, or will shortly be told, and will then devoutly believe the idea was divinely inspired.

“What we thought,” Coughlin went on, “is that Peter can serve as the connection. We don’t want anyone to connect Martinez with Internal Affairs, or Organized Crime, or Narcotics. If Martinez comes up with something for them, or vice versa, they’ll pass it through Peter. You see any problems with that, Peter?”

“No, sir.”

“Anyone else got anything?” Commissioner Marshall asked.

There was nothing.

“Then all that remains to be done,” Coughlin said, “is to get with Martinez and drop the other shoe. What I suggest, Peter, is that you have Martinez meet us here.”

“Yes, sir. When?”

“Now’s as good a time as any, wouldn’t you say?”

• *

Officer Matthew M. Payne, a pleasant-looking young man of twenty-two, who looked far more like a University of Pennsylvania student, which eighteen months before he had been, than what comes to mind when the words “cop” or “police officer” are used, was waiting near the elevators, with the other “drivers” of those attending the first deputy commissioner’s meeting. They were all in civilian clothing.

Technically, Officer Payne was not a “driver,” for drivers are a privilege accorded only to chief inspectors or better, and his boss was only a staff inspector. His official title was administrative assistant.

There is a military analogy. There is a military rank structure within the Police Department. On the very rare occasions when Peter Wohl wore a uniform, it carried on its epaulets gold oak leaves, essentially identical to those worn by majors in the armed forces. Inspectors wore silver oak leaves, like those of lieutenant colonels, and chief inspectors, an eagle, like those worn by colonels.

Drivers functioned very much like aides-de-camp to general officers in the armed forces. They relieved the man they worked for of annoying details, served as chauffeurs, and performed other services. And, like their counterparts in the armed forces, they were chosen as much for their potential use to the Department down the line as they were for their ability to perform their current duties. It was presumed that they were learning how the Department worked at the upper echelons by observing their bosses in action.

Most of the other drivers waiting for the meeting to end were sergeants. One, Chief Lowenstein’s driver, was a police officer. Matt Payne was both the youngest of the drivers and, as a police officer, held the lowest rank in the Department.

There was a hissing sound, and one of the drivers gestured to the corridor toward what was in effect the executive suite of the Police Administration Building. The meeting was over, the bosses were coming out.

Chief Delachessi came first, gestured to his driver, and got on the elevator. Next came Chief Coughlin, who walked up to his driver, a young Irish sergeant named Tom Mahon.

“Meet me outside Shank & Evelyn’s in an hour and a half,” he ordered. “I’ll catch a ride with Inspector Wohl.”

Shank & Evelyn’s was a restaurant in the Italian section of South Philadelphia.

“Yes, sir,” Sergeant Mahon said.

Then Chief Coughlin walked to Officer Payne and shook his hand.

“Nice suit, Matty,” he said.

“Thank you.”

For all of his life, Officer Payne had called Chief Coughlin “Uncle Denny,” and still did when they were alone.

Staff Inspector Wohl walked up to them.

“Officer Martinez is on his way to meet me in the parking lot,” he said to Officer Payne. “You meet him, give him the keys to my car, and tell him that Chief Coughlin and I will be down in a couple of minutes. You catch a ride in the Highway car back to the Schoolhouse. I’ll be there in a couple of hours. I’ll be, if someone really has to get to me, at Shank & Evelyn’s.”

“Yes, sir,” Officer Payne said.

Chief Coughlin and Inspector Wohl went back down the corridor toward the office of the police commissioner and his deputies. Sergeant Mahon and Officer Payne got on the elevator and rode to the lobby.

“What the hell is that all about?” Mahon asked.

“I think Coughlin and Wohl are being nice guys,” Matt Payne said. “The results of the detective exam are back. Martinez didn’t pass it.”

“Oh, shit. He wanted it bad?”

“Real bad.”

“You saw the list?”

“I respectfully decline to answer on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate me,” Matt Payne said.

Mahon chuckled.

“How’d you do?”


“Hey, congratulations!”

“If you quote me, I’ll deny it. But thank you.”

• *

Matt Payne had to wait only a minute or two on the concrete ramp outside the rear door of the Roundhouse before a Highway Patrol RPC pulled up to the curb.

He went the rest of the way down the ramp to meet it. The driver, a lean, athletic-looking man in his early thirties, who he knew by sight, but not by name, rolled down the window as Highway Patrolman Jesus Martinez got out of the passenger side.

“How goes it, Hay-zus?” Payne called.

Martinez nodded, but did not reply. Or smile.

“We had a call to meet the inspector, Payne,” the driver said. While the reverse was not true, just about everybody in Highway and Special Operations knew the inspector’s “administrative assistant ” by name and sight.

Payne squatted beside the car. “He’ll be down in a minute,” he said. “I’m to give Hay-zus the keys to his car; you’re supposed to give me a ride to the Schoolhouse.”

The driver nodded.

I wish to hell I was better about names.

Payne stood up, fished the car keys from his pocket, and tossed them to Martinez.

“Back row, Hay-zus,” he said, and pointed. “I’d bring it over here. If anyone asks, tell them you’re waiting for Chief Coughlin.”

Martinez nodded, but didn’t say anything.

I am not one of Officer Martinez’s favorite people. And now that he busted the detective exam, and Charley and I passed it, that’s going to get worse. Well, fuck it, there’s nothing I can do about it.

He walked around the front of the car and got in the front seat. Martinez walked away, toward the rear of the parking lot. The driver put the car in gear and drove away.

“You have to get right out to the Schoolhouse?” Matt asked.


“You had lunch?”

“No. You want to stop someplace?”

“Good idea. Johnny’s Hots okay with you?”


“You have an idea where McFadden’s riding?”

“Thirteen, I think,” the driver said.

Matt checked the controls of the radio to make sure the frequency was set to that of the Highway Patrol, then picked up the microphone.

“Highway Thirteen, Highway Nine.”

“Thirteen,” a voice immediately replied. Matt recognized it as Charley McFadden’s.

“Thirteen, can you meet us at Johnny’s Hots?”

“On the way,” McFadden’s voice said. “Highway Thirteen. Let me have lunch at Delaware and Penn Street.”

“Okay, Thirteen,” the J-band radio operator said. J-band, the city-wide band, is the frequency Highway units usually listen to. It gives them the opportunity to go in on any interesting call anywhere in the city.

“Highway Nine. Hold us out to lunch at the same location.”

Matt dropped the microphone onto the seat.

“I guess you and McFadden are buying, huh?” the driver asked.

“Why should we do that?”

“You both passed the exam, didn’t you?”

“You heard that, did you?”

“I also heard that Martinez didn’t.”

“I think that’s what the business at the Roundhouse is all about. The inspector and Chief Coughlin are going to break it to him easy.”

“I tried the corporal’s exam three years ago and didn’t make it,” the driver said. “Then I figured, fuck it, I’d rather be doing this than working in an office anyhow.”

Was that simply a conversational interchange, or have I just been zinged?

“I’m surprised Hay-zus didn’t make it,” Matt said.

“Yeah, I was too. But I guess some people can pass exams, and some people can’t.”

“You’re right. You think McFadden knows we passed?”

“He told me this morning at roll call.”

“So that means Martinez knows too, I guess?”

“Yeah, I’m sure he knows.”

Was that why Hay-zus cut me cold, or was that on general principles ?


Detective Matthew M. Payne, of East Detectives, pulled his unmarked car to the curb just beyond the intersection of 12th and Butler Streets in the Tioga section of Philadelphia.

There was a three-year-old Ford station wagon parked at the curb. Payne reached over and picked up a clipboard from the passenger seat, and examined the Hot Sheet. It was a sheet of eight-and -a-half-by-eleven-inch paper, printed on both sides, which listed the tag numbers of stolen vehicles in alphanumeric order.

There were three categories of stolen vehicles. If a double asterisk followed the number, this was a warning to police officers that if persons were seen in the stolen vehicle they were to be regarded as armed and dangerous. A single asterisk meant that if and when the car was recovered, it was to be guarded until technicians could examine it for fingerprints. No asterisks meant that it was an ordinary run-of-the-mill hot car that nobody but its owner really gave a damn about.

The license number recorded on the Hot Sheet corresponded with the license plate on the Ford station, which had been reported stolen twenty-eight hours previously. There were no asterisks following the listing. Two hours previously, Radio Patrol Car 2517, of the 25th Police District, on routine patrol had noticed the Ford station wagon, and upon inquiry had determined that it had been reported as a stolen car.

The reason, obviously, that this Ford station wagon had attracted the attention of the guys in the blue-and-white was not hard for someone of Detective Payne’s vast experience—he had been a detective for three whole weeks—to deduce. The wheels and tires had been removed from the vehicle, and the hood was open, suggesting that other items of value on the resale market had been removed from the engine compartment.

The officer who had found the stolen car had then filled out Philadelphia Police Department Form 75-48, on which was listed the location, the time the car had been found, the tag number and the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), and the condition (if it had been burned, stripped, or was reasonably intact).

If he had recovered the vehicle intact, that is to say drivable, he would have disabled it by removing the coil wire or letting the air out of one or more tires. It is very embarrassing to the police for them to triumphantly inform a citizen that his stolen car has been recovered at, say, 12th and Butler, and then to have the car stolen again before the citizen can get to 12th and Butler.

The officer who had found the car had turned in Form 75-48 to one of the trainees in the Operations Room of the 25th District, at Front and Westmoreland Streets, because the corporal in charge was otherwise occupied. The term “trainee” is somewhat misleading. It suggests someone who is learning a job and, by inference, someone young. One of the trainees in the Operations Room of the 25th District had in fact been on the job longer than Detective Payne was old, and had been working as a trainee for eleven years.

The trainee did not feel it necessary to ask the corporal for guidance as to what should be done with the Form 75-48. The corporal, in fact, would have been surprised, even shocked, if he had.

If the car had been stolen inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the trainee would have simply notified the owner, and, in the name of the district, canceled the listing on the Hot Sheet. But this Ford had been stolen from a citizen of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia. It thus became an OJ, for Other Jurisdiction.

First, he assigned a DC (for District Control) Number to it. In this case it was 74-25-004765. Seventy-four was the year, twenty-five stood for the 25th District, and 004765 meant that it was the four thousandth seven hundredth sixty-fifth incident of this nature occurring since the first of the year.

Then the trainee carried the paperwork upstairs in the building, where EDD (East Detective Division) maintained their offices, and turned it over to the EDD desk man, who then assigned the case an EDD Control Number, much like the DC Number.

The EDD desk man then placed the report before Sergeant Aloysius J. Sutton, who then assigned the investigation of the recovered stolen vehicle to Detective Matthew M. Payne, the newest member of his squad.

Theoretically, the investigation should have been assigned to the detective “next up on the Wheel.” “The Wheel” was a figure of speech; actually, it was a sheet of lined paper on a pad, on which the names of all the detectives of the squad available for duty were written. As jobs came into East Detectives, they were assigned in turn, according to the list. The idea was that the workload would thus be equally shared.

In practice, however, especially when there was a brand-new detective on the squad, the Wheel was ignored. Sergeant Sutton was not about to assign, say, an armed robbery job to a detective who had completed Promotional Training at the Police Academy the week, or three weeks, before. Neither, with an armed robbery job to deal with, was Sergeant Sutton about to assign a recovered stolen vehicle investigation to a detective who had been on the job for ten or twelve years, especially if there was a rookie available to do it.

Since he had reported for duty at East Detectives, Detective Payne had investigated eight recovered stolen vehicles. During that time, nine had been reported to East Detectives for appropriate action.

Actually, Detective Payne knew more about auto theft than all but one of the detectives who had passed the most recent examination and gone to Promotional Training with him. In his previous assignment, he had had occasion to discuss at some length auto theft with Lieutenant Jack Malone, who had at one time headed the Auto Theft Squad in the Major Crimes Division of the Philadelphia Police Department.

Lieutenant Malone had recently received some attention in the press for an investigation he had conducted that had resulted in the Grand Jury indictment of Robert L. Holland, a prominent Delaware Valley automobile dealer, on 106 counts of trafficking in stolen automobiles, falsification of registration documents, and other auto-theft-related charges.

Detective Payne had learned a great deal from Lieutenant Malone about big-time auto theft. He knew how chop-shops operated; how Vehicle Identification Number tags could be forged; how authentic-looking bills of sale and title could be obtained; and he even had a rather detailed knowledge of how stolen vehicles could be illegally exported through the Port of Philadelphia for sale in Latin and South American countries.

None of this knowledge, unfortunately, was of any value whatever in the investigation Detective Payne was now charged with conducting.

Detective Payne had also learned from Lieutenant Malone that the great majority of vehicular thefts could be divided into two categories: those cars stolen by joyriders, kids who found the keys in a car and went riding in it for a couple of hours; and those stolen by sort of amateur, apprentice choppers. These thieves had neither the knowledge of the trade nor the premises or equipment to actually break a car down into component pieces for resale. They did, however, know people who would purchase wheels and tires, generators, air-conditioning compressors, batteries, carburetors, radios, and other readily detachable parts, no questions asked.

Very few thieves in either category were ever brought before the bench of the Common Pleas Court. Only a few joyriders were ever caught, usually when they ran into something, such as a bridge abutment or a station wagon full of nuns, and these thieves were almost always juveniles, who were treated as wayward children, and instead of going to jail entered a program intended to turn them into productive, law-abiding adults.

Very few strippers were ever caught, either, because they were skilled enough to strip a car of everything worth a couple of dollars in less than half an hour. They waited for the local RPC to drive past, in other words, and then stripped the car they had boosted secure in the knowledge that the RPC wouldn’t be back in under an hour.

But under the law, it was felony theft and had to be investigated with the same degree of thoroughness as, say, a liquor store burglary.

In practice, Detective Payne had learned, such investigations were assigned to detectives such as himself, in the belief that not only did it save experienced detectives for more important jobs, but also might, in time, teach rookies to be able to really find their asses with both hands.

Carrying the clipboard with him, Detective Payne got out of his car and walked to the station wagon. He was not surprised when he put his head into the window to see that the radio was gone from the dash, and that the keys were still in the ignition.

Moreover, these thieves had been inconsiderate. If they had been considerate, they would have dumped this car by a deserted lot, or in Fairmount Park or someplace not surrounded by occupied dwellings. Now he would have to go knock on doors and ask people if they had seen anyone taking the tires and wheels off the Ford station wagon down the street, and if so, what did they look like.

An hour later, he finished conducting the neighborhood survey. Surprising him not at all, none of the six people he interviewed had seen anything at all.

He got back in the unmarked car and drove back to East Detectives. Not without difficulty, he found a place to park the car in the tiny parking lot, went inside, found an empty desk and a typewriter not in use, and began to complete the paperwork. Once completed, he knew, it would be carefully filed and would never be seen by human eyes again.

• *

At five minutes to four, when his eight-to-four tour would be over, Detective Payne became aware that someone was standing behind him. He turned from the typewriter and looked over his shoulder. Sergeant Aloysius J. Sutton, a ruddy-faced, red-haired, stocky man in his late thirties, his boss, was smiling at him.

“I wish I could type that fast,” Sergeant Sutton said admiringly.

“You should see me on a typewriter built after 1929,” Payne replied.

Sutton chuckled. “You got time for a beer when we quit?”


The invitation surprised him. Having a beer with his newest rookie detective did not seem to be Sutton’s style. But it was obviously a command performance. Rookie detectives did not refuse an invitation from their sergeant.

“Tom & Frieda’s, you know it?”

Matt Payne nodded. It was a bar at Lee and Westmoreland, fifty yards from East Detectives.

“See you there.”

Sergeant Sutton walked away, back to his desk just outside Captain Eames’s office, and started cleaning up the stuff on the desk.

What the hell is this all about? Jesus Christ, have I fucked up somehow? Broken some unwritten rule? It has to be something like that. I am about to get a word-to-the-wise. But what about?

At five past four, Matt Payne left the squad room of East Detectives and walked down the street to Tom & Frieda’s. Sergeant Sutton was not in the bar and grill when he got there, and for a moment, Matt was afraid that he had been there, grown tired of waiting, and left. Left more than a little annoyed with Detective Payne.

But then Sutton, who had apparently been in the gentlemen’s rest facility, touched his arm.

“I’m sorry I’m late, Sergeant.”

“In here, you can call me Al. We’re . . . more or less . . . off duty.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Ortlieb’s from the tap all right?”


“What you have to do is find a bar where they sell a lot of beer, so what they give you is fresh. Most draft beer tastes like horse piss because it’s been sitting around forever.”

He is making conversation. He did not bring me here because he likes me, or to deliver a lecture on the merits of fresh beer on draft. I wish to hell he would get to it.

“You got anything going that won’t hold for three days?” Sergeant Al Sutton asked as he signaled the bartender.

Matt thought that over briefly. “No.”

“Good. As of tomorrow, you’re on three days special assignment at the Roundhouse. Report to Sergeant McElroy in Chief Lowenstein’s office.”

Matt looked at Sutton for amplification. None came.

“Can you tell me what this is all about?” Matt asked.

Sutton looked at him carefully. “I thought maybe you could tell me,” he said, finally.

Matt shook his head from side to side.

“I’ll tell you what I know,” Sutton said. “Harry McElroy . . . you know who he is?”

“I know him.”

“Harry called down for Captain Eames, and I took the call because he wasn’t there. He said the chief wants you down there starting tomorrow morning, for three days, maybe four, and the fewer people know about it, the better.”

Matt shrugged again. That had told him nothing.

“So I asked him, what was it all about, and Harry said if anybody asked, they needed somebody to help out with paperwork, that you were good at that.”

Matt grunted.

“So if anybody asks, that’s the story,” Sutton said.

“I know what it is,” Matt said. “Based on my brilliant record as the recovered car expert of East Detectives, they’re going to transfer me to Homicide.”

Sutton looked at him, and after a moment laughed.

“It’s a dirty job, kid,” he said, “but somebody has to do it.”

“Well, it can’t be worse, whatever it is, than recovered cars,” Matt said.

“I got to get home. We have to go to a wake. Jerry Sullivan, retired as a lieutenant out of the 9th District a year ago. Just dropped dead.”

“I didn’t know him.”

“They had just sold their house; they were going to move to Wildwood,” Sutton said.

He pushed himself off the bar stool, picked up his change, nodded at Matt, and walked out of the bar.

• *

Detective Matthew M. Payne lived in a very small apartment on the top floor of a brownstone mansion on Rittenhouse Square, in what is known in Philadelphia as Center City. The three main floors of the mansion had three years before been converted to office space, all of which had been leased to the Delaware Valley Cancer Society.

It had never entered the owner’s mind when he had authorized the expense of converting the attic, not suitable for use as offices, into an apartment that it would house a policeman. He thought that he could earn a small rent by renting the tiny rooms to an elderly couple, or a widow or widower, someone of limited means who worked downtown, perhaps in the Franklin Institute or the Free Public Library, and who would be willing to put up with the inconvenience of access and the slanting walls and limited space because it was convenient and, possibly more important, because the building was protected around the clock by the rent-a-cops of the Holmes Security Service. Downtown Philadelphia was not a very safe place at night for people getting on in years.

Neither, at the time of the attic’s conversion, had it ever entered the owner’s mind that his son, then a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, would become a policeman. Brewster Cortland Payne II had then believed, with reason, that Matt, after a three-year tour of duty as a Marine officer, would go to law school and join the law firm of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo & Lester, of which he was a founding partner.

Matt’s precommissioning physical, however, had found something wrong with his eyes. Nothing serious, but sufficient to deny him his commission. Brewster Payne had been privately relieved. He understood what a blow it was to a twenty-one-year-old’s ego to be informed that you don’t measure up to Marine Corps standards, but Matt was an unusually bright kid, and time would heal that wound. In the meantime, a word in the right ear would see Matt accepted in whatever law school he wanted to attend.

Despite a life at Pennsylvania that seemed to Brewster C. Payne to have been devoted primarily to drinking beer and lifting skirts, Matt had graduated cum laude.

And then Captain Richard C. “Dutch” Moffitt, commanding officer of the Highway Patrol of the Pennsylvania Police Department, had been shot to death while trying to stop an armed robbery.

It was the second death in the line of duty for the Moffitt family. Twenty-two years before, his brother, Sergeant John Xavier Moffitt, had been shot to death answering a silent alarm call. Six months after his death, Sergeant Moffitt’s widow had given birth to their son.

Four months after that, having spent the last trimester of her pregnancy learning to type, and the four months since her son had been born learning shorthand, Sergeant Moffitt’s widow had found employment as a typist trainee with the law firm of Lowerie, Tant, Foster, Pedigill & Payne.

There was a police pension, of course, and there had been some insurance, but Patricia Moffitt had known that it would not be enough to give her son all that she wanted to give him.

On a Sunday afternoon two months after entering the employ of Lowerie, Tant, Foster, Pedigill & Payne, while pushing her son in a stroller near the Franklin Institute, Patricia Moffitt ran into Brewster Cortland Payne II, whom she recognized as the heir apparent to Lowerie, Tant, Foster, Pedigill & Payne. She had been informed that Young Mr. Payne was not only the son of the presiding partner of the firm, but the grandson of one of the founding partners.

Despite this distinguished lineage, Brewster Cortland Payne II was obviously in waters beyond his depth outside the Franklin Institute. He was pushing a stroller, carrying a two-year-old boy, and leading a four-and-half-year-old girl on what looked like a dog harness and leash.

As Mrs. Moffitt and Mr. Payne exchanged brief greetings (she had twice typed letters for him) the girl announced somewhat self-righteously that “Foster has poo-pooed his pants and Daddy didn’t bring a diaper.”

Mrs. Moffitt took pity on Mr. Payne and took the boy into a rest room in the Franklin Institute and diapered him. When she returned, Mr. Payne told her, he was “rather much in the same situation as yourself, Mrs. Moffitt.”

Specifically, he told her that Mrs. Brewster Cortland Payne II had died in a traffic accident eight months before, returning from their country place in the Poconos.

Three months after that, Mrs. Moffitt and Mr. Payne had shocked and/or enraged the Payne family, the Moffitt family, and assorted friends and relatives on both sides by driving themselves and their children to Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday after work and getting married.

Six months after their marriage, Brewster had adopted Patricia’s son, in the process changing Matthew Mark Moffitt’s name to Payne.

When, the day after Captain Dutch Moffitt had been laid to rest in the cemetery of St. Monica’s Roman Catholic Church, Matt Payne had joined the Philadelphia Police Department, Brewster Payne did not have to hear the professional psychiatric opinion of his daughter, Amelia Payne, M.D., that Matt had done so to prove that he was a man, to overcome the psychological castration of his rejection by the Marines. He had figured that out himself.

And so had Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin of the Philadelphia Police Department. Denny Coughlin had been Sergeant John X. Moffitt’s best friend, and over the years had become quite close to Brewster Payne, as they dealt with the problem of Mother Moffitt, Matt’s grandmother, a bellicose German-Irish woman who sincerely believed that Brewster Cortland Payne II would burn in hell for seducing her son’s widow into abandoning Holy Mother Church for Protestantism, and raising her grandson as a heathen.

Over more whiskey than was probably good for them in the bar at the Union League, Denny Coughlin and Brewster Payne had agreed that Matt’s idea that he wanted to be cop was understandable, but once he found out how things were, he would come to his senses. A couple of weeks, no more than a month, in the Police Academy would open his eyes to what he had let himself in for, and he would resign.

Matt did not resign. On his graduation, Denny Coughlin used his influence to have him assigned to clerical duties in the newly formed Special Operations Division. He had knocked on Patricia Moffitt’s door to tell her that her husband had been killed in the line of duty. He had no intention of knocking on Patricia M. Payne’s door to tell her her son had been killed.

He had explained the situation to the commanding officer of the Special Operations Division, Staff Inspector Peter Wohl. Coughlin believed, with some reason, that Peter Wohl was the smartest cop in the Department. Peter Wohl had been a homicide detective, the youngest sergeant ever in Highway Patrol, and had been the youngest ever staff inspector working in Internal Affairs when the mayor had set up Special Operations and put him in charge. Wohl’s father was Chief Inspector Augustus Wohl, retired, for whom both Denny Coughlin and Jerry Carlucci had worked early on in their careers.

Peter Wohl understood the situation even better than Denny Coughlin thought. He understood that Matt Payne was the son Denny Coughlin had never had. And his father had told him that Denny Coughlin had been waiting a suitable period of time before proposing marriage to John X. Moffitt’s widow when she surprised everybody by marrying the Main Line lawyer.

Inspector Wohl decided it would pose no major problem to keep Officer Matthew M. Payne gainfully, and safely, employed shuffling paper until the kid came to his senses, resigned, and went to law school, where he belonged.

That hadn’t worked out as planned, either. Ninety-five percent of police officers complete their careers without ever once having drawn and fired their service revolver in anger. In the nineteen months Officer Payne had been assigned to Special Operations, he had shot to death two armed felons.

Both incidents, certainly, were unusual happenstances. In the first, Wohl had loaned Young Payne to veteran Homicide detective Jason Washington as a gofer. Washington was working the Northwest Philadelphia serial rapist job, where a looney tune who had started out assaulting women in their apartments had graduated to carrying them off in his van and then cutting various portions of their bodies off. Washington needed someone to make telephone calls for him, run errands, do whatever was necessary to free his time and mind to run the rapist/murderer down.

Officer Payne had been involved in nothing more adventurous, or life-threatening, than reporting to Inspector Wohl that Detective Washington had secured plaster casts of the doer’s van’s tires, and that he had just delivered said casts to the Forensic Laboratory when he happened upon the van. The very first time that Officer Payne had ever identified himself to a member of the public as a police officer, the citizen he attempted to speak with had tried to run him over with his van.

Payne emptied his revolver at the van, and one bullet had entered the cranial cavity of his assailant, causing his instant death. In the back of the van, under a canvas tarpaulin, was his next intended victim, naked, gagged, and tied up with lamp cord.

The second incident occurred during the early morning roundup of a group of armed robbers who elected to call themselves the Islamic Liberation Army. Officer Payne’s intended role in this operation was to accompany Mr. Mickey O’Hara, a police reporter for the Philadelphia Bulletin. His orders were to deter Mr. O’Hara, by sitting on him if necessary, from entering the premises until the person to be arrested was safely in the custody of Homicide detectives and officers of the Special Operations Division.

The person whom it was intended to arrest quietly somehow learned what was going on, suddenly appeared in the alley where Officer Payne was waiting with Mr. O’Hara for the arrest to be completed, and started shooting. One of his .45 ACP caliber bullets ricocheted off a brick wall before striking Officer Payne in the leg, and another caused brick splinters to open Officer Payne’s forehead and make it bleed profusely. Despite his wounds, Payne got his pistol in action and got off five shots at this assailant, two of which hit him and caused fatal wounds.

The circumstances didn’t matter. What mattered was that Payne had blown the serial murderer/rapist’s brains all over the windshield of his van, thus saving a naked woman from being raped and dismembered, and that he had been photographed by Mr. O’Hara as he stood, blood streaming down his face, over the scumbag who had opened fire on him with his .45 and lost the shootout.

Denny Coughlin had been spared having to tell Patricia Moffitt Payne that her son had just been shot in the line of duty only because Brewster Payne had answered the phone.

There had been another long conversation over a good many drinks in the Union League between Denny Coughlin and Brewster C. Payne about the results of the most recent examination for promotion to detective. There had been no way that Officer Payne, who had the requisite time on the job, could be kept from taking the examination. And neither Chief Coughlin nor Mr. Payne doubted he would pass.

It was obvious to both of them that Matt was not going to resign from the Department. And within a matter of a month or so, perhaps within a couple of weeks, he would be promoted to detective. He had never issued a traffic ticket, been called upon to settle a domestic dispute, manned the barricades against an assault by brick-throwing citizens exercising their constitutional right to peaceably demonstrate against whatever governmental outrage it was currently chic to oppose, worked a sector car, or done any of the things that normally a rookie cop would do in his first couple of years on the job.

“The East Detective captain is a friend of mine, Brewster,” Denny Coughlin said, finally. “I think Personnel will send Matt there. He’ll have a chance to work with some good people, really learn the trade. He needs the experience, and they’ll keep an eye out for him.”

Brewster Payne knew Denny Coughlin well enough to understand that if he said he thought Personnel would send Matt somewhere, it was already arranged, and with the understanding that Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin would be keeping an eye on the people keeping an eye on Matt.

“Thank you, Denny,” Brewster Cortland Payne II had said.

• *

When Matt drove the Bug into the parking garage beneath the Delaware Valley Cancer Building (and the buildings to the right and left of it) he found that someone was in his reserved parking spot. Ordinarily, this would have caused him to use foul language, but he recognized the Cadillac Fleetwood. He knew it was registered to Brewster C. Payne, Providence Road, Wallingford.

When he had moved into the apartment, his father had told him that he had reserved two parking spaces in the underground garage for the resident of the attic apartment, primarily as a token of his affection, of course, and only incidentally because it would also provide a parking space for his mother, or other family members, when they had business around Rittenhouse Square.

Until three weeks before it had never posed a problem, because Matt had kept only one car in the garage. Not the battered twelve-year -old Volkswagen Beetle he was now driving, but a glistening, year-old, silver Porsche 911. It had been his graduation present from his father. From the time he had been given the Porsche, the Bug—which had also been a present from his father, six years before, when he had gotten his driver’s license—had sat, rotted actually, in the garage in Wallingford. He had for some reason been reluctant to sell it.

Three weeks before, as he sat taking his promotion physical, he had realized that not selling it had been one of the few wise decisions he had made in his lifetime.

One of the dumber things he had ever done, when assigned to Special Operations out of the Police Academy, was to drive to work in the Porsche. It had immediately identified him as the rich kid from the Main Line who was playing at being a cop. He would not make that same mistake when reporting to East Detectives as a rookie detective.

The battery had been dead, understandably, when he rode out to Wallingford with his father to claim the car, but once he’d put the charger on it, it had jumped to life. He’d changed the oil, replaced two tires, and the Bug was ready to provide sensible, appropriate transportation for him back and forth to work.

The Porsche was sitting in the parking spot closest to the elevator, beside the Cadillac, which meant that he had no place to park the Bug, since his mother had chosen to exercise her right to the “extra” parking space. He was sure it was his mother, because his father commuted to Philadelphia by train.

There were several empty parking spaces, and after a moment’s indecision, he pulled the Bug into the one reserved for the executive director. With a little bit of luck, Matt reasoned, that gentleman would have exercised his right to quit for the day whenever he wanted to, and would no longer require his space.

He walked up the stairs to the first floor, however, found the rent-a-cop, and handed him the keys to the Bug.

“I had to park my Bug in the executive director’s slot; my mother ’s in mine.”

“Your father,” the rent-a-cop said. He was a retired police officer. “He said if I saw you, to tell you he wants to see you. He’ll be in the Rittenhouse Club until six. I stuck a note under your door.”

“Thank you,” Matt said.

“I’ll take care of the car, don’t worry about it. I think he’s gone for the day.”

“Thank you,” Matt said, and got on the elevator and rode up to the third floor, wondering what was going on. He had a premonition, not that the sky was falling in, but that something was about to happen that he was not going to like.

He unlocked the door to the stairway, opened it, and picked up the envelope on the floor.

4:20 P.M.


If this comes to hand after six, when I will have left the Rittenhouse, please call me at home no matter what the hour. This is rather important.


He jammed the note in his pocket and went up the stairs. The red light on his answering machine was blinking. There were two messages. The first was from someone who wished to sell him burglar bars at a special, one-time reduced rate, and the second was a familiar voice:

“I tried to call you at work, but you had already left. Your dad and I are going to have a drink in the Rittenhouse Club. You need to be there. If you don’t get this until after six, call him or me when you finally do.”

The caller had not identified himself. Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin did not like to waste words, and he correctly assumed that his voice would be recognized.

And, Matt thought, there had been something in his voice suggesting there was something wrong in a new detective having gone off shift at the called-for time.

What the hell is going on?

Matt picked up the telephone and dialed a number from memory.

“Yeah?” Detective Charley McFadden was not about to win an award for telephone courtesy.

“This is Sears Roebuck. We’re running a sale on previously owned wedding gowns.”

Detective McFadden was not amused. “Hi, Matt, what’s up?”

“I don’t know, but I’m not going to be able to meet you at six. You going to be home later?”

“How much later?”

“Maybe six-thirty, quarter to seven?”

“Call me at McGee’s. I’ll probably still be there.”

“Sorry, Charley.”

“Yeah, well, what the hell. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll get lucky without you.”

Matt hung up, looked at his watch, and then quickly left his apartment.

• *

Matt walked up the stairs of the Rittenhouse Club, pushed open the heavy door, and went into the foyer. He looked up at the board behind the porter’s counter, on which the names of all the members were listed, together with a sliding indicator that told whether or not they were in the club.

“Your father’s in the lounge, Mr. Payne,” the porter said to him.

“Thank you,” Matt said.

Brewster Cortland Payne II, a tall, angular, distinguished-looking man who was actually far wittier than his appearance suggested, saw him the moment he entered the lounge and raised his hand. Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin, a heavyset, ruddy-faced man in a well-fitting pin-striped suit, turned to look, and then smiled. They were sitting in rather small leather-upholstered armchairs between which sat a small table. There were squat whiskey glasses, small glass water pitchers, a silver bowl full of mixed nuts, and a battered, but well-shined, brass ashtray with a box of wooden matches in a holder on it on the table.

“Good,” Brewster Payne said, smiling and rising from his chair to touch Matt softly and affectionately on the arm. “We caught you.”

“Dad. Uncle Denny.”

“Matty, I tried to call you at East Detectives,” Coughlin said, sitting back down. “You had already gone.”

“I left at five after four, Uncle Denny. The City got their full measure of my flesh for their day’s pay.”

An elderly waiter in a white jacket appeared.

“Denny’s drinking Irish and the power of suggestion got to me,” Brewster Payne said. “But have what you’d like.”

“Irish is fine with me.”

“All around, please, Philip,” Brewster Payne said.

I have just had a premonition: I am not going to like whatever is going to happen. Whatever this is all about, it is not “let’s call Good Ol’ Matt and buy him a drink at the Rittenhouse Club.”


“Are we celebrating something, or is this boys’ night out?” Matt asked.

Coughlin chuckled.

“Well, more or less, we’re celebrating something,” Brewster Payne said. “Penny’s coming home.”

“Is she really?” Matt said, and the moment the words were out of his mouth, he realized that not only had he been making noise, rather than responding, but that his disinterest had not only been apparent to his father, but had annoyed him, perhaps hurt him, as well.

Penny was Miss Penelope Alice Detweiler of Chestnut Hill. Matt now recalled hearing from someone, probably his sister Amy, that she had been moved from The Institute of Living, a psychiatric hospital in Connecticut, to another funny farm out west somewhere. Arizona, Nevada, someplace like that.

Matt had known Penny Detweiler all his life. Penny’s father and his had been schoolmates at Episcopal Academy and Princeton, and one of the major—almost certainly the most lucrative—clients of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo & Lester, his father’s law firm, was Nesfoods International, Philadelphia’s largest employer, H. Richard Detweiler, president and chief executive officer.

After a somewhat pained silence, Brewster Payne said, “I was under the impression that you were fond of Penny.”

“I am,” Matt said quickly.

I’m not at all sure that’s true. I am not, now that I think about it, at all fond of Penny. She’s just been around forever, like the walls. I’ve never even thought of her as a girl, really.

He corrected himself: There was that incident when we were four or five when I talked her into showing me hers and her mother caught us at it, and had hysterically shrieked at me that I was a filthy little boy, an opinion of me I strongly suspect she still holds.

But fond? No. The cold truth is that I now regard Precious Penny (to use her father’s somewhat nauseating appellation) very much as I would regard a run-over dog. I am dismayed and repelled by what she did.

“You certainly managed to conceal your joy at the news they feel she can leave The Lindens.”

The Lindens, Matt recalled, is the name of the new funny farm. And it’s in Nevada, not Arizona. She’s been there what? Five months? Six?

There was another of what Matt thought of as “Dad’s Significant Silences.” He dreaded them. His father did not correct or chastise him. He just looked at the worm before him until the worm, squirming, figured out himself the error, or the bad manners, he had just manifested to God and Brewster Cortland Payne II.

Finally, Brewster Payne went on: “According to Amy, and according to the people at The Lindens, the problem of her physical addiction to narcotics is pretty much under control.”

Matt kept his mouth shut, but in looking away from his father, to keep him from seeing Matt’s reaction to that on his face, Matt found himself looking at Dennis V. Coughlin, who just perceptibly shook his head. The meaning was clear: You and I don’t believe that, we know that no more than one junkie in fifty ever gets the problem under control, but this is not the time or place to say so.

“I’m really glad to hear that,” Matt said.

“Which is not to say that her problems are over,” Brewster Payne went on. “There is specifically the problem of the notoriety that went with this whole unfortunate business.”

The newspapers in Philadelphia, in the correct belief that their readers would be interested, indeed, fascinated, had reported in great detail that the good-looking blonde who had been wounded when her boyfriend—a gentleman named Anthony J. “Tony the Zee” DeZego, whom it was alleged had connections to organized crime—had been assassinated in a downtown parking garage was none other than Miss Penelope Detweiler, only child of the Chestnut Hill/Nesfoods International Detweilers.

“That’s yesterday’s news,” Matt said. “That was seven months ago.”

“Dick Detweiler doesn’t think so,” Brewster Payne said. “That’s where this whole thing started.”

“Excuse me?”

“Dick Detweiler didn’t want Penny to get off the airliner and find herself facing a mob of reporters shoving cameras in her face.”

“Why doesn’t he send the company airplane after her?” Matt wondered aloud. “Have it land at Northeast Philadelphia?”

“That was the original idea, but Amy said that she considered it important that Penny not think that her return home was nothing more than a continuation of her hospitalization.”

“I’m lost, Dad.”

“I don’t completely understand Amy’s reasoning either, frankly, but I think the general idea is that Penny should feel, when she leaves The Lindens, that she is closing the door on her hospitalization and returning to a normal life. Hence, no company plane. Equally important, no nurse, not even Amy, to accompany her, which would carry with it the suggestion that she’s still under care.”

“Amy just wants to turn her loose in Nevada?” Matt asked incredulously. “How far is the funny farm from Las Vegas?”

Brewster Payne’s face tightened.

“I don’t at all like your choice of words, Matt. That was not only uncalled for, it was despicable!” he said icily.

“Christ, Matty!” Dennis V. Coughlin said, seemingly torn between disgust and anger.

“I’m sorry,” Matt said, genuinely contrite. “That just . . . came out. But just turning her loose, alone, that’s insane.”

“It would, everyone agrees, be ill-advised,” Brewster Payne said. “That’s where you come in, Matt.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Amy’s reasoning here, and in this I am in complete agreement, is that you are the ideal person to go out there and bring her home ..."

“No. Absolutely not!”

“ . . . for these reasons,” Brewster Payne went on, ignoring him. “For one thing, Penny thinks of you as her brother. . . .”

“She thinks of me as the guy who pinned the tail on her,” Matt said. “If it weren’t for me, no one would have known she’s a junkie.”

“I don’t like that term, either, Matt, but that’s Amy’s point. If you appear out there, in a nonjudgmental role, as her friend, welcoming her back to her life . . .”

“I can’t believe you’re going along with this,” Matt said. “For one thing, Penny does not think of me as her brother. I’m just a guy she’s known for a long time who betrayed her, turned her in. If I had been locked up out there for six months in that funny farm, I would really hate me.”

“The reason Amy, and the people at The Lindens, feel that Penny is ready to resume her life is because, in her counseling, they have caused her to see things as they really are. To see you, specifically, as someone who was trying to help, not hurt her.”

I just don’t believe this bullshit, and I especially don’t believe my dad going along with it.

“Dad, this is so much bullshit.”

“Amy said that would probably be your reaction,” Brewster Payne said. “I can see she was right.”

“Anyway, it’s a moot point. I couldn’t go out there if I wanted to,” Matt said. “Uncle Denny, tell him that I just can’t call up my sergeant and tell him that I won’t be in for a couple of days. . . .”

“I’m disappointed in you, Matty,” Chief Coughlin said. “I thought by now you would have put two and two together.”

I’m a little disappointed in me myself, now that the mystery of my temporary assignment, report to Sergeant McElroy, has been cleared up.

“What did Detweiler do, call you?”

“He called the mayor,” Coughlin said. “And the mayor called Chief Lowenstein and me.”

“I don’t think it entered Dick Detweiler’s mind, it certainly never entered mine, that you would have any reservations at all about helping Penny in any way you could,” Brewster Payne said. Matt looked across the table at him. “But if you feel this strongly about it, I’ll call Amy and . . .”

Matt held up both hands. “I surrender.”

“I’m not sure that’s the attitude we’re all looking for.”

Matt met his father’s eyes.

“I’ll do whatever I can to help Penny,” he said.

There was another Significant Silence, and then Brewster C. Payne reached in his breast pocket and took out an envelope.

“These are the tickets. You’re on American Airlines Flight 485 tomorrow morning at eight-fifteen. A car will meet you at the airport in Las Vegas. You will spend the night there . . .”

“At The Lindens?”

• *

“Presumably. And return the next morning.”

Shortly afterward, after having concluded their business with Detective Payne, Chief Coughlin and Brewster C. Payne went their respective ways.

Matt spent the balance of the evening in McGee’s Saloon, in the company of Detective Charley McFadden of Northwest Detectives.

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Assassin (Badge of Honor Series #5) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Lucinda12 More than 1 year ago
Discovered WEB Griffin by accident and decided To order the first 5 books in the series. Just now I have ordered the last five books on the Badge of Honor series. Each books can stand on its own. Each is well-written with excellent character development and great action. It is about the Philadelphia Police Department, but this series entertains wonderfully. Readers are in for a wonderful treat. Coming from a retired high school English teacher, believe me, it may not be PD James or Elizabeth George, but WEB Griffin is among writers I believe are great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont get ot. Its confusing. Honestly. I dont really like it sorry for the critism. And spelling. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When Lily and Sophia took a step forward, there was a sudden shout. A wavy-black-haired girl with dark blue eyes raced toward them. Mia! The name of her friend immediately rushed to Sophia's mine. But, sadly, for Sophia, itwas not Mia. The girl had a black dragon tattoo - which Mia didn't have - was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, black, gray, red, and white shoes, and black fingerless gloves. "Are you Mya?" Lily asked her. The girl stopped, looking confused. "It's MIA, not MYA, just a fact for you." Sophia muttered to Lily. Lily gave her a sharp look, letting her know that she was offended, and turned to the girl. "Are you Mia?" The girl, who was about 18 years old, shook her head. "No, ma'am. But I heard about the kidnap on the news today. I would like to help find this Mia-girl." She said, brushing back a strand of wispy hair out of her face with her gloved hand. Sophia spoke, before Lily could. "Yes, you may!" She said. "What's your name? I'm Sophia, and this is Officer Lily." The girl smiled kindly at both of them and said, "my name is Katrina." Lily smiled back. "Well, Katrina-" she gave "be silent" look to Sophia and continued. "Well, Katrina, we are spying on a kidnapper. We found him, but apparently he has sent the girl, supposedly Mia, to a mysterious partner." Katrina looked as if she was about to give them a clue, but suddenly she had a confused and puzzled look. "I might know, but I'm not sure." Sophia brightened. "This might give the kidnapper away when he's not expecting it!" Lily sniffed. "Katrina, Sophia, that's a good idea, but we must not rush! We must uncover the clues as we always do, not rush into the mystery!" Sophia leaned toward Katrina. "Miss Officer indeed!" She whispered. The two girls giggled. Lily gave them a stern look. "Hurry up!" She snapped. Katrina and Lily exchanged glances as Lily started toward an open window, which was right by the door.. "Coming?" Lily snatched a tiny peek over her shoulder. "We're watching you! Right behind!" Sophia lied, making her vioce sound loud, as if just behind the officer. Lily swung herself up through the window. Sophia nodded to Katrina, inviting her to go first. Katrina winked and climbed in behind Lily. When the two girls were out of sight, Sophia grappled with the moldy sill. She pushed herself up with her feet and she stood on the sill. She suddenly slipped on the grime, which was on the top layer of the mold, and she fell, head-first, into the wooden planks. Lily scowled and helped her up. Katrina was walking toward a huge, dark, steep, slimy, winding stone staircase, which was covered in mold and grimey moss. Lily and Sophia were by her side in an instant. "Let's go!" Katrina whispered. The three girls eagerly quickened their pace, until they were at the edge, looking down onto the staircase below. Lily and Sophi stared in horror. What is MIA was down there? All alone? Starved? Maybe, could it truely be, dead? Katrina wasn't scared, though. She grabbed Lily and Sophia's hand, pulling them down onto the first step. "Let's go!" The three girls continued their frightening, mysterious journey ahead.
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