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In this fast-paced sequel to The Black Echo, LAPD detective Harry Bosch continues to investigate the drug-trafficking underworlds of ...
In this fast-paced sequel to The Black Echo, LAPD detective Harry Bosch continues to investigate the drug-trafficking underworlds of inner-city Los Angeles and the wastelands of Mexico. When he discovers the body of a fellow police officer in a sleazy hotel, Harry gets entangled in a brutal web of violence and drugs.
The smoke carried up from the Cahuenga Pass and flattened beneath a layer of cool crossing air. From where Harry Bosch watched, the smoke looked like a gray anvil rising up the pass. The late afternoon sun gave the gray a pinkish tint at its highest point, tapering down to deep black at its root, which was a brushfire moving up the hillside on the east side of the cut. He switched his scanner to the Los Angeles County mutual aid frequency and listened as firefighter battalion chiefs reported to a command post that nine houses were already gone on one street and those on the next street were in the path. The fire was moving toward the open hillsides of Griffith Park, where it might make a run for hours before being controlled. Harry could hear the desperation in the voices of the men on the scanner.
Bosch watched the squadron of helicopters, like dragonflies from this distance, dodging in and out of the smoke, dropping their payloads of water and pink fire retardant on burning homes and trees. It reminded him of the dustoffs in Vietnam. The noise. The uncertain bobbing and weaving of the overburdened craft. He saw the water crushing through flaming roofs and steam immediately rising.
He looked away from the fire and down into the dried brush that carpeted the hillside and surrounded the pylons that held his own home to the hillside on the west side of the pass. He saw daisies and wildflowers in the chaparral below. But not the coyote he had seen in recent weeks hunting in the arroyo below his house. He had thrown down pieces of chicken to the scavenger on occasion, but the animal never accepted the food while Bosch watched. Only after Bosch went back in off the porch would the animal creep out and take the offerings. Harry had christened the coyote Timido. Sometimes late at night he heard the coyote’s howl echoing up the pass.
He looked back out at the fire just as there was a loud explosion and a concentrated ball of black smoke rotated up within the gray anvil. There was excited chatter on the scanner and a battalion chief reported that a propane tank from a barbecue had ignited.
Harry watched the darker smoke dissipate in the larger cloud and then switched the scanner back to the LAPD tactical frequencies. He was on call. Christmas duty. He listened for a half minute but heard nothing other than routine radio traffic. It appeared to be a quiet Christmas in Hollywood.
He looked at his watch and took the scanner inside. He pulled the pan out of the oven and slid his Christmas dinner, a roasted breast of chicken, onto a plate. Next he took the lid off a pot of steamed rice and peas and dumped a large portion onto the plate. He took his meal out to the table in the dining room, where there was already a glass of red wine waiting, next to the three cards that had come in the mail earlier in the week but that he had left unopened. He had Coltrane’s arrangement of “Song of the Underground Railroad” on the CD player.
As he ate and drank he opened the cards, studied them briefly and thought of their senders. This was the ritual of a man who was alone, he knew, but it didn’t bother him. He’d spent many Christmases alone.
The first card was from a former partner who had retired on book and movie money and moved to Ensenada. It said what Anderson’s cards always said: “Harry, when you coming down?” The next one was also from Mexico, from the guide Harry had spent six weeks living and fishing and practicing Spanish with the previous summer in Bahia San Felipe. Bosch had been recovering from a bullet wound in the shoulder. The sun and sea air helped him mend. In his holiday greeting, written in Spanish, Jorge Barrera also invited Bosch’s return.
The last card Bosch opened slowly and carefully, also knowing who it was from before seeing the signature. It was postmarked Tehachapi. And so he knew. It was handprinted on off-white paper from the prison’s recycling mill and the Nativity scene was slightly smeared. It was from a woman he had spent one night with but thought about on more nights than he could remember. She, too, wanted him to visit. But they both knew he never would.
He sipped some wine and lit a cigarette. Coltrane was now into the live recording of “Spiritual” captured at the Village Vanguard in New York when Harry was just a kid. But then the radio scanner—still playing softly on a table next to the television—caught his attention. Police scanners had played for so long as the background music of his life that he could ignore the chatter, concentrate on the sound of a saxophone, and still pick up the words and codes that were unusual. What he heard was a voice saying, “One-K-Twelve, Staff Two needs your twenty.”
Bosch got up and walked over to the scanner, as if looking at it would make its broadcast more clear. He waited ten seconds for a reply to the request. Twenty seconds.
“Staff Two, location is the Hideaway, Western south of Franklin. Room seven. Uh, Staff Two should bring a mask.”
Bosch waited for more but that was it. The location given, Western and Franklin, was within Hollywood Division’s boundaries. One-K-Twelve was a radio designation for a homicide detective out of the downtown headquarters’ Parker Center. The Robbery-Homicide Division. And Staff Two was the designation for an assistant chief of police. There were only three ACs in the department and Bosch was unsure which one was Staff Two. But it didn’t matter. The question was, what would one of the highest-ranking men in the department be rolling out for on Christmas night?
The second question bothered Harry even more. If RHD was already on the call, why hadn’t he—the on-call detective in Hollywood Division—been notified first? He went to the kitchen, dumped his plate in the sink, dialed the station on Wilcox and asked for the watch commander. A lieutenant named Kleinman picked up. Bosch didn’t know him. He was new, a transfer out of Foothill Division.
“What’s going on?” Bosch asked. “I’m hearing on the scanner about a body at Western and Franklin and nobody’s told me a thing. And that’s funny ’cause I’m on call out today.”
“Don’t worry ’bout it,” Kleinman said. “The hats have got it all squared away.”
Kleinman must be an oldtimer, Bosch figured. He hadn’t heard that expression in years. Members of RHD wore straw bowlers in the 1940s. In the fifties it was gray fedoras. Hats went out of style after that—uniformed officers called RHD detectives “suits” now, not “hats”—but not homicide special cops. They still thought they were the tops, up there high like a cat’s ass. Bosch had hated that arrogance even when he’d been one of them. One good thing about working Hollywood, the city’s sewer. Nobody had any airs. It was police work, plain and simple.
“What’s the call?” Bosch asked.
Kleinman hesitated a few seconds and then said, “We’ve got a body in a motel room on Franklin. It’s looking suicide. But RHD is going to take it—I mean, they’ve already taken it. We’re out of it. That’s from on high, Bosch.”
Bosch said nothing. He thought a moment. RHD coming out on a Christmas suicide. It didn’t make much—then it flashed to him.
“How old is this thing?” he asked. “I heard them tell Staff Two to bring a mask.”
“It’s ripe. They said it’d be a real potato head. Problem is, there isn’t much head left. Looks like he smoked both barrels of a shotgun. At least, that’s what I’m picking up on the RHD freek.”
Bosch’s scanner did not pick up the RHD frequency. That was why he had not heard any of the early radio traffic on the call. The suits had apparently switched freeks only to notify Staff Two’s driver of the address. If not for that, Bosch would not have heard about the call until the following morning when he came into the station. This angered him but he kept his voice steady. He wanted to get what he could from Kleinman.
“It’s Moore, isn’t it?”
“Looks like it,” Kleinman said. “His shield is on the bureau there. Wallet. But like I said, nobody’s going to make a visual ID from the body. So nothing is for sure.”
“How did this all go down?”
“Look, Bosch, I’m busy here, you know what I mean? This doesn’t concern you. RHD has it.”
“No, you’re wrong, man. It does concern me. I should’ve gotten first call from you. I want to know how it went down so I understand why I didn’t.”
“Awright, Bosch, it went like this. We get a call out from the owner of the dump says he’s got a stiff in the bathroom of room seven. We send a unit out and they call back and say, yeah, we got the stiff. But they called back on a land line—no radio—’cause they saw the badge and the wallet on the bureau and knew it was Moore. Or, at least, thought it was him. We’ll see. Anyway, I called Captain Grupa at home and he called the AC. The hats were called in and you were not. That’s the way it goes. So if you have a beef, it’s with Grupa or maybe the AC, not me. I’m clean.”
Bosch didn’t say anything. He knew that sometimes when he was quiet, the person he needed information from would eventually fill the silence.
“It’s out of our hands now,” Kleinman said. “Shit, the TV and Times are out there. Daily News. They figure it’s Moore, like everybody else. It’s a big mess. You’d think the fire up on the hill would be enough to keep them occupied. No way. They’re out there lined up on Western. I gotta send another car over for media control. So, Bosch, you should be happy you aren’t involved. It’s Christmas, for Chrissake.”
But that wasn’t good enough. Bosch should have been called and then it should have been his decision when to call out RHD. Someone had taken him out of the process altogether and that still burned him. He said good-bye and lit another cigarette. He got his gun out of the cabinet above the sink and hooked it to the belt on his blue jeans. Then he put on a light-tan sport coat over the Army green sweater he was wearing.
It was dark outside now and through the sliding glass door he could see the fire line across the pass. It burned brightly on the black silhouette of the hill. It was a crooked devil’s grin moving to the crest.
From out in the darkness below his house he heard the coyote. Howling at the rising moon or the fire, or maybe just at himself for being alone and in the dark.
Bosch drove down out of the hills into Hollywood, traveling mostly on deserted streets until he reached the Boulevard. On the sidewalks there were the usual groupings of runaways and transients. There were strolling prostitutes—he saw one with a red Santa hat on. Business is business, even on Christmas night. There were elegantly made up women sitting on bus benches who were not really women and not really waiting for buses. The tinsel and Chistmas lights strung across the Boulevard at each intersection added a surreal touch to the neon glitz and grime. Like a whore with too much makeup, he thought—if there was such a thing.
But it wasn’t the scene that depressed Bosch. It was Cal Moore. Bosch had been expecting this for nearly a week, since the moment he heard that Moore had failed to show up for roll call. For most of the cops at Hollywood Division it wasn’t a question of whether Moore was dead. It was just a question of how long before his body turned up.
Moore had been a sergeant heading up the division’s street narcotics unit. It was a night job and his unit worked the Boulevard exclusively. It was known in the division that Moore had separated from his wife and replaced her with whiskey. Bosch had found that out firsthand the one time he had spent time with the narc. He had also learned that there might be something more than just marital problems and early burnout plaguing him. Moore had spoken obliquely of Internal Affairs and a personnel investigation.
It all added up to a heavy dose of Christmas depression. As soon as Bosch heard they were starting a search for Cal Moore, he knew. The man was dead.
And so did everyone else in the department, though nobody said this out loud. Not even the media said it. At first the department tried to handle it quietly. Discreet questions at Moore’s apartment in Los Feliz. A few helicopter runs over the nearby hills in Griffith Park. But then a TV reporter was tipped and all the other stations and the newspapers followed the story for the ride. The media dutifully reported on the progress of the search for the missing cop, Moore’s photograph was pinned to the bulletin board in the Parker Center press room and the weight of the department made the standard pleas to the public. It was drama. Or, at least, it was good video; horseback searches, air searches, the police chief holding up the photo of the darkly handsome and serious-looking sergeant. But nobody said they were looking for a dead man.
Bosch stopped the car for the light at Vine and watched a man wearing a sandwich board cross the street. His stride was quick and jerky and his knees continuously popped the cardboard sign up in the air. Bosch saw there was a satellite photograph of Mars pasted on the board with a large section of it circled. Written in large letters below was repent! the face of the lord watches us! Bosch had seen the same photograph on the cover of a tabloid while standing in line at a Lucky store, but the tabloid had claimed that the face was that of Elvis.
The light changed and he continued on toward Western. He thought of Moore. Outside of one evening spent drinking with him at a jazz bar near the Boulevard, he had not had much interaction with Moore. When Bosch had been transferred to Hollywood Division from RHD the year before, there had been hesitant handshakes and glad-to-know-yous from everyone in the division. But people generally kept their distance. It was understandable, since he had been rolled out of RHD on an IAD beef, and Bosch didn’t mind. Moore was one of those who didn’t go out of his way to do much more than nod when they passed in the hall or saw each other at staff meetings. Which was also understandable since the homicide table where Bosch worked was in the first-floor detective bureau and Moore’s squad, the Hollywood BANG—short for Boulevard Anti-Narcotics Group—was on the second floor of the station. Still, there had been the one encounter. For Bosch it had been a meeting to pick up some background information for a case he was working. For Moore it had been an opportunity to have many beers and many whiskeys.
Moore’s BANG squad had the kind of slick, media-grabbing name the department favored but in reality was just five cops working out of a converted storage room and roaming Hollywood Boulevard at night, dragging in anybody with a joint or better in his pocket. BANG was a numbers squad, created to make as many arrests as possible in order to help justify requests for more manpower, equipment and, most of all, overtime in the following year’s budget. It did not matter that the DA’s office handed out probation deals on most of the cases and kicked the rest. What mattered were those arrest statistics. And if Channel 2 or 4 or a Times reporter from the Westside insert wanted to ride along one night and do a story on the BANG squad, all the better. There were numbers squads in every division.
At Western Bosch turned north and ahead he could see the flashing blue and yellow lights of the patrol cars and the lightning-bright strobes of TV cameras. In Hollywood such a display usually signaled the violent end of a life or the premiere of a movie. But Bosch knew nothing premiered in this part of town except thirteen-year-old hookers.
Bosch pulled to the curb a half block from the Hideaway and lit a cigarette. Some things about Hollywood never changed. They just came up with new names for them. The place had been a run-down dump thirty years ago when it was called the El Rio. It was a run-down dump now. Bosch had never been there but he had grown up in Hollywood and remembered. He had stayed in enough places like it. With his mother. When she was still alive.
The Hideaway was a 1940s-era courtyard motel that during the day would be nicely shaded by a large banyan tree which stood in its center. At night, the motel’s fourteen rooms receded into a darkness only the glow of red neon invaded. Harry noticed that the e in the sign announcing monthly rates was out.
When he was a boy and the Hideaway was the El Rio, the area was already in decay. But there wasn’t as much neon and the buildings, if not the people, looked fresher, less grim. There had been a Streamline Moderne office building that looked like an ocean liner docked next to the motel. It had set sail a long time ago and another mini-mall was there now.
Looking at the Hideaway from his parked car, Harry knew it was a sorry place to stay the night. A sorrier place to die. He got out and headed over.
Yellow crime scene tape was strung across the mouth of the courtyard and was manned by uniformed officers. At one end of the tape bright lights from TV cameras focused on a group of men in suits. The one with the gleaming, shaven scalp was doing all the talking. As Bosch approached, he realized that the lights were blinding them. They could not see past the interviewers. He quickly showed his badge to one of the uniforms, signed his name on the Crime Scene Attendance Log the cop held on a clipboard and slipped under the tape.
The door to room 7 was open and light from inside spilled out. The sound of an electric harp also wafted from the room and that told Bosch that Art Donovan had caught the case. The crime scene tech always brought a portable radio with him. And it was always tuned to The Wave, a new-age music channel. Donovan said the music brought a soothing calm to a scene where people had killed or been killed.
Harry walked through the door, holding a handkerchief over his mouth and nose. It didn’t help. The odor that was like no other assaulted him as soon as he passed the threshold. He saw Donovan on his knees dusting fingerprint powder onto the dials of the air-conditioner unit in the wall below the room’s front, and only, window.
“Cheers,” Donovan said. He was wearing a painter’s mask to guard against the odor and the intake of the black powder. “In the bathroom.”
Bosch took a look around, quickly, since it was likely he would be told to leave as soon as the suits discovered him. The room’s queen-sized bed was made with a faded pink coverlet. There was a single chair with a newspaper on it. Bosch walked over and noted that it was the Times, dated six days earlier. There was a bureau and mirror combination to the side of the bed. On top of it was an ashtray with a single butt pressed into it after being half smoked. There was also a .38 Special in a nylon boot holster, a wallet and a badge case. These last three had been dusted with the black fingerprint powder. There was no note on the bureau—the place Harry would’ve expected it to be.
“No note,” he said, more to himself than Donovan.
“Nope. Nothing in the bathroom, either. Have a look. That is, if you don’t mind losing your Christmas dinner.”
Harry looked down the short hallway that went to the rear off the left side of the bed. The bathroom door was on the right and he felt reluctance as he approached. He believed there wasn’t a cop alive who hadn’t thought at least once of turning his own hand cold.
He stopped at the threshold. The body sat on the dingy white floor tile, its back propped against the tub. The first thing to register on Bosch was the boots. Gray snakeskins with bulldog heels. Moore had worn them the night they had met for drinks. One boot was still on the right foot and he could see the manufacturer’s symbol, an S like a snake, on the worn rubber heel. The left boot was off and stood upright next to the wall. The exposed foot, which was in a sock, had been wrapped in a plastic evidence bag. The sock had once been white, Bosch guessed. But now it was grayish and the limb was slightly bloated.
On the floor next to the door jamb was a twenty-gauge shotgun with side-by-side barrels. The stock was splintered along the bottom edge. A four-inch-long sliver of wood lay on the tile and had been circled with a blue crayon by Donovan or one of the detectives.
Bosch had no time to deliberate on these facts. He just tried to take it all in. He raised his eyes the length of the body. Moore was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. His hands were dropped at his sides. His skin was gray wax. The fingers thick with putrefaction, the forearms bulging like Popeye’s. Bosch saw a misshapen tattoo on the right arm, a devil’s grinning face below a halo.
The body was slumped back against the tub and it almost appeared that Moore had rolled his head back as if to dip it into the tub, maybe to wash his hair. But Bosch realized it only looked that way because most of the head was simply not there. It had been destroyed by the force of the double-barrel blast. The light blue tiles that enclosed the tub area were awash in dried blood. The brown drip trails all went down into the tub. Some of the tiles were cracked where shotgun pellets had struck.
Bosch felt the presence of someone behind him. He turned into the stare of Assistant Chief Irvin Irving. Irving was wearing no mask and holding no rag to his mouth and nose.
Irving nodded and said, “What brings you here, Detective?”
Bosch had seen enough to be able to put together what had happened. He stepped away from the threshold, moved around Irving and walked toward the front door. Irving followed. They passed two men from the medical examiner’s office who were wearing matching blue jumpsuits. Outside the room Harry threw his handkerchief into a trash can brought to the scene by the cops. He lit a cigarette and noticed that Irving was carrying a manila file in his hand.
“I picked it up on my scanner,” Bosch said. “Thought I’d come out since I’m supposed to be on call tonight. It’s my division, it’s supposed to be my call.”
“Yes, well, when it was established who was in the room, I decided to move the case to Robbery-Homicide Division immediately. Captain Grupa contacted me. I made the decision.”
“So it’s already been established that’s Moore in there?”
“Not quite.” He held up the manila file. “I ran by records and pulled his prints. They will be the final factor, of course. There is also the dental—if there is enough left. But all other appearances lead to that conclusion. Whoever’s in there checked in under the name Rodrigo Moya, which was the alias Moore used in BANG. And there’s a Mustang parked behind the motel that was rented under that name. At the moment, I don’t think there is much doubt here among the collective investigative team.”
Bosch nodded. He had dealt with Irving before, when the older man was a deputy chief in command of the Internal Affairs Division. Now he was an AC, one of the top three men in the department, and his purview had been extended to include IAD, narcotics intelligence and investigation, and all detective services. Harry momentarily debated whether he should risk pushing the point about not getting the first call.
“I should have been called,” he said anyway. “It’s my case. You took it away before I even had it.”
“Well, Detective, it was mine to take and give away, wouldn’t you agree? There is no need to get upset. Call it streamlining. You know Robbery-Homicide handles all officer deaths. You would have had to pass it to them eventually. This saves time. There is no ulterior motive here other than expediency. That’s the body of an officer in there. We owe it to him and his family, no matter what the circumstances of his death are, to move quickly and professionally.”
Bosch nodded again and looked around. He saw an RHD detective named Sheehan in a doorway below the monthly rat s sign near the front of the motel. He was questioning a man of about sixty who was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt despite the evening chill and chewing a sodden cigar stump. The manager.
“Did you know him?” Irving asked.
“Moore? No, not really. I mean, yes, I knew him. We worked the same division, so we knew each other. He was on night shift mostly, working the streets. We didn’t have much contact…”
Bosch did not know why in that moment he decided to lie. He wondered if Irving had read it in his voice. He changed the subject.
“So, it’s suicide—is that what you told the reporters?”
“I did not tell the reporters a thing. I talked to them, yes. But I said nothing about the identity of the body in this room. And will not, until it is officially confirmed. You and I can stand here and say we are pretty sure that is Calexico Moore in there but I won’t give that to them until we’ve done every test, dotted every i on the death certificate.”
He slapped the manila file hard on his thigh.
“This is why I pulled his personnel file. To expedite. The prints will go with the body to the medical examiner.” Irving looked back toward the door of the motel room. “But you were inside, Detective Bosch, you tell me.”
Bosch thought a moment. Is this guy interested, or is he just pulling my chain? This was the first time he had dealt with Irving outside of the adversarial situation of an Internal Affairs investigation. He decided to take a chance.
“Looks like he sits down on the floor by the tub, takes off his boot and pulls both triggers with his toe. I mean, I assume it was both barrels, judging by the damage. He pulls the triggers with his toe, the recoil throws the shotgun into the door jamb, splintering off a piece of the stock. His head goes the other way. Onto the wall and into the tub. Suicide.”
“There you go,” Irving said. “Now I can tell Detective Sheehan that you concur. Just as if you had gotten the first callout. No reason for anybody to feel left out.”
“That’s not the point, Chief.”
“What is the point, Detective? That you can’t go along to get along? That you do not accept the command decisions of this department? I am losing my patience with you, Detective. Something I had hoped would never happen to me again.”
Irving was standing too close to Bosch, his wintergreen breath puffing right in his face. It made Bosch feel pinned down by the man and he wondered if it was done on purpose. He stepped back and said, “But no note.”
“No note yet. We still have some things to check.”
Bosch wondered what. Moore’s apartment and office would have been checked when he first turned up missing. Same with his wife’s home. What was left? Could Moore have mailed a note to somebody? It would have arrived by now.
“When did it happen?”
“Hopefully, we’ll get an idea from the autopsy tomorrow morning. But I am guessing he did it shortly after he checked in. Six days ago. In his first interview, the manager said Moore checked in six days ago and hadn’t been seen outside the room since. This jibes with the condition of the room, the condition of the body, the date on the newspaper.”
The autopsy was tomorrow morning. That told Bosch that Irving had this one greased. It usually took three days to get an autopsy done. And the Christmas holiday would back things up even further.
Irving seemed to know what he was thinking.
“The acting chief medical examiner has agreed to do it tomorrow morning. I explained there would be speculation in the media that would not be fair to the man’s wife or the department. She agreed to cooperate. After all, the acting chief wants to become the permanent chief. She knows the value of cooperation.”
Bosch didn’t say anything.
“So we will know then. But nobody, the manager included, saw Sergeant Moore after he checked in six days ago. He left specific instructions that he was absolutely not to be disturbed. I think he went ahead and did it shortly after checking in.”
“So why didn’t they find him sooner?”
“He paid for a month in advance. He demanded no disturbances. A place like this, they don’t offer daily maid service anyway. The manager thought he was a drunk who was either going to go on a binge or try to dry out. Either way, a place like this, the manager can’t be choosey. A month, that’s $600. He took the money.
“And they made good on their promise not to go to room seven until today, when the manager’s wife noticed that Mr. Moya’s car—the Mustang—had been broken into last night. That and, of course, they were curious. They knocked on his door to tell him but he didn’t answer. They used a passkey. The smell told them what was happening as soon as they opened the door.”
Irving said that Moore/Moya had set the air-conditioner on its highest and coldest level to slow decomposition and keep the odor contained in the room. Wet towels had been laid across the floor at the bottom of the front door to further seal the room.
“Nobody heard the shot?” Bosch asked.
“Not that we found. The manager’s wife is nearly deaf and he says he didn’t hear anything. They live in the last room on the other side. We’ve got stores on one side, an office building on the other. They all close at night. Alley behind. We are going through the registry and will try to track other guests that were here the first few days Moore was. But the manager says he never rented the rooms on either side of Moore’s. He figured Moore might get loud if he was detoxing cold turkey.
“And, Detective, it is a busy street—bus stop right out front. It could have been that nobody heard a thing. Or if they heard it, didn’t know what it was.”
After some thought, Bosch said, “I don’t get renting the place for a month. I mean, why? If the guy was going to off himself, why try to hide it for so long? Why not do it and let them find your body, end of story?”
“That’s a tough one,” Irving said. “Near as I can figure it, he wanted to cut his wife a break.”
Bosch raised his eyebrows. He didn’t get it.
“They were separated,” Irving said. “Maybe he didn’t want to put this on her during the holidays. So he tried to hold up the news a couple weeks, maybe a month.”
That seemed pretty thin to Bosch but he had no better explanation just then. He could think of nothing else to ask at that moment. Irving changed the subject, signaling that Bosch’s visit to the crime scene was over.
“So, Detective, how is the shoulder?”
“I heard you went down to Mexico to polish your Spanish while you mended.”
Bosch didn’t reply. He wasn’t interested in this banter. He wanted to tell Irving that he didn’t buy the scene, even with all the evidence and explanations that had been gathered. But he couldn’t say why, and until he could, he would be better off keeping quiet.
Irving was saying, “I have never thought that enough of our officers—the non-Latins, of course—make a good enough effort to learn the second language of this city. I want to see the whole depart—”
“Got a note,” Donovan called from the room.
Irving broke away from Bosch without another word and headed to the door. Sheehan followed him into the room along with a suit Bosch recognized as an Internal Affairs detective named John Chastain. Harry hesitated a moment before following them in.
One of the ME techs was standing in the hallway near the bathroom door with the others gathered around him. Bosch wished he hadn’t thrown away his handkerchief. He kept the cigarette in his mouth and breathed in deeply.
“Right rear pocket,” the tech said. “There’s putrefaction but you can make it out. It was folded over twice so the inside surface is pretty clean.”
Irving backed out of the hallway holding a plastic evidence bag up and looking at the small piece of paper inside it. The others crowded around him. Except for Bosch.
The paper was gray like Moore’s skin. Bosch thought he could see one line of blue writing on the paper. Irving looked over at him as if seeing him for the first time.
“Bosch, you will have to go.”
Harry wanted to ask what the note said but knew he would be rejected. He saw a satisfied smirk on Chastain’s face.
At the yellow tape he stopped to light another cigarette. He heard the clicking of high heels and turned to see one of the reporters, a blonde he recognized from Channel 2, coming at him with a wireless microphone in her hand and a model’s phoney smile on her face. She moved in on him in a well-practiced and quick maneuver. But before she could speak Harry said, “No comment. I’m not on the case.”
“Can’t you just —”
The smile dropped off her face as quick as a guillotine’s blade. She turned away angrily. But within a moment her heels were clicking sharply again as she moved with her cameraman into position for the A-shot, the one her report would lead with. The body was coming out. The strobes flared and the six cameramen formed a gauntlet. The two medical examiner’s men, pushing the covered body on a gurney, passed through it on the way to the waiting blue van. Harry noticed that a grim-faced Irving, walking stoically erect, trailed behind—but not far enough behind to be left out of the video frame. After all, any appearance on the nightly news was better than none, especially for a man with an eye on the chief’s office.
After that, the crime scene began to break up. Everybody was leaving. The reporters, cops, everybody. Bosch ducked under the yellow tape and was looking around for Donovan or Sheehan when Irving came up on him.
“Detective, on second thought, there is something I need you to do that will help expedite matters. Detective Sheehan has to finish securing the scene here. But I want to beat the media to Moore’s wife. Can you handle next-of-kin notification? Of course, nothing is definite but I want his wife to know what is happening.”
Bosch had made such a show of indignation earlier, he couldn’t back away now. He wanted part of the case; he got it.
“Give me the address,” he said.
A few minutes later Irving was gone and the uniforms were pulling down the yellow tape. Bosch saw Donovan heading to his van, carrying the shotgun, which was wrapped in plastic, and several smaller evidence bags.
Harry used the van’s bumper to tie his shoe while Donovan stowed the evidence bags in a wooden box that had once carried Napa Valley wine.
“What do you want, Harry? I just found out you weren’t supposed to be here.”
“That was before. This is now. I just got put on the case. I got next-of-kin duty.”
“Some case to be put on.”
“Yeah, well, you take what they give. What did he say?”
“Look, Harry, this is —”
“Look, Donnie, Irving gave me next of kin. I think that cuts me in. I just want to know what he said. I knew this guy, okay? It won’t go anywhere else.”
Donovan exhaled heavily, reached into the box and began sorting through the evidence bags.
“Really didn’t say much at all. Nothing that profound.”
He turned on a flashlight and put the beam on the bag with the note in it. Just one line.
I found out who I was
The address Irving had given him was in Canyon Country, nearly an hour’s drive north of Hollywood. Bosch took the Hollywood Freeway north, then connected with the Golden State and took it through the dark cleft of the Santa Susanna Mountains. Traffic was sparse. Most people were inside their homes eating roasted turkey and dressing, he guessed. Bosch thought of Cal Moore and what he did and what he left behind.
I found out who I was.
Bosch had no clue to what the dead cop had meant by the one line scratched on a small piece of paper and placed in the back pocket. Harry’s single experience with Moore was all he had to go on. And what was that? A couple of hours drinking beer and whiskey with a morose and cynical cop. There was no way to know what had happened in the meantime. To know how the shell that protected him had corroded.
He thought back on his meeting with Moore. It had been only a few weeks before and it had been business, but Moore’s problems managed to come up. They met on a Tuesday night at the Catalina Bar & Grill. Moore was working but the Catalina was just a half block south of the Boulevard. Harry was waiting at the bar in the back corner. They never charged cops the cover.
Moore slid onto the next stool and ordered a shot and a Henry’s, the same as Bosch had on the bar in front of him. He was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt that hung loose over his belt. Standard undercover attire and he looked at home in it. The thighs of the jeans were worn gray. The sleeves of the sweatshirt were cut off and peeking from below the frayed fringe of the right arm was the face of a devil tattooed in blue ink. Moore was handsome in a rugged way, but he was at least three days past needing a shave and he had a look about him, an unsteadiness—like a hostage released after long captivity and torment. In the Catalina crowd he stood out like a garbage man at a wedding. Harry noticed that the narc hooked gray snakeskin boots on the side rungs of the stool. They were bulldoggers, the boots favored by rodeo ropers because the heels angled forward to give better traction when taking down a roped calf. Harry knew street narcs called them “dustbusters” because they served the same purpose when they were taking down a suspect high on angel dust.
They smoked and drank and small-talked at first, trying to establish connections and boundaries. Bosch noticed that the name Calexico truly represented Moore’s mixed heritage. Dark complexioned, with hair black as ink, thin hips and wide shoulders, Moore’s dark, ethnic image was contradicted by his eyes. They were the eyes of a California surfer, green like antifreeze. And there was not a trace of Mexico in his voice.
“There’s a border town named Calexico. Right across from Mexicali. Ever been there?”
“I was born there. That’s how come I got the name.”
“I’ve never been.”
“Don’t worry, you haven’t missed much. Just a border town like all the rest. I still go on down every now and then.”
“Nah, not anymore.”
Moore signaled the bartender for another round, then lit a cigarette off the one he had smoked down to the filter.
“I thought you had something to ask about,” he said.
“Yeah, I do. I gotta case.”
The drinks arrived and Moore threw his shot back in one smooth movement. He had ordered another before the bartender had finished writing on the tab.
Bosch began to outline his case. He had caught it a few weeks earlier and so far had gotten nowhere. The body of a thirty-year-old male, later identified through fingerprints as James Kappalanni of Oahu, Hawaii, was dumped beneath the Hollywood Freeway crossing over Gower Street. He had been strangled with an eighteen-inch length of baling wire with wooden dowels at the ends, the better to grip the wire with after it had been wrapped around somebody’s neck. Very neat and efficient job. Kappalanni’s face was the bluish gray color of an oyster. The blue Hawaiian, the acting chief medical examiner had called him when she did the autopsy. By then Bosch knew through NCIC and DOJ computer runs that in life he had also been known as Jimmy Kapps, and that he had a drug record that printed out about as long as the wire somebody had used to take his life.
“So it wasn’t too big a surprise when the ME cut him open and found forty-two rubbers in his gut,” Bosch said.
“What was in them?”
“This Hawaiian shit called glass. A derivative of ice, I am told. I remember when ice was a fad a few years back. Anyway, this Jimmy Kapps was a courier. He was carrying this glass inside his stomach, had probably just gotten off the plane from Honolulu when he walks into the baling wire.
“I hear this glass is expensive stuff and the market for it is extremely competitive. I guess I’m looking for some background, maybe shake an idea loose here. ’Cause I’ve got nothing on this. No ideas on who did Jimmy Kapps.”
“Who told you about glass?”
“Major narcs downtown. Not much help.”
“Nobody really knows shit, that’s why. They tell you about black ice?”
“A little. That’s the competition, they said. Comes from the Mexicans. That’s about all they said.”
Moore looked around for the bartender, who was down at the other end of the bar and seemed to be purposely ignoring them.
“It’s all relatively new,” he said. “Basically, black ice and glass are the same thing. Same results. Glass comes from Hawaii. And black ice comes from Mexico. The drug of the twenty-first century, I guess you’d call it. If I was a salesman I’d say it covers all the demographics. Basically, somebody took coke, heroin and PCP and rocked ’em all up together. A powerful little rock. It’s supposed to do everything. It’s got a crack high but the heroin also gives it legs. I’m talking about hours, not minutes. Then it’s got just a pinch of dust, the PCP, to give it a kick toward the end of the ride. Man, once it really takes hold on the streets, they get a major market going, then, shit, forget about it, there’ll be nothing but a bunch of zombies walking around.”
Bosch said nothing. Much of this he already knew but Moore was going good and he didn’t want to knock him off track with a question. He lit a cigarette and waited.
“Started in Hawaii,” Moore said. “Oahu. They were making ice over there. Just plain ice, they called it. That’s rocking up PCP and coke. Very profitable. Then it evolved. They added heroin. Good stuff, too. Asian white. Now they call it glass. I guess that was their motto or something; smooth as glass.
“But in this business there is no lock on anything. There is only price and profit.”
He held up both hands to signify the importance of these two factors.
“The Hawaiians had a good thing but they had trouble getting it to the mainland. You got boats and you got planes and these can be regulated to a good degree. Or, at least, to some degree. I mean, they can be checked and watched. So they end up with couriers like this Kapps who swallow the shit and fly it over. But even that is harder than it seems. First of all, you got a limited quantity that you can move. What, forty-two balloons in this guy? What was that, about a hundred grams? That’s not much for the trouble. Plus you got the DEA, they got people in the planes, airports. They’re looking for people like Kapps. They call them ‘rubber smugglers.’ They’ve got a whole shakedown profile. You know, a list of what to look for. People sweating but with dry lips, licking their lips—the anti-diarrhetic does that. That Kaopectate shit. The rubber smugglers swig that shit like it’s Pepsi. It gives them away.
“Anyway, what I am saying is that the Mexicans got it a whole helluva lot easier. Geography is on their side. They have boats and planes and they also have a two-thousand-mile border that is almost nonexistent as a form of control and interdiction. They say the feds stop one pound of coke for every ten that gets by them. Well, when it comes to black ice, they aren’t even getting an ounce at the border. I know of not one single black ice bust at the border.”
He paused to light a cigarette. Bosch saw a tremor in his hand as he held the match.
“What the Mexicans did was steal the recipe. They started replicating glass. Only they’re using homegrown brown heroin, including the tar. That’s the pasty shit at the bottom of the cooking barrel. Lot of impurities in it, turns it black. That’s how they come up with calling it black ice. They make it cheaper, they move it cheaper and they sell it cheaper. They’ve ’bout put the Hawaiians out of the business. And it’s their own fucking product.”
Moore seemed to conclude there.
Harry asked, “Have you heard anything about the Mexicans taking down the Hawaiian couriers, maybe trying to corner the market that way?”
“Not up here, at least. See, you gotta remember, the Mexicans make the shit. But they ain’t the ones necessarily selling it on the street. You’re talking several levels removed when you get down to the street.”
“But they still have to be calling the shots.”
“True. That’s true.”
“So who put down Jimmy Kapps?”
“Got me, Bosch. This is the first I’ve heard about it.”
“Your team ever make any arrests of black ice dealers? Shake anybody down?”
“A few, but you’re talking about the lowest rungs on the ladder. White boys. Rock dealers on the Boulevard are usually white boys. It’s easier for them to do business. Now, that doesn’t mean it isn’t Mexicans givin’ it to them. It also doesn’t mean it ain’t South-Central gangs givin’ it. So the arrests we’ve made probably wouldn’t help you any.”
He banged his empty beer mug on the bar until the bartender looked up and was signaled for another round. Moore seemed to be getting morose and Bosch hadn’t gotten much help from him.
“I need to go further up the ladder. Can you get me anything? I don’t have shit on this and it’s three weeks old. I’ve got to come up with something or drop it and move on.”
Moore was looking straight ahead at the bottles that lined the rear wall of the bar.
“Look, I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “But you gotta remember, we don’t spend time on black ice. Coke and dust, some reefer, that’s what we deal in day in and day out. Not the exotics. We’re a numbers squad, man. But I’ve got a connection at DEA. I’ll talk to him.”
Bosch looked at his watch. It was near midnight and he wanted to go. He watched Moore light a cigarette though he still had one burning in the crowded ashtray. Harry still had a full beer and shot in front of him but stood up and began digging in his pockets for money.
“Thanks, man,” he said. “See what you can do and let me know.”
“Sure,” Moore said. After a beat he said, “Hey, Bosch?”
“I know about you. You know,… what’s been said around the station. I know you’ve been in the bucket. I wonder, did you ever come up against an IAD suit name of Chastain?”
Bosch thought a moment. John Chastain was one of the best. In IAD, complaints were classified at the end as sustained, unsustained or unfounded. He was known as “Sustained” Chastain.
“I’ve heard of him,” he said. “He’s a three, runs one of the tables.”
“Yeah, I know he’s a detective third grade. Shit, everybody knows that. What I mean is, did he… is he one of them that came after you?”
“No, it was always somebody else.”
Moore nodded. He reached over and took the shot that had been in front of Bosch. He emptied it, then said, “Chastain, from what you’ve heard, do you think he is good at what he does? Or is he just another suit with a shine on his ass?”
“I guess it depends on what you mean by good. But, no, I don’t think any of them are good. Job like that, they can’t be. But give ’em the chance, any one of them will burn you down and bag your ashes.”
Bosch was torn between wanting to ask what was going on and not wanting to step into it. Moore said nothing. He was giving Bosch the choice. Harry decided to keep out of it.
He said, “If they’ve got a hard-on for you, there isn’t much you can do. Call the union and get a lawyer. Do what he says and don’t give the suits anything you don’t have to.”
Moore nodded silently once more. Harry put down two twenty-dollar bills that he hoped would cover the tab and still leave something for the bartender. Then he walked out.
He never saw Moore again.
Bosch connected with the Antelope Valley Freeway and headed northeast. On the Sand Canyon overpass he looked across the freeway and saw a white TV van heading south. There was a large 9 painted on its side. It meant Moore’s wife would already know by the time Bosch arrived. And Bosch felt a slight twinge of guilt at that, mixed with relief that he would not be the one breaking the news.
The thought made him realize that he did not know the widow’s name. Irving had given him only an address, apparently assuming Bosch knew her name. As he turned off the freeway onto the Sierra Highway, he tried to recall the newspaper stories he had read during the week. They had carried her name.
But it didn’t come to him. He remembered that she was a teacher—an English teacher, he thought—at a high school in the Valley. He remembered that the reports said they had no children. And he remembered that she had been separated a few months from her husband. But the name, her name, eluded him.
He turned on to Del Prado, watched the numbers painted on the curbs and then finally pulled to a stop in front of the house that had once been Cal Moore’s home.
It was a common ranch-style home, the kind minted by the hundreds in the planned communities that fed the freeways to overflow each morning. It looked large, like maybe four bedrooms, and Bosch thought that was odd for a childless couple. Maybe there had been plans at one time.
The light above the front door was not on. No one was expected. No one was wanted. Still, in the moonlight and shadow, Bosch could see the front lawn and knew that the mower was at least a month past due. The tall grass surrounded the post of the white Ritenbaugh Realty sign that was planted near the sidewalk.
There were no cars in the driveway and the garage door was closed, its two windows dark empty sockets. A single dim light shone from behind the curtained picture window next to the front door. He wondered what she would be like and if she would feel guilt or anger. Or both.
He threw his cigarette into the street and then got out and stepped on it. Then he headed past the sad-looking For Sale sign to the door.
The mat on the porch below the front door said welcome but it was worn and nobody had bothered to shake the dust off it in some time. Bosch noticed all of this because he kept his head down after knocking. He knew that looking at anything would be better than looking at this woman.
Her voice answered after his second knock.
“Go away. No comment.”
Bosch had to smile, thinking how he had used that one himself tonight.
“Hello, Mrs. Moore? I’m not a reporter. I’m with the L.A. police.”
The door came open a few inches and her face was there, backlit and hidden in shadow. Bosch could see the chain lock stretching across the opening. Harry was ready with his badge case already out and opened.
“I am Harry Bosch. Um, I’m a detective, LAPD. And I’ve been sent out—could I come in? I need… to ask you a few questions and inform you of some, uh, developments in —”
“You’re late. I’ve had Channel 4 and 5 and 9 already out here. When you knocked I figured you were somebody else. Two or seven. I can’t think who else.”
“Can I come in, Mrs. Moore?”
He put his badge wallet away. She closed the door and he heard the chain slide out of its track. The door came open and she signaled him in with her arm. He stepped into an entryway of rust-colored Mexican tile. There was a round mirror on the wall and he saw her in it, closing and locking the door. He saw she held tissue in one hand.
“Will this take long?” she asked.
He said no and she led him to the living room, where she took a seat on an overstuffed chair covered in brown leather. It looked very comfortable and it was next to the fireplace. She motioned him toward a couch that faced the fireplace. This was where the guests always sat. The fireplace had the glowing remnants of a dying fire. On the table next to where she sat he saw a box of tissues and a stack of papers. More like reports or maybe scripts; some were in plastic covers.
“Book reports,” she said, having noticed his gaze. “I assigned books to my students with the reports due before the Christmas vacation. It was going to be my first Christmas alone and I guess I wanted to make sure I had something to keep me busy.”
Bosch nodded. He looked around the rest of the room. In his job, he learned a lot about people from their rooms, the way they lived. Often the people could no longer tell him themselves. So he learned from his observations and believed that he was good at it.
The room in which they sat was spare. Not much furniture. It didn’t look like a lot of entertaining of friends or family happened here. There was a large bookshelf at one end of the room that was filled by hardback novels and oversized art books. No TV. No sign of children. It was a place for quiet work or fireside talks.
But no more.
In the corner opposite the fireplace was a five-foot Christmas tree with white lights and red balls, a few homemade ornaments that looked as if they might have been passed down through generations. He liked the idea that she had put up the tree by herself. She had continued her life and its routines amidst the ruins of her marriage. She had put the tree up for herself. It made him feel her strength. She had a hard shell of hurt and maybe loneliness but there was a sense of strength, too. The tree said she was the kind of woman who would survive this, would make it through. On her own. He wished he could remember her name.
“Before you start,” she said, “can I ask you something?”
The light from the reading lamp next to her chair was low wattage but he could clearly see the intensity of her brown eyes.
“Did you do that on purpose? Let the reporters come up here first so you wouldn’t have to do the dirty work? That’s what my husband used to call it. Telling families. He called it the dirty work and he said the detectives always tried to get out of it.”
Bosch felt his face grow warm. There was a clock on the fireplace mantel that now seemed to be ticking very loudly in the silence. He managed to say, “I was told only a short time ago to come here. I had a little trouble finding it. I —”
He stopped. She knew.
“I’m sorry. I guess you’re right. I took my time.”
“It’s okay. I shouldn’t put you on the spot. It must be a terrible job.”
Bosch wished he had a fedora like the ones the detectives in the old movies always had; that way he could hold it in his hands and fiddle with it and let his fingers trace its brim, give him something to do. He looked at her closely now and saw the quality of damaged beauty about her. Mid-thirties, he guessed, with brown hair and blonde highlights, she seemed agile, like a runner. Clearly defined jawline above the taut muscles of her neck. She had not used makeup to try to hide the lightly etched lines that curved under her eyes. She wore blue jeans and a baggy white sweatshirt that he thought might have been her husband’s once. Bosch wondered how much of Calexico Moore she still carried in her heart.
Harry actually admired her for taking the shot at him about the dirty work. He knew he deserved it. In the three minutes he had known her he thought she reminded him of someone but he wasn’t sure who. Someone from his past maybe. There was a quiet tenderness there beside her strength. He kept bringing his eyes back to hers. They were magnets.
“Anyway, I’m Detective Harry Bosch,” he began again, hoping she might introduce herself.
“Yes, I’ve heard of you. I remember the newspaper articles. And I’m sure my husband spoke of you—I think it was when they sent you out to Hollywood Division. Couple years ago. He said before that one of the studios had paid you a lot of money to use your name and do a TV movie about a case. He said you bought one of those houses on stilts up in the hills.”
Bosch nodded reluctantly and changed the subject.
“I don’t know what the reporters told you, Mrs. Moore, but I have been sent out to tell you that it appears your husband has been found and he is dead. I am sorry to have had to tell you this. I —”
“I knew and you knew and every cop in town knew it would come to this. I didn’t talk to the reporters. I didn’t need to. I told them no comment. When that many of them come to your house on Christmas night, you know it’s because of bad news.”
He nodded and looked down at the imaginary hat in his hands.
“So, are you going to tell me? Was it an official suicide? Did he use a gun?”
Bosch nodded and said, “It looks like it but nothing is definite un—”
“Until the autopsy. I know, I know. I’m a cop’s wife. Was, I mean. I know what you can say and can’t say. You people can’t even be straight with me. Until then there are always secrets to keep to yourselves.”
He saw the hard edge enter her eyes, the anger.
“That’s not true, Mrs. Moore. I’m just trying to soften the im—”
“Detective Bosch, if you want to tell me something, just tell me.”
“Yes, Mrs. Moore, it was with a gun. If you want the details, I can give you the details. Your husband, if it was your husband, took his face off with a shotgun. Gone completely. So, we have to make sure it was him and we have to make sure he did it himself, before we can say anything for sure. We are not trying to keep secrets. We just don’t have all the answers yet.”
She leaned back in her chair, away from light. In the veil of shadows Bosch saw the look on her face. The hardness and anger in her eyes had softened. Her shoulders seemed to untighten. He felt ashamed.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know why I told you that. I should have just —”
“That’s okay. I guess I deserved it.… I apologize, too.”
She looked at him then without anger in her eyes. He had broken through the shell. He could see that she needed to be with someone. The house was too big and too dark to be alone in right now. All the Christmas trees and book reports in the world couldn’t change that. But there was more than that making Bosch want to stay. He found that he was instinctively attracted to her. For Bosch it had never been an attraction of an opposite but the reverse of that myth. He had always seen something of himself in the women who attracted him. Why it was this way, he never understood. It was just there. And now this woman whose name he didn’t even know was there and he was being drawn to her. Maybe it was a reflection of himself and his own needs, but it was there and he had seen it. It hooked him and made him want to know what had etched the circles beneath such sharp eyes. Like himself, he knew, she carried her scars on the inside, buried deep, each one a mystery. She was like him. He knew.
“I’m sorry but I don’t know your name. The deputy chief just gave me the address and said go.”
She smiled at his predicament.
“Sylvia. Um, is that coffee I smell by any chance?”
“Yes. Would you like a cup?”
“That would be great, if it’s not too much trouble.”
“Not at all.”
She got up and as she passed in front of him so did his doubts.
“Listen, I’m sorry. Maybe I should go. You have a lot to think about and I’m intruding here. I’ve —”
“Please stay. I could use the company.”
She didn’t wait for an answer. The fire made a popping sound as the flames found the last pocket of air. He watched her head toward the kitchen. He waited a beat, took another look around the room and stood up and headed toward the lighted doorway of the kitchen.
“Black is fine.”
“Of course. You’re a cop.”
“You don’t like them much, do you. Cops.”
“Well, let’s just say I don’t have a very good record with them.”
Her back was to him and she put two mugs on the counter and poured coffee from a glass pot. He leaned against the doorway next to the refrigerator. He was unsure what to say, whether to press on with business or not.
“You have a nice home.”
“No. It’s a nice house, not a home. We’re selling it. I guess I should say I’m selling it now.”
She still hadn’t turned around.
“You know you can’t blame yourself for whatever he did.”
It was a meager offering and he knew it.
“Easier said than done.”
There was a long moment of silence then before Bosch decided to get on with it.
“There was a note.”
She stopped what she was doing but still did not turn.
“‘I found out who I was.’ That’s all he said.”
She didn’t say anything. One of the mugs was still empty.
“Does it mean anything to you?”
She finally turned to him. In the bright kitchen light he could see the salty tracks that tears had left on her face. It made him feel inadequate, that he was nothing and could do nothing to help heal her.
“I don’t know. My husband… he was caught on the past.”
“What do you mean?”
“He was just—he was always going back. He liked the past better than the present or the hope of the future. He liked to go back to the time he was growing up. He liked… He couldn’t let things go.”
He watched tears slide into the grooves below her eyes. She turned back to the counter and finished pouring the coffee.
“What happened to him?” he asked.
“What happens to anybody?” For a while after that she didn’t speak, then said, “I don’t know. He wanted to go back. He had a need for something back there.”
Everybody has a need for their past, Bosch thought. Sometimes it pulls harder on you than the future. She dried her eyes with tissue and then turned and gave him a mug. He sipped it before speaking.
“Once he told me he lived in a castle,” she said. “That’s what he called it, at least.”
“In Calexico?” he asked.
“Yes, but it was for a short while. I don’t know what happened. He never told me a lot about that part of his life. It was his father. At some point, he wasn’t wanted anymore by his father. He and his mother had to leave Calexico—the castle, or whatever it was—and she took him back across the border with her. He liked to say he was from Calexico but he really grew up in Mexicali. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there.”
“Just to drive through. Never stopped.”
“That’s the general idea. Don’t stop. But he grew up there.”
She stopped and he waited her out. She was looking down at her coffee, an attractive woman who looked weary of this. She had not yet seen that this was a beginning for her as well as an end.
“It was something he never got over. The abandonment. He often went back there to Calexico. I didn’t go but I know he did. Alone. I think he was watching his father. Maybe seeing what could have been. I don’t know. He kept pictures from when he was growing up. Sometimes at night when he thought I was asleep, he’d take them out and look at them.”
“Is he still alive, the father?”
She handed him a mug of coffee.
“I don’t know. He rarely spoke of his father and when he did he said his father was dead. But I don’t know if that was metaphorically dead or that he actually was dead. He was dead as far as Cal went. That was what mattered. It was a very private thing with Cal. He still felt the rejection, all these years later. I could not get him to talk about it. Or, when he would, he would just lie, say the old man meant nothing and that he didn’t care. But he did. I could tell. After a while, after years, I have to say that I stopped trying to talk with him about it. And he would never bring it up. He’d just go down there—sometimes for a weekend, sometimes a day. He’d never talk about it when he came back.”
“Do you have the photos?”
“No, he took them when he left. He’d never leave them.”
Bosch sipped some coffee to give himself time to think.
“It seems,” he said, “I don’t know, it seems like… could this have had anything to do with…”
“I don’t know. All I can tell you is that it had a lot to do with us. It was an obsession with him. It was more important to him than me. It’s what ended it for us.”
“What was he trying to find?”
“I don’t know. In the last few years he shut me out. And I have to say that after a while I shut him out. That’s how it ended.”
Bosch nodded and looked away from her eyes. What else could he do? Sometimes his job took him too far inside people’s lives and all he could do was stand there and nod. He was asking questions he felt guilty asking because he had no right to the answers. He was just the messenger boy here. He wasn’t supposed to find out why somebody would hold a double-barrel shotgun up to his face and pull the triggers.
Still, the mystery of Cal Moore and the pain on her face wouldn’t let him go. She was captivating in a way that went beyond her physical beauty. She was attractive, yes, but the hurt in her face, the tears and yet the strength in her eyes tugged at him. The thought that occurred to him was that she did not deserve this. How could Cal Moore have fucked up so badly?
He looked back at her.
“There was another thing he told me once. Uh, I’ve had some experience with the IAD, uh, that’s Internal —”
“I know what it is.”
“Yes, well, he asked me for some advice. Asked me about if I knew somebody that was asking questions about him. Name of Chastain. Did Cal tell you about this? What it was about?”
“No, he didn’t.”
Her demeanor was changing. Bosch could actually see the anger welling up from inside again. Her eyes were very sharp. He had struck a nerve.
“But you knew about it, right?”
“Chastain came here once. He thought I would cooperate with whatever it was he was doing. He said I made a complaint about my husband, which was a lie. He wanted to go through the house and I told him to leave. I don’t want to talk about this.”
“When did Chastain come?”
“I don’t know. Couple months ago.”
“You warned Cal?”
She hesitated and then nodded.
Then Cal came to the Catalina and asked me for advice, Harry realized.
“You sure you don’t know what it was about?”
“We were separated by then. We didn’t talk. It was over between us. All I did was tell Cal that this man had come and that he had lied about who made the complaint. Cal said that was all they do. Lie. He said don’t worry about it.”
Harry finished his coffee but held the mug in his hand. She had known her husband had somehow fallen, had betrayed their future with his past, but she had stayed loyal. She had warned him about Chastain. Bosch couldn’t fault her for that. He could only like her better.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“If you are investigating my husband’s death, I would assume you already know about IAD. You are either lying to me, too, or don’t know. If that’s the case, what are you doing here?”
He put the mug down on the counter. It gave him a few extra seconds.
“I was sent out by the assistant chief to tell you what was —”
“The dirty work.”
“Right. I got stuck with the dirty work. But like I said, I sort of knew your husband and…”
“I don’t think it’s a mystery you can solve, Detective Bosch.”
He nodded—the old standby.
“I teach English and Lit at Grant High in the Valley,” she said. “I assign my students a lot of books written about L.A. so they can get a feel for the history and character of their community. Lord knows, few of them were born here. Anyway, one of the books I assign is The Long Goodbye. It’s about a detective.”
“I’ve read it.”
“There is a line. I know it by heart. ‘There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.’ Whenever I read that I think of my husband. And me.”
She started to cry again. Silently, never taking her eyes off Bosch. This time he didn’t nod. He saw the need in her eyes and crossed the room and put his hand on her shoulder. It felt awkward, but then she moved into him and leaned her head against his chest. He let her keep crying until she pulled away.
An hour later, Bosch was home. He picked up the half-filled glass of wine and the bottle that had been sitting on the table since dinner. He went out on the back porch and sat and drank and thought about things until early into the morning hours. The glow of the fire across the pass was gone. But now something burned within himself.
Calexico Moore had apparently answered a question that all people carry deep within themselves—that Harry Bosch, too, had longed to answer. I found out who I was.
And it had killed him. It was a thought that pushed a fist into Bosch’s guts, into the most secret folds of his heart.
Excerpted from The Black Ice by Connelly, Michael Copyright © 2010 by Connelly, Michael. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted August 5, 2010
I Also Recommend:
This is the second novel I have read by Michael Connelly (I plan to read all of his works in order). I will not talk a lot about plot because I feel like excellent crime novels such as this one should not be spoiled. All I will say is this, Connelly has a great style, themes, plot, and his famous character, Harry Bosch, is one of the greatest detectives in literature. I read this novel while I was watching the second and third seasons of my favorite TV show, The Wire, and I actually saw a couple of similarities in the plot and I thought that it would have been nice to see Michael write for the Wire along with his peers George Pelecanos, Richard Price, and Dennis Lehane. Connelly and the three authors I have just named are, in my opinion, the finest crime writers today and of all time (you cannot forget James Ellroy, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler).
17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 21, 2010
Just recently started reading Connelly and the Bosch series. The Black Echo seemed to start out slow for me and gradually became quite a thrill ride to the very end. The Black Ice, however, grabs you from the beginning and does not let go. There is rich character development, including Det Bosch and others in the LAPD, a solid if not spectacular plot and unexpected developments throughout. This is one of those books that defines "page turner," as you get hooked and stay hooked.
Not too long ago I read a review that suggested The Black Ice was somewhat flat compared to books #1 (The Black Echo) and #3 (The Concrete Blonde) in the series. From my perspective, the ride started gradually out of the gate with The Black Echo and has steadily, and at times quickly, gathered a full head of steam. I'm jumping right into the Concrete Blonde because I can't wait to see where Connelly takes Bosch in the subsequent books.
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 22, 2012
I Also Recommend:
This is the second Harry Bosch novel I've read, and I have to say I'm really starting to like this guy! I won't reveal any of the plot, but I will say that much of the action occurs in parts of the US and Mexico that I am completely unfamiliar with (I'm from Texas). As a result, I pulled up a map several times to trace Bosch's locations -- which turned out to be a little fun! I'm glad I started this series in the correct order, because Connelly does make references to events in The Black Echo. In short, this is a well-written, fast-moving story that is a fun read and a great second dive into the adventures of Harry Bosch. I can't wait for the Concrete Blonde!
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 11, 2009
A bad Michael Connelly novel is still a good book. Sandwiched between his first - THE BLACK ECHO and third - THE CONCRETE BLONDE, Connelly's second book is a bit of a let down. Bosch is a little more cantankerous, a little more rebellious, a little less loveable than in the rest of the series. While the story has some merit it wasn't the page-turner I have come to expect from Connelly. Characters were poorly developed and often did not interact in a pleasing way. For example, Harry's interaction with fellow law enforcement officers is often antagonistic for no good reason. And his relationship with women is less than noble. Those readers not already familiar with Harry may find him to be too caustic for their tastes. I did and I love Harry Bosch.
Neophyte Harry Bosch aficionados should look elsewhere. Almost all of the others in the series are more entertaining. And if you like Harry, you will probably like Connelly's non-Bosch books as well, especially those featuring Rachel Walling or Jack McEvoy. After you have read the rest, come back to THE BLACK ICE.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 31, 2011
Michael Connelly continues the Harry Bosch series with this excellent story. A must read for detective fans. Harry is a brilliant detective with an uncanny ability to solve his cases.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 6, 2011
Great Read. Harry is a very interesting character. The book provides some understanding of police work, and a look at the problems that remained after the Viet Nam war.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2012
You can't get better then this. Excellent Series, right up there in with the old 87 th Precinct of so long ago. Just grittier. Makes me want to start over with the #1 and keep reading..
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 10, 2013
Posted January 25, 2013
I'm new to the Harry Bosch series, but it is fast becoming a favorite. If you like mystery and intrig you can't go wrong. I'm moving to #3 and can't wait.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2014
Posted November 27, 2013
Posted September 6, 2013
First Harry Bosch book I've read - it won't be the last! Excellent development of characters and story, with a surprise ending.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 2, 2013
Hey! Molly again with yet ANOTHER question! I am going to list all the reasons I think Nick likes me: <p> 1. After he was done eating lunch, he got out of his seat and sat next to me for the last 10-15 mins of lunch. 2. Whenever he cracks a joke, or is being funny, he looks at me. 3. He starts our conversations at least 68% of the time. 4. I dont see him flirt with any other girls. 5. When asked who he would take to 8th grade semiformal dance which is at the end of the year, he said: "I can only picture myself taking Molly. I kinda like her." 6. He defended me in 7th grade on field day. 7. He walked me to Spanish class on friday.(we are in the same class) 8. He looks into my eyes or at me often.(he looks at me mostly with sidelong glances. I think he's trying to play it cool but IDK.) Please go to next page if you cant see the next writing: <p> On my opinion, I think he likes me, but what about you guys? What do yu think? Please reply as fast a possible. Thank you.
0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 2, 2013
Posted August 31, 2013
Posted August 29, 2013
As usual, Michael Connelly shows he is one of the greatest mystery writers today. Will be reading all of his novels. Don't miss them!
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2013
I am hooked on the Harry Bosch Series and have gone back and started at the beginning. This one is a thriller! You never know until the end what the end will really be. Always a surprise.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2013
Posted August 10, 2013