By Connelly, Michael
Little, Brown and Company Copyright © 2011 Connelly, Michael
All right reserved. ISBN: 9780316069410
Christmas came once a month in the Open-Unsolved Unit. That was when the lieutenant made her way around the squad room like Santa Claus, parceling out the assignments like presents to the squad’s six detective teams. The cold hits were the lifeblood of the unit. The teams didn’t wait for callouts and fresh kills in Open-Unsolved. They waited for cold hits.
The Open-Unsolved Unit investigated unsolved murders going back fifty years in Los Angeles. There were twelve detectives, a secretary, a squad room supervisor, known as the whip, and the lieutenant. And there were ten thousand cases. The first five detective teams split up the fifty years, each pair taking ten randomly chosen years. Their task was to pull all the unsolved homicide cases from their assigned years out of archives, evaluate them and submit long-stored and forgotten evidence for reanalysis with contemporary technology. All DNA submissions were handled by the new regional lab out at Cal State. When DNA from an old case was matched to an individual whose genetic profile was carried in any of the nation’s DNA databases, it was called a cold hit. The lab put cold hit notices in the mail at the end of every month. They would arrive a day or two later at the Police Administration Building in downtown Los Angeles. Usually by 8 a.m. that day, the lieutenant would open the door of her private office and enter the squad room. She carried the envelopes in her hand. Each hit sheet was mailed individually in a yellow business envelope. Generally, the envelopes were handed to the same detectives who had submitted the DNA evidence to the lab. But sometimes there were too many cold hits for one team to handle at once. Sometimes detectives were in court or on vacation or on leave. And sometimes the cold hits revealed circumstances that required the utmost finesse and experience. That was where the sixth team came in. Detectives Harry Bosch and David Chu were the sixth team. They were floaters. They handled overflow cases and special investigations.
On Monday morning, October 3, Lieutenant Gail Duvall stepped out of her office and into the squad room, carrying only three yellow envelopes. Harry Bosch almost sighed at the sight of such a paltry return on the squad’s DNA submissions. He knew that with so few envelopes he would not be getting a new case to work.
Bosch had been back in the unit for almost a year following a two-year reassignment to Homicide Special. But coming back for his second tour of duty in Open-Unsolved, he had quickly fallen into the rhythm of the squad. It wasn’t a fly squad. There was no dashing out the door to get to a crime scene. In fact, there were no crime scenes. There were only files and archive boxes. It was primarily an eight-to-four gig with an asterisk, that asterisk meaning that there was more travel than with other detective squads. People who got away with murder, or at least thought they had, tended not to stick around. They moved elsewhere and often the OU detectives had to travel to retrieve them.
A big part of the rhythm was the monthly cycle of waiting for the yellow envelopes to come out. Sometimes Bosch found it hard to sleep during the nights leading up to Christmas. He never took time off during the first week of the month and never came to work late if there was a chance that the yellow envelopes were in. Even his teenage daughter noticed his monthly cycle of anticipation and agitation, and had likened it to a menstrual cycle. Bosch didn’t see the humor in this and was embarrassed whenever she brought it up.
Now his disappointment at the sight of so few envelopes in the lieutenant’s hand was something palpable in his throat. He wanted a new case. He needed a new case. He needed to see the look on the killer’s face when he knocked on the door and showed his badge, the embodiment of unexpected justice come calling after so many years. It was addictive and Bosch was craving it now.
The lieutenant handed the first envelope to Rick Jackson. He and his partner, Rich Bengtson, were solid investigators who had been with the unit since its inception. Bosch had no complaint there. The next envelope was placed on an empty desk belonging to Teddy Baker. She and her partner, Greg Kehoe, were on their way back from a pickup in Tampa—an airline pilot who had been connected through fingerprints to the 1991 strangulation of a flight attendant in Marina del Rey.
Bosch was about to suggest to the lieutenant that Baker and Kehoe might have their hands full with the Marina case and that the envelope should be given to another team, namely his, when the lieutenant looked at him and used the last remaining envelope to beckon him to her office.
“Can you guys step in for a minute? You, too, Tim.”
Tim Marcia was the squad whip, the detective three who handled mostly supervisory and fill-in duties in the squad. He mentored the young detectives and made sure the old ones didn’t get lazy. With Jackson and Bosch being the only two investigators in that latter classification, Marcia had very little to worry about there. Both Jackson and Bosch were in the unit because they carried a drive to clear cases.
Bosch was up out of his seat before the lieutenant had finished her question. He headed toward the lieutenant’s office with Chu and Marcia trailing behind.
“Close the door,” Duvall said. “Sit down.”
Duvall had a corner office with windows that looked across Spring Street at the Los Angeles Times Building. Paranoid that reporters were watching from the newsroom across the way, Duvall kept her shades permanently lowered. It made the office dim and cavelike. Bosch and Chu took the two seats positioned in front of the lieutenant’s desk. Marcia followed them in, moved to the side of Duvall’s desk and leaned against an old evidence safe.
“I want you two to handle this hit,” she said, proffering the yellow envelope to Bosch. “There’s something wrong there and I want you to keep quiet about it until you find out what it is. Keep Tim in the loop but keep it low-key.”
The envelope had already been opened. Chu leaned over to look as Harry lifted the flap and pulled out the hit sheet. It listed the case number for which DNA evidence had been submitted, plus the name, age, last known address and criminal history of the person whose genetic profile matched it. Bosch first noticed that the case number had an 89 prefix, meaning it was a case from 1989. There were no details about the crime, just the year. But Bosch knew that 1989 cases belonged to the team of Ross Shuler and Adriana Dolan. He knew this because 1989 had been a busy year for him working murders for the Homicide Special team, and he had recently checked on one of his own unsolved cases and learned that jurisdiction over cases from that year belonged to Shuler and Dolan. They were known in the unit as “the kids.” They were young, passionate and very skillful investigators, but between them they had fewer than eight years’ experience working homicides. If there was something unusual about this cold hit, it was not surprising that the lieutenant wanted Bosch on it. Bosch had worked more killings than everybody in the unit combined. That is, if you took out Jackson. He had been around forever.
Bosch next studied the name on the hit sheet. Clayton S. Pell. It meant nothing to him. But Pell’s record included numerous arrests and three separate convictions for indecent exposure, false imprisonment and forcible rape. He had spent six years in prison for the rape before being released eighteen months earlier. He had a four-year parole tail and his last known address came from the state probation and parole board. He was living in a halfway house for sexual offenders in Panorama City.
Based on Pell’s record, Bosch believed the 1989 case was likely a sex-related murder. He could feel his insides beginning to tighten. He was going to go out and grab Clayton Pell and bring him to justice.
“Do you see it?” Duvall asked.
“See what?” Bosch asked. “Was this a sex killing? This guy has the classic pred—”
“The birth date,” Duvall said.
Bosch looked back down at the hit sheet as Chu leaned over farther.
“Yeah, right here,” Bosch said. “November nine, nineteen eighty-one. What’s that got—”
“He’s too young,” Chu said.
Bosch glanced at him and then back at the sheet. He suddenly got it. Clayton Pell was born in 1981. He was only eight years old at the time of the murder on the hit sheet.
“Exactly,” Duvall said. “So I want you to get the book and box from Shuler and Dolan and very quietly figure out what we have here. I’m hoping to God they didn’t get two cases mixed up.”
Bosch knew that if Shuler and Dolan had somehow sent in genetic material from the old case labeled under a more recent case, then both cases would be tainted beyond any hope of eventual prosecution.
“Like you were about to say,” Duvall continued, “this guy on the hit sheet is no doubt a predator, but I don’t think he got away with a killing when he was only eight years old. So something doesn’t fit. Find it and come back to me before you do anything. If they screwed up and we can correct it, then we won’t need to worry about IAD or anybody else. We’ll just keep it right here.”
She may have appeared to be trying to protect Shuler and Dolan from Internal Affairs, but she was also protecting herself, and Bosch knew it. There would not be much vertical movement in the department for a lieutenant who had presided over an evidence-handling scandal in her own unit.
“What other years are assigned to Shuler and Dolan?” Bosch asked.
“On the recent side, they’ve got ’ninety-seven and two thousand,” Marcia said. “This could have come from a case they were working from one of those two years.”
Bosch nodded. He could see the scenario. The reckless handling of genetic evidence from one case cross-pollinates with another. The end result would be two tainted cases and scandal that would taint anybody near it.
“What do we say to Shuler and Dolan?” Chu asked. “What’s the reason we’re taking the case off them?”
Duvall looked up at Marcia for an answer.
“They’ve got a trial coming up,” he offered. “Jury selection starts Thursday.”
“I’ll tell them I want them clear for that.”
“And what if they say they still want the case?” Chu asked. “What if they say they can handle it?”
“I’ll put them straight,” Duvall said. “Anything else, Detectives?”
Bosch looked up at her.
“We’ll work the case, Lieutenant, and see what’s what. But I don’t investigate other cops.”
“That’s fine. I’m not asking you to. Work the case and tell me how the DNA came back to an eight-year-old kid, okay?”
Bosch nodded and started to stand up.
“Just remember,” Duvall added, “you talk to me before you do anything with what you learn.”
“You got it,” Bosch said.
They were about to leave the room.
“Harry,” the lieutenant said. “Hang back a second.”
Bosch looked at Chu and raised his eyebrows. He didn’t know what this was about. The lieutenant came around from behind her desk and closed the door after Chu and Marcia had left. She stayed standing and businesslike.
“I just wanted you to know that your application for an extension on your DROP came through. They gave you four years retroactive.”
Bosch looked at her, doing the math. He nodded. He had asked for the maximum—five years nonretroactive—but he’d take what they gave. It wouldn’t keep him much past high school but it was better than nothing.
“Well, I’m glad,” Duvall said. “It gives you thirty-nine more months with us.”
Her tone indicated that she had read disappointment in his face.
“No,” he said quickly. “I’m glad. I was just thinking about where that would put me with my daughter. It’s good. I’m happy.”
That was her way of saying the meeting was over. Bosch thanked her and left the office. As he stepped back into the squad room, he looked across the vast expanse of desks and dividers and file cabinets. He knew it was home and that he would get to stay—for now.
The Open-Unsolved Unit shared access to the two fifth-floor conference rooms with all other units in the Robbery-Homicide Division. Usually detectives had to reserve time in one of the rooms, signing on the clipboard hooked on the door. But this early on a Monday, they both were open and Bosch, Chu, Shuler and Dolan commandeered the smaller of the two rooms without making a reservation.
They brought with them the murder book and the small archival evidence box from the 1989 case.
“Okay,” Bosch said when everyone was seated. “So you are cool with us running with this case? If you’re not, we can go back to the lieutenant and say you really want to work it.”
“No, it’s okay,” Shuler said. “We both are involved in the trial, so it’s better this way. It’s our first case in the unit and we want to see it through to that guilty verdict.”
Bosch nodded as he casually opened the murder book.
“You want to give us the rundown on this one, then?”
Shuler gave Dolan a nod and she began to summarize the 1989 case as Bosch flipped through the pages of the binder.
“We have a nineteen-year-old victim named Lily Price. She was snatched off the street while walking home from the beach in Venice on a Sunday afternoon. At the time, they narrowed the grab point down to the vicinity of Speedway and Voyage. Price lived on Voyage with three roommates. One was with her on the beach and two were in the apartment. She disappeared between those two points. She said she was going back to use the bathroom and she never made it.”
“She left her towel and a Walkman on the beach,” Shuler said. “Sunscreen. So it was clear she was intending to come back. She never did.”
“Her body was found the next morning on the rocks down at the cut,” Dolan said. “She was naked and had been raped and strangled. Her clothes were never found. The ligature was removed.”
Bosch flipped through several plastic pages containing faded Polaroid shots of the crime scene. Looking at the victim, he couldn’t help but think of his own daughter, who at fifteen had a full life in front of her. There had been a time when looking at photos like this fueled him, gave him the fire he needed to be relentless. But since Maddie had come to live with him, it was increasingly more difficult for him to look at victims.
It didn’t stop him from building the fire, however.
“Where did the DNA come from?” he asked. “Semen?”
“No, the killer used a condom or didn’t ejaculate,” Dolan said. “No semen.”
“It came from a small smear of blood,” Shuler said. “It was found on her neck, right below the right ear. She had no wounds in that area. It was assumed that it had come from the killer, that he had been cut in the struggle or maybe was already bleeding. It was just a drop. A smear, really. She was strangled with a ligature. If she was strangled from behind, then his hand could have been against her neck there. If there was a cut on his hand…”
“Transfer deposit,” Chu said.
Bosch found the Polaroid that showed the victim’s neck and the smear of blood. The photo was washed out by time and he could barely see the blood. A ruler had been placed on the young woman’s neck so that the blood smear could be measured in the photo. It was less than an inch long.
“So this blood was collected and stored,” he said, a statement meant to draw further explanation.
“Yes,” Shuler said. “Because it was a smear it was swabbed. Back then, they typed it. O positive. The swab was stored in a tube and we found it still in Property when we pulled the case. The blood had turned to powder.”
He tapped the top of the archive box with a pen.
Bosch’s phone started to vibrate in his pocket. Normally, he would let the call go to message, but his daughter was home sick from school and alone. He needed to make sure she wasn’t calling. He pulled the phone out of his pocket and glanced at the screen. It wasn’t his daughter. It was a former partner, Kizmin Rider, now a lieutenant assigned to the OCP—Office of the Chief of Police. He decided he would return her call after the meeting. They had lunch together about once a month and he assumed she was free today, or calling because she’d heard about him getting approved for another four years on the DROP. He shoved the phone back into his pocket.
“Did you open the tube?” he asked.
“Of course not,” Shuler said.
“Okay, so four months ago you sent the tube containing the swab and what was left of the blood out to the regional lab, right?” he asked.
“That’s right,” Shuler said.
Bosch flipped through the murder book to the autopsy report. He was acting like he was more interested in what he was seeing than what he was saying.
“And at that time, did you submit anything else to the lab?”
“From the Price case?” Dolan asked. “No, that was the only biological evidence they came up with back at the time.”
Bosch nodded, hoping she would keep talking.
“But back then it didn’t lead to anything,” she said. “They never came up with a suspect. Who’d they come up with on the cold hit?”
“We’ll get to that in a second,” Bosch said. “What I meant was, did you submit to the lab from any other cases you were working? Or was this all you had going?”
“No, that was it,” Shuler said, his eyes squinting in suspicion. “What’s going on here, Harry?”
Bosch reached into his inside coat pocket and pulled out the hit sheet. He slid it across the table to Shuler.
“The hit comes back to a sexual predator who would look real good for this except for one thing.”
Shuler unfolded the sheet and he and Dolan leaned together to read it, just as Bosch and Chu had earlier.
“What’s that?” Dolan said, not picking up on the significance of the birth date yet. “This guy looks perfect.”
“He’s perfect now,” Bosch said. “But back then he was only eight years old.”
“You’re kidding,” Dolan said.
“What the fuck?” Shuler added.
Dolan pulled the sheet away from her partner as if to see it clearer and to double-check the birth date. Shuler leaned back and looked at Bosch with those suspicious eyes.
“So you think we fucked up and mixed up cases,” he said.
“Nope,” Bosch said. “The lieutenant asked us to check out the possibility but I don’t see any fuckup on this end.”
“So it happened at the lab,” Shuler said. “Do you realize that if they screwed things up at regional, every defense lawyer in the county is going to be able to raise doubt about DNA matches that come out of there?”
“Yeah, I kind of figured that,” Bosch said. “Which is why you should keep this under your hats until we know what happened. There are other possibilities.”
Dolan held up the hit sheet.
“Yeah, what if there is no fuckup anywhere in the line? What if it’s really this kid’s blood on that dead girl?”
“An eight-year-old boy snatches a nineteen-year-old girl off the street, rapes and strangles her and dumps the body four blocks away?” Chu asked. “Never happened.”
“Well, maybe he was there,” Dolan said. “Maybe this was how he got his start as a predator. You see his record. This guy fits—except for his age.”
“Maybe,” he said. “Like I said, there are other possibilities. No reason to panic yet.”
His phone started to vibrate again. He pulled it and saw it was Kiz Rider again. Two calls in five minutes, he decided he’d better take it. This wasn’t about lunch.
“I have to step out for a second.”
He got up and answered the call as he stepped out of the conference room into the hallway.
“Harry, I’ve been trying to get to you with a heads-up.”
“I’m in a meeting. What heads-up?”
“You are about to get a forthwith from the OCP.”
“You want me to come up to ten?”
In the new PAB, the chief’s suite of offices was on the tenth floor, complete with a private courtyard balcony that looked out across the civic center.
“No, Sunset Strip. You’re going to be told to go to a scene and take over a case. And you’re not going to like it.”
“Look, Lieutenant, I just got a case this morning. I don’t need another one.”
He thought that using her formal title would communicate his wariness. Forthwiths and assignments out of the OCP always carried high jingo—political overtones. It was sometimes hard to navigate your way through it.
“He’s not going to give you a choice here, Harry.”
“He” being the chief of police.
“What’s the case?”
“A jumper at the Chateau Marmont.”
“Who was it?”
“Harry, I think you should wait for the chief to call you. I just wanted to—”
“Who was it, Kiz? If you know anything about me, I think you know I can keep a secret until it’s no longer a secret.”
She paused before answering.
“From what I understand, there is not a lot that is recognizable—he came down seven floors onto concrete. But the initial ID is George Thomas Irving. Age forty-six of eight—”
“Irving as in Irvin Irving? As in Councilman Irvin Irving?”
“Scourge of the LAPD in general and one Detective Harry Bosch in particular. Yes, one and the same. It’s his son, and Councilman Irving has insisted to the chief that you take over the investigation. The chief said no problem.”
Bosch paused with his mouth open for a moment before responding.
“Why does Irving want me? He’s spent most of his careers in police and politics trying to end mine.”
“This I don’t know, Harry. I only know that he wants you.”
“When did this come in?”
“The call came in at about five forty-five this morning. My understanding is that it is unclear when it actually happened.”
Bosch checked his watch. The case was more than three hours old. That was quite late to be coming into a death investigation. He’d be starting out at a disadvantage.
“What’s to investigate?” he asked. “You said it was a jumper.”
“Hollywood originally responded and they were going to wrap it up as a suicide. The councilman arrived and is not ready to sign off on that. That’s why he wants you.”
“And does the chief understand that I have a history with Irving that—”
“Yes, he does. He also understands that he needs every vote he can get on the council if we ever want to get overtime flowing to the department again.”
Bosch saw his boss, Lieutenant Duvall, enter the hallway from the Open-Unsolved Unit’s door. She made a There you are! gesture and started toward him.
“Looks like I’m about to get the official word,” Bosch said into the phone. “Thanks for the heads-up, Kiz. Doesn’t make any sense to me, but thanks. If you hear anything else, let me know.”
“Harry, you be careful with this. Irving’s old but he’s still got teeth.”
“I know that.”
Bosch closed his phone just as Duvall got to him, holding out a piece of paper.
“Sorry, Harry, change of plans. You and Chu need to go to this address and take a live case.”
“What are you talking about?”
Bosch looked at the address. It was the Chateau Marmont.
“Orders from the chief’s office. You and Chu are to proceed code three and take over a case. That’s all I know. That and that the chief himself is there, waiting.”
“What about the case you just gave us?”
“Move it to the back burner for now. I want you on it, but just get to it when you can.”
She pointed to the piece of paper in his hand.
“That’s the priority.”
“You sure about this, Lieutenant?”
“Of course I’m sure. The chief called me directly and he’s going to call you. So grab Chu and get going.”
As expected, Chu was full of questions while they were driving out of downtown on the 101 freeway. They had been partnered for nearly two years and by now Bosch was more than used to the manifestation of Chu’s insecurities in a nonstop verbal outpouring of questions, comments and observations. He usually spoke about one thing while his real concern was something else. Sometimes Bosch took it easy on him and told him what he wanted to know. Sometimes he let things play out till they became excruciating to his young partner.
“Harry, what the hell is going on? We got one case this morning and now they say we have another?”
“The LAPD is a paramilitary organization, Chu. That means when someone of higher rank tells you to do something, you do it. The order came down from the chief and we’re following it. That’s what’s going on. We’ll eventually get back to the cold hit. But for now we have a live one and it’s the priority.”
“Sounds like bullshit politics.”
“The confluence of police and politics. We are investigating the death of Councilman Irvin Irving’s son. You know about Irving, right?”
“Yeah, he was a deputy chief when I came on. Then he quit and ran for the council.”
“Well, he didn’t voluntarily quit. He was forced out and ran for the council so he could seek his revenge on the department. Pure and simple, he lives for one thing—putting the boot to the LAPD. You should also know that back in the day, he had a particular dislike for me. We had a few collisions, you could say.”
“Then why would he want you on his son’s case?”
“We’ll be finding that out pretty soon.”
“What did the lieutenant tell you about this case? Is it suicide?”
“She didn’t tell me anything. She just gave me the address.”
He decided not to reveal anything else he knew about the case. To do so might also reveal that he had a source inside the OCP. He didn’t want to share that with Chu yet and had always kept his monthly lunches with Kiz Rider private.
“This all sounds a little spooky.”
Bosch’s phone buzzed and he checked the screen. The ID was blocked but he took the call. It was the chief of police. Bosch had known him for years and had even worked cases with him. He had come up through the ranks, including a long stint in RHD as both an investigator and supervisor. He had been chief for only a couple years and still had the support of the rank and file.
“Harry, it’s Marty. What’s your location?”
“We’re on the one-oh-one. We left as soon as I got the word.”
“I need to clear before the media gets wind of this, which won’t be long now. No need to turn this from a one-ring to a three-ring circus. As you no doubt have been told, the victim is the son of Councilman Irving. The councilman insisted that I bring you into this.”
“He hasn’t really expressed his reasons to me. I know you two have a history.”
“But not a good one. What can you tell me about the case?”
“Not a lot.”
He gave Bosch the same summary as Rider had with few additional details.
“Who’s there from Hollywood?”
“Glanville and Solomon.”
Bosch was familiar with them from prior cases and task forces. Both investigators were known for their wide bodies and tall egos. They were called Crate and Barrel and enjoyed it. They were flashy dressers with big pinkie rings. And as far as Bosch knew, they were competent detectives. If they were about to wrap the investigation as a suicide, then they most likely had it right.
“They will continue under your direction,” the chief said. “I told them personally.”
“Harry, I need your best work on this. I don’t care about your history. Put it aside. We can’t have the councilman go off and say we laid down on this.”
Bosch was silent for a moment as he thought about what else to ask.
“Chief, where is the councilman?”
“We’ve got him down in the lobby.”
“Did he go into the room?”
“He insisted. I let him look around without touching anything and then we walked him out.”
“You shouldn’t have done that, Marty.”
Bosch knew he was taking a risk telling the chief of police he had done something wrong. It didn’t matter that they used to roll bodies over together.
“I guess you had no choice,” Bosch added.
“Just get here as soon as you can and keep me apprised. If you can’t get directly to me, use Lieutenant Rider as a go-between.”
But he didn’t offer his cell phone’s blocked number, so the message was clear to Bosch. He would no longer be talking directly with his old pal the chief. What wasn’t clear was what the chief was telling Bosch to do about the investigation.
“Chief,” he said, going formal to make sure it was clear he wasn’t calling on old loyalties. “If I get up there and it’s a suicide, I’m going to call it a suicide. If you want something else, get somebody else.”
“It’s okay, Harry. Just let the chips fall. It is what it is.”
“You sure about that? Is that what Irving wants?”
“It’s what I want.”
“By the way, did Duvall give you the news about the DROP?”
“Yeah, she told me.”
“I pushed for the whole five but you got a couple of people on the commission who didn’t like everything in your file. We got what we could, Harry.”
“I appreciate that.”
The chief closed the connection. Bosch barely had time to close his phone before Chu was on him with questions about what had been said. Harry relayed the conversation as he pulled off the freeway onto Sunset Boulevard and headed west.
Chu parlayed the report on the chief’s call into a question about what really had been bothering him all morning.
“What about the lieutenant?” he said. “Are you ever going to tell me what that was about?”
Bosch played dumb.
“What what was about?”
“Don’t play dumb, Harry. When she held you back in the office, what was she saying? She wants me out of the unit, doesn’t she? I never liked her either.”
Bosch couldn’t help himself. His partner’s glass was always half empty and an opportunity to needle him about it was not to be missed.
“She said she wanted to move you laterally—keep you in homicide. She said there were some slots coming up in South Bureau and she’s talking to them about a switch.”
Chu had recently moved out to Pasadena. The commute to South Bureau would be a nightmare.
“Well, what did you tell her?” he demanded. “Did you stick up for me?”
“South is a good gig, man. I told her you’d get seasoned down there in two years. It would take five anywhere else.”
Bosch started laughing. It was a good release. The impending meeting with Irving was weighing on him. It was coming and he wasn’t sure yet how to play it.
“Are you shitting me?” Chu cried, fully turned in his seat now. “Are you fucking shitting me?”
“Yes, I’m fucking shitting you, Chu. So chill out. All she told me was that my DROP came through. You’re going to have to put up with me for another three years and three months, okay?”
“Oh… well, that’s good, right?”
“Yes, that’s good.”
Chu was too young to worry about things like the DROP. Almost ten years before, Bosch had taken a full pension and retired from the department in an ill-advised decision. After two years as a citizen he came back under the department’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which was designed to keep experienced detectives in the department and doing the work they did best. For Bosch that was homicide. He was a retread with a seven-year contract. Not everybody in the department was happy with the program, especially divisional detectives hoping for a shot at some of the prestige slots in the downtown Robbery-Homicide Division.
Department policy allowed for one extension of the DROP of three to five years. After that, retirement was mandated. Bosch had applied for his second contract the year before and, bureaucracy being what it was in the department, waited more than a year for the news the lieutenant gave him, going well past his original DROP date. He had been anxious while waiting, knowing that he could be dismissed from the department immediately if the police commission decided not to extend his stay. It was certainly good news to finally get but he now saw a defined limit on his time carrying a badge. So the good news was tinged with a certain melancholy. When he got the formal notification from the commission, it would have an exact date on it that would be his last day as a cop. He couldn’t help but focus on that. His future had limitations. Maybe he was a half-empty kind of guy himself.
Chu gave him a break on the questions after that and Harry tried to avoid thinking about the DROP. Instead he thought about Irvin Irving as he drove west. The councilman had spent more than forty years in the police department but had never gotten to the top floor. After a career spent grooming and positioning himself for the chief’s job, it had been snatched from him in a political windstorm. A few years after that, he was engineered out of the department—with Bosch’s help. A man scorned, he ran for the city council, won the election, and made it his business to exact retribution on the department where he had toiled for so many decades. He had gone so far as to vote against every proposed raise in salaries for police officers and expansion of the department. He was always first to call for an independent review or investigation of any perceived impropriety or alleged transgression committed by officers. His sharpest poke, however, had come the year before when he had wholeheartedly joined the cost-cutting charge that slashed a hundred million in overtime out of the department budget. That hurt every officer up and down the ladder.
Bosch had no doubt that the current chief of police had made some sort of deal with Irving. A quid pro quo. Bosch would be delivered to take over the case in exchange for something else. While Harry had never considered himself very politically astute, he was confident he would figure things out soon enough.
The Chateau Marmont sat at the east end of the Sunset Strip, an iconic structure set against the Hollywood Hills that had enticed movie stars, writers, rock and rollers and their entourages for decades. Several times during his career Bosch had been to the hotel as he had followed cases and sought witnesses and suspects. He knew its beamed lobby and hedged courtyard and the layout of its spacious suites. Other hotels offered amazing levels of comfort and personal service. The Chateau offered Old World charm and a lack of interest in your personal business. Most hotels had security cameras, hidden or not, in all public spaces. The Chateau had few. The one thing the Chateau offered that no other hotel on the strip could touch was privacy. Behind its walls and tall hedges was a world without intrusion, where those who didn’t want to be watched were not. That is, until things went wrong, or private behavior became public.
Just past Laurel Canyon Boulevard the hotel rose behind the profusion of billboards that lined Sunset. By night the hotel was marked with a simple neon-lit sign, modest by Sunset Strip standards, and even more so by day, when the light was off. The hotel was technically located on Marmont Lane, which split off from Sunset and wound around the hotel and up into the hills. As they approached, Bosch saw that Marmont Lane was blocked by temporary barricades. Two patrol cars and two media trucks were parked along the hedge line at the front of the hotel. This told him that the death scene was on the west side or rear of the hotel. He pulled in behind one of the black-and-whites.
“The vultures are already here,” Chu said, nodding toward the media vans.
It was impossible to keep a secret in this town, especially a secret like this. A neighbor would call, a hotel guest or a patrol officer, maybe somebody down at the coroner’s office trying to impress a blond TV reporter. News traveled fast.
They got out of the car and approached the barricades. Bosch signaled one of the uniformed officers away from the two camera crews so they could speak without the media hearing.
“Where is it?” Bosch asked.
The cop looked like he had at least ten years on the job. His shirt plate said Rampone.
“We have two scenes,” he said. “We’ve got the splat around back here on the side. And then the room the guy was using. That’s the top floor, room seventy-nine.”
It was the routine way of police officers to dehumanize the daily horrors that came with the job. Jumpers were called splats.
Bosch had left his rover in the car. He nodded to the mike on Rampone’s shoulder.
“Find out where Glanville and Solomon are.”
Rampone cocked his head toward his shoulder and pressed the transmit button. He quickly located the initial investigative team in room seventy-nine.
“Okay, tell them to stay put. We’re going to check out the lower scene and then head up.”
Bosch went back to his car to grab the rover out of the charging dock and then walked with Chu around the barricade and up the sidewalk.
“Harry, you want me to go up and talk to those guys?” Chu asked.
“No, it always starts with the body and goes from there. Always.”
Chu was used to working cold cases, where there was never a crime scene. Only reports. Also, he had issues with seeing dead bodies. It was the reason he’d opted for the cold case squad. No fresh kills, no murder scenes, no autopsies. This time things would be different.
Marmont Lane was a steep and narrow road. They came to the death scene at the northwestern corner of the hotel. The forensics team had put up a canopy over the scene to guard against visual intrusion from media choppers and the houses that terraced the hills behind the hotel.
Before stepping under the canopy, Bosch looked up the side of the hotel. He saw a man in a suit leaning over the parapet, looking down from a balcony on the top floor. He guessed it was Glanville or Solomon.
Bosch went under the canopy and found a bustle of activities involving forensic techs, coroner’s investigators and police photographers. At the center of it all was Gabriel Van Atta, whom Bosch had known for years. Van Atta had spent twenty-five years working for the LAPD as a crime scene tech and supervisor before retiring and taking a job with the coroner. Now he got a salary and a pension and still worked crime scenes. That counted as a break for Bosch. He knew that Van Atta wouldn’t be cagey about anything. He would tell Harry exactly what he thought.
Bosch and Chu stood under the canopy but stayed on the periphery. The scene belonged to the techs at the moment. Bosch could tell that the body had been turned over from the impact point and that they were far along. The body would soon be removed and transported to the medical examiner’s office. This bothered him but it was the cost of coming into a case so late.
The gruesome extent of the injuries from seven floors of gravity was on full display. Bosch could almost feel his partner’s revulsion at the sight. Harry decided to give him a break.
“Tell you what, I’ll handle this and meet you upstairs.”
“Really. But you’re not getting out of the autopsy.”
“That’s a deal, Harry.”
The conversation had drawn Van Atta’s attention.
“Harry B.,” he said. “I thought you were still working cold cases.”
“This one’s a special, Gabe. All right if I step in?”
Meaning the inner circle of the death scene. Van Atta waved him in. As Chu ducked out from under the canopy, Bosch grabbed a pair of paper booties from a dispenser and put them on over his shoes. He then put on rubber gloves and worked his way as best he could around the coagulated blood on the sidewalk and squatted down next to what was left of George Thomas Irving.
Death takes everything, including one’s dignity. George’s naked and battered body was surrounded on all sides by technicians who viewed it as a piece of work. His earthly vessel had been reduced to a ripped bag of skin containing shattered bones and organs and blood vessels. His body had bled out through every natural orifice and many new ones created by his impact on the sidewalk. His skull was shattered, leaving his head and face grossly misshapen like it would be in a fun house mirror. His left eye had broken free of its orbit and hung loosely on his cheek. His chest had been crushed by the impact and several sheared bones from the ribs and clavicle protruded through the skin.
Unblinking, Bosch studied the body carefully, looking for the unusual on a canvas that was anything but usual. He searched the inside of the arms for needle tracks, the fingernails for foreign debris.
“I got here late,” he said. “Anything I should know?”
“I’m thinking the guy hit face-first which is very unusual, even for a suicide,” Van Atta said. “And I want to draw your attention to something here.”
He pointed to the victim’s right arm and then the left, which were spread in the blood puddle.
“Every bone in both arms is broken, Harry. Shattered, actually. But we have no compound injuries, no breaking of the skin.”
“Which tells us what?”
“It means one of two extremes. One, he was really serious about taking a high dive and didn’t even put his hands out to break the fall. If he had, we would’ve had shearing and compound fractures. We don’t.”
“And the other extreme?”
“That the reason he didn’t put his arms out to break the fall was that he wasn’t conscious when he hit the ground.”
“Meaning he was thrown.”
“Yeah, or more likely dropped. We’ll have to do some distance modeling but this looks like he came straight down. If he was pushed or thrown, as you say, I think he would have been a couple feet farther out from the structure.”
“Got it. What about time of death?”
“We took the liver temperature and did the math. This isn’t official, as you know, but we think between four and five.”
“So he was here on the sidewalk for an hour or more before somebody saw him.”
“It could happen. We’ll try to narrow the TOD at autopsy. Can we get him rolling now?”
“If that’s all the wisdom you have for me today, yes, you can get him out of here.”
A few minutes later Bosch headed up the entrance drive to the hotel’s garage. A black Lincoln Town Car with city plates was idling on the cobblestones. Councilman Irving’s car. As he walked past, Bosch saw a young driver behind the wheel and an older man in a suit in the front passenger seat. The back seat appeared to be empty but it was hard to determine through the smoked glass.
Bosch took the stairs up to the next level, where the front desk and lobby were located.
Most people who stayed at the Chateau were night creatures. The lobby was deserted except for Irvin Irving, who was sitting by himself on a couch with a cell phone pressed to his ear. When he saw Bosch coming, he quickly ended the call and pointed toward a couch directly opposite his. Harry had hoped to stay standing and to keep momentum but it was one of those times when he took direction. As he sat down he pulled a notebook out of his back pocket.
“Detective Bosch,” Irving said. “Thank you for coming.”
“I didn’t have the choice, Councilman.”
“I guess not.”
“First, I’d like to express my sympathy for the loss of your son. Second, I’d like to know why you want me here.”
Irving nodded and glanced out one of the lobby’s tall windows. There was an outdoor restaurant beneath palm trees and umbrellas and space heaters. It was empty, too, except for the wait staff.
“I guess nobody gets up around here till noon,” he said.
Bosch didn’t reply. He waited for the answer to his question. Irving’s signature physical trait had always been the shaved and polished scalp. He had the look going long before it was fashionable. In the department, he had been known as Mr. Clean because he had the look and he was the guy brought in to clean up the political and social messes that routinely arose in a heavily armed and political bureaucracy.
But now Irving’s look was shopworn. His skin was gray and loose and he looked older than he actually was.
“I always heard that losing a child was the most difficult pain,” Irving said. “Now I know it’s true. It doesn’t matter what age or what circumstances…it’s just not supposed to happen. It’s not the natural order of things.”
There was nothing Bosch could say to that. He had sat with enough parents of dead children to know there was no debating what the councilman had said. Irving had his head down, eyes on the ornate pattern of the rug in front of him.
“I’ve worked for this city in one capacity or another for over fifty years,” he continued. “And here I am and I can’t trust a soul in it. So I reach out to a man I’ve tried to destroy in the past. Why? I’m not even sure myself. I suppose it’s because there was an integrity to our skirmishes. An integrity to you. I didn’t like you or your methods but I respected you.”
He looked up at Bosch now.
“I want you to tell me what happened to my son, Detective Bosch. I want the truth and I think I can trust you to give it to me.”
“No matter how it falls?”
“No matter how it falls.”
“I can do that.”
He started to get up but paused when Irving continued.
“You said once that everybody counts or nobody counts. I remember that. This would put that to the test. Does the son of your enemy count? Will you give your best effort for him? Will you be relentless for him?”
Bosch just stared at him. Everybody counts or nobody counts. It was his code as a man. But it was never spoken. It was only followed. He was sure he had never said it to Irving.
“When did I say that?”
Realizing he may have misspoken, Irving shrugged and adopted the pose of a confused old man even though his eyes were as sharp as black marbles in snow.
“I don’t remember, actually. It’s just something I know about you.”
Bosch stood up.
“I’ll find out what happened to your son. Is there anything you can tell me about what he was doing here?”
“How did you find out this morning?”
“I was called by the chief of police. Personally. I came right away. But they wouldn’t let me see him.”
“They were right. Did he have a family? I mean besides you.”
“A wife and son—the boy just went away to college. I was just on the phone with Deborah. I told her the news.”
“If you call her back, tell her I’ll be coming to see her.”
“What did your son do for a living?”
“He was a lawyer specializing in corporate relations.”
Bosch waited for more but that was all that was offered.
“‘Corporate relations’? What does that mean?”
“It means he got things done. People came to him when they wanted things done in this city. He had worked for the city. First as a cop, then for the City Attorney.”
“And he had an office?”
“He had a small place downtown, but mostly he had a cell phone. That was how he worked.”
“What did he call his company?”
“It was a law firm. Irving and Associates—only there weren’t any associates. Just a one-man shop.”
Bosch knew he would have to come back to this. But it wasn’t useful to spar with Irving when he had so little basic knowledge through which to filter the councilman’s answers. He would wait until he knew more.
“I’ll be in touch,” he said.
Irving raised his hand and flipped two fingers out with a business card between them.
“This is my private cell number. I’ll expect to hear something from you by the end of the day.”
Or you’ll take another ten million out of the overtime budget? Bosch didn’t like this. But he took the card and headed to the elevators.
On the way up to seven he thought about the stilted conversation with Irving. What bothered him most was that Irving knew his code, and Harry had a pretty good idea how he had come by the information. It was something he would have to deal with later.
The upper floors of the hotel followed an L pattern. Bosch got off the elevator on seven and took a left to go around a corner and down to room 79 at the end of the hallway. There was a uniformed officer on the door. It made Bosch think of something and he pulled his phone. He called Kiz Rider’s cell and she answered right away.
“Did you know what he did for a living?” he asked.
“Who are you talking about, Harry?” she responded.
“Who else, George Irving. Did you know he was some sort of fixer?”
“I heard that he was a lobbyist.”
“A lawyer lobbyist. Listen, I need you to flex the muscles of the chief’s office and put a cop on his office door until I can get there. Nobody in or out.”
“Not a problem. Is what he did as a lobbyist in play here?”
“You never know. I’d just feel better if there was somebody on the door.”
“You got it, Harry.”
“I’ll talk to you later.”
Bosch put his phone away and approached the cop posted in front of room 79. He signed his clipboard, noting the time, and went in. He stepped into a living room with open French doors that led to the balcony and a western exposure. The wind was billowing the curtains and Bosch saw Chu out there on the balcony. He was looking down.
Standing in the room were Solomon and Glanville. Crate and Barrel. They didn’t look happy. When Jerry Solomon saw Bosch, he stretched his hands out in a what gives? gesture. Actually, Bosch realized, it was more of a what the fuck? gesture.
“What can I tell you?” Bosch said. “High jingo. We do what we’re told.”
“You aren’t going to find anything here we didn’t find. We have it right, the guy took the dive.”
“And that’s what I told the chief and the councilman, but here I am.”
Now Bosch spread his hands in a what can I do? gesture.
“So you want to stand around complaining about it or you want to tell me what you’ve got?”
Solomon nodded to Glanville, the junior of the two partners, and he pulled a notebook out of his back pocket. He flipped through a few pages and then started telling the story. Meantime, Chu came in from the balcony to listen as well.
“Last night at eight fifty the front desk gets a call from a man identifying himself as George Irving. He reserves a room for the night and says he’s on the way. He specifically asks what rooms with balconies they’ve got on the top floor. They give him a choice and he takes seventy-nine. He gives an American Express number to hold the room and it checks out to the card in his wallet, which is in the bedroom in the safe.”
Glanville pointed down a hallway to Bosch’s left. Harry saw an open doorway at the end and a bed.
“Okay, so he shows up at nine forty,” Glanville continued. “He valets his car in the garage, uses the AmEx to register and then goes up to his room. Nobody ever sees him again.”
“Until they find him on the sidewalk down below,” Solomon said.
“When?” Bosch asked.
“At five fifty one of the kitchen guys reports for work. He’s heading up the sidewalk to get to the rear entrance where the time-card rack is located. He finds the body. Patrol comes out first, then we get called when they make a tentative ID.”
Bosch nodded and looked around the room. There was a writing table next to the balcony door.
“Not that we’ve found in here.”
Bosch noticed a digital clock on the floor. It was plugged into a wall outlet near the desk.
“Is that how that was found? Is it supposed to be on the desk?”
“It’s where we found it,” Solomon said. “We don’t know where it is supposed to be.”
Bosch walked over and squatted down next to the clock while he put on a fresh set of gloves. He carefully picked up the clock and studied it. It had a dock for connecting an iPod or an iPhone.
“Do we know what kind of phone Irving had?”
“Yeah, iPhone,” Glanville said. “It’s in the safe in the bedroom.”
Bosch checked the alarm on the clock. It was switched off. He pushed the set button to see what time it had previously been set for. The red digits shifted. The last time the alarm was used it was set for 4 a.m.
Bosch put the clock back on the floor and stood up, his knee joints popping with the effort. He left the main room behind and stepped through the French doors onto the balcony. There was a small table and two chairs. A white terry cloth robe had been left lying across one of the chairs. Bosch looked down over the edge. The first thing he noticed was that the balustrade came up only to the top of his thighs. It seemed low to him, and while he had no idea how tall Irving had been, he immediately had to consider the possibility of an accidental fall. He wondered whether that was what he was here for. Nobody wants a suicide on the family ledger. An accidental tumble over a low balustrade was far more acceptable.
He looked directly down and saw the canopy the forensic team had put up. He also saw the body, on a gurney and covered in a blue blanket, being loaded into the coroner’s van.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Solomon said from behind him.
“Yeah, what am I thinking?”
“That he didn’t jump. That it was an accident.”
Bosch didn’t respond.
“But there are things to consider.”
“What are they?”
“The guy’s naked. The bed isn’t slept in and he didn’t check in with any luggage. He just checked into a hotel room in his own city without a suitcase. He asked for the top floor and a room with a balcony. He then goes up to his room, takes off his clothes, puts on the bathrobe they give you in a place like this and goes out on the balcony to contemplate the stars or something. He then takes off the bathrobe and falls face-fucking-first off the balcony by accident?”
“And no scream,” Glanville added. “Nobody reported a scream—that’s why they didn’t find him till this morning. You don’t accidentally fall off a freakin’ balcony and not scream your lungs out.”
“So maybe he wasn’t conscious,” Bosch suggested. “Maybe he wasn’t alone up here. Maybe it wasn’t an accident.”
“Oh, man, is that what this is about?” Solomon said. “The councilman wants a murder investigation and you’re sent out to make sure he gets it.”
Bosch gave Solomon a look that let him know he was making a mistake suggesting Harry was carrying out Irving’s bidding.
“Look, nothing personal,” Solomon said quickly. “I’m just saying we don’t see that angle at all here. Suicide note or not, this scene adds up to only one thing. A high dive.”
Bosch didn’t respond. He noticed the fire escape ladder at the other end of the balcony. It led up to the roof and down to the balcony below on the sixth floor.
“Anybody go up on the roof?”
“Not yet,” Solomon said. “We were awaiting further instructions.”
“What about the rest of the hotel? Did you knock on any doors?”
“Same thing. Further instructions.”
Solomon was being an ass but Bosch ignored it.
“How did you confirm ID on the body? The facial damage was extensive.”
“Yeah, this one’s going to be closed casket,” Glanville said. “That’s for sure.”
“We got the name off the hotel registration and the plate on the car in valet,” Solomon said. “This was before we got the room safe open and found the wallet. We figured we better be sure and we better be quick. I had patrol send over the division’s MPR and got it off the guy’s thumb.”
Each of the department’s divisions had a mobile print reader that took a digital thumbprint and instantly compared it to the Department of Motor Vehicles database. It was primarily used in the station house jails to confirm IDs, as there had been several incidents in which felons sought on warrants had given false IDs upon arrest and were able to bail out before the jailers knew they’d had a wanted individual in custody. But the department was always looking for other applications of the equipment and this had been a smart use of the new technology by Crate and Barrel.
“Good going,” Bosch said.
He turned and looked at the bathrobe.
“Anybody check that?”
Solomon and Glanville looked at each other and Bosch saw the exchange. Neither had checked, thinking the other had.
Solomon went to the robe and Bosch stepped back into the suite. As he did so he spotted a small object next to a leg of the coffee table in front of the couch. He squatted down to see what it was without touching it. It was a small black button that had blended in with the dark pattern of the carpet.
Bosch picked the button up so he could look closely at it. He guessed that it had come off a men’s dress shirt. He put the button back in the place he had found it. He could tell one of the detectives had come in from the balcony and was behind him.
“Where are his clothes?”
“Folded and hung nice and neat in the closet,” Glanville said. “What’s that?”
“A button, probably nothing. But get the photographer back up here to shoot it before we collect it. Anything in the bathrobe?”
“The room key. That’s it.”
Bosch headed down the hallway. The first room on the right was a small kitchen with a table for two against one wall. On the counter opposite was a display of alcoholic beverages and snacks available for purchase by the suite’s guest. Bosch checked the waste can in the corner. It was empty. He opened the refrigerator and found it stocked with more beverages—beer, champagne, sodas and fruit drinks. None of it looked disturbed.
Harry moved on down the hall, checking out the bathroom before finally entering the bedroom.
Solomon had been right about the bed. The spread was neat and pulled tight at the corners. No one had even sat on the bed since it had been made. There was a closet with a mirrored door. As Bosch approached it he could see Glanville in the room’s doorway behind him, watching.
In the closet, Irving’s clothes were on hangers—shirt, pants and jacket—and his underwear, socks and shoes were on a side shelf next to a room safe with a partially opened door. Inside the safe were a wallet and a wedding ring along with an iPhone and a watch.
The safe had a four-digit combination lock. Solomon had said it was found closed and locked. Bosch knew that the hotel management most likely had an electronic reader that was used to unlock the room safes. People forget combinations or check out, forgetting they’ve locked the safe. The device quickly goes through the ten thousand possible combinations until it hits the winner.
“What was the combination?”
“To the safe? I don’t know. Maybe Jerry got it from her.”
“The assistant manager who opened it for us. Her name’s Tamara.”
Bosch removed the phone from the safe. He had the same model himself. But when he tried to access it he found it was password protected.
“What do you want to bet that the password he keyed into the safe is the same password on the phone?”
Glanville didn’t answer. Bosch put the phone back into the safe.
“We need to get somebody up here to bag this stuff.”
Bosch smiled, though Glanville couldn’t see it. He slid the hangers apart and checked the pockets on the clothing. They were empty. He then started looking at the buttons on the shirt. It was a dark blue dress shirt with black buttons. He checked the rest of the shirt and found that the right cuff was missing a button.
He felt Glanville come up and look over his shoulder.
“I think it’s a match to the one out there on the floor,” Bosch said.
“Yeah, what’s it mean?” Glanville said.
Bosch turned around and looked at him.
“I don’t know.”
Before leaving the room, Bosch noticed that one of the bed’s side tables was askew. One corner had been pulled away from the wall and Bosch guessed it had been done when Irving unplugged the clock.
“What do you think, that he took the clock out there to listen to music from his iPhone?” he asked without looking back at Glanville.
“Could be but there’s another dock out there under the TV for that. Maybe he just didn’t see it.”
Bosch moved back out to the suite’s living room and Glanville followed. Chu was on his phone and Bosch gave him the cut it off sign. Chu put his hand over the phone and said, “I’m getting good stuff here.”
“Yeah, well, get it later,” Bosch said. “We have things to do.”
Chu got off the phone and the four detectives stood in a circle in the middle of the room.
“Okay, this is how I want to do this,” Bosch began. “We’re going to knock on every door in this building. We ask what people heard, what they saw. We cover—”
“Jesus Christ, what a waste of time,” Solomon said, turning from the circle and looking out one of the windows.
“We can leave no stone unturned,” Bosch said. “That way, if and when we call it suicide, nobody can second-guess us. Not the councilman, not the chief, not even the press. So the three of you split up the floors and start knocking on doors.”
“People in here are all night crawlers,” Glanville said. “They’re still going to be sleeping.”
“That’s good. That means we’ll get to them before they get out of the building.”
“Okay, so we get to wake everybody up,” Solomon said. “What are you going to be doing?”
“I’m going down to see the manager. I want a copy of the registration and the combination used to lock the room safe. I’ll see about cameras and after that I’ll check Irving’s car in the garage. You never know, maybe he left a note in the car. You two never checked it.”
“We would’ve gotten to it,” Glanville said defensively.
“Well, I’ll get to it now,” Bosch said.
“The safe combo, Harry?” Chu asked. “What for?”
“Because it might tell us whether it was Irving who punched it in.”
Chu had a confused look on his face. Bosch decided he would explain it all later.
“Chu, I also want you to climb that ladder out there and check the roof. Do that first, before you start knocking on doors.”
It was refreshing not to get a complaint. Bosch turned back to Crate and Barrel.
“Now, here’s the part you two aren’t going to like.”
“Oh, really?” Solomon said. “Imagine that.”
Bosch walked over to the balcony doors, signaling them over. They stepped back out and Bosch pointed a finger and swept it across the vista of homes that terraced the hillside. Though on the seventh floor, he was level with numerous homes with windows facing the Chateau.
“I want all of them canvassed,” he said. “Use patrol if they can spare the bodies, but I want all those doors knocked on. Somebody might have seen something.”
“Don’t you think we would’ve heard from them?” Glanville said. “You see a guy jump off a balcony and I think you’re going to call it in.”
Bosch glanced from the view to Glanville and then back out to the view.
“Maybe they saw something before the drop. Maybe they saw him out here alone. Maybe he wasn’t alone. And maybe they saw him get thrown and they’re too scared to get involved. Too many maybes to let it go, Crate. It has to be done.”
“He’s Crate. I’m Barrel.”
“Sorry. I couldn’t tell the difference.”
The disdain in Bosch’s voice was unmistakable.
After finally clearing the scene, they took Laurel Canyon Boulevard over the hill to the San Fernando Valley. Along the way, Bosch and Chu traded reports on their efforts of the previous two hours, starting with the fact that the knocking on doors in the hotel had produced not a single guest who had heard or seen anything in regard to Irving’s death. Bosch found this surprising. He was sure that the sound of the impact of the body landing would have been loud, and yet no one in the hotel had reported hearing even that.
“A waste of time,” Chu said.
Which, of course, Bosch knew, was not the case. There was value in knowing that Irving had not shouted as he came down. This fact lent itself to the two scenarios Van Atta had mentioned; Irving had intentionally jumped or was unconscious when he was dropped.
“It’s never a waste of time,” he said. “Did any of you knock on the doors of the pool bungalows?” Continues...
Excerpted from The Drop by Connelly, Michael Copyright © 2011 by Connelly, Michael. Excerpted by permission.
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