Authors: Michael Connelly
“Uh, yeah, I know him,” she said carefully. “We’ve crossed paths on things before. Why?”
She wanted to get as much from Robinson-Reynolds as she could before she tried walking across the tightrope again.
“Because I got a report here on my desk that came from GED,” Robinson-Reynolds said. “They had your victim’s memorial service under surveillance so they could see what guys from
Las Palmas showed up. Instead, they got photos of you standing with an old guy identified as Harry Bosch and talking to another guy who didn’t look too happy about being talked to.”
Ballard’s mind was racing as she tried to put together an answer.
“Yeah,” she said. “That was Bosch and that was the silent partner I was just talking about. Dennis Hoyle.”
She doubted that Robinson-Reynolds would go for the distraction of Hoyle, but it gave Ballard time to think her way through this confrontation. She knew one thing: Davenport was behind this. He had sent the surveillance photos to the lieutenant. Ballard decided she would find a way to deal with him later.
“And Bosch?” Robinson-Reynolds said. “Why was he there? Why was he with you?”
He held up a surveillance photo, and there was Bosch next to Ballard as they confronted Hoyle at his car. Ballard knew that her only way out was to come clean about the first murder. Bosch’s case. If she gave that to Robinson-Reynolds, she might survive this.
“Well, you see,” she began. “I took — ”
“Let me see if I can put it together,” the lieutenant said, cutting her off. “You’ve got a full plate. You catch a murder New Year’s Eve and West Bureau’s overwhelmed so you have to run with that through the weekend. Then the Midnight Men jump up again and now you’ve got that. You’ve got no help because even Lisa Moore’s abandoned you for Santa Barbara — yes, I know about that. So you’re up against the wall, and you remember Harry Bosch, the retired guy who wishes he wasn’t retired. You think, ‘I could reach out to him for help and advice, but how do I get to him?’ So you pull out your little black bag of lockpicks and you break into my office to get the pension book that has Bosch’s number. The only problem besides getting
photographed by the GED is that you forgot the little black bag and you put the pension book back in the wrong spot. How am I doing?”
Ballard stared at him in awe. The mantrap door was opening.
“You’re a detective, L-T,” she said. “That’s amazing. But there’s another reason I called Bosch.”
“And what’s that?” Robinson-Reynolds asked.
“Ten years ago he worked a homicide here in Hollywood. I connected the Raffa case to his case through ballistics. His case is still open. I wanted to talk to him about it and we agreed to meet at the Raffa memorial.”
Robinson-Reynolds leaned back in his chair as he considered this.
“And when were you going to tell me this?” he asked.
“Today. Now. I was waiting for the chance.”
He decided not to say what he was going to say.
“Just make sure Ross Bettany gets everything you’ve got on the case,” he said instead.
“Of course,” Ballard said.
“And look, I don’t mind what you did. But I mind how you did it. You’re lucky I think Davenport up there in GED is an empty suit. Why he’s mad at you, I don’t know. Sounds like professional jealousy. But what I do mind is you breaking into my office. That can’t happen again.”
“It won’t, sir.”
“I know it won’t. Because I’m going to get one of those Ring cameras and put it in here so I get an alert anytime somebody comes in.”
“That’s a good idea,” she said.
“So take your little black bag and go call West Bureau and
arrange to hand off the case,” Robinson-Reynolds said. “Then call Bosch and tell him his services on the case are no longer needed. That West Bureau will take it from here.”
“And then I want you to get together with the Sex team to figure out next moves on the Midnight Men. I want to be briefed before you split.”
“You can go now, Ballard.”
Ballard stood up, took the lockpicks off the corner of the desk, and headed for the door. Before leaving, she turned back to the lieutenant.
“By the way, I’m off the next three nights,” she said. “Did you put somebody on call yet?”
“Not yet,” Robinson-Reynolds said. “I’ll figure it out.”
“How did you know about Lisa and Santa Barbara?”
“Because I was in Santa Barbara. I’m walking on the beach and hear this voice and I look, and there is Moore in a cabana in front of the Miramar.”
“Did you say something?”
“Nope. I’m going to bring her in here like I did with you. See if she tells me a story or tells me the truth. And don’t you warn her, Ballard.”
“If she tells me the truth, we’ll be fine. If she lies to me … well, I can’t have that.”
Ballard left the office and took an immediate right turn, away from the squad room and toward the station’s front hallway. She went to the break room to brew a cup of coffee. She knew it was going to be a few hours before she would get to sleep. She also didn’t want to be in the detective bureau when Lisa Moore
showed up for work and the lieutenant summoned her to his office. She didn’t need to have Moore blaming her for not giving her a warning.
As the coffee dripped, Ballard considered firing a text to Moore telling her not to lie to the L-T.
But she didn’t. Moore could make her own way and deal with the consequences.
Ballard walked into the squad room through the back hallway and saw Matt Neumayer and Ronin Clarke at their workstations in the Crimes Against Persons pod. Lisa Moore’s station was empty. Ballard walked over, put her coffee down on one of the half walls that separated the workstations. It was a six-person pod; one half was the Sexual Assault Unit and the other was the actual CAPs Unit, which handled all assaults that were not sexually motivated.
“Lisa coming in?” Ballard asked.
“She’s here,” Clarke said. “L-T called her in for a powwow.”
Ballard glanced toward the lieutenant’s office and through the glass could see Lisa sitting in front of Robinson-Reynolds’s desk.
“You know, Ronin, you’re not supposed to use words like that anymore,” Neumayer said.
Ballard looked at Neumayer. It did not look like he was serious.
“Powwow?” Clarke said. “My bad — I’ll add it to my list. I guess I’m just not woke enough.”
Clarke then turned to Ballard.
“So, Ballard, are you Indian?” Clarke said. “You look like there’s something going on there.”
He made a gesture as if circling her face.
“You mean Native American?” Ballard asked. “No, I’m not.”
“Then what?” Clarke persisted.
Neumayer cut in before Clarke could put both feet across the line.
“Renée, sit down,” he said. “Tell me about the weekend.”
She sat in Moore’s station and had to adjust the seat up so she could see both Neumayer and Clarke over the dividers, though she was going to talk mostly to Neumayer.
“You know about the new Midnight Men case, right?” she asked.
“Lisa told us before she got called in,” Neumayer said.
“Well, I think we need to change the focus a little bit,” Ballard said.
“Why?” Clarke asked.
“The new case is up in the hills,” Ballard said. “The Dell. And it’s not the kind of neighborhood you walk into to peep in windows and find a victim. She was targeted and followed there. At least that’s my take. So that changes how we should look at victim acquisition. The first two, the thinking was that the suspects picked the neighborhood because of access and then found their victims. That doesn’t work with victim three. So there’s something about these victims that connects them, and whatever that is — a place or an event either real or virtual — that’s what put them on the suspects’ radar.”
“Makes sense,” Neumayer said. “Any idea where that … point is?”
“The nexus?” Ballard said. “No, not yet. But victim three runs a coffee shop in Los Feliz. That means she has many interactions with strangers on a daily basis. Anyway, that’s what I stuck around for. To talk it out with Lisa and you guys.”
“Well, here she comes now,” Neumayer said. “Let’s all go into the task force room. Nobody’s using it.”
Moore walked up to the pod. She had either gotten a
sunburn over the weekend or was colored with embarrassment or anger.
Ballard started to get up from her chair.
“No, that’s okay, Renée,” Moore said. “Take it. You earned it.”
“What are you talking about?” Ballard asked.
“You got my job,” Moore said. “Might as well start today.”
Now she had the attention of Clarke and Neumayer, who was already gathering files to take to the task force room.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ballard said.
“Sure you do,” Moore said. “Next deployment I’m on the late show and you’re on Sex. And don’t play stupid. You set me up.”
“I didn’t set anybody up,” Ballard said. “And this is news to me.”
“Me too,” Clarke said.
“Shut up, Clarke,” Moore said. “This is between me and this backstabbing bitch.”
Ballard tried to remain calm.
“Lisa, wait a minute,” Ballard said. “Let’s go back into L-T’s office and — ”
“Fuck you, Ballard,” Moore said. “You know I’m a single mother. I’ve got kids — how the hell am I going to work midnights? And all because you got pissed that you had to cover for me.”
“Lisa, I did cover for you,” Ballard said. “I did not tell the lieutenant one thing about you or this — ”
“He already knew, Lisa,” Neumayer said. “He knew about the Miramar.”
Moore jerked her laser focus off Ballard and onto Neumayer.
“He knew,” Neumayer said. “The Miramar, right? Santa Barbara? Dash told me Thursday he was going up there for the weekend. If that’s where you were when you should have been
working with Ballard, then he probably saw you. Did he just ask you how the weekend was?”
Moore didn’t answer but didn’t have to. Her face betrayed her. She was realizing that the trap she had just walked into in the lieutenant’s office had been set by herself.
“Bang, the penny drops,” Clarke said. “You fucked up, Moore.”
“Shut up, Clarke,” Moore said.
“Okay, can we put this little dustup aside for now?” Neumayer said. “Let’s all go to the TFR. We’ve got a pair of rapists to catch.”
There was a lull before Moore made a sweep of her hand toward the hallway that led to the task force room.
“Lead the way,” she said.
The men got up from their stations and Neumayer did lead the way, a white binder tucked under his arm. Clarke quickly caught up to him, perhaps sensing that the tension between the two women was not something he wanted to get in the middle of.
Ballard followed at a ten-yard distance and Moore took fourth position in the parade. She spoke to Ballard’s back as they walked.
“I suppose you want an apology,” she said.
“I don’t want anything from you, Lisa,” Ballard said.
Ballard suddenly stopped short and turned to Moore. They were standing in the back hallway where only the shoeshine guy could hear them.
“You know, you may have fucked yourself but you also fucked me,” Ballard said. “I like my job. I like the dark hours and now I’m going to be dayside thanks to you.”
Ballard turned and continued down the hall, passing by the shoeshine station.
Once all four of them were settled in the TFR, Neumayer asked Ballard to summarize the weekend’s occurrences, since it
was now apparent that Moore had played hooky. Ballard gave a concise update and told them about her reaching out to the three victims.
“I have victim three’s Lambkin survey here,” she said. “The other two should be completed by now. You just have to call them today to collect. When you compare them, see if we get any triple matches. Or even double matches.”
Clarke groaned at the idea of desk work.
“Thanks, Ballard,” he said. “Why don’t you stick around to help?”
“Because I’m going to be sleeping, Clarke,” Ballard said. “I worked all night and I’ve been working this case all weekend. I’m out of here as soon as we’re done with this meeting.”
“You’re cool, Renée,” Neumayer said. “We’ll handle it from here.”
“Good, because I’m supposed to have the next three days off,” Ballard said.
“All right,” Neumayer said. “Why don’t you give us victim three’s survey and we’ll take it from there. You can go home.”
“We also may have caught a break,” Ballard said. “These scumbags cut the power to the streetlights near each victim’s house. They wanted it dark.”
“Holy shit,” Clarke said.
“How’d you get that?” Neumayer asked.
“A resident up in the Dell told me the light outside the victim’s house was out the night before the attack. This morning I went to the BSL to check work orders and — ”
“BSL?” Moore asked.
“Bureau of Street Lighting,” Ballard said. “On Santa Monica near Virgil. I checked work orders, and lights on the other victims’ streets were cut around the same time as the attacks. Exact times are not known, because they work off complaints.
But the complaint records are in line. I think these guys cut the lights to darken the streets for when they came back to do their evil shit. I asked Forensics to print the posts and access plates on the lights, but my guess is that’s a long shot.”
“That’s good, Renée,” Neumayer said.
“But what’s it get us?” Clarke asked.
“Dipshit, MLK weekend is in, like, two weeks,” Moore said. “We need to wire the BSL, and maybe we get up on them for their next hit.”
“Exactly,” she said. “And they’re already wired. I’ll get a call every time a light is reported out between now and then.”
Clarke looked hurt that he had not put the obvious together.
“Sounds excellent,” Neumayer said. “Maybe we’re getting the upper hand on these guys. But we still have to run with the surveys. Ronin and Lisa, pick a vic. Go get the surveys and then let’s meet back here and start cross-referencing. Renée, good work. You go home and get some sleep now.”
Ballard nodded. She didn’t mention that she had an autopsy to go to.
“Call me if you come up with something,” she said.
“Oh, one thing before we grab and go,” Neumayer said. “I wanted to talk about the media. We’ve been lucky that they haven’t picked up on this. But now, a third case, it’s going to get out. Somehow it always does. Now that we have this streetlight lead, I’m still inclined to try to keep the investigation under wraps. But it’s dangerous.”
It was always a no-win situation. Going public alerted your suspects and allowed them to change the MO being used to track them. Not going public left the department wide open to criticism for not warning people of the menace that was out there. In typically cynical fashion, the decision of whether to go public
would be made purely along political lines for the department and with no consideration of the victims who might have been saved from trauma.
“I’ll talk to the L-T about it,” Neumayer said. “But if this leaks, we are not going to look good. They’ll scream that we should have warned the public.”
“Maybe we should,” Ballard said. “These two are already looking at life for multiple rapes. As soon as they figure that out, they’ll probably escalate. They’ll stop leaving live victims.”
“And that’s the risk we take,” Neumayer said. “Let me talk to the lieutenant, and he may want to talk to media relations. I’ll let you know what is decided.”
As they returned to the squad room, Moore said nothing to Ballard. The friendly and professional relationship they once shared seemed completely and permanently gone.
Ballard crossed the room and knocked on Robinson-Reynolds’s open door. He signaled her in.
“Ballard, I thought you’d left.”
“I stayed around to brief the Sex team. And now I have the autopsy to go to.”
“Then you probably heard about the next deployment. You’re off midnights, Ballard. I was going to tell you myself.”
“Yeah, I heard. And L-T, I gotta ask, Why am I getting punished for Lisa’s sins?”
“What are you talking about? You’re not being punished.”
“She said I’m off the late show and she’s on.”
“That’s exactly right. You go to the Sex table, where I’m sure we’ll see vast improvements. You and Neumayer will make a great team. Clarke is a deadweight but generally harmless.”
“That’s the point. I like the late show. By punishing Lisa, you’re punishing me. I wasn’t looking to leave midnights.”
Robinson-Reynolds paused. Ballard saw his mind churning.
He had started with the assumption that no detective liked working the midnight shift. But that was his view of it, not Ballard’s.
“I see where I may have fucked up,” he said. “You don’t want to move.”
Ballard shook her head.
“The only move I’d want is back to Homicide downtown, and we know that isn’t going to happen. So, I like midnights. Good variety of cases, no deadweight partner to carry, out of sight and out of mind. It’s perfect for me.”
“Okay, I’ll rescind the order. When the next deployment comes out, you’ll still be third watch.”
“What about Lisa?”
“I don’t know about her. Probably she’ll stay where she is and I’ll ding her personnel jacket. But Ballard, don’t tell her I rescinded. I want her to stew about it for a week till the new DP is posted. That’ll be her punishment.”
Ballard shook her head.
“L-T, she’s got kids and she’s going to start making arrangements to get cover on the nights. I think you should tell her. Write her up, put it on her record, like you said, but don’t leave her swinging like that.”
“This needs to be a learning experience, Ballard. And don’t you tell her. Not a word. That’s an order.”
Ballard left the station, dejected.
It sometimes seemed to her as though the biggest barricades in the so-called justice system were on the inside, before you even got out the door.