Read The Overlook Online

Authors: Michael Connelly

Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #Suspense, #Fiction, #General, #Crime, #Thrillers, #Police Procedural

The Overlook (11 page)

BOOK: The Overlook
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“And you believed her?”

“Well . . . yeah, I believed her.”

“So you gave her my evidence.”

Bosch said it in a resigned tone.

“Harry, it’s not
your
evidence. We all work and play on the same team, don’t we?”

“Yeah, Buzz, we do.”

Bosch hung up the phone and cursed. Ferras asked him what was wrong but Bosch waved the question away.

“Just typical bureau bullshit.”

“Harry, did you get any sleep at all before the call out?”

Bosch looked across the desks at his partner. He knew exactly where Ferras was headed with that question.

“No,” Bosch answered. “I was awake. But lack of sleep has nothing to do with my frustration with the FBI. I’ve been doing this for more years than you’ve been alive. I know how to handle sleep deprivation.”

He held his mug of coffee up.

“Cheers,” he said.

“It’s still not good, partner,” Ferras responded. “Your ass is going to be dragging in a while.”

“Don’t worry about me.”

“Okay, Harry.”

Bosch went back to thoughts about the cigarette ash.

“What about photos?” he asked Ferras. “Did you pick up photos from the Kent house?”

“Yeah, they’re here somewhere.”

Ferras looked through the files on his desk and came up with the folder containing the photos and passed it across. Bosch looked through them and found three shots from the guest bathroom. A full shot, an angled shot of the toilet that showed the line of ash on the tank lid, and a close-up of the gray caterpillar, as Buzz Yates had called it.

He spread the three shots out and used his magnifier once again to study them. In the close-up shot of the ash the photographer had put a six-inch ruler down on the tank lid to give the shot scale. The ash was almost two inches long, almost a full cigarette.

“See anything yet, Sherlock?” Ferras asked.

Bosch looked up at him. His partner was smiling. Bosch didn’t smile back, deciding that now he couldn’t even use the magnifying glass in front of his own partner without getting ripped.

“Not yet, Watson,” he said.

He thought that might keep Ferras quiet. Nobody wanted to be Watson.

He studied the shot of the toilet and noted the seat had been left up. The indication was that a male had used the bathroom to urinate. The cigarette ash would further indicate that it had been one of the two intruders’. Bosch looked at the wall above the toilet. There was a small framed photograph of a winter scene. The leafless trees and steel-gray sky made Bosch think of New York or somewhere else in the East.

The photo prompted Bosch to remember a case he had closed a year ago while he was still in the Open-Unsolved Unit. He picked up the phone and called SID again. When Yates answered, Bosch asked for the person who checked the Kent house for latent fingerprints.

“Hold on,” Yates said.

Apparently still annoyed with Bosch from the earlier phone call, Yates took his time getting the latents tech to the phone. Bosch ended up holding for about four minutes, using his glass to go over the photos from the Kent house the whole time.

“This is Wittig,” a voice finally said.

Bosch knew her from prior cases.

“Andrea, it’s Harry Bosch. I want to ask you about the Kent house.”

“What do you need?”

“Did you laser the guest bathroom?”

“Of course. Where they found the ash and the seat was up? Yes, I did that.”

“Anything?”

“No, nothing. It was wiped.”

“How about the wall up above the toilet?”

“Yes, I checked there, too. There was nothing.”

“That’s all I wanted to know. Thanks, Andrea.”

“Have a good one.”

Bosch hung up and looked at the photo of the ash. Something about it bugged him but he wasn’t sure what.

“Harry, what were you asking about the wall over the toilet?”

Bosch looked at Ferras. Part of the reason the young detective was partnered with Bosch was so that the experienced detective could mentor the inexperienced detective. Bosch decided to put the Sherlock Holmes crack aside and tell him the story.

“About thirty years ago there was a case in Wilshire. This woman and her dog found drowned in her bathtub. The whole place had been wiped clean but the lid was left up on the toilet. That told them they were looking for a man. The toilet had been wiped but on the wall up behind it they found a palm print. The guy had taken a leak and leaned on the wall while doing it. By measuring the height of the palm they were able to figure out the guy’s height. They also knew he was left-handed.”

“How?”

“Because the print on the wall was a right palm. They figured a guy holds his tool with his preferred hand while taking a leak.”

Ferras nodded in agreement.

“So they matched the palm to a suspect?”

“Yeah, but only after thirty years. We cleared it last year in Open-Unsolved. Not a lot of palms in the data banks back then. My partner and I came across the case and sent the palm through the box. We got a hit. We traced the guy to Ten Thousand Palms in the desert and went out there to get him. He pulled a gun and killed himself before we could make the arrest.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah. I always thought it was weird, you know?”

“What? Him killing himself?”

“No, not that. I thought it was kind of weird that we traced his palm to Ten Thousand Palms.”

“Oh, yeah. Ironic. So you didn’t get a chance to talk to him?”

“Not really. But we were sure it was him. And I sort of took his killing himself in front of us as an admission of guilt.”

“No, yeah, of course. I just mean I would’ve liked to talk to the guy and ask him why he killed the dog, that’s all.”

Bosch stared at his partner for a moment.

“I think if we had talked, we would have been more interested in why he killed the woman.”

“Yeah, I know. I was just wondering, why the dog, you know?”

“I think he thought the dog might be able to identify him. Like the dog knew him and would react in his presence. He didn’t want to risk it.”

Ferras nodded like he accepted the explanation. Bosch had just made it up. The question about the dog had never come up during the investigation.

Ferras went back to his work, and Bosch leaned back in his chair and considered things about the case at hand. At the moment, it was a jumble of thoughts and questions. And once again most prominent in his mind was the basic question of why Stanley Kent was killed. Alicia Kent said the two men who held her captive had worn ski masks. Jesse Mitford said he thought the man he saw kill Kent on the overlook was wearing a ski mask. To Bosch this begged the questions why shoot Stanley Kent if he couldn’t even identify you? and why wear the mask if the plan all along was to kill him? He supposed that wearing the mask could have been a ploy to falsely reassure Kent and to make him cooperative. But that conclusion didn’t feel right to him either.

Once more he put the questions aside, deciding that he didn’t have enough information yet to properly go at them. He drank some coffee and got ready to take another shot at Jesse Mitford in the interview room. But first he pulled out his phone. He still had Rachel Walling’s number from the Echo Park case. He had decided never to delete it.

He pushed the button and called the number, preparing for it to have been disconnected by her. The number was still good but when he heard her voice it was a recording telling him to leave a message after the beep.

“It’s Harry Bosch,” he said. “I need to talk to you about things and I want my cigarette ashes back. That crime scene was mine.”

He hung up. He knew the message would annoy her, maybe even make her mad. He knew that he was inextricably heading toward a confrontation with Rachel and the bureau that probably wasn’t necessary and could easily be avoided.

But Bosch couldn’t bring himself to roll over. Not even for Rachel and the memory of what they once had. Not even for the hope of a future with her that he still carried like a number in a cell phone’s heart.

 

TEN

 

BOSCH AND FERRAS STEPPED OUT the front door of the Mark Twain Hotel and surveyed the morning. The light was just beginning to enter the sky. The marine layer was coming in gray and thick and was deepening the shadows in the streets. It made it look like a city of ghosts and that was fine with Bosch. It matched his outlook.

“You think he’ll stay put?” Ferras asked.

Bosch shrugged.

“He’s got no place else to go,” he said.

They had just checked their witness into the hotel under the alias Stephen King. Jesse Mitford had turned into a valuable asset. He was Bosch’s ace in the hole. Though he had not been able to provide a description of the man who shot Stanley Kent and took the cesium, Mitford had been able to give the investigators a clear understanding of what had transpired at the Mulholland overlook. He would also be useful if the investigation ever led to an arrest and trial. His story could be used as the narrative of the crime. A prosecutor could use him to connect the dots for the jury and that made him valuable, whether or not he could ID the shooter.

After Bosch had consulted with Lieutenant Gandle, it was decided that they shouldn’t lose track of the young drifter. Gandle approved a hotel voucher that would keep Mitford in the Mark Twain for four days. By then things would be clearer in regard to which way the case was going to go.

Bosch and Ferras got into the Crown Victoria that Ferras had earlier checked out of the car shed and headed down Wilcox to Sunset. Bosch was behind the wheel. At the light he got out his cell phone. He hadn’t heard back from Rachel Walling, so he called the number her partner had given him. Brenner answered right away and Bosch proceeded cautiously.

“Just checking in,” he said. “We still on for the meeting at nine?”

Bosch wanted to make sure he was still part of the investigation before updating Brenner on anything.

“Uh, yes . . . yes, we’re still on for the meeting but it’s been pushed back.”

“Till when?”

“I think it’s ten now. We’ll let you know.”

The answer didn’t make it sound like the meeting with the locals was a done deal. He decided to press Brenner.

“Where will it be? At Tactical?”

Bosch knew from working with Walling before that the Tactical unit was off campus in a secret location. He wanted to see if Brenner would slip.

“No, in the federal building downtown. Fourteenth floor. Just ask for the TIU meeting. How helpful was the witness?”

Bosch decided to hold his cards close until he had a better idea of his standing.

“He saw the shooting from a distance. Then he saw the transfer. He said one man did it all, killed Stanley Kent and then moved the pig from the Porsche to the back of another vehicle. The other guy waited in another car and just watched.”

“You get any plates from him?”

“No, no plates. Mrs. Kent’s car was probably the one used to make the transfer. That way there would be no cesium trace in their own car.”

“What about the suspect he did see?”

“Like I said, he couldn’t ID him. He was still wearing a ski mask. Other than that, nada.”

There was a pause before Brenner responded.

“Too bad,” he said. “What did you do with him?”

“The kid? We just dropped him off.”

“Where’s he live?”

“Halifax, Canada.”

“Bosch, you know what I mean.”

Bosch noticed the change in tone. That and the use of his last name. He didn’t think Brenner was casually asking about Jesse Mitford’s exact location.

“He’s got no local address,” he replied. “He’s a drifter. We just dropped him off at the Denny’s on Sunset. That’s where he wanted to go. We gave him a twenty to cover breakfast.”

Bosch felt Ferras staring at him as he lied.

“Can you hold a second, Harry?” Brenner said. “I’ve got another call coming in here. It might be Washington.”

Back to first names, Bosch noted.

“Sure, Jack, but I can just go.”

“No, hold on.”

Bosch heard the line go to music and he looked over at Ferras. His partner started to speak.

“Why’d you tell him we—”

Bosch held a finger to his lips and Ferras stopped.

“Just hold it a second,” Bosch said.

Half a minute went by while Bosch waited. A saxophone version of “What a Wonderful World” started to play on the phone. Bosch had always loved the line about the dark sacred night.

The light finally changed and Bosch turned onto Sunset. Then Brenner came back on the line.

“Harry? Sorry about that. That was Washington. As you can imagine, they’re all over this thing.”

Bosch decided to draw things out into the open.

“What’s new on your end?”

“Not a lot. Homeland is sending a fleet of choppers with equipment that can track a radiation trail. They’ll start up at the overlook and try to pick up a signature specific to cesium. But the reality is it’s got to come out of the pig before they’ll pick up a signal. Meantime, we’re organizing the status meeting so that we can make sure everybody’s on the same page.”

“That’s all the big G has accomplished?”

“Well, we’re just getting organized. I told you how it would be. Alphabet soup.”

“Right. You called it pandemonium. The feds are good at that.”

“No, I’m not sure I said all of that. But there’s always a learning curve. I think after the meeting we’ll be hitting this thing on all cylinders.”

Bosch now knew for sure that things had changed. Brenner’s defensive response told him the conversation was either being taped or overheard by others.

“It’s still a few hours till the meeting,” Brenner said. “What’s your next move, Harry?”

Bosch hesitated but not for long.

“My next move is to go back up to the house and talk to Mrs. Kent again. I have some follow-up. Then we’ll go over to the south tower at Cedars. Kent’s office is there and we need to see it and to talk to his partner.”

There was no response. Bosch was coming up on the Denny’s on Sunset. He pulled into the lot and parked. Through the windows he could see that the twenty-four-hour restaurant was largely deserted.

BOOK: The Overlook
7.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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