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Authors: Michael Connelly

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

The Overlook (15 page)

BOOK: The Overlook
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“Sorry, sir,” Bosch said. “But if I might make a recommendation. There’s a place in the Farmer’s Market called Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts. It’s a bit out of the way for you but the coffee and doughnuts would be worth it.”

The chief nodded thoughtfully.

“I’ll keep it in mind. Now, what is it you want from me, Detective Bosch?”

Bosch decided that the chief obviously wanted to get down to business.

“I need to take the case where it goes and to do that I need access to Alicia Kent and her husband’s partner, a guy named Kelber. The feds have them both and I think my window of access closed about five hours ago.”

After a pause, Bosch got to the point of the whole unscheduled meeting.

“That’s why I’m here, Chief. I need access. I figure you can get it for me.”

The chief nodded.

“Besides my position in the department, I sit on the Joint-Terrorism Task Force. I can make some calls, raise some hell and probably open the window. As I said before, we have Captain Hadley’s unit on this already and perhaps he can open up the channels of communication. We have been kept out of the loop on these things in the past. I can raise the flag, put in a call to the director.”

To Bosch it sounded like the chief was going to go to bat for him.

“You know what reflux is, Detective?”

“Reflux?”

“It’s a condition where all the bile backs up into your throat. It burns, Detective.”

“Oh.”

“What I am telling you is that if I make these moves and I get that window open for you, I don’t want any reflux. You understand me?”

“I understand.”

The chief wiped his mouth again and put the napkin down on his torn bag. He then crumpled it all into a ball, careful not to spill any powdered sugar on his black suit.

“I’ll make the calls but it’s going to be tough. You don’t see the political angle here, do you, Bosch?”

Bosch looked at him.

“Sir?”

“The bigger picture, Detective. You see this as a homicide investigation. It is actually much more than that. You have to understand that it serves the federal government extremely well with this thing on the overlook being part of a terrorism plot. A bona fide domestic threat would go a long way toward deflecting public attention and easing the pressure in other areas. The war’s gone to shit, the election was a disaster. You’ve got the Middle East, the price of a gallon of gasoline and a lame-duck president’s approval ratings. The list goes on and on and there would be an opportunity here for redemption. A chance to make up for past mistakes. A chance to shift public attention and opinion.”

Bosch nodded.

“Are you saying that they might try to keep this thing going, maybe even exaggerate the threat?”

“I’m not saying anything, Detective. I am just trying to broaden your perspective. A case like this, you have to be aware of the political landscape. You can’t be running around like a bull in a china shop—which in the past has been your specialty.”

Bosch nodded.

“Not only that, you have local politics to consider,” the chief continued. “You have a man on the city council who lies in wait for me.”

The chief was talking about Irvin Irving, a longtime commander in the department whom the chief had forced out. He’d run for a city council seat and won. He was now the department’s and the chief’s harshest critic.

“Irving?” Bosch said. “He’s just one vote on the council.”

“He knows a lot of secrets. It’s allowed him to start building a political base. He sent me a message after the election. It was just two words. ‘Expect me.’ Don’t turn this into something he can use, Detective.”

The chief stood up, ready to go.

“Think about it and be careful,” he said. “Remember, no reflux. No blowback.”

“Yes, sir.”

The chief turned and nodded to his driver. The man went to the door and held it open for his charge.

 

THIRTEEN

 

BOSCH DIDN’T SPEAK until they were out of the parking lot. He decided that by this time of day the Hollywood Freeway would be overrun by the morning commute and surface streets would be better. He believed that Sunset was the fastest way downtown.

Ferras only made it two blocks before asking what had happened in the doughnut shop.

“Don’t worry, Ignacio. We both still have our jobs.”

“Then, what happened?”

“He said you were right. I shouldn’t have jumped command. But he said he would make some calls and try to open things up with the feds.”

“Then I guess we’ll see.”

“Yeah, we’ll see.”

They drove in silence for a while until Bosch brought up his partner’s plan to ask for a new assignment.

“You still going to talk to the lieutenant?”

Ferras paused before answering. He was uncomfortable with the question.

“I don’t know, Harry. I still think it would be best. Best for both of us. Maybe you work best with female partners.”

Bosch almost laughed. Ferras didn’t know Kiz Rider, his last partner. She never went along to get along with Harry. Like Ferras, she objected every time Bosch went alpha dog on her. He was about to set Ferras straight, when his cell phone started buzzing and he pulled it out of his pocket. It was Lieutenant Gandle.

“Harry, where are you?”

His voice was louder than usual and more urgent. He was excited about something and Bosch wondered if he had already heard about the Donut Hole meeting. Had the chief betrayed him?

“I’m on Sunset. We’re heading in.”

“Did you pass Silver Lake yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Good. Head up to Silver Lake. Go to the rec center at the bottom of the reservoir.”

“What’s going on, Lieutenant?”

“The Kent car’s been located. Hadley and his people are already out there setting up the CP. They’ve requested the investigators on scene.”

“Hadley? Why’s he there? Why is there a command post?”

“Hadley’s office got the tip and checked it out before deciding to clue us in. The car is parked in front of a house belonging to a person of interest. They want you on the scene.”

“‘Person of interest’? What’s that mean?”

“The house is the residence of a person the OHS has an interest in. Some sort of suspected terrorist sympathizer. I don’t have all the details. Just get there, Harry.”

“All right. We’re on the way.”

“Call me and let me know what’s happening. If you need me out there just say the word.”

Of course, Gandle didn’t really want to leave the office and go to the scene. That would set him back on his daily management duties and paperwork. Bosch closed the phone and tried to pick up speed but the traffic was too thick for him to get anywhere. He filled Ferras in on what little he knew from the phone call.

“What about the FBI?” Ferras asked.

“What about them?”

“Do they know?”

“I didn’t ask.”

“What about the meeting at ten?”

“I guess we’ll worry about that at ten.”

In ten minutes they finally got to Silver Lake Boulevard and Bosch turned north. This part of the city took its name from the Silver Lake Reservoir which sat in the middle of the largely middle-class neighborhood of bungalows and post–World War Two homes with views of the man-made lake.

As they approached the recreation center Bosch saw two shiny black SUVs that he recognized as the signature vehicles of the OHS. Apparently, he thought, there was never much trouble getting funding for a unit that supposedly hunted terrorists. There were two patrol cars and a city sanitation truck as well. Bosch parked behind one of the patrol cars and he and Ferras got out.

There was a group of ten men in black fatigues—also distinctive to the OHS—gathered around the fold-down rear gate of one of the SUVs. Bosch approached them and Ferras trailed a couple of steps behind. Their presence was immediately noticed and the crowd parted and there was Captain Don Hadley sitting on the gate. Bosch had never met him but had seen him often enough on television. He was a large, red-faced man with sandy hair. He was about forty years old and looked like he had been in the gym working out for half of them. His ruddy complexion gave him the look of someone who had overexerted himself or was holding his breath.

“Bosch?” Hadley asked. “Ferras?”

“I’m Bosch. This is Ferras.”

“Fellas, good to have you here. I think we’re going to tie your case up for you in a bow in short order. We’re just waiting on one of my guys to bring the warrant and then we go in.”

He stood up and signaled to one of his men. Hadley had a definite air of confidence about him.

“Perez, check on that warrant, will you? I’m tired of waiting. Then check the OP and see what’s happening up there.”

He then turned back to Bosch and Ferras.

“Walk with me, men.”

Hadley headed away from the group and Bosch and Ferras followed. He led them to the back of the sanitation truck so he could talk to them away from the cluster of other men. The captain adopted a command pose, putting his foot up on the back end of the truck and resting his elbow on his knee. Bosch noticed that he carried his sidearm in a leg holster that was strapped around his thick right thigh. Like an Old West gunslinger except he was carrying a semi-automatic. He was chewing gum and not trying to hide it.

Bosch had heard many stories about Hadley. He now had the feeling that he was about to become part of one.

“I wanted you men to be here for this,” Hadley said.

“What exactly is this, Captain?” Bosch replied.

Hadley clapped his hands together before speaking.

“We’ve located your Chrysler Three Hundred approximately two and a half blocks from here on a street bordering the reservoir. The plate matches the BOLO and I eyeballed the vehicle myself. It’s the car we’ve been looking for.”

Bosch nodded. That part was good, he thought. What’s the rest?

“The vehicle is parked in front of a home owned by a man named Ramin Samir,” Hadley continued. “He’s a guy we’ve been keeping our eye on for a few years now. A real person of interest to us, you might say.”

The name was familiar to Bosch but he couldn’t place it at first.

“Why is he of interest, Captain?” he asked.

“Mr. Samir is a known supporter of religious organizations that want to hurt Americans and damage our interests. What’s worse than that is that he teaches our young people to hate their own country.”

That last part jogged Bosch’s memory and he put things together.

He could not recall which Middle Eastern country he was from, but Bosch remembered that Ramin Samir was a former visiting professor of international politics at USC who had gained widespread notice for espousing anti-American sentiment in the classroom and in the media.

He was making media ripples before the 9/11 domestic terrorist attacks. Afterward, the ripples became a wave. He openly postulated that the attacks were warranted because of U.S. intrusion and aggression all around the globe. He was able to parlay the attention this brought him into a position as the media go-to guy for the ever-ready anti-American quote or sound bite. He denigrated U.S. policies toward Israel, objected to the military action in Afghanistan and called the war in Iraq nothing more than an oil grab.

Samir’s role as agent provocateur was good for a few years of guest shots on the cable-news debate programs, where everybody tends to yell at one another. He was a perfect foil for both the right and the left and always willing to get up at 4 a.m. to make the Sunday-morning programs in the East.

Meantime, he used his soapbox and celebrity status to help start and fund a number of organizations on and off campus that were quickly accused by conservative interest groups and in newspaper investigations of being connected, at least tangentially, to terrorist organizations and anti-American jihads. Some even suggested that there were links to the grand master of all terror, Osama bin Laden. But while Samir was often investigated, he was never charged with any crime. He was, however, fired by USC on a technicality—he had not stated that his opinions were his own and not those of the school when he wrote an op-ed piece for the
Los Angeles Times
that suggested the Iraq war was an American-planned genocide of Muslims.

Samir’s fifteen minutes ran their course. He was eventually discounted in the media as a narcissistic provocateur who made outlandish statements in order to draw attention to himself rather than to thoughtfully comment on the issues of the day. After all, he had even named one of his organizations the YMCA—for Young Muslim Cause in America—just so the long-established youth organization with the same internationally recognized initials would file an attention-getting lawsuit.

Samir’s star waned and he dropped from public sight. Bosch could not remember the last time he had seen him on the box or in the paper. But all the rhetoric aside, the fact that Samir was never charged with a crime during a period when the climate in the United States was hot with fear of the unknown and the desire for vengeance always indicated to Bosch that there was nothing there. If there had been fire behind the smoke, then Ramin Samir would be in a prison cell or behind a fence at Guantánamo Bay. But here he was, living in Silver Lake, and Bosch was skeptical of Captain Hadley’s claims.

“I remember this guy,” he said. “He was just a talker, Captain. There was never any solid link between Samir and—”

Hadley held up a finger like a teacher demanding silence.

“Never a solid link
established
,” he corrected. “But that doesn’t mean anything. This guy raises money for the Palestinian Jihad and other Muslim causes.”

“The Palestinian Jihad?” Bosch asked. “What is that? And what Muslim causes? Are you saying Muslim causes can’t be legit?”

“Look, all I’m saying is that this is a bad dude and he’s got a car that was used in a murder and zesium heist sitting right in front of his house.”

“Cesium,” Ferras said. “It was cesium that was stolen.”

Not used to being corrected, Hadley narrowed his eyes and stared at Ferras for a moment before speaking.

“Whatever. It’s not going to make much difference what you call it, son, if he dumps it into the reservoir across the street or is in that house putting it in a bomb while we’re sitting here waiting on a warrant.”

BOOK: The Overlook
13.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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