Authors: Michael Connelly
Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #Suspense, #Fiction, #General, #Crime, #Thrillers, #Police Procedural
They looked into the car but didn’t touch it. Bosch noticed that it was unlocked. He bent down to look in through the passenger-side windows.
“Keys are in it,” he said.
He pulled a pair of latex gloves from his coat pocket, stretched them and put them on.
“Let’s get a reading on it first, Bosch,” Hadley said.
The captain signaled one of his men who was carrying a radiation monitor over. The man swept the device over the car and only picked up a few low pops by the trunk.
“We could have something right here,” Hadley said.
“I doubt it,” Bosch said. “It’s not here.”
He opened the driver-side door and leaned in.
Bosch pushed the trunk button before Hadley could finish. He heard the pneumatic pop and the trunk came open. He backed out of the car and walked to the rear. The trunk was empty, but Bosch saw the same four indentations he had seen earlier in the trunk of Stanley Kent’s Porsche.
“It’s gone,” Hadley said, looking into the trunk. “They must’ve already made the transfer.”
“Yeah, long before the car was brought here.”
Bosch looked Hadley squarely in the eyes.
“This was a misdirection, Captain. I told you that.”
Hadley moved toward Bosch so he could speak without his whole crew hearing him. But he was intercepted by Peck.
“The suspect went code seven.”
“Then call off the paramedics and call the coroner.”
“Yes, sir. The house is clear. No materials and the monitors are picking up no signature.”
Hadley glanced at Bosch and then quickly looked back at Peck.
“Tell them to check the place again,” he ordered. “The fucker went for a gun. He had to have been hiding something. Tear the place apart if you have to. Especially that room—it looks like a meeting place for terrorists.”
“It’s a prayer room,” Bosch said. “And maybe the guy went for the gun because he was scared shitless when people came busting through the doors.”
Peck hadn’t moved. He was listening to Bosch.
“Go!” Hadley ordered. “Tear the fucker apart! The material was in a lead container. Just because you got no reading doesn’t mean it’s not in there!”
Peck hustled back to the house and Hadley turned his stare to Bosch.
“We need Forensics to process the car,” Bosch said. “And I don’t have a phone to make the call.”
“Go get your phone and make the call.”
Bosch went back to the SUV. He watched the woman who had been in the house being placed in the back of the SUV parked on the lawn. She was still crying and Bosch assumed the tears wouldn’t stop anytime soon. For Samir now, herself later.
As he leaned through the door of Hadley’s SUV he realized that the vehicle was still running. He turned off the engine, then opened the glove compartment and took out the two phones. He opened and checked his to see if the call to Rachel Walling was still connected. It wasn’t and he didn’t know if the call had gone through in the first place.
When he turned from the door Hadley was standing there. They were away from the others and no one would hear them.
“Bosch, if you try to make trouble for this unit I will make trouble for you. You understand?”
Bosch studied him for a moment before responding.
“Sure, Captain. I’m glad you’re thinking about the unit.”
“I have connections that go all the way up and right out of this department. I can hurt you.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
Bosch started to walk away from him but then stopped. He wanted to say something but hesitated.
“What?” Hadley said. “Say it.”
“I was just thinking about a captain I once worked for. This was a long time ago and in another place. He kept making all the wrong moves and his fuckups kept costing people their lives. Good people. So eventually it had to stop. That captain ended up getting fragged in the latrine by some of his own men. The story was that afterward they couldn’t separate his parts from the shit.”
Bosch walked away but Hadley stopped him.
“What’s that supposed to mean? Is that a threat?”
“No, it’s a story.”
“And you’re calling that guy in there
people? Let me tell you, a guy like that stood up and cheered when the planes hit the buildings.”
Bosch kept walking as he answered.
“I don’t know what kind of people he was, Captain. I just know he wasn’t part of this and he was set up just like you. If you figure out who it was who tipped you to the car, let me know. It might help us.”
Bosch walked over to Ferras and gave him back his phone. He told his partner to remain on the scene to supervise the forensic analysis of the Chrysler.
“Where are you going, Harry?”
“What about the meeting with the bureau?”
Bosch didn’t check his watch.
“We missed it. Call me if SID comes up with anything.”
Bosch left him there and started walking down the street toward the recreation center, where the car was parked.
“Bosch, where are you going?” Hadley called. “You’re not done here!”
Bosch waved without looking back. He kept walking. When he was halfway back to the rec center the first TV truck passed him on its way to Samir’s house.
BOSCH WAS HOPING TO GET to the federal building downtown before news of the raid on Ramin Samir’s house did. He had tried to call Rachel Walling but got no answer. He knew that she might be at the Tactical Intelligence location but he didn’t know where that was. He only knew where the federal building was and he was banking on the idea that the growing size and importance of the investigation would dictate that it be directed from the main building and not a secret satellite office.
He entered the building through the law enforcement door and told the U.S. marshal who checked his ID that he was going up to the FBI. He took the elevator up to the fourteenth floor and was greeted by Brenner as soon as the doors came open. The word that Bosch was in the building had obviously been sent up from below.
“I thought you got the message,” Brenner said.
“That the status conference was canceled.”
“I think I should’ve gotten the message as soon as you people showed up. There never was going to be a status conference, was there?”
Brenner ignored the question.
“Bosch, what do you want?”
“I want to see Agent Walling.”
“I’m her partner. Anything you want to tell her, you can tell me.”
“Only her. I want to talk to her.”
Brenner studied him for a moment.
“Come with me,” he finally said.
He didn’t wait for a reply. He used a clip-on ID card to open a door and Bosch followed him through. They went down a long hallway and Brenner threw questions over his shoulder as he walked.
“Where’s your partner?” he asked.
“He’s back at the crime scene,” Bosch said.
It wasn’t a lie. Bosch just neglected to say which crime scene Ferras was at.
“Besides,” he added, “I thought it would be safer for him there. I don’t want you people leaning on him to get to me.”
Brenner suddenly stopped, pivoted sharply and was in Bosch’s face.
“Do you know what you are doing, Bosch? You’re compromising an investigation that could have far-reaching implications. Where is the witness?”
Bosch shrugged as if to say his response was obvious.
“Where’s Alicia Kent?”
Brenner shook his head but didn’t answer.
“Wait in here,” he said. “I’ll go get Agent Walling.”
Brenner opened a door that had the number 1411 on it and stepped back for Bosch to enter. As he stepped through the door Bosch saw that it was a small, windowless interview room similar to the one he had spent time in that morning with Jesse Mitford. Bosch was suddenly shoved into the room from behind and he turned just in time to see Brenner out in the hallway pulling the door closed.
Bosch grabbed for the doorknob but it was too late. The door was locked from the outside. He pounded twice on it but knew that Brenner was not about to open it. He turned away and looked at the small space he was confined in. Similar to those at the LAPD, the interview room contained only three items of furniture. A small square table and two chairs. Assuming there was a camera somewhere he raised his hand and shot his middle finger into the air. He gave his hand a twirl to emphasize the message.
Bosch pulled one of the chairs out and sat down on it backwards, ready to wait them out. He took his cell phone out and opened it. He knew that if they were watching him they wouldn’t want him calling out and reporting his situation—it could be embarrassing for the bureau. But when he looked at the screen there was no signal. It was a safe room. Radio signals could not get out or in. Leave it to the feds, Bosch thought. They think of everything.
A long twenty minutes went by and then the door finally opened. Rachel Walling stepped in. She closed the door, took the chair opposite Bosch and quietly sat down.
“Sorry, Harry, I was over at Tactical.”
“What the fuck, Rachel. You people hold cops against their will now?”
She looked surprised.
“What are you talking about?”
“What are you talking about?” Bosch repeated in a mocking voice. “Your partner locked me in here.”
“It wasn’t locked when I came in. Try it now.”
Bosch waved all the bullshit away.
“Forget it. I don’t have time to play games. What’s going on with the investigation?”
She pursed her lips as if considering how to respond.
“What’s going on is that you and your department have been running around like thieves in a jewelry store, smashing every goddamn case in sight. You can’t tell the glass from the diamonds.”
“So you know about Ramin Samir.”
“Who doesn’t? It’s already on I-Missed-It News. What happened up there?”
“A class-A fuckup is what happened. We were set up. OHS was set up.”
“Sounds like somebody was.”
Bosch leaned across the table.
“But it means something, Rachel. The people who put the OHS onto Samir knew who he was and that he’d make an easy target. They left the Kents’ car right in front of his house because they knew we’d end up spinning our wheels.”
“It also could have worked as a payback to Samir.”
“What do you mean?”
“All those years he was on CNN fanning the flames. He could’ve been seen as hurting their cause because he was giving the enemy a face and heightening American anger and resolve.”
Bosch didn’t get it.
“I thought agitation was one of their tools. I thought they loved this guy.”
“Maybe. It’s hard to say.”
Bosch wasn’t sure what she was trying to say. But when Rachel leaned across the table he suddenly could see how angry she was.
“Now let’s talk about you and how you have been single-handedly fucking things up since before the car was even found.”
“What are you talking about? I’m trying to solve a homicide. That’s my—”
“Yes, trying to solve a homicide at the possible cost of endangering the entire city with this petty, selfish and self-righteous insistence on—”
“Come on, Rachel, don’t you think I have an idea about what could be at stake here?”
She shook her head.
“Not if you are holding back a key witness from us. Don’t you see what you are doing? You have no idea where this investigation is headed because you’ve been busy hiding witnesses and sucker punching agents.”
Bosch leaned back, clearly surprised.
“Is that what Maxwell said, that I sucker punched him?”
“It doesn’t matter what he said. We are trying to control a potentially devastating situation here and I don’t understand why you are making the moves you are making.”
“That makes sense,” he said. “You shut somebody out of his own investigation and it stands to reason you won’t know what he is up to.”
She held her hands up as if to stop an oncoming train.
“Okay, let’s just stop everything right here. Talk to me, Harry. What is your problem?”
Bosch looked at her and then up at the ceiling. He studied the upper corners of the room and dropped his eyes back to hers.
“You want to talk? Let’s take a walk outside, then we can talk.”
She didn’t hesitate.
“Okay, fine,” she said. “Let’s walk and talk. And then you’ll give me Mitford.”
Walling got up and moved to the door. Bosch saw her quickly glance up at an air-conditioning grille high on the back wall and it confirmed for him that they were on camera.
She opened the unlocked door and Brenner and another agent were waiting in the hallway.
“We’re going to take a little walk,” Walling said. “Alone.”
“Have a great time,” Brenner said. “We’ll be in here trying to track the cesium, maybe save a few lives.”
Walling and Bosch didn’t respond. She led him down the hall. Just as they were at the door to the elevator hall Bosch heard a voice from behind him.
He turned just in time to take Agent Maxwell’s shoulder in the chest. He was driven into the wall and held up against it.
“You’re a little outnumbered this time, aren’t you, Bosch!”
“Stop!” Walling shouted. “Cliff, stop it!”
Bosch brought his arm up around Maxwell’s head and was going to pull him down into a headlock. But Walling waded in and pulled Maxwell away and then pushed him back up the hallway.
“Cliff, get back! Get away!”
Maxwell started moving backwards up the hall. He pointed a finger over Walling’s shoulder at Bosch.
“Get out of my building, motherfucker! Get out and stay out!”
Walling shoved him into the first open office and then closed the door on him. By then several other agents had come into the hallway to see what the commotion was about.
“It’s all over,” Walling announced. “Everybody just go back to work.”
She came back to Bosch and pushed him through the door to the elevator.
“Only hurts when I breathe.”