Read The Overlook Online

Authors: Michael Connelly

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

The Overlook (22 page)

BOOK: The Overlook
5.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“You tell me.”

Bosch opened the bottle and drank the rest of the water. He held the empty bottle in his hand as he continued.

“You narrow it down by continuing to go backwards. Where would Alicia Kent’s life have intersected with one of those people in the agencies who knew about Moby?”

Walling frowned and shook her head.

“That could have been anywhere with those kinds of parameters. In line at the supermarket, or when she was buying fertilizer for her roses. Anywhere.”

Bosch now had her right where he wanted her to be.

“Then narrow the parameters,” he said. “Where would she have intersected with someone who knew about Moby but also knew that her husband had access to the sort of radioactive materials Moby might be interested in?”

Now she shook her head in a dismissive way.

“Nowhere. It would take a monumental coincidence to—”

She stopped when it came to her. Enlightenment. And shock as she fully understood where Bosch was going.

“My partner and I visited the Kents to warn them early last year. I guess what you’re saying is that that makes me a suspect.”

Bosch shook his head.

“I said ‘he,’ remember? You didn’t come here alone.”

Her eyes fired when she registered the implication.

“That’s ridiculous. There’s no way. I can’t believe you would . . .”

She didn’t finish as her mind snagged on something, some memory that undermined her trust and loyalty to her partner. Bosch picked up on the tell and moved in closer.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“What?”

“Look,” she insisted, “take my advice and tell no one this theory of yours. You’re lucky you told me first. Because this makes you sound like some kind of crackpot with a vendetta. You have no evidence, no motive, no incriminating statements, nothing. You just have this thing you’ve spun out of . . . out of a yoga poster.”

“There is no other explanation that fits with the facts. And I’m talking about the facts of the case. Not the fact that the bureau and Homeland Security and the rest of the federal government would love this to be a terrorism event so they can justify their existence and deflect criticism from other failings. Contrary to what you want to think, there
is
evidence and there
are
incriminating statements. If we put Alicia Kent on a lie detector, you’ll find out that everything she told me, you and the master interrogator downtown is a lie. The real master was Alicia Kent. As in master manipulator.”

Walling leaned forward and looked down at the floor.

“Thank you, Harry. That master interrogator you love deriding happens to have been me.”

Bosch’s mouth dropped open for a moment before he spoke.

“Oh . . . well . . . then, sorry . . . but it doesn’t matter. The point is, she is a master liar. She lied about everything and now that we know the story, it will be easy to smoke her out.”

Walling got up from her seat and walked over to the front picture window. The vertical blinds were closed but she split them with a finger and stared out into the street. Bosch could see her working the story over, grinding it down.

“What about the witness?” she asked without turning around. “He heard the shooter yell
Allah
. Are you saying he’s part of this? Or are you saying they just happened to know he was there and yelled
Allah
as part of this master manipulation?”

Bosch gently tried to clear his throat. It was burning and making it difficult for him to talk.

“No, on that I think it’s just a lesson in hearing what you want to hear. I plead guilty to not being much of a master interrogator myself. The kid told me that he heard the shooter yell it as he pulled the trigger. He said he wasn’t sure but that it sounded like
Allah
and that, of course, worked with what I was thinking at the time. I heard what I wanted to hear.”

Walling came away from the window, sat back down and folded her arms. Bosch finally sat down on a chair directly across from her. He continued.

“But how would the witness know it was the shooter and not the victim who yelled?” he asked. “He was more than fifty yards away. It was dark. How would he know that it wasn’t Stanley Kent yelling out his last word before execution? The name of the woman he loved, because he was about to die not even knowing that she’d betrayed him.”

“Alicia.”

“Exactly.
Alicia
interrupted by a gunshot becomes
Allah
.”

Walling relaxed her arms and leaned forward. As body language went, it was a good sign. It told Bosch he was pushing through.

“You said the
first
set of snap ties before,” she said. “What were you talking about?”

Bosch nodded and handed across the file containing the crime scene photos. He had saved the best for last.

“Look at the photos,” he said. “What do you see?”

She opened the file and started looking at the crime scene photos. They depicted the master bedroom in the Kent house from all angles.

“It’s the master bedroom,” she said. “What am I missing?”

“Exactly.”

“What?”

“It’s what you don’t see. There are no clothes in the shot. She told us they told her to sit on the bed and take off her clothes. What are we supposed to believe, that they let her put the clothes away before they hog-tied her? They let her put them in the hamper? Look at the last shot. It’s the e-mail photo Stanley Kent got.”

Walling looked through the file until she found the printout of the e-mail photo. She stared intently at it. He saw recognition break in her eyes.

“Now what do you see?”

“The robe,” she said excitedly. “When we let her get dressed, she went to the
closet
to get her robe. There was no robe on that lounge chair!”

Bosch nodded and they started trading pieces of the story back and forth.

“What does that tell us?” he asked. “That these considerate terrorists hung the robe up in the closet for her after taking the photo?”

“Or that maybe Mrs. Kent was tied up twice and the robe was moved in between?”

“And look again at the picture. The clock on the bed table is unplugged.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know but maybe they didn’t want to worry about having any sort of time stamp on the photo. Maybe the first photo wasn’t even taken yesterday. Maybe it came from a dry run two days ago or even two weeks.”

Rachel nodded and Bosch knew she was committed. She was a believer.

“She was tied up once for the photo and then once again for the rescue,” she said.

“Exactly. And that left her free to help carry out the plan on the overlook. She didn’t kill her husband but she was up there in the other car. And once Stanley was dead and the cesium was dumped and the car was ditched at Samir’s she and her partner came back home and she was tied up all over again.”

“She wasn’t passed out when we got there. That was an act and part of the plan. And her wetting the bed was a nice little touch to help sell it to us.”

“The smell of urine also covered up the smell of grape juice.”

“What do you mean?”

“The purple bruises on her wrists and ankles. Now we know she wasn’t tied up for hours. But she still had those bruises. There’s an opened bottle of grape juice in the fridge and paper towels soaked with it out in the trash can. She used grape juice to create the bruises.”

“Oh, my God, I can’t believe this.”

“What?”

“When I was in the room with her at TIU. That small space. I thought I smelled grape in the room. I thought somebody had been in there before us and had been drinking grape juice. I smelled it!”

“There you go.”

There was no doubt now. Bosch had her. But then a shadow of concern and doubt moved across Walling’s face like a summer cloud.

“What about motive?” she asked. “This is a federal agent we’re talking about. To move on this we need everything, even motive. There can be nothing left open to chance.”

Bosch had been ready for the question.

“You saw the motive. Alicia Kent is a beautiful woman. Jack Brenner wanted her and Stanley Kent was in the way of that.”

Walling’s eyes widened in shock. Bosch pressed on with his case.

“That’s the motive, Rachel. You—”

“But he—”

“Let me just finish. It goes like this. You and your partner show up here that day last year to give the Kents the warning about his occupation. Some kind of vibe is exchanged between Alicia and Jack. He gets interested, she gets interested. They meet on the sly for coffee or for drinks or whatever. One thing leads to another. An affair begins and it lasts and then it lasts to the point that it’s time to start thinking about doing something. Leaving the husband. Or getting rid of him because there’s insurance and half a company at stake. That’s enough motive right there, Rachel, and that’s what this case is about. It’s not about cesium or terrorism or anything else. It’s the basic equation: sex plus money equals murder. That’s all.”

She frowned and shook her head.

“You don’t know what you are talking about. Jack Brenner is married and has three children. He’s stable, boring and not interested. He wasn’t—”

“Every man is interested. It doesn’t matter if they’re married or how many kids they have.”

She spoke quietly.

“Would you listen and let me finish now? You are wrong about Brenner. He never met Alicia Kent before today. He wasn’t my partner when I came here last year and I never told you he was.”

Bosch was jolted by the news. He’d assumed that her current partner had been her partner last year. He’d had Brenner’s image locked and loaded in his mind as he had unfolded the story.

“At the start of the year all partners in TIU were shuffled. It’s the routine. It promotes a better team concept. I’ve been with Jack since January.”

“Who was your partner last year, Rachel?”

She held his eyes for a long moment.

“It was Cliff Maxwell.”

 

NINETEEN

 

HARRY BOSCH ALMOST LAUGHED but was too shocked to do anything but shake his head. Rachel Walling was telling him that Cliff Maxwell was Alicia Kent’s partner in murder.

“I can’t believe this,” he finally said. “About five hours ago I had the killer handcuffed on the floor right here!”

Rachel looked mortified by the realization that the murder of Stanley Kent was an inside job and the theft of the cesium was nothing more than a well-played misdirection.

“You see the rest now?” Bosch asked. “You see how he would work it? Her husband’s dead and he starts coming around out of sympathy and because he’s on the case. They start dating, fall in love and nobody ever raises an eyebrow about it. They’re still out there looking for Moby and El-Fayed.”

“And what if we ever catch those guys?” Walling said, taking up the story. “They could deny being a part of this thing until Osama bin Laden dies in a cave of old age but who would believe them or care? There’s nothing more ingenious than framing terrorists with a crime they didn’t commit. They can never defend themselves.”

Bosch nodded.

“A perfect crime,” he said. “The only reason it blew up was because Digoberto Gonzalves checked that Dumpster. Without him we’d still be chasing Moby and El-Fayed, probably thinking that they had used Samir’s place as a safe house.”

“So, what do we do now, Bosch?”

Bosch shrugged but then answered anyway.

“I say we set up a classic rattrap. Put them both in rooms, ring the bell and say the first one who talks gets the deal. I’d bet on Alicia. She’ll break and give him up, probably blame him for everything, say she was acting under his influence and control.”

“Something tells me you’re right. And the truth is, I don’t think Maxwell was smart enough to pull this off. I worked with—”

Her cell phone started buzzing. She took it out of her pocket and looked at the screen.

“It’s Jack.”

“Find out where Maxwell is.”

She answered the call and first replied to a few questions about Bosch’s status, telling Brenner that he was okay but was losing his voice because his throat hurt. Bosch got up for another bottle of water but listened from the kitchen. Walling casually steered the call toward Maxwell.

“Hey, where’s Cliff, by the way? I wanted to talk to him about that thing with Bosch in the hallway. I didn’t like what he—”

She stopped and listened to the answer and Bosch saw her eyes immediately become alert. Something was wrong.

“When was that?” she asked.

She listened again and stood up.

“Listen, Jack, I’ve got to go. I think Bosch is about to be discharged. I’ll check in as soon as I’m clear here.”

She closed the phone and looked at Bosch.

“I can’t stand lying to him. He won’t forget it.”

“What did he say?”

“He said there were too many agents at the recovery scene—just about everybody came out from downtown and they were standing around waiting on the radiation team. So Maxwell volunteered to go pick up the witness at the Mark Twain. Nobody had gotten around to it because I’d pulled off the original pickup team.”

“He went alone?”

“That’s what Jack said.”

“How long ago?”

“A half hour.”

“He’s going to kill him.”

Bosch started moving quickly toward the door.

 

TWENTY

 

BOSCH DROVE THIS TIME. On the way toward Hollywood he told Walling that Jesse Mitford had no phone in his room. The Mark Twain wasn’t much when it came to full service. Instead, Bosch called the watch commander at Hollywood Division and asked him to send a patrol car to the hotel to check on the witness. He then called information and was connected to the front desk at the Mark Twain.

“Alvin, this is Detective Bosch. From this morning?”

“Yeah, yeah. What’s up with you, Detective?”

“Has anyone come in asking for Stephen King?”

“Mmm, nope.”

“In the last twenty minutes have you buzzed in anybody who looked like a cop or who wasn’t a tenant there?”

“No, Detective. What’s going on?”

BOOK: The Overlook
5.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Burned by Natasha Deen
Ten Little Bloodhounds by Virginia Lanier
Magic Can Be Murder by Vivian Vande Velde
One by One by Simon Kernick
Blood Kin by M.J. Scott
In Her Name: The Last War by Hicks, Michael R.
Figgs & Phantoms by Ellen Raskin
Never to Sleep by Rachel Vincent
Office of Innocence by Thomas Keneally