Authors: Michael Connelly
Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #Suspense, #Fiction, #General, #Crime, #Thrillers, #Police Procedural
The crowd moved by, and then Bosch looked around the pillar. The market was now empty. There was no sign of Maxwell but then Bosch picked up movement in one of the cold cases that fronted a butcher shop at the end of the aisle. He looked again closely and realized that the movement came from behind the case. Looking through the front and back glass panels and over the display of cuts of beef and pork, Bosch could see Maxwell’s face. He was on the ground, leaning his back against a refrigerator in the rear of the butcher shop.
“He’s up ahead in the butcher shop,” he whispered to Walling. “You go to the right and down that aisle. You’ll be able to come up on his right.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll go straight on and get his attention.”
“Or we could wait for backup.”
“I’m not waiting.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“No, switch. I go head-on and get his attention and you come around the side.”
Bosch knew it was the better plan because she knew Maxwell and Maxwell knew her. But it also meant she would face the most danger.
“You sure?” he asked.
“Yes. It’s right.”
Bosch looked around the pillar one more time and saw that Maxwell had not moved. His face looked red and sweaty. Bosch looked back at Walling.
“He’s still there.”
“Good. Let’s do it.”
They separated and started moving. Bosch quickly moved down an aisle of concessions one over from the aisle that ended at the butcher shop. When he came to the end he was at a Mexican coffee shop with high walls. He was able to protect himself and look around the corner at the butcher shop. This gave him a side view behind the counter. He saw Maxwell twenty feet away. He was slouched against the refrigerator door, still holding his weapon in two hands. His shirt was completely soaked in blood.
Bosch leaned back into cover, gathered himself and got ready to step out and approach Maxwell. But then he heard Walling’s voice.
“Cliff? It’s me, Rachel. Let me get you some help.”
Bosch looked around the corner. Walling was standing out in the open five feet in front of the deli counter, her gun down at her side.
“There is no help,” Maxwell said. “It’s too late for me.”
Bosch recognized that if Maxwell wanted to take a shot at her the bullet would have to go through both the front and back glass panels of the deli case. With the front plate set at an angle it would take a miracle bullet to get to her. But miracles did happen. Bosch raised his weapon, braced it against the wall and was ready to shoot if he needed to.
“Come on, Cliff,” Walling said. “Give it up. Don’t end it like this.”
“No other way.”
Maxwell’s body was suddenly racked by a deep, wet coughing. Blood came to his lips.
“Jesus, that guy really got me,” he said before coughing again.
“Cliff?” Walling pleaded. “Let me come in there. I want to help.”
“No, you come in and I’m going to—”
His words were lost when he opened fire on the deli case, sweeping his gun and shooting out the glass doors all the way down. Rachel ducked and Bosch stepped out and straightened his arms in a two-handed grip. He held himself from shooting but keyed on the barrel of Maxwell’s weapon. If the muzzle zeroed in on Walling he was going to shoot Maxwell in the head.
Maxwell lowered his weapon to his lap and started to laugh, blood rolling down from both corners of his mouth and creating a freak clown look.
“I think . . . I think I just killed a porterhouse.”
He laughed again but it made him start to cough once more and that looked painful. When it subsided he spoke.
“I just want to say . . . that it was her. She wanted him dead. I just . . . I just wanted her. That’s all. But she wouldn’t have it any other way . . . and I did what she wanted. For that . . . I am damned . . .”
Bosch took a step closer. He didn’t think that Maxwell had noticed him yet. He took one more step and then Maxwell spoke again.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Rachel? Tell them I’m sorry.”
“Cliff,” Walling said. “You can tell them that yourself.”
As Bosch watched, Maxwell brought his gun up and put the muzzle under his chin. Without hesitation he pulled the trigger. The impact snapped his head back and sent a spatter of blood up the refrigerator door. The gun dropped onto the concrete floor between his outstretched legs. In his suicide Maxwell had adopted the same position as his lover, the woman he had just killed.
Walling came around the case and stood next to Bosch and together they looked down at the dead agent. She said nothing. Bosch checked his watch. It was almost one. He had ridden the case from beginning to end in little more than twelve hours. The tally was five dead, one wounded and one dying of radiation exposure.
And then there was himself. Bosch wondered if he was going to be part of the tally by the time all was said and done. His throat was now blazing and there was a feeling of heaviness in his chest.
He looked at Rachel and saw blood running down her cheek again. She would need stitches to close the wound.
“You know what?” he said. “I’ll take you to the hospital if you take me.”
She looked at him and smiled sort of sadly.
“Throw in Iggy and you’ve got yourself a deal.”
Bosch left her there with Maxwell and walked back to the Million Dollar Theater building to check on his partner. While he was on his way, backup units were pulling in everywhere and crowds were forming. Bosch decided he would leave it to the patrol officers to take charge of the crime scenes.
Ferras was sitting in the open door of his car, waiting for the paramedics. He was holding his arm at an awkward angle and was clearly in pain. The blood had spread on his shirt.
“You want some water?” Bosch asked. “I’ve got a bottle in my trunk.”
“No, I’ll just wait. I wish they’d get here.”
The signature siren of a fire-rescue paramedic truck could be heard in the distance, getting closer.
“What happened, Harry?”
Bosch leaned against the side of the car and told him that Maxwell had just killed himself as they had closed in on him.
“Hell of a way to go, I guess,” Ferras said. “Cornered like that.”
Bosch nodded but kept silent. As they waited his thoughts carried him down the streets and up the hills to the overlook, where the last thing Stanley Kent ever saw was the city spread before him in beautiful shimmering lights. Maybe to Stanley it looked like heaven was waiting for him at the end.
But Bosch thought that it didn’t really matter if you died cornered in a butcher shop or on an overlook glimpsing the lights of heaven. You were gone and the finale wasn’t the part that mattered. We are all circling the drain, he thought. Some are closer to the black hole than others. Some will see it coming and some will have no clue when the undertow of the whirlpool grabs them and pulls them down into darkness forever.
The important thing is to fight it, Bosch told himself. Always keep kicking. Always keep fighting the undertow.
The rescue unit turned the corner at Broadway, working its way around several stopped cars before finally braking at the mouth of the alley and killing the siren. Bosch helped his partner up and out of the car and they walked to the paramedics.
This is a work of fiction. In making it up the author relied upon the help of several experts in the fields the story moved across. Most notably the author wishes to thank Drs. Larry Gandle and Ignacio Ferras for patiently responding to every question put to them in regard to the practice of oncology, medical physics and the use and handling of cesium. In the field of law enforcement, the author would be lost in the woods without the help of Rick Jackson, David Lambkin, Tim Marcia, Greg Stout and a few others who prefer anonymity. Any mistakes or exaggerations in these areas contained in
are purely the fault of the author.
The author also wishes to acknowledge the editorial help and generosity of Asya Muchnick, Michael Pietsch, Bill Massey and Jane Wood as well as Terrill Lee Lankford, Pamela Marshall, Carolyn Chriss, Shannon Byrne, Jane Davis and Linda Connelly.
About the Author
Michael Connelly originally created
as a sixteen-part serial for the
New York Times Magazine.
However, he has expanded it substantially for this first hardcover edition. Connelly is a former journalist and author of the bestselling series of Harry Bosch novels, along with the bestselling novels
The Lincoln Lawyer, Chasing the Dime, Void Moon, Blood Work,
He has won numerous awards for his journalism and novels, including an Edgar Award.
ALSO BY MICHAEL CONNELLY
The Black Echo
The Black Ice
The Concrete Blonde
The Last Coyote
A Darkness More Than Night
City of Bones
Chasing the Dime
The Lincoln Lawyer