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The Night Fire / (by Michael Connelly, 2019) -

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The Night Fire /   (by Michael Connelly, 2019) -

The Night Fire / (by Michael Connelly, 2019) -

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The Night Fire / (by Michael Connelly, 2019) -
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2019
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Michael Connelly
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Christine Lakin, Titus Welliver
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upper-intermediate
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10:04:07
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64 kbps
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mp3, pdf, doc

The Night Fire / :

.doc (Word) michael_connelly_-_the_night_fire.doc [790.5 Kb] (c: 6) .
.pdf michael_connelly_-_the_night_fire.pdf [1.63 Mb] (c: 4) .
audiobook (MP3) .


: The Night Fire

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BOSCH 1 Bosch arrived late and had to park on a cemetery lane far from the grave site. Careful not to step on anybodys grave, he limped through two memorial sections, his cane sinking into the soft ground, until he saw the gathering for John Jack Thompson. It was standing room only around the old detectives grave site and Bosch knew that wouldnt work with his knee six weeks post-op. He retreated to the nearby Garden of Legends section and sat on a concrete bench that was part of Tyrone Powers tomb. He assumed it was okay since it was clearly a bench. He remembered his mother taking him to see Power in the movies when he was a kid. Old stuff they would run in the revival theaters on Beverly. He remembered the handsome actor as Zorro and as the accused American in Witness for the Prosecution. He had died on the job, suffering a heart attack while filming a dueling scene in Spain. Bosch had always thought it wasnt a bad way to godoing what you loved. The service for Thompson lasted a half hour. Bosch was too far away to hear what was said but he could guess. John Jackhe was always called thatwas a good man who gave forty years of service to the Los Angeles Police Department in uniform and as a detective. He put many bad people away and taught generations of detectives how to do the same. One of them was Boschpaired with the legend as a newly minted homicide detective in Hollywood Division more than three decades earlier. Among other things, John Jack had taught Bosch how to read the tells of a liar in an interrogation room. John Jack always knew when somebody was lying. He once told Bosch it took a liar to know a liar but never explained how he had come by that piece of wisdom. Their pairing had lasted only two years because Bosch trained well and John Jack was needed to break in the next new homicide man, but the mentor and student had stayed in touch through the years. Bosch spoke at Thompsons retirement party, recounting the time they were working a murder case and John Jack pulled over a bakery delivery truck when he saw it turn right at a red light without first coming to a complete stop. Bosch questioned why they had interrupted their search for a murder suspect for a minor traffic infraction and John Jack said it was because he and his wife, Margaret, were having company for dinner that night and he needed to bring home a dessert. He got out of their city-ride, approached the truck, and badged the driver. He told him he had just committed a two-pie traffic offense. But being a fair man, John Jack cut a deal for one cherry pie and came back to the city car with that nights dessert. Those kinds of stories and the legend of John Jack Thompson had dimmed in the twenty years since his retirement, but the gathering around his grave was thick and Bosch recognized many of the men and women he had worked with during his own time with an LAPD badge. He suspected the reception at John Jacks house after the service was going to be equally crowded and might last into the night. Bosch had been to too many funerals of retired detectives to count. His generation was losing the war of attrition. This one was highend, though. It featured the official LAPD honor guard and pipers. That was a nod to John Jacks former standing in the department. Amazing Grace echoed mournfully across the cemetery and over the wall that divided it from Paramount Studios. After the casket was lowered and people started heading back to their cars, Bosch made his way across the lawn to where Margaret remained seated, a folded flag in her lap. She smiled at Bosch as he approached. Harry, you got my message, she said. Im glad you came. Wouldnt miss it, Bosch said. He leaned down, kissed her cheek, and squeezed her hand. He was a good man, Margaret, he said. I learned a lot from him. He was, she said. And you were one of his favorites. He took great pride in all of the cases you closed. Bosch turned and looked down into the grave. John Jacks box appeared to have been made of stainless steel. He picked it, Margaret said. He said it looked like a bullet. Bosch smiled. Im sorry I didnt get over to see him, he said. Before the end. Its okay, Harry, she said. You had your knee. How is it doing? Better every day. I wont need this cane much longer. When John Jack had his knees done he said it was a new lease on life. That was fifteen years ago. Bosch just nodded. He thought a new lease on life was a little optimistic. Are you coming back to the house? Margaret asked. There is something there for you. From him. Bosch looked at her. From him? Youll see. Something I would give only to you. Bosch saw members of the family gathered by a couple of stretch limos in the parking lane. It looked like two generations of children. Can I walk you over to the limo? Bosch asked. That would be nice, Harry, Margaret said. 2 Bosch had picked up a cherry pie that morning at Gelsons and that was what had made him late to the funeral. He carried it into the bungalow on Orange Grove, where John Jack and Margaret Thompson had lived for more than fifty years. He put it on the dining room table with the other plates and trays of food. The house was crowded. Bosch said hellos and shook a few hands as he pushed his way through the knots of people, looking for Margaret. He found her in the kitchen, oven mitts on and getting a hot pan out of the oven. Keeping busy. Harry, she said. Did you bring the pie? Yes, he said. I put it on the table. She opened a drawer and gave Bosch a spatula and a knife. What were you going to give me? Bosch asked. Just hold your horses, Margaret said. First cut the pie, then go back to John Jacks office. Down the hall, on the left. Its on his desk and you cant miss it. Bosch went into the dining room and used the knife she had given him to cut the pie into eight slices. He then made his way again through the people crowded in the living room to the hallway that led back to John Jacks home office. He had been there before. Years earlier, when they worked cases together, after a long shift Bosch would often end up at the Thompson house for a late meal prepared by Margaret and a strategy session with John Jack. Sometimes Bosch would take the couch in the home office and sleep a few hours before getting back to work on the case. He even kept spare clothes in the office closet. Margaret always left a fresh towel for him in the guest bathroom. The door was closed and for some reason he knocked, even though he knew no one should be in there. He opened the door and entered a small cluttered office with shelves on two walls and a desk pushed up against a third under a window. The couch was still there, across from the window. Sitting on a green blotter on the desk was a thick blue plastic binder with three inches of documents inside. It was a murder book. BALLARD 3 Ballard studied what she could see of the remains with an unflinching eye. The smell of kerosene mixed with that of burned flesh was overpowering this close, but she stood her ground. She was in charge of the scene until the fire experts arrived. The nylon tent had melted and collapsed on the victim. It tightly shrouded the body in places where the fire had not completely burned through. The body seemed to be in repose and she wondered how he could have slept through it. She also knew that toxicity tests would determine his alcohol and drug levels. Maybe he never felt a thing. Ballard knew it would not be her case but she pulled out her phone and took photos of the body and the scene, including close-ups of the overturned camping heater, the presumed source of the blaze. She then opened the temperature app on the phone and noted that the current temperature listed for Hollywood was 52 degrees. That would go in her report and be forwarded to the Fire Departments arson unit. She stepped back and looked around. It was 3:15 a.m. and Cole Avenue was largely deserted, except for the homeless people who had come out of the tents and cardboard shanties that lined the sidewalk running alongside the Hollywood Recreation Center. They stared both wide-eyed and addled as the investigation into the death of one of their own proceeded. Howd we get this? Ballard asked. Stan Dvorek, the patrol sergeant who had called her out, stepped over. He had worked the late-show shift longer than anybody at Hollywood Divisionmore than ten years. Others on the shift called him The Relic, but not to his face. FD called us, he said. They got it from communications. Somebody driving by saw the flames and called it in as a fire. They get a name on the PR? Ballard asked. He didnt give one. Called it in, kept driving. Nice. Two fire trucks were still on scene, having made the journey just three blocks down from Station 27 to douse the burning tent. The crews were standing by to be questioned. Im going to take the fire guys, Ballard said. Why dont you have your guys talk to some of these people, see if anybody saw anything. Isnt that arsons job? Dvorek asked. Theyre just going to have to reinterview if we find anybody worth talking to. First on scene, Devo. We need to do this right. Ballard walked away, ending the debate. Dvorek might be the patrol supervisor but Ballard was in charge of the crime scene. Until it was determined that the fatal fire was an accident she would treat it as a crime scene. She walked over to the waiting firefighters and asked which of the two crews was first on scene. She then asked the six firefighters assigned to the first truck what they saw. The information she received from them was thin. The tent fire had almost burned itself out by the time the fire-rescue team arrived. Nobody saw anyone around the blaze or nearby in the park. No witnesses, no suspects. A fire extinguisher from the truck had been used to douse the remaining flames, and the victim was pronounced dead and was therefore not transported to a hospital. From there Ballard took a walk up and down the block, looking for cameras. The homeless encampment ran along the city parks outdoor basketball courts, where there were no security cameras. On the west side of Cole was a line of one-story warehouses inhabited by prop houses and equipment-rental houses catering to the film and television industry. Ballard saw a few cameras but suspected that they were either dummies or set at angles that would not be helpful to the investigation. When she got back to the scene, she saw Dvorek conferring with two of his patrol officers. Ballard recognized them from the morning-watch roll call at Hollywood Division. Anything? Ballard asked. About what youd expect, Dvorek said. I didnt see nothin, I didnt hear nothin, I dont know nothin. Waste of time. Ballard nodded. Had to be done, she said. So where the fuck is arson? Dvorek asked. I need to get my people back out. Last I heard, in transit. They dont run twenty-four hours, so they had to roust a team from home. Jesus, well be waiting out here all night. Did you roll the coroner out yet? On the way. You can probably clear half your guys and yourself. Just leave one car here. You got it. Dvorek went off to issue new orders to his officers. Ballard walked back to the immediate crime scene and looked at the tent that had melted over the dead man like a shroud. She was staring down at it when peripheral movement caught her eye. She looked up to see a woman and a girl climbing out of a shelter made of a blue plastic tarp tied to the fence that surrounded the basketball court. Ballard moved quickly to them and redirected them away from the body. Honey, you dont want to go over there, she said. Come this way. She walked them down the sidewalk to the end of the encampment. What happened? the woman asked. Ballard studied the girl as she answered. Somebody got burned, she said. Did you see anything? It happened about an hour ago. We were sleeping, the woman said. Shes got school in the morning. The girl had still not said anything. Why arent you in a shelter? Ballard asked. This is dangerous out here. That fire couldve spread. She looked from the mother to the daughter. How old are you? The girl had large brown eyes and brown hair and was slightly overweight. The woman stepped in front of her and answered Ballard. Please dont take her from me. Ballard saw the pleading look in the womans brown eyes. Im not here to do that. I just want to make sure shes safe. Youre her mother? Yes. My daughter. Whats her name? AmandaMandy. How old? Fourteen. Ballard leaned down to talk to the girl. She had her eyes cast down. Mandy? Are you okay? She nodded. Would you want me to try to get you and your mother into a shelter for women and children? It might be better than being out here. Mandy looked up at her mother when she answered. No. I want to stay here with my mother. Im not going to separate you. I will take you and your mother if you want. The girl looked up at her mother again for guidance. You put us in there and they will take her away, the mother said. I know they will. No, Ill stay here, the girl said quickly. Okay, Ballard said. I wont do anything, but I dont think this is where you should be. Its not safe out here for either of you. The shelters arent safe either, the mother said. People steal all your stuff. Ballard pulled out a business card and handed it to her. Call me if you need anything, she said. I work the midnight shift. Ill be around if you need me. The mother took the card and nodded. Ballards thoughts returned to the case. She turned and gestured toward the crime scene. Did you know him? she asked. A little, the mother said. He minded his own business. Do you know his name? Uh, I think it was Ed. Eddie, he said. Okay. Had he been here a long time? A couple months. He said he had been over at Blessed Sacrament but it was getting too crowded for him. Ballard knew that Blessed Sacrament on Sunset allowed the homeless to camp on the front portico. She drove by it often and knew it to be heavily crowded at night with tents and makeshift shelters, all of which disappeared at daylight before church services began. Hollywood was a different place in the dark hours, after the neon and glitter had dimmed. Ballard saw the change every night. It became a place of predators and prey and nothing in between, a place where the haves were comfortably and safely behind their locked doors and the have-nots freely roamed. Ballard always remembered the words of a late-show patrol poet. He called them human tumbleweeds moving with the winds of fate. Did he have any trouble with anybody here? she asked. Not that I saw, said the mother. Did you see him last night? No, I dont think so. He wasnt around when we went to sleep. Ballard looked at Amanda to see if she had a response but was interrupted by a voice from behind. Detective? Ballard turned around. It was one of Dvoreks officers. His name was Rollins. He was new to the division or he wouldnt have been so formal. What? The guys from arson are here. They Okay. Ill be right there. She turned back to the woman and her daughter. Thank you, she said. And remember, you can call me anytime. As Ballard headed back toward the body and the men from arson, she couldnt help remembering again that line about tumbleweeds. Written on a field interview card by an officer Ballard later learned had seen too much of the depressing and dark hours of Hollywood and taken his own life. 4 The men from arson were named Nuccio and Spellman. Following LAFD protocol, they were wearing blue coveralls with the LAFD badge on the chest pocket and the word ARSON across the back. Nuccio was the senior investigator and he said he would be lead. Both men shook Ballards hand before Nuccio announced that they would take the investigation from there. Ballard explained that a cursory sweep of the homeless encampment had produced no witnesses, while a walk up and down Cole Avenue had found no cameras with an angle on the fatal fire. She also mentioned that the coroners office was rolling a unit to the scene and a criminalist from the LAPD lab was en route as well. Nuccio seemed uninterested. He handed Ballard a business card with his e-mail address on it and asked that she forward the death report she would write up when she got back to Hollywood Station. Thats it? Ballard asked. Thats all you need? She knew that LAFD arson experts had law enforcement and detective training and were expected to conduct a thorough investigation of any fire involving a death. She also knew they were competitive with the LAPD in the way a little brother might be with his older sibling. The arson guys didnt like being in the LAPDs shadow. Thats it, Nuccio said. You send me your report and Ill have your e-mail. Ill let you know how it all shakes out. Youll have it by dawn, Ballard said. You want to keep the uniforms here while you work? Sure. One or two of them would be nice. Just have them watch our backs. Ballard walked away and over to Rollins and his partner, Randolph, who were waiting by their car for instructions. She told them to stand by and keep the scene secure while the investigation proceeded. Ballard used her cell to call the Hollywood Division watch office and report that she was about to leave the scene. The lieutenant was named Washington. He was a new transfer from Wilshire Division. Though he had previously worked Watch Three, as the midnight shift was officially called, he was still getting used to things at Hollywood Division. Most divisions went quiet after midnight but Hollywood rarely did. That was why they called it the Late Show. LAFD has no need for me here, L-T, Ballard said. Whats it look like? Washington asked. Like the guy kicked over his kerosene heater while he was sleeping. But weve got no wits or cameras in the area. Not that we found, and Im not thinking the arson guys are going to look too hard beyond that. Washington was silent for a few moments while he came to a decision. All right, then come back to the house and write it up, he finally said. They want it all by themselves, they can have it. Roger that, Ballard said. Im heading in. She disconnected and walked over to Rollins and Randolph, telling them she was leaving the scene and that they should call her at the station if anything new came up. The station was only five minutes away at four in the morning. The rear parking lot was quiet as Ballard headed to the back door. She used her key card to enter and took the long way to the detective bureau so that she could go through the watch office and check in with Washington. He was only in his second deployment period and still learning and feeling his way. Ballard had been purposely wandering through the watch office two or three times a shift to make herself familiar to Washington. Technically her boss was Terry McAdams, the divisions detective lieutenant, but she almost never saw him because he worked days. In reality, Washington was her boots-on-the-ground boss and she wanted to solidly establish the relationship. Washington was behind his desk looking at his deployment screen, which showed the GPS locations of every police unit in the division. He was tall, African-American, with a shaved head. Hows it going? Ballard asked. All quiet on the western front, Washington said. His eyes were squinted and holding on a particular point on the screen. Ballard pivoted around the side of his desk so she could see it too. What is it? she asked. Ive got three units at Seward and Santa Monica, Washington said. Ive got no call there. Ballard pointed. The division was divided into thirty-five geographic zones called reporting districts and these were in turn covered by seven basic car areas. At any given time there was a patrol in each car area, with other cars belonging to supervisors like Sergeant Dvorek, who had division-wide patrol responsibilities. Youve got three basic car areas that are contiguous there, she said. And thats where an all-night mariscos truck parks. They can all code seven there without leaving their zones. Got it, Washington said. Thanks, Ballard. Good to know. No problem. Im going to go brew a fresh pot in the break room. You want a cup? Ballard, I might not know about that mariscos truck out there, but I know about you. You dont need to be fetching coffee for me. I can get my own. Ballard was surprised by the answer and immediately wanted to ask what exactly Washington knew about her. But she didnt. Got it, she said instead. She walked back down the main hall and then hooked a left down the hallway that led to the detective bureau. As expected, the squad room was deserted. Ballard checked the wall clock and saw that she had over two hours until the end of her shift. That gave her plenty of time to write up the report on the fire death. She headed to the cubicle she used in the back corner. It was a spot that gave her a full view of the room and anybody who came in. She had left her laptop open on the desk when she got the callout on the tent fire. She stood in front of the desk for a few moments before sitting down. Someone had changed the setting on the small radio she usually set up at her station. It had been changed from the KNX 1070 news station she usually had playing to KJAZ 88.1. Someone had also moved her computer to the side, and a faded blue bindera murder bookhad been left front and center on the desk. She flipped it open and there was a Post-it on the table of contents. Dont say I never gave you anything. B PS: Jazz is better for you than news. Ballard took the Post-it off because it was covering the name of the victim. John HiltonDOB 1/17/66DOD 8/3/90 She didnt need the table of contents to find the photo section of the book. She flipped several sections of reports over on the three steel loops and found the photos secured in plastic sleeves. The photos showed the body of the young man slumped across the front seat of a car, a bullet hole behind his right ear. She studied the photos for a moment and then closed the binder. She pulled her phone, looked up a number, and called it, checking her watch as she waited. A man answered quickly and did not sound to Ballard as if he had been pulled from the depths of sleep. Its Ballard, she said. You were in here at the station tonight? Uh, yeah, I dropped by about an hour ago, Bosch said. You werent there. I was on a call. So whered this murder book come from? I guess you could say its been missing in action. I went to a funeral yesterdaymy first partner in homicide way back when. The guy who mentored me. He passed on and I went to the funeral, and then afterward at his house, his wifehis widowgave me the book. She wanted me to return it. So thats what I did. I returned it to you. Ballard flipped the binder open again and read the basic case information above the table of contents. George Hunter was your partner? she asked. No, Bosch said. My partner was John Jack Thompson. This wasnt his case originally. It wasnt his case, but when he retired he stole the murder book. Well, I dont know if Id say he stole it. Then what would you say? Id say he took over the investigation of a case nobody was working. Read the chrono, youll see it was gathering dust. The original case detective probably retired and nobody was doing anything with it. When did Thompson retire? January 2000. Shit, and he had it all this time? Almost twenty years. Thats the way it looks. Thats really bullshit. Look, Im not trying to defend John Jack, but the case probably got more attention from him than it ever wouldve in the Open-Unsolved Unit. They mainly just work DNA cases over there and theres no DNA in this one. It would have been passed over and left to gather dust if John Jack hadnt taken it with him. So you know theres no DNA? And you checked the chrono? Yeah. I read through it. I started when I got home from the funeral, then took it to you as soon as I finished. And why did you bring it here? Because we had a deal, remember? Wed work cases together. So you want to work this together? Well, sort of. Whats that mean? Ive got some stuff going on. Medical stuff. And I dont know how much What medical stuff? I just got a new knee and, you know, I have rehab and there might be a complication. So Im not sure how much I can be involved. Youre dumping this case on me. You changed my radio station and dumped the case on me. No, I want to help and I will help. John Jack mentored me. He taught me the rule, you know? What rule? To take every case personally. What? Take every case personally and you get angry. It builds a fire. It gives you the edge you need to go the distance every time out. Ballard thought about that. She understood what he was saying but knew it was a dangerous way to live and work. He said every case? she asked. Every case, Bosch said. So you just read this cover to cover? Yes. Took me about six hours. I had a few interruptions. I need to walk and work my knee. Whats the part in it that made it personal for John Jack? I dont know. I didnt see it. But I know he found a way to make every case personal. If you find that, you might be able to close it out. If I find it? Okay, if we find it. But like I said, I already looked. Ballard flipped the sections over until she once again came to the photos held in plastic sleeves. I dont know, she said. This feels like a long shot. If George Hunter couldnt clear it and then John Jack Thompson couldnt clear it, what makes you think we can? Because you have that thing, Bosch said. That fire. We can do this and bring that boy some justice. Dont start with the justice thing. Dont bullshit me, Bosch. Okay, I wont. But will you at least read the chrono and look through the book before deciding? If you do that and dont want to continue, thats fine. Turn the book in or give it back to me. Ill work it alone. When I get the time. Ballard didnt answer at first. She had to think. She knew that the proper procedure would be to turn the murder book in to the Open-Unsolved Unit, explain how it had been found after Thompsons death, and leave it at that. But as Bosch had said, that move would probably result in the case being put on a shelf to gather dust. She looked at the photos again. It appeared to her on initial read that it was a drug rip-off. The victim pulls up, offers the cash, gets a bullet instead of a balloon of heroin or whatever his drug of choice was. Theres one thing, Bosch said. Whats that? Ballard asked. The bullet. If its still in evidence. You need to run it through NIBIN, see what comes up. That database wasnt around back in 1990. Still, whats that, a one-in-ten shot? No pun intended. She knew that the national database held the unique ballistic details of bullets and cartridge casings found at crime scenes, but it was far from a complete archive. Data on a bullet had to be entered for that bullet to become part of any comparison process, and most police departments, including the LAPD, were behind in the entering process. Still, the bullet archive had been around since the start of the century and the data grew larger every year. Its better than no shot, Bosch said. Ballard didnt reply. She looked at the murder book and ran a fingernail up the side of the thick sheaf of documents it contained, creating a ripping sound. Okay, she finally said. Ill read it. Good, Bosch said. Let me know what you think. BOSCH 5 Bosch quietly slipped into the back row of the Department 106 courtroom, drawing the attention of the judge only, who made a slight nod in recognition. It had been years, but Bosch had had several cases before Judge Paul Falcone in the past. He had also woken the judge up on more than one occasion while seeking approval for a search warrant in the middle of the night. Bosch saw his half brother, Mickey Haller, at the lectern located to the side of the defense and prosecution tables. He was questioning his own witness. Bosch knew this because he had been tracking the case online and in the newspaper and this day was the start of the defenses seemingly impossible case. Haller was defending a man accused of murdering a superior-court judge named Walter Montgomery in a city park less than a block from the courthouse that now held the trial. The defendant, Jeffrey Herstadt, not only was linked to the crime by DNA evidence but had helpfully confessed to the murder on video as well. Doctor, let me get this straight, Haller said to the witness seated to the left of the judge. Are you saying that Jeffreys mental issues put him in a state of paranoia where he feared physical harm might come to him if he did not confess to this crime? The man in the witness box was in his sixties and had white hair and a full beard that was oddly darker. Bosch had missed his swearing-in and did not know his name. His physical appearance and professorial manner conjured the name Freud in Harrys mind. That is what you get with schizoaffective disorder, Freud responded. You have all the symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, as well as of mood disorders like mania, depression, and paranoia. The latter leads to the psyche taking on protective measures such as the nodding and agreement you see in the video of the confession. So, when Jeffrey was nodding and agreeing with Detective Gustafson throughout that interview, he was whatjust trying to avoid being hurt? Haller asked. Bosch noticed his repeated use of the defendants first name, a move calculated to humanize him in front of the jury. Exactly, Freud said. He wanted to survive the interview unscathed. Detective Gustafson was an authority figure who held Jeffreys well-being in his hands. Jeffrey knew this and I could see his fear on the video. In his mind he was in danger and he just wanted to survive it. Which would lead him to say whatever Detective Gustafson wanted him to say? Haller asked, though it was more statement than question. That is correct, Freud responded. It started small with questions of seemingly no consequence: Were you familiar with the park? Were you in the park? And then of course it moved to questions of a more serious nature: Did you kill Judge Montgomery? Jeffrey was down the path at that point and he willingly said, Yes, I did it. But it is not what could be classified as a voluntary confession. Because of the situation, the confession was not freely, voluntarily, nor intelligently given. It was coerced. Haller let that hang in the air for a few moments while he pretended to check the notes on his legal pad. He then went off in a different direction. Doctor, what is catatonic schizophrenia? he asked. It is a subtype of schizophrenia in which the affected person can appear during stressful situations to go into seizure or what is called negativism or rigidity, Freud said. This is marked by resistance to instructions or attempts to be physically moved. When does this happen, Doctor? During periods of high stress. Is that what you see at the end of the interview with Detective Gustafson? Yes, it is my professional opinion that he went into seizure unbeknownst at first to the detective. Haller asked Judge Falcone if he could replay this part of the taped interview conducted with Herstadt. Bosch had already seen the tape in its entirety because it had become public record after the prosecution introduced it in court and it was subsequently posted on the Internet. Haller played the part beginning at the twenty-minute mark, where Herstadt seemed to shut down physically and mentally. He sat frozen, catatonic, staring down at the table. He didnt respond to multiple questions from Gustafson, and the detective soon realized that something was wrong. Gustafson called EMTs, who arrived quickly. They checked Herstadts pulse, blood pressure, and blood-oxygen levels and determined he was in seizure. He was transported to the CountyUSC Medical Center, where he was treated and held in the jail ward. The interview was never continued. Gustafson already had what he needed: Herstadt on video, saying, I did it. The confession was backed a week later when Herstadts DNA was matched to genetic material scraped from under one of Judge Montgomerys fingernails. Haller continued his questioning of his psychiatric expert after the video ended. What did you see there, Doctor? I saw a man in catatonic seizure. Triggered by what? Its pretty clear it was triggered by stress. He was being questioned about a murder that he had admitted to but in my opinion didnt commit. That would build stress in anyone, but acutely so in a paranoid schizophrenic. And, Doctor, did you learn during your review of the case file that Jeffrey had suffered a seizure just hours before the murder of Judge Montgomery? I did. I reviewed the reports of an incident that occurred about ninety minutes before the murder, in which Jeffrey was treated for seizure at a coffee shop. And do you know the details of that incident, Doctor? Yes. Jeffrey apparently walked into a Starbucks and ordered a coffee drink and then had no money to pay for it. He had left his money and wallet at the group home. When confronted by the cashier about this, he became threatened and went into seizure. EMTs arrived and determined he was in seizure. Was he taken to a hospital? No, he came out of seizure and refused further treatment. He walked away. So, we have these occurrences of seizure on both sides of the murder were talking about here. Ninety minutes before and about two hours after, both of which you say were brought about by stress. Correct? That is correct. Doctor, would it be your opinion that committing a murder in which you use a knife to stab a victim three times in the upper body would be a stressful event? Very stressful. More stressful than attempting to buy a cup of coffee with no money in your pocket? Yes, much more stressful. In your opinion, is committing a violent murder more stressful than being questioned about a violent murder? The prosecutor objected, arguing that Haller was taking the doctor beyond the bounds of his expertise with his far-reaching hypotheticals. The judge agreed and struck the question, but Hallers point had already been made. Okay, Doctor, well move on, Haller said. Let me ask you this: At any time during your involvement in this case, have you seen any report indicating that Jeffrey Herstadt had any seizure during the commission of this violent murder? No, I have not. To your knowledge, when he was stopped by police in Grand Park near the crime scene and taken in for questioning, was he in seizure? No, not to my knowledge. Thank you, Doctor. Haller advised the judge that he reserved the right to recall the doctor as a witness, then turned over the witness to the prosecution. Judge Falcone was going to break for lunch before cross-examination began, but the prosecutor, whom Bosch recognized as Deputy District Attorney Susan Saldano, promised to spend no more than ten minutes questioning the doctor. The judge allowed her to proceed. Good morning, Dr. Stein, she said, providing Bosch with at least part of the psychiatrists name. Good morning, Stein replied warily. Lets now talk about something else regarding the defendant. Do you know whether upon his arrest and subsequent treatment at County-USC a blood sample was taken from him and scanned for drugs and alcohol? Yes, it was. That wouldve been routine. And when you reviewed this case for the defense, did you review the results of the blood test? Yes, I did. Can you tell the jury what, if anything, the scan revealed? It showed low levels of a drug called paliperidone. Are you familiar with paliperidone? Yes, I prescribed it for Mr. Herstadt. What is paliperidone? It is a dopamine antagonist. A psychotropic used to treat schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. In many cases, if administered properly, it allows those afflicted with the disorder to lead normal lives. And does it have any side effects? A variety of side effects can occur. Each case is different, and we come up with drug therapies that fit individual patients while taking into account any side effects that are exhibited. Do you know that the manufacturer of paliperidone warns users that side effects can include agitation and aggression? Well, yes, but in Jeffreys Just a yes or no answer, Doctor. Are you aware of those side effects, yes or no? Yes. Thank you, Doctor. And just a moment ago, when you described the drug paliperidone, you used the phrase if administered properly. Do you remember saying that? Yes. Now at the time of this crime, do you know where Jeffrey Herstadt was living? Yes, in a group home in Angelino Heights. And he had a prescription from you for paliperidone, correct? Yes. And who was in charge of properly administering the drug to him in that group home? There is a social worker assigned to the home who administers the prescriptions. So, do you have firsthand knowledge that this drug was properly administered to Mr. Herstadt? I dont really understand the question. I saw the blood scans after he was arrested and they showed the proper levels of paliperidone, so one can assume he was being given and was taking his dosage. Can you tell this jury for a fact that he did not take his dosage after the murder but before his blood was drawn at the hospital? Well, no, but Can you tell this jury that he didnt hoard his pills and take several at once before the murder? Again, no, but you are getting into No further questions. Saldano moved to the prosecution table and sat down. Bosch watched Haller stand up immediately and tell the judge he would be quick with redirect. The judge nodded his approval. Doctor, would you like to finish your answer to Ms. Saldanos last question? Haller asked. I would, yes, Stein said. I was just going to say that the blood scan from the hospital showed a proper level of the drug in his bloodstream. Any scenario other than proper administration doesnt add up. Whether he was hoarding and then overmedicating, or not medicating and took a pill after the crime, it would have been apparent in the levels on the scan. Thank you, Doctor. How long had you been treating Jeffrey before this incident occurred? Four years. When did you put him on paliperidone? Four years ago. Did you ever see him act aggressively toward anyone? No, I did not. Did you ever hear of him acting aggressively toward anyone? Before this incident, no, I did not. Did you get regular reports on his behavior from the group home where he lived? I did, yes. Was there ever a report from the group home about Jeffrey being violent? No, never. Were you ever concerned that he might be violent toward you or any member of the public? No. If that had been the case, I would have prescribed a different drug therapy. Now, as a psychiatrist you are also a medical doctor, is that correct? Yes. And when you reviewed this case did you also look at the autopsy records on Judge Montgomery? I did, yes. You saw that he was stabbed three times in close proximity under the right armpit, correct? Yes, I did. Saldano stood and objected. Your Honor, where is he going with this? she asked. This is beyond the scope of my cross-examination. Falcone looked at Haller. I was wondering the same thing, Mr. Haller. Judge, it is somewhat new territory but I did reserve the right to recall Dr. Stein. If the prosecution wants, we can go to lunch and I will recall him right afterward, or we can just take care of this right here. Ill be quick. The objection is overruled, the judge said. Proceed, Mr. Haller. Thank you, Judge, Haller said. He turned his attention back to the witness. Doctor, there are vital blood vessels in the area of the body where Judge Montgomery was stabbed, are there not? Yes, blood vessels leading directly to and from the heart. Do you have Mr. Herstadts personal files? I do. Did he ever serve in the military? No, he did not. Any medical training? None that I am aware of. How could he have known to stab the judge in the very specifically vulnerable spot under the judges Objection! Saldano was back on her feet. Judge, this witness has no expertise that would allow him to hazard even a guess at what counsel was about to ask him. The judge agreed. If you want to pursue that, Mr. Haller, bring in a wound expert, Falcone said. This witness is not that. Your Honor, Haller said. You sustained the objection without giving me a chance to argue the point. I did and Id do it again, Mr. Haller. Do you have any other questions for the witness? I dont. Ms. Saldano? Saldano thought for a moment but then said she had no further questions. Before the judge could tell the jury to take a lunch break, Haller addressed the court. Your Honor, he said, I expected Ms. Saldano to spend most of the afternoon on cross-examination of Dr. Stein. And I thought I would take up the rest of it on redirect. This is quite a surprise. What are you telling me, Mr. Haller? the judge asked, his tone already tinged with consternation. My next witness is my DNA expert coming in from New York. She doesnt land until four oclock. Do you have a witness you can take out of order and bring in after lunch? No, Your Honor, I dont. Very well. The judge was clearly unhappy. He turned and addressed the jury, telling its members they were finished for the day. He told them to go home and avoid any media coverage of the trial and to be back in the morning at nine. Throwing a glare at Haller, the judge explained to the jurors that they would begin hearing testimony before the usual ten oclock start in order to make up lost time. Everyone waited until the jurors had filed into the assembly room and then the judge turned more of his frustration on Haller. Mr. Haller, I think you know I dont like working half days when I have scheduled full days of court. Yes, Your Honor. Neither do I. You should have brought your witness in yesterday so that she would be available no matter how things progressed in the case. Yes, Your Honor. But that would have meant paying for another night in a hotel and, as the court knows, my client is indigent and I was appointed to the case by the court at significantly reduced fees. My request to the court administrator to bring my expert in a day earlier was denied for financial reasons. Mr. Haller, thats all well and good, but there are highly qualified DNA experts right here in Los Angeles. Why is it necessary to fly your expert in from New York? That was the first question that had come to Boschs mind as well. Well, Judge, I dont really think it would be fair for me to have to reveal defense strategy to the prosecution, Haller said. But I can say that my expert is at the top of the game in her specialty field of DNA analysis and that this will become apparent when she testifies tomorrow. The judge studied Haller for a long moment, seemingly trying to decide whether to continue the argument. Finally he relented. Very well, he said. Court is adjourned until nine oclock tomorrow. Have your witness ready at that time, Mr. Haller, or there will be consequences. Yes, Your Honor. The judge got up and left the bench. 6 Where do you want to go? They were in the back of Hallers Lincoln. Doesnt matter, Bosch said. Somewhere private. Quiet. You hear that Traxx closed down? Haller asked. Really? I loved that place. Loved going to Union Station. I already miss it. It was my go-to place during trial. It was there twenty yearsin this town that says something. Haller leaned forward and spoke to his driver. Stace, take us over to Chinatown, he said. The Little Jewel. You got it, the driver said. Hallers driver was a woman and Bosch had never seen that before. Haller had always used former clients to drive the Lincoln. Men paying off their legal fees. He wondered what Stace was paying off. She was mid-forties, black, and looked like a schoolteacher, not someone drawn from the streets, as Hallers drivers usually were. So what did you think? Haller asked. About the trial? Bosch replied. You scored your points about the confession. Is your DNA expert going to be that good? Her specialty field of DNA analysishow much of that was bullshit? None of it. But well see. Shes good but I dont know if shes good enough. And shes really coming in from New York? I told you, none of it was bullshit. So whats she going to do? Attack the lab? Say they blew it? Bosch was tired of that defense. It may have worked for O. J. Simpson but that was a long time ago and there were so many other factors involved in that case. Big factors. The science of DNA was too good. A match was a match. If you wanted to knock it down you needed something other than to attack the science. I dont know what shes going to say, Haller said. Thats our deal. Shell never shill. She calls them like she sees them. Well, like I told you, Ive been following the case, Bosch said. Knocking down the confession is one thing. But DNAs another. You need to do something. You have the case file with you? Most of itall the trial prep. Its in the trunk. Why? I was thinking I could take a look at it for you. If you want, I mean. No promises. Just that something didnt seem right in there when I was watching. Something was poking at me. With the testimony? What? I dont know. Something that doesnt add up. Well, Ive got tomorrow and then thats it. No other witnesses. If youre going to look, I need it today. No problem. Right after lunch. Fine. Knock yourself out. Hows the knee, by the way? Good. Better every day. Pain? No pain. You didnt call because youve got a malpractice case, did you? No, not that. Then what? Bosch looked at the drivers eyes in the rearview. She couldnt help overhearing things. He didnt want to talk in front of her. Wait till we sit down, he said. Sure, Haller said. The Little Jewel was in Chinatown but it didnt serve Chinese food. It was pure Cajun. They ordered at the counter and then got a table in a reasonably quiet corner. Bosch had gone with a shrimp poboy sandwich. Haller had ordered the fried oyster poboy and paid for both. So, new driver? Bosch asked. Been with me three months, Haller said. No, four. Shes good. She a client? Actually, the mother of a client. Her sons in county for a year on possession. We beat an intent-to-sell package, which wasnt bad at all on my part. Mom said shed work off the fees driving. Youre all heart. Mans gotta pay the bills. Were not all happy-go-lucky pensioners like you. Yeah, thats me all right. Haller smiled. He had successfully represented Bosch a few years earlier when the city tried to pull his pension. And this case, Bosch said. Herstadt. Howd you end up being appointed? I thought you didnt handle murder cases anymore. I dont but the judge assigned it to me, Haller said. One day I was in his courtroom minding my own business on another case and he tags me with it. Im like, I dont do murder cases, Judge, especially high-profile cases like this, and hes, You do now, Mr. Haller. So here I am with a fucking unwinnable case and getting paid hamburger when I usually get steak. How come the PD didnt take it? Conflict of interest. The victim, Judge Montgomery, was formerly the Public Defender, remember? Right, right. I forgot. Their numbers were called and Bosch went up to the counter to get their sandwiches and drinks. After he delivered the food to the table, Haller got down to the business of their meeting. So, you call me up in the middle of a trial and say you need to talk. So talk. Are you in some kind of trouble? No, nothing like that. Bosch thought a moment before continuing. He had set up the meeting and now he wasnt sure how to proceed. He decided to start at the beginning. About twelve years ago I caught a case, he said. A guy up on the overlook above the Mulholland Dam. Two in the back of the head, execution style. Turned out he was a doctor. A medical physicist. He specialized in gynecological cancers. And it turned out that he had gone up to St. Agathas in the Valley and cleared out all the cesium they use for treatment from a lead safe. It was missing. I remember something about this, Haller said. The FBI jumped all over it, thinking it was a terrorist thing. Maybe a dirty bomb or something. Right. But it wasnt. It was something else. I worked it and we got the cesium back, but not before I got dosed pretty good with it. I was treated and then had five years of checkupschest X-rays, the whole thing. I was clean every time and after the five years they said I was in the clear. Haller nodded in a way that seemed to indicate he knew which way this was going. So, all is well and I go in last month to get my knee done and they take blood, Bosch said. Routine stuff, except tests on it come back and I have something called CMLchronic myeloid leukemia. Shit, Haller said. Not as bad as it sounds. Im being treated but What treatment? Chemo. The modern kind of chemo. I basically take a pill every day and thats it. In six months they see where its at and if they need to get more serious about treatment. Shit. You said that. There are some side effects but its not bad. I just get tired easily. What I wanted to see you about is whether I would have any kind of case here. Im thinking about my daughter. If this chemo stuff doesnt work, I want to make sure shes set up, you know what I mean? Taken care of. Have you talked to her about this? No. Youre the only one Ive talked to. Shit. You keep saying that. But what do you think? Is there a workmans comp thing I can go back to the LAPD with? What about the hospital? This guy just waltzed in there in his white doctors coat and name tag and then waltzed out with thirty-two pieces of cesium in a lead bucket. The whole incident exposed the lax security in the oncology lab and they made big changes afterward. But too late for you. So, forget workmans comp. Were talking about a major claim here. What about the statute of limitations? The exposure was twelve years ago. The clock on something like this doesnt start ticking until youre diagnosed. So youre all right there. The deal we made when you exited the police department gave you a million-dollar health-insurance cap. Yeah, and if I get sick from thisI mean like really sickIll burn through that in a year. Im not going to tap into my 401K. Thats going to Maddie. Right, I know. With the department, well have to go through arbitration and most likely well get a settlement. The hospital will be the way to go. Poor security led to this scheme, which led to your exposure. Thats our A game. They started eating and Haller continued with his mouth full. All right, so I wrap up this trialwell go to the jury in another day, two at the maxand then we file a notice. Ill need to take a video deposition from you. We schedule that, then I think well have everything we need to move on. Why the videoin case I die or something? Theres that. But its mostly because I want them to see you telling the story. They hear the story from you, instead of read it in a pleading or a depo transcript, and theyll shit their pants. Theyll know theyre on the losing end of this thing. Okay, and youll set it up? Yes. Ive got people who do these all the time. Bosch had barely gotten one bite of his sandwich but Haller was halfway finished. Bosch guessed that a morning in trial made him hungry. I dont want this to get out, Bosch said. You know what I mean? No media on it. I cant make that promise, Haller said. Sometimes the media can be used to apply pressure. Youre the one who got dosed with this stuff while carrying out your job. Believe me, public sympathy will be with you ten to one easy. And that can be a powerful tool. Okay, then lookI need to know ahead of time if this is going to break in the media, so I can talk to Maddie first. That I can promise. Now, did you keep any records from that case? Is there anything I can look at? Give me a ride back to my car after this. I have the chrono and most of the important reports. I made copies back then just in case. I brought it all in my car. Okay, we go back and trade files. You give me that stuff, Ill give you what I have on Herstadt. Deal? Deal. You just gotta be quick with Herstadt. Im almost out of time. BALLARD 7 The tent was warm and cozy and she felt safe. But then the fumes of kerosene invaded her mouth and nose and lungs and it suddenly grew hot and then it was melting around her and burning. Ballard sat up with a start. Her hair was still damp and she checked her watch. She had only slept three hours. She thought about going back down but the edges of the dream were still with her, the smell of kerosene. She pulled a length of hair across her face and under her nose. She smelled the apple in the shampoo she had used after paddling. Lola. Her dog shot through the tents opening and to her side. Lola was half boxer and half pit. Ballard rubbed her wide, hard head and felt the horror of the dream receding. She wondered if the man in the tent the night before had woken at the end. She hoped not. She hoped he was so doped up or alcohol addled that he never felt pain or knew he was dying. She ran her hand along the side of her tent. It was nylon and she imagined heat from a fire collapsing it on her like a shroud. Awake or not, the man had died a horrible death. She pulled her phone out of her backpack and checked for messages. No calls or texts, just an e-mail from Nuccio, the arson investigator, saying he had received her report and he would send her his reports in turn when completed. He said that he and his partner had determined the death was accidental and that the victim remained unidentified because whatever ID he had with him in the tent had burned. Ballard put the phone away. Lets take a walk, girl. Ballard climbed out of the tent with her backpack and looked around. She was thirty yards from the Rose Avenue lifeguard stand but it looked empty. There was nobody in the water. It was too cold for that. Aaron? she called. The lifeguard poked his curly-haired head up over the sill of the stand and she wondered whether he had been up there sleeping on the bench. She pointed to her tent and the paddleboard on the sand next to it. You watch my stuff? Im going to get coffee. Aaron gave her the thumbs-up. You want anything? Aaron turned his thumb down. Ballard pulled a leash out of one of the zippered pockets on the backpack and snapped it onto Lolas collar, then headed toward the line of restaurants and tourist stores that lined the beach walk a hundred yards from the ocean. She carried the backpack over one shoulder. She went to Groundwork on Westminster, got a latte, and grabbed a table in the back corner where she could work without drawing attention from other patrons. Lola slid under the table and found a comfortable spot to lie down. Ballard opened the backpack and pulled out her laptop and the murder book Bosch had left for her. This time she decided not to jump around in the book. The first section was most important anyway. It was the chronological record. It was basically a case diary, where the detectives assigned to the case described all their moves and the steps taken during the investigation. Before starting her read she opened the laptop and ran the names George Hunter and his partner, Maxwell Talis, through the LAPD personnel computer and determined that both detectives were long retired, Hunter in 1996 and Talis the year after. It appeared that Hunter had since died but Talis was still receiving a pension. This was valuable information because if she decided to do a thorough reexamination of the Hilton murder, she should try to talk to him about what he remembered of the case. She closed the laptop and opened up the murder book. She started reading the chrono from the first entrythe callout. Hunter and Talis were at their desks at Hollywood Detectives on a Friday morning when alerted that patrol officers had come upon a car parked in an alley behind a row of shops off Melrose Avenue and the 101 freeway overpass. The detectives responded along with teams from the crime scene unit and the coroners office. The victim was a white male tentatively identified as John Hilton, twenty-four years old, by the drivers license found in the wallet on the floor of the 1988 Toyota Corolla. The photo on the license appeared to match the face of the man lying on his right side across the front seats and center console of the car. A computer check of the name and birth date on the DL determined that this Hilton was not the scion of a hotel family but an ex-con who had been released a year earlier from a state prison after serving thirty months for drug possession and burglary convictions. As lead detective, George Hunter had composed all of the early entries of the chrono, signing each one with his initials. These gave Ballard a good insight into how the investigation was initially focused. As she had surmised on her first quick overview of the book, the investigation took its cue from the victims prior history of drug abuse and petty crime. Hunter and Talis clearly believed that this had been a drug rip-off and that Hilton had been murdered for as little as the price of a single hit of heroin. Ballard now handled all calls for a detective on the midnight shift, but her previous posting had been as a homicide detective working specialty cases out of the downtown police headquarters. While the departments look-the-other-way sexual politics and systemic misogyny had caused her transfer to the lesser assignment, her skills as a homicide investigator had not deteriorated. Bosch had recognized this and tapped into it when they had crossed paths on a case the previous year. They had agreed to work cases together in the future, even if off the record and below department radar. Bosch was retired and an outsider, no longer encumbered by LAPD rules and procedure. Ballard was not retired but she was certainly out of sight and out of mind on the midnight shift. That made her both an insider and an outsider. All of her homicide skills now told her this was most likely an impossible case: an eighty-dollar drug rip-off that had ended with a bullet nearly thirty years before. There might have been something here that stuck in John Jack Thompsons craw and lit his fire, but whatever that was would be long gone now. She first began to suspect that Hilton was a snitch. Perhaps a snitch for Thompson, which was why the detective took an active interest in the case, even though he was not assigned to it. She took a notebook out of her backpack. The first thing she wrote down was a question for Bosch. How many other murder books did JJT steal? It was an important question because it went to the level of dedication to this case. Bosch was right. If she could figure out why Thompson took this particular murder book, she might be able to zero in on a motive and then a suspect. But as described in the early entries of the chronology, this was a pedestrian murderif there was such a thingthat would have been nearly impossible to solve at the time, let alone twenty-nine years later. Shit, Ballard whispered. Lola alerted, raised her head, and looked up at her. Ballard rubbed the dogs head. Its okay, girl, she said. She went back to the chrono and continued to read and take notes. The manual transmission of Hiltons car had been in neutral but the key was in the ignition and in the on position. The engine was dead because the gas tank was empty. It was assumed that Hilton had cruised into the alley to make a drive-through drug purchase and had been shot after stopping and putting the transmission in neutral. It could not be determined how much gas had been in the tank when Hilton entered the alley, but the coroners investigators estimated that time of death had been between midnight and four a.m., which was four to eight hours before the body was discovered by one of the shop owners arriving for work and parking behind his business. Both front windows of the car were open. Hilton had been shot point-blank behind the right ear. This led the detectives to surmise that they were possibly looking for two suspects: one who came to the drivers door and drew Hiltons attention and anotherthe true killerwho came to the passenger door, reached through the window with a gun, and executed Hilton as he was turned and looking out the window. This theory was supported by the location of the shell casing ejected from the murder weapon. It was found on the passenger floor mat, an indication that the gun had been fired from that side of the car. Hilton then most likely slumped against the drivers door but was pushed back over the center console when his pockets were searched. In the crime scene photos, both front pockets of his pants had been pulled inside out. To Ballard, the theory of two killers and how they carried out the crime veered slightly from the idea of it being a robbery. It was colder, more calculated. It felt planned to her. A drug rip-off would have also been planned to some extent but usually not with this kind of precision. She began to wonder whether the original detectives had zeroed in on the wrong motive from the start. This could have led to tunnel vision on the investigation, with Hunter and Talis ignoring any clue that didnt fit their premise. She also discounted the theory by the original investigators that two killers were involvedone to distract Hilton from the left, one to reach into the car from the right to shoot. She knew that a solo gunman could have easily carried out the killing. Hiltons attention to his left could have been drawn by any number of things in the alley. She wrote another note, wanting to remind herself to bring all of this up with Bosch, and then went back to the chrono. Hunter and Talis focused their search for suspects on the immediate neighborhood and among the dealers known to sell in the alley. They checked with the sergeant in charge of a street-level narcotics unit assigned to Hollywood Division who said his team had intermittently worked undercover buy-bust operations in the area, as it was a known drug market because of its proximity to the 101 freeway. Customers came to Hollywood, jumped off the freeway at Melrose, and made drug purchases before jumping back on the freeway and getting far away from the transaction. Additionally, the location was close to several movie studios, and employees picked up drugs on their way to or from work, unless they were upper-level creatives who had their purchases delivered directly to them. The chrono noted that the drug clientele in the area was mostly white, while the dealers were exclusively black males who were supplied product by a street gang from South L.A. The Rolling 60s Crips gang had laid claim to this section of Hollywood and enforced its grip with violence. The murder of John Hilton was not good for business because it flooded the area with police activity and shut things down. One note on the chrono stated that a street informant had told a gang officer that members of the Rolling 60s were attempting to identify the killer themselves to eliminate and make an example of him. Business came first, gang loyalty second. That note froze Ballard and made her wonder whether she was chasing a ghost. The Rolling 60s could have caught and executed the killer or killers of John Hilton decades earlier without the LAPD making the connection between the two cases. Apparently undaunted by the same question, Hunter and Talis put together a list of known drug dealers who worked in the area and began bringing them in for questioning. None of the interviews produced suspects or leads on the case, but Ballard noticed that the roster was incomplete. A few people on the list were never found or questioned. Among them was a man named Elvin Kidd, a Rolling 60s Crips gang member who was at a street-boss level and ran the territory where the Hilton murder took place. They steered completely clear of another dealer, Dennard Dorsey, when they were told he was on keep-away status because he was a valuable informant. The snitchs handlera Major Narcotics unit detective named Brendan Sloandid the interview and reported back that his man knew nothing of value in regard to the Hilton murder. Ballard wrote all of the names down. She was bothered that the homicide detectives didnt interview all the dealers and had left questioning the snitch to his department handler. To her it meant that this angle of the investigation was incomplete. She didnt know whether laziness or something else had gotten in the way. The murder counts in the city back in the late 80s and early 90s were the highest in the citys history. It was likely that Hunter and Talis had other cases at the time, with new ones constantly coming in. She finished going through the chronology an hour and one more latte later. The thing that struck her was that the document ended with an entry from Talis on the one-year anniversary of the murder: No new leads or suspects at this time. Case remains open and active. And that was it. No explanation as to how it was still actively being pursued. Ballard knew it was bullshit. The case had ground to a halt for lack of leads and viable angles of investigation. The detectives were waiting for what in homicide was called a miracle cure in the form of someone coming forward with the killers name. This would most likely have to be someone from the underworldsomeone arrested and facing charges, looking to deal their way out of a jam. Only then would they get a name they could run with. So it was kept open and active, but Hunter and Talis were on to other things. What also struck Ballard as missing was the work of John Jack Thompson. During the years he had held the murder book, he had apparently added nothing to it. There was nothing from him in the chronology that indicated he had made any moves, conducted any interviews, or broken any new ground on the case. Ballard wondered whether he had kept notes of his private investigation separate so as not to change or taint the record of the original investigation. She knew she would have to talk to Bosch about it and possibly go back to Thompsons house and home office to see whether there was a second murder book or any record of Thompsons work on the case. She moved on from the chronology to fuller reports filed by the investigators based on the evidence collected and witness interviews. In the victim section of the murder book she read a bio authored by Talis and drawn from interviews and official documents. The victims mother and stepfather were still alive at the time of the killing. According to the written account, Sandra Hilton expressed no surprise at her sons demise and said he had come back from his stint at Corcoran State Prison a different person. She said he seemed broken from the experience and wanted nothing more than to get high all the time. She admitted that she and her husband kicked John out of the house shortly after he returned from prison and appeared to be making no effort to integrate into society. He said he wanted to be an artist but did nothing to pursue it as a career. He was stealing from them in order to support his drug habit. Donald Hilton stood by his decision to evict John from the family home in the Toluca Lake area. He was quick to note that John was his adopted son but was already eleven when Donald met Sandra and the two got married. His biological father had not been a part of Johns life for those first eleven years, and Donald said that behavioral problems were already deeply set in the boy. Lacking a blood relation to the young man he raised apparently allowed him to kick him out of the house later on without a guilty conscience. A section of the report had been redacted with a black marker. Two lines in the middle of the interview summary were completely blacked out. This seemed odd to Ballard because a murder book was already a confidential document. The exception to this was when a case was filed and murder book documents became part of discovery and turned over to the defense. On some occasions redacting occurred to protect the names of informants and others. But this case had never resulted in charges, and it seemed odd to Ballard that an interview with the parents of a victim would contain any information that would need to be kept hidden or secret. She opened the binders rings and removed the page, studying the back to see if any of the redacted words could be read. Unable to make anything out, she put the page at the front of the binder to remind herself of the anomaly every time she opened the book: What information had been redacted from the case file? And who did it? Ballards review of the other witness summaries produced only one notable question. Hilton had shared an apartment in North Hollywood with a man named Nathan Brazil, who was described as a production assistant at Archway Studios in Hollywood. Ballard knew the studio was on Melrose Avenue near Paramountand near where Hilton was murdered. Brazil told the investigators that he was working the night of the murder on a film production and Hilton had dropped by the guarded entrance to the studio and asked for him. Brazil did not get the message until hours later and by then Hilton was gone. Presumably he left the studio and proceeded down Melrose to the alley where he was shot and killed. Brazil told investigators that it was unusual for Hilton to come to his workplace. It had never happened before and he didnt know why Hilton did so or what he wanted. It was another mystery within the mystery that Hunter and Talis had not solved. Ballard looked at her notes. She had written down the names of several people she would have to run down and interview, if they were still alive. Maxwell Talis Donald Hilton Sandra Hilton Thompson widow Vincent Pilkey, dealer Dennard Dorsey, dealer/snitchprotected Brendan Sloan, narcotics Elvin Kidd Nathan Brazil, roommate Ballard knew that John Jack Thompsons widow was alive, as well as presumably Maxwell Talis. Brendan Sloan was still around as well. Sloan, in fact, was well known to her. He had risen from narcotics detective to deputy chief in the twenty-nine years since the Hilton murder. He was in charge of West Bureau. Ballard had never met him but since Hollywood Division fell under West Bureaus command, Sloan was technically her boss. Ballards back was stiffening. It was a combination of a tough morning paddle into strong headwinds, a lack of sleep, and the hard wooden chair she had been sitting on for two hours. She closed the murder book, deciding to leave the remaining pages and reports for later. She reached down to ruffle Lolas scruff. Lets go see Double, girl! The dogs tail wagged violently. Double was her friend, a French bulldog being boarded at the day-care center where Lola spent most nights and some days when Ballard worked. Ballard needed to drop Lola off so she could continue to work the case. 8 Ballards first stop was Property Division, where she checked out the sealed evidence box marked with the John Hilton murder case number. She could tell right away that it was not a twenty-nine-year-old box and the sealing tape was not yellowed as would have been expected. The box had obviously been repacked, which was not unusual. The Property Division was a massive warehouse but still too small for all the evidence stored there. Consolidation was an ongoing project and old, dusty evidence boxes were often opened and repacked in smaller boxes to save room. Ballard had the evidence list from the murder book that she could use to make sure everything was intactthe victims clothes, personal belongings, etc. She was primarily looking for two things: the expended bullet retrieved from Hiltons body during autopsy and the casing retrieved from the floor of his car. She checked the sign-out sheet on the box and saw that, other than the repackaging that had taken place six years earlier, the box had apparently not been opened since it was placed in Property by the original two detectivesHunter and Talisnearly three decades before. This would generally not be unusual because no suspects had ever been developed, so there was no reason to analyze collected evidence in regard to a potential killer. Hunter and Talis had collected the evidence and had a list of the boxs contents in the murder book. They knew firsthand what they had. They had seen it and held it. However, what Ballard did find curious was that John Jack Thompson, when he took possession of the murder book and apparently started working the case, had never gone to Property and pulled the box. He had never checked out the physical evidence. It was literally the first move Ballard had made. Yes, she had the property list from the murder book, but she still wanted to see the evidence. It was a visceral thing, like an extension of the crime scene photos. It brought her close to the case, closer to the victim, and she could not see pulling and working a case without this necessary step. Yet Thompson, the mentor to two generations of detectives, had apparently chosen not to. Ballard put the question aside and started going through the contents of the box, checking them off against the list from the murder book and studying each piece of clothing and every item gathered from the Corolla. She had seen something in the crime scene photos that she wanted to find: a small notebook that was in the console between the front seats of the car. An entry on the property list said simply notebook, with no description of its contents or any detail about why Hilton kept a notebook by his side in his car. She found it in a brown paper bag with other items from the console. These included a lighter, a drug pipe, spare change amounting to eighty-seven cents, a pen, and a parking ticket issued six weeks before Hiltons death. The parking ticket had been explored by the original investigators and there was a report in the murder book on their efforts. The ticket appeared to be a dead end. It had been issued on a street in Los Feliz where a friend of Hiltons lived. The friend recalled that Hilton had visited to sell the friend a clock radio he said his stepfather had given him. But he ended up staying at the apartment for several hours when the friend shared a hit of heroin with him. While Hilton was nodding off in his friends apartment, his car was being ticketed. Hunter and Talis deemed the ticket irrelevant to the investigation and Ballard saw nothing that made her think otherwise. Now she opened the notebook and found Hiltons name and a number she assumed was his prisoner number at Corcoran written on the inside flap. The pages of the notebook were largely filled with pencil studies and full sketches of hard-looking men, many with tattoos on their faces and necks. Other prisoners, Ballard surmised. The finished drawings were quite good and Ballard thought Hilton had some artistic talent. Knowing that he had this other dimension beyond drug addict and petty thief humanized him to her. Nobody deserved to be shot to death in a car, no matter what they were doing, but it was helpful to get a human connection. It added fuel to the fire that the detective needed to somehow keep burning. She wondered if Hunter or Talis or Thompson had made a connection to Hilton through this notebook. She doubted it. If they had, it would have been kept in the murder book so that the detective could see it and open it when he needed to stoke the fire. Ballard finished flipping through the pages. One sketch caught her eye and she held on it. It was of a black man with a shaved head. He was turned away from the artist and on his neck was a six-pointed star with the number 60 in its center. Ballard knew that all Crips gangs or sets shared the symbol of the six-pointed star, its points symbolizing the early altruistic goals of the gang: love, life, loyalty, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. The 60 in the middle of the star was what caught Ballards eye. It meant that the subject of the sketch was a Rolling 60s Crip, a member of the same set of the notoriously violent gang that controlled drug sales in the alley where Hilton was murdered. Was that a coincidence? It appeared that Hilton had sketched this man while in prison; less than two years after his release, he was killed on Rolling 60s turf. None of this had been in any reports in the murder book that Ballard had read. She made a mental note to check again. It might be a significant clue or it might be purely coincidental. She flipped farther into the notebook and saw another drawing, which she thought might be the same man with the Rolling 60s tattoo. But his face was turned away and shadowed. She couldnt be sure. Then she found what she believed was a self-portrait. It looked like the face of the man she had seen in the crime scene photos. In the drawing, the man had haunted eyes with deep circles beneath them. He looked scared, and something about the drawing punched Ballard in the chest. Ballard decided to add the notebook to the items she checked out of Property. The drawings reminded her of a case that was cracked by the cold case unit a few years earlier, when Ballard had been assigned to the Robbery-Homicide Division. Detective Mitzi Roberts had connected three murders of prostitutes to a drifter named Sam Little. Little was caught and convicted, then from prison started confessing to dozens of murders committed over four decades and all over the country. They were all throwaway victimsdrug addicts and prostituteswhom society, and police departments, had marginalized and given little notice to. Little was an artist and he sketched pictures of his victims to help visiting investigators identify the women and the cases. He held their images in his head, but not so often their names. He was given a full set of artist supplies and his drawings were in color and very realistic, eventually matching up to victims in multiple states and helping to clear cases. But they didnt serve to humanize Sam Little, only his victims. Little was seen as a psychopath who showed no mercy to his victims and deserved no mercy in return. Ballard signed out the bullet evidence and the notebook and left the Property Division. She called Bosch when she got outside. Whats up? I just came out of Property. I pulled the bullet and casing. Tomorrow is Walk-In Wednesday at ballistics. Ill go right after my shift. Sounds good. Anything else in the box? Hilton was a sketch artist. He had a notebook in his car that had drawings from prison. I checked it out. How come? Because I thought he was good at it. There are a few other things from my review that I want to go over. You want to meet? Im sort of in the middle of something today but I could meet for a few minutes. Im close by. Really? Where? The Nickel Diner, you know it? Of course. Ill be there in ten. 9 Ballard found Bosch in the back with his laptop open and several documents spread on a four-top table. It was apparently late enough in the day for the management to allow him to monopolize the spot. A plate with half a chocolate-frosted donut was on the table, assuring Ballard that Bosch was a paying customer rather than a freeloader who bought nothing but coffee and monopolized a table for hours. She noticed the cane hooked over one of the empty chairs as she sat down. Assessing the documents that Bosch had started stacking when he noticed her approach, Ballard raised her hands palms up in a What gives? gesture. Youre the busiest retired guy I think Ive ever seen. Not really. I just said Id take a quick look at this and then that would be it. Putting her backpack on the empty chair to her right, she caught a glimpse of the letterhead on one of the documents Bosch was clearing. It said Michael Haller, Attorney-At-Law. Oh, shit, youre working for that guy? What guy? Haller. You work for him, you work for the devil. Really? Why do you say that? Hes a defense attorney. Not only that, but a good one. He gets people off that shouldnt get off. Undoes what we do. How do you even know him? Last thirty years, Ive spent a lot of time in courthouses. So has he. Is that the Judge Montgomery case? How do you know about that? Who doesnt? Judge murdered in front of the courthousethatll get some attention. Besides, I liked Judge Montgomery. When he was on a criminal bench I hit him up for warrants every now and then. He was a real stickler for the law. I remember this one time, the clerk let me go back to chambers to get a warrant signed and I go in there and look around and theres no judge. Then I hear him say, Out here. He had opened his window and climbed out onto the ledge to smoke a cigarette. Fourteen floors up. He said he didnt want to break the rule about smoking in the building. Bosch put his stack of files on the empty chair to his right. But that wasnt the end of it. I dont know, Ballard said. I may have to reassess our thing. I mean, if youre going to be working for the other side. I dont work for the other side or the dark side or whatever you want to call it, Bosch said. This is a one-day thing and I actually volunteered for it. I was in court today and something didnt add up right. I asked to look at the files and, as a matter of fact, did just find something before you walked in. Something that helps the defense? Something that I think the jury should know. Doesnt matter who it helps. Whoa, thats the dark side talking right there. Youve crossed over. Look, did you come here to talk about the Montgomery case or the Hilton case? Take it easy, Harry. Im just busting your balls. She pulled her backpack over, unzipped it, and pulled out the Hilton murder book. Now, you went through this, right? she asked. Yes, before giving it to you, Bosch said. Well, a couple things. She reached into the backpack for the envelopes containing the ballistic evidence. I pulled the box at Property and checked out the bullet and the casing. As you said before, maybe we get lucky. Good. I also found this in the box. She went into the backpack again and came up with the notebook she had found in the property box. She handed it to Bosch. In the crime scene photos this was in the center console of the car. I think it was important to him. Bosch started flipping through the pages and looking at the sketches. Okay, he said. What else? Well, thats it from Property, Ballard said. But I think what I didnt find there is worth noting, and its where you come into the picture. You want to explain that? John Jack Thompson never pulled the evidence in the case, she said. She read Boschs reaction as the same as hers. If Thompson was working the case, he would have pulled the box at Property and seen what he had. You sure? Bosch asked. Hes not on the checkout list, Ballard said. Im not sure he ever investigated this caseunless theres more at his house. Like what? Like anything that shows he was investigating. Notes, recordings, maybe a second murder book. Theres no indication at allnot one added wordthat indicates John Jack pulled this case to work it. Its almost like he took the book so no one else would work it. So, you need to go back to his widow and see if theres anything else. Anything that shows what he was doing with this. I can go see Margaret tonight. But remember, we dont know exactly when he took the murder book. Maybe he took it on his way out the door when he retired and then it was too late to get into Property. He had no badge. But if you were going to take a book so you could work on it, wouldnt you plan it so you could get to Property before you walked out the door? Bosch nodded. I guess so, he said. Okay, so you go to Margaret and see about that, Ballard said. I made up a list of names from the book. People I want to talk to. Im going to start running them down as soon as were finished here. Can I see the list? Course. For the fourth time Ballard went into the backpack and this time pulled out her own notebook. She opened it and turned it around on the table so Bosch could read the list. Maxwell Talis Donald Hilton Sandra Hilton Thompson widow Vincent Pilkey, dealer Dennard Dorsey, dealer/snitchprotected Brendan Sloan, narcotics Elvin Kidd Nathan Brazil, roommate Bosch nodded as he looked at the names. Ballard took this to mean he was in agreement. Hopefully some of them are still alive. Sloan is still in the department, right? Runs West Bureau. My boss, technically. Then all you have to do is get around his adjutant. That wont be a problem. Are you going to eat the rest of that donut? No. Its all yours. Ballard grabbed the donut and took a bite. Bosch lifted his cane from the back of the other chair. I gotta get back to the courthouse, he said. Anything else? Yes, Ballard said, her mouth full. Did you see this? She put the rest of the donut back on the plate, then opened the binder, unsnapped the rings, and handed Bosch the document she had moved to the front of the murder book. Its redacted, she said. Who would black out lines in the statement from the parents? I saw that too, Bosch said. Its weird. The whole book is confidential, why black anything out? I know. I dont get it. And we dont know who did itwhether it was Thompson or the original investigators. When you look at those two lines in contextthe stepfather talking about adopting the boyyou have to wonder if they were protecting somebody. Im going to try to run down Hiltons birth certificate through Sacramento, but that will take forever because I dont have his original name. That was probably redacted too. I could try to run it down at Norwalk. Next time I go to see Maddie on a weekday. Norwalk was the site of Los Angeles Countys record archives. It was at the far south end of the county and with traffic could take an hour each way. Birth records were not accessible by computer to the public or law enforcement. Proper ID had to be shown to pull a birth certificate, especially one guarded by adoption rules. Thatll only work if Hilton was born in the county. But worth a try, I guess. Well, one way or another well figure it out. Its a mystery for now. Whats at the courthouse? I want to see if I can get a subpoena. I want to get there before the judges all split. Okay, Ill let you go. So, youll go see Margaret Thompson later and Ill run down these names. The ones that are still alive. Bosch stood up, holding the docs and his laptop under his arm. He didnt have a briefcase. He hooked his cane back on the chair so he could reach into his pocket with his free hand. So, did you sleep yet today or just go right into this? Yes, Dad, I slept. Dont call me that. Only one person can call me that and she never does. He pulled out some cash and left a twenty on the table, tipping as though there had been four people after all. How is Maddie? Ballard asked. A little freaked out at the moment, Bosch said. Why, what happened? Shes got one semester to go down at Chapman and then she graduates. Three weeks ago some creep broke into the house she shares near the school with three other girls. It was a hot prowl. Two of the girls were there asleep. Maddie? No, she was up here with me because of my knee. Helping out, you know? But that doesnt matter. Theyre all freaked out. This guy, he wasnt there to steal shit, you know, no money or anything taken. He left his semen on one of the girls laptops that was on the kitchen table. He was probably looking at photos of her on it when he did his thing. Hes obviously bent. Oh, shit. Did they get a profile off it? Yeah, a case-to-case hit. Same thing four months before. Hot prowl, girls from Chapman, and he left his DNA on a photo that was on the refrigerator. But no match to anybody in the database. So did Maddie and the girls move out? No, theyre all two months from graduation and dont want to deal with moving. We put on extra locks, cameras inside and out. Alarm system. The local cops put the street on twice-by a shift. But they wont move out. So that freaks you the fuck out. Exactly. Both hot prowls were on Saturday nights, so Im thinking thats this guys night out and maybe hes going to come back. So Ive been going down and sitting on the place the last two Saturday nights. Me and this knee. I sit in the back seat with my leg up across the seat. I dont know what Id do if I saw something but Im there. Hey, if you want company, Im there too. Thanks, that means a lot, but thats my point. Dont miss your sleep. I remember last year What about last year? You mean the case we worked? Yeah. We both had sleep deprivation and it affected things. Decisions. What are you talking about? Look, I dont want to get into it. You can blame it on me. My decisions were affected, okay? Lets just make sure we get sleep this time. You worry about you and Ill worry about me. Got it. Sorry I even brought it up. He picked up his cane off the chair and headed toward the door. He was moving slow. Ballard realized she would look like an ass if she walked quickly ahead of him and then out. Hey, Im going to hit the restroom, she said. Talk later? Sure, Bosch said. And I really mean that about your daughter. You need me, Im there. I know you mean it. Thanks. 10 Ballard walked to the Police Administration Building so she could use a computer to run down some of the names on her list. This would be a routine stop for most detectives from the outer geographic stations. There were even desks and computers reserved for visiting detectives. But Ballard had to tread lightly. She had previously worked in the Robbery-Homicide Division located in the PAB and had left for the midnight shift at Hollywood Station under a cloud of suspicion and scandal. A complaint to Internal Affairs about her supervisor sexually harassing her led to an investigation that turned the Homicide Special unit upside down until the complaint was deemed unfounded and Ballard was sent off to Hollywood. There were those still in the PAB who did not believe her story, and those who viewed the infraction, even if true, as unworthy of an investigation that threatened a mans career. There were enemies in the building, even four years later, and she tried to maintain her job without stepping through its glass doors. But to drive all the way from downtown to Hollywood just to use the departments database would be a significant waste of time. If she wanted to keep momentum, she had to enter the PAB and find a computer she could use for a half hour. She made it through the lobby and onto the elevator unscathed. On the fifth floor she avoided the vast homicide squad room and entered the much smaller Special Assault Section, where she knew a detective who had backed her through all the controversy and scandal. Amy Dodd was at her desk and smiled when she saw Ballard enter. Balls! What are you doing down here? Amy used a private nickname derived from the stand Ballard had made during the past troubles in RHD. Hey, Doddy. Hows it hanging? Im looking for a computer to run names on. I hear there are plenty of open desks in homicide since they trimmed the fat over there. Last thing I want to do is set up in there. Might get stabbed in the back again. Amy pointed to the workstation next to hers. That ones empty. Ballard hesitated and Amy read her. Dont worry, I wont talk your ear off. Do your work. I have court calls to make anyway. Ballard sat down and went to work, putting her password into the department database and then opening her notebook to the list of names from the Hilton case. She quickly located a drivers license for Maxwell Talis in Coeur dAlene, Idaho, which was not a welcome piece of information. Yes, Talis was still alive, but Ballard was working this case on her own and with Bosch, not as an official LAPD investigation. An out-of-town trip was not in the equation. It meant she would have to reach Talis by phone. This was disappointing because face-to-face interviews were always preferable. Better tells and better reads came out of in-person sit-downs. The news did not get any better as she moved down her list. She determined that both Sandra and Donald Hilton were dead. They had passedDonald in 2007 and Sandra in 2016without knowing who had killed their son or why, without any justice for his life and their loss. To Ballard it didnt matter that John Hilton had been a drug addict and criminal. He had talent and with that he had to have had dreams. Dreams of a way out of the life he was trapped in. It made Ballard feel that if she didnt find justice for him, no one ever would. Next on the list was Margaret Thompson and Bosch was handling that. Vincent Pilkey was the next name and it was another dead end. Pilkey was one of the dealers whom Hunter and Talis never connected with to interview, and now she never would either: Pilkey was listed as deceased in 2008. He was only forty-one at the time and Ballard assumed he met an untimely death by violence or overdose, but she could not determine it from the records she was accessing. Ballards luck changed with the next name down: Dennard Dorsey, the dealer Hunter and Talis did not talk to because he was also a snitch for Major Narcotics. Ballard ran his name on the computer and felt a jolt of adrenaline kick in as she learned that not only had the snitch somehow survived the last thirty years, but he was literally two blocks away from her at that very moment: Dorsey was being held in the county jail on a parole violation. She checked his criminal history and saw that the last decade was replete with drug and assault arrests, the accumulation eventually landing him in prison for a five-year term. It seemed pretty clear from the history that Dorseys usefulness as a snitch had long since ended and he was without the protection of his handlers at Major Narcotics. Hot damn! she said. Amy Dodd leaned back in her chair so she could see around the partition between their work spaces. Something good, I take it? she asked. Better than good, Ballard said. I found a guy and I dont even have to get in my car. Where? Mens Centraland hes not going anywhere. Lucky you. Ballard went back to the computer, wondering if the dice would keep tumbling her way. She pulled up the hold for parole violation and got a second jolt of adrenaline when she saw the name of the PO who had filed the violation and pickup order on Dorsey. She pulled her phone out of her back pocket and called Rob Compton on speed dial. You, Compton answered. What do you want? It was clear from his brusqueness that Compton still hadnt gotten past their last interaction. Theyd had a casual off-duty relationship that blew up on-duty when Compton and Ballard disagreed on strategy regarding a case they were working. Compton bailed out of the car they were arguing in and then bailed out of the relationship theyd had. I want you to meet me at Mens Central, Ballard said. Dennard Dorsey, I want to talk to him and I might need you for leverage. Never heard of him, Compton said. Come on, Rob, your names on the VOP order. Ill have to look him up. Go ahead. Ill wait. Ballard heard typing and realized she had reached Compton at his desk. I dont know why Im doing this, he said. I seem to recall being left high and dry by you the last time I did you a favor. Oh, come on, Ballard said. I seem to recall you pussied out on me and I got mad. You got out of the car and walked away. But you can make up for it now with Dorsey. I have to make up for it? Youve got balls, Ballard. Thats all I can say about it. Ballard heard a peal of laughter from the other side of the partition. She knew Amy had heard Comptons comment. She held the phone against her chest so Compton would not hear, then turned the volume down before bringing it back to her mouth. You got him or not? she asked. Yeah, I got him, Compton said. No wonder I didnt remember him. I never met him. He never reported. Got out of Wasco nine months ago, came back down here, and never showed up. I put in the VOP and he got picked up. Well, nows a good time to meet him. I cant, Ren?e. I got paper to do today. Paperwork? Come on, Robby. Im working a murder and this guy may have been a key witness. Doesnt look like the type whos going to talk. Hes got a gang jacket. Rolling 60s going back to the eighties. Hes hard-core. Or was. Not really. Back in the day he was a snitch. A protected snitch. Look, Im going over there. You can help me if you want. Maybe give him some incentive to talk. What incentive would that be? I figure you might give him a second chance. Nah, nah, nah, Im not letting the guy out. Hell just shit all over me again. I cant do that, Ballard. Compton going to her last name told her he was set on this. Okay, I tried, she said. Ill try something else. See ya around, Robby. Or actually, I probably wont. She disconnected and dropped her phone on the desk. Amy spoke teasingly from the other side of the partition. Bitch. Hey, he deserved it. Im working a murder here. Roger that. Roger the fuck that. Ballards plan was to go over to Mens Central, but first she finished the rundown on the names on her list. After Brendan Sloan, whose whereabouts she already knew, came Elvin Kidd, the Rolling 60s street boss at the time of the murder, and Nathan Brazil, John Hiltons roommate. Both were still alive and Ballard got addresses for them from the DMV computer. Kidd lived out in Rialto in San Bernardino County and Brazil was in West Hollywood. Ballard was curious about Kidd. Now nearly sixty years old, he had moved far away from Rolling 60s Crips turf, and his interactions with the justice system seemed to have stopped almost twenty years before. There had been arrests and convictions and prison time, but then it appeared that Kidd either started to fly below the radar with his continuing illegal pursuits or found the straight-and-narrow life. The latter possibility would not have been all that unusual. There were not that many old gangsters on the street. Many never got out of their twenties alive, many were incarcerated with life sentences, and many simply grew out of gang life after realizing only the first two alternatives awaited them. In checking Kidds record she came across a possible connection to Hilton. Both had spent time at Corcoran State Prison, with what looked like a sixteen-month overlap in the late 1980s when they were both there. Hilton was finishing his sentence while Kidd was starting his. His term ended thirteen months after Hilton was released. The overlap meant they could have known each other, though one was white and one was black and groups in state prison tended to self-segregate. Ballard went onto the California Department of Corrections database and downloaded photos of Kidd taken each year at the prisons where he was incarcerated. She was immediately hit with a charge of recognition when the photos from Corcoran came up. Kidd had shaved his head since his previous prison stint. And now she recognized him. She quickly opened her backpack and pulled out John Hiltons notebook. She flipped through the pages until she came to the drawing of the black man with the shaved head. She compared the drawing to Elvin Kidds photos from Corcoran. They were a match. John Hilton had been murdered in a drug alley controlled by a man he had obviously known and even sketched while at Corcoran State Prison. After that, she reconfigured her list based on what she now knew about the names on it. She put them into two groups because of the angles from which she had to approach them. Dennard Dorsey Nathan Brazil Elvin Kidd Maxwell Talis Brendan Sloan Ballard was excited. She knew she was making progress. And she knew that the first three interviews, if she got the men to talk to her, would give context to the conversation she hoped to have with Talis, one of the original investigators on the case. She put Sloan in last position because, depending on whether Dorsey spoke with Ballard, he might not even be relevant to her investigation. Ballard logged out of the system and returned all the case materials to her backpack. She stood up and leaned on the partition to look at Amy Dodd. She had always worried about Amy, who had spent her entire career as a detective working sexual assault cases. Ballard knew it could wear you down, leave you feeling hollow. Im going to go, Ballard said. Good luck, Amy said. Yeah, you too. You all right? Im good. Good. How are things around here? No controversies lately. Olivas seems to be lying low since he made captain. Plus I heard hes only got a year left before he plans to cash in and retire. Probably wants things to go smoothly till hes out. Maybe theyll even send him out as a deputy chief. Olivas was the lieutenant-now-captain who had been in charge of Ballards old unit, Homicide Special. He had been the one who drunkenly pushed her up against a wall at a unit holiday party and tried to stick his tongue down her throat. That one moment changed the trajectory of Ballards career and barely left a bruise on his. Now he was captain and in charge of all of the Robbery-Homicide Division squads. But she had made her peace with it. She had found new life on the late-show beat. The department brass thought they were exiling her to the dark hours, but what they didnt know was that they were redeeming her. She had found her place. Still, knowing Olivas planned to cash out in a year was good intel. The sooner the better, Ballard said. Take care of yourself, Doddy. You too, Balls. 11 The Mens Central jail was on Bauchet Street, a twenty-minute walk from the PAB. But Ballard changed her mind and decided to drive it so she could hit the road after speaking to Dennard Dorsey and move on to the next interview. She waited in an interview room for twenty minutes before a sheriffs deputy named Valens brought Dorsey in and sat him at a table across from her. Dorsey had a casualness about himself that indicated he was comfortable in his surroundings. He was far from a wide-eyed first-timer in Mens Central. He was African-American, with skin so dark that the complete collar of tattoos on his neck was unreadable and looked to Ballard like a set of old bruises. He had a full head of graying hair that was cornrowed and matched a goatee that was so long, it too was braided. His wrists were cuffed behind his back and he had to lean forward slightly in the chair. According to the records Ballard had pulled up on the computer, Dorsey had turned fifty in jail just a few days earlier, making him just twenty-one at the time of John Hiltons murder. But the man in front of her looked much older, easily into his sixties. The aging seemed so extreme that at first Ballard thought there had been a mistake and Valens had brought the wrong man into the room. Youre Dennard Dorsey? she asked. Thats me, he said. What you want? How old are you? Tell me your birth date. March ten, sixty-nine. Im fifty, so what the fuck is this about? The date matched and Ballard was finally convinced. She pressed on. Its about John Hilton. Who the fuck is that? You remember. The guy got shot in the alley off Melrose where you used to sell drugs. I dont know what the fuck youre talking about. Yes, you do. You talked to your handler at the LAPD about it. Brendan Sloan, remember? Fuck Brendan Sloan, that motherfucker never did jack shit for me. He kept homicide away from you when they wanted to talk to you about John Hilton. Fuck homicide. I never killed nobody. Dorsey turned around to see if he could get a guards attention through the glass door behind him. He was going to get up and go. Stay in your seat, Dennard, Ballard said. Youre not going anywhere. Not till we have a conversation. Now why would I have a conversation with you? Dorsey asked. I talk to anybody I talk to my lawyer, thats it. Because right now, Im talking to you as a possible witness. You bring a lawyer into it, then Ill be talking to a suspect. I tol you, I never killed nobody ever. Then Ill give you two reasons to talk to me. One, I know your parole officerthe one you never showed up to meet after you got out of Wasco. Weve worked cases together. You help me here and Ill go talk to him. Maybe he lifts the VOP and youre back on the street. Whats the other reason? Dorsey asked. Ballard was wearing a brown suit with chalk pinstripes. She reached into an inside pocket of her jacket for a folded document, a prop she had pulled out of the murder book in prep for the interview. She unfolded it and put it down on the table in front of Dorsey. He leaned further forward and down to read it. I cant read this, he finally said. They dont give me glasses in here. What is it? Its a witness report from the John Hilton murder case from 1990, Ballard said. The lead investigator says there that he cant talk to you because youre a high-value snitch for the narco unit. Thats bullshit. I aint no snitch. Maybe not now, but you were then. Says it right there, Dennard, and you dont want that piece of paper getting into the wrong hands, you know what I mean? Deputy Valens told me they got you in the Rolling 60s module. How do you think the shot callers in there will react if they see a piece of paper like that floating around? You just messing with me. You cant do that. You dont think so? You want to find out? I need you to tell me about that murder from twenty-nine years ago. Tell me what you know and what you remember and then that piece of paper disappears and you dont have to worry about it ever again. Okay, look, I remember I talked to Sloan about it back then. I tol him I wudnt there that day. And thats what he told the detectives on the case. But that wasnt the whole story, Dennard. You know something. A killing like that doesnt go down without dealers on that street knowing something or hearing something before or after. Tell me what you know. I cant hardly remember that far back. I done a lotta drugs myself, you know. If you hardly remember, that means you remember something. Tell me what you remember. Look, all I know is we was told to get away from that location. Like we thought we had a tip that a bust was coming down or something. So I wudnt there, man, like I tol Sloan back then and tell you now. I didnt see nothin, I dont know nothin, cause I wudnt there. Period. Now rip up that paper like you said. Is that what you told Sloan, that you were told to clear out? I dont know. I tol him I wudnt there that day and it was no lie. Okay, who told you to clear out of that alley? I dont know. I cant remember. Had to have been a boss, right? I guess maybe. It was a long time ago. Which boss, Dennard? Work with me. Were almost there. I aint working with you. You get me outta here, then I tell you who it was. Ballard was not happy that Dorsey was now trying to write the rules of the deal. Nah, that isnt how it works, she said. You help me, then I help you. I am helping you, Dorsey protested. No, youre not. Youre just bullshitting. Tell me who gave the clear-out order and then I talk to your PO. Thats the deal, Dennard. You want it or not? Im just about out of here. I hate being in jail. Dorsey sat quietly for a moment, then nodded his head as though he had convinced himself internally to make the deal. I think he dead now anyway, he said. Then giving him up wont be a problem, will it? Ballard said. Who was it? An OG name a Kidd. I want a real name. That was his name. What was his first name? Elvin. Almost like Elvis. Elvin Kidd. He had that alley and he was the boss. Did he tell you to clear out for the day or what? No, he just said like take the day off. We were like already out there and he came up and said you all scram outta here. Who is we? You and who else were already out there? Me and V-Dogbut that motherfucker dead too. He not going to help you. Okay, well, what was V-Dogs real name? Vincent. But I dont know his last name. Vincent Pilkey? I just tol you I dont know. We just work together back then. I dont know no names. Ballard nodded. Her mind was already going back to that alley twenty-nine years ago. A picture was forming of Dorsey and Pilkey running dope in the alley and Elvin Kidd driving in and telling them to clear out. It made her think Elvin Kidd knew what was going to happen in that alley to John Hilton before it happened. Okay, Dennard, Ballard said. Ill call your PO. Talk to him good. Thats the plan. BOSCH 12 Bosch parked his Jeep Cherokee on the north side of Fremont close enough to walk without his cane to Station 3 of the Los Angeles Fire Department. The station was of modern design and sat in the shadow of the towering Department of Water and Power Building. It was also less than six blocks from the Starbucks where Jeffrey Herstadt had suffered a seizure and had been treated by Rescue 3 EMTs on the day of the Judge Montgomery murder. As he approached, Bosch saw that both of the double-wide garage doors were open and all of the stations vehicles were in place. This meant nobody should be out on a call. The garage was two rows deep. A ladder truck took up one whole slot while the other three contained double rows of two fire engines and an EMT wagon. There was a man in a blue firemans uniform holding a clipboard as he inspected the ladder truck. Bosch interrupted his work. Im looking for a paramedic named Albert Morales. Is he here today? Bosch noticed that the name over the mans shirt pocket was SEVILLE. Hes here. Who should I tell him wants to see him? He doesnt know me. Im just passing on a thank-you from someone he took care of on a call. I have From an inside coat pocket Bosch produced a small square pink envelope with Moraless name written on it. Bosch had bought it at the CVS in the underground mall by the federal building. You want me to give it to him? Seville asked. No, it sort of comes with a story I need to tell him, Bosch said. Okay, let me see if I can find him. Thanks. Ill wait here. Seville disappeared around the front of the ladder truck and went into the station house. Bosch turned and looked out from the station. There was an embankment supporting the 110 freeway and Bosch could hear the sound of traffic from above. He guessed that it was not moving very quickly up there. It was right in the middle of rush hour. He raised his foot and bent his knee a few times. It was feeling stiff. You wanted to see me? Bosch turned and saw a man in the blue LAFD uniform, the name MORALES above his shirt pocket. Yes, sir, Bosch said. Youre Albert Morales, Rescue Three? Thats right, Morales said. What is Then this is for you. Bosch reached into an inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. He handed it to Morales. The paramedic opened and looked at it. He seemed confused. What the hell is this? he asked. Seville said it was a thank-you note or something. Thats a subpoena signed by a judge, Bosch said. You need to be in court tomorrow morning at nine sharp. Jeffrey Herstadt thanks you in advance. He offered the pink envelope to Morales, but he didnt take it. Wait, these are supposed to be served at headquarters, across the street from City Hall, Morales said. Then they come to me. So take it over there. Morales held the subpoena out to Bosch. There was no time for that, Bosch said. Judge Falcone signed it today and he wants you there first thing tomorrow. You dont show, hell issue a warrant. This is bullshit, Morales said. Im off tomorrow and going up to Arrowhead. Ive got three days. I think youll be in and out. Youll still get to Arrowhead. What case is this? You said Herstat? Jeffrey Herstadt. Spelled H-E-R-S-T-A-D-T. You treated him for seizure at the Starbucks by Grand Park seven months ago. Thats the guy who killed the judge. Allegedly. Bosch pointed to the subpoena, still clutched in Moraless hand. It says you need to bring any documentation of the call you have. And your rescue kit. My kit? What the fuck for? I guess youll find out tomorrow. Anyway, thats all I know. Youve been served and well see you at nine a.m. tomorrow. Bosch turned and walked away, heading back toward his car and trying not to limp. Morales threw one more This is bullshit at his back. Bosch didnt turn around when he responded. See you tomorrow. Bosch got back in his car and immediately called Mickey Haller. You get the subpoena? Haller said. Yep, Bosch replied. In and outthanks for greasing it. Now tell me you served Morales. Just did. Hes not too happy about it but I think hell be there. He better or my ass will be in a sling with Falcone. You tell him the subpoena includes his kit? I did, and its on the subpoena. Are you going to be able to get him on the stand? The prosecutor is going to carp about it, but Im not counting on any pushback from the judge. Bosch unlocked the Jeep and got in. He decided not to attempt the freeway at this hour. He would turn on First and take it to Beverly and ride that all the way into Hollywood. Your DNA lady get in? he asked. Just got the word, Haller said. She says shes in the car with Stace and heading to the hotel. Shell be good to go tomorrow. You talked to her about this? She knows the plan? Ran it all by her. Were good. Its funnytoday I was semi-bullshitting about her having a specialty and it turns out this is her specialty. Shes been doing transfer cases for five years. Its like the gods of guilt are smiling on me today. Thats great. But youve got nothing to smile about yet. Morales has to answer the way we think hell answer. If he doesnt, were cooked. Ive got a good feeling. This is going to be fun. Just remember, Morales has to go first, then your DNA lady. Oh, I got it. Bosch turned on the Jeeps engine and pulled away from the curb. He turned right on First Street and headed under the freeway. He changed the subject matter slightly. You told me that when you were prepping the case you had Cisco look into third-party culpability, Bosch said. Cisco Wojciechowski was Hallers investigator. He had helped prep the Herstadt case but had to stop when he had an emergency appendectomy. He wasnt due back on the job until the following week. Third-party culpability was a standard defense strategy: someone else did it. We took a look at it, Haller said. But to get it into court for the defense you need proof and we didnt have any proof. You know that. You focus on one subject? Bosch asked. Shit, no. Judge Montgomery had lots of enemies out there. We didnt know where to start. We came up with a list of namesmostly out of the murder bookand went from there but never got to where we could point a finger in court. Just wasnt there. I didnt see any list in the material you gave me. And did you get a copy of the murder book? Cisco had the copy we got in discovery. But if this thing goes down the way we think it will tomorrow, we wont need to prove third-party culpability. We wont even need it. Well have big-time reasonable doubt already. You might not need it, but I will. See if you can get it from Cisco. I want to look at other avenues of investigation. The LAPD has to have looked at other persons of interest. I want to know who. You got it, Broheim. Ill get it. And thanks for today. Bosch disconnected. He felt uncomfortable being thanked for a ploy that might set an accused murderer free. He felt just as uncomfortable being an investigator for the defense, even if the defendant in this case was possibly an innocent man. 13 Bosch parked right in front of Margaret Thompsons house. He thought about making the short walk to the house without his cane but he looked at the six steps leading up to the porch. His knee was aching from a full day of movement, with and without the cane. He decided not to push it, grabbed the cane off the passenger seat, and used it to amble up the front walk and stairs. It was getting dark now but there were no lights on that he could see. He knocked on the door but was thinking that he should have called ahead and avoided wasting time. Then the porch lights came on and Margaret opened the door. Harry? Hello, Margaret. How are you doing? Im fine. What brings you here? Well, I wanted to see how you were doing and I wanted to also ask about the casethe murder book you gave me. I was hoping I could get a look at John Jacks office, see if there were any notes relating to his investigation. Well, youre welcome to look but I dont think there is anything there. She led him into the house and turned on lights as they went. It made Bosch wonder whether she had been sitting in the dark when he had knocked on the door. In the office Margaret signaled toward the desk. Bosch paused and studied the whole room. The murder book was sitting on top of the desk when I retrieved it, he said. Is that where it was, or did you find it somewhere? It was in the bottom right side drawer, Margaret said. I found it when I was looking for the cemetery papers. Cemetery papers? He bought that plot at Hollywood Forever many years ago. He liked the name of it. Bosch moved around the desk and sat down. He opened the bottom right drawer. It was now empty. Did you clean this out? No, I havent looked in there since the day I found the book. So there was nothing else in the drawer? Just the murder book? That was all. Did John Jack spend a lot of time in here? A day or two a week. When he did the bills and the taxes. Things like that. Did he have a computer or a laptop? No, he never got one. He said he hated using computers when he worked. Bosch nodded. He opened another drawer while talking. Had you ever seen the murder book before you found it in the drawer? No, Harry, I hadnt. Whats going on with it? The drawer had two checkbooks and rubber-banded stacks of envelopes from DWP and the Dish Network. It was all household billing records. Well, I gave it to a detective and she started checking into it. She said there was nothing added to it by John Jack. So we thought maybe he kept notes separate from it. He opened the top drawer and found it full of pens, paper clips, and Post-it pads. There was a pair of scissors, a roll of packing tape, a mini-light, and a magnifying glass with a bone handle with an inscription carved in it. To my Sherlock Love, Margaret Its like he took the book with him when he retired but never worked it. From the desk Bosch saw a door on the opposite wall. You mind if I look in the closet? No, go ahead. Bosch got up and walked over. The closet was for long-term storage of clothes. There was a set of golf clubs that looked like they had barely been used and Bosch remembered that they had been presented to John Jack at his retirement party. On the shelf above the hanging bar Bosch saw a cardboard file box next to a stack of old LPs and a bobbys helmet that had probably been given to John Jack by a visiting police officer from England. Whats in the file box? I dont know. This was his room, Harry. Mind if I look? Go ahead. Bosch pulled the box down. It was heavy and it was sealed. He carried it over to the desk and used the scissors from the drawer to cut the tape stretched across the top of the box. The box was filled with police documents but they were not contained in files or murder books. At first glance they appeared to be haphazardly stored, from multiple cases. Bosch started taking out thick sheaves of documents and putting them on the desk. This might take a while, he said. I need to look through these to see what they are and if theyre connected to the murder book. Ill leave you here so you can work, Margaret said. Would you like me to make some coffee, Harry? Uh, no. But a glass of water would be good. My knee is swelling and I have to take a pill. Did you overwork it? Maybe. Its been a long day. Ill go get your water. Bosch finished taking the documents out of the box and started going through them from what would have been at the bottom. It quickly became clear they had nothing to do with the John Hilton case. What Bosch had in front of him were copies of partial case records and arrest reports as well as state parole-board notifications. John Jack Thompson had been keeping tabs on the people he had sent to prison as a detective, writing letters of opposition to the parole board, and keeping track of when prisoners were released. Margaret came back into the room with a glass of water. Bosch thanked her and reached into his pocket for a prescription bottle. I hope thats not that oxycodone thats in the paper all the time, Margaret said. No, nothing that strong, Bosch said. Just to help with the swelling. Are you finding anything? In this? Not really. It looks like old records of the people he put in prison. Did he ever say he was afraid that one of them might come looking for him? No, he never said that. I asked him about it a few times but he always said we had nothing to worry about. That the baddest people were never getting out. Bosch nodded. Probably true, he said. Then Ill leave you to it, Margaret said. After she left the room, Bosch considered the documents in front of him. He decided he wasnt going to spend two hours looking at every piece of paper from the box. He was confident that the contents were unrelated to Hilton. He started checking through a final sampling of papers just to make sure and came across a copy of a sixty-day summary report on a murder case that he recognized. The victim was a nineteen-year-old student at Los Angeles City College named Sarah Freelander. She was found raped and stabbed to death in the fall of 1982. She had disappeared somewhere between the school on the east side of the 101 freeway and her apartment on Sierra Vista on the west side of the freeway after attending a night class. Her apartment was thirteen blocks from the school and she commuted by bike. Her roommate reported her missing but she was young and there was no indication of foul play. The report was not taken seriously. Thompson and Bosch were called in when her body and bike were found beneath a stand of trees that lined the elevated free-way beyond the outfield fence of a ballfield at the Lemon Grove Recreation Center. The small park ran along Hobart Boulevard on the west side of the freeway and was equidistant from Melrose Avenue to the south and Santa Monica Boulevard to the north, the two streets with free-way underpasses that Sarah likely would have chosen between for her ride home from school. They worked the case hard and Bosch remembered coming to Jacks home office to get away from the station to discuss ideas and possibilities. John Jack had the internal fire going. Something about the dead girl pierced him and he had promised her parents he would find the killer. That was when Bosch first saw the fierceness his mentor brought to the job and to his search for the truth. But they never cleared the case. They found a credible witness who saw Sarah on her bike riding toward the Melrose underpass but never were able to pick up her trail on the other side. They keyed on a fellow LACC student who had been rejected a month before when he asked Sarah for a second date. But they never broke him or his alibi, and the case eventually went nowhere. Yet John Jack always carried it with him. Even when their partnership was long over and Bosch would run into him at a retirement party or a training session, John Jack would bring up Sarah Freelander and the disappointment of not finding her killer. He still thought it was the other student. Bosch put the summary back in the box and used the packing tape from the desk drawer to reseal it. He returned it to its place in the closet and left the room. He found Margaret sitting in the living room staring at the flames of a gas-powered fireplace. Margaret, thank you. You didnt find anything? No, and theres no other place in the house where he would have kept anything regarding the murder book, right? Anything in the garage? I dont think so. He kept tools in the garage and fishing poles. But youre welcome to look. Bosch just nodded. He didnt think there was anything here to find. Ballard might have been right: John Jack hadnt taken the murder book to work it. There was something else. I dont think I need to, he said. Im going to go but Ill circle back if anything comes up. Are you okay? Im fine, Margaret said. I just get a little wistful and a little teary at night. I miss him. She was all alone. John Jack and Margaret had not had children. John Jack had once told Bosch he could not bring a child into the world he saw as a law officer. Of course, Bosch said. I understand. If you dont mind, Ill check in on you from time to time, see if you need anything. Thats nice, Harry. In a way, youre the closest we got to having a son. John Jack didnt want us to have our own. Now Im left alone. Bosch didnt know what to say to that. Well, uh, if you need anything, you call me, he mumbled. Day or night. Ill let myself out and lock the door. Thank you, Harry. Back in his car, Bosch sat there and decompressed for a few minutes before calling Ballard to tell her that Thompsons home office was a dead end. Nothing at all? Not even a scratch pad. I think youre right: he didnt take the book to work it. He just didnt want anyone else to work it. But why? Thats the question. So, what are you doing tomorrow? Want to go with me out to Rialto? I cant. I have court in the morning. I might be able to go later. But whats in Rialto? Thats a drive. Elvin Kidd, the Rolling 60s street boss who told his dealers to clear the alley on the day Hilton got killed. Howd you get that? From the snitch Hunter and Talis didnt get the chance to interview back in 1990. Wait till Im clear, then we go see him. There was a hesitation. You shouldnt go out there without backup, Bosch said. The guys like sixty and out of the game, Ballard said. Rialtos two hours and a world away from South L.A. Its where bangers go when they quit the streets. Doesnt matter. Ill call you when I clear, then we go out. Maybe you should get some sleep until then. Cant. Im going to check out the ballistics first thing tomorrow. Then go home, wherever and whatever home is, and sleep. Yes, Dad. I told you about that. Ill make a deal with you. Ill stop calling you Dad and you stop telling me to get some sleep. Okay, deal. Have a nice night, Harry. You too. Let me know about the ballistics tomorrow. Will do. She disconnected. Bosch started the Jeep and headed home. BALLARD 14 Ballard sat in on the third-watch roll call but there was no requirement for her skills at the start of her shift. No follow-ups, no interviews, no subpoena deliveries, not even a wellness check. Afterward, she went down to the empty detective bureau, picked a desk, and set up her radio, leaving it on the jazz station Bosch programmed. She settled in for some computer work, and started running deep background checks on Elvin Kidd and Nathan Brazil. She learned that Kidd owned a home valued at $600,000 and ran a building business called Kidd Construction, specializing in commercial renovation projects. The contractors license was in the name of Cynthia Kidd. Ballard guessed this was his wife, whose name was used to get around the fact that he had a criminal record. It looked to Ballard, at least on the surface of things, that at some point Kidd had broken away from gang life and had chosen the straight life. Kidd Construction was first licensed by the state in 2002, twelve years after the murder of John Hilton. Ballard pulled up a photo of Kidds home on Google Maps and studied it for a few moments. It looked like the ideal picture of suburban life: gray with white trim, two-car garage. The only thing missing was a white picket fence out front. She noticed a pickup in the driveway with an equipment trailer hooked to it. The name of a business was painted on the side of the trailer, but it had been blurred out by Google. Ballard had no doubt that it said KIDD CONSTRUCTION. This made her pull up the address on the contractors license and she determined that it was a single-bay storage unit. So maybe Kidd ran his business out of his home and his business wasnt killing it financially. But he still had the house that had a single mortgage on it, and the pickup truck looked like it was only a year or two old. It wasnt bad for a guy who had spent two stints in state prison before he was thirty years old. Now sixty-two, he was one of the lucky few who had made it out alive. Nathan Brazil was another story. Ballard found two bankruptcies on his record and a string of eviction actions taken against him over the prior twenty-five years. She also found a rental application online that listed him as working in the food service industry, which she took to mean he was most likely a waiter, a bartender, or maybe a chef. A reference on the applicationwhich was from 2012was the general manager of a Tex-Mex restaurant in West Hollywood called Marix. Ballard had dined there frequently when, years earlier, she had lived in the area. It was the place to go for margaritas and fajitas. She wondered if she had ever been served by Brazil, even though she did not recognize him in the drivers license photo she had pulled up. The Google Maps photo Ballard found for what she believed was Brazils current address was of a 50s postmodern apartment house on Sweetzer. A single level of apartments over an open parking garage, the place looked worn and long out of style, its facade blemished by tenant-only parking signs slapped on the yellowed plaster. As she was printing out screenshots of her search, Ballards cell phone buzzed. The screen said UNKNOWN CALLER. She took the call. This is Max Talis. You left me a message. Ballard checked the wall clock and was surprised. She had left the message for Talis four hours earlier. She wasnt sure if there was a time difference between L.A. and Idaho, but his calling back after midnight seemed strange for a retired man. Yes, Detective, thank you for calling me back. Let me guess, this is about Biggie? Biggie? No, its not. I Thats what I get called about most of the time. I only had the case twenty minutes and then the big boys took over. But I still get calls cause Im in the files. Ballard assumed he was talking about Biggie Smalls, the rapper whose murder in the 90s was still officially unsolved but had been the subject of countless media reports, documentaries, and based-on-a-true-story movies. It was one of a long line of L.A. murders that captured the public imagination, when in reality it had been a street killing not that much different from the killing of John Hilton: a man shot to death in the front seat of his car. In her message, Ballard had not mentioned the case she wanted to talk to Talis about because it might have given him a reason not to call. Actually, I want to talk to you about John Hilton, she said now. There was a pause before Talis replied. John Hilton, he said. You need to help me out with that one. Ballard gave the date of the murder. White male, twenty-four, shot once in his Toyota Corolla in a drug alley off of Melrose, she added. One behind the ear. You and Hunter caught it. I just inherited it. Wow, yeah, Hilton like the hotel. I remember now we got that ID and thought, I hope this guy isnt related, you know? Then wed have a media firestorm on our hands. So you remember the case? I dont remember everything but I remember that we never got anywhere with it. Just a street robbery gone bad, you know? Drug-related, gang-relatedhard to clear. There are aspects of it that make it look different to me. Are you okay to talk now? I know its late. Yeah, Im at work. I got plenty of time. Really? What do you do? You said on the message you work the midnight shift. We used to call that the late show. Anyway, Im the same. Night watchman. The late show. Really. What kind of place is it? Its just a truck stop. I got bored, you know? So Im out here three nights a week, keepin the peaceand keeping the piece, if you know what I mean. He was an armed security guard. To Ballard it seemed like a steep fall from LAPD homicide detective. Well, I hope you stay safe, she said. Can I ask you about the Hilton case? You can ask, Talis said. But Im not sure Im going to remember anything. Lets see. My first question is about the murder book. The summary report with the victims parents has a couple lines blacked out. Im wondering why that happened and what was blacked out. You mean like on the page, somebody blacked it out? Thats right. It wasnt you or Hunter? No, why would we do that? You mean redacted like the feds did with the Russia thing? Yes, redacted. Its only two lines but it stood out, you know? Id never seen that before. I could read you the page or maybe fax it to you. Maybe it would help you No, that wont help. If I cant remember, I cant remember. Ballard detected a tonal change in Taliss voice. She thought maybe he had just recalled something about the case and he was shutting down. Let me pull the book and read it to you, she said. No, honey, I just told you, Talis said. I dont remember the case and Im kind of busy here. Okay, let me ask you this. Do you remember John Jack Thompson? Sure. Everybody knew John Jack. Whats he got Did you ever discuss this case with him? Why would we do that? I dont know. Thats why Im asking. He ended up with the murder book on this. When he retired he took it home with himhe stole itand Im trying to figure out why. You gotta ask him about that, then. I cant. He died last week and his wife turned in the murder book. Now I have it and Im trying to figure out why he took it. Im sorry to hear John Jack is gone, but I cant help you. I have no idea why he had the book. Maybe he talked to my partner about it, but he never talked to me. Ballard instinctively knew that Talis was dissembling. He knew something but wasnt sharing it. She took one last try at digging it out. Detective Talis, are you sure you cant help me? she asked. It sounds to me like you do remember this case. Are you protecting somebody or some secret? You dont need Hold it right there, girl, Talis said, his voice angry. Youre saying Im protecting somebody, keeping secrets? Then this is where I say fuck you. Nobody talks to me like that. I gave the department and that city Detective, I am not trying to insult you. twenty-five years of my life and I was putting people in jail when you were giving boys blow jobs under the bleachers. You insult me and you insult everything I ever did down there. Goodbye, Detective Ballard. Talis disconnected. Ballard sat there, her face turning red with anger and embarrassment. Then fuck you, she said to the empty room. She was saved from the moment when she heard her name come from the ceiling speaker. It was Lieutenant Washington requesting her presence in the watch office. She got up to go. 15 Some calls come with a deep feeling of dread that hits long before any crime scene is viewed or question asked. This was one of those. Lieutenant Washington had sent Ballard out to a house in lower Beachwood Canyon, where a suicide had been reported. Patrol wanted a detective to confirm and sign off on it. The L-T told Ballard that it was a kid. The house was a block north of Franklin on Van Ness. It was an old Craftsman that looked like its wood siding was being chewed up from the inside out by termites. There were two patrol cars out front and a white van with a blue stripe down the side that belonged to the coroners office. Ballard pulled behind it and got out. Two officers were waiting on the front porch. Ballard had seen them earlier at roll call and knew their names were Willard and Hoskins. They had long-distance looks in their eyes and had been horrified by whatever the scene was inside. What have we got? Ballard asked. Eleven-year-old girl hung herself in the bedroom, Willard said. Its a bad scene. Her mother found her when she came home from work around eleven, Hoskins added. Anybody else in the house? Ballard asked. Wheres the father? Not here, Hoskins said. We dont know his story. Ballard walked past them and opened the front door. Immediately she heard a woman crying. She stepped in and to her right saw a female officer named Robards on a couch next to a woman whose face was buried in her hands as she wept. Ballard nodded to Robards and pointed to the stairway in the front hall. Robards noddedthe body was upstairs. Ballard went up the stairs and heard a commotion from the open door on the right of the landing. She entered a pink-walled bedroom and saw the body of a girl hanging from a noose made of neckties looped over a crossbeam. On the floor in front of a queen bed was a kicked-over chair that came from a small homework desk. There was urine on the rug beneath the body and the odor of excrement in the room. An officer named Dautre was in the room, his hands in his pockets to make sure he didnt touch anything, as well as a forensic criminalist named Potter and two coroners investigators whom Ballard did not know. They had stuck a thermometer into the body through an incision to take liver temperature and determine an estimated time of death. Ballard, Dautre said. This is fucked up. Shes just a girl. Ballard had been at death scenes before with Dautreshe had told him the trick of keeping his hands in his pocketsand he had never seemed fazed by what he saw. But he did now. He was of mixed race but his face was blanched nearly white and his eyes were wide. She nodded and started to move in a circle around the room. She didnt want to look at the dead girls face but knew she had to. It was contorted, her eyes slits. Ballards gaze moved down the body looking for any sign of a struggle, getting to the fingers last. Many times suicides changed their mind and grappled with the rope or strap around their neck, breaking fingernails or leaving lacerations. There was no sign of this. The girl apparently never wavered in her decision. The girl was wearing a plaid green skirt and a white blouse. There was an insignia from a private school on the blouses pocket. She was overweight by about thirty pounds and Ballard wondered if she had been bullied because of it. She also noticed that two mens ties had been knotted together to loop over the crossbeam and make the noose the girl had put around her neck. Ballard assumed that the girl had to go into her parents bedroom to get the ties and wondered if that was significant. All right if we take her down now? one of the coroners investigators said. Ballard nodded. Are you calling it? she asked. Yes, the same man said. We dont see any indication of a setup. Do you confirm? Did you find a note? No note. But her cell phones on the dresser. Looks like she made a call to her dad about nine last night. That was it. I want a full tox screen, fingernail scrapings, and a rape kit, just to cover the bases. Ill put it in. You confirming suicide? Ballard paused. Her hesitation was that the mother didnt cut her down. She found her daughter hanging and didnt hold her up and cut her down just in case. I confirm. For now. Send me those reports, okay? Detective Ballard, Hollywood third watch. And nobody talks to the mother and father about that. You got it. Ballard and Dautre stepped back as one of the coroners men opened a stepladder while the other unfolded a body wrap on the floor. Then one man climbed up to cut the upper tie at the beam so as to have the entire ligature in one piece. The other man stood behind the body, spread his feet to brace himself, and then wrapped his arms around the dead girl. The ligature was cut and the man on the floor held the body until his partner came off the ladder and helped lower it onto the body wrap. They did the burrito wrap and then moved the body into a yellow bag that was zipped up around the package. Because of the unwieldiness of the houses stairs they had not brought in a stretcher. The two men lifted the yellow bag at either end and took it out of the room. Ballard stepped over to the dresser and searched for a note. She gloved up and started opening drawers and a jewelry box. No note. You need me here, Ren?e? Dautre asked. You can go downstairs, Ballard said. But dont clear the scene just yet. Tell Willard and Hoskins theyre clear. Roger that. That left Ballard and Potter in the room. You want the full workup? Potter asked. I think so, Ballard said. Just in case. You see something? No, not yet. Ballard spent another twenty minutes in the room looking for a note or anything else that would explain why the eleven-year-old girl would take her life. She checked the girls phone, which was not password protectedprobably a parental ruleand found nothing of note in it other than the record of a twelve-minute call to a contact labeled DAD. She finally went downstairs and entered the living room. Robards stood up immediately, obviously eager to pass this nightmare call on to Ballard. This is Mrs. Winter, she said. Robards stepped around a coffee table to get out of the way so Ballard could move in and sit on the couch in her stead. Mrs. Winter, Im very sorry for your loss, Ballard began. Can you tell us where your husband is right now? Have you tried to reach him? Hes in Chicago on business. I havent tried to talk to him. I dont even know what to say or how to tell him this. Do you have any family in the area, someplace you can stay tonight? No, I dont want to leave. I want to be close. I think its better for you to leave. I can call out a counselor to help you too. Our department has a crisis No, I dont want any of that. I just want to be left alone. Im staying here. Ballard had seen the childs name on the jewelry box and schoolbooks she had looked through upstairs. Tell me about Cecilia. Was she having trouble at school or in the neighborhood? No, she was fine. She was good. She would have told me if there was a problem. Do you have any other children, Mrs. Winter? No, only her. This brought a fresh burst of tears and a wrenching moan. Ballard let her slide into it while addressing Robards. You have any pamphlets on counseling we could give her? Numbers to call to talk to somebody? Yes, in the car. Ill be right back. Ballard turned her attention back to Mrs. Winter. She noticed that she was barefoot but the bottom edges of the one exposed foot were dirty. Are you sure your daughter didnt leave a note or send a text about what she was planning to do? Of course not! I would have stopped it. What kind of horrible mother do you think I am? This is the nightmare of my life. Im sorry, maam. I didnt mean to imply that. Ill be right back. Ballard got up and signaled Dautre to follow her. They went through the front door and stopped on the porch, just as Robards was coming up the steps with a pamphlet. Ballard spoke in a low voice. Look around the neighborhood and check the trash cans for a note. Start with this house and do it quietly. You got it, Dautre said. The two cops headed down the porch steps together and Ballard went back inside and returned to the couch. Mrs. Winter spoke before she could sit down. I dont think she killed herself. The statement didnt surprise Ballard. Denial was part of the mourning process. Why is that? She wouldnt have killed herself. I think it was an accident. She made a mistake. She was playing around and things went wrong. How was she playing around? You know, the way kids do in their rooms. When they are alone. She probably was waiting for me to come home and catch her in the act. You know, to get attention. I would catch her and rescue her just in time and then it would be all about her. She was an only child and she didnt think she got enough attention? No child thinks she gets enough attention. I didnt. Ballard knew that people beset by trauma and loss processed grief in myriad ways. She always tried to reserve judgment on what people said in the throes of a life catastrophe. Mrs. Winter, here is a pamphlet that outlines all the services available to you at this difficult time. I told you. I dont want that. I just want to be left alone. Ill leave it on the table in case you change your mind. They can be very helpful. Please leave now. I want to be alone. Im concerned about leaving you by yourself. Dont be. Let me grieve for my daughter. Ballard didnt respond or move. Soon the woman looked up from her hands and fixed her with red and watery eyes. Leave! What do I have to do to make you leave? Ballard nodded. Okay. Ill leave. But I think it would be good to know why Cecilia did what she did. You cant ever know why a child decides to do something. Ballard walked through the living room to the entranceway. She looked back at the woman in the chair. Her face was again cradled in her hands. Ballard left the house and joined Robards and Dautre at their car. Nothing, Dautre said. We checked her cans and the neighbors on all sides, Robards said. You want us to do more? Ballard looked back at the house. She saw the light behind the living room curtains go out. She knew that some mysteries never get solved. No, she said. Youre clear. The officers moved quickly to their patrol car as though they couldnt wait to get away from the scene. Ballard didnt blame them. She got in her own car and sat there for a long moment watching the now-dark house. Finally, she pulled her phone and called the number Cecilia had labeled DAD in her contact list. Ballard had written it down. A man answered the call right away but still seemed startled from sleep. Mr. Winter? Yes, who is this? Detective Ballard, Los Angeles Police De Oh god, oh god, what happened? Im sorry to tell you, sir, but your daughter, Cecilia, is dead. There was a long silence, broken only by sounds of the man on the other end of the line beginning to cry. Sir, can you tell me where you are? Is there someone you can be with? I told her. I told her this time it felt real. Told Cecilia? What did you tell her? No, my wife. My daughterour daughter is was troubled. She killed herself, didnt she? Oh my god I just cant Yes, Im afraid she did. You spoke to her earlier tonight? She called me. She said she was going to do it. Shes said it before but this time it felt is my wife there? Shes at the house. She asked us to leave. Is there a family member or friend I can call to be with her? Thats really why Im calling. We had to respect her wishes for us to leave but I dont think she should be alone. Ill get somebody. Ill call her sister. Okay, sir. There was more whimpering and Ballard let it go for a while before interrupting. Where are you, Mr. Winter? Naperville. The company I work for is based here. Where is that, sir? Outside Chicago. I think you need to come home and be with your wife. I am. Ill book the first flight out. Can you tell me what your daughter said on the phone call? She said she was tired of having no friends and being overweight. We tried different things with her. To help her. But nothing worked. It felt different this time. She seemed so sad. I told Ivy to watch her because I had never heard her so sad before. His last few words came out in bursts as he started to cry loudly. Mr. Winter, you need to be with your wife. I know that wont happen until tomorrow, but you should call her. Call Ivy. Ill hang up now and you can call. Okay Ill call. This is your cell, right? Uh, yes. So you should have my number on your call log. Call me if there are any questions or there is something I can do. Where is she? Where is my baby? They took her to the coroners office. And they will be in touch with you. Good night now, Mr. Winter. Im sorry for your loss. Ballard disconnected and sat unmoving in her car for a long moment. She was torn between accepting that an eleven-year-old girl would take her own life and being suspicious because the mother left her hanging and the father never asked how she had killed herself. She pulled her phone and hit redial. Winter answered immediately. Mr. Winter, Im sorry to call back, she said. Were you talking to your wife? No, Winter said. I couldnt bring myself to call her yet. Is this an iPhone you are on, sir? Uh, yes. Why would you ask that? Because for the report Im going to have to write, I need to confirm your location. This means I need to contact the Naperville police and have an officer come to your hotel, or you could just text me your contact info and share your location with me. It would save time and you wouldnt be intruded on by the police up there. There was silence for a long beat. You really have to do that? Winter finally asked. Yes, sir, we do, Ballard said. Part of the protocol. All deaths are investigated. If you dont want to share your location on the phone, just tell me where you are and Ill have a local officer run by as soon as possible. Another silence went by and when Winter spoke, his voice had a coldness to it that was unmistakable. Ill text my contact info and share my location with you, he said. Are we done now? Yes, sir, Ballard said. Thank you once again for your cooperation and Im sorry for your loss. 16 On the way back to the station Ballard detoured down Cahuenga and then over to Cole. She drove slowly by the line of tents, lean-to tarp constructions, and occupied sleeping bags that ran the fence line of the public park. She saw that the spot previously used by the man who had been immolated the night before was already taken by someone with an orange-and-blue tent. She stopped in the streetthere was no traffic to worry about impedingand looked at the blue tarp where she knew the girl named Mandy slept. All seemed quiet. A slight gust of wind flapped the dirty tarp for a moment but soon the scene returned to a still life. Ballard thought about Mandy and the prospects of her life. She then thought about Cecilia and wondered how she had lost any sort of prospect for happiness. Then Ballard thought about her own desperate beginnings. How did one child retain hope in the darkness and another come to believe it was gone forever? Her phone buzzed and she answered. It was Lieutenant Washington and she immediately looked at the radio charger to see if she had left her rover behind somewhere. But it was there in its holder. Washington had chosen to call her rather than use the radio. L-T? Ballard, where are you? Headed to the house. About three blocks out. Whats up? Dautre and Roberts were just in here. They told me about the girl. He had managed to mispronounce Dautre, making it sound more like doubter than daughter, and had missed Robardss name altogether. What about her? she said. I heard it was bad, Washington said. You confirm it was suicide? I signed off on it. The parents were kind of hinky. The father is out of town. But I confirmed that. Hes where he said he was. Ill turn it all over to West Bureau homicide for follow-up. All right, well, I want to get you back here and get BSU out to talk to you three. Behavioral Science Unit. It meant psychological counseling. It was the last thing Ballard would want from the department. Half the department already thought she had fabricated sexual harassment allegations against a supervisor. That unsubstantiated investigation had resulted in her being forced into BSU sessions for a year. Adding another shrink sheet to her file would bring the other half in line with the popular belief. And that was before you even got to the double standard involving female cops. A male officer asking for counseling was courageous and strong; a female doing the same was just plain weak. Fuck that, Ballard said. I dont want it. Ballard, it was a bad scene, Washington insisted. I just got the details and its a fucking horror show. You gotta talk to somebody. L-T, I dont want to talk to anybody, I dont need to talk to anybody. Ive seen worse, okay? And I have work to do. The tone of her voice gave Washington pause. There was silence for several seconds. Ballard watched a man crawl out of a single tent, walk to the curb, and openly start to urinate in the gutter. He hadnt noticed her or heard her idling car. All right, Ballard, but I made the offer, Washington said. Yes, you did, L-T, Ballard responded in a gentler tone. And I appreciate it. Im going to go back to the bureau and write this up, then Ill be done for the day. Ill hit the beach and all will be beautiful again. Salt water cures everything. Thats a roger, Ballard. Thank you. But Ballard knew she wouldnt be going west to the beach at the end of her shift. It was Walk-In Wednesday at the ballistics unit and she planned to be first in line. BOSCH 17 It was 9:05 a.m. in Department 106 and there was no sign of EMT Albert Morales. Bosch stood in the back of the courtroom so that he could step out and search the hallway, as he had been doing every five minutes. Haller was at the defense table, busying himself with paperwork and files to make it appear he was prepping for the day of court. Mr. Haller, the clerk said. The judge is ready. The clerks voice conveyed the impatience the judge had most likely imparted to her on the phone from his chambers. Yes, I know, Haller said. Im just looking for a witness sheet and then Ill be good to go. Can we bring in your client? the clerk asked. Haller turned and glanced back at Bosch, giving him a you-fucked-me stare. Uh, not quite yet, he said. Let me confer with my investigator a moment. Haller got up from the table and charged through the gate, striding toward Bosch. Im not your investigator, Bosch whispered. I dont give a fuck, Haller said. That was for her, not you. Where the fuck is our witness? I dont know. The subpoena said nine and I told him nine and hes not here. I have no way to contact him other than calling the firehouse and I know hes not there because hes off today. Jesus Christ! See if the judge will give you an hour. Ill go out looking for The only thing the judge is going to give me is a citation of contempt. Hes probably in chambers writing it up right now. I can keep my finger in the dike maybe five more minutes. After that, Ill have to bring in my DNA witness and do this in reverse He stopped when the door opened. Bosch recognized Morales in street clothes, looking as put out as Haller. His forehead was peppered with sweat. He was carrying his med kit, which looked like a large fishing tackle box. Thats him. Well, its about fucking time. Bosch left Haller and went to Morales. The subpoena said nine, he said. I couldnt find parking, Morales said. So I parked at the fire station and walked over, carrying this thing. Its thirty pounds. Then the fucking elevators take forever. All right, go back out in the hallway and take a seat on a bench. Dont talk to anyone. Just cool down and dont move till I come out and get you. Im sweating, man. I have to hit the head and towel off or something. Its down the hall past the elevators. Do what you have to do but do it quick and get back here. You want me to watch your kit? Dont do me any favors, man. I dont want to be here. Morales left the courtroom and Bosch walked back to Haller. Hell be good to go in five minutes. He walked over from the station and is sweating, wants to clean up a little. Hes got the gizmo in his box? He should. I didnt ask. Hed fucking better. Haller turned and headed back through the gate. He waved to the clerk. You can bring my client out and you can get the judge, he announced. The defense is ready to proceed. Bosch noticed Saldano, the prosecutor, eyeing Haller suspiciously. She had no idea what was going on. Ten minutes later court was in session, with Herstadt seated next to Haller. Judge Falcone was on the bench but the jury box was empty. Bosch was watching from the back row of the gallery, near the courtroom door. The judge was angry. He had told the jurors to come in early and they had done so. But now they sat in the assembly room while the lawyers argued over the inclusion of the unexpected witness. Morales was not on the witness list provided by the defense to the court and the prosecution at the start of the trial. Saldano had now blindly objected to him testifying, on principle, without even knowing who he was or what he would say. It all made for a bad start to the day. Mr. Haller, in granting you the subpoena late yesterday I was not guaranteeing you that this witness would testify, the judge said. I was anticipating the objection from the state and that you would supply solid grounds for his inclusion at this late moment in the trial. Your Honor, Haller said, the court has granted the defense wide latitude and it is certainly appreciated. But as you told the jurors at the start of these proceedings, this trial is a search for truth. My investigator located a witness yesterday evening who could change the course of this search for truth. It is unfair not only to my client, but to the people of California to not let him be heard by the jury. Falcone glanced out at the gallery and his eyes found Bosch. For a split second Bosch thought he saw disappointment, and once again he wished Haller would stop calling him his investigator. But you see, Mr. Haller, you have created a circumstance with your investigator and this witness that is patently unfair to the prosecution, the judge said. Ms. Saldano has had no time to prepare for this testimony, to have her investigator vet and background this witness, or to question him on her own. Well, welcome to my world, Your Honor, Haller replied. I have never met or spoken to this witness myself. As I said before, his importance was discovered late yesterdayI believe you signed the subpoena at five-fifteen. He is now here to testify. We will all learn what he has to say as he says it. And what exactly will you be asking him? I will ask him about the events he was involved in on the day of the murder. He is the emergency medical technician who treated my client when he went into seizure in the coffee shop a little more than an hour before the murder of Judge Montgomery. The judge turned his attention to the prosecutor. Ms. Saldano, do you want to respond? Saldano stood up. She was in her late thirties and a rising star in the D.A.s Office, assigned to the Major Crimes Unit. Where she went, the media followed. Bosch had already noticed the reporters lining the front row of the gallery. Thank you, Your Honor, she said. The state could simply object on the basis the court has already outlined: lack of notice, lack of inclusion of this witness on the defenses witness list, lack of discovery in regard to his testimony. But since Mr. Haller has decided to throw the old search-for-the-truth trope into his plea for special dispensation, the state would argue that this witness has nothing to add to the testimony in this case that will in any way get us closer to the truth. We have already had testimony from Mr. Hallers own expert witness on the seizure his client allegedly had in the coffee shop. The state did not object to that testimony. This new witness can only provide the same information. She paused for a breath before wrapping her argument up. So, clearly, Your Honor, this is some kind of a stall, she said. A waste of the courts time. More smoke and mirrors from a courtroom magician who has nothing left in his bag of tricks. Bosch smiled and saw that Haller, who was leaning back in his chair and turned toward the prosecutions table, had to hold back a smile himself. As Saldano sat down, Haller stood up. Your Honor, may I? he asked. Please make it brief, Mr. Haller, Falcone said. The jury has been waiting since nine. Smoke and mirrors, Your Honor? A bag of tricks? A mans life is at stake here and I object to the characterizations by the deputy district attorney. It goes to Oh, come now, Mr. Haller. I have heard you called worse in this courtroom alone. And lets not kid ourselves: we both know Ms. Saldano has just given you the next slogan for the ads you place on buses and bus benches all over this city. I can just see them now: A courtroom magician, says the District Attorneys Office. There was a murmur of laughter in the courtroom and Bosch saw Saldano lower her head as she realized what she had done. Thank you for the promotional advice, Judge, Haller said. Ill get right on that after this trial is over. But what matters right here, right now, is that my clients life and liberty are at stake, and there is a witness sitting on a bench in the hallway who wants to testify and who I believe will bring clarity to what happenednot only at the coffee shop but an hour later in Grand Park to your friend and colleague Judge Montgomery. The evidence the witness is expected to give is relevant and material to the central issue of whether the prosecutions evidence is reliable. And finally, I would add that the existence of this witness and his testimony was or should have been known to the prosecutionmy investigator got his name from the states own discovery materials. I ask the courts indulgence in allowing me to bring this new witness into the courtroom to testify. Haller sat down and the judge looked at Saldano, who made no move to stand. Submitted, she said. Falcone nodded. Okay, lets bring the jury in, he said. Mr. Haller, I am going to allow you to put your witness on the stand, but then I am going to allow Ms. Saldano whatever time shell need to prepare her cross-examination, if she indeed wishes to question the witness at all. Thank you, Your Honor, Haller said. He turned and looked back at Bosch and nodded. Bosch got up to get Morales. 18 From the start, Albert Morales seemed like a man with a chip on his shoulder. He clearly did not want to be in court on his day off and showed this by acting uninterested and giving clipped answers to every question. This was a good thing, in Boschs eyes. He believed that the EMTs obvious dislike of Haller would give more credence to anything the defense lawyer managed to extract from him that was beneficial to his client. Bosch was again watching from the last row. This was not because he had to be near the exit, but because the last row gave him cover from the eyes of the courtroom deputy, who was posted at a desk in front of the door to the courthouse holding pens. The use of electronic devices was prohibited in all but the hallways of Superior Court. The deputies often cut law enforcement officers and prosecutors slack, but never the defense. And Bosch needed to be able to communicate with Haller as he conducted his examination of Morales without having previously questioned him. It was a high-wire act without a net and Haller wanted all the help he could get. He wore an electronic watch that received texts from his phone. As long as Bosch kept his messages short, Haller would be able to get them on the watch and check them as though he was checking the time. After the preliminaries of name, occupation, and experience were out of the way, Haller got down to business, asking Morales if he had received a call regarding a man down at the Starbucks on First Street on the day of the Judge Montgomery murder. I did, Morales said. And did you have a partner with you? Haller asked. I did. Who was that? Gerard Cantor. And you two treated the man who was on the floor of the Starbucks? We did. Do you recognize that man in the courtroom today? Recognize? No. But you know he is in the courtroom? Yes. And how is that? Its been all over the news. I know what this trials about. He said it in an exasperated tone that Haller ignored as he pressed on. So you know that the defendant in this case, Jeffrey Herstadt, is the man you treated on the floor of the Starbucks that day? Yes. But you dont recognize him? I treat a lot of people. I cant remember them all. Plus, he looks like he got cleaned up while in jail. And because you cant remember all the people you treat, you write reports detailing what you did on each call for help, correct? Yes. Foundation laid, Haller asked the judge for permission to bring a copy of the Fire Department incident report that was filed by Morales after the incident with Herstadt. Once that was okayed, Haller put a copy down in front of Morales and returned to the lectern. What is that document, Mr. Morales? The incident report I filled out. After treating Jeffrey Herstadt at the Starbucks. Thats right. Its got his name on it. Can you read the summary to the jury? Yes. Subject fell or seized on floor of business. All vitals good. Oxygen levels good. Refused treatment or transport for minor head laceration from fall. Subject walked away. Okay, what does that last part mean? Subject walked away. It means exactly what it says: the subject refused any help from us and just got up and walked away. He went out the door and that was that. I dont know why its so important. Well, lets try to make it clear to you. What does Saldano stood up and objected. Your Honor, hes badgering his own witness when the witness has legitimate concerns about what he is doing here. As do I. Mr. Haller, you know better, Falcone said. Yes, Your Honor, Haller said. And I join the witness and the prosecutor in questioning how we are advancing the search for truth with this witness, the judge added. Morales looked out into the gallery and found Bosch. He gave him a fuck-you look. Judge, Haller said, I think it will become clear to all concerned very quickly if I am allowed to proceed with my witness. Then please do, Falcone said. Haller checked his watch as if noting the time and read Boschs first text: Get to the gizmo. Mr. Morales, the summary on your incident report says All vitals good. Oxygen levels good. What does that mean? His pulse and blood pressure were measured and within acceptable levels. His blood was oxygenated. Nothing was wrong. And how did you arrive at that conclusion? I measured his pulse and my partner took his blood pressure. One of us put an oximeter on his finger. Is all of that routine? Yes. What does the oximeter do? It measures the oxygen content in the blood. You get a good idea about how the heart is working in terms of circulating oxygenated blood. Is that why it is clipped to the finger? You want the measurement from an extremity? Exactly. Now I noticed today that you brought your EMT kit with you, is that correct? Yes, because the subpoena told me to. This oximeter you just mentioned, is it in your kit? Should be. Can you open your kit and show the oximeter to the jury? Morales reached down to the floor next to the witness stand and unsnapped the latches on his kit. He flipped the top open and grabbed a small device out of a tray. He held it up to Haller, then turned and displayed it to the jury. How does that work, Mr. Morales? Haller asked. Simple, Morales said. Turn it on, clip it to the finger, and it shoots infrared light through the finger. From that it can measure the oxygen saturation of the blood. And you just clip it to any finger? The index finger. Either hand? Either hand. How long did you treat Jeffrey Herstadt that day? Can I look at the report? You may. Morales looked over the report and then answered. From beginning to end, when he walked away, it was eleven minutes. Then what did you do? Well, first we realized he walked away with our oximeter still on his finger. I chased him down and grabbed that. Then we packed up, bought a couple lattes, and left. You returned to the station? Yes. Where is that station? On Fremont and First. Quite close to here, correct? Yes. In fact you walked here from the station, with your kit, to testify today, isnt that correct? Yes. Did you walk through Grand Park? Yes. Had you ever been in Grand Park before? Yes. When was that? Many times. Its part of Station Threes coverage area. Going back to the day you treated Jeffrey Herstadt at Starbucks, did Rescue Three receive another emergency call soon after your return to the station that morning? Yes. What was the call? It was a stabbing. It was this case. The judge that got stabbed. Bosch glanced away from Morales to Saldano. She had leaned toward the junior prosecutor, who was sitting next to her, and whispered in his ear. He then got up and went to a cardboard file box that was on a chair by the courtroom rail. He started going through documents. Do you remember how soon you got the call after returning from treating Mr. Herstadt and checking his vitals? Haller asked. Not offhand, Morales said. Haller went through the same procedure of asking the judges permission to give Morales an incident report, this one from the Montgomery stabbing. Does that shed light on things, Mr. Morales? Haller asked. If you say so, Morales countered. If you compare it to the first incident report, does it not say that the calls were one hour and nine minutes apart? Looks like it. So lets keep going with this. You said you were with Herstadt for eleven minutes, then got a latte. How long did that take? I dont remember. Do you remember if there was a line? It was a Starbucks. There was a line. Okay, so at least a few minutes there. Did you and your partner sit down with your lattes or take them to go? Took them to go. And you returned directly to the station? Yes, direct. Is there some sort of protocol or procedure you follow after returning from a rescue call? We replenish supplies, write the reports. Finish your latte first? I dont remember. But then you get this call, a stabbing in Grand Park, correct? Yes. And you roll on it. Yes. How long did it take you and your partner to get there? Morales looked at the incident report. Four minutes, he said. Was the victim, Judge Montgomery, alive when you got there? Haller asked. He was circling the drain. What does that mean? He was dying. Hed lost too much blood and was unresponsive. No pulse. There was nothing we could really do for him. You just said no pulse. So you checked his vitals despite the fact that, as you say, he was circling the drain? There it was, Bosch knew. The trial came down to this question. We did. Its protocol. No matter what, you do that. With the oximeter? Morales didnt answer. It looked to Bosch like he had finally tumbled to the importance of his testimony and realized that everything could shift on his answer. With the oximeter? Haller asked again. Yes, Morales finally said. Part of the protocol. Was that the same oximeter used less than an hour earlier to check the vitals of Jeffrey Herstadt? It would have been. Is that a yes? Yes. A moment, Your Honor. Haller let that last answer hang out there in front of the jury. Bosch knew that he was trying to make a decision about the next question. He fired off a quick text: Ask the? He saw Haller check his watch and read it. Mr. Haller? Falcone prompted. Your Honor, Haller said. May I have another moment to confer with my investigator? Make it fast, Falcone said. Bosch got up, slid his phone into his pocket, and walked up the aisle to the rail. Haller came over and they whispered. This is it, Haller said. I think I leave it here. I thought you were rolling the dice, Bosch said. I am. I did. But I go too far and I blow the whole thing. If you dont ask, the prosecutor will. Dont be so sure about that. Cuts both ways for her too. She might not ask him a thing. Its a search for truth. The judge said so; you said so. Ask the question. Or Im not your investigator. Bosch turned to go back to where he had been sitting. For the first time he noticed Ren?e Ballard was in the courtroom, on the other side of the gallery. He had not seen her come in and had no idea how long she had been there. Once seated, he turned his attention back to the front of the room. Haller was staring at Morales, still deciding whether to quit while he was ahead or ask the question that could win or lose the dayand the trial. Mr. Haller, do you have another question? the judge prompted. Yes, Your Honor, I do, Haller said. Then ask it. Yes, Your Honor. Mr. Morales, between the two rescue calls you went out on, where was the oximeter? In my kit. Bosch saw Haller ball his hand into a fist and bounce it lightly on the lectern like he was spiking a ball after a touchdown. You didnt take it out? No. You didnt clean or disinfect it? No. You didnt sterilize it? No. Mr. Morales, do you know what DNA transfer is? Saldano jumped to her feet and objected. She argued that Morales was not a DNA expert and should not be allowed to give testimony regarding the transfer of DNA. Before the judge could respond, Haller did. I withdraw the question, he said. It was clear Haller knew the objection would come. He had just wanted to get the phrase DNA transfer into the record and the jury thinking about it. Hallers next witness would close the deal on that. Then do you have another question, Mr. Haller? the judge asked. No, Your Honor, Haller said. I have nothing further. Haller returned to the defense table, glancing back at Bosch and giving a nod as he went. Bosch checked the row of reporters. They seemed frozen. There was a stillness to the courtroom that underlined what Haller had just done with his questioning of Morales. Ms. Saldano, do you wish to cross-examine the witness or take some prep time? the judge asked. Bosch expected the prosecutor to ask for a 402 hearingto tell the judge without the jury present how much time she would need to prepare for her cross-examination of Morales. The judge had already said he would give her wide latitude. But the prosecutor surprised Bosch and probably everybody in the courtroom by rising and going to the lectern. Briefly, Your Honor, she said. She put a legal pad on the lectern, checked a note on it, and then looked up at the witness. Mr. Morales, do you carry only one oximeter in your EMT kit? she asked. No, Morales said. I carry a backup. You know, in case the battery dies on one of them. No further questions, the prosecutor said. Now in the silence, it felt like the momentum had switched. With a single question, Saldano had been able to undo much of what Haller had accomplished. Mr. Haller, anything further? the judge asked. Haller hesitated and asked the judge for a moment. Bosch tried to think of a question he could text him. It seemed as though any question asked might offer another opening to the prosecutor. He typed quickly and didnt bother to correct typos: Tel him open the kit. He watched Haller check his watch. The judge noticed as well. Ill stop you before you ask, Mr. Haller, he said. We are not taking the morning break until we are finished with this witness. Thank you, Your Honor, Haller said before turning his attention back to the witness. Mr. Morales, can you open your kit again for us and show us where you keep both oximeters? Morales did as requested. The oximeter he had displayed to the jury was in the top tray of his kit. He then lifted the tray up, moved his hands over the contents of the deeper box until he found the other oximeter, and held it up. Thank you, you can close that up now, Haller said. He waited while Morales closed up his kit. He glanced back at Bosch and gave a slight nod. The momentum was about to switch again. So, Mr. Morales, when you said you had a backup oximeter, you are talking about having an extra one stored in the bottom of your kit, to use if the device you currently have in the top tray of your kit happens to have a malfunction or the battery dies on you, is that correct? Morales clearly knew that he was providing pivotal information to the jury, and his loyalties were to the state. He hesitated and then tried to fashion an answer that would not give Haller what he wanted. You never know, he said. We can use either one, depending on the situation. Then why is one on the top of your box and the other beneath the tray and in the bottom? Haller responded. That just happens to be how I packed the kit. Really. So let me ask you a hypothetical question, Mr. Morales: Rescue Three gets a call. A man has been hit by a car on First Street. You respond. He is on the street, bleeding, unconscious. Hes circling the drain, if you will. You open your kit. Do you grab the oximeter on the top tray, or do you lift that tray out and dig the other oximeter out of the bottom? As if on cue, Saldano objected, saying that Haller was again badgering his own witness. Haller withdrew the question because he knew the jury didnt need to hear the answer. Common sense dictated that Morales would grab the oximeter in the top tray, and that he had done the same when he treated the fatally wounded Judge Montgomery. I have no further questions, Haller said. Saldano demurred, not wanting to dwell on the oximeter any longer. The judge asked Haller if he had any more witnesses. Yes, Your Honor, one final witness, Haller said. The defense would like to call Dr. Christine Schmidt to the stand. Very well, Falcone said. We will take the morning break now and come back to hear from your last witness. Jurors, now is the time to use the restroom, get a cup of coffee. But be back in the assembly room and ready to go in fifteen minutes. Thank you. The judge made no move to leave the bench as the jurors got up and filed through the door at the end of the jury box. This meant court was not adjourned and Falcone would have more to say to the lawyers once the jurors were gone. He waited until the last one went through the assembly room door before speaking. Okay, the jury is no longer present and were still on the record, he began. I dont want to tell the lawyers here what to do, but it does seem to me that it would be a prudent use of the break if Ms. Saldano and Mr. Haller joined me in chambers to discuss the viability of this case going forward. Any objection to that? No, Your Honor, Haller said immediately. No, Your Honor, Saldano echoed hesitantly. 19 After the lawyers filed back into the judges chambers, Bosch went out into the hallway. Christine Schmidt was sitting on a bench there, waiting to be called to testify. Witnesses were not allowed to hear other testimony in a trial, and therefore she was unaware of the testimony Morales had just given or the seismic change it had brought to the case. Bosch crossed the hallway to speak to her and simply explained that the lawyers were meeting with the judge and she could expect to testify afterward. He then walked back across the wide hallway to another bench where Ballard was waiting. He sat down and she put her backpack between them. So, what just happened in there? she asked. I think Haller just got a directed verdict of acquittal, Bosch said. At least thats what I bet theyre talking about in chambers. That testimony. He knocked down the DNA? More like he set up a way to explain how the defendants DNA got under the judges fingernail. It was transferred. He nodded across the hall to the bench where Dr. Schmidt sat. Thats his DNA expert, Bosch said. She comes in next to talk about touch DNA, DNA transfer. Herstadts DNA was found under Judge Montgomerys fingernail. One fingernail. The oximeter could have transferred it. Its reasonable doubt right there. It will hang up the jury if not get the outright acquittal. But wait, Ballard said. What about the guys confession? He admitted to the crime. Haller blew that up yesterday. Herstadts schizophrenic. His doctor was on the stand saying hes got the kind of psychosis that would lead him to agree to anything while under stress, say yes to anything, including murdering a judge in the park. I think Hallers got this won. I think the judge thinks so too. Thats gotta be what theyre in chambers talking about. And you gave him all of this? She said it in a tone that Bosch heard as distrustful, as if what he had done was part of a contrived scheme by the defense. It offended him. I gave him facts, he said. No tricks. I think what he laid out in there is what happened. Herstadt didnt do it. Sorry, Ballard said quickly. I didnt mean to suggest I liked Judge Montgomery. I told you that. I liked him, too. I just want to make sure the right guy goes down for killing him, thats all. Of course. Of course. We all do. Bosch didnt respond further. He still felt the heat of being unjustly accused of something. He turned and looked down the hallway at people going in and out of courtrooms, waiting on benches, wandering aimlessly in the halls of justice. He saw some of the jurors from the Montgomery case coming back from the restrooms. So why are you here? he finally asked. You get something at ballistics this morning? Actually, no, Ballard said. Her tone had shifted. Bosch thought she was probably happy to change the subject after stepping into the shit with him on the trial. There was nothing in the data bank that matched the projectile or shell from Hilton, she continued. But at least its in there now should anything come up down the line. Too bad, Bosch said. But we knew it was a long shot. Whats next? Rialto? The more I find out about Elvin Kidd, the more I think the answer is out there. What did you find now? Ballard pulled her backpack over and removed her laptop. She opened it and drew up side-by-side mug shots of a black man facing front and turned to the right. These are mug shots of Kidd from Corcoran, taken in 1989, the year he and John Hilton were both there. Now look at this. She pulled Hiltons sketchbook out of the backpack. She opened it to a specific page and handed it to Bosch. He compared the drawing on the page to the man in the mug shots. Its a match, he said. They knew each other up there, Ballard said. I think they were lovers. And then when they both paroled out and came back to L.A., that was a problem for Kidd. He was a Crip OG. Any gay vibe and that could be fatal. Thats a big jump. You nail down that he was gay? Not at the moment, its just a guess. Theres something about the drawings in the sketchbook then the whole drug addiction thing, the coldness of the parents in their statement. Im still working that. Whywhat do you know? I dont know anything about that. But I do remember that John Jack and I worked a few gay murders, and John Jack never got too motivated about them. It was his one flaw. He could never get the fire burning if it was a gay victim. I remember this one casea one-nighter gone bad. An old guy picked up a young guy in West Hollywood, took him back to his place in the hills off Outpost. The kid robbed him, then beat him to death with his belt. It had a big rodeo buckle and it was a bad scene. And I remember John Jack said something that bothered me. He said, Sometimes people deserve what they get. Im not saying thats wrong all the timeIve had cases where I believed that. But in that case it was wrong. Everybody counts or nobody counts. You got it. So again we come to why did John Jack take the murder book? Was it because he hated gays and didnt want it solved? That seems extreme. I dont think were there yet. Maybe not. They sat in silence for a few moments. More jurors were returning to the assembly room. Bosch knew he had to get back into the courtroom. More out of curiosity about what was happening than any duty to be in there. Doesnt matter what Thompson did or didnt do with the case, Bosch said. Or Hunter and Talis. Were still going to solve it, Ballard said. Bosch nodded. We are, he said. He stood up and looked down at Ballard. I need to get back in there. Are you going to Rialto? No. West Hollywood. To see Hiltons old roommate, see if I can confirm some of this. Let me know how it goes. 20 Bosch entered the courtroom as the last few jurors were returning to their places in the box and the judge turned in his high-backed chair so he could look directly at the panel when he spoke. Bosch slipped into his familiar spot in the last row of the gallery. He saw that both Haller and Saldano were in their seats and looking directly ahead, so Harry got no read from them on what was happening. Just as the judge was about to begin, the courtroom door opened and Jerry Gustafson, the lead LAPD detective on the case, hurried in and up the center aisle, then sat in the first row directly behind the prosecution table. Gustafson had been in and out of the courtroom during the days Bosch had attended trial sessions. Ladies and gentlemen, Falcone began. First of all, I want to thank you for your public service on this case. Jury duty can be time consuming, difficult, and sometimes even traumatic. You all have been troupers these past ten days and I and the state of California commend you and thank you. However, there has been a change and this case has come to an end. The District Attorneys office has elected to drop all charges against Mr. Herstadt and not proceed further with the case at this time. There was the required buzz of whispers in the courtroom as a scattering of observers and the row of reporters reacted to the news. Bosch watched Hallers back. He did not move and he made no motion toward his client to clap him on the arm or shoulder, no visual indication of victory. Bosch did see Gustafson, who was leaning forward, arms on the courtroom rail, drop his head like a man kneeling in church, beseeching his god for a miracle. But what confused Bosch was the judges last three words: at this time. What did that mean? He knew, as assuredly as the judge did, that to drop all charges at this point was tantamount to an acquittal. There were no comebacks. In California a trial is considered engaged the moment a jury is selected. To go after Herstadt again after this would invoke his double-jeopardy protections. Bosch had no doubt: the case against Jeffrey Herstadt was over. Following his unclear explanation the judge thanked the jurors one more time and asked them to return to the assembly room and wait. He said the prosecution team wanted to talk to them. Bosch guessed that Saldano wanted to survey them to see where they stood on a verdict. The conversation might tell her whether she had made a critical mistake in dropping the case. It could also confirm she had made the right decision. Falcone adjourned court and left the bench. Haller stood for the exit and finally looked around to see Bosch in the last row. He smiled and shot a finger at him, then blew on his finger as though it was the imaginary barrel of a gun. Finally, he reached down and squeezed his seated clients shoulder. He bent down and started whispering in his ear. Saldano and her second got up from the prosecution table and started making their way toward the jury assembly room door. Gustafson stood up and headed back down the aisle toward the courtroom exit. He stopped to look at Bosch. Years back they had worked together in the massive Robbery-Homicide Division squad room, but did not know each other well. Happy, Bosch? What exactly happened? Saldano dropped the case to keep her perfect record clean. Herstadt walks and whatever happens, thats on you, asshole. I know you teed this up for Haller. You still think he did it. Fuck you, man. I know he did it and so do you. What about the other five, Gustafson? What five? We got the murder book in discovery. You and your partner, you were chopping wood on five other people who wouldve been happy to have Montgomery dead, but you just dropped it when you got the DNA hit on Herstadt. You going to go back to them? Gustafson pointed to the front of the room where Haller was still whispering in Herstadts ear. Theres your killer right there, Bosch. I dont have to go back to anybody. It was him, we had him, and then you blew it up. Good job. You should be proud. You just undid everything you ever did with a badge. So thats a no? Bosch, as far as Im concerned, this case is CBA. And thats on you. Gustafson walked out of the courtroom. Bosch remained seated, his face burning with indignation. He tried to calm himself while Haller finished with his client and allowed the courtroom deputy to take Herstadt back into the courthouse jail so he could be processed out and released. Haller quickly gathered his files and legal pads and threw them into his briefcase. He then snapped its two brass locks closed and came through the railing, where four reporters were waiting for him. Talking over one another, they peppered him with questions about exactly what had just happened in the judges chambers. Haller told them he would answer their questions in the hallway. He led them out of the courtroom, winking at Bosch as they passed by his row. Then Bosch got up and followed them through the doors. Haller took a position in the middle of the hallway and the reporters gathered around him in a semicircle. Bosch stood outside the circle but close enough so he could hear what was said. The reporters started shouting variations on the same questions. All right, all right, listen instead of talking and I shall enlighten you, Haller said, his voice almost giddy from the courtroom win. He waited for them to quiet before he continued. Okay, ready? he said. Faced with more than reasonable doubt about the evidence it presented to the jury, the state took the high road today and withdrew the flimsy case it had against my client. Mr. Herstadt is currently being processed out of holding and will be a free man shortly. But this case started as a slam dunk, said a reporter Bosch knew was from the Times. They had a confession and a DNA match. What happened? Haller spread his arms and smiled. What can I tell you? Reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee, he said. What happened here was that they didnt do their homework. The confession was bogusit came from a man who would have confessed to killing the Black Dahlia if he had been asked. And there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the DNA match. The judge saw that, knew this case was a duck without wings, and called the prosecution on it. Ms. Saldano made a call to her boss and reasonable minds prevailed. She did what any prudent prosecutor would do: she folded her tent. So the case was dismissed? asked another reporter. It was withdrawn by the D.A.s Office, Haller said. They dropped all charges. So that means they could still refile, said a third reporter. Nope, Haller said. This case already went to trial. To charge my client again would be to submit him to double jeopardy. This case is over, folks, and an innocent man was proved so today. Who did Saldano call to get approval to drop the case? the Times reporter asked. I dont know, Haller said. She stepped out of chambers to make that call. Youll have to ask her. What happens to your client now? the Times reporter asked. Hes a free man, Haller said. I am going to see if I can get him a place to stay and back into therapy. Im thinking of starting a GoFundMe page to help with his expenses. Hes got no home and no money. Theyve held him in jail for seven months. Are you going to ask the city and county for reparations? a reporter asked. Maybe, Haller said. I think amends have to be made. But thats a question for another day. Thank you all. Remember, thats a double el in Haller. Get it right. Haller stepped back from the semicircle and raised his arm in the direction of the elevators, dismissing the journalists. As she walked by him, the Times reporter handed him a business card and said something in a low voice Bosch didnt hear. Haller took her card and slid it into the breast pocket of his suit jacket, behind the red-white-and-blue pocket square. He then sauntered over to Bosch, the smile seemingly a permanent feature of his face. You dont get many days like this one, Harry. I dont suppose you do. What really happened in chambers? Pretty much what I just told them. I left out the part about the judge telling Saldano that it looked to him like there was no way a jury could return a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He did give her the option of continuing and hearing my DNA expert and then my very persuasive motion to dismiss. That was when she stepped out and made her call to the powers that be. The rest is just like I told it. Maybe now theyll go out and get the right guy for this. I doubt it. Gustafson still thinks your client did the deed. He stopped by on his way out to tell me. Wounded pride, thats all that is. I mean, what else is he going to say? Yeah, but dont you see? Hes not going to go after the real killer. He said it himself as he was leaving: CBAthe case is closed. Meaning? Cleared By Arrest. It means no further investigation. Meantime, whoever really did this is still out there. But thats not our problem, is it? We work for Herstadt and Herstadt is free. Maybe its not your problem. Haller stared at Bosch for a long moment before responding. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Bosch nodded. Im going to hang on to the discovery files and the copy of the murder book. Sure. Be my guest. Ill be in touch soon about that other thing we talked about. The medical thing. Ill be around.
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