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Echo Park

By Teresa Barnes,2014-11-04 18:30
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Echo Park

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    ALSO BY MICHAEL CONNELLY

    Fiction

    The Black Echo

    The Black Ice

    The Concrete Blonde

    The Last Coyote The Poet Trunk Music Blood Work Angels Flight Void Moon A Darkness More Than Night City of Bones Chasing the Dime Lost Light The Narrows The Closers The Lincoln Lawyer Nonfiction Crime Beat ? This is for Jane Wood—who keeps Harry Bosch well fed and close to the heart. Many, many

    thanks. ?

THE HIGH TOWER

    1993

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    IT WAS THE CAR they had been looking for. The license plate was gone but Harry Bosch couldtell. A 1987 Honda Accord, its maroon paint long faded by the sun. It had been updated in ’92with the green Clinton bumper sticker and now even that was faded. The sticker had been madewith cheap ink, not meant to last. Back when the election was a long shot. The car was parkedin a single-car garage so narrow it made Bosch wonder how the driver had been able to get out.He knew he would have to tell the Forensics people to be extra diligent while checking forprints on the outside of the car and the garage’s inner wall. The Forensics people wouldbristle at being told this but he would become anxious if he didn’t.

    The garage had a pull-down door with an aluminum handle. Not good for prints but Bosch wouldpoint that out to Forensics as well.

    “Who found it?” he asked the patrol officers.

    They had just strung the yellow tape across the mouth of the cul-de-sac which was made by thetwo rows of individual garages on either side of the street and the entrance of the High Towerapartment complex.

    “The landlord,” the senior officer replied. “The garage goes with an apartment he’s gotvacant, so it’s supposed to be empty. A couple days ago he opens it up because he’s got tostore some furniture and stuff and he sees the car. Thinks maybe it’s somebody visiting one ofthe other tenants so he lets it go a few days, but then the car stays put and so he startsasking his tenants about it. Nobody knows the car. Nobody knows whose it is. So then he callsus because he starts thinking it might be stolen because of the missing plates. Me and mypartner have got the Gesto bulletin on the visor. Once we got here we put it together prettyfast.”

    Bosch nodded and stepped closer to the garage. He breathed in deeply through his nose. MarieGesto had been missing ten days now. If she was in the trunk he would smell it. His partner,Jerry Edgar, joined him.

    “Anything?” he asked.

    “I don’t think so.”

    “Good.”

    “Good?”

    “I don’t like trunk cases.”

    “At least we’d have the victim to work with.”

    It was just banter as Bosch’s eyes roamed over the car, looking for anything that would helpthem. Seeing nothing, he took a pair of latex gloves out of his coat pocket, blew them up likeballoons to stretch the rubber and then pulled them onto his hands. He held his arms up like asurgeon coming into the operating room and turned sideways so that he could try to slide intothe garage and get to the driver’s door without touching or disturbing anything.

    He slid into darkness as he moved into the garage. He batted spider threads away from his face.He moved back out and asked the patrol officer if he could use the Maglite on his equipmentbelt. Once he was back in the garage he turned the light on and put its beam through thewindows of the Honda. He saw the backseat first. The riding boots and helmet were on the seat.There was a small plastic grocery bag next to the boots with the Mayfair Supermarket insigniaon it. He couldn’t tell what was in the bag but knew that it opened an angle on theinvestigation they hadn’t thought of before.

    He moved forward. On the front passenger seat he noticed a small stack of neatly foldedclothing on top of a pair of running shoes. He recognized the blue jeans and the long-sleevedT-shirt, the outfit Marie Gesto was wearing when last seen by witnesses as she was heading toBeachwood Canyon to ride. On top of the shirt were carefully folded socks, panties and bra.

    Bosch felt the dull thud of dread in his chest. Not because he took the clothing asconfirmation that Marie Gesto was dead. In his gut he already knew that. Everybody knew it,even the parents who appeared on TV and pleaded for their daughter’s safe return. It was thereason why the case had been taken from Missing Persons and reassigned to Hollywood Homicide.

    It was her clothes that got to Bosch. The way they were folded so neatly. Did she do that? Orhad it been the one who took her from this world? It was the little questions that alwaysbothered him, filled the hollow inside with dread.

    After surveying the rest of the car through the glass, Bosch carefully worked his way out ofthe garage.

    “Anything?” Edgar asked again.

    “Her clothes. The riding equipment. Maybe some groceries. There’s a Mayfair at the bottom ofBeachwood. She could’ve stopped on her way up to the stables.”

    Edgar nodded. A new lead to check out, a place to look for witnesses.

    Bosch stepped out from beneath the overhead door and looked up at the High Tower Apartments. Itwas a place unique to Hollywood. A conglomeration of apartments built into the extruded graniteof the hills behind the Hollywood Bowl. They were of Streamline Moderne design and all linkedat the center by the slim structure that housed the elevator—the high tower from which thestreet and complex took its name. Bosch had lived in this neighborhood for a time while growingup. From his home on nearby Camrose he could hear the orchestras practicing in the bowl onsummer days. If he stood on the roof he could see the fireworks on the Fourth and at the closeof the season.

    At night he had seen the windows on the High Tower glowing with light. He’d see the elevatorpass in front of them on its way up, delivering another person home. He had thought as a boythat living in a place where you took an elevator home had to be the height of luxury.

    “Where’s the manager?” he asked the patrol officer with two stripes on his sleeves.

    “He went back up. He said take the elevator to the top and his place is the first one acrossthe walkway.”

    “Okay, we’re going up. You wait here for SID and the OPG. Don’t let the tow guys touch thecar until Forensics takes a look.”

    “You got it.”

    The elevator in the tower was a small cube that bounced with their weight as Edgar slid thedoor open and they stepped in. The door then automatically closed and they had to slide aninterior safety door closed as well. There were only two buttons, 1 and 2. Bosch pushed 2 andthe car lurched upward. It was a small space, with enough room for four people at the mostbefore everybody would start tasting each other’s breath.

    “Tell you what,” Edgar said, “nobody in this place has a piano, that’s for sure.”

    “Brilliant deduction, Watson,” Bosch said.

    On the top level they pulled the doors open and stepped out onto a concrete runway that wassuspended between the tower and the separate apartments built into the hillside. Bosch turnedand looked past the tower to a view that took in almost all of Hollywood and had the mountainbreeze to go with it. He looked up and saw a red-tailed hawk floating above the tower, as ifwatching them.

    “Here we go,” Edgar said.

    Bosch turned to see his partner pointing to a short set of stairs that led to one of theapartment doors. There was a sign that said MANAGER below a doorbell. The door was openedbefore they got to it by a thin man with a white beard. He introduced himself as Milano Kay,the manager of the apartment complex. After they badged him Bosch and Edgar asked if they couldsee the vacant apartment to which the garage with the Honda in it was assigned. Kay led theway.

    They walked back past the tower to another runway that led to an apartment door. Kay startedworking a key into the door lock.

    “I know this place,” Edgar said. “This complex and the elevator, it’s been in the movies,right?”

    “That’s right,” Kay said. “Over the years.”

    It stood to reason, Bosch thought. A place as unique as this could not escape the eye of thelocal industry.

    Kay opened the door and signaled Bosch and Edgar in first. The apartment was small and empty.There was a living room, kitchen with a small eat-in space and a bedroom with an attachedbathroom. No more than four hundred square feet and Bosch knew that with furniture it wouldlook even smaller. But the view was what the place was about. A curving wall of windows lookedout on the same view of Hollywood seen from the walkway to the tower. A glass door led to aporch that followed the curve of glass. Bosch stepped out and saw the view was expanded outhere. He could see the towers of downtown through the smog. He knew the view would be best atnight.

    “How long has this apartment been vacant?” he asked.

    “Five weeks,” Kay answered.

    “I didn’t see a FOR RENT sign down there.”

    Bosch looked down at the cul-de-sac and saw the two patrol officers waiting for Forensics andthe flatbed from the police garage. They were on opposite sides of their cruiser, leaning onthe hood with their backs to each other. It didn’t look like a thriving partnership.

    “I never need to put up signs,” Kay said. “The word that we have a vacancy usually gets out.A lot of people want to live in this place. It’s a Hollywood original. Besides, I’ve been inthe process of getting it ready, repainting and small repairs. I haven’t been in any hurry.”

    “What’s the rent?” Edgar asked.

    “A thousand a month.”

    Edgar whistled. It seemed high to Bosch, too. But the view told him there would be somebody whowould pay it.

    “Who would have known that that garage down there was empty?” he asked, getting back ontrack.

    “Quite a few people. The residents here, of course, and in the last five weeks I’ve shown theplace to several interested parties. I usually point out the garage to them. When I go onvacation there’s a tenant here who sort of watches things for me. He showed the apartment,too.”

    “The garage is left unlocked?”

    “It’s left unlocked. There’s nothing in it to steal. When the new tenant comes in they canchoose to put a padlock on it if they want to. I leave it up to them but I always recommendit.”

    “Did you keep any kind of records on who you showed the apartment to?”

    “Not really. I might have a few call-back numbers but there is no use in keeping anybody’sname unless they rent it. And as you can see, I haven’t.”

    Bosch nodded. It was going to be a tough angle to follow. Many people knew the garage wasempty, unlocked and available.

    “What about the former tenant?” he asked. “What happened to him?”

    “It was a woman, actually,” Kay said. “She lived here five years, trying to make it as anactress. She finally gave up and went back home.”

    “It’s a tough town. Where was home?”

“I sent her deposit back to Austin, Texas.”

    Bosch nodded.

    “She live here alone?”

    “She had a boyfriend who visited and stayed a lot but I think that ended before she movedout.”

    “We’ll need that address in Texas from you.”

    Kay nodded.

    “The officers, they said the car belonged to a missing girl,” he said.

    “A young woman,” Bosch said.

    He reached into an inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a photograph of Marie Gesto. Heshowed it to Kay and asked if he recognized her as someone who might have looked at theapartment. He said he didn’t recognize her.

    “Not even from TV?” Edgar asked. “She’s been missing ten days and it’s been in the news.”

    “I don’t have a TV, Detective,” Kay said.

    No television. In this town that qualified him as a freethinker, Bosch thought.

    “She was in the newspapers, too,” Edgar tried.

    “I read the papers from time to time,” Kay said. “I get them out of the recycle binsdownstairs. They’re usually old by the time I see them. But I didn’t see any story abouther.”

    “She went missing ten days ago,” Bosch said. “That would have been Thursday the ninth. Youremember anything from back then? Anything unusual around here?”

    Kay shook his head.

    “I wasn’t here. I was on vacation in Italy.”

    Bosch smiled.

    “I love Italy. Where’d you go?”

    Kay’s face brightened.

    “I went up to Lake Como and then over to a small hill town called Asolo. It’s where RobertBrowning lived.”

    Bosch nodded like he knew the places and knew who Robert Browning was.

    “We’ve got company,” Edgar said.

    Bosch followed his partner’s gaze down to the cul-de-sac. A television truck with a satellitedish on top and a big number 9 painted on the side had pulled up to the yellow tape. One of thepatrol officers was walking toward it.

    Harry looked back at the landlord.

    “Mr. Kay, we’ll need to talk more later. If you can, see what numbers or names you can findof people who looked at or called about the apartment. We’ll also need to talk to the personwho handled things while you were in Italy and get the name and forwarding address of theformer tenant who moved back to Texas.”

    “No problem.”

    “And we’re going to need to talk to the rest of the tenants to see if anybody saw that carbeing dropped off in the garage. We will try not to be too intrusive.”

    “No problem with any of that. I’ll see what I can dig up on the numbers.”

    They left the apartment and walked with Kay back to the elevator. They said good-bye to themanager and went down, the steel cube lurching again before smoothing out on the descent.

    “Harry, I didn’t know you love Italy,” Edgar said.

“I’ve never been.”

    Edgar nodded, realizing it had been a tactic to draw Kay out, to put more alibi information onrecord.

    “You thinking about him?” he asked.

    “Not really. Just covering the bases. Besides, if it was him, why put the car in his place’sown garage? Why call it in?”

    “Yeah. But then, maybe he’s smart enough to know we’d think he’d be too smart to do that.See what I mean? Maybe he’s outsmarting us, Harry. Maybe the girl came to look at the placeand things went wrong. He hides the body but knows he can’t move that car because he might getpulled over by the cops. So he waits ten days and calls it in like he thinks it might bestolen.”

    “Then maybe you should run his Italian alibi down, Watson.”

    “Why am I Watson? Why can’t I be Holmes?”

    “Because Watson is the one who talks too much. But if you want, I’ll start calling you‘Homes.’ Maybe that would be better.”

    “What’s bothering you, Harry?”

    Bosch thought of the clothing neatly folded on the front seat of the Honda. He felt thatpressure on his insides again. Like his body was wrapped in wire being tightened from behind.

    “What’s bothering me is that I’ve got a bad feeling about this one.”

    “What kind of bad feeling?”

    “The kind that tells me we’re never going to find her. And if we never find her, then wenever find him.”

    “The killer?”

    The elevator jerked to a hard stop, bounced once and came to a rest. Bosch pulled open thedoors. At the end of the short tunnel that led to the cul-de-sac and the garages, he saw awoman holding a microphone and a man holding a television camera waiting for them.

    “Yeah,” he said. “The killer.”

    ?

Part One

THE KILLER

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1

    THE CALL CAME IN while Harry Bosch and his partner, Kiz Rider, were sitting at their desks inthe Open-Unsolved Unit, finishing the paperwork on the Matarese filing. The day before, theyhad spent six hours in a room with Victor Matarese discussing the 1996 murder of a prostitutenamed Charisse Witherspoon. DNA that had been extracted from semen found in the victim’sthroat and stored for ten years had been matched to Matarese. It was a cold hit. His DNAprofile had been banked by the DOJ in 2002 after a forcible rape conviction. It had takenanother four years before Bosch and Rider came along and reopened the Witherspoon case, pulledthe DNA and sent it to the state lab on a blind run.

    It was a case initially made in the lab. But because Charisse Witherspoon had been an activeprostitute the DNA match was not an automatic slam dunk. The DNA could have come from someonewho was with her before her killer turned up and hit her repeatedly on the head with a two-by-four.

    So the case didn’t come down to the science. It came down to the room and what they could getfrom Matarese. At 8 a.m. they woke him up at the halfway house where he had been placed uponhis parole in the rape case and took him to Parker Center. The first five hours in theinterview room were grueling. In the sixth he finally broke and gave it all up, admitting tokilling Witherspoon and throwing in three more, all prostitutes he had murdered in SouthFlorida before coming to L.A.

    When Bosch heard his name called out for line one, he thought it was going to be Miami callinghim back. It wasn’t.

    “Bosch,” he said after grabbing the phone.

    “Freddy Olivas. Northeast Division Homicide. I’m over in Archives looking for a file and theysay you’ve already got it signed out.”

    Bosch was silent a moment while his mind dropped out of the Matarese case. Bosch didn’t knowOlivas but the name sounded familiar. He just couldn’t place it. As far as signed-out fileswent, it was his job to review old cases and look for ways to use forensic advances to solvethem. At any given time he and Rider could have as many as twenty-five files from Archives.

    “I’ve pulled a lot of files from Archives,” Bosch said. “Which one are we talking about?”

    “Gesto. Marie Gesto. It’s a ’ninety-three case.”

    Bosch didn’t respond right away. He felt his insides tighten. They always did when he thoughtabout Gesto, even thirteen years later. In his mind, he always came up with the image of thoseclothes folded so neatly on the front seat of her car.

    “Yeah, I’ve got the file. What’s happening?”

    He noticed Rider look up from her work as she registered the change in his voice. Their deskswere in an alcove and pushed up against one another, so Bosch and Rider faced each other whilethey worked.

    “It’s kind of a delicate matter,” Olivas said. “Eyes only. Relates to an ongoing case I’vegot and the prosecutor just wants to review the file. Could I hop on by there and grab it fromyou?”

    “Do you have a suspect, Olivas?”

    Olivas didn’t answer at first and Bosch jumped in with another question.

    “Who’s the prosecutor?”

    Again no answer. Bosch decided not to give in.

    “Look, the case is active, Olivas. I’m working it and have a suspect. If you want to talk tome, then we’ll talk. If you’ve got something working, then I am part of it. Otherwise, I’mbusy and you can have a nice day. Okay?”

    Bosch was about to hang up when Olivas finally spoke. The friendly tone was gone from hisvoice.

“Tell you what, let me make a phone call, Hotshot. I’ll call you right back.”

    He hung up without a good-bye. Bosch looked at Rider.

    “Marie Gesto,” he said. “The DA wants the file.”

    “That’s your own case. Who was calling?”

    “A guy from Northeast. Freddy Olivas. Know him?”

    Rider nodded.

    “I don’t know him but I’ve heard of him. He’s lead on the Raynard Waits case. You know theone.”

    Now Bosch placed the name. The Waits case was high profile. Olivas probably viewed it as histicket to the show. The LAPD was broken into nineteen geographic divisions, each with a policestation and its own detective bureau. Divisional Homicide units worked the less complicatedcases and the positions were viewed as stepping-stones to the elite Robbery-Homicide Divisionsquads working out of the police headquarters at Parker Center. That was the show. And one ofthose squads was the Open-Unsolved Unit. Bosch knew that if Olivas’s interest in the Gestofile was even remotely tied to the Waits case, then he would jealously guard his position fromRHD encroachment.

    “He didn’t say what he has going?” Rider asked.

    “Not yet. But it must be something. He wouldn’t even tell me which prosecutor he’s workingwith.”

    “Ricochet.”

    “What?”

    She said it slower.

    “Rick O’Shea. He’s on the Waits case. I doubt Olivas has anything else going. They justfinished the prelim on that and are heading to trial.”

    Bosch didn’t say anything as he considered the possibilities. Richard “Ricochet” O’Shea ranthe Special Prosecutions Section of the DA’s office. He was a hotshot and he was in theprocess of getting hotter. Following the announcement in the spring that the sitting districtattorney had decided against seeking reelection, O’Shea was one of a handful of prosecutorsand outside attorneys who filed as candidates for the job. He had come through the primary withthe most votes but not quite a majority. The runoff was shaping up as a tighter race butO’Shea still held the inside track. He had the backing of the outgoing DA, knew the officeinside and out, and had an enviable track record as a prosecutor who won big cases—a seeminglyrare attribute in the DA’s office in the last decade. His opponent was named Gabriel Williams.He was an outsider who had credentials as a former prosecutor but he had spent the last twodecades in private practice, primarily focusing on civil rights cases. He was black, whileO’Shea was white. He was running on the promise of watchdogging and reforming the county’slaw enforcement practices. While members of the O’Shea camp did their very best to ridiculeWilliams’s platform and qualifications for the position of top prosecutor, it was clear thathis outsider stance and platform of reform were taking hold in the polls. The gap was closing.

    Bosch knew what was happening in the Williams-O’Shea campaigns because this year he had beenfollowing local elections with an interest he had never exhibited before. In a hotly contestedrace for a city council seat, he was backing a candidate named Martin Maizel. Maizel was athree-term incumbent who represented a west-side district far from where Bosch lived. He wasgenerally viewed as a consummate politician who made backroom promises and was beholden to big-money interests to the detriment of his own district. Nevertheless, Bosch had contributedgenerously to his campaign and hoped to see his reelection. His opponent was a former deputypolice chief named Irvin R. Irving, and Bosch would do whatever was within his power to seeIrving defeated. Like Gabriel Williams, Irving was promising reform and the target of hiscampaign speeches was always the LAPD. Bosch had clashed numerous times with Irving while heserved in the department. He didn’t want to see the man sitting on the city council.

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