The sixth book in the Harry Bosch series, 1998
THE word sounded alien in his mouth, as if spoken by someone else. There was an urgency in his own voice that Bosch didn’t recognize. The simple hello he had whispered into the telephone was full of hope, almost desperation. But the voice that came back to him was not the one he needed to hear.
For a moment Bosch felt foolish. He wondered if the caller had recognized the faltering of his voice.
“This is Lieutenant Michael Tulin. Is this Bosch?”
The name meant nothing to Bosch and his momentary concern about how he sounded was ripped away as an awful dread entered his mind.
“This is Bosch. What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Hold please for Deputy Chief Irving.”
“What is – ”
The caller clicked off and there was only silence. Bosch now remembered who Tulin was – Irving ’s adjutant.
Bosch stood still and waited. He looked around the kitchen; only the dim oven light was on. With one hand he held the phone hard against his ear, the other he instinctively brought up to his stomach, where fear and dread were twisting together. He looked at the glowing numbers on the stove clock. It was almost two, five minutes past the last time he had looked at it. This isn’t right, he thought as he waited. They don’t do this by phone. They come to your door. They tell you this face-to-face.
Finally, Irving picked up on the other end of the line.
“Where is she? What happened?”
Another moment of excruciating silence went by as Bosch waited. His eyes were closed now.
“Just tell me, what happened to her? I mean… is she alive?”
“Detective, I’m not sure what it is you are talking about. I’m calling because I need to muster your team as soon as possible. I need you for a special assignment.”
Bosch opened his eyes. He looked through the kitchen window into the dark canyon below his house. His eyes followed the slope of the hill down toward the freeway and then up again to the slash of Hollywood lights he could see through the cut of the Cahuenga Pass. He wondered if each light meant someone awake and waiting for someone who wasn’t going to come. Bosch saw his own reflection in the window. He looked weary. He could make out the deep circles etched beneath his eyes, even in the dark glass.
“I have an assignment, Detective,” Irving repeated impatiently. “Are you able to work or are you – ”
“I can work. I just was mixed up there for a moment.”
“Well, I’m sorry if I woke you. But you should be used to it.”
“Yes. It’s no problem.”
Bosch didn’t tell him that he hadn’t been awakened by the call. That he had been roaming around in his dark house waiting.
“Then get it going, Detective. We’ll have coffee down here at the scene.”
“We’ll talk about it when you get here. I don’t want to delay this any further. Call your team. Have them come to Grand Street between Third and Fourth. The top of Angels Flight. Do you know where I’m talking about?”
“Bunker Hill? I don’t – ”
“It will be explained when you get here. Seek me out when you are here. If I am at the bottom come down to me before you speak with anyone.”
“What about Lieutenant Billets? She should – ”
“She will be informed about what is happening. We’re wasting time. This is not a request. It is a command. Get your people together and get down here. Am I making myself clear to you?”
“Then I will be expecting you.”
Irving hung up without waiting for a reply. Bosch stood with the phone still at his ear for a few moments, wondering what was going on. Angels Flight was the short inclined railroad that carried people up Bunker Hill in downtown – far outside the boundaries of the Hollywood Division homicide table. If Irving had a body down there at Angels Flight the investigation would fall under the jurisdiction of Central Division. If Central detectives couldn’t handle it because of caseload or personnel problems, or if the case was deemed too important or media sensitive for them, then it would be bumped to the bulls, the Robbery-Homicide Division. The fact that a deputy chief of police was involved in the case before dawn on a Saturday suggested the latter possibility. The fact that he was calling Bosch and his team in instead of the RHD bulls was the puzzle. Whatever it was that Irving had working at Angels Flight didn’t make sense.
Bosch glanced once more down into the dark canyon, pulled the phone away from his ear and clicked it off. He wished he had a cigarette but he had made it this far through the night without one. He wouldn’t break now.
He turned his back and leaned on the counter. He looked down at the phone in his hand, turned it back on and hit the speed dial button that would connect him with Kizmin Rider’s apartment. He would call Jerry Edgar after he talked to her. Bosch felt a sense of relief come over him that he was reluctant to acknowledge. He might not yet know what awaited him at Angels Flight, but it would certainly take his thoughts away from Eleanor Wish.
Rider’s alert voice answered after two rings.
“Kiz, it’s Harry,” he said. “We’ve got work.”
BOSCH agreed to meet his two partners at the Hollywood Division station to pick up cars before they headed downtown to Angels Flight. On the way down the hill to the station he had punched in KFWB on his Jeep’s radio and picked up a breaking news report on a homicide investigation under way at the site of the historic inclined railroad. The newsman on the scene reported that two bodies had been found inside one of the train cars and that several members of the Robbery-Homicide squad were on the scene. But that was the extent of the reporter’s information, as he also noted that the police had placed an unusually wide cordon of yellow tape around the crime scene, prohibiting him from getting a closer look. At the station Bosch communicated this thin bit of information to Edgar and Rider while they signed three slickbacks out of the motor pool.
“So it looks like we’re gonna be playing sloppy seconds to RHD,” Edgar concluded, showing his annoyance at being rousted from sleep to spend probably the whole weekend doing gofer work for the RHD bulls. “Our guts, their glory. And we aren’t even on call this weekend. Why didn’t Irving call out Rice’s got-damned team if he needed a Hollywood team?”
Edgar had a point. Team One – Bosch, Edgar and Rider – wasn’t even up on call rotation this weekend. If Irving had followed proper call-out procedure he would have called Terry Rice, who headed up Team Three, which was currently on top of the rotation. But Bosch had already figured that Irving wasn’t following any procedures, not