out what Jody had told him.

Is it possible? he wondered. Could the LAPD be working a deep sting so dangerous and sensitive that they would fake the deaths of Jody and several other officers? Would they take them off the booksy so some criminal snitch working in the Clerical Division wouldn't spot a paycheck coming through and sell the information to a crime syndicate? Was it possible that these guys would leave their wives and that the department would arrange for their families to be paid with death-benefit checks and then just let them disappear? It was almost too bizarre to contemplate. Except for one thing…

Shane was pretty sure the new chief wouldn't have anything to do with it. The Day-Glo Dago might talk out of the side of his mouth and wear a New York pinky ring, but his reputation for honesty was well known.

Burleigh Brewer, the old chief, whom Shane had caught with his hand in the money jar, was a rule bender, and rule benders always hired people who go along and don't ask questions-people like Deputy Chief Mayweather. Only Mayweather was dead-a suicide after Shane broke him on the Naval Yard case. Chief Brewer was still alive; however, he was on trial and wasn't going to admit to putting an illegal unit into deep cover, paying their wives with death checks. Even if Brewer was in on it, which he may not have been, and even if Shane could prove it, Brewer would blame it on Mayweather or some other cop who wasn't around to argue. The old chief wouldn't say anything that would adversely affect his case in court. That door was closed. Even so, it was possible that the corruption that spawned the Naval Yard disaster could have also given rise to this.

He sat there, his mind chewing it over. What should he do? How should he play it?

Tomorrow afternoon Alexa was getting the Medal of Valor. Maybe after the celebration dinner, after he had taken Buddy back to the airport, maybe then he could ask her advice. Alexa had political savvy without being a politician. She'd know what to do.

Shane had no evidence of the call from Jody. He'd get AT amp;T to print out his phone records, but he knew Jody would have used a public booth-a number that was untraceable.

Don't plex up on me, Salsa, his old friend had said.

'Well, fuck you, Jody,' Shane whispered into the night wind, the anger and betrayal so intense that acid reflux burned in his throat. If you didn't love me enough to say good-bye… If you could let me carry your coffin and cry into your ashes, if you didn't trust me or Lauren, the people who loved you, then bring on the GBH, buddy 'Cause I'm gonna find out what the hell you're up to…

He was still sitting in the metal chair, churning and making plans, when the sun came up Sunday morning.

Chapter 8


HOOCH AND SHANE went shopping for Alexa's ring on Sunday morning. Murray Steinberg opened his store in the Jewelry Mart on Spring Street at ten, turned on the lights, and began showing them diamonds. Murray was tall, rail-thin, and nerdy. He always seemed to be rubbing his palms together like a huge skeletal insect but had a heart the size of Minnesota.

Shane had been the primary on Sharon Steinberg's rapeurder. She was Murray's sister and only living relative. It had been a particularly gruesome crime that had happened almost three years ago. Shane had promised Murray that he would never let it slide to the back of his too-crowded homicide folder. Sharon Steinberg had been tied up, mutilated, and raped in her own bed before she finally, mercifully died from loss of blood.

The twenty-four/twenty-four-hour rule dominates most homicide cases. This unwritten rule states that the last twenty-four hours of a victim's life and the first twenty-four hours after the murder is committed are the two most important time periods in the investigation.

The reason being that a victim's actions just prior to the crime are just as important in determining the killer as mistakes the perp makes in the first twenty-four hours after the murder. If nothing happens during these two time spans to help solve the investigation, chances are good that the crime will go uncleared.

Because of the vast workloads in L. A. Homicide, with two or three fresh murders hitting the duty board every day, most homicide detectives put old, unsolved cases on the back burner. Because of administrative pressure to keep clearance percentages up, cops always focus on the fresh crimes, where the likelihood of success is higher. The unsolved cases are technically still active, but not actively policed.

In the case of Murray Steinberg's sister, Shane had become so incensed by the level of perimortem violence that he refused to stop working the case. He knew that the perp was in the psychiatric category of 'sadistic rapist,' a man who had tortured and humiliated Sharon Steinberg before her death, dehumanizing her during the rape, making her an actress in his sexual fantasy. Shane had given up his days off for almost six months, working without overtime. Finally, he had managed to turn a witness that eventually led to the arrest of a thirty-year-old carpet cleaner and weekend dust bunny named Grady White. Grady was a hot-prowl burglar who cased his jobs when he cleaned carpets. He had entered the house to steal appliances but, after seeing Sharon asleep, had descended into glazed sexual rage, finally torturing, raping, and killing her. In Grady's house there were Polaroids neatly pasted into a memory book of not only Sharon's rape-murder but ten others. Shane got him prosecuted and convicted on six of the ten. Four women pictured in his book remained unidentified. Grady was currently awaiting a July 10 execution at San Quentin.

That was why Murray had opened his store on a Sunday and was now showing Chooch and Shane VS-1 diamonds at wholesale prices. Technically, Shane probably should have refused the bargain, but somewhere in the back of his head, he reasoned that it was the right solution. Murray was finally paying Shane back for months of tireless work on Sharon's murder, and Shane was getting a ring he could otherwise not afford.

Shane finally settled for a perfect stone at slightly over two carats, which would have retailed for around five thousand dollars. Murray refused to take a cent more than cost, which he maintained, was thirty-four hundred. The old jeweler left the showroom with a platinum setting to make up the ring so Shane could take it with him.

Chooch and Shane sat silently, looking at the other diamonds glittering on the black velvet show cloth. They looked like stars in a cloudless night sky.

Finally, Murray returned with Shane's ring, now twinkling in a classic setting with two diamond baguettes on each side, which Shane had not paid for.

'My wedding gift,' Murray said when Shane asked about them.

Shane thanked the embarrassed jeweler, who said, 'Acht, is nothing. I'm wishing I could do more, my friend.'

Soon Shane and Chooch were back on the street with the box burning a hole in Shane's pocket, the ring inside waiting to be slipped onto Alexa's slender finger.

'When you gonna give it to her?' Chooch asked nervously.

'At a romantic dinner tonight, after Buddy leaves.'

'Good move,' Chooch agreed. 'Wait'll he's outta town. That guy could sink a Carnival Cruise.'

'You don't think it's too soon?' Shane asked, suddenly nervous. 'The Medal of Valor and this ring, all in one day.'

'Go for it, man.'

The Medal of Valor ceremony took place at three in the afternoon, in the Jack Webb Auditorium at the Police Academy, where the LAPD had their biannual graduation ceremonies. The academy was a cluster of Spanish-style buildings located in Elysian Park in the foothills, at the end of a long, two-lane drive. Shane always thought the Police Academy looked like a Spanish hotel or a Franciscan mission, sprawled on its ten landscaped acres, including a full athletic field, swimming pool, and shooting range.

Shane and Chooch got there half an hour early and parked in the reserved-parking lot, already almost full with TV news vans. The annual awarding of the Medal of Valor was always a big deal in L. A. Besides Alexa, there were four other officers receiving the honor, but it was Alexa the press had turned out to see.

The high-profile case that she and Shane had broken eventually made the cover of Time magazine, a full picture of an LAPD shield with a black ribbon across it. The article was titled 'Grieving the Police.'

There were stories in the issue about the Detroit and Philadelphia police scandals as well as NYPD's

Вы читаете The Viking Funeral
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату