more. Donald Riggs threw open the knapsack, his right hand pulling at the tightly-packed wads.

Danny reached for his radio to run the plates of the brown Chevy Impala that was driving away from Elise Gray: ‘North Homicide to Central.’ He waited for Central to acknowledge, then gave the number. ‘Adam David Larry 4856, A.D.L. 4856.’

Joe was on Citywide One, a two-way channel that linked him to Maller and Holmes and the 109 guys in the park. He spoke quickly and clearly.

‘OK, he’s got the money, but he hasn’t said anything about dropping off the girl. We need to take it easy here. We don’t know where he has her. Everyone stand by.’

Danny turned to him and gave his usual line. ‘And his voice was restored and there was much rejoicing.’

Halfway down 29th Avenue, Donald Riggs stopped the car, reached back and lifted the blanket.

‘Get up and get out of my car.’

Hayley pulled herself onto the seat. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I knew you’d be nice.’

She opened the door, got out and looked around until she could see her mother. Then she ran as fast as her little legs could carry her.

Joe and Danny were behind Riggs now, Agents Maller and Holmes behind them. Danny was holding for the information on the car. Joe was distracted. He had a feeling this was bad; the kind of bad that happens when everything is too easy, when the maniac is so fucked up, it gets scary calm. He looked at Danny.

‘Why would the guy give this woman her child back without a scratch?’ He shook his head. ‘It’s too easy.’

He slammed on the brakes and, arm out the window, waved the Crown Vic ahead of him. Agent Maller gave a quick nod and took the right, eyes locked on the car ahead.

Joe turned around and saw the swaying shape of a mother and daughter reunited. Too easy. He got out of the car, grabbing his vibrating cell phone from the dash. He flipped it open. It was Crane.

‘We got your perp.’

‘Brown Chevy Impala,’ said Joe.

‘Yup. ’85. Riggs, Donald, white male, thirty-four, born in shitsville, Texas, locked up for petty larceny, scams, bad cheques, collared at the scene of a previous kidnapping.’ He hesitated.

‘And be advised, Lucchesi, he was done for C4 in Nevada in ’97. We got ourselves a boom-boom banjo- player.’ Joe dropped the phone, his heart pounding.

‘I got ESU and hostage negotiation on stand-by,’ Crane said to no-one. Joe began to run. He willed his heart to carry the new pace his legs had taken up.

Donald Riggs had reached the corner of 154th and 29th. He rocked back and forth in his seat, skinny fingers clenching the wheel, eyes darting around, taking in everything, registering nothing. But something caught his eye. Behind him, a black Ford Taurus pulled into the kerb and a dark blue Crown Vic overtook it. A rare heightened awareness flared inside him. He kept driving, his breath shallow as he slowed to a stop at the next corner. Then a sudden burst of activity drew him in. Two men stepped out of a Con Ed van by the entrance to the park. They walked quickly to the back and pulled open the doors. Two others stepped out. In the rear-view mirror, the dark blue car loomed back into sight, driving alarmingly on the wrong side of the road. Donald Riggs lurched across the passenger side, grabbed the knapsack, pushed open the door and tore out of the car towards the park. By the time Maller and Holmes screeched to a stop seconds later, the four FBI agents in Con Ed uniforms were surrounding an empty car. ‘Go, go, go,’ roared Maller and all six men ran for the park.

‘You used my pager!’ says Hayley, amazed, pointing down at the belt around her waist and the black box with its flashing yellow light. Her mother stands up, confused, searching out anyone who can understand what this is, but knowing in her heart the answer. Her pleading eyes stop at Joe.

‘You stupid bitch, you stupid bitch, you stupid bitch…’ Donald Riggs is running wildly across the park, clutching at his knapsack, concentrating on a small dark object in his hand. He stops, rooted. His eyes widen and deaden as his mind and body shut down. Then a twitching, afterthought of a movement connects the thumb of his right hand to the black button of a detonator.

Elise Gray knows her fate. She makes a final grab for her child, hugging her desperately to her chest. ‘I love you, sweetheart, I love you, sweetheart, I love you.’ Then a frightening, shockingly loud blast tears through them, the bright light stinging Joe’s eyes as he watches, now motionless. Then red and pink and white, splattering grotesquely, as a confetti shower of leaves and splintered bark falls around the place where a mother and daughter, seconds earlier, didn’t even make it to goodbye.

Joe was absolutely still, paralysed. He couldn’t breathe. He felt a new throbbing pressure in his jaw. His eyes streamed. He slowly sensed warm concrete against his face. He pulled himself up from the pavement. Too many emotions flooded his body. The radio on his belt crackled to life. It was Maller.

‘We lost him. He’s in the park, heading your way, along by the playground.’

Now one emotion overrode all others: rage.

‘I don’t think your mommy was a good girl, Hayley, I don’t think your mommy was a good girl,’ Riggs was howling, ranting, rocking wildly, bent over, his face contorted. He clawed desperately at the inside pocket of his coat. Joe burst through the trees, suddenly faced with this deranged display, but ready, his Glock 9mm drawn.

‘Put your hands where I can see them.’

He couldn’t remember his name. Riggs looked up; his arm jerked free, swinging wildly to his right and back again, as Joe pumped six bullets into his chest. Riggs fell backwards, landing to stare sightless at the sky, arms outstretched, palms open. Joe walked over, looking for a weapon he knew did not exist.

But something did lie in Riggs’ upturned palm – a maroon and gold pin: a hawk, wings aloft, beak pointing earthwards. He had been gripping it so tightly, it had pierced his palm.

Ely State Prison, Nevada, two days later

‘Shut up, you fuckin’ freak. Shut your fuckin’ ass. I got National Geographic in my fuckin’ ears twenty- four/seven, you sick son of a bitch. Who gives a shit about your fuckin’ birds, Pukey Dukey? Who gives a fuckin’ shit?’

Duke Rawlins lay face down on the bottom bunk of his eight by ten cell. Every muscle in his long, wiry body tensed.

‘Don’t call me that.’ His face was set into a frown, his lips pale and full. He rubbed his head, disturbing the dirty blond hair that grew long at the back, but was cut short above his chill blue eyes.

‘Call you what?’ said Kane. ‘Pukey Dukey?’

Duke hated group. They made him say shit that was nobody’s business. He couldn’t believe this asshole, Kane, knew what the kids used to call him in school.

‘This hawk has that wing span, this hawk ripped a jack rabbit a new asshole, this hawk is alpha, this hawk is beta, and this little hawk goes wee, wee, wee, all the way home to you, you sick son of a bitch.’

Duke leapt from his bunk, sliding his arm from under the pillow, pulling out a pared-down, sharpened spike of Plexiglas. He jabbed it towards Kane, who jerked his head back hard against the wall. He jabbed again and again, slicing the air close enough to Kane’s face to let him know he meant it.

The warden’s voice stopped him.

‘Lookin’ to book yourself a one-way ticket to Carson City, Rawlins?’ Carson City was where Ely’s death row inmates took their last breath.

Duke spun around as he unlocked the door and pushed into the cell. The warden smoothed on a surgical glove and calmly took the weapon from a man he knew was too smart to screw up this close to his release.

‘Thought you might like to read this, Rawlins,’ he said, holding up a printout from the New York Times website.

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