I said, “Pebbers.”

“I don’t-”

“Pebters!” God, this was aggravating, knowing what I wanted to say but not being able to articulate it.

Hy said, “She means pictures. She wants to see the pictures again.”

Thank God somebody could understand me.

Julia turned to the pictures: formal headshot of Dietz before the attack; group shot with the staff at the financial management firm where she’d been employed; informal and badly lighted snap of her in front of her apartment. Formal shot of Peeples; Larry with his parents at the vineyard; Larry and Ben Gold with Seal Rock in the background. I studied them.


I wanted to point to the picture, but my strength was flagging. Everybody was watching me, but I could only twitch a finger. I glanced at Hy; he nodded, encouraging me.

I said, “Bole.”


They waited. I looked around, then focused on Mick. He was wearing a silver bracelet that he’d bought on vacation in Santa Fe a couple of years ago. Intricate handcrafted links, like the ones my hand had grazed when the flash from my assailant’s gun briefly illuminated them. Like the metal links in my hallucinations when I’d crashed. Like the bracelet the man in the photograph wore.

I stared fixedly at Mick’s bracelet. No one spoke; I supposed they all thought I’d lost it. Mick shifted his stance, I shifted my stare. He glanced around and frowned. I kept staring.

He said, “Shar? What’s wrong?”

I didn’t take my gaze off the bracelet. He looked down, frowned again.

It was Julia who got it. She glanced from Mick’s wrist to the photos she’d shown me. Looked into my eyes.

I blinked once.

“Ben Gold,” she said. “Dietz told Peeples about the embezzlement, and he told Gold.”

I blinked once again.

There was a stir in the room, a collective hiss of anger and sigh of relief. Then everybody started talking.

“Gold ripped off Haven Dietz, then hid the money at the Peepleses’ place.”

“He waited till he was sure nobody suspected him before he asked Larry to go away with him.”

“Larry refused-he was moving back to Sonoma to learn the wine business.”

“Did Gold kill him?”

“What did he do with his body?”

“Gold’s kept in touch with the family, plans to go back and get the money someday. He thinks it’s still in the tack room.”

“So who was it that was skulking around the night Julia spent there?”

“Haven Dietz, of course. She overheard my conversation with Judy Peeples. I should’ve figured that out sooner.”

“When Gold found out the parents hired us to investigate, he broke into the pier, looking for our case files.”

“Why’d he take a gun along?”

“Maybe he knew about the guard. Or maybe he just felt safer armed.”

They’d summed up what I was thinking: it wasn’t personal. I’d just gotten in the way.

I looked for Hy, but he was gone.

Now the craziness starts…


He stopped at the RI offices to pick up a weapon, some handcuffs, and a voice-activated tape recorder. He had carry permits and kept.45s in locked bedside tables in all three of Shar’s and his homes, but he didn’t like to keep one on his person or even in his car. Too much chance of theft, too much chance of having it turned against him.

The previous year, after the offices of the company then called RKI had been bombed, he’d relocated the business to a very different type of building from the converted warehouse on Green Street: a newish high-rise on Second Street near the Transbay Terminal. Building security was top-notch, RI’s additional security on its three floors even better. It would take a lot more than a homemade explosive device to bring the firm down again.

In his office-spartan, functional, the only luxury item being a leather sofa that was comfortable on long nights when a situation was brewing-he paused by the phone, considering a call to Len Weathers for assistance. No, he’d already decided Weathers was out of his life for good. Instead he called home and spoke to Brother John.

John was waiting on the sidewalk in front of the house when Hy pulled up in his Mustang. “Okay, let’s get this thing done,” he said as he got in.

It was nearly five o’clock; the evening fog had blown in early and brought with it a winter-like dusk. Hy switched on his lights.

“So where is this bastard?” John asked.

“I called the store where he works; he’s probably home by now. Loft in SoMa. We can be there in fifteen minutes.”

“And then?”

“I’ve got my plans for him.”

John visibly shrank from the hardness in his voice. Hy realized his brother-in-law had never seen him in this mode; few people in his present life had, except for Shar.

He said, “Don’t worry-there won’t be any killing.”


This from the guy who’d been itching for blood from day one. Well, he was glad to know John wasn’t a killer. He wasn’t any more either.

The building where Ben Gold had his loft was a former factory on Clarence Street-a short block near the Giants’ ballpark. New windows in a century-old facade; faded lettering on the brick-Shea’s Iron Works. Outer foyer with surveillance cameras and intercoms. No answer at Gold’s.

Hy began pushing buzzers. Most residents didn’t answer. One who-from the numbering system-appeared to be on Gold’s floor, did. Hy said that he was Gold’s attorney and needed to see him on urgent business. The disembodied voice-male, female?-said Ben was on vacation, had gone to the Sonoma Valley to stay with friends for a few days.

Hy turned away, said to John, “Julia mentioned she’d called Gold for another follow-up interview today. It must’ve spooked him. I’ll bet he’s gone to the Peepleses’ winery for the money. He told Julia he was moving to LA soon to pursue his film career; he’s moved the departure date up.”

They went back to the car without speaking, and Hy drove to the nearby Bay Bridge on-ramp.

Bright lights outside a large house at the top of a rise; dark driveway that meandered among vineyards. Hy pulled the Mustang onto the shoulder close to a low stone fence and cut the lights and engine.

Beside him, John was taking deep measured breaths-calming himself.

“Easy approach on foot,” Hy told his brother-in-law.

“Lots of light up there, though. I can see the individual branches of those oak trees.”

“Lights’re trained up on the trees and house. I don’t see any in the windows.”

Hy reached around John and took from the glove box the.45, the set of handcuffs, and the tape recorder he’d brought from the office.

John said, “You bring some of those for me, too?”

“No. One pair of cuffs and one recorder is enough, and I don’t hand over firearms to people who aren’t licensed to use them.”

“Funny, for somebody who used to be such a loose cannon.” Hy could hear a measure of relief in John’s voice;

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