The Butcher’s Boy

Metzger’s Dog

Big Fish


Sleeping Dogs

Vanishing Act

Dance for the Dead

Shadow Woman

The Face-Changers

Blood Money

Death Benefits


Dead Aim




Copyright © 2007 by Thomas Perry

All rights reserved.

For Jo, Alix, and Isabel,

with gratitude to Robert Lescher


THE SMALL NEON LIGHT outside that said BANQUE was turned off.

Wendy Harper armed the alarm system, flipped the light switch to throw the dining room into darkness, slipped outside, tugged the big front door shut, and locked it. David the bartender and the last three kitchen men loitered, leaning against the pillars beside the entrance of the old bank building, talking quietly while they waited for her. “Thanks, everybody,” she said. “Eric and I really appreciated all of your work tonight.”

Victor, Juan, and Billy, the three kitchen men, gave Wendy shy, murmured answers and began to walk toward their cars, but David stayed at her side as she walked to the far end of the parking lot where she had left her car. She was surprised at how hot the night was, even though it was after three o’clock. The dark fronds of the tall, thin coconut palms beside the Banque parking lot were absolutely motionless in the still night air, and it felt as though the asphalt was exhaling the heat it had stored during the day.

She got in her car, started the engine, and locked the doors. She backed out of her space and waited until David was in his car, then waved to him, pulled out of the lot to La Cienega, and turned to head toward Sunset. Wendy checked her rearview mirror frequently, and sometimes abruptly. Whenever she passed a car idling on a side street or pulling out onto La Cienega, she kept track of it until it turned and disappeared.

She felt gratitude for the patience of the restaurant crew. They seemed to be watching over her late at night. Eric and I thank you, she thought. Eric and I. That was a big part of what had changed. For all of the time since Banque had opened—in fact, for all of her years in the restaurant business—she and Eric had gone home together. It had not mattered to her if it was three in the afternoon or three at night because he had been there. But tonight she had seen Eric leave at midnight.

The kitchen had already shut down, but the bar was still noisy and active when she had crossed the dining room to oversee the end of food service. One of the busboys opened the kitchen door and held it open for someone to pass with a bin of heavy dishes. Beyond the door she could see the white-suited helpers and Victor, the kitchen- floor man, beginning to scrub the tables and scrape the grill. She saw Eric. He had already taken off his white coat and changed into a short-sleeved blue shirt.

When she looked at him, even from a distance, she felt a physical sensation, as if he’d touched her. She could almost feel his short blond hair, nearly a crew cut but soft as cat fur, a little wet after a night in the heat and steam and exertion. He was athletic and strong, a head taller than any of the cleanup crew working around him. He was moving away from her. As he passed Victor and Juan, he smiled and gave each of them a pat on the arm that turned into an affectionate shoulder squeeze, and said something to each of them. She could not read his lips, but she knew roughly what he was saying. Even though Eric was becoming a famous chef, he had started as a busboy not so many years ago, and it was too soon for him to forget. The door swung shut.

As she drove toward their house she began to feel her anxiety grow with each block. She went up above Sunset onto the narrow, dark and winding roads in the hills, and she began to look for danger without knowing what form it would take. Could a car follow her on these streets with its headlights off? For the past two weeks she had been going home by different routes, and leaving the restaurant at different times every night. It was probably

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