Authors: Michael Connelly
“Yes, but maybe not as long as you think. My daughter got a jury summons less than two months after she registered to vote. It’s supposed to be random selection. But every time they pull out a new pool of jurors, they winnow out those who have recently served, or who haven’t responded to summons in the past and have been referred for action. So the new voter has a better chance than others to get the call.”
Ballard nodded in a way that showed she was unconvinced.
“We also don’t know how long this was planned or how it was planned,” Bosch continued. “Laurie gets her wallet stolen last year and maybe they applied for the full setup. A voter registration card could be useful in a scam as a second ID. The thief could have had this idea for a long time and then things fell into place.”
“We have to find out whether there’s a connection between Devil’s Den and Batman Butino.”
“And talk to the detective with Metro Vegas. See how much he tracked this.”
“Maybe he got photos or video of the phony Laurie Lee Wells,” said Ballard. “What else?”
“We need to talk to Orlando Reyes,” Bosch said. “He interviewed her.”
“That’s what I don’t get. She killed the judge and then just reported for jury duty? Why? Why didn’t she get the hell out of there?”
“To complete the job.”
“What does that mean?”
“To complete the cover. If she had walked in one door of the courthouse and out the other, they would have known it was her. She stayed around so Reyes could find her, interview her, and move on.”
“It’s like buying the Tito’s vodka. She could have done it anywhere, but she bought it two blocks from where Banks was murdered—and at a place she knew had cameras that we would eventually get to. I said this to Olivas and the others. There is a psychology there. She’s a show-off. I think she gets off on hiding in plain sight. I don’t know why but it’s there.”
Bosch nodded. He believed Ballard was correct in her assessment.
“It will be interesting to hear Reyes’s take on her,” he said.
“I thought those guys weren’t talking to you,” Ballard said. “Maybe I should take Reyes.”
“No. You do and the case gets grabbed by them and RHD. Let me do it. When I explain that this could end up being very embarrassing for him, I think he’ll agree to meet me off campus and talk.”
“Perfect. You take him and I’ll work on the other stuff.”
“Yes, my badge gives me better access on all of it. You take Reyes, I’ll take the rest.”
Bosch started the Jeep so he could get her back to her own car in Hollywood.
“And we also need to figure out how to approach Clayton Manley,” he said as he pulled away from the curb.
“I thought you said he was onto you,” Ballard said. “You’re not thinking about going back in there posing as a client, are you?”
“No, that’s burned. But if I can get Manley somewhere by himself, I might be able to lay it on the line for him and make him see that his options are dwindling.”
“I’d like to be there for that.”
“I want you there showing off your badge and gun. Then he’ll know his ass is hanging out there in the wind.”
“The times you were with him in his office …”
“You didn’t do anything I need to know about, right? Nothing that could cause blowback on the case?”
Bosch thought about what he should tell her. About what he did and what could be proved that he did.
“The only thing I did was read an e-mail that came up on his screen,” he finally said. “I told you this before. It was when he left the room to make copies. I heard a
and looked at his e-mail and it was from his boss, Michaelson, calling him a fool for letting a fox into the henhouse. That sort of thing.”
“And you’re the fox.”
“I’m the fox.”
“And that’s it?”
“Well, then I deleted it.”
“You deleted the message?”
“Yeah, I didn’t want to risk him reading it while I was there in the office. I had to get out before he found out.”
“Okay, you never told me this, right?”
“And, really, that was all you did?”
Bosch thought about the photographs he had taken with his phone in Manley’s office. He decided to keep those to himself. For now.
“That was it.”
On the way back to Hollywood to drop Ballard at her car, Bosch called Reyes on his direct number at RHD and put it on speakerphone.
“Reyes, this is the luckiest call you ever took.”
“Who is—Bosch? Is this Bosch? I’m hanging up.”
“You do and you can read about it in the paper.”
“What the fuck are you talking about now? Am I on a speaker?”
“I’m driving so you’re on the speaker. And I’m talking about the real killer of Judge Montgomery. It’s going to come out soon, and you can look like you were a part of it or you and your partner can look like the ones who flat-out got it wrong—which is not far from the truth, Reyes.”
“Bosch, I’m not playing your games. I—”
“Not a game, Orlando. This is your chance to fix the fuckup. Meet me at the pink benches near the elevators in Grand Park in an hour.”
“No way. In an hour, I’m going home. Beat the traffic.”
“Then remember when the shit hits the fan that I was the one who gave you a shot at being part of this. One hour. Be there or beat the traffic. I don’t really care. I was once in the squad, Reyes, and I wanted to give you a courtesy.
“You think he’ll show?” Ballard asked.
“Yeah, he’ll show,” Bosch said. “When I talked to him before, I think he kind of sensed this was no CBA. I think he was bullied by his partner. That happens.”
Bosch looked over at her and then back to the road.
“You talking about me?” he asked.
“No, of course not,” she said. “Besides, we’re not partners. Officially.”
“We clear this case and it may come out. What we’ve been doing.”
“I don’t know. Olivas put me on the Banks case. I connected it to you and this. I don’t see any blowback. Especially now that I have Olivas on a leash.”
Bosch smiled. Ballard had told him about the conversation she’d had with Olivas in the CIV. She thought the deal she had made and the recording she had as a backup gave her the upper hand.
“You really think you have that guy on a leash, huh?”
“Not really. But you know what I mean. He doesn’t want any waves. He wants a nice flat surface that he can paddle away on in a year. He causes me grief and I’m going to turn it right back on him. He knows that.”
“You’ve got the world wired.”
“For now. But nothing lasts forever.”
She had parked her cruiser on the street near Musso’s and Bosch pulled in behind it.
“What will you do now?” he asked.
“Go to the station, grab a few hours’ sleep in the cot room before going to roll call.”
“Back in the day, when I was at Hollywood Division, we called it the Honeymoon Suite.”
“They still do—at least some of the old-school guys. Some things about the department will never change.”
Bosch thought she was referring to something deeper than the nap room at the station.
“Okay, I’ll hold off calling you after I get with Reyes,” he said. “You call me when you wake up.”
“Will do,” Ballard said.
She got out of the car and he drove on. Thirty minutes later he was sitting on the pink bench second closest to the elevator building in Grand Park. The closest bench was occupied by a vagrant who was lying with his head propped up on a dirty duffel bag and reading a paperback with the cover torn off. Bosch did not know if Reyes knew what he looked like but he doubted that he would be mistaken for the man reading.
Ten minutes past the designated meeting time, Bosch was about to give up on Reyes. He was seated on the bench at an angle that gave him an open view of anyone walking across the park from the direction of the Police Administration Building. But nobody was coming. Bosch leaned forward to push himself up and not put stress on his knee when he heard his name spoken from behind. He didn’t turn. He waited and a man in a suit came around the bench from behind him. Bosch noted the uneven drape of the suit jacket over the hips and knew the man was carrying. He was mid-thirties and completely bald on top, with a monk’s fringe around the sides.
The man sat down on the bench.
“I almost went to the guy over there with the book,” Reyes said. “But I figured you had a little more dignity than that.”
“That’s funny, Orlando,” Bosch responded.
“So, what can I do for you, Bosch? I have to get out to Duarte and traffic’s going to be a motherfucker.”
Bosch pointed toward the elevator building. They were at an angle similar to that seen from the camera on the courthouse facade behind them. They could not see the place where Judge Montgomery had been fatally stabbed.
“Tell me about the juror,” Bosch said.
“Who?” Reyes said. “What juror?”
“The witness. Laurie Lee Wells. Your name is on the report. You interviewed her.”
“Is that what this is about? Forget it, we’re not going to go over every step of the investigation. She was a waste of time and now you’re wasting my time. I’m going home.”
Reyes stood up to leave.
“Sit down, Orlando,” Bosch said. “She was the killer and you missed it. Sit down and I’ll tell you about it.”
Reyes stayed standing. He pointed down at Bosch.
“Bullshit,” he said. “You’re just looking for absolution. You got the real killer kicked free and now you’re grabbing at straws. That woman didn’t see anything, didn’t hear anything. She was listening to Guns N’ Roses, Bosch. Turned up loud.”
“That’s a nice detail,” Bosch said. “It wasn’t in your report. Neither was anything about checking her out.”
“I checked her out. She was clean.”
“You mean you ran her name. But if you had gone to her apartment and knocked on her door, you would have seen that the real Laurie Lee Wells of Dickens Street, Sherman Oaks, was not the Laurie Lee Wells you interviewed. You got duped, Orlando. Sit down and we can exchange information. I’ll tell you about it.”
Reyes was hesitant, even jumpy. It was as if one foot wanted to head toward Duarte and the other wanted to go to the bench. Bosch threw his final argument at him.
“Do you know that the supposed juror you talked to is suspect number one on another RHD case? The crispy critter they picked up the other night. That was a hit disguised as something else. Just like Montgomery.”
Reyes finally sat down.
“Okay, Bosch, let’s hear it. And it better be good.”
“No, it doesn’t work that way. You talk to me first. I want to know about the interview. How you found her, where you talked to her. You talk to me, then I talk to you.”
Reyes shook his head, annoyed that he had to go first. But then he started telling the story.
“Simple. We collected video, then we watched the video. We saw the woman and identified the jury tag. I forget what Gussy was doing but I came over on my own. We didn’t have a name, obviously, so I asked to look around the jury assembly room. Nobody matched her. The jury clerk told me they had sent three groups up to courtrooms for jury selection that day. I checked those out, too, and still didn’t see her. I knew she couldn’t already be on a case because she was coming in too early for that. On the tape, I mean. Trials don’t start till ten each day. She’s on the tape before eight.”
“So how’d you find her?”
“The jury clerk told me to check out the cafeteria next to the jury assembly room. I did and there she was. Drinking coffee and reading a book. The blond hair stood out, you know? I knew it was her.”
“So you approach?”
“Yes, I badged her, told her about the murder and that she was on the video. I wanted to take her back to the PAB for the interview but she said she was on a jury panel and wanted to stay at the cafeteria. I talked to her there.”
“You didn’t record it?”
“No, if she turned out to be a witness of value, I would have gone the whole nine yards with her. But she wasn’t. I learned that pretty quick when it was clear she didn’t know what had happened twenty feet behind her. She had on the earbuds, remember?”
“Yes, Guns N’ Roses. Did you check her ID?”
“I didn’t look at her license, if that’s what you mean. But I knew the jury clerk would have all of that if we needed it. Look, Bosch, it’s your turn now. Tell me what you think you have and what you think you know.”
“One more question. Once you spoke to her and got her name, did you go to the jury clerk and confirm that she was a real juror?”
“Why would I do that, Bosch?”
“So the answer is no. You found her sitting in the cafeteria but you didn’t make sure she was legitimately there as a juror.”
“I didn’t have to. She didn’t see anything, she didn’t hear anything, she was of no use to me as a witness. Now, are you going to tell me what you think you know about her, or not?”
“I know the real Laurie Lee Wells who lives at the address you put in the report was never called for jury duty at the time of the murder and was not the woman in the video.”
“Fuck me. And you tie the woman in the video to that lawyer Montgomery had the problem with?”
“Working on that. That lawyer’s firm represents a party who may be involved in an arson-murder, and the same woman is on video in the vicinity of that killing. I think she’s a hitter who works for somebody that law firm represents. There are more connections—mainly through Las Vegas—and we’re working on them as well.”
“Who is ‘we,’ Bosch? Don’t tell me you brought that lawyer Haller into this.”
“No, not him. But you don’t need to know who I’m working with. You need to sit tight until I put all of this together and then
will bring it to you. That okay with you, Orlando?”
“Bosch, you don’t even—”
He was interrupted by a buzzing from his pocket. He pulled out his phone and looked at a text. He was about to type a response when he got a call on the phone and took it. He held a hand up to Bosch to keep him from speaking. He listened to the caller and then asked one question: “When?” He listened some more before saying, “Okay, I’m heading there now. Pick me up out front.”