THE CALL CAME IN while Harry Bosch and his partner, Kiz Rider, were sitting at their desks in the Open-Unsolved Unit, finishing the paperwork on the Matarese filing. The day before, they had spent six hours in a room with Victor Matarese discussing the 1996 murder of a prostitute named Charisse Witherspoon. DNA that had been extracted from semen found in the victim's throat and stored for ten years had been matched to Matarese. It was a cold hit. His DNA profile had been banked by the DOJ in 2002 after a forcible rape conviction. It had taken another four years before Bosch and Rider came along and reopened the Witherspoon case, pulled the DNA and sent it to the state lab on a blind run.
It was a case initially made in the lab. But because Charisse Witherspoon had been an active prostitute the DNA match was not an automatic slam dunk. The DNA could have come from someone who was with her before her killer turned up and hit her repeatedly on the head with a two-by-four.
So the case didn't come down to the science. It came down to the room and what they could get from Matarese. At 8 a.m. they woke him up at the halfway house where he had been placed upon his parole in the rape case and took him to Parker Center. The first five hours in the interview room were grueling. In the sixth he finally broke and gave it all up, admitting to killing Witherspoon and throwing in three more, all prostitutes he had murdered in South Florida before coming to L.A.
When Bosch heard his name called out for line one, he thought it was going to be Miami calling him back. It wasn't.
"Bosch," he said after grabbing the phone.
"Freddy Olivas. Northeast Division Homicide. I'm over in Archives looking for a file and they say you've already got it signed out."
Bosch was silent a moment while his mind dropped out of the Matarese case. Bosch didn't know Olivas but the name sounded familiar. He just couldn't place it. As far as signed-out files went, it was his job to review old cases and look for ways to use forensic advances to solve them. At any given time he and Rider could have as many as twenty-five files from Archives.
"I've pulled a lot of files from Archives," Bosch said. "Which one are we talking about?"
"Gesto. Marie Gesto. It's a 'ninety-three case."
Bosch didn't respond right away. He felt his insides tighten. They always did when he thought about Gesto, even thirteen years later. In his mind, he always came up with the image of those clothes folded so neatly on the front seat of her car.
"Yeah, I've got the file. What's happening?"
He noticed Rider look up from her work as she registered the change in his voice. Their desks were in an alcove and pushed up against one another, so Bosch and Rider faced each other while they worked.
"It's kind of a delicate matter," Olivas said. "Eyes only. Relates to an ongoing case I've got and the prosecutor just wants to review the file. Could I hop on by there and grab it from you?"
"Do you have a suspect, Olivas?"
Olivas didn't answer at first and Bosch jumped in with another question.
"Who's the prosecutor?"
Again no answer. Bosch decided not to give in.
"Look, the case is active, Olivas. I'm working it and have a suspect. If you want to talk to me, then we'll talk. If you've got something working, then I am part of it. Otherwise, I'm busy and you can have a nice day. Okay?"
Bosch was about to hang up when Olivas finally spoke. The friendly tone was gone from his voice.
"Tell you what, let me make a phone call, Hotshot. I'll call you right back."
He hung up without a good-bye. Bosch looked at Rider.
"Marie Gesto," he said. "The DA wants the file."
"That's your own case. Who was calling?"
"A guy from Northeast. Freddy Olivas. Know him?"
"I don't know him but I've heard of him. He's lead on the Raynard Waits case. You know the one."
Now Bosch placed the name. The Waits case was high profile. Olivas probably viewed it as his ticket to the show. The LAPD was broken into nineteen geographic divisions, each with a police station and its own detective bureau. Divisional Homicide units worked the less complicated cases and the positions were viewed as stepping-stones to the elite Robbery-Homicide Division squads working out of the police headquarters at Parker Center. That was the show. And one of those squads was the Open-Unsolved Unit. Bosch knew that if Olivas's interest in the Gesto file was even remotely tied to the Waits case, then he would jealously guard his position from RHD encroachment.
"He didn't say what he has going?" Rider asked.
"Not yet. But it must be something. He wouldn't even tell me which prosecutor he's working with."
She said it slower.
"Rick O'Shea. He's on the Waits case. I doubt Olivas has anything else going. They just finished the prelim on that and are heading to trial."
Bosch didn't say anything as he considered the possibilities. Richard "Ricochet" O'Shea ran the Special Prosecutions Section of the DA's office. He was a hotshot and he was in the process of getting hotter. Following the announcement in the spring that the sitting district attorney had decided against seeking reelection, O'Shea was one of a handful of prosecutors and outside attorneys who filed as candidates for the job. He had come through the primary with the most votes but not quite a majority. The runoff was shaping up as a tighter race but O'Shea still held the inside track. He had the backing of the outgoing DA, knew the office inside and out, and had an enviable track record as a prosecutor who won big cases --- a seemingly rare attribute in the DA's office in the last decade. His opponent was named Gabriel Williams. He was an outsider who had credentials as a former prosecutor but he had spent the last two decades in private practice, primarily focusing on civil rights cases. He was black, while O'Shea was white. He was running on the promise of watchdogging and reforming the county's law enforcement practices. While members of the O'Shea camp did their very best to ridicule Williams's platform and qualifications for the position of top prosecutor, it was clear that his outsider stance and platform of reform were taking hold in the polls. The gap was closing.
Bosch knew what was happening in the Williams-O'Shea campaigns because this year he had been following local elections with an interest he had never exhibited before. In a hotly contested race for a city council seat, he was backing a candidate named Martin Maizel. Maizel was a three-term incumbent who represented a west-side district far from where Bosch lived. He was generally viewed as a consummate politician who made backroom promises and was beholden to big-money interests to the detriment of his own district. Nevertheless, Bosch had contributed generously to his campaign and hoped to see his reelection. His opponent was a former deputy police chief named Irvin R. Irving, and Bosch would do whatever was within his power to see Irving defeated. Like Gabriel Williams, Irving was promising reform and the target of his campaign speeches was always the LAPD. Bosch had clashed numerous times with Irving while he served in the department. He didn't want to see the man sitting on the city council.
The election stories and wrap-ups that ran almost daily in the Times had kept Bosch up to date on other contests as well as the Maizel-Irving contest. He knew all about the fight O'Shea was involved in. The prosecutor was in the process of bolstering his candidacy with high-profile advertisements and prosecutions designed to show the value of his experience. A month earlier he had parlayed the preliminary hearing in the Raynard Waits case into daily headlines and top-of-the-broadcast reports. The accused double murderer had been pulled over in Echo Park on a late-night traffic stop. Officers spied trash bags on the floor of the man's van with blood leaking from them. A subsequent search found body parts from two women in the bags. If ever there was a safe, slam-bang case for a prosecutor-candidate to use to grab media attention, the Echo Park Bagman case appeared to be it.
The catch was that the headlines were now on hold. Waits was bound over for trial at the end of the preliminary hearing and, since it was a death penalty case, that trial and the attendant renewal of headlines were still months off and well after the election. O'Shea needed something new to grab headlines and keep momentum going. Now Bosch had to wonder what the candidate was up to with the Gesto case.
"Do you think Gesto could be related to Waits?" Rider asked.
"That name never came up in 'ninety-three," Bosch said. "Neither did Echo Park."
The phone rang and he quickly picked it up.
"Open-Unsolved. This is Detective Bosch. How can I help you?"
"Olivas. Bring the file over to the sixteenth floor at eleven o'clock. You'll meet with Richard O'Shea. You're in, Hotshot."
"We'll be there."
"Wait a minute. What's this we shit? I said you, you be there with the file."
"I have a partner, Olivas. I'll be with her."
Bosch hung up without a good-bye. He looked across at Rider.
"We're in at eleven."
"What about Matarese?"
"We'll figure it out."
He thought about things for a few moments, then got up and went to the locked filing cabinet behind his desk. He pulled the Gesto file and brought it back to his spot. Since returning to the job from retirement the year before, he had checked the file out of Archives three different times. Each time, he read through it, made some calls and visits and talked to a few of the individuals who had come up in the investigation thirteen years before. Rider knew about the case and what it meant to him. She gave him the space to work it when they had nothing else pressing.
But nothing came of the effort. There was no DNA, no fingerprints, no lead on Gesto's whereabouts --- though to him there still was no doubt that she was dead --- and no solid lead to her abductor. Bosch had leaned repeatedly on the one man who came closest to being a suspect and got nowhere. He was able to trace Marie Gesto from her apartment to the supermarket but no further. He had her car in the garage at the High Tower Apartments but he couldn't get to the person who had parked it there.
Bosch had plenty of unsolved cases in his history. You can't clear them all and any Homicide man would admit it. But the Gesto case was one that stuck with him. Each time he would work the case for a week or so, hit the wall and then return the file to Archives, thinking he had done all that could be done. But the absolution only lasted a few months and then there he was at the counter filling out the file request form again. He would not give up.
"Bosch," one of the other detectives called out. "Miami on two."
Bosch hadn't even heard the phone ring in the squad room.
"I'll take it," Rider said. "Your head's somewhere else."
She picked up the phone and once more Bosch opened the Gesto file.