The last thing I expected was for Alexander Taylor to answer his
own door. It belied everything I knew about Hollywood. A man with a
billion-dollar box-office record answered the door for nobody.
Instead, he would have a uniformed man posted full-time at his
front door. And this doorman would only allow me entrance after
carefully checking my identification and appointment. He would then
hand me off to a butler or the first-floor maid, who would walk me
the rest of the way in, footsteps falling as silent as snow as we
But there was none of that at the mansion on Bel-Air Crest Road.
The driveway gate had been left open. And after I parked in the
front turnaround circle and knocked on the door, it was the
box-office champion himself who opened it and beckoned me into a
home whose dimensions could have been copied directly from the
international terminal at LAX.
Taylor was a large man. Over six feet and 250 pounds. He carried it
well, though, with a full head of curly brown hair and contrasting
blue eyes. The hair on his chin added the highbrow look of an
artist to this image, though art had very little to do with the
field in which he toiled.
He was wearing a soft blue running suit that probably cost more
than everything I was wearing. A white towel was wrapped tightly
around his neck and stuffed into the collar. His cheeks were pink,
his breathing heavy and labored. I had caught him in the middle of
something and he seemed a little put out by it.
I had come to the door in my best suit, the ash gray
single-breasted I had paid twelve hundred dollars for three years
before. I hadn't worn it in over nine months and that morning I had
needed to dust off the shoulders after taking it out of the closet.
I was clean-shaven and I had purpose, the first I had felt since I
put the suit on that hanger so many months before.
"Come in," Taylor said. "Everybody's off today and I was just
working out. Lucky the gym's just down the hall or I probably
wouldn't have even heard you. It's a big place."
"Yes, that was lucky."
He moved back into the house. He didn't shake my hand and I
remembered that from the time I first met him four years before. He
led the way, leaving it to me to close the front door.
"Do you mind if I finish up on the bike while we talk?"
"No, that's fine."
We walked down a marble hallway, Taylor staying three steps ahead
of me as if I were part of his entourage. He was probably most
comfortable that way and that was all right with me. It gave me
time to look around.
The bank of windows on the left gave a view of the opulent grounds
— a soccer-field-sized rectangle of rolling green that led to
what I assumed was a guest house or a pool house or both. There was
a golf cart parked outside of the distant structure and I could see
tracks back and forth across the manicured green leading to the
main house. I had seen a lot in L.A., from the poorest ghettos to
mountaintop mansions. But it was the first time I had seen a
homestead inside the city limits so large that a golf cart was
necessary to get from one side to the other.
Along the wall on the right were framed one sheets from the many
films Alexander Taylor had produced. I had seen a few of them when
they made it to television and seen commercials for the rest. For
the most part they were the kind of action films that neatly fit
into the confines of a thirty-second commercial, the kind that
leave you no pressing need afterward to actually see the movie.
None would ever be considered art by any meaning of the word. But
in Hollywood they were far more important than art. They were
profitable. And that was the bottom line of all bottom lines.
Taylor made a sweeping right and I followed him into the gym. The
room brought new meaning to the idea of personal fitness. All
manner of weight machines were lined against the mirrored walls. At
center was what appeared to be a full-size boxing ring. Taylor
smoothly mounted a stationary bike, pushed a few buttons on the
digital display in front of him and started pedaling.
Mounted side by side and high on the opposite wall were three large
flat-screen televisions tuned to competing twenty-four-hour news
channels and the Bloomberg business report. The sound on the
Bloomberg screen was up. Taylor lifted a remote control and muted
it. Again, it was a courtesy I wasn't expecting. When I had spoken
to his secretary to make the appointment, she had made it sound
like I would be lucky to get a few questions in while the great man
worked his cell phone.
"No partner?" Taylor asked. "I thought you guys worked in
"I like to work alone."
I left it at that for the moment. I stood silently as Taylor got up
to a rhythm on the cycle. He was in his late forties but he looked
much younger. Maybe surrounding himself with the equipment and
machinery of health and youthfulness did the trick. Then again
maybe it was face peels and Botox injections, too.
"I can give you three miles," he said, as he pulled the towel from
around his neck and draped it over the handlebars. "About twenty
"That'll be fine."
I reached for the notebook in my inside coat pocket. It was a
spiral notebook and the wire coil caught on the jacket's lining as
I pulled. I felt like a jackass trying to get it loose and finally
just jerked it free. I heard the lining tear but smiled away the
embarrassment. Taylor cut me a break by looking away and up at one
of the silent television screens.
I think it's the little things I miss most about my former life.
For more than twenty years I carried a small bound notebook in my
coat pocket. Spiral notebooks weren't allowed — a smart
defense attorney could claim pages of exculpatory notes had been
torn out. The bound notebooks took care of that problem and were
easier on the jacket lining at the same time.
"I was glad to hear from you," Taylor said. "It has always bothered
me about Angie. To this day. She was a good kid, you know? And all
this time, I thought you guys had just given up on it, that she
I nodded. I had been careful with my words when I spoke to the
secretary on the phone. While I had not lied to her I had been
guilty of leading her and letting her assume things. It was a
necessity. If I had told her I was an ex-cop working freelance on
an old case, then I was pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten anywhere
near the box-office champ for the interview.
"Uh, before we start, I think there might have been a
misunderstanding. I don't know what your secretary told you, but
I'm not a cop. Not anymore."
Taylor coasted for a moment on the pedalsbut then quickly worked
back into his rhythm. His face was red and he was sweating freely.
He reached to a cup holder on the side of the digital control board
and took out a pair of half glasses and a slim card that had his
production company's logo at the top — a square with a
mazelike design of curls inside it — and several handwritten
notations below it. He put on the glasses and squinted anyway as he
read the card.
"That's not what I have here," he said. "I've got LAPD Detective
Harry Bosch at ten. Audrey wrote this. She's been with me for
eighteen years — since I was making straight-to-video dreck
in the Valley. She is very good at what she does. And usually very
"Well, that was me for a long time. But not since last year.
I retired. I might not have been very clear about that on the
phone. I wouldn't blame Audrey if I were you."
He glanced down at me, tilting his head forward to see over the
"So then what can I do for you, Detective — or I guess I
should say Mr. — Bosch? I've got two and a half miles and
then we're finished here."
There was a bench-press machine to Taylor's right. I moved over and
sat down. I took the pen out of my shirt pocket — no snags
this time — and got ready to write.
"I don't know if you remember me but we have spoken, Mr. Taylor.
Four years ago when the body of Angella Benton was found in the
vestibule of her apartment building, the case was assigned to me.
You and I spoke in your office over at Eidolon. On the Archway lot.
One of my partners, Kiz Rider, was with me."
"I remember. The black woman — she had known Angie, she said.
From the gym, I think it was. I remember that at the time you two
instilled a lot of confidence in me. But then you disappeared. I
never heard from —"
"We were taken off the case. We were from Hollywood Division. After
the robbery and shooting a few days later, the case was taken away.
Robbery-Homicide Division took it."
A low chime sounded from the stationary cycle and I thought maybe
it meant Taylor had covered his first mile.
"I remember those guys," Taylor said in a derisive voice.
"Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber. They inspired nothing in me. I
remember one was more interested in securing a position as
technical advisor to my films than he was in the real case, Angie.
Whatever happened to them?"
"One's dead and one's retired."
Dorsey and Cross. I had known them both. Taylor's description
aside, both had been capable investigators. You didn't get to RHD
by coasting. What I didn't tell Taylor was that Jack Dorsey and
Lawton Cross became known in Detective Services as the partners who
had the ultimate bad luck. While working an investigation they drew
several months after the Angella Benton case, they stopped into a
bar in Hollywood to grab lunch and a booster shot. They were
sitting in a booth with their ham sandwiches and Bushmills when the
place was hit by an armed robber. It was believed that Dorsey, who
was sitting facing the door, made a move from the booth but was too
slow. The gunman cut him down before he got the safety off his gun
and he was dead before he hit the floor. A round fired at Cross
creased his skull and a second hit him in the neck and lodged in
his spine. The bartender was executed last at point-blank
"And then what happened to the case?" Taylor asked rhetorically,
not an ounce of sympathy in his voice for the fallen cops. "Not a
damn thing happened. I guarantee it's been gathering dust like that
cheap suit you pulled out of the closet before coming to see
I took the insult because I had to. I just nodded as if I agreed
with him. I couldn't tell if his anger was for the never avenged
murder of Angella Benton or for what happened after, the robbery
and the next murder and the shutting down of his film.
"It was worked by those guys full-time for six months," I said.
"After that there were other cases. The cases keep coming, Mr.
Taylor. It's not like in your movies. I wish it was."
"Yes, there are always other cases," Taylor said. "That's always
the easy out, isn't it? Blame it on the workload. Meantime, the kid
is still dead, the money's still gone and that's too bad. Next
case. Step right up."
I waited to make sure he was finished. He wasn't.
"But now it's four years later and you show up. What's your story,
Bosch? You con her family into hiring you? Is that it?"
"No. All of her family was in Ohio. I haven't contacted
"Then what is it?"
"It's unsolved, Mr. Taylor. And I still care about it. I don't
think it is being worked with any kind of . . . dedication."
"And that's it?"
I nodded. Then Taylor nodded to himself.
"Fifty grand," he said.
"I'll pay you fifty grand — if you solve the thing. There's
no movie if you don't solve it."
"Mr. Taylor, you somehow have the wrong impression. I don't want
your money and this is no movie. All I want right now is your
"Listen to me. I know a good story when I hear it. Detective
haunted by the one that got away. It's a universal theme, tried and
true. Fifty up front, we can talk about the back end."
I gathered the notebook and pen from the bench and stood up. This
wasn't going anywhere, or at least not in the direction I
"Thanks for your time, Mr. Taylor. If I can't find my way out I'll
send up a flare."
As I took my first step toward the door a second chime came from
the exercise bike. Taylor spoke to my back.
"Home stretch, Bosch. Come back and ask me your questions. And I'll
keep my fifty grand if you don't want it."
I turned back to him but kept standing. I opened the notebook
"Let's start with the robbery," I said. "Who from your company knew
about the two million dollars? I'm talking about who knew the
specifics — when it was coming in for the shoot and how it
was going to be delivered. Anything and anybody you can remember.
I'm starting this from scratch."
Excerpted from LOST LIGHT © Copyright 2003 by Hieronymus,
Inc. Reprinted with permission by Warner Books. All rights