Harry attacked his commanding officer and is suspended indefinitely, pending a psychiatric evaluation. At first he resists the LAPD shrink, but finally recognizes that something is troubling him and has for a long time. In 1961, when Harry was twelve, his mother, a prostitute, was brutally murdered with no one ever accused of the crime.
With the spare time a suspension brings, Harry opens up the thirty-year-old file on the case and is irresistibly drawn into a past he has always avoided. It's clear that the case was fumbled and the smell of a cover-up is unmistakable. Someone powerful was able to divert justice and Harry vows to uncover the truth. As he relentlessly follows the broken pieces of the case, the stirred interest causes new murders and pushes Harry to the edge of his job…and his life.
Release date: April 29, 2003
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Print pages: 400
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Listen to a sample
The Last Coyote
“Thoughts on what?”
“Well, on anything. On the incident.”
“On the incident? Yes, I have some thoughts.”
She waited but he didn’t continue. He had decided before he even got to Chinatown that this would be the way he would be.
He’d make her have to pull every single word out of him.
“Could you share them with me, Detective Bosch?” she finally asked. “That is the purpose of—”
“My thoughts are that this is bullshit. Total bullshit. That’s the purpose. That’s all.”
“No, wait. How do you mean, bullshit?”
“I mean, okay, I pushed the guy. I guess I hit him. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I’m not denying anything. So, fine,
suspend me, transfer me, take it to a Board of Rights, whatever. But going this way is bullshit. ISL is bullshit. I mean,
why do I have to come here three times a week to talk to you like I’m some kind of—you don’t even know me, you don’t know
anything about me. Why do I have to talk to you? Why do you have to sign off on this?”
“Well, the technical answer is right there in your own statement. Rather than discipline you the department wants to treat
you. You’ve been placed on involuntary stress leave, which means—”
“I know what it means and that’s what’s bullshit. Somebody arbitrarily decides I’m under stress and that gives the department
the power to keep me off the job indefinitely, or at least until I jump through enough hoops for you.”
“Nothing about this was arbitrary. It was predicated on your actions, which I think clearly show—”
“What happened had nothing to do with stress. What it was about was… never mind. Like I said, it’s bullshit. So why don’t we
just cut through it and get to the point. What do I have to do to get back to my job?”
He could see the anger flare behind her eyes. His total disavowal of her science and skill cut to her pride. Quickly the anger
was gone, though. Dealing with cops all the time, she had to be used to it.
“Can’t you see that all of this is for your own welfare? I have to assume the top managers of this department clearly see
you as a valued asset or you wouldn’t be here. They’d have put you on a disciplinary track and you’d be on your way out. Instead,
they are doing what they can to preserve your career and its incumbent value to the department.”
“Valued asset? I’m a cop, not an asset. And when you’re out there on the street nobody’s thinking about incumbent value. What
does that mean, anyway? Am I going to have to listen to words like that in here?”
She cleared her throat before speaking sternly.
“You have a problem, Detective Bosch. And it goes far beyond the incident that resulted in your being placed on leave. That’s
what these sessions are going to be all about. Do you understand? This incident is not unique. You have had problems before.
What I am trying to do, what I have to do before I can sign off on your return to duty in any capacity, is get you to take
a look at yourself. What are you doing? What are you about? Why do these problems happen to you? I want these sessions to
be an open dialogue where I ask a few questions and you speak your mind, but with a purpose. Not to harass me and my profession
or the leadership of the department. But to talk about you. This is about you in here, no one else.”
Harry Bosch just looked at her silently. He wanted a cigarette but would never ask her if he could smoke. He would never acknowledge
in front of her that he had the habit. If he did, she might start talking about oral fixations or nicotine crutches. He took
a deep breath instead and looked at the woman on the other side of the desk. Carmen Hinojos was a small woman with a friendly
face and manner. Bosch knew she wasn’t a bad person. He’d actually heard good things about her from others who had been sent
to Chinatown. She was just doing her job here and his anger was not really directed at her. He knew she was probably smart
enough to know that, too.
“Look, I’m sorry,” she said. “I should not have started with that kind of open question. I know that this is an emotional
subject with you. Let’s try to start again. By the way, you can smoke if you’d like.”
“Is that in the file, too?”
“It’s not in the file. It didn’t need to be. It’s your hand, the way you keep bringing it up to your mouth. Have you been
trying to quit?”
“No. But it’s a city office. You know the rules.”
It was a thin excuse. He violated that law every day at the Hollywood Station.
“That’s not the rule in here. I don’t want you to think of this as being part of Parker Center or part of the city. That’s
the chief reason these offices are away from that. There are no rules like that here.”
“Doesn’t matter where we are. You’re still working for the LAPD.”
“Try to believe that you are away from the Los Angeles Police Department. When you are in here, try to believe that you’re
just coming to see a friend. To talk. You can say anything here.”
But he knew she could not be seen as a friend. Never. There was too much at stake here. Just the same, he nodded once to please
“That’s not very convincing.”
He hiked his shoulders as if to say it was the best he could do, and it was.
“By the way, if you want I could hypnotize you, get rid of your dependency on nicotine.”
“If I wanted to quit, I could do it. People are either smokers or they’re not. I am.”
“Yes. It’s perhaps the most obvious symptom of a self-destructive nature.”
“Excuse me, am I on leave because I smoke? Is that what this is about?”
“I think you know what it’s about.”
He said nothing else, remembering his decision to say as little as possible.
“Well, let’s continue then,” she said. “You’ve been on leave… let’s see, Tuesday a week?”
“What have you been doing with your time?”
“Filling out FEMA forms mostly.”
“My house was red-tagged.”
“The earthquake was three months ago. Why have you waited?”
“I’ve been busy. I’ve been working.”
“I see. Did you have insurance?”
“Don’t say ‘I see,’ because you don’t. You couldn’t possibly see things the way I do. The answer is no, no insurance. Like
most everybody else, I was living in denial. Isn’t that what you people call it? I bet you had insurance.”
“Yes. How bad was your house hit?”
“Depends on who you ask. The city inspectors say it’s totaled and I can’t even go inside. I think it’s fine. Just needs some
work. They know me by name at Home Depot now. And I’ve had contractors do some of it. It’ll be done soon and I’ll appeal the
red tag. I’ve got a lawyer.”
“You’re living there still?”
“Now that’s denial, Detective Bosch. I don’t think you should be doing that.”
“I don’t think you have any say about what I do outside my job with the department.”
She raised her hands in a hands-off manner.
“Well, while I don’t condone it, I suppose it serves its purpose. I think it’s good that you have something to keep you occupied.
Though I’d much rather it be a sport or a hobby or maybe plans for a trip out of town, I think it’s important to keep busy,
to keep your mind off the incident.”
“I don’t know. Everybody keeps calling it the incident. It kind’ve reminds me of how people called it the Vietnam conflict,
not the war.”
“Then what would you call what happened?”
“I don’t know. But incident… it sounds like… I don’t know. Antiseptic. Listen, Doctor, let’s go back a minute. I don’t want
to take a trip out of town, okay? My job is in homicide. It’s what I do. And I’d really like to get back to it. I might be
able to do some good, you know.”
“If the department lets you.”
“If you do. You know it’s going to be up to you.”
“Perhaps. Do you notice that you speak of your job as if it’s a mission of some sort?”
“That’s about right. Like the Holy Grail.”
He said it with sarcasm. This was getting intolerable and it was only the first session.
“Is it? Do you believe your mission in life is to solve murders, to put bad people in jail?”
He used the shoulder hike to say he didn’t know. He stood up and walked to the window and looked down on Hill Street. The
sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians. Every time he had been down here they were crowded. He noticed a couple of Caucasian
women walking along. They stood out in the sea of Asian faces like raisins in rice. They passed the window of a Chinese butcher
shop and Bosch saw a row of smoked ducks hanging whole, by their necks.
Farther up the road he saw the Hollywood Freeway overpass, the dark windows of the old sheriff’s jail and the Criminal Courts
building behind it. To the left of that he could see the City Hall tower. Black construction tarps hung around the top floors.
It looked like some kind of mourning gesture but he knew the tarps were to hold debris from falling while earthquake repairs
were made. Looking past City Hall, Bosch could see the Glass House. Parker Center, police headquarters.
“Tell me what your mission is,” Hinojos said quietly from behind him. “I’d like to hear you put it in words.”
He sat back down and tried to think of a way to explain himself but finally just shook his head.
“Well, I want you to think about that. Your mission. What is it really? Think about that.”
“What’s your mission, Doctor?”
“That’s not our concern here.”
“Of course it is.”
“Look, Detective, this is the only personal question I will answer. These dialogues are not to be about me. They are about
you. My mission, I believe, is to help the men and women of this department. That’s the narrow focus. And by doing that, on
a grander scale I help the community, I help the people of this city. The better the cops are that we have out on the street,
the better we all are. The safer we all are. Okay?”
“That’s fine. When I think about my mission, do you want me to shorten it to a couple sentences like that and rehearse it
to the point that it sounds like I’m reading out of the dictionary?”
“Mr.—uh, Detective Bosch, if you want to be cute and contentious the whole time, we are not going to get anywhere, which means
you are not going to get back to your job anytime soon. Is that what you’re looking for here?”
He raised his hands in surrender. She looked down at the yellow legal pad on the desk. With her eyes off him, he was able
to study her. Carmen Hinojos had tiny brown hands she kept on the desk in front of her. No rings on either hand. She held
an expensive-looking pen in her right hand. Bosch always thought expensive pens were used by people overly concerned with
image. But maybe he was wrong about her. She wore her dark brown hair tied back. She wore glasses with thin tortoiseshell
frames. She should have had braces when she was a kid but didn’t. She looked up from the pad and their eyes locked.
“I am told this inci—this… situation coincided with or was close to the time of the dissolving of a romantic relationship.”
“Told by who?”
“It’s in the background material given to me. The sources of this material are not important.”
“Well, they are important because you’ve got bad sources. It had nothing to do with what happened. The dissolving, as you
call it, was almost three months ago.”
“The pain of these things can last much longer than that. I know this is personal and may be difficult but I think we should
talk about this. The reason is that it will help give me a basis for your emotional state at the time the assault took place.
Is that a problem?”
Bosch waved her on with his hand.
“How long did this relationship last?”
“About a year.”
“Was it talked about?”
“No, not really. Never out in the open.”
“Did you live together?”
“Sometimes. We both kept our places.”
“Is the separation final?”
“I think so.”
Saying it out loud seemed to be the first time Bosch acknowledged that Sylvia Moore was gone from his life for good.
“Was this separation by mutual agreement?”
He cleared his throat. He didn’t want to talk about this but he wanted it over with.
“I guess you could say it was mutual agreement, but I didn’t know about it until she was packed. You know, three months ago
we were holding each other in bed while the house was shaking apart on the pad. You could say she was gone before the aftershocks
“They still haven’t.”
“Just a figure of speech.”
“Are you saying the earthquake was the cause of the breakup of this relationship?”
“No, I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is that’s when it happened. Right after. She’s a teacher up in the Valley and her
school got wrecked. The kids were moved to other schools and the district didn’t need as many teachers. They offered sabbaticals
and she took one. She left town.”
“Was she scared of another earthquake or was she scared of you?”
She looked pointedly at him.
“Why would she be scared of me?”
He knew he sounded a little too defensive.
“I don’t know. I’m just asking questions. Did you give her a reason to be scared?”
Bosch hesitated. It was a question he had never really touched on in his private thoughts about the breakup.
“If you mean in a physical way, no, she wasn’t scared and I gave her no reason to be.”
Hinojos nodded and wrote something on her pad. It bothered Bosch that she would make a note about this.
“Look, it’s got nothing to do with what happened at the station last week.”
“Why did she leave? What was the real reason?”
He looked away. He was angry. This was how it was going to be. She would ask whatever she wanted. Invade him wherever there
was an opening.
“I don’t know.”
“That answer is not acceptable in here. I think you do know, or at least have your own beliefs as to why she would leave.
“She found out who I was.”
“She found out who you were, what does that mean?”
“You’d have to ask her. She said it. But she’s in Venice. The one in Italy.”
“Well, then what do you think she meant by it?”
“It doesn’t matter what I think. She’s the one who said it and she’s the one who left.”
“Don’t fight me, Detective Bosch. Please. There is nothing I want more than for you to get back to your job. As I said, that’s
my mission. To get you back there if you can go. But you make it difficult by being difficult.”
“Maybe that’s what she found out. Maybe that’s who I am.”
“I doubt the reason is as simplistic as that.”
“Sometimes I don’t.”
She looked at her watch and leaned forward, dissatisfaction with the session showing on her face.
“Okay, Detective, I understand how uncomfortable you are. We’re going to move on, but I suspect we will have to come back
to this issue. I want you to give it some thought. Try to put your feelings into words.”
She waited for him to say something but he didn’t.
“Let’s try talking about what happened last week again. I understand it stemmed from a case involving the murder of a prostitute.”
“It was brutal?”
“That’s just a word. Means different things to different people.”
“True, but taking its meaning to you, was it a brutal homicide?”
“Yes, it was brutal. I think almost all of them are. Somebody dies, it’s brutal. For them.”
“And you took the suspect into custody?”
“Yes, my partner and I. I mean, no. He came in voluntarily to answer questions.”
“Did this case affect you more than, say, other cases have in the past?”
“Maybe, I don’t know.”
“Why would that be?”
“You mean why did I care about a prostitute? I didn’t. Not more than any other victim. But in homicide there is one rule that
I have when it comes to the cases I get.”
“What is that rule?”
“Everybody counts or nobody counts.”
“Just what I said. Everybody counts or nobody counts. That’s it. It means I bust my ass to make a case whether it’s a prostitute
or the mayor’s wife. That’s my rule.”
“I understand. Now, let’s go to this specific case. I’m interested in hearing your description of what happened after the
arrest and the reasons you may have for your violent actions at the Hollywood Division.”
“Is this being taped?”
“No, Detective, whatever you tell me is protected. At the end of these sessions I will simply make a recommendation to Assistant
Chief Irving. The details of the sessions will never be divulged. The recommendations I make are usually less than half a
page and contain no details from the dialogues.”
“You wield a lot of power with that half page.”
She didn’t respond. Bosch thought for a moment while looking at her. He thought he might be able to trust her but his natural
instinct and experience was that he should trust no one. She seemed to know his dilemma and waited him out.
“You want to hear my side of it?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Okay, I’ll tell you what happened.”
BOSCH SMOKED ALONG the way home but realized that what he really wanted was not a cigarette, but a drink to deaden his nerves. He looked at
his watch and decided it was too early to stop at a bar. He settled for another cigarette and home.
After negotiating the drive up Woodrow Wilson, he parked at the curb a half block from the house and walked back. He could
hear gentle piano music, something classical, coming from the home of one of his neighbors but he couldn’t tell which house.
He didn’t really know any of his neighbors or which one might have a piano player in the family. He ducked under the yellow
tape strung in front of the property and entered through the door in the carport.
This was his routine, to park down the street and hide the fact that he lived in his own house. The house had been red-tagged
as uninhabitable after the earthquake and ordered demolished by a city inspector. But Bosch had ignored both orders, cut the
lock on the electric box, and had been living in it for three months.
It was a small house with redwood siding that stood on steel pylons anchored in the sedimentary bedrock folded and formed
as the Santa Monica Mountains rose out of the desert during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. The pylons had held true in their
moorings during the quake, but the overlying house had shifted atop them, breaking partially free of the pylons and seismic
bolts. It slid. All of about two inches. Still, it was enough. Though short on distance the slide was long on damage. Inside,
the woodframe house flexed and window and door frames lost their square. The glass shattered, the front door became terminally
closed, frozen in a frame that had canted to the north with the rest of the house. If Bosch wanted to open that door, he would
probably need to borrow the police tank with the battering ram. As it was, he’d had to use a crowbar to open the carport door.
Now that door served as the main entrance to his home.
Bosch had paid a contractor five thousand dollars to jack the house up and then over the two inches it had moved. It was then
put down in its proper space and rebolted to the pylons. After that, Bosch was content to work as time allowed on reframing
windows and interior doors himself. The glass came first and in the months after that he reframed and rehung the interior
doors. He worked from books on carpentry and often had to do individual projects two and three times until he had them reasonably
correct. But he found the work enjoyable and even therapeutic. Working with his hands became a respite from his job in homicide.
He left the front door as it was, thinking that somehow it was fitting, that it was a salute to the power of nature. And he
was content to use the side door.
All of his efforts did not save the house from the city’s list of condemned structures. Gowdy, the building inspector who
had been assigned to this section of the hills, kept it red-tagged as condemned, despite Bosch’s work, and so began the hiding
game in which Bosch made his entrances and exits as surreptitiously as a spy’s to a foreign embassy. He tacked black plastic
tarps over the inside of the front windows so they would emit no telltale light. And he always watched for Gowdy. Gowdy was
In the meantime, Bosch hired a lawyer to appeal the inspector’s edict.
The carport door granted entry directly into the kitchen. After he came in, Bosch opened the refrigerator and retrieved a
can of Coca-Cola, then stood in the doorway of the aging appliance letting its breath cool him while he studied its contents
for something suitable for dinner. He knew exactly what was on the shelves and in the drawers but still he looked. It was
as if he hoped for the surprise appearance of a forgotten steak or chicken breast. He followed this routine with the refrigerator
often. It was the ritual of a man who was alone. He knew this also.
On the back deck Bosch drank the soda and ate a sandwich consisting of five-day-old bread and slices of meat from plastic
packages. He wished he had potato chips to go with it because he would undoubtedly be hungry later after having only the sandwich
He stood at the railing looking down at the Hollywood Freeway, near capacity now with the Monday-evening commute. He had gotten
out of downtown just before the crest of the rush-hour wave had broken. He would have to guard against going overtime on the
sessions with the police psychologist. They were scheduled for 3:30 P.M. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Did Carmen Hinojos
ever let a session go over? he wondered. Or was hers a nine-to-five mission?
From his vantage on the mountain, he could see almost all northbound lanes of the freeway as it cut through the Cahuenga Pass
to the San Fernando Valley. He was reviewing what had been said during the session, trying to decide whether it was a good
or bad session, but his focus drifted and he began to watch the point where the freeway came into view as it crested the pass.
Absent-mindedly, he would choose two cars that came over about even with each other and follow them through the mile-long
segment of the freeway that was visible from the deck. He’d pick one or the other and follow the race, unknown to its drivers,
until the finish line, which was the Lankershim Boulevard exit.
After a few minutes of this he realized what he was doing and spun around, away from the freeway.
“Jesus,” he said out loud.
He knew then that keeping his hands busy would not be enough while he was away from his job. He went back inside and got a
bottle of Henry’s from the refrigerator. Right after he opened the beer the phone rang. It was his partner, Jerry Edgar, and
the call was a welcome distraction from the silence.
“Harry, how’s things in Chinatown?”
Because every cop secretly feared that he or she might one day crack from the pressures of the job and become a candidate
for therapy sessions at the department’s Behavioral Sciences Section, the unit was rarely spoken of by its formal name. Going
to BSS sessions was more often referred to as “going to Chinatown” because of the unit’s location there on Hill Street, several
blocks from Parker Center. If it became known about a cop that he was going there, the word would spread that he had the Hill
Street blues. The six-story bank building where the BSS was located was known as the “Fifty-One-Fifty” building. This was
not its address. It was the police radio code number for describing a crazy person. Codes like this were part of the protective
structure used to belittle and, therefore, more easily contain their own fears.
“Chinatown was great,” Bosch said sarcastically. “You ought to try it some day. It’s got me sitting here counting cars on
“Well, at least you won’t run out.”
“Yeah. What’s going on with you?”
“Pounds finally did it.”
“Stuck me with somebody new.”
Bosch was silent a moment. The news gave him a sense of finality. The thought that maybe he would never get his job back began
to creep into his mind.
“Yeah, he finally did. I caught a case this morning. So he stuck one of his suckups with me. Burns.”
“Burns? From autos? He’s never worked homicide. Has he ever even worked CAPs?”
Detectives usually followed one of two paths in the department. One was property crimes and the other was crimes against persons.
The latter included specializing in homicide, rape, assault and robbery. CAPs detectives had the higher-profile cases and
usually viewed property crime investigators as paper pushers. There were so many property crimes in the city that the investigators
spent most of their time taking reports and processing the occasional arrest. They actually did little detective work. There
was no time to.
“He’s been a paper guy all the way,” Edgar said. “But with Pounds that doesn’t matter. All he cares about is having somebody
on the homicide table who isn’t going to give his shit back to him. And Burns is just the guy. He probably started lobbying
for the job the minute the word went out about you.”
“Well, fuck him. I’m gonna get back to the table and then he goes back to autos.”
Edgar took his time before answering. It was as if Bosch had said something that made no sense to him.
“You really think that, Harry? Pounds ain’t going to stand for you coming back. Not after what you did. I told him when he
told me I was with Burns that, you know, no offense but I’d wait until Harry Bosch came back and he said if I wanted to handle
it that way, then I’d be waitin’ until I was an old man.”
“He said that? Well, fuck him, too. I still got a friend or two in the department.”
“Irving still owes you, doesn’t he?”
“I guess maybe I’ll find out.”
He didn’t go further with it. He wanted to change the subject. Edgar was his partner but they had never gotten to the point
where they completely confided in each other. Bosch played the mentor role in the relationship and he trusted Edgar with his
life. But that was a bond that held fast on the street. Inside the department was another matter. Bosch had never trusted
anyone, never relied on anyone. He wasn’t going to start now.
“So, what’s the case?” he asked, to divert the conversation.
“Oh, yeah, I wanted to tell you about it. This was weird, man. First the killing’s weird, then what happened after. The call
out was to a house on Sierra Bonita. This is about five in the A.M. The citizen reports he heard a sound like a gunshot, only
muffled-like. He grabs his deer rifle out of the closet and goes outside to take a look. This is a neighborhood that’s been
picked clean lately by the hypes, you know? Four B and Es on his block alone this month. So, he was ready with the rifle.
Anyway, he goes down his driveway with the gun—the garage is in the back—and he sees a pair of legs hanging out of the open
door of his car. It was parked in front of the garage.”
“He shoots him?”
“No, that’s the crazy thing. He goes up with his gun but the guy in his car is already dead. Stabbed in the chest with a screwdriver.”
Bosch didn’t get it. He didn’t have enough of the facts. But he said nothing.
“The air bag killed him, Harry.”
“What do you mean, the air bag killed him?”
“The air bag. This goddamn hype was stealing the air bag out of the steering wheel and somehow the thing went off. It inflated
instantly, like it was supposed to, and drove the screwdriver right into his heart, man. I’ve never seen anything like it.
He must’ve been holding the screwdriver backwards or he
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