The day starts like any other in L.A. The sun burns hot as the Santa Ana winds blow ash from mountain fires to coat the glittering city. But for private investigator Joe Pike, the city will never be the same again. His ex-lover, Karen Garcia, is dead, brutally murdered with a gun shot to the head. Now Karen's powerful father calls on Pike (a former cop) and his partner, Elvis Cole, to keep an eye on the LAPD as they search for his daughter's killer--because in the luminous City of Angels, everyone has secrets, and even the mighty blue have something to hide. But what starts as a little procedural hand-holding turns into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. For a dark web of conspiracy threatens to destroy Pike and Cole's twelve-year friendship--if not their lives. And L.A. just might be singing their dirge.
Robert Crais has written for such award-winning television shows as L.A. Law and Hill Street Blues. His novels Free Fall and The Monkey's Raincoat were nominated for the Edgar Award. He lives in Los Angeles.
Uniformed LAPD Officer Joe Pike could hear the banda music even with the engine idling, the a.c. jacked to meat locker, and the two-way crackling callout codes to other units.
The covey of Latina street kids clumped outside the arcade giggled at him, whispering things to each other that made them flush. Squat brown men come up through the fence from Zacatecas milled on the sidewalk, shielding their eyes from the sun as veteranos told them about Sawtelle over on the Westside where they could find day labor jobs, thirty dollars cash, no papers required. Here in Rampart Division south of Sunset, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans simmered with Salvadorans and Mexican nationals in a sidewalk machaca that left the air flavored with epizote, even here within the sour cage of the radio car.
Pike watched the street kids part like water when his partner hurried out of the arcade. Abel Wozniak was a thick man with a square head and cloudy, slate eyes. Wozniak was twenty years older than Pike and had been on the street twenty years longer. Once the best cop that Pike had then met,Wozniak's eyes were now strained. They'd been riding together for two years, and the eyes hadn't always been that way. Pike regretted that, but there wasn't anything he could do about it.
Especially now when they were looking for Ramona Ann Escobar.
Wozniak lurched in behind the wheel, adjusting his gun for the seat, anxious to roll even with the tension between them as thick as clotted blood. His informant had come through.
"DeVille's staying at the Islander Palms Motel."
"Does DeVille have the girl?"
"My guy eyeballed a little girl, but he can't say if she's still with him."
Wozniak snapped the car into gear and rocked away from the curb. They didn't roll Code Three. No lights, no siren. The Islander Palms was less than five blocks away, here on Alvarado Boulevard just south of Sunset. Why send an announcement?
"Woz? Would DeVille hurt her?"
"I told you, a fuckin' perv like this would be better off with a bullet in his head."
It was eleven-forty on a Tuesday morning. At nine-twenty, a five-year-old girl named Ramona Ann Escobar had been playing near the paddleboatconcession in Echo Park when her mother, a legal emigre from Guatemala, had turned away to chat with friends. Witnesses last saw Ramona in the company of a man believed to be one Leonard DeVille, a known pedophilewho'd been sighted working both Echo and MacArthur parks for the past three months. When the dispatch call had come about the missing girl, Wozniak had begun working his street informants. Wozniak, having beenon the street forever, knew everyone and how to find them. He wasatreasure trove of information that Pike valued and respected, anddidn'twant to lose. But Pike couldn't do anything about that,either.
Pike stared at Wozniak until Wozniak couldn't handle the weight any longer and glanced over. They were forty seconds away from the Islander Palms. "Oh, for Christ's sake, what?"
"It isn't too late, Woz."
Wozniak's eyes went back to the street, and his face tightened. "I'm telling you, Joe. Back off with this. I'm not going to talk about it anymore."
"I meant what I said."
Wozniak wet his lips.
"You've got Paulette and Evelyn to think about."
Wozniak's wife and daughter.
The cloudy eyes flicked to Pike, as bottomless and as dangerous as a thunderhead.
"I've been thinking about them, Pike. You bet your ass."
For just an instant, Pike thought Wozniak's eyes filled. Then Wozniak gave a shudder as if he were shaking out his feelings, and pointed.
"There it is. Now shut the fuck up and play like a cop."
The Islander Palms was a white stucco dump: two stories of frayed carpets, stained beds, and neon palms that looked tacky even
Excerpted from L. A. Requiem: An Elvis Cole Novel by Robert Crais
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