Authors: Michael Connelly
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
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Copyright © 1994 by Hieronymous, Inc.
copyright © 2006 by Hieronymous, Inc.
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Originally published in hardcover by Little, Brown and Company
First eBook edition: January 2002
READ ALL OF MICHAEL CONNELLY'S
HARRY BOSCH NOVELS
The Black Echo
The Black Ice
A Darkness More than Night
City of Bones
DON'T MISS HIS OTHER BOOKS
Chasing the Dime
The Lincoln Lawyer
AND LOOK FOR HIS NEW NOVEL
Please turn to the back of this book for a preview.
THE CONCRETE BLONDE
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“TURBO-CHARGED … A DARKLY GRIPPING TALE.”
“CONNELLY'S MOST IMPRESSIVE NOVEL YET.”
“MICHAEL CONNELLY IS A SPLENDID STORYTELLER … A GRITTY, GRIPPING THRILLER.”
San Diego Union Tribune
“YOU'RE IN THE HANDS OF A PRO WITH MICHAEL CONNELLY. RELAX AND ENJOY THE ROLLER-COASTER RIDE … We care about Bosch, not because he's macho or sensitive. Because he's real.”
“THE NARRATIVE SWITCHES SMOOTHLY BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE COURTROOM AND THE MURDER INVESTIGATION, AND BOTH STORYLINES HAVE A BELIEVABLE FEEL TO THEM. Connelly obviously has covered the L.A. police for a long time.”
Providence Sunday Journal
“MOVES INTO SCOTT TUROW TERRITORY … A FAST-PACED, CLASSY MYSTERY.”
“IF YOU LIKE TOUGH COP/POLICE WORK/SERIAL KILLER/COURTROOM DRAMA, THIS IS A GOOD ONE.”
“A WILD AND WOOLY MELODRAMATIC CRIME THRILLER … DEVILISHLY IMAGINATIVE … Connelly is an explosive, harsh, hard-edged writer.”
“FIENDISHLY PLOTTED … Connelly deftly parcels out clues and possibilities while juggling subtle and detailed courtroom scenes.”
“MR. CONNELLY KEEPS A TIGHT GRIP ON HIS SEESAW STRUCTURE, BOOSTING SUSPENSE FOR THE COURTROOM SCENES AND SAVING THE GRUESOME DETAILS FOR THE PROCEDURAL WORK.”
New York Times Book Review
“Works on two levels, that of a courtroom drama and of a detective story with tension generated from each. BOSCH IS A COMPELLING CHARACTER WHO CONTINUES TO GROW AND EVOLVE. RECOMMENDED.”
“CONNELLY IS A SUPERB HAND AT THIS.”
“A FIRST-RATE POLICE PROCEDURAL, AND BOSCH IS BOTH SMART AND SAVVY.”
“FANS OF THOMAS HARRIS SHOULDN'T MISS THIS ONE.”
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
“CONNELLY IS AN INTELLIGENT, THOUGHTFUL WRITER WHO HAS THE TALENT TO DEVELOP A COMPLICATED MULTILEVEL PLOT … HIS BEST!”
St. Paul Pioneer Press
“RAW AND BLEAK, BUT IT MOVES SO FAST, YOU HARDLY HAVE TIME TO NOTICE YOU'RE HORRIFIED … TOUGH WORDS, TAUT FICTION.”
San Jose Mercury
“CONNELLY DISPLAYS A SHARP EYE FOR PLOTTING AND A PERCEPTIVE EAR FOR DIALOGUE.”
Virginian-Pilot and Ledger Star
“A SPLENDID READ. There are plenty of writers around who can do a great trial, or a gripping serial killer hunt, or an insider view of L.A. law, or a moving love story, but the skill to wrap them all together in a single book whose multifariousness never clogs is all too rare.”
THE HARRY BOSCH NOVELS
City of Bones
A Darkness More Than Night
The Last Coyote
The Concrete Blonde
The Black Ice
The Black Echo
The Lincoln Lawyer
Chasing the Dime
Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops And Killers
This is for Susan, Paul and Jamie,
Bob and Marlen, Ellen, Jane and Damian
The house in Silverlake was dark, its windows as empty as a dead man's eyes. It was an old California Craftsman with a full front porch and two dormer windows set on the long slope of the roof. But no light shone behind the glass, not even from above the doorway. Instead, the house cast a foreboding darkness about it that not even the glow from the streetlight could penetrate. A man could be standing there on the porch and Bosch knew he probably wouldn't be able to see him.
“You sure this is it?” he asked her.
“Not the house,” she said. “Behind it. The garage. Pull up so you can see down the drive.”
Bosch tapped the gas pedal and the Caprice moved forward and crossed the entrance to the driveway.
“There,” she said.
Bosch stopped the car. There was a garage behind the house with an apartment above it. Wooden staircase up the side, light over the door. Two windows, lights on inside.
“Okay,” Bosch said.
They stared at the garage for several moments. Bosch didn't know what he expected to see. Maybe nothing. The whore's perfume was filling the car and he rolled his window down. He didn't know whether to trust her claim or not. The one thing he knew he couldn't do was call for backup. He hadn't brought a rover with him and the car was not equipped with a phone.
“What are you going to—there he goes!” she said urgently.
Bosch had seen it, the shadow of a figure crossing behind the smaller window. The bathroom, he guessed.
“He's in the bathroom,” she said. “That's where I saw all the stuff.”
Bosch looked away from the window and at her.
“I, uh, checked the cabinet. You know, when I was in there. Just looking to see what he had. A girl has to be careful. And I saw all the stuff. Makeup shit. You know, mascara, lipsticks, compacts and stuff. That's how I figured it was him. He used all that stuff to paint 'em when he was done, you know, killing them.”
“Why didn't you tell me that on the phone?”
“You didn't ask.”
He saw the figure pass behind the curtains of the other window. Bosch's mind was racing now, his heart jacking up into its overdrive mode.
“How long ago was this that you ran out of there?”
“Shit, I don't know. I hadda walk down to Franklin just to find a fucking ride over to the Boulevard. I was with the ride 'bout ten minutes. So I don't know.”
“Guess. It's important.”
“I don't know. It's been more than an hour.”
Shit, Bosch thought. She stopped to turn a trick before she called the task force number. Showed a lot of genuine concern there. Now there could be a replacement up there and I'm sitting out here watching.
He gunned the car up the street and found a space in front of a hydrant. He turned off the engine but left the keys in the ignition. After he jumped out he stuck his head back in through the open window.
“Listen, I'm going up there. You stay here. If you hear shots, or if I'm not back here in ten minutes, you start knocking on doors and get some cops out here. Tell them an officer needs assistance. There's a clock on the dash. Ten minutes.”
“Ten minutes, baby. You go be the hero now. But I'm getting that reward.”
Bosch pulled his gun as he hurried down the driveway. The stairs up the side of the garage were old and warped. He took them three at a time, as quietly as he could. But still it felt as if he were shouting his arrival to the world. At the top, he raised the gun and broke the bare bulb that was in place over the door. Then, he leaned back into the darkness, against the outside railing. He raised his left leg and put all his weight and momentum into his heel. He struck the door above the knob.
The door swung open with a loud crack. In a crouch, Bosch moved through the threshold in the standard combat stance. Right away he saw the man across the room, standing on the other side of a bed. The man was naked and not only bald but completely hairless. His vision locked on the man's eyes and he saw the look of terror quickly fill them. Bosch yelled, his voice high and taut.
“COPS! DON'T FUCKING MOVE!”
The man froze, but only for a beat, and then began bending down, his right arm reaching for the pillow. He hesitated once and then continued the movement. Bosch couldn't believe it. What the fuck was he doing? Time went into suspension. The adrenaline pounding through his body gave his vision a slow-motion clarity. Bosch knew the man was either reaching for the pillow for something to cover himself with, or he was—
The hand swept under the pillow.
“DON'T DO IT!”
The hand was closing on something beneath the pillow. The man had never taken his eyes off Bosch. Then Bosch realized it wasn't terror in his eyes. It was something else. Anger? Hate? The hand was coming out from beneath the pillow now.
Bosch fired one shot, his gun kicking up in his two-handed grasp. The naked man jerked upright and backward. He hit the wood-paneled wall behind him, then bounced forward and fell across the bed thrashing and gagging. Bosch quickly moved into the room and to the bed.
The man's left hand was reaching again for the pillow. Bosch brought his left leg up and knelt on his back, pinning him to the bed. He pulled the cuffs off his belt and grabbed the groping left hand and cuffed it. Then the right. Behind the back. The naked man was gagging and moaning.