And to Lila, Oscar, Eva, and Judah
About the Author
Also by Faye Kellerman
About the Publisher
AS HE INSPECTED the final work, holding it up to a bare bulb, he was blinded by the array of brilliant hues in every color of the rainbow. The opalescent glass was lovely, but it was the handblown clear glass in the emerald greens, the ruby reds, and the sapphire blues that gave the piece its pop, casting tinted rays of spectacular light onto his walls and furniture.
The stained glass was first-rate: the execution of the piece . . . not so much. The caning between the shards was sloppy and the little painting that was on the glass was one step above Art 101. Not that anyone would notice the difference between the genuine and its imposter in its current dark and dank location. Certainly the moronic caretakers weren’t a problem. And in this case, making the switch was a walk in the park because the work could be concealed in a briefcase. His toolbox was bigger and bulkier. But he’d done it before. He could do it again.
Sometimes he didn’t even know why he bothered with the small stuff. Maybe just to keep his brain alive because this little bit of intrigue was nothing compared to his future plans. But to pull off something that big took time and he was fine with that. He’d wait patiently.
The bells were tolling two in the morning: it was time. First, with a makeup sponge, he painted his face brown. Next, he called Angeline on a throwaway cell and told her to wait outside, that he’d be over in five. Carefully, he swathed the piece in bubble wrap and then slid it into his leather briefcase. His tools were already in the car.
He checked his watch again. Then he slipped on his black gloves and covered his head and face with a black ski cap. Next came the black scarf around his neck: good camouflage but also necessary in the cold. A last-minute check in the mirror and what he saw looked perfect. He was nothing more than an inky shadow floating through the night.
Just the way he wanted it.
BE CAREFUL WHAT you wish for.
After three decades of police work as a detective lieutenant in Los Angeles, Peter Decker had always imagined a quieter existence in his sixties, something in between retirement and an eighty-hour workweek that had been his former life. He knew that with his active mind and his penchant for restlessness that he wasn’t ready to hang up his shield just yet. In his brain, the ideal job was something with a regular schedule with nights and weekends off.
The good news was he now had a manageable desk job, fielding calls that centered on senior citizens with chest pains, missing pets, and controlling drunken teenagers following Saturday night binges. In the last six months, the closest he had come to real crimes were the calls concerning several house break-ins where the burglars pilfered electronics—cell phones, laptops, and tablets. None of the thefts were surprising because Greenbury was a town that swelled with students in September and then cleared them out by June.
The Five Colleges of Upstate New York was a consortium of liberal arts schools, each with its own identity. One specialized in math and science, another in business and econ. A third was a girls’ school and the fourth focused on fine arts, theater, and languages. The fifth college—Duxbury—was ranked as an elite academy founded in 1859 a few years before the Civil War. The sprawling campuses made up of brick and stone buildings sat on hundreds of acres of dense, bucolic landscape: parks, natural springs, and open forest. It was a world unto itself with its own police force. That made Decker’s job as a cop and detective even more limited.
There were very few issues of town and gown because Greenbury’s population consisted of retirees and working-class families. They owned most of the independent stores and restaurants that fueled the town’s economy. The students, by and large, were from swanky homes and were pretty well behaved even if they often partied at all hours of the night.
The Old Town of Greenbury was a typical college burg with streets named Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. There were blocks of franchise stores: Outsider Sportswear, Yogurtville, Rentaday Car Service, Quikburger. It had a triplex movie theater, a half-dozen cheap dress boutiques, several nail salons, bike rentals, a health food store, and lots and lots and lots of bars, grills, and restaurants. Every popular cuisine was represented, including a kosher eat-in or take-out storefront café that Rina frequented almost daily.
Decker thought about his wife.
If anyone would have adjustment problems, he thought it would be Rina. Instead, she had adapted far quicker than he had. Immediately she threw herself into the local Hillel that serviced all five colleges. She offered to host Friday night dinners in her house for any student who was interested. When too many students became interested, the dinners were moved to a catering hall at the Hillel. The meals were prepared by the local students, but Rina was there almost every Thursday and Friday pitching in with the cooking and baking. When that still didn’t fill up her time, she volunteered her services as a Chumash teacher if Hillel would provide a room. She posted a sign-up sheet. She expected five kids if she was lucky.
She got seven.
Word got around and a month later, she had eighteen kids. They asked her if she was willing to teach a class in elementary Hebrew. She agreed. Most of the times, her evenings were busier than his. Decker hated to admit it but he was bored. It was bad enough that his days were stultifying but then the captain, Mike Radar, asked him to pair up with the kid and take him into the field, and the days became even longer and even more stultifying.
Tyler McAdams, aged twenty-six and Harvard educated, was five ten, one fifty, with hazel eyes and dark brown hair that was expertly cut. His aquiline features included a Roman nose. He wasn’t slight, but he wasn’t muscular, either. He looked like what he was—an Ivy League kid from a wealthy family. His clothes were expensive, his overcoat was cashmere, and he rotated gold watches on his wrist with the days of the week.
Within a very short period of time, McAdams had managed to alienate everyone in the department with his endless carping that he was smarter, better looking, and better educated than anyone around. There was truth in his complaints—he was smart and good-looking—but his constant whining diminished any of his discernible assets. McAdams claimed that he had originally taken up the job because he was curious about police work even though he had been accepted to Harvard Law. He decided to defer the acceptance for a few years, figuring the job would give him a leg up from any of the other wonks and dorks.
Or so was his story.
Decker didn’t press him; he wasn’t interested.
McAdams’s hiring had been nepotism. His father was a major contributor to Duxbury College. The dean had called in a favor from the mayor, Logan Brettly, who, in turn, called in a favor from Radar. McAdams had no experience in law enforcement, but he didn’t need it because nothing much happened that required extensive know-how.