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“You heard about that, huh?”

“I still have an ear out on six. Did you get your badge?”

“Yeah, he gave it to me.”

“I told him what number you’d want. Did you get it?”

“Yeah, Kiz, thanks. Thanks for everything.”

“You already told me that, partner. You don’t need to keep saying that.”

He nodded and looked around their space. He noticed that on the wall behind Rider was a photo of two detectives huddled beside a body lying in the dry concrete bed of the Los Angeles River. It looked like a shot from the early fifties, judging by the hats the detectives wore.

“So, where do we start?” he asked.

“The squad breaks the cases up in three-year increments. It provides some continuity. They say you get to know the era and some of the players in the department. It overlaps. It also helps with identifying serials. In two years they’ve already come up with four serials nobody ever knew about.”

Bosch nodded. He was impressed.

“What years did we get?” he asked.

“Each team has four or five blocks. Since we’re the new team we got four.”

She opened the middle drawer of her desk, took out a piece of paper and handed it across to him.

Bosch studied the listing of years for which they would be responsible. He had been out of the city and in Vietnam for most of the first block.

“The summer of love,” he said. “I missed it. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me.”

He said it just to be saying something. He noticed that the second block included 1972, the year he had come onto the force. He remembered a call out to a house off of Vermont on his second day on the job in patrol. A woman back east asked police to check on her mother, who was not answering the phone. Bosch found her drowned in a bathtub, her hands and feet bound with dog leashes. Her dead dog was in the tub with her. Bosch wondered if the old woman’s murder was one of the open cases he would now be charged with solving.

“How was this arrived at? I mean, why did we get these years?”

“They came from the other teams. We lightened their caseload. In fact, they already started the ball rolling on cases from a lot of those years. And I heard on Friday that a cold hit came in from ’eighty-eight. We’re supposed to run with it starting today. I guess you could say it’s your welcome-back present.”

“What’s a cold hit?”

“When a DNA stamp or a latent we send through the computers or the DOJ makes a blind match.”

“What’s ours?”

“I think it’s a DNA match. We’ll find out this morning.”

“They didn’t tell you anything last week? I could have come in over the weekend, you know.”

“I know that, Harry. But this is an old case. There was no need to start running the minute a piece of paper came in the mail. Working Open-Unsolved is different.”

“Yeah? How come?”

Rider looked exasperated, but before she could answer they heard the door open and the squad room started filling with voices. Rider stepped out of the alcove and Bosch followed. She introduced Bosch to the other members of the squad. Two of the detectives, Tim Marcia and Rick Jackson, Bosch knew well from previous cases. The other two pairs of partners were Robert Renner and Victor Robleto, and Kevin Robinson and Jean Nord. Bosch knew them, as well as Abel Pratt, the officer in charge of the unit, by reputation. Every one of them was a top-notch homicide investigator.

The greeting was cordial and subdued, a bit overly formal. Bosch knew that his posting in the unit was probably viewed with suspicion. An assignment on the squad would have been highly coveted by detectives throughout the department. The fact that he had gotten the posting after nearly three years in retirement raised questions. Bosch knew, as the chief of police had reminded him, that he had Rider to thank for the job. Her last posting had been in the chief’s office as a policy analyst. She had cashed in whatever markers she had accrued with the chief in order to get Bosch back inside the department and working open-unsolved cases with her.

After all the handshakes, Pratt invited Bosch and Rider back into his office for a private welcome-aboard speech. He sat behind his desk and they took the side-by-side chairs in front of it. There was no room in the closet-sized space for other furnishings.

Pratt was a few years younger than Bosch, on the south side of fifty. He kept himself in shape and carried the esprit de corps of the vaunted Robbery-Homicide Division, of which the Open-Unsolved Unit was just one branch. Pratt appeared confident in his skills and his command of the unit. He had to be. The RHD took on the city’s most difficult cases. Bosch knew that if you did not believe you were smarter, tougher and more cunning than the people you were after then you didn’t belong.

“What I really should do is split you two up,” he began. “Make you work with guys already established here in the unit because this is different from what you’ve done in the past. But I got the word from six and I don’t mess with that. Besides, I understand you two have a prior chemistry that worked. So forget what I should do and let me tell you a little bit about working open-unsolveds. Kiz, I know you already got this speech last week but you’ll just have to suffer along, okay?”

“Of course,” Rider said.

“First of all, forget closure. Closure is bullshit. Closure is a media term, something they put in newspaper articles about cold cases. Closure is a joke. It’s a fucking lie. All we do here is provide answers. Answers have to be enough. So don’t mislead yourself about what you are doing here. Don’t mislead the family members you deal with on these cases and don’t be misled by them.”

He paused for reaction, got none and moved on. Bosch noticed that the crime scene photo framed on the wall was of a man collapsed in a bullet-riddled phone booth. It was the kind of phone booth you only saw in old movies and at the Farmers Market or over at Phillippe’s.

“Without a doubt,” Pratt said, “this squad is the most noble place in the building. A city that forgets its murder victims is a city lost. This is where we don’t forget. We’re like the guys they bring in in the bottom of the ninth inning to win or lose the game. The closers. If we can’t do it, nobody can. If we blow it, the game is over because we’re the last resort. Yes, we’re outnumbered. We’ve got eight thousand open-unsolveds since nineteen sixty. But we are undaunted. Even if this whole unit clears only one case a month-just twelve a year-we are doing something. We’re the closers, baby. If you’re in homicide, this is the place to be.”

Bosch was impressed by his fervor. He could see sincerity and even pain in his eyes. He nodded. He immediately knew that he wanted to work for this man, a rarity in his experience in the department.

“Just don’t forget that closure isn’t the same as being a closer,” Pratt added.

“Got it,” Bosch said.

“Now, I know you both have long experience working homicides. What you are going to find different here is your relationship with the cases.”

“Relationship?” Bosch asked.

“Yes, relationship. What I mean is that working fresh kills is a completely different animal. You have the body, you have the autopsy, you carry the news to the family. Here you are dealing with victims long dead. There are no autopsies, no physical crime scenes. You deal with the murder books-if you can find them-and the records. When you go to the family-and believe me you don’t go until you are good and ready-you find people who have already suffered the shock and found or not found ways to get past it. It wears on you. I hope you are prepared for that.”

“Thanks for the warning,” Bosch said.

“With fresh kills it is clinical because things move fast. With old cases it is emotional. You are going to see the toll of violence over time. Be prepared for it.”