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Pratt pulled a thick blue binder from the side of his desk to the center of his calendar blotter. He started to push it across to them then stopped.

“Another thing to be prepared for is the department. Count on files being incomplete or even missing. Count on physical evidence being destroyed or disappeared. Count on starting from scratch with some of these. This unit was put together two years ago. We spent the first eight months just going through the case logs and pulling out open-unsolveds. We fed what we could into the forensics pipelines, but even when we’ve gotten a hit we have been handicapped by the lack of case integrity. It has been abysmal. It has been frustrating. Even though there is no statute of limitations on murder we are finding that evidence and even files were routinely disposed of during at least one administration.

“What I am saying is that you are going to find that your biggest obstacle on some of these cases may very well be the department itself.”

“Somebody said we have a cold hit that came out of one of our time blocks,” Bosch said.

He’d heard enough. He just wanted to get moving on something.

“Yes, you do,” Pratt said. “We’ll get to that in a second. Let me just finish up with my little speech. After all, I don’t get to make it that often. In a nutshell, what we try to do here is apply new technology and techniques to old cases. The technology is essentially threefold. You have DNA, fingerprints, and ballistics. In all three areas the advancements in comparative analysis have been phenomenal in the last ten years. The problem with this department is that it never took any of these advances and looked backward at old cases. Consequently, we have an estimated two thousand cases in which there is DNA evidence that has never been typed and compared. Since nineteen sixty we have four thousand cases with fingerprints that have never been run through a computer. Ours, the FBI’s, DOJ’s, anybody’s computer. It’s almost laughable but it’s too fucking sad to laugh about. Same with ballistics. We are finding the evidence is still there in most of these cases but it has been ignored.”

Bosch shook his head, already feeling the frustration of all the families of the victims, the cases swept away by time, indifference and incompetence.

“You will also find that techniques are different. Today’s homicide copper is just plain better than one from, say, nineteen sixty or seventy. Even nineteen eighty. So even before you get to the physical evidence and you review these cases you are going to see things that seem obvious to you now, but that weren’t obvious to anyone back at the time of the kill.”

Pratt nodded. His speech was finished.

“Now, the cold hit,” he said, pushing the faded blue murder book across the desk. “Run with that baby. It’s all yours. Close it down and put somebody in jail.”


AFTER LEAVING PRATT’S office they decided that Bosch would go get the next round of coffee while Rider started in on the murder book. They knew from prior experience that she was the faster reader and it didn’t make sense to split the book up. They both needed to read it front to back, to have the investigation presented to them in the linear fashion in which it occurred and was documented.

Bosch said he would give her a good head start. He told her he might drink a cup in the cafeteria just because he missed the place. The place, not the coffee.

“Then I guess that gives me a few minutes to go down the hall,” she said.

After she left the office for the restroom Bosch took the page listing the years that were assigned to them and put it into the inside pocket of his jacket. He left 503 and took the elevator down to the third floor. He then walked through the main RHD squad room to the captain’s office.

The captain’s office suite was broken into two rooms. One room was his actual office and the other was called the murder room. It was furnished with a long meeting table where murder investigations were discussed, and its walls on two sides were lined with shelves containing legal books and the city’s murder logs. Every homicide that had occurred in Los Angeles, going back more than one hundred years, had a listing in these leather-bound journals. The routine over the decades was to update the journals every time one of the murders was cleared. It was the easy reference in the department for determining what cases were still open or had been closed.

Bosch ran his finger along the cracked spines of the books. Each one simply said HOMICIDES followed by the listing of the years the book recorded. Several years fit into each of the early books. But by the 1980s there were so many murders committed in the city that each book contained the accounts of only one year. He then noted that the year 1988 was reported in two books, and he suddenly had a very good idea why that year had been assigned to him and Rider as the new members of the Open-Unsolved Unit. The high point for murders in the city would certainly also mean the high point for unsolved cases.

When his finger found the book containing cases from 1972 he pulled the tome out and sat down with it at the table. He leafed through it, skimming the stories, hearing the voices. He found the old lady who was drowned in her bathtub. It was never solved. He moved on, through 1973 and 1974, then he went through the book containing 1966, ’67 and ’68. He read about Charles Manson and Robert Kennedy. He read about people whose names he had never heard or known. Names that were taken away from them along with everything else they’d had or would ever have.

As he read through the catalogs of the city’s horrors, Bosch felt a familiar power begin to take hold of him and move in his veins again. Only an hour back on the job and he was already chasing a killer. It didn’t matter how long ago the blood had fallen. There was a killer in the wind and Bosch was coming. Like the prodigal son returning, he knew he was back in his place now. He was baptized again in the waters of the one true church. The church of the blue religion. And he knew that he would find his salvation in those who were long lost, that he would find it in these musty bibles where the dead lined up in columns and there were ghosts on every page.

“Harry Bosch!”

Jarred by the intrusion, Bosch slammed the book closed and looked up. Captain Gabe Norona was standing in the doorway of the inner office.


“Welcome back!”

He came forward and vigorously shook Bosch’s hand.

“Good to be back.”

“I see they already have you doin’ your homework.”

Bosch nodded.

“Just sort of getting acquainted with it.”

“New hope for the dead. Harry Bosch is on the case again.”

Bosch didn’t say anything. He didn’t know if the captain was being sarcastic or not.

“It’s the name of a book I read once,” Norona said.


“Well, good luck to you. Get out there and lock ’em up.”

“That’s the plan.”

The captain shook his hand again and then disappeared back into his office and closed the door.

His sacred moment ruined by the intrusion, Bosch stood up. He started returning the heavy murder catalogs to their places on the shelves. When he was finished, he left the office for the cafeteria.


KIZ RIDER WAS almost halfway through the murder book when Bosch got back with the fresh round of coffees. She took her cup directly out of his hand.

“Thanks. I need something to keep me awake.”

“What, you’re going to sit there and tell me that this is boring compared to pushing paper in the chief’s office?”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just all the catching up, the reading. We’ve got to know this book inside and out. We’ve got to be alert for the possibilities.”

Bosch noticed she had a legal tablet next to the murder book and the top page was almost full of notes. He couldn’t read the notes but could see that most of the lines were followed by question marks.