Switchblade(5)
Author:Michael Connelly


    “I’m grasping at straws here,” Bosch said.

    McDowell, who was now the head deputy DA, shook his head and said he couldn’t help Bosch.

    “It’s weird, though,” he said. “Our case started the same way.”

    “What do you mean?” Bosch asked.

    “Anonymous tip. Somebody—it was a woman—called the OC sheriff’s tip line and said the guy we’re looking for in that Irvine stabbing was Patrick Sewell. We took it from there, but we never did find out who the lady was who made the call.”

    Bosch had not seen that in the abbreviated records he had received from Orange County at the start of his investigation. He asked McDowell if he could look at the full file on the case, and the prosecutor allowed him permission as long as he didn’t remove any records from the office. Bosch made the deal and spent the afternoon in an unused and windowless conference room looking through two cardboard file boxes.

    Near the back of the second box was a copy of the presentencing report prepared on Sewell before he was sentenced for the murder of Daniel Hunter. Bosch learned many details about Sewell’s life that he’d been unaware of. He learned that when Sewell was a child, his father had abandoned the family after revealing that he was homosexual. He also learned that as an adult Sewell had had his own troubled marriage.





    On the second Friday in February, Bosch invited Emily Robertson for lunch at Pete’s Café, a restaurant heavily favored by police and civilians who worked out of the nearby Police Administration Building. They engaged in simple conversation on the short walk over from the PAB. It was only after they were seated at the restaurant and Bosch looked over the lunch specials that he realized it was Valentine’s Day.

    He became flustered, thinking that Emily would get the wrong idea. She was at least twenty years younger, and even the idea of a relationship seemed inappropriate. Bosch thought maybe people in the restaurant would think she was his daughter or his secretary. Either way it didn’t matter. What was important was that Emily not misunderstand.

    “Emily, I know it’s Valentine’s Day but that’s not why I asked you to lunch.”

    “Oh?”

    “Yes, I asked you because I wanted to talk to you about work-related things.”

    “What things?”

    “Well, actually, one thing. One case. Patrick Sewell.”

    Her eyes widened.

    “Are they going to prosecute?”

    “Uh, that hasn’t been decided. Take a look at this.”

    From his inside suit coat pocket Bosch withdrew a folded document. He flattened it on the table and slid it over for her to see. She looked at it but seemed confused.

    “What is this?” she asked.

    “It’s a marriage license,” Bosch said. “Your marriage license from 1995, when you married Patrick Sewell.”

    Emily bowed her head.

    “I don’t want to cause you any more upset than is necessary, Emily,” Bosch said quickly. “But I need to know what’s going on.”

    He waited. She said nothing. She didn’t look up at him.

    “You married Patrick Sewell in ’95 and divorced him eight months later in ’96—the same year he killed Daniel Hunter. He was arrested in ’96 after an anonymous caller —a woman—put detectives onto him. That was you, wasn’t it?”

    Emily nodded without looking up.

    “Two years ago, when you brought me the green file with the tip about Sewell and the Billy Ratliff murder, that was you again.”

    “Yes.”

    The voice was weak, the head still down.

    “Emily, look at me. Please.”

    She finally looked up at him. Her eyes were filled with tears, threatening the carefully drawn eyeliner. Bosch felt that they were attracting stares from the other Valentine’s Day couples in the restaurant but he didn’t care.

    “There was no anonymous call to Open-Unsolved,” he said. “You made that up.”

    “Yes.”

    “Why then? Why did you wait so long?”

    “He was going to come up for parole. I had to try to do something.”

    She explained that after she and Sewell got married, she learned very quickly that he was mentally imbalanced and carried a deep-seated rage over his father’s abandonment and the reasons behind it. He told Emily that growing up, there were times when the rage overcame him and he acted out. In one emotional moment he spoke of killing a homosexual teenager named Billy in Hollywood.

    Emily never got any more details about the supposed murder. Years later, at the same time she began to worry that Sewell would be set free through parole, she saw a newspaper story about the success of the Open-Unsolved Unit and the department’s plan to hire a civilian to help deal with the massive number of inquiries that came in each year.

    “I thought it would give me access to the records and I would be able to look for the case,” she said.

    “I don’t understand,” Bosch said. “Why didn’t you just call in the tip like you did before in Orange County? Why change careers? Why go at it by yourself?”

    “Because I wanted to. I had to do it myself to make up for not saying anything for so long. I guess I was afraid of him, even in prison. I still am. He knew I had made the call before. He sent me a letter from prison saying he knew.”

    Bosch wanted to know more about why she had done things the way she did but he also knew his first responsibility was to make a case, to bring the Lion what he needed to go forward with a trial.

    “What did he tell you about Billy?”

    “He told me he got retribution once. That’s what he called it. Retribution for his father. He said the victim’s name was even Billy—that was his father’s name. He called it turkey hunting in Hollywood. He said he tied him up and carved him like a turkey in a restaurant kitchen.”

    “Where was this when he told you?”

    “In bed one morning. That’s when he would talk to me. A lot of times he was talking about fantasies and things that were not real. I thought the story about Billy was just another one of his weird fantasies. But then after I saw blood on Patrick’s clothes and then found out about the boy in Irvine who was killed, I realized at least some of his stories were real.”

    “Were there any other details that you can remember?”

    “No, everything I told you was everything he said.”

    “You’ll have to testify against him.”

    “I can’t. I don’t want to be in the same room with him.”

    “You have to, Emily. No choice. In less than a year he gets another shot at parole.”

    “I was married to him.”

    “Doesn’t matter. The spousal exclusion doesn’t apply.”

    She nodded. She already knew the law. She looked down again and whispered.

    “Okay, Harry. I’ll do it.”

    Bosch nodded. It was time to call the Lion.





    * * *





    Watch for information about the Bosch TV pilot

    coming soon to Amazon Studios.





    Michael Connelly’s new thriller, The Gods of Guilt, features defense attorney Mickey Haller, who returns with a haunting case.





    Following is an excerpt from the novel's opening pages.



    Part 1



    Glory Days



    Tuesday, November 13



    1

    I approached the witness stand with a warm and welcoming smile. This, of course, belied my true intent, which was to destroy the woman who sat there with her eyes fixed on me. Claire Welton had just identified my client as the man who had forced her out of her Mercedes E60 at gunpoint on Christmas Eve last year. She said he was the one who then shoved her to the ground before taking off with the car, her purse, and all the shopping bags she had loaded into the backseat at the mall. As she had just told the prosecutor who questioned her, he had also made off with her sense of security and self-confidence, even though for these more personal thefts he had not been charged.

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