/ Language: English / Genre:thriller

The Motive

John Lescroart

In the latest installment of the Glitsky-Hardy crime-solving series (The 13th Juror; The Second Chair; etc.), San Francisco-based Lescroart again demonstrates his mastery of how things work in the city by the bay. Arson investigators at a Victorian townhouse fire do not call in Abe Glitsky or Dismas Hardy when they discover two bodies believed to be the remains of influential businessman Paul Hanover and his girlfriend, Missy D'Amiens. Glitsky, now deputy chief of inspectors, doesn't handle individual cases, and attorney Dismas Hardy has long since left the police force. Sgt. Dan Cuneo takes charge, quickly jumping to conclusions and slowly rekindling his grudge against the detecting duo. Unhappy with Cuneo's approach, the mayor puts Glitsky on the job, while Hardy is hired by Hanover's daughter-in-law, who was also Hardy's college sweetheart and is now a murder defendant with no alibi but plenty of motive. Parallel inquiries uncover contradictory evidence as well as loose ends: at the time of his death, Hanover was up for a federal appointment, his company was up for a city contract and his girlfriend has a mysterious past. Lescroart draws the reader in with a step-by-step description of the fire, mesmerizes with an account of the intricacies of the auto-towing business and winds up with a disturbing parable of intrigue abroad, adding the wistful touch of a new baby in the Glitsky household. Lescroart may be testing the waters for fiction with an international flavor. For now, the winningly ironic author remains more credible on urban and legal ground than spy craft, but his authentic voice, methodical presentation and ability to juggle red herrings until all pieces fall into place will keep fans following wherever his cop-lawyer friends-heroes lead.

John Lescroart

The Motive

The ninth book in the Dismas Hardy series, 2004

To Lisa Sawyer Again, and again, and again…

Out of the crooked tree of humanity no straight thing can ever be made.

– Immanuel Kant

PART ONE

1

By location alone, a block from Fillmore Street as it passes through the upwardly challenged Hayes Valley, Alamo Square would not be among the sexier neighborhoods in San Francisco. But one of the most popular and recognizable posters of the City by the Bay captures a row of beautifully restored and vibrantly painted three-and four-story Victorians that face the park on Steiner Street-the so-called "Painted Ladies." The poster created a certain cachet for the area such that the cheapest of these houses now go for three-plus. Million.

The blaze at Paul Hanover's, in the middle of this block, began around 8:00 p.m. on May 12, although the first alarm wasn't called in until nearly 8:30. Fires love old Victorians. Even though Hanover's house had been stripped to the bare bones twenty years earlier- retrofitted for earthquakes and freshly insulated with fire-resistant material-it is the nature of Victorian design to have funky interior spaces, oddly shaped rooms, crannies and closets and unusual passages. Within the walls, since heat wants to travel up, fires employ the vertical stud lines as flues, almost as chimneys, to transport themselves effortlessly and quickly up and up into the roof spaces, where billowing smoke is most often noticed first.

Even in a neighborhood of great sensitivity to the threat of fire-of old, very valuable wooden houses in wall-to-wall proximity-no one noticed anything amiss at Hanover's until the fire had progressed to the unfinished attic. The late-arriving fog camouflaged the first appearance of the smoke, and the wind blew it away. By the time one of the local residents realized that what he was actually seeing was not fog but thick clouds of smoke pouring out from under the eaves of his neighbor's roof, the fire was well advanced.

As soon as the first alarm's fire trucks arrived-three engines, two trucks, two battalion chiefs, an assistant chief and a rescue squad-the two-man aerial ladder team from the first engine began climbing to Hanover's roof, intending to ventilate it by cutting a hole into it with axes and chainsaws. Meanwhile, four men in Nomex turnout pants and coats and wearing Scott Air-Paks-the initial attack squad-got to the front door, found it unlocked and opened it right up. Although they were armed with Akron fog nozzles that could spray water over a wide angle and get them closer to the flames, in this case they were greeted by a roiling cloud of hot thick black smoke, impossible to see through. They could make no progress.

Al Daly, officer of the initial attack squad, spoke matter-of-factly into the headpiece of his walkie-talkie. "Front door is breached, Norm. We got a working fire here." Daly was speaking to his battalion chief, Norm Shaklee, out front in the street. The words conveyed great urgency. A working fire meant they would need at least one more alarm-four more engines, another truck, two more chiefs. In a house this size with so much exposure to the homes on either side, this working fire could go to five alarms, San Francisco's maximum.

All four stories of Hanover's home might already be- probably were-involved. Shaklee, in his white helmet, placed the next alarm call and looked up as the sound of chainsaws stopped. Over the roof, he saw a churning pillar of black smoke erupt into the sky, and spoke into his walkie-talkie. "They're through on the roof, Al. Back out a minute."

He was telling Daly that ventilation was about to start working, potentially a very dangerous moment. If the smoke inside the house was hot enough-and no one knew if it was-the addition of oxygen to it might at this time cause a tremendous and often lethal backdraft explosion. So the initial attack squad waited in a kind of suspension down the front steps out in the street until, a minute and forty seconds later, the smoke column spewing from the roof suddenly exploded into a fireball that lit the night for blocks around and rose to heights of a hundred feet and more.

By now, the first hoses had been attached to the hydrant at the corner, and eight firefighters on each of a couple of them were blasting six hundred gallons of water per minute into the open space. For all the apparent good the firefighters were doing, they might as well have been standing around spitting on the flames, but appearances in this case were deceiving. The hydrant water was lowering the temperature sufficiently so that Daly and his squad could advance again into the building.

Because of the ventilation, the smoke that filled the foyer had now begun to dissipate upward, as did the thick cloud of steam generated by the water from the hoses. Within a few seconds after the hose teams stopped soaking the entryway, Daly and his squad were back at the front door. With his night helmet's beam on and glowing, he had relatively clear sight lines through the foyer to the house beyond, to the flames still licking at the walls on all sides. Wielding his Akron, spraying in a wide arc, he advanced into the darkness, following the beam on his helmet. All around was noise and chaos-the rush of air behind him as the conflagration sucked it in, the roar of the actual fire, the creaking and splintering of wood, the hail of ax blows, disembodied voices yelling both within and outside the building.

Daly sprayed and advanced, sprayed and advanced. One foot or so at a time. The foyer was circular, high-ceilinged and quite large, perhaps fourteen feet in diameter. He could make out the shapes of burning furniture along the walls-what appeared to have been a coatrack, a sideboard, maybe an umbrella stand or wastebasket. Drapes over a pair of windows, curved to the shape of the house, were all but incinerated. One opening to Daly's right led into another open room, and directly ahead of him another doorway fed into a hall. Everywhere he looked there was flame-total involvement of the ground floor.

Despite the hose's soaking, the fire was growing again, heating up. It was excruciatingly hot, dangerously hot. Daly felt a sloshing like water in his ear, but knew that it wasn't water. It was his earwax, melting. He had to get out of here, right now. He wasn't going to be able to check for potential rescue victims until the fire died somewhat, and by then-by now, he knew-anything living in the structure would have died as well.

Still he pushed forward, forcing himself for another step or two, spraying as he went. It was full night, his only light his helmet beam. Looking down at the entrance to the hallway, he suddenly became aware of two shapes that stopped him where he stood. Leaning in for a closer look, not that he needed it, he forced himself to speak in his most neutral tone. "There's two bodies in here, Norm. In the foyer."

Out in the street, the second-alarm units had begun to arrive and Shaklee was issuing orders to nine people at once back by the rehab station, which itself was already nearly overwhelmed supplying drinks, fresh air bottles and first aid. He asked Daly to repeat what he'd just said, and he did, adding, "No ambulance needed." Which meant they were obviously dead.

Shaklee took only another second to process the information, then turned and spoke to his operator-aide, who functioned as gopher in the field. "Find Becker," he said, "and put in a call to homicide."

Arnie Becker, the forty-three-year-old lead arson investigator attached to the Bureau of Fire Investigation, arrived with the second-alarm unit. In situations like this, Becker's task was to determine the origin of the blaze. To do that, he'd have to enter the building and investigate all the indicators-"V" patterns on walls, decalcification of Sheetrock, "alligatoring" of studs, condition of electrical components and so on-and by doing so, hope to locate the spot where the fire began, and if possible determine what might have caused it.

Becker was a twenty-year veteran of the fire department. In San Francisco his whole working life, he was particularly familiar with Victorians, and he knew that this house, with all the places in which a fire could hide, would in all likelihood burn through the night and perhaps well into the next morning. He wasn't going to have an answer anytime soon.

But that didn't mean he didn't have a lot to do. A huge crowd of onlookers had coalesced on the block, and more were streaming out of houses both up and down the street and across the open space of Alamo Square behind them. This was his potential witness pool-people he and his team would need to talk to. Some percentage of them might live on the block, might have seen something suspicious.

He needed all the information he could find from a near-infinite universe of possibilities, the most tantalizing one being that if this fire was arson, if someone had started it, then that person was probably among the crowd, enjoying his handiwork, possibly even sitting in one of the cypress trees in Alamo Square getting sexual satisfaction from it. Becker had seen it before.

In San Francisco, police officers from the hit-and-run detail are assigned to fire investigation, so Becker had a staff of helpers and he sent them out to talk to everybody they could. They would not conduct formal interviews-not now, anyway-but he wanted names and phone numbers of everybody. If people didn't want to provide that, that could be instructive. If still others wouldn't shut up, that might tell him something as well. Becker didn't know anything, including what he didn't know. So this was his chance to start gathering information from whatever source presented itself, and he took it very seriously indeed. His men fanned out to either end of the crowd and were working it to the inside and from behind.

Becker himself was on his way to talk to the neighbor who'd called in the fire and who had waited around to help guide the trucks when they'd arrived, not that they had needed it by then. But suddenly Becker's partner in the Arson Unit, J. P. Dodd-twenty-eight years old, Army-trained, competent yet relaxed, appeared at his elbow. The night around them was a kaleidoscope of lights in the darkness-the yellow flickering fire, the red bubbles on the trucks, the white glare from the firemen's helmets, now the kleigs of the TV camera crews. Dodd's earnest face looked particularly grave. "They've found two bodies, Arn. Shaklee needs you to come on up."

The fire still raged in the back of the house and on the upper stories. The two manned fire hoses at the front door snaked across the floor of the foyer and disappeared out the right-hand doorway somewhere back into the inferno. Becker, now suited up in his turnout coat and night helmet, his Scotts down over his face, also held a wide-beam flashlight that he trained on the bodies. He squatted like a baseball catcher, having learned that to put a knee on the floor was an invitation to pain and suffering.

The clothing had been burned off where they had been exposed, but even though both figures were lying on their backs, he couldn't tell what sex either had been. One was larger, and one smaller, so they were possibly a man and a woman, but he wouldn't be sure until the coroner was finished with them. The hair and any distinguishing characteristics on the faces, likewise, were burned away.

Something in the resting attitudes struck him, though. He had seen many dead people before, the victims of fire, as well as victims of murder and/or suicide, who were at fire scenes but dead before they burned. In his experience, the bodies of people who died from fire or smoke inhalation as the blaze grew around them tended to curl protectively into a fetal position. Victims of murder or suicide most often lay as they fell, and these two bodies fit that profile. There was still the characteristic drawing up of the extremities as the flesh cooked, but it did not strongly resemble the curled-up bodies he'd seen of victims who'd died by fire and fire alone.

Suspicious by nature and now by circumstance, Becker reached for a flashlight-like device he wore on his belt- the multi-gas-detecting AIM-32/50. Turning it on, he waved it down the sides of the smaller victim-the one nearest to the front door-and wasn't exactly stunned to see that it registered the presence of gasoline.

So, Becker thought, this was probably arson. And from the attitudes of the bodies, it was quite possibly a murder, or a murder/suicide, as well.

Becker tucked in his gas detector, then trained his flashlight again on the smaller body in front of him. Directly over his head, a deafening crash shook the building and rained charcoal down over him, but he barely heard or noted it. The small and perfectly round hole high in the back of the head, above and behind where the ear should have been located-it had burned away-commanded all of his attention. Stepping over the smaller torso, Becker moved over the still-squishy rug, squatted and shone his light on the other victim. Tucked under the side of the torso, a glint of metal shone up when his beam hit it. Becker wasn't going to touch anything at this point, but he lowered his light's trajectory and saw enough to realize that he was looking at the barrel of a gun.

At a little after eleven p.m., Inspector Sergeant Dan Cuneo of San Francisco's homicide detail parked his unmarked car on the opposite side of Alamo Square and began to make his way through the large, awestruck, worried crowd. His immediate sense was that this fire was nowhere near to being controlled. Three houses on the block now appeared to be burning, and in the crowd he overheard snatches of panicked conversations, some from what must have been residents. People staring mesmerized, some crying, some talking in hushed tones. As he came closer, he noticed a cordoned-off command area on the steps up the street that led into the park.

Cuneo knew where he needed to go, and he made a beeline toward the white helmet that seemed to hover above the crowd. The white helmet belonged to the incident commander. Every fire scene had an IC, and his power within that setting was absolute. The president of the United States could show up at a fire, wanting to get a better look, and the IC could order him to chill for a while and that would be the end of the discussion.

Cuneo got close enough to make out some of the faces that had gathered around this IC-the name tag over his left pocket said "Shaklee." He was taller than Cuneo's own six feet. Cuneo pushed his way through the crowd, excused himself and presented his badge. Shak-lee nodded distractedly, said something into his walkie-talkie, came back to Cuneo. "You need to see Becker." He pointed toward the steps. "The guy talking to the woman in the leather jacket."

Cuneo nodded his thanks and started walking over. He was an edgy man in his early forties, unable to keep still or quiet-he could not eat or listen to a witness or a colleague without humming-and this trait had kept him from retaining a regular partner in homicide. For the past year or more, he'd been working strictly solo. His fellow inspectors considered him a character, but not quite a weirdo. It was a critical distinction.

Handsome in an unusual way, Cuneo's face had an oddly misshapen character as well, almost as though it had once been broken down to its integral pieces and then imperfectly reassembled. His nose initially protruded to a ridge, then hooked left and went flat as though someone had pushed it in like a thumbtack. At times he appeared cross-eyed. He'd obviously survived a serious bout with teenage acne, but instead of scarring, the skin over his cheeks had taken on a stretched, almost shiny look-maybe too many skin peels. An inventory of the individual parts wouldn't indicate it, but somehow the mishmash came together in a way that pleased his girlfriends.

Now he was at the steps. Even here across the street and back into the shelter of the park, the fire was making it uncomfortably warm. Cuneo grabbed a Styro-foam cup of water from a table someone had set up and got himself close enough to listen to Becker and the woman in the leather coat. She wasn't a kid-maybe, Cuneo figured, about his age-but she was still very attractive. Cuneo's antennae for women were always up-he couldn't help himself and saw no reason to change. Close up, he noticed that the woman's jacket hung open, partially revealing an all-grown-up but tight-looking body in a blue silk blouse, and below a thin waist tucked into designer jeans. The woman's stylish medium-length hair picked up highlights from the flames. One of the ageless babes, he thought, as he automatically checked for a wedding ring-not that it always mattered. She wore one.

He moved a step closer, started flicking the side of his cup with his fingers.

"… as soon as I saw it on the television," the woman was saying. "I was just over here with Paul this afternoon, so I knew exactly…"

Becker held up a finger, stopping her, directed a flat gaze to Cuneo. "Can I help you?"

Cuneo quickly brought his cup to his mouth and flicked free the last of the ice. Flashing his badge, he mumbled around the small cubes. "Sorry. Dan Cuneo. Homicide."

Becker stuck a hand out. "Becker. Arson. And that's what this is."

The woman turned to face Cuneo. "You're with homicide? Is somebody dead in there then?" Back to Becker. "You know that? God, it's got to be Paul."

Cuneo: "Paul who?"

"Paul Hanover. It's his house." She turned all the way around and stared back at what was left of the place. By this time, the fire had collapsed much of the structure.

The front doorway still stood, and most of the second floor, but the third and fourth stories were all but gone. "He's in there? You've got to get him out before…"

Becker cut her off. "There's no reason to get him out, ma'am. He was dead a half hour ago. If you knew him, I'm sorry." Pointing toward the house, Becker said to Cuneo, "They're directing the master streams-that's those major hoses-to try and preserve as much of your crime scene as they can. But there's no telling."

Cuneo nodded. "The call said there were two of them."

"Yep."

"Oh my God," the woman said again. "That's got to be Missy, too."

Cuneo turned from the house to the woman, introduced himself again, flashed his badge. "And who are you, please?"

"Catherine Hanover. I'm Paul's daughter-in-law. Paul Hanover. He lives-lived here."

"Excuse me," Cuneo said, "are you talking about the Paul Hanover?"

"If you mean the lawyer, yes." She looked back to the house. "I can't believe he's in there."

"Somebody's in there," Becker said, "but we don't know it's Mr. Hanover. Or Missy."

"Who's Missy?" Cuneo asked.

"Michelle D'Amiens, Paul's girlfriend. Fiancee. Everybody called her Missy. They were getting married in the fall." Suddenly, a bolt of panic shot through her.

"Can't you do anything? You can't just let them stay in there. There won't be anything left of them."

Becker's mouth was set as he shared a look with Cuneo. Both knew the awful truth, that the bodies were already unrecognizable, charred beyond any hope of recognition. Identification and forensic evidence, if any, would mostly come from a lab now. Neither they nor anyone else could do anything to change that.

"Mrs. Hanover," Becker said, "maybe you want to find a place to sit. Or go on home. Whatever happens here is going to take a long while. We can get your address and phone number and contact you in the morning."

But Cuneo wasn't quite ready to dismiss her. "Did I hear you say that you were over here at this house earlier today?"

"Yes."

"Why was that?"

"I wanted to talk to Paul about something, just some family stuff."

"Did you see him?"

She nodded. "Yes. We had some coffee." Her eyes were drawn back to the inferno. Bringing her hand up, she rubbed her forehead. "He can't be in there right now. That's just not possible. And Missy."

"Was Missy there when you talked to Paul today?" Cuneo asked.

"No. I don't know. I didn't see her, anyway."

"So what was the family stuff?"

The question stopped her and she frowned. "Why? What difference would that make?"

Cuneo looked to Becker, who shrugged. He came back to Catherine Hanover. "I don't know. If the man's dead, everything he did in his last hours is going to come under scrutiny. If this was arson, and Inspector Becker here says it is, somebody might have started the fire to kill somebody in the house. I'm going to want to know everything about his last day."

Becker butted in. "Could you please excuse us for a minute, ma'am?" Without waiting for her reply, he stepped in front of her and hooked an arm into Cuneo's to turn him. When they'd moved off half a dozen steps, he said, "Before you go too far with her, maybe you should know that there was a gun under the larger torso, probably the man, maybe this Hanover. Also what looks like a bullet hole in one of the heads. Hers. Maybe in his, too, but I didn't want to touch and turn him to find out."

"So murder/suicide?"

Again, Becker shrugged. "Maybe. That's one thing that fits, anyway. The gun was under his body."

"He did himself and fell on the gun?"

"Maybe. Could be. That works. If the whole place goes up, I've got a roll of pictures I took you can look at tomorrow, then decide. Otherwise, if they can save the foyer, we might pull a break and be able to get in again by sunrise." He glanced at the fire. "Not much before, I wouldn't think."

Cuneo nodded, found his eyes drawn back across the street, where most of the firefighting activity had now come to be centered on the houses to either side of Hanover's. Becker could be right. It looked to Cuneo as though part of the crime scene might be salvaged after all. "So where'd this woman come from?"

"She said she was home watching TV and saw it on the news and recognized the place."

"Where's the rest of her family?"

"I don't know. I didn't ask. Maybe there isn't any rest of it. I had just started talking to her when you got here."

"All right." Cuneo cast a glance over to Mrs. Hanover, who was also staring at the blaze, hypnotized by it. He came back to Becker. "But it's definitely arson?"

"There was definitely gasoline residue under the smaller body."

"Anything else?"

"That's not enough?"

"No, I didn't mean that."

They had moved out in front of Mrs. Hanover, and now both men looked back to where she stood. Her coloring was high, unwitting excitement on her face, in the look in her eyes. With the heat from the fire, she'd removed her jacket and held it by a finger over her shoulder, a posture that emphasized her already generous bosom. "That's a damn fine-looking woman," Cuneo said.

"You going to let her go home?" Becker asked.

Cuneo kept his eyes on her. "Couple more minutes," he said.

2

Fifty-five-year-old Abraham Glitsky had worked his way up through the ranks of the San Francisco Police Department and was now its deputy chief of inspectors. In his days as a homicide inspector, and then later as lieutenant in charge of the homicide detail, he was a slacks-and-flight jacket kind of cop, but since assuming his latest rank-the only step up was chief-he wore his blues every day. And though he wasn't aware ofit, he cut quite a figure in them. A former tight end at San Jose State, Glitsky stood six feet two and went about 220, none of it padding. Jewish on his father's side and black on his mother's, his blue eyes were set off against light mocha skin. But a deep scar that ran between both his lips kept him from ever considering himself even remotely good-looking. If he thought about it at all, and he didn't, he'd admit that he probably looked a little scary, especially when he wasn't smiling, which was most of the time. And he wasn't all wrong.

At twelve minutes after seven on this fog-bound May morning, when Glitsky pulled his city-issued car to the curb at Alamo Square, he couldn't have dredged up a smile on a bet. He'd routinely called his office from home for messages soon after he woke up and had learned about the double homicide and the five-alarm arson. The scene wasn't much of a detour from his duplex above Lake on his route to work at the Hall of Justice, and he felt he needed to see it with his own eyes.

Getting out of his car, he stood for a moment surveying the still-smoking disaster that had occurred here last night. Before most of the city's firefighters had finally stopped the spread of flames at around 3:00 a.m., all but two of the Painted Ladies had been affected to some degree or another. The one in the center was destroyed except for its steps and a circular area on the first floor behind the front door. On either side of that structure, the adjacent homes would have to be completely rebuilt. The one on Glitsky's left as he faced the wreckage, which must have been slightly windward last night, was nothing but a burned-out skeleton. The former gingerbread house on the right was a gutted shell of broken-out windows and charred, peeling timbers. On either side of those houses, the adjacent homes yawned vacant and bereft-more broken windows, open front doors, obvious water and fire damage. Cleanup crews were spraying and sweeping all over the area. Teams of ax-wielding firemen jabbed and poked through the various wreckages, locating hidden hot spots for the hose crews.

Glitsky finally moved away from his car. Muted activity hummed all around him as he crossed down to the IC's car. Hoses still snaked to fire hydrants. Two engines remained parked back to back in front of the middle home. Three trucks lined the near curb. The coroner's van was double-parked by the engines near the middle of the street. Most of the onlookers had dispersed.

On the bumper of a car, a man in a white helmet sat holding a steaming cup in both hands. Glitsky, introducing himself, thought the man looked like he'd just come from a battlefield-and in a sense he supposed he had. Slack with fatigue, the IC's face was blackened everywhere with soot, his eyes shot with red.

After they shook hands, Shaklee said, "My arson guys are still in there with Strout." John Strout was the city's medical examiner. "And your guy. Cuneo?" he added.

"Dan Cuneo, yeah." Glitsky lifted his chin toward the houses. "All I got word of was fatality fire."

"You don't know who lived here?"

"No."

"You know Paul Hanover?"

"No kidding?" Glitsky looked at the house. "Was he inside?"

"Somebody was. Two people, actually. From the sizes, a man and a woman, but we won't know for sure who they were for a while." Shaklee sipped at his drink. "They're not identifiable." He paused. "You haven't heard?"

"Heard what?"

"They were dead when the fire started. Shot." Glitsky's eyes went back to the house. "The gun's still in there," Shaklee said. "Under the bigger torso."

"Paul Hanover."

"Probably."

"And his girlfriend?"

"That's the rumor. You can go in."

Glitsky blew a vapor trail, hesitating. Finally, he shook his head. "That's all right. I've seen enough bodies to last me. Better if I didn't step on Cuneo's toes. It's his case."

Shaklee shrugged. "Your call."

"Yeah." Another pause, a last look toward the house. If anyone else from homicide besides Cuneo had drawn the case, Glitsky would have gone inside. "I'll catch him and Strout downtown after they know a little more what they've got." After a last glance at the destruction, he met Shaklee's eye and shook his head at the waste and loss.

Crunching over broken glass and charred debris, he started walking back to his car.

The only time Abe and Treya Glitsky had ever seriously disagreed was before they got married. The issue was whether they would have children together.

Both of them had survived the deaths of their first spouses, and had raised their respective children as single parents. Treya had a teenage girl, Raney, and Abe already had two sons, Isaac and Jacob, out of the house, and Orel at the time he met Treya with only a couple of years to go. Abe, fifty-two then, figured he had already done the family thing and done it well. He didn't suppose, and really wasn't too keen about finding out, whether he'd have the energy or interest necessary to be an active and involved father again. To Treya, in her midthirties, this was a deal breaker, and the two broke up over it. The split had endured for eleven days before Abe changed his mind. Their baby, Rachel, was now nearly two and a half years old.

This morning-Thursday-Treya, seventeen days late, had taken the home pregnancy test, and it had been positive. Her husband invariably left their duplex by 7:00 a.m., so he'd already gone in to work when she found out. She worked in the same Hall of Justice as he did, as personal secretary to San Francisco's district attorney, Clarence Jackman, but though she'd now been at her job for the better part of three hours, she hadn't worked up the courage to call Abe and tell him.

They'd avoided pretty much all discussion of whether they'd have more children after Rachel, but Treya didn't feel as though she'd been sneaky with this latest development. They both knew they were doing nothing to prevent it. Surely that was a sign of Abe's tacit approval.

But she wasn't completely sure.

While watering the plants in Jackman's outer office, which doubled as a no-frills reception area for the DA's appointments, she caught sight of herself in the wall mirror and realized that she'd been biting her lips and had scraped her lipstick off, top and bottom. Stepping closer to the mirror, she saw traces of it on her teeth. Nerves. She had to call Abe and let him know right now. She had just finished scratching the lipstick off and was returning around the front of her desk to do just that when Dismas Hardy, Jackman's eleven o'clock and Abe's great friend, knocked at the side of the open hallway door. And the phone rang.

"If that's for me, I'm in training for a marathon and can't be disturbed," Hardy said.

Treya shot him an amused and tolerant look and reached over the desk to pick up the phone. "DA's office." She came around the desk and sat in her chair, frowning. "No," she said, "what about her?" Treya listened for another moment, then shook her head. "I haven't heard a thing, and nobody's called Clarence about anything like that. Yes, I'm sure. Do you want me to ask Diz? He's here."

Hardy looked over in some surprise.

Treya held up a finger, listened, then spoke across to him. "Kathy West"-the mayor, on her job now for about five months-"wants to see Abe. He wonders if you might have heard about anything going on at City

Hall?"

"Just the rumor that she was firing him, but I don't believe it."

Treya spoke into the phone. "He hasn't heard anything either." She listened. "Okay. Well, whatever it is, I wouldn't worry. No, I know. Good luck."

She hung up, and realizing that she hadn't told her husband her own news, their own news, she bit at her lip again.

"Are you all right?" Hardy asked.

"I'm fine. Just a little distracted."

"Well," Hardy copped Billy Crystal's old Saturday Night Live accent, "it's not how you feel but how you look, and dahling, you look mahvelous." When Treya didn't react, Hardy went sober. "Is Abe really worried? Are you?"

"I don't think so. He'd just rather be prepared whenever it's possible."

"You're kidding? Abe?" Then: "I do wonder what Kathy wants, though."

"Whatever it is, it's got to be important, don't you think? She wanted him ASAP," she said. "And in person."

Kathy West had been a city supervisor for six terms and, during the last couple of years before her election to mayor, had been a regular at Clarence Jackman's informal "kitchen cabinet" meetings, held most Tuesdays at Lou the Greek's bar and restaurant, located just across the street from the Hall of Justice. Glitsky-and Treya and Hardy, for that matter-were also members, so there was a history of goodwill and mutual respect between the deputy chief and the mayor.

Nevertheless, Glitsky did not feel free to sit down and relax in her office, but stood at ease in the center of her rug.

Nor did Kathy West come out from behind her large and ornate desk. Through the open double windows behind her, downtown San Francisco shimmered mostly white as the fog burned away. Small-boned and delicate, West's fragile packaging all but disguised a ferocious will and laser intellect. Completely at home in polite society, raised to an old standard of born-to privilege mixed with a heightened sense of civic responsibility, she was in her bones a pragmatic, skillful politician, now somewhere in her late fifties. Playing somewhat against type, she talked the good talk about believing in getting her hands dirty if that's what it would take, whatever it was. And that had gotten her elected.

This morning, Glitsky was discovering firsthand that it wasn't all talk. "I just can't accept any part of it, Abe. The Paul Hanover I knew-and I've known him for thirty-five years-did not shoot his fiancee, and then himself, and then burn down his house. That is just not what happened. I can't accept it." She stabbed the open flat of her desk blotter with a bony index finger. "I don't care what the medical examiner rules."

Glitsky wasn't going to fight her. At least not yet, before he knew anything. He assumed she just needed her hand held. "I don't think John Strout is anywhere near making a ruling," he said. "It's just the usual media madness, filling that awful silence they hate so much."

West's mouth went up in a tic of appreciation that vanished quickly. "I think it's more than that. They were, and I quote, 'police sources.' "

"I heard that, too. Saying they couldn't rule out murder/suicide. Which, in all fairness, they can't. It might have been."

Glitsky reserved judgment as he always did, but if Strout eventually came to this conclusion, it wouldn't be a shock. At this stage, it certainly looked like it could have been a murder/suicide. But he wasn't going to press that argument with the mayor. "I don't blame you for being angry at the stupid reporting, but it's not like we don't see it every day. If you want, I'll see to it you're informed with every development. Then you can call the press conferences yourself and maybe even have some fun."

But fun wasn't on the mayor's agenda. Impatient, she was shaking her short bob of gray hair, a quick birdlike movement. "No," she said, "I want more than that. That's why I called you here, Abe. I want somebody I trust working on this. This cannot be what it seems. I will not have Paul Hanover's name slandered over something that he didn't do." She asked abruptly, "Do you know

Dan Cuneo?"

"Sure."

"What do you know about him?"

Glitsky knew he did not like him. He guessed that the feeling was mutual. Cuneo had never worked in homicide under Glitsky, and worse, a couple ofyears before he'd actually accused Glitsky of collusion with Dismas Hardy for trying to deflect a murder rap from one of Hardy's clients. But West didn't need the history lesson about him and Cuneo. "Marcel Lanier says he's okay. He makes his numbers."

"My, what a ringing endorsement." West's bright eyes stayed on Glitsky, waiting.

His mouth went up a fraction of an inch-a pass at a smile-and he shrugged. "I don't know him personally. If I can ask, what about him?"

"The latest version of the news I've seen named him as the police source. He's the inspecting officer on this case. I think he's a hog for press and he's already jumping to conclusions. I think he's the wrong man."

After a minute, Glitsky nodded. "Would you like me to talk to Lanier? Maybe he can assign Cuneo a partner, although I hear he likes to work alone."

"I've heard he can't keep a partner." Kathy West scratched at her blotter. "Actually, Abe," she said quietly, "before I asked you to come up here, I called Frank Batiste." This was the chief of police, Glitsky's boss, the man who'd promoted him. West's mention of his name in this context-low-key, to be sure-marked a change in the dynamic of things. "I asked Frank who, in his opinion, was the single best homicide inspector in the city, and he said it was you."

"I don't know about that," Glitsky said, "though of course I'm flattered. But I'm not in homicide anymore, as you know. They have good people down there."

West stared at him for a long moment. "Abe, I don't want to beat around the bush. I'd consider it a personal favor if you would agree to help investigate this case. Chief Batiste has agreed to assign someone else temporarily to your administrative duties, press conferences, public appearances and so on, during the interim. You've made no secret about how little you like that stuff. You'll enjoy the break."

"And what about Cuneo?"

"That's a police matter, Abe. I'm confident that between you, Frank and Lieutenant Lanier, you'll be able to come to some resolution there."

Glitsky looked out over the mayor's shoulder to the city beyond. Though it wasn't particularly warm in the room, he had broken a light sweat and wiped a sleeve across his forehead. "Ms. Mayor," he began.

"Abe, please." She held up a hand. "It was always Kathy at Lou the Greek's," she said. "It's still Kathy."

He had the permission, but that didn't tempt him to use it. Nodding, noncommittal, he drew a breath. "I was going to say that it's impossible to predict where an investigation is going to lead. I'm concerned that I won't find what you're looking for."

"But I'm not looking for anything," she said.

"Forgive me," he said, "but it very much sounds like you don't want me to find that Hanover killed anybody. Or himself."

"No, if that's what he did, then that's what you'll find. And I'll live with it. But what I want is somebody who'll really look. Somebody who won't go to the press on day one and say it looks like a murder/suicide, that it looks like Hanover killed his girlfriend."

Glitsky chewed at one side of his cheek. "All right, then. I need to ask you something else."

"Of course. Anything."

"What was your relationship with him? Hanover?" The mayor's eyes closed down. "He was a friend and a donor to my campaign." "Nothing more?"

She straightened her back. "What are you implying?"

"I'm implying nothing. I'm asking. Call it the start of my investigation."

"All right, I will, and I'll give you the same answer. He was a friend and contributor. Nothing more."

"All right."

West cocked her head to one side. "You don't believe me?"

"If you say it, I believe you, but you've got lots of friends and lots of contributors. Your interest in how one of them is remembered after his death seems a little… unusual."

West scratched again at her blotter. "That's not it, how people remember him," she said. "Or rather not all of it. Maybe it's a corollary." She took a minute. "What I'm getting at," she said, "is if he didn't do it, somebody else did-killed him, I mean."

"Don't you think that would probably have been the girlfriend, Missy? I'm assuming from what I've heard that she was the other body."

"If she was, then, all right. At least we'll know for sure. At least someone would have really investigated, and Paul deserves that." She lowered her voice, narrowed her eyes. "I want to be satisfied that whoever killed him is either dead or caught. Call it simple revenge, but I liked the man and I don't buy that he killed himself or anybody else. And okay, maybe it was this Missy, but if it wasn't…"

Glitsky jumped. "Is there any reason you think it might not have been?"

"Like what?"

"I don't know. Business problems, family issues, something you'd got wind of?"

"No. But I'd be more comfortable if the various possibilities got eliminated." She turned a palm up. "So how about it, Abe? You want to help give a tired old lady some peace of mind?"

It wasn't really a request. West seemed about as tired as a hummingbird, as old as a schoolgirl. Glitsky had no choice. He gave her a salute. "It would be my pleasure," he said.

As a deputy chief, Glitsky had a city car and a driver- Sergeant Tom Paganucci-assigned to him for his personal use. Paganucci, humorless, taciturn and loyal, suited Glitsky well. He did not make suggestions or offer opinions, and only asked questions related to his work, though he would answer them on other topics if Glitsky asked him directly. He started no conversations at all, but waited for orders that, once given, he obeyed with what seemed to be a complete commitment of his body and soul.

He was forty-three years old, heavily built, cleanshaven, prematurely gray. Because he'd asked on their first day together, Glitsky knew that his driver was married and childless, but that was the extent of his knowledge of Paganucci's personal life, except he was reasonably certain that he didn't do stand-up comedy on his nights off.

Paganucci had kept the car running where he'd left his boss off a half hour before, out in the street in front of City Hall, and now Glitsky slid into the backseat. He closed the door after him and leaned back for an instant into the comfortable black leather. He looked at his watch-11:50. "Do you think the chief's in, Tom?"

Paganucci reached for his intercom. "I'll call."

"No, wait. What am I going to say to him anyway?" Glitsky didn't want an answer from Paganucci and wasn't going to get one in any event. He let out an audible breath. "All right," he said, "let's go."

"Yes, sir. Where to?"

"Alamo Square."

Paganucci put the car in gear and they started to roll.

"He was here 'til they bagged the bodies, sir," Becker said. "Then I guess he went home to get some sleep." They were standing outside on the concrete steps, where Becker had come out in response to Glitsky's hail.

"What about you?" Glitsky asked.

"What about me?"

"And sleep."

The firefighter chortled. "Not a priority. Not 'til I'm satisfied here anyway."

"And you're not?"

"I've got a pretty good basic idea, but I'd be more comfortable if I had more answers." "Like what?"

Becker shrugged. "Like multiple flash sights. The place went up so quick and thorough, it looks like somebody knew exactly what they were doing." He motioned behind him at the charred remains of the house. "But we've only got the one spot. You want to go in, take a look?" Without waiting for an answer, he led the way through the still-standing front doorway. Some of the ceiling above the lobby was intact, but with the fog burned off, the day was bright with sunshine and there was sufficient natural light to see clearly.

Glitsky squatted over an area of rug that appeared less scorched than its surroundings. There was another, similar spot about eight feet farther into the lobby, at the entrance to what might once have been a hallway. "This is where you found them?"

"Yeah. Plus, it's where the fire started. Get down and you can still smell the gasoline."

Glitsky leaned over and inhaled, but couldn't smell anything except fire. "You've probably gone through all this with Cuneo, but I'd be grateful if you ran it by me one more time. The mayor's personally interested. She was friends with Mr. Hanover. I'd like to sound reasonably intelligent when I brief her. I'm assuming it was Hanover?"

"That's the assumption, although Strout makes the formal call. But whoever it was-call him Hanover-he fell on his wallet so it didn't burn completely. It had Hanover's driver's license in it, so it looks good for him." "What about the other body?"

"No way to tell. Your man Cuneo seemed to think it was probably his girlfriend." "You don't agree?"

"I don't know. There was nothing to identify her. It could have been." Becker spoke with little inflection. He was assembling the facts and would share what he knew with any other investigating officials without any particular emphasis. "I can say it was probably a woman-we found what might be a bra strap under her-but that's all I'd be comfortable with for the time being. Again, Strout'll tell us soon enough."

"So what does it look like we have here? The news said murder/suicide."

Becker nodded. "Might have been."

"So you've seen this kind of thing before? Where somebody kills a partner, then himself, but before he does himself, he lights the place up?"

"Sure. It's not uncommon." He seemed to consider whether to say more for a moment, then shrugged as though apologizing. "The relationship goes bad, somebody wants to destroy every sign of it."

"Any sign that this relationship was going bad?"

Becker's eyes scanned the floor area. "You mean besides this? Maybe. Cuneo talked to Hanover's daughter-in-law."

"When did he do that?"

"She saw the fire on the news and came by here last night. Seems this Missy had just finished redecorating this place to the tune of maybe a million dollars of Hanover's money. Maybe he wanted to leave a message that it all meant nothing to him. But I will tell you one thing."

"What's that?"

"It wasn't her."

"What do you mean? What wasn't her?"

"She didn't do the killing. I told Cuneo, too. This might not be any kind of a proof that you could use in court, but if it's a relationship gone bad, there's two things here. First, if she does it, it goes down in the bedroom, maybe even in the bed."

"Why's that?"

"Because that's the center of the woman's life." He held up a hand. "I know, I know, it's not PC, and people will tell you it's bullshit, but you ask anybody who's spent time at this kind of scene, they'll tell you. If it's a crime of passion and it's not done in the bedroom, it's not the woman."

"Okay," Glitsky said. "What's the second thing?"

"I'm afraid it's another non-PC moment."

"I can handle it," Glitsky said. "What?"

"Women don't shoot themselves very often to begin with. And if they do, it's not in the head. They won't disfigure themselves. It just doesn't happen."

Suddenly Glitsky thought back to the suicide of Lo-retta Wager, the former senator from California who had been his lover and the mother of his daughter Elaine. She had shot herself in the heart. Becker was right, he thought. These were both indefensible sexist generalizations that no doubt would collapse under rigorous debate. That did not stop them, however, from being potentially-even probably-true.

"So you think it was Hanover?"

"I don't know. Cuneo seemed to take it as a working theory. The gun was kind of under him."

"What do you mean, kind of?"

"Well, here, you can see." Becker reached into his inside pocket and withdrew a stack of photographs. "My partner brought these over to the photo lab as soon as they opened. They made two copies and I gave Cuneo the other, but I've still got the negatives if you want a set." Shuffling through them, he got the one he wanted. "Here you go."

Glitsky studied the grainy picture-shadows in darkness. It was a close-up of something he couldn't recognize at first glance.

Becker helped him out, reaching over. "That's the body there along the top, and the end of the arm-the hand became disattached. But you can see there, up against the body, that's the gun."

"So not exactly under him?"

"No. Just like you see there. Kind of against the side and tucked in a little."

"And he was the one in the back here, by the hall? Beyond where the woman was?"

"Yeah," Becker said. "What are you thinking?" "I'm just wondering, if they had hoses going in here… "

"For a while."

"Okay. I'm just thinking maybe the gun was on the rug and the force of the hose hitting it pushed it back against him. Tucked under, as you say."

Becker didn't seem offended by the suggestion. "No, I don't suppose we can rule that out. But it's not the most obvious explanation for how the gun got there."

Glitsky scratched at his cheek. Becker had been up front with him about his and Cuneo's investigation. Although it hadn't been his original plan, he saw no reason now to try and conceal his motive. "Well, as I said, Hanover was a friend of the mayor. She doesn't like the idea that he killed himself, to say nothing of his girlfriend. She asked me to take a look."

Bemused, Becker stood still a moment, shaking his head. Finally: "If that's what you've got to do, I wouldn't want to have your job."

Nodding, Glitsky said, "Sometimes I'm not too sure I want it either."

3

Dismas Hardy, managing partner of the law firm of Freeman, Farrell, Hardy & Roake, had his feet up on his desk. His suit coat hung over the back of his chair. His shoes were off, his tie was undone, the collar of his shirt unbuttoned. He was taking an after-lunch break from a not-very-strenuous day and reading randomly from a book he'd recently purchased, called Schott's Original Miscellany.

Being a fact freak, Hardy considered it one of the most fascinating books he'd come across in recent years, containing as it did all sorts of nonessential but critical information, such as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria), the ten-point Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness (from talc to diamond), the names of the Apostles, and 154 pages

of other very cool stuff. He was somewhat disappointed to see that for some obscure reason it didn't include St. Dismas as the Patron Saint of Thieves and Murderers, but otherwise the diminutive tome was a pure delight, and certainly worthy of his nonbillable time.

He was poring over the Degrees of Freemasonry when the phone buzzed at his elbow. He marked his place, sighed and lifted the receiver, knowing from the blinking line button that it was his receptionist/secretary, Phyllis, the superefficient, loyal, hardworking and absolutely trying human being who viewed her role as gatekeeper to his office as a vocation decreed by God. She'd filled the same position for Hardy's predecessor, David Freeman, and was no more replaceable as a fixture in the Sutter Street law offices than the phones themselves.

"Phyllis," he said. "Did I ask you to hold my calls?"

He loved that he could make her pause. Mostly he did this by answering with a nonlawyerly "Yo," but sometimes, for variety's sake, he'd come at her from another angle. Yahoo, living large.

"Sir?"

"I'm not accusing you. I'm just asking."

"I don't think so."

"Okay, then. What's up?"

"Deputy Chief Glitsky is here to see you."

"In person?"

"Yes, sir."

"Make a note, Phyllis. I need a back door to sneak out of here."

"Yes, sir."

"That was a pleasantry, Phyllis, a bit of a joke. You can send him in."

He mouthed "Yes, sir," as she said it, then hung up smiling. Sometimes it worried him that Phyllis was among the top sources of humor in his life. It seemed to say something truly pathetic about the person he'd become, but he couldn't deny it. Leaving his stockinged feet on the desk where they would appall his friend Abe almost as much as the sight would scandalize Phyllis, he waited for the turn of the knob and Glitsky's appearance.

One step into Hardy's office, Glitsky stopped. His expression grew pained at the socks on the desk. Hardy left his feet where they were and started right in. "I'm glad you came by. We've really got to join the Masons," he said. "You know that?"

Glitsky closed the door behind him. "You're going to wait until I ask you why, aren't you?"

"No." Hardy closed the book. "No, if you don't want to know, that's okay with me. Although I know you pretty well, and it's definitely something you'd be totally into. But I don't push my brilliant ideas. It was just a thought."

Glitsky hesitated another second or two, then sighed audibly. "What are the Masons anyway?"

"A secret organization. George Washington was in it, I think. But if it was that secret, how would anybody know?"

"I was just thinking the same thing."

"See? Great minds."

Glitsky moved over to the wet-bar area and felt the side of the water-heating pot that Hardy kept there. He grabbed his usual mug, picked up a tea bag from an open bowl of them and poured hot water over it. Turning, blowing over the drink, he took in the spacious office. "I should go into some kind of private business. Here you are, the middle of the afternoon, feet up, reading, no work in sight. Your life is far better than mine."

"That's because I'm a better person than you are. But I might point out that you are here, too, in the very same place as me, working about as hard, and drinking my good tea for free on top of it all. Qualitatively, there isn't much between our relative experiences at this particular moment, and one could argue that your life is in some respects as good as mine."

"If one lived to argue." Glitsky got to the armchair in front of Hardy's desk and settled in. "I still want a better office." He blew on the tea again. "Okay," he said, "why do we need to be Masons?"

"Ha!" Hardy's feet flew off the desk as he came forward. "I knew you'd ask."

Glitsky gave him the dead eye. "If I didn't ask, we'd never leave it. So why?"

Hardy opened the book to the place he'd marked. "Because if we stayed at it long enough, you could get to be the Sovereign Grand Inspector General, and I could be either Prince of the Tabernacle or Chevalier of the Brazen Serpent." He paused a moment, frowned. "Either way, though, you'd outrank me, so that couldn't be right."

"How long would all this take?" Glitsky asked.

Hardy nodded ambiguously. "You're right," he said, and closed the book with a flourish. "So what brings your sunny personality here today? What did the mayor want?"

Glitsky brought him up-to-date, keeping the punch line for last. "The original inspecting officer-the one I'm supposed to work with or replace-is Dan Cuneo."

Hardy's expression hardened, his head canted to one side. "So replace him."

"That's not a good idea. He'd see something personal in it."

"He'd be right."

"My point, exactly. Can't replace him."

Hardy drew in a breath, then let it out. "These past couple of years, I kept hoping to hear he'd been busted out of homicide."

"Not happening. If you're a certain type of cop, homicide's a terminal appointment."

"Not for you it wasn't."

"No. But unlike Cuneo, I'm born for greatness." The banter fell flat, though, and Glitsky's face reassumed its natural scowl.

"I don't like him anywhere near either of us," Hardy said after a short silence.

"Do tell. Me? I'm thrilled."

Getting up, crossing to the Sutter Street window,

Hardy pulled the shades apart and looked down through them. "And you've got to work with him?"

"I don't see how I can avoid it."

Hardy kept staring out, down at the street. "You can't say a word, Abe. Not one word."

"Oh really?" A hint of anger, or frustration, breaking through.

"Hey." Hardy, catching the tone, spun around. "You work with a guy every day, you know he suspects you of something-I don't care what it is-you might get so you want to get along, try to make him understand."

"Sure, that's what I'll do. I'll say, 'Uh, Dan, about the Gerson thing…' " Lieutenant Barry Gerson had been Cuneo's boss, and he'd been killed at a shoot-out in the course of trying to arrest one of Hardy's clients. In the aftermath, Cuneo pushed for an investigation into the role that Hardy and Glitsky had played in Gerson's death.

"I'm just saying…"

"I know. That I'll be tempted to reason with him, tell him Gerson was dirty and it was pure self-defense, we had no choice." He shook his head at the absurdity of the idea. "You have my word I won't go there."

Hardy came back and boosted himself onto his desk. "Even if you don't, though, you're back on his radar. He might remember what he forgot to keep up on."

"Forget nothing. There wasn't any evidence, thank God, and he got ordered off."

"I remember, but he needs to stay off. For both our sakes. And working with you is going to bring up old memories. That's all I'm saying."

"I was aware of that even before I came in here, believe it or not. If you have any ideas, I'm listening, but otherwise the mayor's ordered me to work with the guy. What do you want me to do, quit?"

Hardy brightened. "It's a thought."

"Great. Let me just borrow your phone and I'll call Treya and let her know." He stood up and went to pull some darts from the board. Turning back with them, he shrugged. "I've kept a close eye on him, as you might guess. The plain fact-and good news for us-is that he's careless and sloppy. This morning's an example. He's at Hanover's fifteen minutes and tells the press it's murder/suicide."

"So it's not?"

"I don't know. I've got a couple of questions. I don't see Hanover burning down his house, for one big one. He just shoots the woman, stands there a minute, then does himself, okay, that flies. But Becker, the arson inspector out there, he says it looks like he did her, then in no particular order after that poured gasoline on her, wadded up a bunch of newspapers, and opened the lower-floor windows and at least one in the back on the top floor for ventilation. After all that, he goes back to where she's lying in the lobby, starts the fire, then shoots himself."

"That does sound complicated," Hardy said. Glitsky nodded. "At least. Did you know him?"

"Hanover? Slightly, to look at. I met him a couple of times, but never faced him in court. I can't say he made a huge impression."

"Kathy West wouldn't agree."

Hardy broke a small grin. "He gave Kathy West a lot of money, Abe. If he gave me a lot of money, I'd remember him better, too." Pushing himself off his desk, he took the darts from Glitsky, threw one of them. "You know, here's a real idea, and you won't have to quit. Use the opportunity to mend fences with Cuneo. He tells the media it looks like a murder/suicide, you back him up, say he did a fine job. Everybody wins."

"Everybody but Kathy. But that's what I will do if that's what it turns out to be. In the meantime, Cuneo's going to resent me being involved at all, I guarantee it. That's my real problem. It's going to look like I'm checking up on his work."

"That's what you are doing."

Glitsky sat back down, elbows on his knees, hung his head and shook it from side to side. Finally, he looked back up. "I've got to talk to him," he said.

4

Glitsky got Cuneo's extension at work and, calling from his car phone, left a message that they needed to talk. He was going to make every effort to be both conciliatory and cooperative. They would be in this investigation together, and would share information both with each other and with the arson inspectors-a mini task force. But Cuneo wasn't scheduled to be back on duty until six o'clock. And Glitsky, who preferred murder investigations to all other forms of police work, thought he might spend some useful time long before that with the city's medical examiner.

John Strout worked on the ground floor behind the Hall of Justice, in the morgue and its accompanying rooms. When Glitsky got there, somebody in the outer office buzzed him inside and he crossed through the clerical desks and knocked at Strout's door. Getting no answer, he turned the knob, stuck his head in.

Behind him, one of the clerks said, "He's probably in the cold room."

Glitsky nodded his acknowledgment and kept going, closing the door behind him. The office was good-sized by city bureaucratic standards, perhaps twenty by thirty feet, with a large, wide window facing the freeway on the end behind Strout's desk. During his dozen years as head of the homicide detail, Glitsky would have occasion to come down here several times a month-certainly at least once a week. But now, struck by an unfamiliar clutter, he stopped in the middle of the office and suddenly realized that it had probably been close to five years since he'd set foot down here. Or since he'd had any substantive discussion with the good doctor.

In the interim, he noticed, Strout had continued to indulge his proclivity for the bizarre, if not to say macabre. He'd always kept a couple of shelves of unusual murder weapons-a bayonet, two different fire pokers, a baseball bat, an impact shotgun intended for sharks-and medieval torture implements out on display. But now he'd acquired what looked to Glitsky like a small museum. The centerpiece was an ancient garroting chair-complete with its red silk scarf for ease of strangulation (or maximum pain) hanging from the beam in the back-that he'd given pride of place directly in front of his desk. A large glass-enclosed case featured an impressive collection of knives and other cutting and slashing implements, brass knuckles and spiked gloves. One whole side of his desk was covered with hand grenades and other apparent incendiary and explosive devices of different design and vintage. Strout had the obligatory skeleton, of course, but instead of its old place standing next to the morgue cold room entrance, the bones now sat in an easy chair, legs crossed comfortably, apparently enjoying a volume of the Compendium of Drug Therapy.

Suddenly the door to the cold room opened. Strout, long and lean, still in his white lab coat, albeit smudged with black and reddish brown, broke a genuine smile. "Doctuh Glitsky." He spoke with a familiar baritone drawl, bending from the waist in a courtly bow. "It's been a hound's age."

Glitsky extended a hand. "How are you, John?"

"Old and in the way, if you must know. But if they're fool enough to let me keep on doing what I do down here, I'm fool enough to let 'em." Strout was a few years on the other side of retirement age, but showed little sign of slowing. He looked Glitsky up and down. "But God, man, y'all are looking fit. Anybody tell you you're supposed to start showing your age sometime? It's like to give the rest of us a bad name."

"I've got a new young wife, John. If I get to looking old, she'll leave me, and then I'd have to go and kill her."

"Well, wouldn't want that. So what can I do for you? I'm assuming this isn't strictly a social visit." "I'm doing some work on the fire last night." "Paul Hanover?" "It is him, then?"

Strout took a second, then nodded. "Odds are. Wallet says he was. I can't tell from the body itself, and nobody else could neither, but I've already called his dentist and we'll know for sure by the end of the day." He went over to his desk, brushed some grenades out of the way and leaned against it.

Glitsky sat on the garrote.

"You want," Strout said, "you can move Chester." He pointed to the skeleton. "He's got the comfortable seat."

"This is fine," Glitsky said. "What about the woman?"

Strout folded his arms, lifted his shoulders. "First, it definitely was a woman. I couldn't be sure 'til I got her on the table. Crisped up terrible."

"That's what I heard. Gasoline?"

"Something hot. If they think it's gas, I believe 'em. From the damage, my guess is she was on fire a good ten, fifteen minutes longer than Hanover."

"And any ID on her?"

Strout shook his head. "Nothin' on the body. Nothin' under the body. Some witness said it might be Hanover's girlfriend…" He turned and started to sort through a wire basket full of paper on the desk next to him.

Glitsky beat him to the name. "Missy D'Amiens."

"Yeah, that's it. Lived with him, right?"

"That's what I hear. Evidently they were having problems, though. She was remodeling the place, spending too much money."

"Remodeling. Well, that explains it." Strout let out a brief chuckle. "Closest my wife and me ever came to splittin' up. We redid a couple of rooms in the house back maybe ten years ago. S'posed to take two months. Went on over a year. Finally, I just moved down here- slept in Chester's spot there 'til it was finally over. If I'd stayed around, I mighta killed her, too. After I killed the contractor, of course. Son of a bitch."

"So that's your take, John? Hanover killed her?"

"No, no, no. I got no take on that, Abe. All I can tell you is they both died of gunshot wounds to the head."

"Any indication of who shot who? If it was either one of them at all."

"I'd say the man."

"Why's that?"

"The entry wound on the woman was high occipital…" Catching himself, he continued in layman's English. "High up on the very back. She didn't shoot herself back up there."

"What about the man?"

"Just over the right ear. Good a spot as any."

Glitsky sat still for a moment, elbows on his knees. The mayor wasn't going to like this news. "Could it have been somebody else?"

"Sure. But no way for me to tell. They would have had to have got out in a hurry, but nothin' on the bodies rules that out."

Glitsky nodded. "And I'm assuming you're getting dentals on the woman, too."

"Well, we got the teeth. Problem is, we don't know who her dentist was."

"It's funny you should ask that."

Catherine Hanover said that he hadn't awakened her with the phone call, but he wasn't sure he believed her. When he'd identified himself and asked her permission to record the call as soon as she picked up, her voice sounded hoarse, slightly groggy. Now she cleared her throat again before continuing.

"We both had the same dentist, Dr. Yamashiru. His first name is Toshio." She spelled both names out. "On Webster, between Union and Green. She had some problems with her teeth and didn't know anyone locally, so she asked me who I went to."

"So you two were close?"

"No, not really. I was the body standing nearest to her when the question came up."

"So where did she come from before here?"

"That was always a little vague. She had a French accent, but she spoke English very well. But where she came from didn't matter. She had him wrapped… I'm sorry. What did you say your name was?"

"Glitsky. Deputy Chief Glitsky. I'm working this case with Dan Cuneo, whom I believe you met last night."

"Yes, I remember him."

Glitsky found the response slightly off-key. "Did you have a problem with Inspector Cuneo?"

"No, not really. I told him I thought it was Missy and Paul in there."

"And about the renovation?"

"Yes." The stress in the voice was clear now. Something about Cuneo's interview with her had been troubling. "That, too," she said.

"That they were having some troubles?"

"Yes."

"About the money she spent?"

Another small silence. Then, "I'm sorry, Inspector, but did you say you'd talked to Inspector Cuneo, too?"

"No, not yet. I've got a call in to him, but the arson inspector gave me your name and I had some questions I wanted to go over. Inspector Cuneo will be back on tonight if you'd be more comfortable talking with him."

"No!"

Glitsky imagined her jumping in alarm at the suggestion.

She covered her reaction with a brush of nervous laughter. "I mean, no. I don't care who I talk to. If I've got any information you might need, ask away."

"All right. You told Inspector Cuneo that Mr. Hanover and Missy had been fighting over the amount she'd spent on renovations to his house. Is that right?"

"Yes. It was obscene, really. Something like a million dollars. But that was Missy, although she fooled us at first. Well, tried to."

"Fooled you in what way?"

"In the way that attractive younger women fool older men."

"You're saying that she was after your father-in-law's money?"

"Not just after it. She got a lot of it, Inspector. You should have seen the engagement ring. The hundred-thousand-dollar trophy rock, we called it. I mean, it was just way over the top. And that didn't include the clothes and the car and…"

"But obviously Mr. Hanover gave her all this willingly."

"Oh yes. According to him, she was always wonderful to him. Sweet, loving, understanding. Although you should have seen her when Mary-my sister-in-law?- mentioned that maybe she was going a little overboard on the house." Catherine Hanover paused. "Oh, listen to me. You know, I really don't want to speak ill of the dead, but it was so obvious that she was a gold digger-very subtle and very patient-although Paul wouldn't even hear of that, of course. We couldn't even bring up that he might at least consider that possibility, get a prenup, something. But he wouldn't go there. He loved her. She was the love of his life, and he was just so blessed that he'd found her. Pardon me, but puke."

"So you didn't believe her?"

"None of us did."

"And who's that, all of you?"

"The family. Paul's daughters, Mary and Beth, my husband, Will. The kids."

Taking the opportunity to get some details on the extended family, Glitsky wrote down names, addresses and telephone numbers. "But none of them came to the fire last night?"

"None of them knew about it until today, or way late. When I got back, maybe one o'clock, I called Mary and Beth but got their machines. My husband has been on a fishing trip off the coast of Mexico for the past three days-I still haven't gotten to him, though he's due back in tomorrow. He's going to be devastated about his father, although maybe a bit relieved at the same time."

Glitsky, speaking on his office telephone, shifted his weight to get more comfortable. Catherine Hanover was turning out to be the often sought but rarely encountered mother lode of witnesses, effortlessly providing him with facts, people, rumor and innuendo, context. "Why would he be relieved?" he asked.

"Well, I don't mean really relieved. That might be too strong. But it's no secret that we were all of us a little concerned about what would happen after Missy and Paul actually got married. I mean, Will is an architect and we do all right, but none of us have had Paul's incredible financial success."

"You were counting on an inheritance?"

"That sounds so cold-blooded. I don't know if saying we were counting on it is really accurate-we all loved Paul and wanted him to live forever-but let's face it, he was worth a fortune. That money had been sitting there as a possibility for us for so long, let's just say that it was a bit of an adjustment after he started talking about marrying Missy, thinking it wouldn't be there anymore. And now, suddenly, here it is again. This sounds so terrible, doesn't it? I never even thought about the money until this morning, really, but then once I realized…" She stopped, sighed into the receiver. "It's terrible to talk like this," she said. "I'm sorry."

Glitsky said, "It's natural enough."

But Catherine couldn't drop the topic. "It's just that there really was such a dramatic change after he started seeing her. I mean, until Missy came along, Paul used to help with all the kids' tuitions. And we'd all go to Maui for Christmas every year. All of us, the whole extended family, for a week at Napili Kai. Stuff like that. To say nothing of college coming up for all eight of the grand-kids. I really shouldn't say it's a relief, but…" Again, she trailed off.

Glitsky wanted to keep her talking. "So Missy lived with your father-in-law full-time?"

"Mostly, I think, yes. For about the last two years."

"And do you know any of her friends from before she met him?"

"No. After she met Paul, there weren't any other friends. He was her full-time job."

Glitsky made a note that he'd need to follow up on the friends of Missy D'Amiens if the investigation widened. Although for the moment it appeared that, if anything, it had narrowed down to the obvious original theory. Certainly Catherine Hanover's breezy admission of what might under other circumstances be considered a reasonable motive for murder-a large inheritance-argued against her own involvement in any foul play. He would of course verify the whereabouts of her husband and his two sisters last night, but for the moment it looked like Kathy West would remain disappointed in her benefactor and political ally.

But that moment abruptly came to an end during the next exchange.

"Can I ask you something, Inspector?"

"Sure."

"The arson inspector thought they both might have been shot. Have you found out if that's true?" "Yes. It is."

"So they were murdered?"

"Yes, ma'am. Or maybe one of them killed the other, and then himself." "Or herself."

"Maybe," Glitsky said. Although he found them compelling and consistent with his own experience, he wasn't going to get into a discussion of Inspector Becker's theories on why, in a scenario like this one, it probably wasn't the woman.

"But you think it was Paul?"

"I don't know." He was silent for a minute, then realized that the details would undoubtedly be in the paper tomorrow, possibly on the television in a couple of hours. He wouldn't be giving anything away. "The location of the woman's wound indicated that she didn't kill herself. It was up behind her head. Probably not self-inflicted." "And what about Paul's?"

Glitsky let out a breath. "About where you'd expect in a suicide. Just over the right ear."

Another short silence. Then Catherine Hanover said, "Wait a minute. The right ear?"

"Yes."

"You're sure?"

"The medical examiner was, and he usually gets it right."

"I think maybe you ought to go back and double-check."

"Why?"

"Because-I thought everybody knew this, but-Paul had polio back in the early fifties. His right arm was paralyzed. It was dead. He couldn't use it at all."

Glitsky caught up to Kathy West as she pursued a photo op out of the newly refurbished, utilitarian, yet lovely again Ferry Building at the bay, the eastern end of Market Street. The sun, dusk-bound, had just slipped under the blanket of coastal fog that came to cover the city at its western edge at this time of day, at this time of year. In late spring and early summer, San Francisco bore a marked climatic resemblance to Newfoundland. It was still nowhere near the evening proper, although what had only moments before been a shining, sparkling, even inspiringly welcoming downtown suddenly lost its direct sunlight and turned quite cold. Now gusts of the chill early-evening breeze flung open the jackets of businessmen, rearranged the hairstyles of women. Newspapers and food wrappers swirled in the eddies of alleyways and skyscapers.

The mayor's office told Glitsky that he'd find her somewhere along Market if he missed her at the Ferry Building, but he should try there first. He had Paganucci drop him out front and walked head down, hands deep in his pockets, until he got himself out of the wind and inside. Her honor and the press entourage surrounding her were just coming out of Book Passage, where she'd "spontaneously" picked up a couple of novels, three cookbooks, a handful of musical CDs, Don Novello's latest humor and a travel guide to Italy-all of it written and /or performed by San Franciscans.

Glitsky was standing to the side, listening with some skepticism while West talked to the assembled reporters, extolling the virtues of the city, its ongoing importance as a mecca of creativity and art, as these many eclectic works so amply illustrated. A bearded man in a wheelchair removed himself from the immediate group of a dozen or so reporters and photographers and rolled over next to him.

Glitsky knew Jeff Elliot well. A fellow alumnus, along with West and himself, of the DA's kitchen cabinet, Elliot wrote the Chronicle's "CityTalk" column. He suffered from multiple sclerosis, and Glitksy knew that he had recently had to abandon his sometime use of crutches for a full-time wheelchair.

"What are you doing here?" Elliot said.

"Some business with the mayor."

"Want to talk about it? See your name in the paper?"

"It's what I live for." Glitsky almost smiled. "Maybe later, if it turns out to be anything. Don't let me keep you from getting a quote about how artist-friendly the city is. You're not going to hear too many of them."

"Or none."

"Well, the mayor just said it, so it must be true."

"If it is, it's a major scoop." Elliot looked up at him. "You know any struggling artists that actually live here?"

"I hear a couple of homeless guys are tagging every inch of the Fourth Street freeway ramp."

"I don't think she's talking about them."

"She's talking about the city supporting artists. The only way it does that is if they're homeless first and artists second."

Elliot made no response, listened to the mayor for another minute. "It must just be me," he said.

"What?"

"Finding that this city is a bit of a challenge lately to survive in, much less thrive. And I shouldn't talk. I've got a good job. What if you're trying to do art? Can you imagine?"

"No. But the mayor says we're all open arms." " 'And Brutus is an honorable man.' "

Glitsky looked down at him. "If you say so, Jeff."

"That was Shakespeare. Antony's speech after they killed Caesar."

"I thought so," Glitsky said. "I was just going to say that." He brought his attention back to the mayor. "So why are you here? What's this about? It can't be the poor, struggling artists."

"No. Actually, it's an interesting idea. This is the first of Kathy's scheduled walking press conferences. You haven't read about them?"

"Nope."

"I've written about them twice now. The 'Neighborhood Strolls'?"

"Still nope."

"You're letting me down here, Abe."

"I'll give myself twenty lashes when I get home, if I ever do. So what are they about, these strolls?"

"Well, it's going to be in several different neighborhoods in the next weeks, but today she's walking Market from here to Van Ness."

"That's a good walk. Lots of wildlife."

"About twenty blocks worth."

Glitsky lowered his voice. "Is she nuts? Here to Van Ness? That's derelict central."

"Yes, it is. I believe she knows that."

"So she wants to see people peeing and worse in public fountains? Or selling dope on the street? And she's doing this because…"

"Because she wants people to know that she shares the same concerns for public safety, cleanliness and general civility as does the majority of the public."

Glitsky shook his head. "She's barking up the wrong tree, Jeff. The voters don't care about that. They care that we're compassionate and diverse and sensitive, but I don't see much sign of caring about public cleanliness."

"Well, there you go. But Kathy's idea is that by her witness to the decay in these areas, she's-and I believe I'm quoting here-'serving notice that fixing this historically blighted corridor through the heart of the city is going to become a priority for my administration, and a boon to the city in general.' "

"And how is this going to happen again? By her walking down it?"

"That's the theory. We report on the problems she encounters, awareness goes up, people see how bad some places are and stop tolerating them."

This time, Glitsky snorted quietly. "No, no. You've got it backwards. We need to tolerate them more because we don't understand them. 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.' Shakespeare again."

"Thank you, I guessed. Ah, she sees you."

Handing her shopping bag to one of her aides-she hadn't known Glitsky was going to be there, but she instinctively rose to a political moment when she saw one-she turned to the reporters, quite a decent crowd considering that there was no real story to cover. "Excuse me," she said. "I need to talk to the deputy chief."

In an instant she was at their side, greeting them both, asking Elliot if he could give them a moment. Glitsky lifted a hand in an ambiguous salute-he was either greeting Kathy or saying good-bye to Elliot. Or maybe both.

"I didn't mean to crash your party, Your Honor. If you're in the middle of something…"

"Abe. I told you this morning, it's Kathy. And no, this is fine. We can talk as we walk."

The two left the Ferry Building with the reporter contingent, including Jeff Elliot, hanging back a respectable distance. The first several blocks along Market, while congested with foot and automobile traffic, nevertheless were relatively clean and populated with people who worked downtown. It had very little of the urban blight that Kathy West was hoping to expose, so it left her free to talk with Glitsky as they walked. Hooking her hand in his arm, she set a brisk pace. "I'm surprised to see you so soon. I'm assuming this is about Paul Hanover. Do you have something?"

"Pretty much what you wanted," Glitsky said. "I've talked to John Strout and Hanover's daughter-in-law, and between them got convinced that there's very little chance he killed anybody, including himself." In a few words, he outlined what he'd discovered-the entry wound over the right ear, the other one in the back of the woman's head. "So really that's about it. He could only have shot himself by some awkward contortion that makes no sense, and she had the same problem. So it probably didn't happen that way."

"When the chief said you were good, Abe, he wasn't kidding, was he?"

"I'll take lucky over smart every time. I ran into the right people."

They had gotten down as far as Seventh Street, and now the mayor's eyes were flicking back and forth rapidly, scanning for the signs of urban decay that Glitsky knew would begin appearing any minute. But her mind hadn't left their topic. "So what happens now?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

"With the investigation?"

"Well, it continues, of course. Back with Inspector Cuneo, which is where it belongs."

A few more quick steps, and then she stopped abruptly. "This would be the same Inspector Cuneo who told the press this morning that this was a murder/suicide?"

Glitsky's lips went tight for a beat before he answered. "That's what it looked like to me, too, when I first got there."

"Yes, but you didn't tell anybody about it until you had more facts, did you?"

He showed her what he hoped would pass for a smile. "I've gotten a little more used to dealing with the media than your average inspector."

"Be that as it may, Abe, the fact remains that you've made real progress in half a day, and Inspector Cuneo hasn't been any part of it."

"That's not strictly accurate. He talked to Hanover's daughter-in-law first last night…"

"But managed not to learn that Paul had a withered arm."

"He didn't know where the entry wound was, so he wouldn't have known why that mattered."

"Precisely. When he could have shown some initiative and gone to the morgue with the body. Isn't that the case?"

Glitsky could only shrug. "Maybe he should have done that."

"You would have."

This was true, but Glitsky shrugged it off again. "Well, either way," he said, "we've got a good idea that Mr. Hanover didn't do anything wrong. That's what you wanted this morning."

She fixed him with that avian intensity. "But unfortunately, that's no longer the point."

Glitsky waited.

"The point, Abe, is that we now know that Paul was murdered, don't we? And you don't think it was the girlfriend, Missy. Which means they were both murdered by someone else. And that being the case, do you think I have any confidence at all that Inspector Cuneo will be more successful catching the person who killed one of my close friends and benefactors than he was identifying the cause or manner of death in the first place? You don't have to struggle with it. The answer is no."

The gaggle of reporters following them had stopped when they did, and now out of the corner of his eye, Glitsky thought he picked up an increasing awareness among some of them, including Jeff Elliot, that something significant might be transpiring here right in front of them between the deputy chief of inspectors and the mayor. He considered that the time might be propitious to try to get some mileage out of West's insistence that the two of them were really, basically, friends. He stepped closer to her, strove for a casual tone. "He couldn't keep his job in homicide if he wasn't effective, Kathy. Lanier would have lateralled him out."

"Abe." West wasn't having it. "Help me out here. I understand a little bit about politics, and I see your concerns. If it makes it easier for you, you can let Inspector Cuneo remain on the case in some capacity, but I'd count it as a personal favor if you stayed on with it, too. Whoever killed Paul Hanover isn't going to get away with it on my watch if I can help it, and you're the best man to see that he doesn't." She reached out and put a hand on his arm, looked up into his face. "Abe. Please. For me."

Glitsky glanced at the reporters, a couple of whom had already snapped some photos. This was turning into too visible a moment, laden with intrigue and import. It had to end or it would grow and become a real event, and he wanted to avoid that at all costs. At last, coming back to her, he patted West's hand in a fraternal gesture and nodded. "All right, Kathy," he said. "Let me see what I can do."

5

Cuneo lived alone on what had formerly been the grounds of the Alameda Naval Air Station, across the bay from San Francisco. The nine-hundred-square-foot standalone building, which back in the fifties had housed a marine engine repair shop, sat perched on a concrete slab that jutted out ten feet into the channel. All day, every day, flotillas of mostly small saltwater craft glided by his bedroom window, sometimes close enough to touch. The ferry to San Francisco passed every hour or so, too, as well as the occasional Coast Guard or naval vessel.

After six hours of fitful sleep, Cuneo-dreaming of fire-started awake at twenty minutes after four in the afternoon. Tangled up in his blankets, he was breathing hard and sweating. Throwing and kicking the covers off, he shot up to sitting and looked from side to side, getting his bearings. The smoke smell was real enough, all-pervasive in the small house. He let his breathing slow

down, the tendrils of his nightmare still clutching at his psyche.

For another minute or so, he sat as he almost never did, in absolute stillness. He wore only his Jockeys, but the stench of last night's smoke still clung to his skin. At last, unconsciously, he lifted the heel of his right foot, let it fall, lifted it again. In seconds, still unaware, he was tapping a steady rhythm on the concrete floor.

Next to the bedroom on the water in the back, a tiny, low-ceilinged workroom huddled to one side of the house. Going forward, the kitchen and bathroom divided the central segment of the building two-thirds to one, and after putting some water on to boil, Cuneo stopped in at the bathroom for a shower, mostly to get the smell off him. When he was done, wearing his towel, he made some Nescafe-two spoons of crystals, no sugar or cream, and went back to put on his clothes.

Up in the front of the house, a relatively spacious living room provided two front and two side windows that gave the space an open feel and plenty of light. A leather love seat sat against one wall, a small teak bookshelf and television stand on the other. By far the most immediately noticeable furnishing, though, was a full set of Lud-wig drums in the middle of the room. Cuneo didn't have any idea where his nearest neighbor's home might be, but it was at least out of earshot. He could play all day as loud as he wanted and nobody ever complained.

Three years ago, after his fellow inspector Lincoln Russell finally couldn't take partnering with him anymore,

Lieutenant Lanier had recommended that maybe he might want to see a psychologist-his insurance through the city would pay for the first three visits-and try to get some handle on why he couldn't ever sit still, or shut up. He would sing to himself driving to crime scenes, hum during interrogations, often break into unconscious song while he wrote up his reports in homicide. Maybe he had Tourette's syndrome, or Saint Vitus' dance or something, Lanier had suggested, and if he did, it would be better to at least know what he was dealing with.

As it turned out, he only saw the shrink-Adrienne Schwartz-professionally the three times that his insurance covered it, though they dated for six weeks or so after that until she started hinting that she was looking for some kind of commitment. The best thing she'd done for him was recommend that he buy the drums and take some lessons, and now he'd almost always start his day with a twenty-minute workout, getting it all moving by playing along with some CDs of the classic big band guys-Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Louis Bellson.

Today, though, he didn't do his full twenty. Ten minutes into it, in the middle of "Sing, Sing, Sing," he suddenly stopped, stood up, grabbed his jacket. The Hanover woman from last night was a real babe, and he'd picked up the definite sense that she and her husband weren't doing too well. She'd told him he was down in Mexico, fishing for a week, and it didn't seem to bother her too much. He didn't think he'd have too much to do with the murder/suicide-that appeared to be straightforward enough-but he'd want to be thorough, find out what he could. You never knew. The arson inspectors and their police counterparts would have a hundred or more names they'd picked up at the scene, and he'd want to find if any of those potential witnesses had seen anything that might be telling, might call the basic facts into question.

But first the Hanover woman again. See how she was handling the tragedy. If she was lonely. Or horny.

One of the benefits of working nights was commuting against the traffic. Cuneo checked in at the Hall of Justice within twenty minutes of walking out his front door. Up in the homicide detail, Lanier wasn't in his office, and the other four inspectors still at work said hello from their desks and then cordially ignored him. The usual assortment of housekeeping and other messages cluttered his voice mail-a snitch needing some cash to hold him over until he testified in court; another witness sounding very afraid about her upcoming testimony against her husband, who was in jail for murdering their mutual lover; a friendly notice from payroll that his overtime last pay period had exceeded the approved hours; another call that he was behind on his credit union payments; the arson guy, Becker, wondering how he wanted to arrange his pickup of last night's witness list; a woman he'd stopped seeing recently.

Barely audible to the other inspectors, he was humming the opening riff to "Satisfaction" over and over and over as he listened to the messages, writing notes and phone numbers on the pad he carried in his back pocket. Glitsky's was the last message and, hearing it, Cuneo went silent. He played the message again, aware that a flush of anger was rising to his face, but otherwise trying to keep his expression neutral. He threw a quick glance around the room, wondering if any of his colleagues might have heard something, if they were watching for his reaction. But no one was paying him any mind.

The recording told him that he'd finished with his last message, to press one if he'd like to hear it again, two if he'd like to save it, three to delete it. It told him the same thing all the way through again. When it started to tell him for a third time, he finally heard it and slowly replaced the receiver.

What the hell did this mean? The deputy chief of inspectors didn't just call and say, "Oh, by the way, I'll be working with you on your latest case." Cuneo had never heard of anything like it. He'd been without a partner for almost three years now and didn't think much about whether he was popular or not. He was under the impression he'd been doing a good job, making triable cases on five killers in the past eight months, had gotten the collars. It was much better than the average for the detail. Certainly it was the best stretch he'd ever enjoyed professionally.

But what else could this be about except that somebody was checking up on him and his work? And on this of all cases, which on the face of it appeared very close to a slam dunk. It had to mean that they were going to begin some kind of bullshit documentation for moving him out of homicide, maybe out of the PD altogether.

And why would Lanier or anybody else want to do that?

Sitting back in his chair, he began tattooing the arms of it with a steady, rapid beat. It couldn't be about his work product, he thought. If it was, Lanier was straight-shooter enough to have told him, even if it was true that he and Glitsky went way back, sometimes even saw each other socially. Cuneo wondered if his lieutenant even knew about the message Glitsky had left-if he did, he certainly would have given Cuneo some warning, or at least an explanation. This kind of thing just wasn't done. It wasn't right. More, it was an insult.

And then he stopped his drumming, took in a lungful of air and let it out slowly. Suddenly, with a crystal clarity, he realized what this was really about, what it had to be about.

And it wasn't his work.

Over the months and years since he'd started in homicide, Cuneo hadn't made much of a secret of his feelings for Glitsky. When he'd been a newcomer to the detail, still partnered with Russell, one of his first cases had concerned the shooting of an old man named Sam Silver-man, who ran a pawnshop a couple of blocks off Union Square. At that time, the head of homicide was Barry Gerson, and Glitsky-nominally a lieutenant-worked in a sergeant's position as supervisor of payroll. In the course of Cuneo's investigation into Silverman's death, this nobody Glitsky somehow insinuated himself into the detail's business-butting in, offering his advice, getting in the way. He'd once run homicide, and the unwelcome interference struck Cuneo, Russell and Gerson as a power play to get his old job back.

Eventually his investigation made it clear to Cuneo that Glitsky's other motive for his involvement in that case was to help out a defense attorney friend of his named Dismas Hardy, whose client, John Holiday, was the chief suspect in the killing. When Gerson finally went out to Pier 70 to arrest Holiday-Cuneo believed the event had to have been arranged by Hardy in some way-something went terribly wrong. Holiday, Gerson and three Patrol Specials that the lieutenant had brought with him as backup all wound up shot to death, the perpetrators never identified or, of course, apprehended.

Promoted to homicide lieutenant to fill Gerson's spot, Lanier had conducted the investigation into the incident. He had a talk with his longtime friend and colleague Glitsky and, no surprise, found nothing. Hardy had never left his office that day, either-ten witnesses there said so. There was no case against either of the men, although Cuneo in his heart of hearts continued to believe that somehow they'd both been involved. When he learned that Glitsky's alibi for the time in question was Hardy's law partner Gina Roake, his belief became near certainty.

But though he took his questions to Lanier and then, on his own and top secret, to Jerry Ranzetti with the Office of Management and Control, which investigated internal affairs, he couldn't get to anything approaching proof of wrongdoing. Ranzetti even told him that he'd run across issues-not exactly hewing strictly to the department's best interests-with both Glitsky and Hardy working together in at least one other previous case. But not only were both men extremely well connected-tight with the DA, some supervisors, the chief of police, even the mayor-but knowing the system intimately as they both did, they played it like maestros and made no mistakes. His interest piqued by Cuneo's theory, though, Ranzetti did nose around for a while on the Gerson killing-after all, this was a cop shooting, and so of the highest priority-but he hadn't been able to put either Glitsky or Hardy anywhere near the scene when the shootings had occurred.

Then, the next thing Cuneo knew, Frank Batiste became chief and Glitsky the payroll clerk got himself promoted over half the rest of the qualified lieutenants to deputy chief. He considered the appointment a travesty and wasn't particularly discreet about sharing his opinion with some of his fellow cops. Without a doubt, through Lanier or one of the other homicide people who'd heard him spouting off, Glitsky had heard of Cuneo's disapproval-to say nothing of his allegations of criminal complicity and cover-up.

Cuneo sat dead still, The Thinker, his elbow resting on his chair's arm, his chin in his hand. That's what Glitsky's phone message was really about-he was serving notice. Cuneo had trash-talked and then tried to backstab him, and Glitsky had found out. Now it was payback time.

Catherine Hanover lived in a small Moorish-style two-story stucco home in the Marina District, on Beach Street a block east of the Palace of Fine Arts. As was his wont when time didn't press, Cuneo parked within sight of the address she had given him last night and sat in his car, watching and getting a feel for the place while he drummed on the steering wheel.

What he saw was a low stucco fence that bounded a well-kept property at the sidewalk. The houses on either side were both noticeably larger, outsized for their lots. The Hanovers' front yard wasn't deep by any stretch, and a brace of mature trees canopied nearly all of it. He noted the black Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan parked in the driveway, and the lights upstairs behind what looked like a functional wooden-railed deck. This area of the city tended to get more sunshine than points farther west, and the low evening rays painted the entire neighborhood in a mellow gold.

Cuneo popped a breath mint, checked his hair in the mirror and opened the car door. A good breeze made him reach back in for his jacket.

The genes were good in the family, he thought. The teenage girl who answered the door might have been a face model. "Hi," she said. "Can I help you?" Well brought up, too.

He had his badge out, his polite smile on. "I'm Inspector Cuneo, San Francisco homicide. I was hoping to talk to your mother." He turned the wattage up on his smile. "I'm assuming Catherine Hanover is your mother?"

"You got it, every day. I'm Polly." She half turned. "Mom! There's a policeman out here to see you."

Over the young woman's shoulder, Catherine appeared from around a corner. She carried a dish towel and was wiping her hands with it. "Well, invite him in, then." As she came closer, he noticed a white streak of something high on her cheek. Her daughter saw it, too, and she took the towel and wiped off the offending stuff, whatever it was, and gave the towel back. A friendly look passed between mother and daughter; then Polly went back to wherever she'd been and Catherine, as lovely as he'd remembered, was standing in front of him. "Hello again," she said with some formality. She touched her cheek. "Flour," she said, "I'm making pasta. It gets everywhere, I'm afraid. Please, come in."

"Thank you." He was already inside, closing the door. "Did you say you were making pasta?"

"That's right."

"Not the sauce, the actual noodles?" She favored him with a smile. "The actual noodles. Do you like homemade noodles?"

"I don't believe I've ever had them."

"You should try. They're a lot of work, but worth it, I think." In the light of day, Catherine's face was nearly as perfect as her daughter's, rescued from mere cuteness by deeply set green eyes and a strong nose. A striking, mature face. "My children are so spoiled. They won't even eat store-bought anymore. It's got to be my own. Maybe I should be flattered." She twisted the towel, took in and let out a quick breath.

Cuneo was standing next to her and reached out his hand. He touched her arm as though commiserating somehow. She backed away a step. "Anyway, you're not here for that."

"No." He stayed close to her. "We like to come by and see how everybody's holding up. The day after is often worse for next of kin. Also, frankly, maybe things occur to you that might have gone right by in the emotion of the moment, like last night."

"Like what?"

"I don't know. Anything. Something your father-in-law might have been going through, or Missy said. Why he might have had a reason to kill her."

Her eyes narrowed and she cocked her head to one side. "What do you mean?"

"About what?"

"Well, you were just talking about why Paul might have wanted to kill Missy. I thought you had decided that that couldn't have happened. You, the police, I mean. That's what the other inspector told me, anyway."

"The other inspector? Glitsky?"

"That's it. Glitsky."

"You talked to him already?"

"Yes. He called a few hours ago. We talked for about fifteen minutes. I would have thought you two would have communicated together. Haven't you talked to him?"

Cuneo showed nothing. Smiling, shrugging, he made it clear that this was normal enough. He patted her arm again. "He's on days. Sometimes we cross each other. It's all right. But how did you get to Hanover not shooting anybody? That's what you said, isn't it?"

"Right." She had backed away another step and bumped her leg against one of the room's chairs. Suddenly, she put a hand to her forehead. "What am I thinking, keeping you standing out here like this?" Without waiting for an answer, she turned and led the way, pulled out a chair for him around an oval, well-used wooden table that overlooked the backyard. Then she was moving back across the kitchen. "Can I get you some water?

Coffee? Anything?"

"I'm good, thanks." He sat, half turned, kept his eyes on her. Obviously appraising, obviously approving. He thought he was keeping it low-key, even subtle. "So," he said as his fingers started tapping on the table,

"Glitsky?"

She finally tucked the dish towel into the refrigerator's handle and now, with her hands free, didn't seem to know what to do with them. Leaning up against the kitchen counter, she crossed them over her breasts. "Well, I told him about Paul's right arm being useless since the polio, so he sure didn't shoot himself over the right ear. Not with his right hand, anyway."

"No," Cuneo said, "I'd guess not."

"And then since Missy's wound was up in the back of her head-you knew that?"

He nodded, though it was news to him.

"So she probably didn't shoot herself there, either."

"So someone else was there?"

"That's what Inspector Glitsky seemed to think. It's the only thing that fit."

The sound of steps on stairs and then a tall, well-built hazel-haired teenage boy entered the kitchen. Wearing the uniform of cargo pants and a gray Cal sweatshirt, he stopped in his tracks when he saw Cuneo, looked at his mother, back to the inspector. "Hey," he said.

Cuneo nodded. "Hey."

"My son, Saul," she said. "Saul, this is Inspector Cuneo. He's investigating who might have killed your grandfather."

At the mention of it, the boy's shoulders sagged, and his face rearranged itself to accommodate the grief that threatened to show. Cuneo stood up and the boy came over to shake his hand. "Nice to meet you," he said. "I hope you catch him, whoever it was."

"You got along well with your grandfather?"

He nodded. "He was great. He rocked. He really did." Looking out the windows over Cuneo's shoulder, he shook his head. "I can't believe somebody killed him."

"Maybe they really wanted to kill his girlfriend and he was just there."

"Yeah," Saul said, "maybe that." Awkward, he stood another moment, then turned to his mother. "I was just getting some food."

"All right, but save room for dinner." She pointed toward the refrigerator and he walked over, lifted a carton of milk and went to drink from it.

"Saul!"

"Oh, yeah." He grabbed a glass from the cupboard, filled it with milk, found a handful of cookies and started to leave, but then stopped at the doorway. "I hope you catch him," he said again. "Really."

"We're trying."

When Saul's steps had retreated back upstairs, Cuneo got up from his chair and crossed over to where Catherine was standing. "You've got nice kids," he said. "Is that all of them?"

"There's one more upstairs. Heather, the youngest. It's homework time, so I'm surprised you got to see any of them. This time of day, they just disappear."

"And they're just working like that on their own? You must be one heck of a good mother. What's your secret?"

"Are you kidding? It's day-to-day survival. Just so they keep talking to you and don't ever get a chance to forget that you love them more than anything. Do you have children?"

He hung his head for an instant. "Regrettably, I'm single." An apologetic smile. "Just never found the right woman, I guess." Figuring the segue was seamless, Cuneo asked, "By the way, have you had any luck contacting your husband yet?"

"No." She snapped it out, suddenly edgy. Then, covering. "He's a little late getting in is all. Probably means he caught a lot of fish." The sides of her mouth rose, although it was a sad sort of a smile and she sighed. "We'll be eating albacore 'til Christmas. I'm sure he'll call when he gets in."

Cuneo took another step toward her, looked around the warm room, again laid a brief touch on her forearm. "If I had this to come home to, I know I would," he said.

"Yes, well…" She crossed to the refrigerator, grabbed the dish towel, turned to face him, now twisting the towel some more. "Well," she said again, "that pasta isn't going to make itself. If there's nothing else…"

"I think that about covers it. I'll check in with Glitsky and get ourselves coordinated. I'm sorry about double-teaming you. That's never our intention. People get nervous around too many cops." He smiled right at her. "You're not nervous, are you?"

"No. Well, maybe a little bit."

"Don't be. Not with me, anyway. I'm harmless, really, and much sweeter than I look." Cuneo flashed a grin, then got his wallet and pulled out his business card, grabbed his pen from his shirt pocket. "Here," he said, writing on the board where she was making her pasta, "this is my home number. Work is printed on the front. If you think of anything you think might be relevant, anytime, day or night, or even if you just want to talk, if your husband goes fishing again…" He let it hang, half a joke, but serious enough if she wanted to take him up on it.

She was nervous, though, he was thinking as he drove up to Becker's fire station. Nervous the whole time. Something definitely was going wrong with her husband.

But no thoughts, not even those about his possible future conquest of Catherine Hanover, could stand up to the immediacy of his problem with Glitsky. Now not only had the man usurped his case, he'd stood it on its ear. This morning when he'd gone off duty, Cuneo was all but convinced that this seemed to be a more or less straightforward murder/suicide, with Hanover and D'Amiens the only two principals involved. Unfortunately, that's what he'd told some reporters. Now here it was barely twelve hours later, and Glitsky had gotten in behind him to his witnesses. To know the details about the locations of the head wounds, he must have also gone to the medical examiner. So he was working this case soup to nuts and already had a big jump, in spite of the fact that Cuneo was out of the gate first.

Cuneo figured that his only chance to save his job was to catch up. But the good news was that this case now looked like a righteous 187, a first-degree double murder. This was what Cuneo did and did well. And it had the added bonus that Paul Hanover was an important and well-known citizen, and Missy D'Amiens, as his fiancee, was going to have an interesting story as well.

It wasn't generally appreciated how few murders had bona fide motives. In his experience, most times people got killed for inane reasons. Some husband wouldn't let his wife change the channel. Some guy's dog shit on another guy's step. They wouldn't turn down the goddamned music. Stupid. But with someone like Hanover, or maybe even Missy, there would probably be a righteous motive-money, betrayal, extortion, jealousy. Whoever killed these people would have done it for a specific reason. Find the reason and the job was essentially done. Of course, proving the motive was a whole different kettle of fish than simply identifying the person who had it. You needed physical evidence. But at least, with a solid motive, you'd know where to look.

He could get this case back from Glitsky yet. He'd make another appointment with Catherine, with the rest of the family. Check out Paul Hanover's relations with past clients and partners, ex-wives if any, people to or from whom he donated or accepted money. He, Dan Cuneo, would find who benefited from these deaths and bring that person in. He'd make the arrest and solve this case before Glitsky knew what had hit him.

Arnie Becker was still going. His younger partner, J. P. Dodd, in a filthy, charcoal-stained T-shirt and black pants, was crashed on the cot in their little side room at the Arson Unit headquarters on Evans Street, but Becker-showered and looking freshly dressed-sat at a card table sorting through what looked to be a few hundred scraps of paper, placing them into discrete piles in front of him as though he were dealing poker. Cuneo knocked on the open door. "How you doin'?"

Becker stopped, looked up, smiled politely. "It might not have been D'Amiens," he said. He scanned the piles in front of him and put his hand on one. A thin one- two pieces of paper.

"Who? The woman in the fire?"

Becker nodded, handed the paper across. "Those two people-they're married-saw her walking from the house just before the alarm got called in."

"Saw Missy? They're sure?"

"A couple of them reasonably enough. Others not so sure."

"But if it was Missy, then who…?"

"Was in the house? I don't know." His face suddenly looked much younger, invigorated by the question. "You've got to love a good mystery, though, now and again, don't you? Who's missing besides her? And if it's not her-D'Amiens-dead in the house, then where might she be? Huh?"

"Really." Cuneo looked at the names and addresses. "You got copies of these?"

"Already made 'em. Those are yours."

A pause. "You talk to Glitsky?"

"This morning, a little after you left." "So he knows about this?"

Becker didn't even look up. Obviously-and why would he not?-he assumed the two cops were working together, and Cuneo saw no reason to raise a flag. The arson inspector continued sorting methodically. "I figured you'd be around sooner than he was and you could tell him. These people aren't going anywhere. They live right there on Steiner." Finally, he sat back. "I'd like to know who it was, though. In the house."

"If it wasn't Missy," Cuneo said, "then whoever she was looks pretty good for the murders."

He nodded. "If it was her that people saw leaving."

Maxine Willis lived in one of the surviving Painted Ladies, three houses down from Paul Hanover's. In her early fifties, she was a very large, handsome, well-dressed black woman with a deep and booming voice. Her living room walls were stylishly adorned with tribal African art-dark-wood masks, spears, several framed works depicting working people or animals completely rendered in butterfly wings. The sofa was zebra skin, the chairs brown leather. Out the jutting front window, enough natural light remained that they could still see the park, but it was fading fast.

"No. See? I knew it was her. And it was a little earlier than this," she said. She turned and they both glanced at the clock on the mantel-8:15. "I saw her clearly."

"Missy D'Amiens?"

She nodded. "Although I hadn't ever met her to talk to. I didn't know her name until I read it in the paper this morning. But it was Mr. Hanover's girlfriend all right. I'd seen her here on the block a hundred times."

"Would you mind telling me exactly where you were and what you saw?" Cuneo's foot tapped a time or two, but he caught it and willed it to stop, though immediately he began to tap his notebook.

"Well, Joseph and I were having a party with some friends, Cyril and Jennifer. Just some supper and then we were going to go up to Slim's, where a friend of ours was playing, but then of course the fire put an end to all that."

"And Joseph is…?"

"My husband. I expect him now any minute. He saw her, too."

"From where?" "Right here." "In this room?"

"Uh huh. The light is so good come evening. We like to have our cocktails out here, with the park out there across the way." She closed her eyes for a minute, then moved to the windows that looked out over the street. "I was about right here."

Cuneo came over and stood next to her. The park was deserted except for a man walking a dog on the crest of the hill. Nearer, the street in front of them yawned empty, although cars lined both sides of it. No pedestrians on the sidewalks, either. The area was still a mess due to the fire.

"Okay, and where did Ms. D'Amiens pass?"

Maxine Willis lifted the lace curtain to one side and pointed. "Just out there. She was parked by that near light post just up the street."

"So she was going to her car?"

She nodded.

"And do you know what kind of car it was? Could you tell from here?"

"I didn't have to see it from last night. I knew it from other times, too. She drove a black Mercedes. One of the smaller ones, I think, the C-types."

Cuneo looked out, then back at his witness. If this was going to be a positive identification, he wanted to eliminate any possible ambiguities, and one had occurred to him. "Were you facing the way you are now? Toward the car?"

"Yes."

"And she was on the other side of the street?" "Right."

"So you wouldn't have seen her until she was past you, then. Walking away? Isn't that right?"

"Well, sideways maybe. Joseph saw her first. He was standing about where you are."

Cuneo again stared across into the street. After a minute: "Let me ask you this," he said. "Why would he notice?"

Her face clouded for a moment. "I'm not sure what you mean."

"Well, I mean, there's four of you-four, right?-four of you standing around having some drinks and Joseph sees some woman walk by outside. So what? Why would he comment on it? Weren't people walking by all the time?"

Striking a thoughtful pose, she crossed her arms over her chest. "I don't recall saying anybody commented about it. Man know better than act like that." She looked at him, almost challenging, maybe waiting for him to show a sign of understanding. When none appeared, she sighed. "He's standing here by the window and suddenly his eyes go wide. Poor fool don't even know he's doing it. So I look to see what he likes so much. And it's her all right. So I give him the look, you know, and he knows he's caught. Man's always been a sucker for a pretty girl, and she was pretty enough."

"So the other two, your other guests. What happened with them?"

"Cyril and Jennifer? They look to see what Joseph's making eyes about. That's all. It wasn't a big thing at the time. Nobody even mentioned it out loud until the fire happened. Then later out in the street, we heard people saying it was Missy in the house with him. This was after we told the inspector we'd seen her."

"So what did you do then? I mean after you heard that?"

She shrugged. "Nothing. What was I supposed to do? I figured I must have gotten it wrong. Until you told me just now that it might not have been her in the house after all. Which had to mean it was her walking by all along."

"But let me get this straight. From last night all the way until when I told you ten minutes ago that maybe it wasn't Missy in the house, maybe it was someone else, you could not have sworn that the woman you saw walking by out there was her?"

Maxine frowned. "No. I didn't think about that. I just figured she went back in later. Maybe went out somewhere and came back. That could explain it, am I right? I thought it was her."

Glitsky sat at his desk reviewing utilization and arrest numbers, lost in the tedium, until the telephone rang and he realized that it had grown dark outside. Surprised anew that Cuneo had apparently decided not to check in with him at all, he got the phone in the middle of the second ring.

"Glitsky."

"Abe." His wife. A sigh ofrelief. "Good, you're there. Is everything all right?"

He looked at his watch. "I guess not, if the time got away from me so badly. Is it really eight thirty?"

"Close enough. What have you been doing? Last I heard you had been summoned by the mayor and were running out to see her."

"And I did, too. Twice, in fact."

"What did she want?"

"It's a bit of a story. It could even be construed as good news of a sort."

"You sound like Dismas. 'Construed as good news of a sort.' You think you qualified that enough?"

"I said it was a story. It's good that she's got confidence in me, I suppose. I could tell you in person in twenty minutes."

"That'd be nice. I have something that might be construed as good news of a sort myself."

"You got a raise?"

"No, it's not money. That would be unalloyed good news."

"Unalloyed. Talk about a Hardy word. So your news isn't unalloyedly good?"

"Unalloyedly, is that even a word? This is getting too complicated for me. I'll tell you when you get home."

Glitsky lived in a smallish three-bedroom upper duplex just north of Lake Street, in a cul-de-sac that bounded the leafy southern border to the Presidio. He'd raised Isaac, Jacob and Orel there with his first wife, Flo. After the cancer claimed her, he moved a Mexican nanny/housekeeper named Rita Schultz into the living room, where she'd slept behind a screen and helped with the boys for six years. Now Glitsky had a new life, Treya's daughter and all of his sons away living theirs. Rita no longer stayed with them full-time, sleeping behind the screen, but she still came every day to care for Rachel.

If he'd come home when his shift technically ended at five, Glitsky could have had Paganucci drop him at his front step. But since his promotion, he almost never left the Hall until at least seven, and often much later. The job didn't really have anything like regular hours, and to pretend it did was to fail in it. And failure was not on his agenda. So there were always endless meetings-with chiefs, lieutenants, civic and businesspeople, department heads-to attend, tedious yet necessary administrative duties to perform, fences to mend, people to simply visit, flesh to press and parties to attend and press conferences to hold. And all of these things happened on their own timetable, not his. So to get to and from work, he usually checked out a car from the city lot next to the Hall, and invariably had to park it at best a few blocks from his home.

Now Glitsky was on the last leg of a six-block hike from the nearest parking place that he could find. Coming up on the opposite side of the street, with the late-afternoon wind just beginning to ebb now, he stopped and looked up into the lighted front windows of the rent-controlled place where he'd long since decided he would probably die. A shadow moved across the shades and he recognized the cameo of his wife pacing in the living room. The vision stopped him. Against all of his own expectations and preconceptions, he had somehow with Treya been able to find happiness again. Sometimes, as now, the feeling all but overwhelmed him.

"Senor Abe?"

He'd neither seen her in the dark nor heard her on the quiet street, and he reacted, startled at the sound. Recovering, he put his hand on his heart and rolled his eyes with what was, for him, wild theatricality. "Rita," he said. "What are you still doing here?"

"Just talking to Senora Treya." "What about?"

The housekeeper reached out, took his wrist and tapped on his watch. Looking up, she gave him a look of benevolent understanding. "Women things."

When he got to his front door, twelve steps up from the street, Treya was there holding it open for him. Two-and-a-half-year-old Rachel, awake way past her bedtime and finally seeing her father, broke from around Treya's legs and threw herself headlong at him. "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" Catching her up, he gathered her in, smothering her with kisses while she squealed with delight. With a last kiss he pulled her close, then caught something in his wife's eye.

"Rita tells me you and she were talking about women's things. Does that have to do with your maybe good news?" Treya kissed him hello, quickly, on his cheek, then turned away and stepped back to let the two of them in. "Have you been crying?"

She kept herself turned away, shook her head no. But too fast. And she started walking toward the kitchen. Still carrying Rachel, Glitsky followed. "Trey?"

"I'm just emotional," she said. "About this possibly good news, which I so hope it is." She squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and turned to face him. "It looks like we're going to have another baby." She waited, breathless for a minute, then unloosed a torrent. "Are you okay with that? Please say you are. I know we never talked about it specifically, I mean whether we were actually trying. And I just found out this morning. I've been wanting to tell you all day, but didn't just want to leave a message, and then when you didn't call me even once during the day or come home, I thought the mayor must have done something awful, and I didn't want to bother you by calling at work if you had some crisis, but then it got so late…"

Glitsky closed the distance between them and put his free arm around her.

"Sandwich hug!" Rachel, in heaven between them.

"Sandwich hug," Treya repeated to her daughter, kissing her. Then she looked up at her husband through a film of tears. "Okay? It's okay, isn't it?"

"More than okay," he said. "Unalloyed."

6

The next morning, Friday, Dismas Hardy made it downstairs at a few minutes past seven. Breakfast noises emanated from the dining room, but he walked directly across the kitchen first, to the coffeepot where he poured himself a cup. Turning right into the family room, toward the back of the house, he tapped the glass of his tropical fish tank and poured some food into it. All his dozen little fishies seemed to be in good health as they rocketed to the surface, the tank was algae-free, the pump gurgled with a quiet efficiency.

"You love those guys, don't you?" His wife, Frannie, stood in the doorway.

"Love might be a little strong, being reserved only for my mate." He crossed over and kissed her good morning. "That would be you, the mate."

"Loves wife more than goldfish," she said. "And people say the romance goes."

"Never with us. Except they're not goldfish, not at forty to sixty bucks a pop."

"Sixty dollars? And they weigh, what, one ounce?"

"That would be one of the big ones."

Frannie stared into the tank for a minute. "I'll never complain about the price of salmon again. Speaking of which, are you eating breakfast this morning? Because if you are, you'd better get in there. The lox is almost gone."

In ten seconds he was standing, glaring down at the dining room table. Both of his children were engrossed in their morning newspaper-Vincent on the comics, Rebecca with the rest of the "Datebook" section. A toasted half bagel rested in front of his regular chair at the head of the table, but there was no sign of any lox, although two small empty plates held traces of cream cheese and crumbs.

"Vincent," Frannie didn't wait to analyze, "didn't I ask you to save some lox for your father?"

The boy looked up in total affront, hands to his chest, all outraged innocence. "Hey, it's not me. I did." He pointed across the table. "Talk to her."

The Beck was a step ahead of her mother. "I didn't hear you say that." She turned to her father. "I would have, Dad-you know I would."

But Hardy didn't get a chance to answer her. This, evidently, hadn't been the first moment of friction between the women in the house this morning, and Fran-nie's frustration now boiled over a bit. "You were sitting right where you are now when I said it," she said. "How could you not have heard me?"

"I thought you were talking to Vincent."

"So you turned your hearing aid off? Was that it? You know I was talking to both of you."

"Okay, but I just didn't hear you. I didn't think you were talking to me, okay?"

"No, not okay. Join the rest of us in the world here, would you?"

"Uh, guys," Hardy waded in delicately. He never knew what would happen when he got between his wife and his daughter. "It's okay. I got my coffee. I'm happy."

"I'm happy for you," Frannie said, "but that's not the point, and it's not okay. She's been doing this kind of thing all the time lately. And nobody else seems to notice. Or care."

Uh oh, Hardy thought.

"All the time?" Now Rebecca's tone went up a big notch. "All the time! I don't even know what you're talking about. I haven't done anything except eat some stupid lox, which was right out here on the table in front of me. Okay, if I ate it, I'm sorry. But what do you want me to do, Mom? Barf it back up?" She put her finger into her mouth.

Following the action, Vincent suddenly threw his comics page down and jumped up, away from the table. "Easy, Beck. Come on."

Hardy intervened at the same instant. "Don't barf it up. I'll just go throw a couple of my tropicals on this bagel…"

"Don't make a joke out of it," Frannie said. "It's not funny."

"I'm not going to really barf it up." Rebecca rolled her eyes in what Hardy believed was an expression of the platonic ideal of teenage pique.

"All right then."

Frannie obviously didn't think it was even slightly all right, but the fight had gone out of her, and she turned and disappeared back into the kitchen. Hardy debated whether to follow her or not and decided they'd both be happier in the long run if he didn't. If he went to her, they'd just keep talking about the Beck and how they were losing control over her, how she didn't respect them any longer, how he didn't take an active enough role anymore. It would all escalate and somehow become all about him and Frannie. Didn't he see the way she was getting? Didn't he care what was happening to his daughter?

He did care. He simply didn't spend as much time with her as his wife did, didn't identify with her in a more or less absolute way, and didn't really think he needed to. His daughter was growing up, becoming independent, which he believed was her fundamental job. And doing fine at it. Better than fine, even, with her incredible grade point average, president of a couple of clubs, working a night a week this semester tutoring math.

Hardy honestly believed that she hadn't heard Fran-nie issue her warning about the lox. She would never have eaten it if she'd thought it was meant for her father.

But Frannie would have said that was the problem-she didn't think about anybody but herself. To which his answer was, "Of course not, she's a teenager." But this wasn't a popular response.

He sat down and took a bite of his bagel, pointed to the rest of the newspaper down by his son's elbow. "Vin, could you please hand me a section?" he asked. Then, sotto voce to the Beck, "I don't think you ate my lox on purpose, but you might want to go tell your mother you're sorry you yelled at her."

"Except, you know, Dad," she whispered, "she yelled at me." But shaking her head, she got up anyway and disappeared back into the kitchen.

Vincent, back in his chair, shook his own head, rolled his eyes. Girls. Hardy nodded in understanding. In this, he and his son were allies. Then he pointed again, said, "The paper, please. If I can't eat lox, at least I can read my morning paper." Vin reached over and grabbed the front page-double-time-and went to pass it up the table, glancing at the front page as he did. "Hey," he said. "Uncle Abe." And the paper's progress halted.

"Vin." Hardy, his voice suddenly sharp, snapped a finger. "Now. Please."

The tone brooked no argument. In a second, Vincent up and over his shoulder, the two males were reading the caption under the four-column, front-page picture of Glitsky smartly saluting the mayor. "Deputy Chief of Police Abraham Glitsky gets his marching orders from Kathy West yesterday afternoon at the Ferry Building at the beginning of the mayor's first 'Neighborhood Stroll.' The new administration plans to bolster police presence as well as civic awareness in troubled areas of the city, and Glitsky's appearance, according to the mayor, underscored the spirit of cooperation between her office and the Police Department that both sides hope to build upon."

"Uncle Abe's getting famous," Vincent said.

"Just what he's always wanted."

"I always thought he hated that stuff."

"He does. He's going to hate this picture. Maybe I should call him and tell him how cute and official he looks, saluting and all. Subservient, even."

"He'd probably come over and shoot you, Dad."

"Yeah, you're right. Maybe I'll give him a day to get used to it."

Before he checked in at his office, Glitsky stopped in at the homicide detail, where Lieutenant Marcel Lanier sat behind a desk that filled most of his office, and knocked at the open door. "Permission to enter?"

Lanier snorted, said, "Denied," then waved his superior inside. "Early call, Abe. Cuneo?"

"How'd you guess?"

"Incredible psychic powers. He's not happy with things, and I can't say I blame him." "It's the mayor." "That's what I hear, too."

"The point," Glitsky said, "is that if we're both going to be working the case, and we are, we ought to be communicating. As it is, I don't know what he knows, and vice versa. I don't think he's even talked to Strout yet, so he might not even know that Missy couldn't have shot herself. Or that Hanover couldn't have done himself, either, for that matter. And taken together, that eliminates murder/suicide and leaves a righteous double."

"So what do you want me to do?"

"Talk to him, tell him I'm not poaching."

Lanier's face went through a subtle change of expression.

Glitsky felt a heat rise into his face. He spoke with an exaggerated calm. "Do you think I am, Marcel?"

"No. If you say the mayor put you on it, what could you do?" Lanier came forward, elbows on the desk. "But look, Abe, it's no secret that you and her honor are friends…"

"That's not…"

Lanier held up a hand. "Please, strictly true or not, that's the perception. There's no denying it," he paused, "especially after this morning's paper, okay? Call a spade a spade. At the very least no one's going to deny you're allies, right? So one of her benefactors gets murdered and Cuneo randomly pulls the case, and next thing you know, you're on it, too, as a special assignment. Tell me if you worked here, if you were him, that wouldn't fry your ass." Lanier leaned back in his chair again, linked his fingers over his stomach. "Look, Abe, it's no secret he's not one of your fans, and I don't get the impression you're one of his…"

"He all but accused me of accessory to murder, Marcel. That's pretty much kept the warm and fuzzies at bay around him."

"Okay, sure, I see that. But you've got to admit that this thing with you and the mayor might smack him as something in the line of a personal vendetta."

Glitsky took a beat. "You've already talked to him about this."

"No, but he left a message for me this morning. Relatively lengthy. He seems to think you see an opportunity here to squeeze him out. Wanted me to know about it."

"Over one case? Last I checked, inspectors had a union. I couldn't fire him if I wanted to, not without cause."

"Maybe you'd find some?"

Glitsky shook his head. "Do you believe that, Marcel?"

"No. Honestly, no, I don't." He shifted his position. "But you might want to ask yourself why Kathy West is so personally involved here. Okay, so one of her people got killed. On the face of that, you call in the deputy chief of inspectors to honcho the investigation? Why? Unless he's your friend and you want him on it for another reason entirely."

"Which would be what?"

"I don't know. But just letting it air, Abe, she could be wanting to cover something up."

Now Glitsky's voice rasped. "And you think I'd help her?"

"No. Never on purpose. But listen to me. If you're reporting to her and not to anybody in homicide…"

"But that's what I'm saying. I'm trying to get with Cuneo."

"Still, it's mostly you and her, not you and him. If you get close to something that she needs to be concerned about…"

"Wait a minute. You can't think Kathy West is involved in the murders."

Lanier looked at the air between them for a moment, then shrugged. "Not in the sense you mean. No, not really. Though you and I both know she could be. But the real question is, Could there be some other connection between Mr. Hanover and her honor? Maybe whoever killed him meant it as some kind of a warning to her. Maybe there's an issue of, say, contribution money." At Glitsky's look, Lanier backed off, opened his hands palms out. "I'm just throwing out ideas here. But the fact remains that she might want you on this for an entirely different reason than what she's telling you, and I don't think you're naive enough-hell, you're not naive at all-to haven't considered that." Lanier was sitting back again with his arms crossed, unblinking, daring his superior to deny it.

"I don't know if I'd gotten that far," Glitsky said after a pause. "Yesterday, when it looked like a suicide, she wanted me to clear Hanover's good name. Now that it looks like somebody's killed him…" He stopped, let out a breath.

"I'm just saying, from a certain perspective, it looks a little squirrelly."

"Okay, grant that," Glitsky said, "but she's the mayor. And the police chief, as you may know, serves at her discretion. Batiste is already on board with this. With me on the case, I mean. You don't tell her no without some serious risk to your career opportunities." After a short silence, Glitsky went on. "Just tell Cuneo I need to talk with him, that's all. Share information. Between the two of us, we'll take it from there. You mind doing that?"

"No, that's fine. I'd be happy to, Abe. There's nothing personal here between me and you. I'm just the messenger. And the message has got some merit."

"I hear you. I even agree with you." Glitsky came off the wall, rolled his shoulders, took a breath. He reached for the doorknob, turned it, started to walk out.

Lanier stopped him. "Abe."

Glitsky turned, a question on his face. He pulled the door back to.

The homicide lieutenant took another few seconds staring at the ceiling while he decided whether or not he was going to say it. Finally, he said, "One thing you might want to know. Cuneo's call this morning? He didn't want it to get out, maybe especially not to you, but you've got to know." He let out a sigh, waited some more.

"You want to give me three guesses?"

The scathing tone made Lanier talk. "Maybe it wasn't the D'Amiens woman in the house. Some witnesses may have seen her leaving a little before the fire. Cuneo's thinking that if that's true, maybe she was the shooter."

"So who was the woman in the house?"

"No clue."

"And where's D'Amiens?" "Nobody knows."

"I know where she is. She's in my locker not fifty feet from where we're resting our tired old bones, Abe," Strout said. "That's where she is for a damn pure medical certainty. And as for her doin' the shooting, well, that would have been highly unusual, if not impossible. Her bein' dead an' all at the time." The medical examiner had his feet up on his desk. Behind him through the window, the barely visible morning freeway traffic was stopped in both directions. The fog gave every indication that it was going to be around for lunch. Strout was opening and closing a switchblade as they talked. "Who's the perpetrator of this outrageous folderol? That it wasn't

D'Amiens."

"Before I tell you that, John, tell me why it's folderol."

"Because I called your Dr. Toshio Yamashiru-who by the way turns out to be one of the premier forensic odontologists in the state, was called in to help identify the 9/11 victims in New York-anyway, I called him within about two minutes of getting his name from you yesterday, and he was good enough to come down here last night with her dental records and compare them to her."

"D'Amiens?"

"Well, they weren't Marilyn Monroe's." He closed the switchblade. "Same person."

"Well, wait…"

"Okay." The knife flicked open and closed four times. Behind Strout on the freeway, a car inched forward from one pane of his window to the next. "What are you thinking?"

"Have you talked to Dan Cuneo? About this case?"

"Sure. He was at the scene."

Glitsky shook his head. "No. Since then."

"Well," Strout drawled the word, pronouncing it as two syllables-way-all-" 'then' would have been only yesterday morning, Abe. But the answer's no, I haven't seen him since then. Why?"

A pause. "Nothing. Just curious."

Strout let a chuckle percolate for a few seconds. "Idle curiosity, huh? Something you're so well known for." But he held up a hand, still enjoying the moment. "But seriously, you don't have to tell me why it matters if I've seen him. Maybe it's none of my business."

"It's not that. I haven't talked to him, either, but Marcel tells me he's got witnesses who saw her leave the place and go to her car just before the fire. D'Amiens."

"Maybe she came back. Obviously she did."

"Good point."

"Shot him, then went to her car and got the gasoline, which tends to be obvious if it's sitting out in the foyer."

But Glitsky was shaking his head. "No. That's if she killed herself, which I think we agree she couldn't have."

Strout chewed on that for a moment. "So somebody who looks like her?"

"Maybe." He came forward in the folding chair. As usual, Glitsky was in full uniform, and leaning over, held his hat in his hands between his legs. "How certain was Yamashiru?"

"That it was D'Amiens? A hundred percent. We went over everything for almost an hour. Anyway, he was certain enough-and so am I-that I'm putting her name to the autopsy."

Glitsky had known Strout for thirty years, and knew that this was a point of professional pride and honor. Strout didn't call it as a matter of law unless he was completely convinced. He knew he might have to testify under oath on the witness stand, and so far as anyone in the city knew, he had never made a mistake on an autopsy-either an identification or a cause of death. He would not hesitate to decline to state when he wasn't sure. But he'd never been flat wrong. And Glitsky didn't think he was now.

Which meant that, with a slight detour, he was back where he'd been before he'd talked to Marcel Lanier this morning, or even when he'd had his discussion with the mayor yesterday afternoon. Somebody had shot Hanover and D'Amiens and then set their bodies on fire.

This, then, was a straightforward murder investigation. Cuneo was the inspecting officer, and-orders from the mayor or not-Glitsky would defer to him as long as it was practicable. Hardy's advice echoed-this might be a good opportunity to mend fences with the man, get to some kind of mutual understanding, perhaps the beginnings of respect.

Finally making it nearly to his own office, Glitsky stood frowning at the door, which sported a cutout of this morning's Chronicle photo. It shouldn't have amazed him, though it always did, how the news agencies-print, audio or film-all so consistently managed to convey misleading information, even in a picture. Of course, he'd seen the stupid picture first thing in the morning. It was impossible to miss. He found it odd that he had no memory of the actual moment at all, even though he appeared to be standing at formal attention and the salute was so crisp he might have been posing.

Aware that someone had come into the conference room that separated the reception area and his office, he turned around. Melissa wasn't really his private secretary-technically she was merely the gatekeeper for him and the other deputy chief within the suite, Jake Longoria-but as the highest ranking of the six clerks in the reception bay, she took a proprietary, even maternal, interest in the men whose access she protected. Now she was smiling broadly at him, clearly pleased with the reflected glory that the picture brought to her, as well as with Glitsky's obvious and growing prominence among the city's leaders. (It wouldn't be unknown for a deputy chief to take his gatekeeper with him should the promotion to chief ever come along, either.)

"You like it? That's a great picture, isn't it?"

Behind her, Glitsky saw a couple of the other clerks in the doorway, wanting to share in what would be his no-doubt positive reaction. Feeling that it would be churlish at best and negative for staff morale to follow his impulse and rip the offending thing down, he arranged his face into a bland expression and nodded. "It's nice," he said. Feeling a little more might be called for, he offered a small, stiff bow from the waist. "My thanks to you all."

Inside the blessed sanctity of his office, a low-level rage humming in his ears, he hung his hat on the rack by the door, then went to his desk and pushed the constantly blinking button that indicated he had messages in his voice mail. Thirteen of them.

Amidst the usual bureaucratic white noise, no fewer than six of the calls concerned the picture. Jeff Elliot wanted to know about the story he'd clearly missed while they'd been talking yesterday, and could they do an interview sometime soon, maybe today, for a "CityTalk" column. His friend and mentor Frank Batiste left a message tinged with the faint but unmistakable reek of jealousy. Batiste did not say it overtly, but unstated was that if there was going to be a picture typifying the mutual cooperation between the mayor's office and the PD, maybe the chief ought to have been the one on the front page, saluting. Treya, who'd slept in later than Glitsky's own six forty-five departure and saw the photo after he'd already left for work, agreed with Melissa that it was flattering and kind of cool. Dismas Hardy, on the other hand, congratulating him with heavy sarcasm on the photo op, wondered ifhe'd noticed that the name badge on his shirt had a typo that read "Gliktsy." (Looking down immediately, cricking his neck in the process, he checked-it didn't.) And, oh yeah, Hardy added, if Glitsky needed a campaign manager for whatever office he was running for, and though somewhat upset that his best friend hadn't included him in his original plans, Hardy was his man.

Still no callback from Cuneo, he noticed. Glitsky resolved to call him at home, wake him up if need be, after he'd gone through his voice mail. The last message, though, much to his surprise, was from Catherine Hanover, who had seen the picture and recognized his name from their conversation yesterday. Having thought about it most of the morning, she finally had worked up the nerve to call and wondered if he might get back to her. Sooner rather than later. She'd had a visit last night from Inspector Cuneo and had something a little delicate, as she put it, that she wanted to discuss.

He looked at his watch. She had placed the call less than fifteen minutes ago. He started punching numbers. "Mrs. Hanover? This is Deputy Chief Glitsky."

An audible sigh, then a rush. "Thank you for calling back so soon. I didn't know if I could just leave a message for you personally, but I…" She ran out of breath and, after a slight hesitation, started again in a lower key. "I didn't know who else to talk to."

"Didn't you say you'd spoken to Inspector Cuneo last night?"

"Yes." Another pause. "I just wondered," she said, "if I could arrange to talk to you, maybe, instead of Inspector Cuneo. I mean, if you need… if the police need to talk to me anymore about Paul or the fire or anything."

"You don't want to talk to Inspector Cuneo?"

"I think I'd prefer not."

This was tricky indeed. Especially in light of Glitsky's new information that the homicide detail-i.e., Cuneo- was in fact investigating not a murder/suicide, but a double homicide. This made Catherine Hanover not just a witness, but among the universe of possible suspects to the murders. She might not think of herself in those terms. But Glitsky had already been forced to consider them because of what she'd told him yesterday-her powerful financial incentive to see Missy D'Amiens out of Paul Hanover's will or, failing that, his life. Many people had been killed for far less money.

And now Mrs. Hanover didn't want to talk to the investigating officer. On the face of it, Glitsky couldn't even begin, and wasn't remotely inclined, to consider her request. If Cuneo's questions had rattled or upset her, or made her uncomfortable in any one of a number of ways, all the better-maybe he'd come upon something relevant to the murders she was trying to hide. She was not going to be able to avoid Cuneo. It was out of the question and he told her as much. "I'm sorry," he said in conclusion, "but witnesses don't get to choose who interrogates them."

"All right," she said, her voice thick with regret. "I tried." Then, almost as an afterthought, added, "I might have known that you'd stick together."

"That who would stick together?"

"You. The police."

"Well, in this case, yes we do. It's a general rule, for obvious reasons, that suspects are rarely anxious to talk to inspecting officers."

He heard an intake of breath. She whispered, "Suspects? Did you say suspects?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"So now I'm a suspect? I thought I was a witness." Her voice went up in pitch and volume. "I volunteered everything I told Inspector Cuneo, both at the fire and then here at my house. How can I… how can you think I had anything to do with this?"

"I don't think that."

"But you just said I was a suspect."

His hand tight on the receiver, Glitsky threw a glance at the ceiling. This had gone far beyond where it should have already, and now he felt he needed to explain himself and his position, always a situation he'd rather avoid. "No," he said. "I said that suspects often didn't want to talk to their inspecting officer."

"But the inference was there, that I was one of them."

Glitsky spoke with an exaggerated precision. "Mrs. Hanover, since we have no suspects at all that I'm aware of, everyone is technically a potential suspect. That includes you, though it doesn't move you to the head of the pack. You asked if you could somehow avoid talking again to Inspector Cuneo, and I was telling you why that wasn't allowed."

Some steel now in her tone, she pressed him. "All right, then, what if I were to make a complaint about him? Who would I go to for that? What would happen then?"

"What kind of complaint?" She hesitated for a minute. "Inappropriateness." "In what sense? What kind of inappropriateness?" Another breath, another pause. "Sexual, I would say."

Now it was Glitsky's turn to go quiet. The silence hung with import. Finally, treading carefully, he said, "There is an Office of Management and Control in the department that investigates these kind of allegations. I could put you through to them right now."

But this time she jumped in quickly. "I don't want to go there. Not yet, anyway."

"Why not? If Inspector Cuneo assaulted you…"

"He didn't assault me. It's just, I mean, it was clear he was coming on to me, and I'd just prefer if I didn't have to see him again. He makes me uncomfortable. I'm not trying to get anybody in trouble here. I'm willing to talk to anybody else you send out, but Inspector Cuneo makes me nervous. That's all I'm saying."

"Did he touch you?"

"Several times. Then he squeezed my arm before he left, said I could call him at home anytime, gave me his number. It was definitely… inappropriate. He was hitting on me."

"But you don't want to lodge a complaint?"

"That just seems a little strong for what it was. I don't want to overreact. I don't really want to get him into trouble…"

"He may already be."

"No! I really don't want that. But look," she said, intensity now bleeding through the line. "Really. I just didn't want to see him, that's all. You could come out if you need to talk to me, or anybody else. I'm not trying to avoid anything with the police, and he didn't do anything so blatant that I feel like I need to file a complaint."

"All right, but if you don't file a complaint, then officially nothing happened," Glitsky said. "That'll be the story."

"But nothing really did happen." "He didn't touch you?" "Yes. I already said that."

"Well, that's something. It's grounds for a complaint." He wanted to add that if she wanted to know what he'd do if he were in a similar position, he would file immediately. But he couldn't say that. It was completely her decision, and couldn't be any of his.

"Well, maybe, but even so… I'll think about it."

7

Hardy and Glitsky were at the counter of the Swan Oyster Depot on Polk Street, way in the back, eating fried oysters and iceberg lettuce salad with Louie dressing. Hardy nursed a beer while Glitsky, incognito without his hat on and with his old flight jacket covering the uniform, stuck with his standard iced tea. "And of course," Hardy was saying, "if you get the message through to him in any official way at all, he'll either accuse her of lying or you of making it up." He sipped his beer. "It just gets better and better, doesn't it?"

"I've got to tell him. I can't not tell him."

"I thought that was why you needed to see me so urgently. So I could advise you how not to do just that."

"But I've got to."

"Okay, then. Now maybe we can enjoy this fine lunch." "If she-Hanover, I mean-doesn't file a complaint, it didn't happen."

"I thought we were done with the discussion."

"So it's really not a department matter."

"If you say so. On-duty cop hits on pretty witness- I'm assuming she's pretty…"

"I haven't seen her, but it doesn't matter."

"Of course not. I jest. But pretty or not, witness gets hit on…"

"Possible suspect gets hit on."

"That, too. But whatever, she gets hit on, maybe even assaulted, depending on your definition of the term, by an on-duty officer. You're saying that it's not a department matter?"

Glitsky chewed ice from his tea.

"I'm hoping you've already written a memo to file, at least." Reading Glitsky's face, he went on. "Okay, and this is your legal adviser talking, do that first, as soon as you get back to your office. Then at least you're covered if it gets bigger or, God forbid, Cuneo rapes her or kills her or something." He wiped some dressing around the plate with a crust of sourdough. "It's got to get official in some way. Don't tell Cuneo directly. Take it to Batiste, man to man. He'll support you."

"Maybe not. He's none too pleased with me at this exact moment-the Chronicle picture. Besides which, he won't want to be bothered. It's my problem."

"No. Your problem is that you think it's your problem. We've already determined by the process of rigorous debate that this is a police department matter, and

Frank's the chief of police. So it's his problem more than yours. He'll probably fire Cuneo, in fact."

"Not without a complaint he won't."

"Call Hanover back. Convince her to file one."

"Good idea. Except what if she's the killer?"

"That would be bad luck, I admit."

"More than that."

"And how likely is that anyway? That she's the killer?"

"I don't have any idea. I'm completely out of the loop on Cuneo's suspects or anything else, for that matter. She sang me a long song about money that gives her plenty of motive, but it sounded like everybody else in the family knew the same tune. And you know a guy like Paul Hanover always had some deals going on. You see the profile on him Channel Four did last night? He had his hands in a dozen pots, and not just here in the city. Or Missy. Nobody knows squat about her either, except that she spent a lot of money on the house."

"Well, there you go."

"What?"

"Who'd she spend the money with?"

"I don't know. The contractor, I'd guess." He put down his tea, wrote a note to himself on his memo pad. "But that's not your worst idea."

"Thank you. But back to Cuneo…"

"Always back to Cuneo."

"Well, yeah. You blame me?"

Glitsky considered the question for a long minute.

"No," he said at last. He chewed more ice. "I could just finesse it."

"How could you do that?"

"I just block his access to her. He's on nights, right? I make it a point to take her statements during the days. He doesn't have a reason to see her again."

"Maybe he doesn't need one."

But Glitsky shook his head. "No, he won't take it further if he doesn't see her on duty."

"You know this for a fact?"

"I've heard rumors. It's a pattern."

"So he's done this kind of thing before?"

A shrug, then a nod. "And they don't all resent it, either. The magic of the uniform, even if he doesn't wear one. Marcel told me he had a thing with his shrink after she stopped seeing him professionally."

"You're shitting me."

"Would that I were. Apparently he thinks there's no harm in asking, or letting a witness know you think she's hot."

"Any of these documented?"

"You mean as assault or harassment? Nope. They said yes."

"So he's just a dick? Pardon the pun." "At least that."

The two men took a break to eat. Glitsky finished first and was chewing ice again when he said, "I'm going right to him, cop to cop. Tell him what she said, say he might want to be a little discreet."

"Be his friend."

"Exactly. Keep him close."

Hardy swallowed his last oyster, tipped his beer up. "I've heard worse plans," he said. "But do yourself a favor first."

"What's that?"

"Memo to file."

Two o'clock, and Cuneo was blasting away with the Beach Boys. Not that Dennis Wilson was a rock drummer in the league of, say, Charlie Watts of the Stones, or any of the big band guys, but he beat the living hell out of his skins, and sometimes Cuneo just wanted to play loud and hard, not good. He was letting the cymbals ring at the end of "Help Me, Rhonda" when he heard the knock on his front door.

"Hold on!" Barefoot, drenched with sweat, he was wearing a tank top over a pair of lime green swim trunks. Because of his location he didn't get a lot of action at his front door, so the knock was a little unusual in itself. And he'd been a cop long enough-thirteen years-that he carried the standard load of paranoia around with him wherever he went. His gun and shoulder holster hung from the back of one of the chairs in his kitchen, and he skipped the three steps over to it and had the weapon in his hand within about two seconds. "Just a sec," he said. "Coming."

But first he parted the gauzy white living room drapes and looked out. On the concrete apron that comprised his front yard was a city-issue car with a uniformed driver behind the wheel. Pulling the curtains further apart, he put his eye against the window and saw Glitsky standing at ease on his stoop, so he set the gun on top of his television set, went to the door and opened it.

Glitsky began in an amiable way, with a grotesque but perhaps sincere attempt at a smile. "Sorry to bother you, Inspector, but I didn't know if my messages were getting through, and we need to get on the same page with this Hanover thing. It's heating up pretty fast. You mind?"

"No. Sure. Good idea." Cuneo, thrown off-balance, half turned back to his room. "I was just doing my workout. I haven't got to my messages yet. I think we must have just missed each other last night. I stopped by your office."

"That's all right. I was in and out." Glitsky cast a quick glance over Cuneo's shoulder. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I? You got company?"

"No. Just me." Cuneo backed up a bit and said, "You want to come in? We can sit."

"Thanks." A step into the room, Glitsky stopped. "Cool place, great location." He pointed at the drums. "How long have you been playing?"

"A couple of years now. It blows off energy."

"I hear you," Glitsky said. "I haven't had that since I gave up football. If you don't include a baby. They can wear you out pretty good." He scanned the room, apparently relaxed. "One of my boys, Jacob, is a musician. A singer, actually. Opera, believe it or not." Cuneo had no reaction to all the chatter, but Glitsky went on anyway. "We didn't exactly play a lot of opera around the house when he was growing up, so I don't know how he got the taste for it, but he's pretty good. The downside is, he lives in Italy and I never get to see him."

Glitsky sat himself on the edge of the love seat. He let a silence build, then broke it. "So I'm guessing you're pissed I'm involved in this. I know I would be."

Cuneo sat down at the drum kit, hit the kick drum. "Sure, a little, but what am I gonna do? Nobody asked me. But it's my case."

"Nobody's saying it isn't."

"Well, pardon me, sir, but that's just bullshit."

Glitsky frowned at the profanity, the insubordination, although he'd invited it to some degree by coming to Cuneo's home unannounced. "Actually, it's not. As I thought I explained in my message, the mayor had a personal connection to Hanover. She wanted to be in on it."

"And Lanier couldn't get it from me, then let her know?"

Glitsky shrugged. "She knows me better." "Lucky for you."

"Maybe. Some people might think that's debatable. But the point is, as far as I'm concerned, you're still the investigating officer."

"And you're what? My supervisor?"

"I was thinking, for this case, partner."

Cuneo started a light but quick tattooing on the snare drum. Caught himself and stopped. Started again. "I've had most of my luck working alone," he said.

"So have I." Thinking this was about as far as this topic could take them, Glitsky decided to break the stalemate and move along to the facts of the case. "I talked to Becker and he told me some of your witnesses thought they saw Missy leave the house before the fire."

The drumming stopped.

Glitsky continued. "So I'm assuming first thing this afternoon you were going to put out a net on her. Obvious, right? She was the shooter."

"So?"

"So have you gotten with Strout yet?" He raised a hand, cutting off the reply. "That's not a criticism, in case you haven't. It's a question."

"I was planning on seeing him right after I saw you this afternoon."

"Well, maybe I can save you a trip. I went by the morgue this morning. He ran dental records last night. It was Missy."

The news finally sparked a show of interest. Cuneo's whole body came forward, forearms on his knees, his eyes sharp now, focused. "How sure was he?"

Glitsky's mouth turned up a half inch. "It was Strout." Meaning that if he said it at all, he meant it completely.

Nodding in understanding, Cuneo asked. "So she went back inside?"

"That's one theory."

"She did him, went out to get the gasoline, spent a few minutes pouring it around, then lit it and did herself?" "Except she didn't."

Cuneo cocked his head to one side, then remembered. "That's right. She was shot pretty far around in the back of the head, wasn't she?"

"Right. Physically possible, maybe, but not likely. More likely somebody else did both of them." He spread his palms. "That's where we are."

Cuneo tapped his hands on his thighs. "So who did my witnesses see that they thought was Missy?"

"Maybe it was her. Who were your witnesses?"

"Neighbors."

"So your take is maybe she went someplace and happened to come back in at the wrong time?"

"I don't really have a take. Do you think it was about Hanover?"

"I don't know. The mayor thinks it, though." "She give you any other information?" "Nope."

"So she might be someone to talk to?"

Nodding, Glitsky said, "Maybe. I intend to ask."

"And then you'll tell me what she says?"

"That's the plan. We're working together. And that being the case, I wanted to pass something along. I got a call from Catherine Hanover this morning. The daughter-in-law?"

"Sure. I talked to her twice already. She called you?"

"She did. It seems we've been doubling up on her. I talked to her yesterday, and then evidently you came by to visit her after we'd talked, she and I?"

He answered warily. "Right. She told me you'd called her."

"Well," Glitsky said, "you won't like this, but she said you came on to her."

Cuneo's face hardened down in an instant. "She said what? How did I do that?"

"You touched her."

"I touched her. Where? Did she say?"

"Arm and shoulder."

"Arm and shoulder. As if I'd remember arm and shoulder. And that was coming on to her?" Then, a different tone. "Is she filing a complaint?"

"No."

"She says I came on to her, but she's not filing a complaint? What's that about?"

"That doesn't matter," Glitsky said. "Did you touch her?"

Cuneo paused for a second. "I really don't remember." "It would be better if you did, one way or the other." "Okay then. No, I didn't." "You're sure?"

"Positive. If I did, maybe passing by her, it was so innocent I didn't even notice."

"So if you did that, maybe by mistake, you're saying she must have overreacted?"

"Either that or just flat lied. It's been known to happen."

"And why would she do that?"

"That's what I'm asking myself, especially if she's not filing a complaint." His fingers tapped a steady beat on the snare drum. Ta da dum, ta da dum, ta da dum. "Maybe I was getting close to something she didn't want to talk about."

Glitsky leaned forward. "Do you remember what that might have been?"

Cuneo drummed some more, thinking about it. "Nothing specific."

"What did you go to see her about?"

"She was a witness who might have remembered something. You know how that is."

"Okay."

The fingers stopped. The silence this time thicker. "Okay what?"

Glitsky hesitated. "If you weren't asking her about anything specific, and didn't call on her for a specific reason-something she said the night before that bothered you, something like that-people might wonder why you went to see her in the first place." He held up a hand again. "Just an observation if the topic comes up again."

Cuneo threw him a long, flat stare. "So what did you call her about, then?"

"I called her because I was hoping somebody in the extended family might know who worked on Missy's teeth, and she was the only contact I had. I lucked out." Glitsky kept his voice calm against Cuneo's clear rage.

"Listen, I'm not accusing you of anything. If you say you didn't touch her, you didn't touch her. If you felt you had to talk to her a second time without a specific reason, that's good enough for me. Good cops have good instincts."

The kick drum went thud.

Glitsky continued. "After she gave me the dentist's name, she talked about her family and money. Things are going to be better for them all after Paul's death."

"How much better?"

"A lot."

Glitsky offered his opinion that Catherine's ingenuous and offhand cataloguing of the benefits of Paul's death mitigated considering her a suspect. So Cuneo would probably be well advised to stay away from her. If any further direct interrogation of her were necessary, Glitsky ought to do it. Cuneo didn't buy the argument. But he wasn't going to argue with the deputy chief, whose visit here had to be intimidation pure and simple.

Instead he said, "If it's my case, how about if I work it and keep you informed?"

"We could do that, but it might be awkward for me with the mayor. She asked me to stay involved. I'm asking you how I can do that and still let you do your job."

"I just told you. How about if I work it and let you know what I get?"

Glitsky put his notepad down. "I'll ask you one more time. Either you tell me how you want to do this or I'll tell you how we will do it. Is that about clear enough?"

After a minute, Cuneo nodded. "All right." He got out his own notepad, flipped a few pages. "You said the mayor might know something she's not telling you. Ask her what she really knows about Hanover."

"All right."

"Then you might see if you run across anything about Missy while you're at it."

"You think she might have been the primary target?"

"She's just as dead as Hanover. And Catherine said the two of them had been fighting."

"About the remodel? Catherine said…"

Cuneo interrupted. "Catherine, Catherine, Catherine."

"Yeah, I know."

"I didn't touch her."

"I never said you did."

A stretch of silence. Then Glitsky pulled a page of newspaper from inside his notebook, unfolded it and handed it across to Cuneo. "That's Paul and Missy three months ago at a party. It's the only picture of her I could find, which I thought was a little weird since Paul's picture was in the paper every couple of weeks. The Chron's even got a head shot of him on file. But nothing on her except this."

"She didn't like to have her picture taken."

"Apparently not."

"Why not?"

"No idea."

Cuneo finally looked at the photograph. "Somebody looks like her, you'd think she'd love to get photographed." He stared another second, emitted a low whistle. "Definite trophy material." Still, he kept his eyes on the picture.

"You see something?" Glitsky asked.

Almost as though startled out of a reverie, he said, "No. Nothing. Just a hell of a waste."

8

Cuneo left his house about a half hour after Glitsky had gone, and this put him in the city at around 3:30, long before his shift was scheduled to begin. But he figured he wasn't going to be on the clock for a while anyway, not if he wanted to break this case before Glitsky could claim any credit for it.

The Arson Unit had for years worked out of one of the station houses close to downtown. But that station didn't have toilets and changing areas for female firefighters, so to make room for these improvements, the Arson Unit had been transferred to its present location in a barricaded storage warehouse on Evans Street in the less-than-centrally-located, gang-infested Bayview District, far, far south of Market. Inside the cavernous main room downstairs they kept the arson van as well as spare engines and trucks and miles of hoses and other equipment. There was also the odd historical goody, such as

an engine that had been used in the 1906 earthquake and fire, with an eight-hundred-pound, five-story ladder it had taken twenty men to lift.

Becker sat upstairs at a small conference table in a common room outside of his small office. When Cuneo entered, he was turning the oversize pages of some computer printout. Looking up, and without preamble, he said, "Valero gasoline."

"What about it?"

"That's the accelerant." He tapped the pages in front of him. "We had a good-enough sample from the rug under her. We ran a mass spectrometer on it. Valero."

Cuneo drew up a chair. "They're different? I thought all gas was the same."

"Not exactly." He put a finger on the paper. "This was Valero's formulation."

"So what does that tell us?"

"Unfortunately, not a whole hell of a lot. Valero's the biggest gas producer in the country. However-the good news-it's nowhere near the market leader here in the city. And there's a Valero station not three blocks from Alamo Square. Not that our man necessarily bought the gas there, but somebody bought almost exactly two gallons on Wednesday morning. The sales get automatically recorded and we checked."

"Did anybody notice who bought it?"

"Nobody's asked yet."

Cuneo clucked. "I'll go by. I've got a picture of Missy. Maybe it'll spark something." He pulled out his notepad, unfolded the picture and passed it across. "Can you say 'babe'?"

Becker stared at it for a long moment. "This is Missy? She looks a little familiar."

"You know, I thought that, too. You heard it was her, by the way, didn't you?"

"Yeah. I called Strout, keeping up."

Cuneo drummed on his chair for a few seconds, staring into the air between them. Suddenly he snapped his fingers. "That's it. I knew there was something else. You just said something about 'our man' when you were telling me about the gas. You got anything that narrows it down to a guy?"

"No," Becker said. "I've just always assumed it was a guy. I told this to Glitsky."

"And what did he say?"

"Nothing, really. He just took it in. Why? Is something pointing you toward a woman?"

"Maybe," Cuneo said. "I'll let you know."

Glitsky figured that if he didn't want to ask the mayor directly, and he didn't, then his best source of information on her perhaps-hidden connection to Paul Hanover was likely to be found in the basement of the Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission. Despite the receptionist calling Jeff Elliot to tell him Glitsky was upstairs wanting to see him, when Glitsky got buzzed down and got to Jeff's small, glass-enclosed cubicle, the reporter/columnist was in his wheelchair at his desk, typing up a storm at his computer terminal, apparently lost to the world until he suddenly stopped typing and looked over. "This is my Pulitzer," he said. "You mind waiting for two more 'graphs?" He motioned to a chair just inside the cubicle.

Glitsky nodded and took the seat.

The office was small and cluttered. It sported an old metal desk that held Elliot's computer and a telephone, a waist-high oak bookshelf crammed to overflowing, and another metal shelf contraption stacked with about a year's worth of newspapers, and against which leaned a set of crutches. A bunch of New Yorker and other cartoons were taped on the glass wall by Glitsky's head. Next to the phone on the desk was a picture of his wife with their daughters.

Elliot stopped typing and stared at his screen, then raised his right hand over the keyboard and brought it down with a triumphant flourish. The screen cleared. He turned his head toward Glitsky. "Sorry about that, but it's brilliant. You'll see tomorrow. So to what do I owe the personal appearance?"

"You said you wanted to talk to me, remember? About the picture of me and the mayor? The scoop I was hiding from you?"

"I was giving you grief, I think. Now you're telling me there was one?"

"If there was, I thought maybe between us we might find it."

Elliot pushed his wheelchair back from the desk and around to face him. "You're losing me."

"I don't mean to. What do you know about Paul Hanover?"

"Other than the fact that he's dead? This is going to have to do with the mayor?"

"It might. And we're off the record, okay? It'll be worth it in the long run."

Elliot nodded with some reluctance. "All right. What do you have?"

"I don't know if it's anything, but you remember yesterday at the Ferry Building when I told you I had business with Kathy. The business was that she had asked me to get involved, personally, with Hanover."

"Why would she want you to do that?"

"That's unclear. Maybe she thinks we've got a relationship."

"So you'll control what gets out?"

"I don't want to think she thinks that."

"But you suspect it?"

"Maybe that's putting it too strongly. I know nothing about Hanover other than the fact that he gave her campaign money. I thought you might have heard a little more."

Elliot took his hands off the armrests of his wheelchair and linked them on his lap. His eyes went to the cartoons on the partition by Glitsky's head, but he wasn't looking at them. Finally, he drew a breath and let it out. "First," he said, "he didn't just give her some money. He threw the fund-raising dinner that kicked off her campaign last summer, where they raised I think it was about six hundred grand. You might have read about that, since the story appeared in the general newspaper and not my column." He grinned at his little joke. "But Hanover, I guess you'd say, was catholic in his political contributions. Kathy, of course, is a Dem, but he was also the Republican go-to guy."

"When did we start allowing Republicans in San Francisco?"

"You'd be surprised. Last time the president came out here to raise some money, guess who hosted the party?"

"So what were his politics? Hanover's."

"He didn't have politics so much, per se. He had clients. But wait a minute." Jeff went back to his terminal, hit a few keys, then sat back in satisfaction. "There you go. When memory fails…"

Glitsky came forward in his chair. "What'd you get?"

Donnell White, a midthirties black man with an upbeat demeanor, managed the Valero station on Oak and Webster. He wasn't the owner, but he worked afternoons six days a week. He took one look at Cuneo's picture of Missy D'Amiens and nodded. "Yeah, she in here all the time, every week or two. She must live nearby."

"Not anymore." Cuneo told him the news, then went on. "But the question is whether you saw her come in on Wednesday and fill up a portable gas container."

"Not if she come in the morning." He looked down again at the picture, scratched his short stubble. "But hold on a sec."

They were standing out in front by the gas islands, and now he turned and yelled back into the garage area, where some rap music emanated. "Jeffie, come on out here, will you?"

When there was no response, White disappeared back into the station. After a few seconds, the music stopped and White and Jeffie emerged back into the late-afternoon sun. Jeffie was young, as sullen as White was effusive. Apparently bored to death, his eyes rolled upward as he slouched with his hands in his pockets, listening to why the cop was here. Finally they got to the picture and he nodded. "Yeah," he said. "Could have been her."

Something about the phrase struck Cuneo. "What do you mean, could have been? It either was or it wasn't."

He shrugged. "Hey, some woman get some gas." He looked to his coworker. "Who you said you lookin' for?"

Cuneo jumped in. "It might not have been this woman?"

He shrugged. "I'm eating lunch inside. She fills the thing and not her car. Put it in the trunk."

"She put the portable container in her trunk?"

He fixed Cuneo with a flat stare. "What'd I just say, man? Yeah, she put the container in her trunk."

"What kind of car was it?"

Again, the eye roll. "Maybe a Mercedes? I don't know. Coulda been. Something like that."

Cuneo held the photograph out again. "And would you say it was this woman or not?"

Jeffie looked more carefully this time, took it in his hands and brought it closer to his face. "I seen her… this woman, before, I think." He kept looking. "Mighta been her, but if it was, she had her hair different. But I don't really know, 'cept she was white and fine-lookin'. Big jugs, no fat. Nice butt."

"You remember what she was wearing?"

The young mechanic cast his eyes to the sky again, then closed them. "Maybe a blue shirt, kind of shiny. Oh yeah, and sunglasses. She never took the shades off." He pointed at the picture again. "It could have been her, now I look at it. It's hard to say. But maybe not."

This time, cocktail hour Friday night, Maxine and Joseph Willis were both home at their place a few houses down from where Paul Hanover's used to be. They were drinking manhattans in stem glasses and going out to meet some friends for dinner in a while, but Cuneo didn't pick up any sense that they resented his visit. They invited him in, offered him a drink, which he declined, and then Maxine explained to Joseph again about what she'd told Cuneo the night before. As she talked, the three of them drifted back over to the space by the front window.

"I'm here about the same thing again, I'm afraid." Cuneo took out the picture and handed it across to her. "We want to be sure that Missy D'Amiens was who you saw. I wondered if you'd mind looking at this?"

Maxine put her drink on a side table, then took the newspaper cutout. Looking out the window for a second-revisiting the moment-she came back to the picture and nodded her head one time briskly. "Yep," she said, "that's her all right."

Joseph, maybe forty-five years old, was physically much smaller than his wife. Short and very thin, he probably didn't weigh 150 pounds. His shoulders barely seemed sufficient to hold up his head. What hair he had, and it wasn't much, he wore in a buzz. He was wearing rimless eyeglasses, a red bow tie over a starched white shirt, red paisley-print suspenders and brown tweed pants. But in a quiet way he managed to project a sense of confidence and inner strength.

He placed his drink carefully next to his wife's, then peered at the picture over Maxine's arm and shook his head, speaking with absolute certainty. "That's Missy D'Amiens, certainly, but I can't swear she was the woman we saw the other night."

Maxine frowned deeply, looking over and down at him. "What are you saying, Joseph? That sure was who she was."

Joseph put a hand lightly on her arm. "Could I please see the picture myself?" He was the soul of mildness, holding out his other hand. When she gave it to him, he crossed over to the window and stood where the light was better, studying it for the better part of a minute. Finally, he raised his eyes, looked directly at Cuneo and shook his head. "I'm not sure."

Cuneo emitted a long, low, single-note deep in his throat. Maxine crossed over to Joseph and pulled the picture from his hand, holding it up close to her face. While she was looking, Cuneo asked Joseph, "Where was her car, again, exactly?"

Pointing out the window, he indicated the same place that Maxine had shown Cuneo the night before. "Just across the street over there, five or six cars down, by the light post."

"And what kind of car was it? Do you remember?"

"I'm not sure. Dark, certainly. Black."

"It was a black Mercedes," Maxine said, "C-type."

Joseph turned to her, placed his hand on her arm again and said, "It might have been that, after all. I didn't pay too much attention."

"You weren't looking at the car, were you?"

He gave his wife a tolerant smile. "Perhaps that, too." Back to Cuneo. "In any event, she went to the car and we all went back to our drinks. Speaking of which…" He picked up both drinks and gave his wife hers.

"Did you see her do anything at the car?" Cuneo asked.

Joseph silently consulted with his wife, then shook his head. "No. She just went to the door."

"Not the trunk?"

"Not that I saw. Maxine?"

"No. She just got in and drove off."

Cuneo's low hum had developed a melody, but the song remained unidentifiable. "Let's get back for a minute, if you don't mind, to whether or not it was Missy D'Amiens. Mrs. Willis, you say it was?"

"I thought it was."

"But do you remember last night, when we talked, you said you thought you might have been mistaken? Do you remember that?"

She didn't like the question and straightened up to her full height. "That was when I heard that she'd died in the house."

"Right. So you reasoned that she must not have left. So maybe it was someone else out on the street here."

"Or she left and came back later."

"Sure, which is what she must have done, if she was in the house when it burned. But your husband now says he's not sure it was her at all."

The husband spoke up. "It might have been. But there was something…" He moved back a couple of steps, so he was standing in the jutting alcove of the front bay window. "I saw her as she came out of Hanover's place and I remember first thinking, 'Oh, there's Missy.' But then, something about her walk…"

"Her shake, more like," Maxine said.

He shrugged. "I don't know what it was exactly, but something made me form the impression that it wasn't Missy."

"You knew her, then? Missy?" Cuneo asked.

"We'd spoken on the street a few times. We're neighbors, after all. I can't say we had a real relationship of any kind. But I knew who she was."

"Okay. So you're standing here and she comes out of Hanover's…"

Joseph sipped at his cocktail, broke a small smile. "I must have kept looking a bit too long out of the corner of my eye."

"Only the corner, Joseph?"

"Well." He touched her arm gently and continued. "In any event, my dear bride must have seen me looking at something, because she turned to see what it was."

"But," Cuneo wanted it crystal clear, "by this time the woman from Hanover's had come down as far as this window. Isn't that when you told me you first saw her, Maxine?"

A nod. "She was right there."

"Okay. Do either of you remember what she was wearing?"

"Blue," Joseph said.

"Black." Maxine turned on her husband. "A jacket. Leather. Now, come on, Joseph. I know what I saw, and I saw that."

Joseph explained the apparent contradiction. "From the side you saw only the jacket. When she first came out, the jacket was open, and she was wearing a bright blue blouse, shiny. It caught the sun."

"Skirt or pants?"

They looked at each other. "Pants." They agreed.

"So pants, a blue shirt, a leather jacket. Driving a black Mercedes."

"That sounds about right," Joseph said.

It sounded about right to Cuneo, too. But he wasn't thinking it sounded like Missy D'Amiens.

9

Glitsky in shirtsleeves came out of Dismas Hardy's back door and stopped on the top step that led down to the backyard. He had just left Treya and Frannie and his baby in the kitchen. He looked up at cerulean blue. The sun hadn't yet set behind him, and the shade the house threw carried all the way across Hardy's deep, narrow back lawn and halfway up the fence, to about the height where Frannie had trimmed the riot of blooming roses-white, red, yellow, purple, flame.

Hardy's home stood on the top of a small rise, and from his vantage Glitsky could look over the sun-splashed roofs of the Richmond District all the way to downtown four miles east. The top of the Transamerica Pyramid peeked somewhat ludicrously above the rust red dome of the synagogue on Arguello. Slightly to his right, he could just make out the shining whiteness of St. Ignatius Church on the USF campus. Here and there, a window

would reflect the sinking sun's light and cast it back, little diamonds sprinkled across the panorama. There was no sign of fog, only the barest of breezes, and the evening was completely without chill.

Just up against the house below him, Hardy the purist was arranging charcoal over newspaper in a chimney-flue-lighting device. Glitsky watched him counting out some no-doubt mystical exact number of briquettes. When Hardy held a match to the paper underneath, the smoke started to rise up toward where Glitsky sat.

"You're safe," Hardy said. "Smoke follows beauty."

With a grunt, Glitsky took that as his cue to move. "You know," he said, coming down the stairs, "you can buy a propane barbecue for about a hundred bucks. Turn on the gas, press a button, you get heat. It got invented a few years ago, you might not have heard."

Hardy drank from his beer bottle. "The starters always break. They don't work."

"And that chimney thing does?"

"You wait."

"That's my point. What if I don't want to wait? Or get smoked out?"

"Then you don't elect to barbecue, which, my friend, presupposes a lack of hurry and, you might have noticed, some likelihood of smoke. When things cook, especially over a fire, they often smoke. You could look it up. Besides, I don't like the idea of a bomb in my backyard."

"A bomb?"

"Those propane tanks. One of 'em blows up, it can level a building."

"And this happens a lot in your experience?"

Hardy sipped his beer and shrugged. "Only takes once."

"I'm not going to change your mind, am I? On propane or anything else."

"But you so enjoy trying. And I think you did once on something. Change my mind, I mean. I know it wasn't getting me to try Spam. I would never do that."

"I know I got you to wear better shoes when we walked the beat."

"See? There you go. Even if that was twenty years ago."

"It was thirty years ago."

"Thirty?" Hardy said. "Don't say thirty. It couldn't have been thirty. That would mean I'm old now."

"You are way old." Glitsky walked over to the grill, put his hand flat over the chimney starter. "And this isn't hot yet."

"You're not supposed to monitor it by the second. It gets hot eventually."

"So does pavement on a sunny day, but people generally don't try to cook on it. Here's another one."

"Another what?"

"Time I got you to change your mind. I got you to apply back to the DA's office after God knows how many years of wandering in the desert."

"Only about a decade. And it wasn't the desert. It was the Shamrock." This was the bar that Hardy owned a quarter of. "Jews like yourself wander in the desert. Good Irish stock like me achieve spiritual peace in a wetter environment. Guinness comes to mind, the occasional black and tan, if you recall."

"I probably remember better than you do. But the fact remains. The reason you're back practicing law and getting rich is because I changed your mind lo these many years ago."

Hardy raised his beer bottle. "For which I salute you."

Glitsky pulled a chair around to sit at the patio table. Hardy tinkered with the chimney thing, lifting it up, blowing into the bottom of it, putting it back on its grill. Now he, too, sat down. "Thank God for a warm night," he said.

Glitsky didn't respond right away. When he did, he said, "Do you ever wish you could just stop?" "Stop what?"

"Everything. Change, new and exciting experiences, whatever comes next."

"Then you're dead," Hardy said.

Glitsky shook his head. "I'm not talking forever."

"But if you're stopped, there's no time, so it is forever."

"Let's pretend it isn't, okay? But you know those books I love, Patrick O'Brian? Master and Commander, the movie. Those books."

"What about them?"

"They make a toast all the time in them. 'May nothing new happen.' That's how I'm feeling. That it would be nice to just stop for a while. When things are good."

Hardy threw his friend a sideways glance over the table. This wasn't a typical Glitsky conversation. "They are good," he said. "Knock on wood, may they stay that way." He rapped his knuckles on the table, lowered his voice. "You thinking about Cuneo?"

Glitsky was tracing the grain in the patio table's surface. "A little."

"A little bit, but all the time?"

Glitsky nodded. "Pretty much."

"Me, too."

"Waiting for the other shoe to drop."

"That, too, but maybe it won't." Hardy looked over at his friend. "You all right?"

"Right now, this minute, yeah. But things are going to change because they always do."

"With Cuneo, you mean?"

"Him, yeah, but other stuff, too." He indicated the house. "The pregnancy…"

"I thought everything was good with that."

"It is." Glitsky let out a heavy breath. "I keep telling myself," he said, "that you can acknowledge a happy moment once in a while and it doesn't necessarily curse you for eternity."

"When things are good, the only way they can go from there is bad?"

"Maybe."

"The other option is maybe they could get better." "Not too often."

"Well, of course your ever-cheerful self would say that. But it could happen. Sometimes it does." He twirled his beer bottle on the table. "I wasn't particularly gung-ho when Frannie and I were deciding whether we were going to try to get pregnant with Vincent. I figured we'd already hit the jackpot with the Beck, we got a healthy little girl, we win. We should count our blessings and just stop there. But then we got Vinnie, and he's been icing on the cake."

"Maybe it's that," Glitsky said. "The second kid thing. Maybe it won't be all right. The baby."

"Why wouldn't it be? Rachel's fine. Your other kids have been fine. You and Treya have good genes. What's the problem?"

"Nothing, except that, as you say, my kids have always been fine."

"So you're pushing your luck?"

A nod. "There's that element."

"And a miserable guy like you doesn't deserve a happy life?"

"Some of that, too." "Why not?"

"I don't know. Guilt, I suppose." "Over what?"

Glitsky paused. "Maybe what we did." Hardy took a beat, then whispered. "We had no choice. We never had a choice. They would have killed us."

"I know."

"That's the truth, Abe."

"I know," he repeated. "I know."

"So? What's to be guilty about?"

"Nothing. You're right. Maybe it's just general guilt. Original sin. Maybe we don't get to be happy. I mean, the human condition isn't one of happiness."

"Except when it is."

"Which is why," Glitsky said, "right now, tonight, everything could just stay the way it is and it would be fine with me."

"You realize you're dangerously close to admitting that you're happy right now?"

"Marginally, I suppose I am. Comparatively."

"Whoa, rein it in, Abe," Hardy said. "All that enthusiasm might give you a hernia."

"What I can't believe," Glitsky was saying to his dinner mates at the table an hour later, "is that Hanover was such a player and so few people knew."

"Probably what made him good at it," Hardy said. "I mean, who follows the ins and outs of the city's contract for its towing business, fascinating though I'm sure it must be?"

Frannie put down her fork. "You don't really think somebody might have killed him over that, do you?"

"The city's towing business," Abe said, "is worth fifty million dollars. Ten mil a year for five years. I might kill Diz here for half that."

Hardy nodded, acknowledging the compliment. "But then who's the suspect?" he asked.

The men were at the opposite ends of the table, the women on the sides. They'd finished their halibut steaks and green beans, and nobody seemed inclined to start cleaning up. At the mention of the concept of a possible murder suspect, Glitsky couldn't help himself-he came forward with a real show of excitement. "That's where it gets interesting. Tow/Hold's had the contract now for twenty years. Anybody want to guess how many complaints it's gotten in the past two years alone? And I'm not talking complaints like people upset that they got towed. I'm talking criminal complaints. Stealing money and CDs and radios and stuff out of the vehicles, selling parts, losing the car itself. How many?"

"How many cars does it tow?" Hardy asked.

"About eighty thousand a year."

This made Frannie come alive. "No. That can't be right. In the city alone?"

Glitsky nodded. "That's per year. It's a big number."

"Wait a minute," Hardy said. He drummed the table, eyes closed, for a minute. "That's fifteen hundred or so a week. I guess it's doable. Two hundred a day."

"A little more." Glitsky loved the details. "Okay, so back to how many criminal complaints has the city received?"

"One a day?" Treya said.

"More."

"A hundred and six?" Frannie asked.

"Ifyou're going to be silly." Glitsky spread his palms. "Try three and a half average. Every single day."

"And these are the people," Hardy said, "that the city in its wisdom has awarded its towing contract to for how long?"

"A mere twenty years," Glitsky said. "At, remember, ten mil a year."

"Not including what they steal, I presume," Treya said.

"Right. Not including that."

Treya stiffened her back, turned to her husband. "Does Clarence know those figures?"

Glitsky shook his head. "The DA generally doesn't get involved. Maybe with some individual complaints, but not the whole picture."

"Why not?" Frannie asked. "I mean, somebody official must know about this stuff. You found it out in one day, Abe."

"That's only because I happened to be looking for anything on Hanover, and he turned up in this article."

"Which said what?" Hardy asked.

"Well, ironically enough, it wasn't even about him, not mostly. It was about Tow/Hold. The Chronicle did an investigation last year, although the story was kind of buried in the back of the Metro section. The way they wrote it, it came out like Tow/Hold had hired a few bad eggs, that was all. They were all fired long ago. It wasn't anything systemic in the way they did business. It certainly wasn't the leadership of the company."

"No," Treya said with heavy irony, "it couldn't have been that."

"So what happened?" Frannie asked. "I mean, where is Hanover involved?"

Glitsky paused and sipped some water, relishing the moment. "It seems that Tow/Hold has ties to our recently departed ex-mayor, Mr. Washington."

"Why did I see this coming?" Hardy asked.

"Because you're an astute judge of how this city works. It turns out that Washington started to feel some heat around these complaints. So when the last contract expired, he didn't automatically extend it as he had the last time it had come due."

"Without putting it up for bid?" Hardy asked.

"Right. It's sole source. We do lots of them here. Tow/Hold hasn't bid on the job for fifteen years, through four administrations."

"Imagine that," Frannie said. "They must have just been doing a terrific job."

"Only modestly terrific, as we've seen," Glitsky said. "But not so terrific that Washington didn't put them on notice."

"So what did he do?" Treya asked.

"Went month-to-month, which really straightened 'em out, as evidenced by the complaints. Those numbers we were talking about? They were after they cleaned up their act."

Hardy put his wineglass down. "So why didn't Washington just fire them?"

Glitsky actually smiled. "Ahh. Now we're getting to it. He didn't fire them because his campaign manager- we all know Nils Granat, do we not?-well, Mr. Granat's day job is he's a lobbyist, and Tow/Hold just happened to be one of his biggest clients."

"How big?" Treya asked.

"A quarter million a year retainer. Ever since they went month-to-month."

Hardy whistled. "I need more clients like that."

"So Granat," Treya said, "basically made excuses for Tow/Hold to the mayor."

Glitsky nodded. "That would be the kindest interpretation. The cynical among us think Granat just funneled some of his fees through to Washington somehow. There are rumors of actual briefcases of cash."

"You're shocking me," Hardy said. "Graft out of city hall?"

But Frannie said to Glitsky, "Did I miss where Hanover came in?"

Glitsky reached out and touched her hand gently. "Your patience shall be rewarded, my dear. Here he comes. Hanover's day job, it turns out, was pretty much like Granat's, though maybe on a bigger scale nationally. He wasn't Kathy West's campaign manager, but between money and contacts, he helped her campaign in a big way."

"He represents another tow company," Hardy said. "Excellent, Diz!" Glitsky sat back and spread his arms out. "Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Bayshore

Autotow, which until last Wednesday was a client of Paul Hanover's."

A small silence ensued, which Frannie broke by asking, "And you really think this had something to do with his murder?"

Glitsky shook his head. "I don't know if I actually think it yet, but it's definitely the kind of connection I'd more or less expected and hoped to find."

"So now that Hanover's gone," Hardy asked, "what happens with Bayshore?"

"That's the question," Glitsky said. "Parking and Traffic"-the city's department that controlled the towing contract-"has already recommended them to replace Tow/Hold, but first it's got to be approved-the meeting's in ten days-by something called the Municipal Transportation Agency, which has seven members, four of whom are reportedly in the pocket of guess who?" Glitsky turned to his wife in expectation.

She didn't let him down. "Kathy West."

Frannie said, "So Kathy controls the appointment of the contract."

Glitsky nodded all around. "And it goes to Bayshore. Except of course if the murder of Bayshore's lobbyist makes her decide to rethink her priorities."

"It would explain her personal interest," Hardy said, "and going outside of channels, wouldn't it?"

"That thought," Glitsky said, "did occur to me."

10

Paul Hanover's first wife, Theresa, was a dominating and still very handsome woman of seventy-four years. Good cheekbones and a face-lift kept the lines from her face, and her confident carriage and stylish clothes made her appear more like a sister than the mother of her three adult children in the room. She had taken pride of place in the large and comfortable reading chair with ottoman by the picture window as she looked around her family, gathered in her son's now-crowded living room.

Will, finally back from his fishing trip, sat noticeably apart from Catherine over by the fireplace, while his wife kept flitting in and out of the kitchen as she did (to avoid mother-in-law interaction, Theresa always felt), supplying drinks, coffee and dessert. Carlos and Mary Rodman sat together holding hands on the couch. Beth and Aaron Jacobs took the folding chairs that Catherine had set up next to one another just to Theresa's right,

and she could hear them discussing their eldest daughter Sophie's schoolwork, as usual.

Theresa thought they should have called this family meeting at her daughter Mary's home, which was much larger. At least there they could have all eaten at the same table instead of catch-as-catch-can wherever there was a flat surface-kitchen counter, breakfast nook, dining room table-anywhere big enough to accommodate a chair and a dinner plate. Theresa almost wound up in the living room with a TV tray, and would have if Beth hadn't noticed and given up her own place in the dining room.

Still, the catered (though self-serve) dinner in the smallish house had been agreeable enough, considering that Catherine had organized it. It was better than most of her other efforts with the family. Now the older kids had vanished on their Friday night out while the younger ones had been banished upstairs with a video.

Catherine brought out a piece of cherry pie and gave it to Carlos, then sat in the chair she'd pulled around to the kitchen entrance, apart from all of them, as always. Gradually, the hum of conversation died away, and Theresa cleared her throat, a signal that she was going to take the floor. "I didn't think it would be like this," she said. "I never wanted anything like this to happen."

Next to her, Beth reached out and took her hand. "We know you didn't, Mom. Nobody thinks anything like that."

"Still, I think it's important that I say it. It's no secret I had some bitter words with your father about…" She exhaled heavily. "About his responsibilities to all of his grandchildren. You all know how he felt."

Will had come forward in his chair, elbows on his knees. "He didn't think he owed them anything, Mom. Or us, either. He'd made it on his own and we should all do the same. That's just who he was and how he thought."

"Okay," Mary Rodman said. The youngest of Paul and Theresa's three children, she had been crying off and on since she'd learned of her father's death. Her eyes were red and swollen. "But giving it all to her… "

"We don't know for sure that he was going to do that," Will said.

"Yes, we do," Catherine snapped at him. "He told me explicitly when I went there…"

"Hold it, hold it, hold it." Aaron, an attorney in jacket and tie, put his hands out in front of him. "That whole question is moot now. She's dead. The question is what he did with his will. Catherine. When you talked to him Wednesday, did he tell you he'd already changed it?"

"No. But he'd made the decision. He was coy about whether he'd already done it."

Theresa asked. "But he didn't say he hadn't done it, either, did he?"

"He said he had scheduled a meeting with his partner-what's his name…"

"Bob Townshend," her husband said.

"Right. Bob. They had an appointment for next week, to talk over some of the issues, he said. He just kept saying that the main thing was that he was going to marry her. He loved her. She loved him."

A chorus of muttered negative reaction stopped her. When it died down, she went on. "Whether or not we believed any of it, of what they had together, he told me we weren't going to talk him out of it, or into some kind of prenup, either. And when he married her, she would become his heir. She'd had a very hard life, and he was going to make it up to her. We buzzards could stop circling. That's really all he said."

This brought more tears to Mary's eyes. "Did he really say that?" She looked around at her family. "But he was our dad, you guys. It wasn't all about his money."

Theresa wasn't having that. "Your children, my grandchildren, deserve that money more than Missy did, Mary, even if you didn't care about it." She threw her imperious gaze around the room, daring anyone to contradict her. "All of your children, my grandchildren," she repeated, "absolutely deserve the benefit of his wealth- for college, or medical care if any of them get really sick. Or housing. If they need a down payment on their first home, who's going to be able to help them?"

Into the small silence, Beth said, "So we still don't know?"

"Not until we see the will, we don't," Will said.

"In the meantime," Theresa said, "I think for my grandchildren's sake that it's critical, absolutely critical, that we consider possible scenarios and come to unanimous agreement about our response to each of them."

"Well," Aaron the lawyer spoke up. "It's pretty straightforward, Theresa, really. If Paul didn't change his will yet in favor of Missy, then the last we heard the estate goes in equal thirds to the three kids. Anybody have an estimate of what ballpark we're talking about?"

Catherine Hanover spoke up. "Fourteen million dollars."

Beth snorted. "Is that before or after the renovation?"

"That's as of Wednesday, so after."

Carlos sat forward on the couch, looked across to Catherine. "It sounds like you two had a pretty substantive talk."

Catherine gave him a flat look. "I was motivated," she said, then turned quickly to her other brother-in-law. "You were outlining options, Aaron. First was thirds to the three kids, if nothing had changed. But what if he'd already rewritten it in favor of Missy?"

"Well, then we don't know for sure until we see it, but I'd say the most likely scenario is that he'd just move her up in front of the kids. His kids, not the grandkids. In which case the secondary beneficiaries would be Will, Beth and Mary anyway, and everything would go back to being the same as it was before he met Missy. That's assuming they died at the same time, Paul and Missy."

"But what if he died first?" Mary asked.

Aaron shook his head. "That won't be an issue, even if the coroner concludes that one of them killed the other, which I gather they've ruled out."

But Mary wasn't convinced. "How can you know it won't be a problem, Aaron? What if, just hypothetically, she lived after he did, even for a minute, then wouldn't her heirs inherit?"

"No, because Paul never would have left his will vague on that point. Any good estate lawyer-and fourteen mil buys good help, trust me-covers it. Usually it's ninety days."

"What is?" his wife asked.

Aaron sighed. "The amount of time a beneficiary- Missy-needs to survive after Paul before her heirs get the inheritance."

"Who are they anyway?" Will asked. "Her heirs?"

Everybody looked at each other, and then Aaron said, "I don't think anybody knows, but I promise it won't be an issue."

"If there's a ruling that she died after him," Theresa put in, "we'll find out who they are soon enough, believe me. Cousins and uncles and siblings she didn't even know she had."

"Well, maybe," Aaron said. "But the greater possible concern for us, I think, and what we should be prepared to litigate if necessary, is if he changed the will in favor of Missy…"

Theresa turned on him angrily. "Must you keep using her nickname, Aaron?"

He shrugged. "It's nothing personal, Theresa. It makes it clearer for everyone. But if he changed the will in her favor, then it's likely he changed the rest of it, too, maybe in favor of some charity, or to the kids, and I mean our kids. Your grandkids, Theresa. That's what we ought to be prepared for."

"That would be fine with me," Theresa said. "That's who I'm in this for."

"We're all in it for them, too, Mom," Will said with some asperity.

"Well, he didn't mention any of those other possibilities to me, Aaron." Catherine sat rigidly in her chair. "He told me it was going to Missy. That's what he wanted. It really wasn't any of the family's business."

"That's so ridiculous and just so like him," Theresa said.

"Easy, Mom, okay?" Will said.

"Well," she shot back, "you tell me. How could it be any more the family's business? We were certainly all well enough aware that it was before… well, before this week."

"Okay," Will said, "but it's still Dad."

"I'm sure it was mostly her," Beth said, "not him. She had him so fooled. I can't believe he intended to cut us out completely."

"You can believe anything you want, Beth," Catherine said, "but the fact of the matter is that once the marriage happened, the whole financial picture was going to be different. And we all know what that was going to mean in practice, even if they hadn't died."

"But they didn't just die," Mary said. "Somebody killed them."

"Well," Theresa said, "of course I'm sorry about your father, but all I can say about Missy is good riddance."

"Mom!" Mary exploded. "God!"

"What?" Theresa said. "If you're honest, I know you're all saying the same thing inside yourselves. Thank heaven that woman is out of the picture." The matriarch threw her gaze around the room, daring anyone to disagree with her. "I've heard all of us say one time or another that we wished she would either go away or just die."

Catherine spoke up. "If we did, of course we were joking, Theresa. What do you think?"

"No. Obviously. I was just making the point that we knew what a danger that woman was to all of us."

"Well, she's not now," Aaron said.

And at that truth, the family went silent.

Will was forty-five years old, with an athletic frame and a conventionally handsome face that had not yet gone to slack or jowl. Still wearing his Dockers and short-sleeved Tommy Bahama shirt, he was sitting on the bed as his wife came into the room carrying a load of folded laundry. "Hey," he said.

"Hey," she answered with an uninflected, mechanical precision.

"How are you doing?"

"I'm doing fine, Will. How are you doing?"

"Good."

She stood still for a moment, looking at him. Then she exhaled and went over to the dresser, put the pile of laundry on the chair next to it, and opened the top drawer. She wasn't facing him. "So," she said, "no fish?"

"None. No keepers anyway. Isn't that weird? We're out two hundred miles, feels like halfway to the Galapagos, and there are no fish. I've never been completely skunked before on one of these trips."

"How many of you were there?"

"On the boat? Just three of us, plus the captain and crew."

"Nice guys?"

"Okay, I guess," he said. "The usual. Good 'ol boys. Tim and Tom."

"Easy to remember." "What does that mean?"

"Nothing. Never mind." She closed the top drawer, opened the next one down. "I wish you'd have called, though. Not being able to reach you was terrifically frustrating."

"I'm sorry about that. Next time I'll remember." He pushed himself back against the headboard. "What was that motivation you talked about tonight?"

"When?"

"When Aaron asked why you'd gone to see Dad that day."

She stopped moving, let out a long breath, still facing away from him. Slowly she turned full around, holding one of his folded T-shirts. Finally, she shook her head slightly from side to side. "I guess I just got tired of not knowing where we were going to stand. Saul starts college in a little over a year, and he's the first of the grand-kids. I'd talked to Beth and Mary and both had asked if I'd heard anything from your dad, what with Sophie and Pablo right behind Saul. So I just thought I'd go get it from the horse's mouth." She was wringing the T-shirt between her hands. "Then, as you heard, we got on to other things." "Missy."

"Among others." "Did you have words?"

"Some. Nothing worse than usual. We just talked, maybe argued a little. But it was all his decision, and there was really nothing to fight about. Besides, your father, as opposed to your mother, likes me. Or should I say liked."

Will shrugged. "He liked attractive women. So does his son." He patted the bed next to him. "Speaking of which, you're looking good tonight, especially to a man who's just spent five days at sea. Are you planning on coming to bed?"

"Eventually," she said. "I usually do."

"I've missed you," he said.

Biting her lip, nodding to herself, she turned back to the dresser, dropped the crumpled T-shirt into the open drawer. Clearing her throat, she said, "Let me go check on the kids," then left the room.

The assistant district attorney who handled arson cases was Chris Rosen. He'd been a prosecutor for nine years now, after first serving a year fresh out of law school as a clerk for Superior Court Judge Leo Chomorro. So he'd lived his entire legal life in the Hall of Justice at Seventh and Bryant. Rosen thrived in the environment.

An old-fashioned, hard-on-crime professional prosecutor, he didn't believe that he'd ever seen an innocent person in custody. "You don't get all the way to arrested-and believe me, that is a long, long way- unless you did it," he liked to say. "That's the truth, it always has been and always will be nothing but the truth, so help me God."

Unmarried and slightly unkempt, with an easygoing personal style, he often grew a day or two's stubble when he wasn't due in court. His dark hair licked at the top of his collar. The conscious image he projected was borderline blue collar, a guy with no special passion for prosecuting his fellow citizens. He was just a regular working dog going about his business, doing his job. Nobody to worry about. Attorneys who hadn't already faced him in court found out the truth soon enough, and often found themselves on the defensive from the get-go, blindsided by his cold passion.

"No law says you can't come across out of court as sympathetic, you know, a little… sensitive," he was saying over midnight drinks to Dan Cuneo as they sat at the bar at Lou the Greek's. "Then you get 'em in court, suddenly I'm the iceman and whop 'em upside the head. They don't know what hit 'em."

Rosen's experience had taught him that he needed every advantage he could get in San Francisco, where juries tended to see their main role as finding some reason, almost any reason-stress, hardship, bad luck, unfortunate upbringing-to let defendants off. There always lurked some mitigating factor, some reason for juries to forgive.

"Hey, but enough about me." Rosen sipped at his single malt. It wasn't anywhere near his working hours on a Friday night. He was out here now with his Oban on the rocks as a favor to his main-man arson inspector Arnie Becker, and also because the recent double-homicide fire was going to be the biggest case he'd tried to date. "Becker says you got a lead on Hanover."

Cuneo, on duty, drank Cherry Coke, no ice. "You know the basics?"

"Not much beyond Hanover and his girlfriend."

"All right." Cuneo tapped his fingers on the bar. "There was this couple, Maxine and Joseph Willis…" Drinking more Cherry Coke, fidgeting in his chair, continuing his percussion on the bar top, Cuneo laid out for Rosen the originally conflicting stories of the Willises- how Maxine had seen Missy D'Amiens leave the Hanover house within minutes of when the fire must have started, how Joseph had been uncertain-it might have been somebody else. Then there was Jeffie at the Valero station who volunteered that someone who looked something like her, but had different hair, had bought gasoline in a container and put it into her trunk.

"I'm still listening," Rosen said. "So you've got a woman who resembled this Missy."

"Well, wait. More than that. I've got a true fox, middle-aged…"

"Which one?" Rosen asked. "A fox or middle-aged?"

"Both." At Rosen's skeptical look, Cuneo said, "It happens. You'd seen her, you'd believe it. Anyway, she's in jeans and a shiny blue shirt, black leather jacket, driving a Mercedes, buying a container of gasoline and then coming out of Hanover's house a few minutes before it goes up."

"If it's all the same woman."

"Right. Of course. It was."

"Which means?"

"Which means, what if she had a motive?" Cuneo waited, but Rosen didn't bite. "Which she did."

"So you're telling me you've got a suspect."

"Not quite yet. I'm close. Light on physical evidence, but loaded with probable cause."

"You want a warrant," Rosen said.

"Yep, yep, yep." Cuneo bobbed his head, tattooed the bar with a final paradiddle. "Becker says you're tight with some judges."

Rosen shrugged. "The question is, can we make the case. I don't want to bring anybody in front of a grand jury and have nothing to talk about." He cast his eyes around. "I need a narrative. If I buy it, I can sell it to whoever's signing warrants."

Cuneo willed himself still, met Rosen's eye. "Grand jury's Tuesday, right?"

"Every week. You're thinking that soon?"

"I can do the search tomorrow if we can get a warrant now. We'll know by Sunday. Is that enough time for you?"

Rosen swirled the last of his Scotch and drank it off. "Plenty," he said.

11

Glitsky used police magic to find the address he wanted. Now, just before ten o'clock on Saturday morning, he was walking up Russian Hill in bright sunshine to the door of an enormous three-story brown box of a building on the corner of Green and Larkin. He stood in the covered entryway for a minute, trying to imagine what a place this big, in this neighborhood, would cost. Decided it didn't bear reflection. From his perspective, it was all the money in the world.

He rang the doorbell and listened as chimes sounded behind the double doors-etched glass in carved dark wood. After a long, silent moment, a short female figure appeared behind the glass and opened the door. In a black uniform with a white apron, she smiled formally and, seeing that Glitsky was a man of color in casual clothes said, "Deliveries are in the back."

Producing his wallet, Glitsky displayed his badge.

"I'm Deputy Chief of Inspectors Abe Glitsky. I wonder if I might have a word with Mr. Granat."

"Do you have an appointment?"

"No, ma'am. I was hoping to catch him in."

"Is this, then, official police business?"

"I'd just like to talk to him, if he can spare a minute."

"Certainly," she said. "I'll see if he's available." She turned, had a thought and turned again. "Would you care to wait inside?"

Glitsky crossed the threshold into the house and watched the maid walk down the long hallway and then somewhere off to her left. She'd left him standing on a burgundy Oriental carpet that was larger than Glitsky's living room, yet still did not quite reach the walls around the grand foyer. Even with the sunshine outside and the windows behind him, even with the six-foot chandelier and its fifty bulbs lit above him, the space was dim. No sound came from the rest of the house, and only gradually did Glitsky become aware of the ticking of a clock, although he couldn't locate its source. His eyes went to the art-dark oils in large burnished gilt frames-hung in the spaces between doorways. They were frankly-he thought purposefully-disturbing, all blacks and reds, flesh and blooded browns. Erotic overtones, sexually ambiguous-hints of nakedness amid industrial waste, a pack of dogs gathered over something not quite identifiable in a graffitied doorway.

"You like my paintings?"

Surprised-where had the man come from?-Glitsky whirled and found out. A door on the left wall stood open, blessedly light and even inviting. "I can't really say they speak to me."

"Yes, I do suppose it's an acquired taste. The tension of whether something terrible has just happened, or whether it's about to."

Glitsky shook his head. "I get enough of that in my job."

"Yes, of course. I suppose you do." He extended his hand, revealing a mouthful of perfect teeth under a crisp gray mustache. He was about Glitsky's size, a bit thinner. His hair was thick, silver. Even here in his home on the weekend, he was well turned out-black merino sweater, tan slacks, expensive-looking loafers. A handsome, confident man. "Nils Granat," he said, gripping Glitsky's hand hard, meeting his eyes. "We've met before, haven't we?"

"Yes, sir, a couple of times at City Hall. I wasn't sure you'd remember."

Granat turned his mouth up slightly, touched his forehead. "I remember people. It's almost what I do best. So what can I do for you, Chief? Is 'Chief' all right?"

"Fine."

"You want to sit in the library?" He jerked a finger behind him. "Right here." Without waiting for Glitsky to respond, he was already through the door and into the large, airy, pleasant adjoining room. "That foyer is a little gloomy, isn't it?" he said over his shoulder. "I should probably leave the side doors open, brighten it up. But then, I wasn't expecting anybody, especially this early on a weekend morning." He turned, confident that Glitsky would be there, and when he was, motioned him to the red leather couch. Granat himself pulled an Empire chair around and sat on it, crossing one leg over the other. "So how can I help you?" he asked. If he had any sense that this no-warning, early-morning visit by a high-ranking policeman meant that he was in trouble, he showed no sign of it.

Glitsky came forward to the front edge of the couch, and came right to the point. "I'm investigating the murder of Paul Hanover."

"God. Wasn't that a tragedy!"

"Yes, sir. But it was more than that. Somebody killed him."

Granat nodded. "That's what they're saying." "You don't believe it?"

"Oh no, not that. Of course I believe it. I mean, he was shot, wasn't he, before the fire? I just meant I hadn't heard that anyone had determined he'd been the primary target."

"You mean the woman?"

"Yes. Didn't she have some… well, maybe I shouldn't say."

"No. Say anything you want. At this point, I'm interested in anything you might know."

"Well, I can't say that I know anything. It's just that… Missy, wasn't it? You know that she just sort of appeared one day, and after that she was with Paul-a fait accompli, if you will. Not that she wasn't beautiful, but she didn't seem to be quite… one of us in some way. I may not be saying anything very coherent."

"So you think somebody in her past might have…"

Granat shook his head. "I can't say I've gotten so far as to actually think anything. Maybe it was just that she was foreign. French, I think. In any event, when I heard about the killings, I wondered about her background first, her enemies, not Paul's. I mean, Paul was extremely well liked, very respected by everyone. And not just here, but in Washington, everywhere. He put people together, did immense good work on many, many fronts. I knew him pretty well, as you may know, and I can't imagine anyone wanting to hurt him, much less kill him. It just doesn't make any sense."

"So your initial feeling was that it had something to do with Missy?"

"More than with Paul. Yes."

Glitsky sat back. "That's interesting."

"Do you know anything about her? Not that it's any of my business."

"Not too much," Glitsky admitted.

"Well." Granat lifted his hands palms up. "But you came to see me? About Paul? It must be about the towing, then?"

Glitsky halfway apologized. "It was someplace to start."

"Sure, I understand. It would be." Granat sat back, his arm outstretched along the row of books behind him. "Well, I'd be the first to admit that for the most part, the towing industry is a bit of a tough crowd, although that's still a long way from saying that violence is a common negotiating tool."

"But not necessarily unheard of."

Granat shook his head. "As a matter of fact, I'm not aware of any time recently that Tow/Hold has resorted to anything like strong-arm tactics. It's one of the reasons they retain me. To get things done a different way."

"But now with Mayor Washington gone…"

The lobbyist smiled. "We still have a mayor, and the city still needs an experienced company to handle its towing. And in spite of what you might have heard, no final decision has been reached."

"No, I realize that. In fact, it's kind of my point. Now, with Hanover out of the picture, it leaves Bayshore rudderless…"

Granat's dry chortle cut him off. "I wouldn't say 'rudderless.' These people are not rudderless. They're a very sophisticated bunch of venture capitalists who are trying to buy their way into a business they believe to be profitable but don't completely understand."

"As Tow/Hold does."

Another nod. "I believe the mayor might come to see it that way, yes."

"Or one of the members of the Municipal Transportation Agency?"

"Or one of them, that's true. Three, I believe, are already inclined to retain Tow/Hold."

"I've heard that, too."

"So from my perspective the decision is still very much a matter of the merits. Three of the MTA people obviously think that we-Tow/Hold-should stay on because we're doing a pretty good job, in spite of some of the problems we've had." Granat leaned forward in his chair. "You've got to understand, Chief, that whoever gets the contract, they're going to have the same problems. Fact is, they're going to have to hire the very same folks that we use to run the lots and patrol the streets. That's the reality. And they're not going to pay those people any more than we do-they can't and make a profit. So they've got the same labor pool doing the same work for the same price. The only change is the employer's name and a few guys at the top of the food chain. At least Tow/Hold has identified a lot of the bad eggs and knows to keep them off the payroll. Under Bay-shore, it'll be the same thing we've got now, only worse because of the learning curve on top of everything else. I'll be telling that to the folks at MTA next week, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I convince at least one of them with the simple logic of it."

"Especially now that Hanover won't be rebutting you."

For an instant, Glitsky thought he saw a spark in Granat's eyes, but if he had, it disappeared immediately. "I liked Paul a lot, Chief. I really did. As you can see, I'm pretty comfortable here financially, so are the top guys at Tow/Hold. If we lose the contract, of course we'll be disappointed, but nobody's going under. I promise. We do twelve other cities in the ninecounty area. Nobody took Paul out to keep him from influencing Kathy West, which seems to be what you're implying."

Glitsky shook his head. "I haven't implied anything. I was just wondering what you'd have to say about all this. Have you talked to the mayor since Wednesday?"

A tepid smile. "I called and had a small talk with her right after I heard about Paul."

"And since then?"

"Well, I'm afraid her honor doesn't return many of my calls."

"So you've tried, then?"

"Of course. But it's all about access. And I don't have it. Not yet, anyway." He sat back, seemed to gather himself. "Look, I'm not going to bullshit you and pretend we don't want to keep the contract. It's a huge deal. But it's business."

"Yes, but if Bayshore can stop you in San Francisco, they're in a better position to poach in your other territories."

"That, too, I'm afraid, is just business. But, yes, of course, we'd like to stop them here. And I think we've still got a very good chance."

"Well, actually," Jeff Elliot said, "they don't." Glitsky was in his city-issue Taurus, talking on his cell phone with the reporter. "West's taken a potful of Bayshore's money to get elected, and she's not likely to forget that Tow/Hold's people came in large for Washington. It'spayback time. She's not going to fold, and neither are her

MTA members."

"Why not?"

"Because if one of them votes to retain Tow/Hold, she'll just fire him, replace him with a new warm body, keep the contract on monthly extension, go back again in thirty days and get Bayshore approved. So one of her MTA people going sideways, it's not going to happen."

"Except if she takes Hanover as a warning." "You see any sign of that?"

"She called to get me involved in this within a very short time of talking to Granat. In any case, I'm going to ask her directly."

"What, though, exactly?"

"If Granat's call made her feel physically threatened. If this tow thing is playing on her mind at all. Why she really wants me on this case."

"I've got that one. She trusts you. She doesn't know much about Cuneo, and what she does know she has no confidence in. I think it's legitimate that she wants to get whoever killed Hanover. Whoever it was. He was politically important to her, plus she just plain liked him from everything I hear. She just wants to make sure it doesn't get screwed up."

"Okay."

"You don't believe that?"

"No. It makes sense. It's a little odd, that's all." "Well, you'll find out."

"I know," Glitsky said. "I'm just not completely sure that I want to." "Why not?"

Glitsky hesitated. "Cuneo," he said. "If I wind up taking the lead here, he's not going to like it. I'd rather he gets on to something and I come along afterward and say, 'yeah, looks good, nice job.' "

"So what's he looking at?"

"I don't know. He won't answer my page."

At that moment, Cuneo stood in the driveway of the Hanovers' stucco home on Beach Street, sniffing into the trunk space of their black Mercedes.

He'd arrived at a little after eight along with his former homicide partner, Lincoln Russell, whom he'd asked along to help with the search, as well as to serve as a witness that he was not sexually harassing Catherine Hanover. They'd sat, waiting outside, Cuneo driving Russell nuts with his drumming on the steering wheel, until Catherine Hanover came outside in her bathrobe to pick up the newspaper on her driveway-a bit of luck since Cuneo hadn't really known for sure how he would get a picture of her, which he badly wanted. And got.

A few minutes later, Catherine, her husband and all three kids had been shocked and startled by the appearance of the two policemen with a search warrant at their front door ("What's this about?" "You mean I'm some kind of a suspect or something? Of what?" "Do we have to let you in to do this?"). But then, perhaps because of the inspectors' assurances that it wouldn't take too long, they had all become reasonably cooperative, or at least acquiescent, waiting around the kitchen table while Cuneo and Russell went upstairs in search of the clothes that Cuneo remembered Catherine had been wearing on the night of the fire. In no time at all they'd found the blue silken blouse, black leather jacket, faded blue jeans. All were in her closet, the jeans still faintly smelling of smoke. They wrapped them all up, told Catherine that they would return them after the lab was through with them.

"What's the lab going to do with them?"

"Test for blood spatter. Traces of gasoline."

"This is ridiculous. Go ahead and look for that."

"We intend to, ma'am. We intend to."

The two daughters started crying.

When they had finished inside and announced their intention to inspect the car, the family broke up, the kids chattering nervously, upset about the weirdness of having their house searched. Everyone then went their various ways-the husband and wife uncommunicative, formally distant with one another, Cuneo noticed.

Will drank coffee and read the morning paper at the kitchen table, and Catherine announced that she would like to go outside with the inspectors. She couldn't imagine what they might be looking for. Now Cuneo was straightening up, and he turned to her. "Smells like you've got a gas leak. Did you know about that?"

She came closer, careful to keep her distance, leaned over the trunk and sniffed. "I do smell it. I ought to take it in for service."

"Have you noticed that smell before?" he asked.

"Not really," she said. "I don't use the trunk very often."

But Russell was feeling the rug on the trunk's floor. "This isn't a leak, Dan. Gas got spilled in here."

"No! That's not…" Then Catherine stopped herself. "Oh," she said. Her hand went to her mouth.

"What?" Cuneo was standing straight up in front of her, inside her comfort zone and knowing it, squinting in the sun. "Oh, what?" he repeated.

"That was a couple of weeks ago," she said.

"What was?" Cuneo's features were somehow expectant. On both hands, his fingers opened and closed.

Russell stood next to his ex-partner, paying attention to this development. Catherine Hanover, perhaps seeking some kind of support, directed her words over Cuneo's shoulder to him. "It was a few weeks ago," she said, beginning again.

"A few or a couple?" Cuneo asked.

"What?"

"First time you said 'a couple.' Then you said 'a few.'

Which is it?"

"I don't know. I could probably remember."

"Take your time," Russell said. He was a black man with a pleasant face, and he had put on a patient expression. "We've got all day if you want."

Catherine looked from one of them to the other. "I should probably call a lawyer, shouldn't I?"

"If you think you need one," Cuneo said.

"That's your absolute right," Russell agreed.

"Are you two thinking about arresting me? For Paul's murder? I didn't have anything to do with that. I don't know anything about it at all, except that I saw him that day. That's all."

"We're just executing a search warrant, ma'am," Russell said. "If you were under arrest, we'd be reading you your rights."

"So I'm not?"

"No, ma'am."

"But," Cuneo put in, "you were starting to tell us about the gas smell in your car, two or maybe more weeks ago."

"Let me think," Catherine said. "I'm sure I can remember. Okay, it was… today's Saturday… it was the week before last. Monday, I think."

"So more like ten days?" Russell, being helpful, wanted to nail down the day.

"Something like that. I was going to pick up Polly for something after school, I don't remember exactly what it was now-her orthodontist appointment maybe. And I passed a car parked off the road-it was in the Presidio. Anyway, there was a young woman, a girl really, standing beside it, kind of looking like she hoped someone would help her, but maybe not wanting to actually flag somebody over. So I stopped and asked if she was all right, and she said she was out of gas."

Catherine looked into Russell's face, then Cuneo's. Sighing, she went on. "She had one of those containers in her trunk, you know, so we got in my car and I took her to a gas station, where we filled it up and put it in my trunk, and then I took her back to her car, but when we got there, the container had fallen over and leaked out a little."

"A little," Cuneo said. "It seemed like a little."

He leaned over and ran his hand along the rug. As Russell had, he smelled his hand. Russell, meanwhile, moved up a step. "What kind of car was it?" he asked.

"Whose? Oh, hers? White."

Russell said, "That's the color, ma'am, not the kind. What kind of car was it?"

Catherine closed her eyes, crinkled up her face, came back to him. "I think some kind of SUV. I'm pretty sure."

"Any memory of the license plate?"

"No. I don't know if I ever looked at it."

"Did you get the young woman's name? First name, even?"

"No. We just…" Her expression had grown helpless. She shook her head. "No."

Russell nodded. "You're going to go with that story?"

"It's not a story," she said. "That's what happened." Cuneo had removed a Swiss Army knife from his pocket and was back inside the trunk, cutting fibers from the rug that he then placed in a small Ziploc bag. "Well, okay, then," he said, turning to Russell. "I think we're through here for now."

The law firm of Arron Hanover Pells had a recorded message that provided a number clients could call if they had a weekend emergency. When Glitsky called that number, he reached one of the associates, who agreed to call Paul Hanover's secretary and ask her to call him back. Glitsky pulled up to a mini-mart just off Columbus in North Beach, double-parked and got a cup of hot water with a tea bag, then went back to his car to wait. The tea hadn't yet cooled enough for him to sip it when his cell phone rang. "Glitsky."

"Hello? Is this the police?"

"Yes it is. This is Deputy Chief Glitsky. Who am I speaking with?"

"Lori Cho. Paul Hanover's secretary."

"Thanks for getting back to me so fast."

"That's all right. I wasn't doing anything anyway except staring at his files. I can't get used to the idea that he's not coming back in."

"So you're at your office now? Would you mind if I came by for a few minutes?"

"If you'd like. We're in the Bank of America building, twentieth floor. There's a guard downstairs who's got to let you up. I'll tell him I'm expecting you. Could you give me your name again?"

* * *

Lori Cho met him at the elevators. She appeared to be in her midthirties, small-boned, fragile-looking, close to anorexic, with a haunted, weary look about her eyes. Or perhaps it was simply fatigue and sorrow over the loss of her boss. Here at the office on Saturday she was dressed for work in a no-nonsense black skirt with matching sweater, tennis shoes and white socks. Her hair softened the general gaunt impression somehow-shoulder-length, thick and shining black, it might still have been damp.

Glitsky followed her in silence down a carpeted hallway, through a set of wide double doors, then across an ornate lobby and into a large corner office. Hanover's panoramic view was mostly to the east, down over the rooftops of lesser high-rises to the Bay, across the bridge to Yerba Buena and Treasure Island, with Berkeley and Richmond off in the distance.

"You can just sit anywhere," Cho said. She seated herself behind the highly polished dark-wood desk, swallowed up by the black leather swivel chair that must have been Hanover's. Flattened sheets of cardboard, which Glitsky realized were unassembled boxes, were stacked by the file cabinets against one of the internal walls. The other wall featured framed photographs of Hanover with a couple of dozen politicians and celebrities, among them several San Francisco mayors, including Kathy West, and three of California's governors, one of them Arnold. At a quick glance, here was Paul Hanover, shaking hands with both Bill Clinton and George Bush; on a boat somewhere with Larry Ellison, in a Giants uniform with Willie Mays. Evidently he'd been to the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

A showcase office. Nothing in the way of law books.

Glitsky came back to Cho, who hadn't moved since she sat down. She was so still she might have been in a trance. Her eyes were open, but she wasn't looking at anything. "How long had you worked for him?" Glitsky asked.

Her surface attention came to him. "Fourteen years."

"I'm sorry."

She nodded absently.

"I wanted to ask you if there was anything in his work that you were aware of that might have played some kind of a role in his death. Was he upset about something? Was some deal going wrong? Anything like that?"

Her eyes went to her faraway place again, then returned to him. "Nothing I can think of. There was no crisis. He was doing what he always did."

"Which was what?"

Again, it took her a second or two to formulate her response. "He put people together. He was very good with people." She gestured at the photo gallery. "As you can see. He genuinely liked people."

"Did he like Nils Granat?"

The question surprised her. "I think so. They had lunch together every month or so. Why? Did Mr. Granat say there was a problem?"

"No. He said they were friends." "I think they were."

"Even with this conflict over the city's towing?"

She nodded. "Yes. It wasn't a conflict between the two of them. Mr. Granat had his clients, and Mr. Hanover had his. He had dozens of similar relationships."

"But he never mentioned to you that he was worried about Mr. Granat's clients. The company Tow/Hold?"

"Worried in what way?"

"Physically afraid."

She shook her head no. "He wasn't physically afraid of anybody. Did you know him?" "I never did, no."

She seemed to take this news with some disappointment. "He was a good man."

"Yes, ma'am. Everybody seems to think so." Glitsky sat back, crossed a leg. "Did you know Ms. D'Amiens very well?"

Cho's jaw went up a half inch, her eyes came into sharp focus. "Not too well, no. I shouldn't say anything bad about her. She seemed to make Mr. Hanover happy. And she was always nice to me."

"But you didn't believe her?"

Cho hesitated. "You know how some people can just seem too nice? It was almost like some trick she'd learned how to do. Maybe she was just trying too hard because she wanted Mr. Hanover's friends to like her. And his family, too. But they weren't going to like her, no matter how she acted. They thought she was in it for his money."

"Did you think that?"

She bit at her cheek. "As I said, I didn't really know her. Mr. Hanover didn't think it, and he was nobody's fool. He might have been right."

"But you disagreed with him?"

"A little bit. With no real basis in fact, though. Just a feeling."

"Feelings generally are based on something."

She sighed. "She just seemed calculating. It made me feel she was… not very genuine. I suppose you want an example."

Glitsky didn't push. "If you've got one."

"Well." She paused. "Okay. When Paul first met her, one of her big things was she volunteered once a week at Glide Memorial, the soup kitchens?"

"Okay."

"The message, of course, being that she had this big heart and cared about the homeless and all that. But once she and Paul… once they got together, that pretty much stopped."

"So you think it was a ploy to make her seem somehow more attractive?"

"I don't know. I hate to say that. Maybe she was sincere and just got busier with Paul, you know. But it struck me wrong. And then, you know, she really did come from nowhere and then suddenly was going to marry him. So quickly, it seemed."

"So Mr. Hanover never talked to you about her background?"

"Not too much. Evidently she had had a husband who died of cancer about five years ago…" "Do you know where?"

"No. I'm sorry. I never even asked. But she wanted to start over and she'd always dreamed of living in America. In San Francisco. So she came here." She let out a breath. "It really wasn't mysterious. She had a few connections here with people she'd met overseas and then met Paul, and then… well, you know. If he wasn't rich, no one would have thought anything about it. But of course, he was." Though the admission seemed to cost her, she shrugged and said, "They just got along. She made him happy. He seemed to make her happy."

"So they weren't fighting?"

"Why do you ask that?"

"The rumor is there was some tension between them. The expense of the remodel, maybe? I heard she'd spent something like a million dollars."

Cho allowed a small, sad smile. "That's about what he told me. But he thought it was funny."

"Funny?"

"Amusing. I mean, after all, he was going to be living there. He had the money, and if she spent it to make a nicer house for him, what was he going to complain about?" Cho stared for a second into the space in front of her. "If there was any tension at all, it was about the appointment."

"The appointment?"

She nodded. "This wasn't public yet, but the administration had gotten in touch with him and told him he'd been short-listed for assistant secretary of the interior, a reward for all the fund-raising he'd done for the president. But Missy wasn't happy about it. She didn't want to move to Washington, uproot her life again, especially after all the work she'd done on the house." Cho's face clouded over. "But even so, so what? Didn't I read that it wasn't murder and suicide? Even if they were fighting, somebody killed them. So would it even matter if they'd been fighting about something?"

"No, you're right. It wouldn't," Glitsky said. "I'm sorry to have taken so much of your time. I'm just trying to get a handle on this whole thing. Who might've wanted to kill them."

"Well, I hate to say this…"

"Go ahead."

"Well, just… have you talked to his family? They were really unhappy about him and her. And he was unhappy about them."

"His kids, you mean?"

She nodded. "All the time on him. Missy wanted his money. He should be careful, make sure she signed a prenup, some worse things about her. He said he might change his will before the wedding if they kept it up."

"Did he tell them that?"

"I don't know. I think so. Told them, I mean-maybe not actually done it."

Before Glitsky left Cho, just being thorough and believing that at this early stage in the investigation he needed facts even if they later proved to be irrelevant, he found out that before he'd handed the build phase of the remodel over to Missy, Hanover had paid the first few contractor bills himself during the design phase. The company, James Leymar Construction, was in the phone book, and so was Mr. Leymar himself. Glitsky called, and the man being home made his hat trick for the day.

A half hour later, he pulled up in front of a good-size two-story stucco house on Quintara Street, out in the residential avenues of the Sunset District. A shirtless man was working with lengths of PVC pipe in the earth up close against the house, the sweat on his broad back glinting in the sun. At the sound of Glitsky's car door closing, he looked around and stood up, slapping his hands together, then wiping them on his well-worn blue jeans. "Glitsky?"

"Yes, sir."

Leymar was a big, handsome balding man with a well-developed torso, big arms and a shoulder tattoo of a heart and the word "Maggie." Squinting against the brightness, he took a few steps over the torn-up landscape of his front yard and stuck out his dirty hand. "Jim Leymar. How you doin'?"

"Good. You're putting in a sprinkler system?"

"I know. Ridiculous, isn't it?" He turned back to survey the trenches he'd dug. "Like the foggiest damn real estate in America needs more water. But the wife decided for God knows what reason, so that's the end of that discussion." He swiped at his forehead, leaving a streak of dirt. "But you said you had some questions about the Hanover job?"

"If you don't mind."

"No, I don't mind, but I've got to say it breaks my heart to think about the work we put in on that house only to have it all go up in smoke. It was a beautiful job. And the people, too, of course. A tragedy."

"You knew them pretty well?"

"Well, they were clients, you know. I'd done some work for him before, rebuilt his kitchen, maybe three years ago, and it went okay. So we got together again."

"But this time was mostly her?"

"More than mostly. She wrote the checks, so she was the client."

Glitsky filed that bit of information. "And how was she to work with?" he asked.

"Uncompromising, but without a personal edge to it. She wanted things a certain way, and if you didn't give her what she wanted, she'd have us do it again, down to the floorboards if need be. But she was just firm, that was all. Give me that anytime over somebody who changes her mind seventeen times."

Something about Leymar's phrase stopped Glitsky. "So you're saying she did not make lots of changes as you went along?"

"No." He thought about it for another minute. "If you want to see, I've got all the change orders…"

"That's all right. I'd just heard somewhere that she kept adding to the job."

"No more than anybody else. Less than some folks. No, what happened was we got a good design and went ahead and built it."

"So the initial bid was for a million dollars?"

Leymar laughed out loud. "A million dollars? You think I make a million dollars a job and I'm laying my own sprinkler system?" He shook his head, still chuckling. "A million dollars. Jesus Christ. A million is nearly the gross on my best year ever. The gross. Hanover was a good job-hell, a great job, I'll give you that-but it went out for five hundred, maybe a little less. And that's what we brought it in for, too. Give or take. Where did you ever hear a million?"

"Several sources," he said.

"Well, I'd go back to them and tell 'em they've got their heads up their asses. You want, I'll show you my books on it."

"I won't need to do that." Glitsky wiped his own brow. The sun was directly overhead now, the temperature nearing eighty, about as hot as it ever got in San Francisco. "Okay, let's leave the money. I'd like to eliminate the possibility that she was the target instead of him, so I'm hoping to find somebody who might have known her a little bit, see if she had enemies."

"Who wanted to kill her?"

"Maybe."

He shook his head. "That'd be a stretch, I'd say." He thought another minute. "Except maybe if there was some other guy before Hanover."

"Did you get a feeling that there had been?"

"No. It's just that she was…"-he glanced over his shoulder-"I don't want Maggie to hear me, but she was an unbelievably attractive hunk of woman. My crews would trade off with each other so they could work on her place and get a glimpse of her. If she'd dumped some guy for Hanover, I could see him maybe taking it out on both of them."

"Did she or Hanover ever say anything to make you think that?"

"No. We didn't talk personal. They were clients, that was all. We didn't hang with the same social crowd." He gestured around him. "As you probably figured anyway, huh?"

Dismas Hardy came down the stairs from a rare Saturday afternoon nap to find Abe Glitsky in his kitchen, helping Vincent cut up vegetables on a cutting board on the counter, the two of them working silently next to a rapidly diminishing pile of tomatoes, onions, peppers, okra. When he stopped in the doorway, Glitsky glanced his way and, just loud enough to be heard, said, "Here he is now, Vin. I'll tell you later."

Hardy crossed to his boy and put a hand on his shoulder. "Have I ever told you your Uncle Abe's Indian name, Vin?"

"His Indian name?"

"You know, Dances with Wolves, like that? A phrase that captures a person's essence. Abe's is People Not

Laughing. Why? Because every time you see him he's surrounded by people who are not laughing. But I do think that actually crying real tears is taking it a little far." "It's the onions," Vincent said.

"That's what they all say." Hardy threw a chunk of tomato into his mouth. "What are you guys making?"

"Gumbo," Vin said. "I need it for school on Monday and wanted to make a test batch."

Hardy squeezed his son's shoulder. "I love this boy. Make it hot," he said.

"I'm thinking of calling Treya, inviting her over, too," Glitsky said.

"That would be swell, and I love your wife even more than I like you, but weren't you guys just here? It seems like only yesterday."

"It was yesterday. Maybe we should all just move in since we're spending so much time here anyway. We'd save a bundle on rent. And Vin, you could get in time with that critical small-child experience you're going to need when you have your own kids."

"I'm not having kids."

"Sure you are."

"No, I'm not. I'm going to be a rich bachelor." "There's a noble calling," Hardy said. "How are you going to do the rich part?" "I'm thinking the lottery."

"He got that from you," Hardy shot at Glitsky. "The adults in this house don't play the lottery. And you know why? Because we're good at numbers, and the lottery is the tax for the math-challenged. I believe I've even mentioned this to you before."

"Don't listen to your father, Vin. Somebody wins the lottery every few weeks, and you've got as good a chance as anybody else."

Withering Glitsky with a glance, he said, "Pathetic," and looked at his son. "You got a backup? Plan, I mean, to get rich."

"I guess if things got tight I could always be a movie star for a while."

"There you go," Glitsky said proudly. "Plan B, ready to go."

"Although traditionally," Hardy said, "doesn't the movie star come from within the ranks of the supremely attractive?"

Vin looked at Glitsky, sniffed theatrically. "He cuts me deep." "I heard it."

"It happens all the time. My self-esteem's in the toilet."

Hardy stopped in the middle of a bite of red pepper. "You'll live, I promise. I didn't even know the word 'self-esteem' when I was a kid."

"Isn't it two words?" Glitsky asked.

"It's hyphenated," Vinnie said. "And Dad didn't hear of it as a kid 'cause it wasn't invented until after the Renaissance."

Hardy deadpanned his son for a minute, said, "Too bad Abe's Indian name is already taken." He turned his attention to Glitsky. "But callously leaving for a moment the discussion of my son's future plans for wealth and world domination, what really brings you here?"

Glitsky laid his knife down. "This morning I talked to Nils Granat about the towing business. As I was in the neighborhood anyway, I thought I'd stop by since you seemed interested last night. He says nobody he knows would ever consider using strong-arm tactics to accomplish their business goals. Those may have been his exact words."

"Well, what did you expect? He's not going to tell you they've got a team of hit men out whacking people who get in their way. I still think it's a pretty good theory."

"Well, I'm going to have a few conversations with Tow/Hold management, see if any of them get nervous. Meanwhile, though, I also talked to Hanover's secretary, who seems to think it's probably somebody in the family who stood to lose the inheritance."

"You already had that one. What was her name again, the daughter-in-law?"

"Catherine Hanover, but I don't think so. I can't believe she would have spelled her motive out so clearly if she'd had any part in it. Still, the family connection's on the table. But you know the most interesting thing?"

"The uncertainty principle?"

"What?"

"The most interesting thing. The uncertainty principle. Actually, quantum mechanics in general, in fact. All of it damned interesting, although I'm not sure I get most of it."

Glitsky picked up his knife again, went back to the cutting board, shaking his head. "Why do I talk to your father, Vinnie?"

"It feels so good when you stop?"

"That must be it."

"Okay, okay," Hardy said. "I'm sorry if I hurt all the dainty feelings in this kitchen. I give up, Abe. What's the most interesting thing?"

He put his knife down again. "Missy D'Amiens didn't spend a million dollars fixing up her house."

Hardy leaned back against the counter, crossed his arms. "Few of us do, Abe. Why is that interesting?"

"Because everybody I talked to up 'til now said she had. Hanover's secretary, the daughter-in-law, Cuneo. That was the number."

"And this means?"

"If it's true, it means half a million dollars cash has gone missing."

"With who? Where'd it go?" "That's the question."

The Beck was in the honor society at her high school, and one of the requirements of that organization was doing some nonschool community service, in this case cleaning up selected city parks and other public amenities in a "graffiti abatement" program, which had begun in a bit of controversy.

Hardy and Frannie both thought it was a nice "only in San Francisco" touch that the program-created to clean up the worst of the obscene tagging that desecrated nearly every square inch of wall space in certain neighborhoods-had been hotly debated and nearly disallowed by the school district on the grounds that the cleanup represented an authoritarian stifling of artistic expression among the city's troubled youth. A number of adult San Francisco residents and parents, and nearly half of the school board, held to the belief that spraying "FUCK" and other such creative epithets in DayGlo on billboards and benches at bus stops and anywhere else the spirit moved one was apparently therapeutic and good for a child's self-esteem. That word again.

With a growing sense of outrage, Frannie had eventually joined the debate and for the past few weekends, in support of the kids' efforts, she had been going out with her daughter and her friends, all of them armed with buckets and detergent, to help with the cleanup. And now they were home.

The guys were still making the gumbo-Hardy, with a just-opened bottle of Anchor Steam next to him, peeling shrimp over the sink, Glitsky cutting up the andou-ille, Vincent seeding and chopping the jalapenos.

"What's cooking?" Rebecca yelled from the front door. "It smells great!" Footsteps broke into a run in the hallway, and in a second, she burst into the kitchen. Hugs all around. "Uncle Abe! Two days in a row! Hey, Dad! What are you guys making?" She was at the stove, wooden spoon in hand. "What is this stuff?"

Vin flew across the room. "No, no, no, no, no! No tastes, no bites. That's dinner."

Frannie showed up a few steps behind her daughter. Her windblown red hair, which she'd been growing long for some months now, fell below her shoulders, and her color was high after all day in the sun. She was wearing khaki shorts and a pink tank top, and her green eyes were sparkling.

Hardy found himself struck by a sudden contentment so acute that it felt for a moment like a hot blade through his heart.

The sun was low enough in the late afternoon that it made it through the picture window in the front of the house, spraying the hardwood in the dining room with an amber glow that reflected all the way up and into the kitchen. Behind him, over the sink, the window was open and a still unseasonably warm breeze tickled the back of his neck. The smell of the gumbo was intoxicating, both of the women in his family were smiling and almost too lovely to believe, and his son and best friend were working with him to make something everybody would love to eat. Everything dear to him was close, safe and protected in this room, on a perfect day.

He closed his eyes for an instant against the rush of emotion.

"Are you okay, babe?"

Frannie was in front of him, her hand on his arm, a worried look on her face.

Blinking a couple of times, Hardy leaned down and planted a quick kiss on her forehead. The moment passed unnoticed by everyone else-still bickering over the gumbo-but Frannie gave him a last concerned glance before he said, "Too good, really. That's all. Too good." He pulled her to him for a second, and squeezed, as the words of Abe's toast came back to him. May nothing ever change.

On the counter by Vincent's cutting board, the telephone rang.

"Let it go," Hardy said. "I don't want to talk to anybody."

But Vincent had already grabbed it on the first ring, said hello and was listening. "Just a second," he said. "Can I tell him who's calling?" He passed the phone over to his father. "Catherine Hanover."

Glitsky gave him a startled look. Hardy looked back at him, shrugged, took the phone and said hello.

12

"Dismas?"

Hardy was moving with the phone on the steps toward his bedroom upstairs. His face took on a quizzical expression at this unknown woman's use of his first name. But he had no doubt that she was a potential client, and didn't even stop to consider the unusual familiarity. Still, there was a question in his voice. "This is Dismas Hardy, yes."

"Dismas," she said again. "It's Catherine Rusk." Halfway up the stairs, he stopped still. "Catherine…?" "Hanover. Now."

Hardy found that he couldn't frame a response. The two or three seconds before he could speak felt like a very long time. "Catherine," he said. "How are you?" Then, still struggling for something to say. "How have you been?"

He heard a throaty chuckle that vibrated in some distant region of his psyche. "You mean this last thirty-seven years? I've been okay, although right at this moment I'm not too good, I'm afraid. I hate to contact you for the first time under these conditions, but I didn't know who else to call. I've thought about it a lot over the years, you know, calling you, but always thought that maybe we'd just run into each other again somewhere. It's not that big a city."

"No, it isn't. You've lived here all along?"

"Mostly, after college and then a couple of years back in Boston. I know you've been living here. I've seen you in the papers." He heard her sigh. "Anyway. I called you because I think I need a lawyer. Apparently I'm some kind of a suspect in a murder case."

"Yes, I know that."

"You know) Already?"

"I mean, I'd heard about Catherine Hanover, the name, but I didn't know she was you." The next words slipped out before he could stop them. "I thought you weren't ever going to change your name."

"I wasn't, but it seemed important to Will, so I guess when push came to shove, I abandoned my high principles and sold out my old feminist beliefs. And how about you? I thought you weren't ever going to work nine to five."

"Touche," he said. "I'm sorry."

"It's all right. You sounded just like your old self."

"Well… I'm still sorry. I have no idea where that came from or why it came out."

"It's okay, really." Again he heard the oddly mnemonic throaty chuckle. "You're probably still feeling guilty about how you dumped me."

"Maybe," he admitted, and again before he could think added, "that could be it." He wasn't quite sure what he was saying, since he hadn't consciously thought of her in years.

Frannie appeared below him at the flight of the stairs, looking up with some concern, mouthed, "Is everything all right?"

Nodding, Hardy gave his wife a smile, then turned and started up the steps again. "But now you're in trouble?"

"I think I must be. The police came by this morning with a search warrant and looked through my house and my car."

Hardy sat down in the reading chair in his bedroom. This was a new development that hadn't yet made the news. If they'd already served a search warrant on her, the case had progressed far beyond a casual suspicion based on a possible motive. Somebody in the investigation was already into evidence and causality. And it was not Abe, who surely would have mentioned this to him either last night or downstairs just a few minutes ago. That left only Cuneo, and the realization made Hardy's stomach go tight. "So you've talked to the police?"

"Several times."

"Without a lawyer?"

"I didn't think I needed one. I didn't know I was a suspect. The first time was down at the fire…" "You were at the fire?"

"Yes." "Why?"

"Because it was my father-in-law's house and I saw it on the news and ran down to see what was happening and if I could help."

"And you talked to cops down there?"

"Yes, somebody Cuneo. And an arson inspector, too. And since then a deputy chief. Glitsky. But they just wanted to know about Paul. My father-in-law. Paul Hanover."

"I know that, too."

"How can you know all this?"

"It's a big case, Catherine. Everybody in town knows about it."

In the phone, her voice grew smaller. "That's right, of course. But are you saying I shouldn't have talked to the police? I was trying to cooperate."

Hardy, one hand rubbing his forehead, said, "No. Cooperation's okay. I'm just being a lawyer. Sometimes it's bad luck to say anything to the police."

"But I didn't think I was a suspect."

"No. I know. That's their favorite."

"So I'm in bigger trouble than I thought?"

He didn't want her to panic and spouted out a white lie. "Maybe not. I don't know. What were they looking for at your house?"

"The clothes I was wearing when I was at the fire. They were in my closet and I think the hamper."

"So you hadn't washed them yet?"

"I guess not." Then, on a higher note, the worry clear in her voice. "Is that a problem, too?"

"I don't know about 'too.' I don't know what the problems are yet, Catherine. What did they do with the clothes?"

"They took them away. They said they'd bring them back. They were going to analyze them for… I don't know what. Something."

"Did they take anything else?"

A silence.

"Catherine?"

Now he heard a definite strain in the pitch of her voice. "Some cuttings of the fabric from the trunk of my car. It had some gasoline on it. See, a couple of weeks ago I helped this woman who'd run out of gas…"

"Catherine?"

A sob broke over the line.

Hardy stopped to lift the lid and stir the gumbo, then went and stood in the entrance to the dining room. Glitsky was sitting at the table, apparently content to wait for Hardy's descent after his business call and pass the time with Frannie, who had poured herself a glass of Chardonnay. The kids were nowhere to be found. Hardy stood in the door to the dining area, hands in his pockets, leaning against the jamb.

"So, Abe," he said, "you searched her house this morning and just didn't get around to telling me because…?"

Glitsky's face clouded. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about a search warrant for Catherine Hanover's clothes and her car. They found gasoline in her trunk."

"Who did? I didn't…" He stopped. "Cuneo. Why didn't he…?"

Hardy knew the answer. "He didn't want your input in the first place, and now he's proving he didn't need it. He wants the collar himself."

"But…" Glitsky was reduced to sputtering. "We haven't…"

"Obviously, he's not interested. He's got his suspect and he's in a hurry."

Glitsky's mouth was tight, his scar in high relief through his lips, his blue eyes flat and hard. "She under arrest?"

"Not yet. Apparently. Though she might be anytime." "Did she say that?"

"No. But she's got herself worked into a pretty good panic right about now. I don't know what she's going to do."

"She wants you to represent her, then?" Glitsky asked.

"That's what she called for."

"And you wisely suggested she get somebody else, right?"

"Not exactly." Hardy took a deep breath. Frannie said, "Why would he do that, Abe?"

Glitsky looked across the table. "Because your husband doesn't want to have anything to do with Catherine Hanover." Back over to Hardy. "I'm correct here, am I not?"

Before Hardy could reply, Frannie asked, "Why not?"

"Because of Dan Cuneo, that's why not. He's already got Diz and me together in his brain. Now if Diz gets involved in this case…" Suddenly he turned his head. "What's 'not exactly' mean, Diz? This really wouldn't be a good idea."

"No, I know that. But there are other issues."

"Such as?"

"Such as I know her." His eyes went to Frannie. "Catherine Hanover is Catherine Rusk," he said.

"And Catherine Rusk is?" Glitsky asked.

"His first girlfriend." Frannie assayed a brave smile that didn't quite work.

"Well, I'm happy for her," Glitsky said, "but she's not his girlfriend now. You are." Again he looked at Hardy.

"Tell her, Diz."

Hardy broke his own tired smile. "I'm pretty sure she knows, but for the record"-he walked up behind where Frannie sat and placed a kiss on the top of her head- "you're still my girlfriend."

She patted his hand where it rested on her shoulder. "I'm so glad."

"Okay," Glitsky said, "that's settled. Now you've got to let Catherine go."

"That's my intention."

"Good. You had me worried there for a minute."

"Well, I don't mean to worry you some more, either of you"-he squeezed Frannie's shoulder-"but I think I'm going to have to see her tonight. She needs some help and she needs it now." He sat down next to Frannie. "She's a wreck, hon. Crying on the phone. She didn't know who else to call. I've got to go see her this one time. She was desperate."

"You don't have to go see her," Glitsky said. "Send one of your minions."

"Did you ever try to find a minion on Saturday night, Abe? Besides, she called me. Maybe I can calm her down. I know her."

"You knew her," Glitsky snapped. "You don't know her anymore." He turned to Frannie. "You tell him. This is dumb."

"He makes his own decisions, Abe. You may have noticed."

Hardy kissed her cheek and stood up. "Sorry. I know it's Saturday night, but she's really in a bad way, Fran. I won't be too long."

She patted his hand. "I'll deal with it. We were just vegging with a video anyway."

Glitsky was getting up, too. "Don't let her hire you."

"That's not my plan. I'll get her calmed down and give her some tips to get her through the weekend, like don't talk to any more cops; then we'll see where we are."

Hardy couldn't help but notice that Catherine hadn't conceded much to the passage of the years. His first reaction on seeing her was that it was nearly unfair. She'd kept her body in terrific shape, and her face, always her best feature, was if anything more interesting and attractive than it had been when she was eighteen. A couple of lines around the eyes gave her a sense of experience, humor and maybe even a hint of wisdom. Smooth skin, a strong chin, well-defined cheekbones and an assertive nose would make her face at home on a magazine cover. She looked Frannie's age, although he knew she had twelve years on his wife.

She opened the door and he consciously had to stop himself from commenting on her attractiveness, a compliment that for all its truth would not have been appropriate.

And she wasn't alone. "This is my husband, Will, our boy, Saul, Polly and Heather. This is Mr. Hardy." She explained to the children, "He's going to be my lawyer for a while until all this with the police gets sorted out. I hope not too long."

Not even inside the door and Hardy felt blindsided, confronted with two of the character traits that he suddenly remembered had led to them breaking up so long ago. The first manifested itself by the presence of her family. On the phone, Hardy had gotten an impression so strong that it was a conviction that Catherine was alone at home, in a panic. She had no one else to turn to, certainly not a husband, a nuclear family gathered around.

Now here she was in their bosom, and Hardy felt a bit abused that he'd been coerced into leaving his own family on a Saturday night, thinking it was an emergency, when it was really just Catherine being overly histrionic, and being not entirely truthful because of omission-the coward's lie.

And then the comment in her first breath about him being her lawyer. He remembered all too well-she used to make assumptions and jump to conclusions based on the belief that whatever it might be, people wanted to do it for her. And she'd been so desirable that usually it wasn't an issue. Doing what she wanted instead of what you wanted was a small enough price to pay because when you were with her, in her presence you felt that life was good.

"We weren't going to the game, Dismas. I said I wanted to go to the movies, remember? I just assumed…"

And here-he hadn't told her he was going to be her lawyer, although obviously she now assumed he was. Why wouldn't he be? When in fact, he'd rather consciously avoided making any kind of overture or commitment in that direction.

But Polly, chirping up, brushed away the thoughts. "Were you really my mom's boyfriend?" she asked.

Hardy downplayed it. "A long time ago in high school. We were good friends." He glanced at her to verify that this was her version of events as well and got an infinitesimal nod of acknowledgment.

Next, her husband, Will, stepped up and shook hands.

"Thanks for coming by. After this search this morning, we didn't know what to do. Obviously things are further along than we thought, but how they could think Catherine…" Shaking his head, he abruptly stopped.

Will was a step or two above conventionally handsome. Tanned and trim, he had a boyish face. His handshake was not strong, and the smile left a strange impression of distance, if not outright discomfort. "But you know more about all this than we do," he concluded.

Hardy took the opportunity to clarify things. "I really don't know too much beyond what I've read in the papers. After you catch me up, we'll have to see how bad things are. You may not need a lawyer at all."

But Catherine didn't let him off. "No, I need a lawyer, Dismas. I'm sure of that. After this morning… the search was just so, so weird, in a way. This Inspector Cuneo, he must be thinking…"

Will shook his head, his voice with an edge to it. "Let's not go there yet. We don't know what he's thinking. He's not going to find anything on Catherine's clothes, but if he does…"

Catherine turned on him. "There's nothing to find, Will. He's harassing me, pure and simple."

Hardy, drawn in, had to ask. "Who is? Cuneo?"

She nodded. "Who else? But here you are standing in the open door. Please come in, Dismas. I'm not thinking. This has got us all so upset."

"I don't blame you. It's upsetting." He looked at the assembled children. "How are you guys doing? Holding up?"

Saul said, "My mom didn't kill Grandpa." "No," Hardy replied, "I'm sure she didn't." "It's bullshit!"

"Saul!" But Catherine's rebuke had no teeth. "Mr. Hardy's here because he knows I couldn't have done anything like that. That's why I called him. And it's why we need to talk."

Will spoke up. "Mom's right, kids. It's adult time. We'll be right out front here if you need us."

Saul didn't particularly like it, but the girls went without hesitation and, in a moment, so did he. Hardy took the moment to look around the room, then at Catherine. "At least they didn't tear the place up down here, did they?" he said to her.

"No, it was all upstairs," Will said.

Catherine's tone brooked no objection. "I think he asked me, Will, if you don't mind."

"No," Hardy said, "that's all right."

A hard look passed between husband and wife. "She's right," Will said. "It's her problem, really. You two work it out." And with that he was gone.

Hardy and Catherine remained in the living room, sitting facing one another at the far end by the fireplace. Their eyes met and held for an instant. Catherine drew a breath, made an attempt at a smile, another one. "I don't know where to begin," she said at last, "except to tell you that…"

"Wait," Hardy said, "Catherine, please. Just one second." Now that he had her alone, he was going to set the record straight. "I came over here to talk to you because you sounded like you were in trouble and you needed some emergency legal advice. I'm prepared to give that to you, free and for nothing, because I do feel like I know who you are, and of course there's our history."

She seemed to be suppressing some amusement. "You do sound like a lawyer."

"That's because I am a lawyer, Catherine. And I don't know if there's even a case here, much less if I'm prepared to take it on. If they discover some evidence and you become a legitimate suspect…"

She shook her head, stopping him. "It's not about the evidence, Dismas. It's about Inspector Cuneo."

"How's that?"

"I made him mad and now he's out to show me I wasn't going to get away with it." "With what?"

An hour later, Hardy had the whole story from Catherine's point of view, as well as she could piece it together. She believed that her accusation of Cuneo's sexual advances was at the base of everything that had happened up to now, and took the position that the search wasn't so much about evidence as an example of pure police hassle. She had no idea why her clothes might be important. Readily admitting her concerns about the family's future finances, especially if Paul and Missy were to marry, she also told him about her conversations with Glitsky. Finally, they'd exhausted everything she'd brought up and decided to take a break.

Without any conscious decision, Hardy had spent the hour asking questions, giving answers and generally acting as though he was already, de facto, taking the case.

In the kitchen, she brewed up a pot of decaf and they crossed over to the table in the breakfast nook. Hardy slid in on the bench and sipped at his coffee as she lowered herself onto one of the chairs. "This is just so strange," she said quietly. "How many times do you think we sat like this either at your place or mine and drank coffee and did homework together while it was dark outside?"

"A lot. But I'm not sure I remember much about the homework."

"No. We always did homework before." Hardy felt the "before" hanging in the air between them. Then she said, "That was the rule. Don't you remember? We were such serious students."

"We were?"

"Listen to you. Mister never got a 'B'?"

Hardy shrugged. "I got some 'B's. Especially in college. But grades weren't what I put my energy into, anyway."

"I know. I remember where you put your energy."

Hardy's mouth twitched and his eyes flicked across at her, then away. "They were good times." He brought his cup to his mouth and sipped. "Do you realize that my daughter's as old now as you were then? Is that possible?"

"What's her name?"

"Rebecca."

"I love that name. Does she have a boyfriend?" "Going on two years. Darren. Nice kid." "Are they serious?"

"Probably. They'd say they were, anyway, first true love and all that."

"You sound cynical."

"I'm not. They just don't really have a clue yet."

"Like we did?"

"No. We didn't either."

"I thought we did." She scratched at the table with a fingernail. "I thought we had it all." "Maybe you did. I didn't."

"I think you did, even then. You were always so good with who you were, so together."

He snorted. "Together. There's a word you don't hear a lot of anymore. If I was so together, how did I fall so completely apart?"

"How about your parents being in a plane crash? You think that could have been a life-changing event?"

"I guess it was."

"You guess?"

Hardy shrugged. "Well," he said quietly, "whatever it was. In any case, I'm sorry. I was a shit to you."

"You weren't really. You just dumped me, that's all."

But it was the only way Hardy had been able to do it. He had had the excuse of his parents' death so that he could keep at bay his own guilt over wanting to end it with Catherine. He was sorting out his life and had no time for a relationship, especially such a demanding one as theirs. The truth was that he had simply grown tired of the dramatics, the narcissism, the omissions. ("I never said I wouldn't see anybody else when you went to college.") But he also knew that if he allowed himself to get back into her presence, the physical connect might make him weaken. So without a word he'd just dropped out of her life. In retrospect he knew that she was what he'd had to abandon to get to where he'd come now, to where he needed to go.

But now, a salve to his conscience, he said, "After three years, a decent person maybe shouldn't just disappear without some explanation."

"Sometimes maybe the decent person needs to. Maybe he needs something else."

"Still."

She reached across the table and briefly touched his hand. "Okay," her voice was gentle, "you were a shit. But you're here now because I called and said I needed you. So let's call it even."

Hardy nodded. "Even it is." He put his mug down and reached into his briefcase for a yellow legal pad and a couple of pens. "Now, at the risk of ruining our new and hard-won equilibrium, I've got to ask you a few more questions."

She backed her chair away from the table and crossed her legs, holding her mug in her lap. She wore shorts that flattered her legs and a salmon-colored, sleeveless pullover. "Does this mean you're my lawyer?"

"Not yet," he said. "Maybe not ever, if they never charge you. But either way, I'm going to clear it with my wife first. It's one of our rules. Murder cases can be hell on family time."

Catherine sat back and crossed her arms. "You've really changed, haven't you?"

"Most of us do, Catherine."

"I don't know how much I have."

"I'll bet more than you think. You've got a family, and after kids the whole world is different."

"With the kids, yes." Hardy noted the omission of Will and wondered exactly what it meant in this context, but this wasn't going to be the time to pursue it. "But assuming that your wife…"

"Frannie."

"Okay, assuming Frannie agrees, and if I become a suspect…"

Hardy shook his head. "Too many ifs, Catherine. Let's get specific. Why did you go and visit your father-in-law that day?"

"I told you. I was worried about the college money for the kids."

"I'm sure you were, but why that particular day? Had something changed? Did Paul and Missy move up their wedding day or anything like that?"

She twirled the mug before looking up at him. "Maybe it had just been building up and suddenly I needed to know for sure. And…"

"And you're trying out how that answer sounds on me?"

The tone-unexpectedly sharp-stopped her. She shot a glance at him and took in a quick breath. "No. No, I'm not doing that."

"So there was no reason? Nothing different that day from any other?"

"Like what?"

Hardy lowered his voice. "Well, for example, your husband was out of town."

"He was fishing down south."

"That's what you said on the phone earlier. So maybe you had a little more time to yourself to think about all these money issues?"

"Right."

"And you suddenly needed to know Paul's plans?" "Right." She thrust out her chin. "You don't believe me?"

"I'm just asking you questions and listening to how you answer them, Catherine. How are you and your husband doing?"

"Fine." The defensiveness unmistakable now. "We're fine."

"No problems?"

A pause, then. "Everybody has problems, Dismas. Nobody's perfect."

"I didn't say anybody was. I asked about you and Will."

Her eyes went to the doorway, then looked Hardy full in the face. "We're not great."

He leaned in toward her, his voice barely audible.

"Catherine, nobody's indicted you yet. Maybe they never will. And maybe you're completely, factually innocent…"

"I am. I didn't do any…"

He raised a palm. "But if they do arrest you, if you wind up going on trial for these murders, you won't have any secrets. Everything comes out. And getting surprised in the courtroom is the worst bad luck you can imagine."

He drank coffee. When he spoke again, his tone was more conversational. "But as I say, there's no indictment yet. We're just covering some possible contingencies here tonight. So we'll leave you and Will for the moment. Let's talk about Paul Hanover. Did you know he owned a gun?"

"Sure. We all knew that."

"And where he kept it?"

"In the headboard of his bed."

"Loaded?"

"Yes. He mentioned it more than a few times over the years. He got a kick out of riling up his daughters, who think weapons are dangerous."

"They're right," Hardy said. "But you did know where Paul kept his gun? And people knew it and would testify to it?"

"It wasn't a family secret."

"So, family members?"

"Yes."

"And you think they'd testify against you, if it came to that?"

This obviously brought her up short. She took in the familiar kitchen surroundings as if suddenly seeing them in a different light for the first time. "Well, no. I mean, Mary wouldn't. We're fairly close. I can't imagine Beth or even Theresa…"

"Beth and Theresa?"

"Will's older sister and my mother-in-law. Not my favorite people and probably vice versa, but I mean, there's nothing inherently negative about knowing where Paul kept his gun, is there? They knew where it was, too."

Hardy looked up from his note taking. "Yes, but they weren't at his house a few hours before he was shot. Were they?"

"No. No, they weren't. I mean, I don't know that for sure, but…"

He waved it away. "Don't worry about that. If they don't have alibis, the police will know soon enough. But was there somebody else?"

"Who?"

"I don't know. You said Mary wouldn't testify against you. I got the feeling you were going to say Beth or Theresa might."

"I didn't say that!"

"No, I know you didn't."

"I wasn't going to say it!"

"All right."

He waited while she worked through her emotions. "This is not about the family," she said at last. "It's about Cuneo."

"Well, no," Hardy said, "it's about everything." He came forward and spoke quietly but with some urgency. "You might not want to talk about it now, but everybody else in your family has the same motive that you do, and if someone among them doesn't like you and you get charged, they might find themselves in an unusually good position to do you damage and at the same time protect themselves. If this is about Paul's money, which seems likely, then it's about their money, too. Okay?"

"Okay. I'm sorry."

"You don't need to be sorry. You're allowed to feel defensive about your family. If you didn't, in fact"-he broke a small smile-"I might think something was fishy about that."

The jab of lightness broke some of her tension. "So I can't win no matter what?"

"Essentially right. But all I'm after now is basic, general information." He sat back. "I believe we were on Theresa."

Something went out of Catherine's shoulders. Hardy stole a glance at his watch-quarter to ten-and realized he should wrap this up pretty soon. If the investigation truly came to settle on her, and if he took it on, they'd have all the time in the world. But her relationship with her mother-in-law was already on the table and he wanted to hear what else she had to say about it.

"She doesn't approve of me and never has."

"Why not?"

"I wish I knew. God knows, I've tried to be a good wife and mother and even daughter-in-law, but she's… well, she's a very difficult woman. She's got this one rock-solid vision of how all women should be, and I'm not it."

"And what's that vision?"

"Well, first, they should work. She works. Beth and Mary both work." Catherine stopped and shook her head. "But that's not really it because when Will and I were first together, I did work, and if anything she was more negative about me then than she is now, which is kind of hard to imagine." She sighed again. "I just wasn't good enough for her baby."

"That would be Will?"

She nodded. "The golden boy. He should have married someone with more… I don't know what… ambition. Who maybe would have pushed him harder to get to his true potential. I just weighed him down with a family and stayed at home instead of bringing in an income, so he constantly had to struggle just to make ends meet. Which is why he's never… he's never been as successful as his father."

"And that's your fault?"

"Absolutely. How could it not be? How can you even ask? It couldn't be Will, so that left me, right?" Catherine suddenly looked over at the kitchen door, got up and swung it shut, then sat back down. The color had come up again in her cheeks.

"But the real fun didn't start until we had the children. I, of course, was a terrible mother. I spoiled them;

then I was too hard on them. I let them get away with murder, then wouldn't let them have any fun. I fed them the wrong food and made them wear awful clothes. I was ruining the girls because I didn't give them the example of a strong working woman, and ruining Saul because I was too soft on him. Except when I was too hard on him and squished his sensitive soul." She brushed her hair back from her forehead, drew a breath. "Well, we're getting into it now, aren't we?" "It's all right."

"I know. I know." She paused. "Anyway, finally it got bad enough-Saul was about five at the time-that I told Theresa she couldn't come by anymore. She was relentless, poisoning the kids against me. I got Will to agree. So you know what she did then?"

"What?"

"Filed a petition for grandparents' visitation rights. Against us! By this time, she and Paul were divorced and she had nothing else in her life except her job and her grandkids. She just went off the deep end. Lord, what a time."

"So what happened?"

"So finally Paul got involved and made us all sit around and talk it out. Theresa really didn't want to break the family up, did she? And we didn't want the kids not to know their only grandma. Bottom line, she could come and visit whenever she wanted within reason, as long as she agreed not to criticize me anymore, especially in front of the kids."

"And how did that work out?"

"Surprisingly, pretty well. Although I still think she considers all eight grandchildren ultimately her responsibility because none of the families have done as well as Paul did. She's always double-checking us on how much we've saved for their colleges and the down payments on their starter homes. Down payments! I love that." A last sigh, and she offered an apologetic shrug. "Anyway, that's Theresa."

"Sounds charming." Hardy again consulted his watch, came back to her. "Do you feel like stopping? We've covered a lot. How are you holding up?"

A sudden warm expression transformed her face. "You know," she said, "I'm really okay." She paused. "Do you find it a little bit surreal that we're sitting here doing this?"

He smiled at her. "To be honest, yes."

"Okay. So it's not just me. Maybe you really haven't changed all that much after all."

"Except in every fiber of my being."

"Well, that, of course. The life thing."

"The life thing," he repeated, and a short silence settled between them.

She reached over and squeezed his hand. "I'm so glad I called you."

He nodded, blew out some air, tapped his pen against the legal pad. "So. Let's talk about after you left Paul's that night."

"All right," Catherine said, "what about it?"

"Everything," Hardy said, "beginning with what time it was."

She sat back, an elbow on the table. "A little after four, I'd say, four thirty."

"And what did you do then? After you left?"

She met his eyes, then looked quickly away and swallowed. She paused another moment. "I drove home, Dismas. Here. Straight here."

Hardy suddenly flashed on a time that she'd gone out with another guy. She'd looked him right in the eye and even swallowed the same as she did now as she denied it-and then she broke down in an admission, begging his forgiveness.

He almost expected her to have the same reaction now as he waited for her to retract the obvious lie. But she kept her composure this time, meeting his gaze. He made a mental note to return to this point-where had she gone after leaving Hanover's?-and pressed on. "Were your kids here when you got home?" He gave her a somewhat sheepish smile. "I'm really hoping you're going to say yes right about now."

"I wish I could, but they weren't."

Hardy hated that answer and must have shown it, because she hastened to explain. "I could show you in my calendar. It's really nothing sinister. Wednesdays they've all got something at school until five or six. Saul's got band. Polly's in the school play and Heather has yearbook. She's the editor. And since we all knew Will would be gone that night, I told them I could use a night off from cooking and to catch up on my bills. So I said why didn't they all rendezvous at school and go out for a pizza."

"Which they did?"

"Right. I assume so. I didn't ask."

Hardy took in a breath. "So you were home alone, paying bills and watching television until you saw the fire on TV?"

"That's right." She came forward. "I wasn't there, Dismas, at Paul's. I really was right here. All night before I went out."

"Okay, then," he said. "Although it would be a plus if we had any way to prove it. Did you call anybody? Go out to borrow some sugar?"

She brightened for a beat. "I called Mary, my sister-in-law. I wanted to tell her what Paul had said."

"That's good. And when was that?"

"As soon as I got home. I had to tell somebody."

"Okay, what about later?"

"Like when?"

"Five, six, seven?"

She shook her head. "I was just here, puttering around, having something to eat. One of the neighbors might have seen me pull in, or the car in the driveway."

"That would be helpful," Hardy said, "but let's not hold our breath." He thought for a beat. "So you don't really have an alibi."

"I was watching television. I've got the dish. Maybe there's some way they can verify that I was using it."

Hardy made a note, decided to leave the topic for one that was potentially even more explosive. "Okay, Catherine. This one you're really not going to like. Did you come on in any way to Inspector Cuneo?"

Her jaw clamped down tight. "No, I did not."

"Because he's going to say you did."

"Yes, I suppose he will."

"And you did nothing that he might have construed as some kind of sexual advance?" "Dismas, please."

He held up his hands. "I've got to ask. It wouldn't be very much fun if he had something that he dropped at trial."

"Let's not say 'trial' yet, all right?" She shook her head. "But no. There was nothing."

"Because from what I'm hearing tonight, he can't have much of a case. Unless he finds something like gasoline or gunshot residue on your clothes, which isn't going to happen, is it?"

"No."

"Okay, then. So what's probably happening is exactly what you said. That he heard about your accusation of sexual harassment…"

"But I didn't file anything! I didn't do anything with it."

"Yes, you did. You told his boss. Cuneo looks like a horse's ass and maybe worse. So now he serves the search warrant on you as a pure hassle, telling you that in spite of you going over his head, he hasn't been pulled from the case, he's still got his mojo working and you'd better not say anything else against him."

She considered that for a long moment. "Well, in a way it's almost good news, I suppose," she said. "It means they don't really think I killed Paul. They're just mad at me."

"That may be true," Hardy said. "But don't underestimate how unpleasant cops can make your life if they're mad at you."

"Well, I'm not going to talk about the harassment anymore. He'll see he made his point and just leave me alone."

"Let's hope," Hardy said. "Let's hope."

13

At a little after nine the next morning, the extended Glitsky family was sitting in bright sunshine at one of the six outdoor tables on the sidewalk in front of Leo's Beans & Leaves, a thirty-year-old family-run tea and coffee shop/delicatessen at the highest point of Fillmore Street, just before it fell precipitously down to the Marina. Abe and Treya were splitting a smoked salmon quiche, drinking tea, while Rachel was happily consumed with negotiating a toasted bagel and some slices of lox from the knee of her grandfather Nat.

Who was trying to lecture his son. "Abraham, listen to what you say yourself, and you have your answer. You are the deputy chief of inspectors. This Cuneo putz is an inspector, which puts him under you. Am I right?"

"Technically."

Nat was closing in on eighty years old, but his mind was sharp enough that already this morning he had com

pleted the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. He gave Treya a conspiratorial glance. "So 'technically' he gives me." Then, to Abe. "What's to be technical about? Take him off the case."

"How am I supposed to do that, Dad?"

"What, this is a mystery? You've got rank and the mayor on your side. You just do it."

"And why? Because I don't like him?"

A shrug. "There's worse reasons, I can tell you. If all else fails…"

Treya jumped in to her husband's defense. "But Abe can't do it without cause, Nat," she said. "He'd have to bring charges of obstruction or even of insubordination against him…"

"Or the sex stuff. How about that?"

"That, too," she said, "if he had any proof."

"Although since our witness-or should I now say suspect?-declined to file a complaint," Glitsky put in, "proof is not forthcoming." He took a bite of quiche and washed it down. "Anyway, even saying that I do show cause and try to get him busted off the case, he'll just grieve it with the P. O.A."-the policemen's union-"and probably win, seeing that it was his case to begin with and I'm the interloper. That's how the union's going to see it, I guarantee. Here's a good cop minding his own business, doing his job according to the book, and suddenly the brass shows up, no doubt going political…" He shrugged. "You see where this is going."

"But it makes no sense," Nat said.

"Okay," Treya said, "and your point is?"

"That was my point. It's all backwards."

"Dad, you've got to catch up with the times. Making sense is a low-priority item. The city's got way more important things to worry about than making sense."

Nat came back at his son. "So you're saying you've got to work with him? Cuneo."

"No, not really. I've tried that. He seems to have rejected it."

"So what's that leave? You quit the case?" "Can't do that either."

"So?"

"So I play his game."

"Which is?"

"Ignore the other guy. I go about my business. I gather evidence, pursue leads. I investigate. Maybe find something he missed."

"I wouldn't be surprised," Treya said, "if he's missing the boat entirely."

Glitsky drank tea and nodded. "That would be sweet and wouldn't shock me either. But he obviously got a warrant pulled, so he got enough to convince a judge. In any event, he's in a hurry to cut me out, moving fast and maybe loose, and the evidence might not back him up.

"As far as I know, he's not even aware of Tow/Hold or Hanover's other business. Or even the other family members. There's just a lot out there and Cuneo's only looking at one part of it, and one that just more or less fell into his hands on top of that. Usually, it doesn't work that way."

It was Glitsky's first time in the mayor's private residence, an East Coast-style four-story brownstone a few blocks down from the crest of Nob Hill, in the neighborhood of Grace Cathedral, the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins hotels.

He'd called Kathy West and asked if he could drop by for a few minutes, so she was expecting him and answered the door herself. She wore a light yellow no-nonsense blouse and a skirt of stylish brown tweed and low heels, and Glitsky had the impression that she was planning to go out shortly to another of the endless appearances that seemed to make up her life. After greeting him cordially, she led him through the house and outside to a nice-sized garden and patio of red brick, with a circular table and umbrella, a small fountain bubbling up out of a well-tended flower bed, a hot tub and a large, built-in barbecue. Surrounding homes, the same height as the mayor's, lent to the place a refined feeling of privacy, while a corridor through the adjacent backyards let the sunshine in.

The mayor took a chair at the table and motioned for Glitsky to do the same, which he'd barely accomplished before she flashed a professional smile and began. "I must say, Abe, I was surprised and impressed to get your call on a Sunday morning. You're not taking a day of rest?"

"Well, some things have come up." He started in with Cuneo, with Catherine Hanover's allegation of his sexual harassment, the search warrant. When he finished, West came forward in her crisp manner, her legs crossed, her hands tightly clasped in her lap. "Why wouldn't this woman file a complaint? Do you think he did harass her?"

"I have no way of knowing. He's been known to hit on witnesses in other cases, but that's not necessarily proof of anything in this one."

She cocked her head to one side. "It isn't?"

"Unfortunately, technically, legally, no."

"That's funny. A history like that seems somewhat… persuasive to me."

Glitsky allowed a ghost of a smile. "Well, the Hanover woman isn't pursuing it, so it's a nonissue. My concern, and what I wanted to talk to you about, is that I don't step on his investigation if he is in fact on to something."

"And how would you do that?"

"A dozen ways, really. Closing in on a suspect is kind of a carefully orchestrated ballet, and I don't want to spook his witnesses if he's already got them talking."

"So basically, what you're saying is he's cutting you out?"

He nodded. "Of course I could make a stink, pull rank, all that nonsense. But all that would do is stop the investigation." Now Glitsky shrugged. "It's entirely possible he's got her, and she did it, which is what you wanted. My question is: How hard do you want me to push to stay in?"

West frowned, scratched at the fabric of her skirt. "I'd just like to be sure," she said.

Glitsky moved his chair slightly, into the shade of the umbrella, then sat back in a casual attitude, which was nothing like how he felt. It was time to call the mayor's bluff. "Do you want to tell me why again? The real reason."

Her chin came up. She blinked rapidly three or four times. "What do you mean?"

He held her gaze. "I think you know what I mean." He used her name on purpose. "Kathy."

She looked away, staring into some empty space over his shoulder. "No, I don't. Really, I don't."

"Okay, maybe I can help you." Glitsky spoke quietly, his face locked down. "You're afraid that Paul Hanover might have been a warning to you. And if he was, you don't want to misconstrue it."

She sat stock still for a long moment, then some tension went out of her. She almost seemed to smile. "Frank Batiste was right," she said, "you are good." She drew in a breath. "It started just after I got elected, with Harlan." She didn't have to explain to Glitsky whom she meant. Harlan Fisk was her nephew, an overweight, often jovial, supremely political animal who'd worked for a time as an inspector under Glitsky in homicide, and who now was one of the city's eleven supervisors.

"Harlan's connected to this?"

"No. Not directly, anyway. But when Tow/Hold saw how the wind was blowing with me, they offered him a job. Security director."

Glitsky almost laughed, but he didn't think this was funny. "Because he'd been a cop?"

"Partly. Mostly, I think, because we're related and they thought he could influence me."

"What does the security director of Tow/Hold do, exactly?" Glitsky asked.

This brought a prim smile to the mayor's mouth. "In theory, he coordinates the off-duty regular city officers and the rent-a-cop staff that guard the lots. In practice, not much. In spite of which it pays pretty well." The smile was gone. "In case you were wondering, a hundred and forty thousand dollars. It was a bribe, plain and simple," West went on. "Harlan turned them down flat, said he didn't want any part of it."

"So then they went to Hanover?"

West nodded. "He-I'm talking about Paul now- Paul told me he'd had threats, but that he didn't put any stock in them. They came with the territory, he said. Happened all the time, nothing to worry about. Then when…" She wound down and stopped. "I didn't know how to handle it, Abe. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be underhanded or duplicitous with you. But I didn't know what to do. I still don't. I'm afraid, if you must know the truth. And you know, a mayor-particularly a woman mayor-can't appear to be afraid. Venal, petty, selfish, arrogant, anything else, but not that."

Glitsky clipped off his words. "You could have just asked me directly."

"I didn't know how to do that. You're rather famously nonpolitical and I didn't want to contaminate you." She held a hand up. "I'm not flattering you. You wouldn't have even started if you'd thought this was all just about politics. If it's any consolation, I didn't know myself exactly what I expected you to do."

He hesitated, then said, "You should know that I've already talked to Nils Granat."

Even in the warm morning, she suppressed a shiver. "It's all so nebulous," she said. "On the one hand, I can't imagine it's real, that someone would kill a wonderful man like Paul Hanover over a business deal. On the other, if they could do that…"

Glitsky had spent a lot of time and energy on this already, all of it under false pretenses, and realizing that put him in a cold fury. His patience-always thin under the best conditions-was gone. He wasn't in the mood for her conjectures. He cut off her. "Excuse me," he said, "but what do you want me to do now? That's the question. Leave it to Cuneo?"

West's eyes went up. She drew a quick breath. "That's the other thing."

"What is?"

"Inspector Cuneo. You know that hundred-and-forty-thousand-dollar job I told you about with Tow/Hold?"

Hardly able to credit what he was hearing, Glitsky squinted into the sun. "Cuneo's up for it," he said. His voice rang hollow in his ears.

West's shoulders sagged. "It's a lot more than cops make, even inspectors, as you know," she said. "When Harlan turned it down, word got out that the position was there, and several policemen applied. I've seen the list and Cuneo's one of them. Of course, there'll be no job for anyone if Bayshore gets the contract, but…"

"But Cuneo's not going to investigate them for these murders, no matter what. That's your point."

"That's right."

"So you want me to keep looking?" "I think it's the only way we may get to the truth, don't you think?"

"Unless it comes out at the trial." "What trial?" "Catherine Hanover's."

West sighed again. "I don't believe it will come to that, Abe, and certainly not if she's innocent." "Certainly not? Why not?"

West's expression of surprise was, he thought, like the MasterCard commercial-priceless. "Well, they'll find out before they get that far, I'm sure."

There was no point in arguing. Glitsky stood up. "In the event they don't, though?"

West stood, too, moved a step toward him, put a hand on his arm. "Whatever you can do, Abe," she said with great, if unintentional, ambiguity. "I'd really appreciate it if you stayed involved."

He bit back his first three responses, all inappropriate. This was, after all, the political leader of San Francisco.

He mustered a salute. Unintentionally, if anything is truly unintentional, his words came out as ambiguous as hers had been. "I'll see what I can do," he said.

The picture of Catherine Hanover that Cuneo had snapped when she'd gone out to get her newspaper on Saturday morning turned out to be a good likeness. He'd used his 35mm Canon with an excellent close-up lens and good color film and had snapped seven shots in rapid succession, then printed them out in eight-by-ten format. In the one he liked the most, she was looking directly at him, so much so that he wondered if she'd in fact seen him, but her reaction of absolute shock when he'd knocked at her door fifteen minutes later with the warrant had been, he was sure, completely genuine. She'd had no clue.

What he liked about the picture wasn't merely how good she looked-no surprise, since Catherine Hanover seemed to get more attractive with every sighting-but that the angle was so very close to the one in the newspaper picture of Missy D'Amiens that he'd been showing around. Not only that, Missy's hair had been up in an elegant coif, and Catherine, obviously and recently post-shower, had hers wrapped in a towel. So nothing blocked the contours of either face. The biggest difference was that Missy was smiling, at a party, and Catherine's expression was inward. She was nearly frowning.

When he had first put the two pictures together, they confirmed what he'd noticed from the first time he'd seen the Missy photo. The two women weren't close enough in looks to be identical twins, of course, but the similarity between them was marked. They could easily have been sisters. Both had high, broad foreheads, strong chins and noses, well-defined cheekbones. Both had a near-identical widow's peak at the hairline.

Maxine and Joseph Willis sat with Cuneo at around noon at the back of their house, this time, under the strong light in the kitchen. They were looking at both of the pictures now, side by side, in silence. After a half minute or so, Maxine raised her head and said to Cuneo, "You're bouncing the table, Inspector. If you're impatient, maybe you'd like to walk around while we look."

The identification issue, and the couple's disagreements over it, sat at the table with them all like an unwelcome guest. Cuneo was inclined to let them take whatever time they needed, but it was difficult for him not to move while he waited. After Maxine spoke to him, he asked if he could get a glass of water, and so he was over by the sink when Joseph turned in his chair and said, "If I had to swear, I'd say it was Missy."

This was not what Cuneo had been hoping to hear, but now Maxine-who'd at first been so certain that the woman she'd seen had been Missy-was shaking her head from side to side.

"You don't agree, Mrs. Willis?" Cuneo asked. He was back at the table with his glass of water, pulling up his chair again. She reached out and put her index finger on the color picture of Catherine. "I know I've seen this girl before," she said. "You look again, Joseph!"

The small man drew the photo back directly in front of him and stared down at it. Joseph clearly didn't want to discuss this with his wife any longer. Now she was saying- wasn't she?-that it had not been Missy D'Amiens on last Wednesday. And more, that the person they'd both seen had been the woman in this other picture.

Joseph, in his heart, wasn't completely certain that it had been either of them. If the truth be known, Joseph hadn't been looking too carefully at the woman's face at all. He'd assumed it was his attractive neighbor, whose walk he'd often admired, but this time he'd been more drawn to the woman's generous bosom. That, and not her face at all, was the reason he'd entertained his doubts over whether the woman had been Missy D'Amiens. She'd just seemed, well, bigger. As for the face, he couldn't swear that he'd even glanced at it.

Now he looked up at Cuneo. "I'm going to let my bride here make the call on this one, Inspector. She knows very well who she saw. If she says it's this woman in the color picture that we saw last Wednesday, then that's who it was."

As advertised, Jeffie from the Valero station was working on Sunday, manning the cash register. Cuneo had learned from his earlier experience with the Willises and this time only brought the picture of Catherine Hanover in with him.

Jeffie didn't have to look for very long. "Yep," he said. "She the one."

* * *

Coming out to the living room from the back half of the duplex, Treya Glitsky sagged against the doorway to the kitchen. "Okay, she's down."

Finally getting around to reading the Sunday Chronicle, Glitsky sat sideways in the leather love seat by their front windows, which he'd opened to let in the fresh air. It was early afternoon and sunlight spilled over him. The tone in his wife's voice sparked concern, and he put his section down, started to rise. "Are you all right?"

She nodded wearily, then barely lifted a hand, motioning for him to stay seated. "Thank God she still takes her nap."

"I hear you. But you don't look too good."

"I don't feel too good." She closed her eyes for a moment. "I know it's unusual, but would you mind terribly if I just took a minute and lay down for a while? I don't mean to be boring, but it's like somebody suddenly just pulled the plug. I don't know what it is."

"I can guess."

"You think? The pregnancy?"

He shrugged. "It's pretty normal, isn't it?"

She let out a deep breath, fatigue all over her. "Not for me. I never got any kind of morning sickness or anything with Raney or Rachel. Neither of them."

"So this one's different." He pointed. "Go, sleep."

She dropped her head and sighed, but didn't move. "Wake me up when she does."

"No promises. Do you want me to carry you in?"

"No, really. I just need a couple of minutes." "Okay. Go, then."

He got up and walked across to her. She was standing with her eyes closed, all but asleep on her feet. Peeling her off the doorpost, he put his arm around her. "I'm sorry," she mumbled. "I'm just so tired."

Five minutes later, she was covered up in their darkened bedroom. Glitsky closed the door to the hallway and returned to the living room. There he took a few steps toward his paper, but stopped as though some physical force had restrained his movement. He stood in the center of the room, hands at his sides. Closing his eyes, he let out a stream of air and realized that he'd been holding his breath. He wasn't aware of any noise, even from the street through the open windows. He drew another deep breath. Another. Closed his eyes again.

Perhaps a minute passed. In the house, all was Sunday-afternoon stillness.

When he opened his eyes, the rectangle of sunlight had grown and it now covered the whole love seat and a few inches of floor. He realized that, incredibly for San Francisco, it was almost uncomfortably warm in the room. He walked to the front door and opened it for some cross-ventilation, then went to the refrigerator, took out a bottle of iced tea and drank half of it down in a gulp.

What had been his sons' rooms when they'd lived with him were down a hall behind the kitchen on the opposite side of the duplex from his own bedroom. Now his youngest boy Orel's old room was Rachel's, and at her door Glitsky turned the knob gently and went to stand over her bed-still a crib, really, with the bars up. She was sleeping soundly, sprawled on her back, her breathing regular and deep, and he couldn't resist putting his palm down flat over her chest. She didn't stir. He felt a vibration at his belt, someone paging him. The number wasn't immediately familiar and his initial reaction was to ignore it, go finish reading the Sunday paper, maybe let himself doze off like the rest of the world.

Instead, in the kitchen, he picked up the wall phone's receiver and punched in the number.

"Hello."

"This is Abe Glitsky. You just paged me. Who is this?" "Dan Cuneo. We need to talk about Catherine Hanover."

Assistant DA Chris Rosen didn't mind being bothered about work at home on a Sunday night, least of all by a homicide inspector with a big case. He lived in a small, stand-alone bungalow in the flats of Emeryville, across the bay from San Francisco, not more than six miles from Cuneo's place in Alameda. The inspector's long day in the city had come to an end, and the two men decided they'd meet up at the bar of Spenger's Fish Grotto, just off the freeway in Berkeley.

They arrived almost simultaneously. By the time they got their drinks-the place was packed and it took a while -Cuneo had brought him pretty much up-to-date. Three witnesses had definitively identified Catherine Hanover from her picture as the woman who'd 1) purchased the Valero gasoline in a portable container and 2) left the Hanover house about a half hour before the fire. Cuneo had taken the rug sample from the back of Catherine Hanover's car directly to Arnie Becker, since the regular police lab probably wouldn't be able to get to it within a week. Becker had ready access to the fire department's own mass spectrometer, and yes, in fact, the gasoline in her trunk was Valero, the same brand that had started the fire. He'd luminoled the pants from her closet himself, and though he'd found no evidence of blood spatter, he'd dropped the clothes at the police lab and was hoping they'd find something useful.

Throughout this recital, Rosen sipped his Scotch and said nothing. After Cuneo stopped, he signaled the waitress for another round for both of them and said, "Don't get me wrong, Dan. There's nothing I'd like more than to be able to move on this. But you've got to admit that you don't have much in the way of evidence."

Cuneo was ready for this. "I didn't expect much. The fire burned it all up. But she denies being near Hanover's house when one of my witnesses put her there. Same day she got the gas around the corner. She did it, Chris. I swear to God."

"I'm not saying I don't believe you." He centered his empty glass on his napkin. "Last time you mentioned a motive, but we didn't get to it."

Cuneo spent a little time spinning it out. Aside from his work on the warrant and this morning's identifications, in the past two days, he'd spoken to all the other members of Paul Hanover's nuclear family except Catherine's husband, and no one denied that his coming marriage to Missy D'Amiens and the possible change to the inheritance was a very big concern to all of them.

What set Catherine apart from her other relatives was the fact that she'd gone to Paul's that day to "have it out" with him. "Her own words from the first night I talked to her at the fire-'have it out.' One sister and the mother-in-law both had heard her say it. And now we know she was at the house not just in the afternoon when she admitted it, but later, just before the fire."

"Anybody see her walk in there, with the gas?"

"Not yet, no."

"Or walk out with it?"

"She left it in the house. Arnie Becker's got the container with the other stuff from the house down at the station." One of an arson inspector's most tedious yet most important jobs after a fire was to go through the ash and debris in a three- or four-foot radius around a body and sort everything-the burned and destroyed remains of furniture, floors, walls, clothing, appliances, knickknacks, jewelry-until they had identified every item down to the size of a match head, to see if any of it might be relevant to their investigation. "No prints, if that's what you were thinking."

"Hoping." Rosen frowned. "Anything else?"

"Yeah. The day after the fire, after we'd had this talk at the scene…"

"Wait a minute. She was at the fire itself? I'm not sure I realized that."

"That's when I first talked to her." "Okay, go on."

"So she tells me-this is at the fire now-that she'd heard that Paul and Missy had been fighting, setting it up for the murder/suicide story. Then, next day, I go to talk to her at her house, and by now she realizes that we've ruled that out. Not only that, the other stuff she told me, she's implicated herself and she knows I know it. So what does she do?"

"Tell me."

"Calls Glitsky-you know Glitsky? Deputy chief?- anyway, she calls him and says I sexually harassed her." He held up a hand. "The answer is no, not a chance. But she told Glitsky she didn't want to talk to me anymore."

"So after Glitsky stopped laughing, what did he tell her?"

"Well, wait, this is getting to the good part." Their drinks arrived and both men lifted their glasses. "Glitsky comes and tells me that from now on, he's on the case with me…"

"What, you mean personally?"

"Personally. The mayor asked him."

Now Cuneo had Rosen's complete attention. "What?

Why?"

A nod. "It gives one pause, doesn't it? So he says from now on he'll be questioning Catherine Hanover. He's trying to protect me from the sex charge."

"So she filed?"

"Funny thing. She decided not to." Cuneo drank again. "Wait, it gets better. We've got Glitsky and Kathy West somehow connected to Catherine, right? So now I'm starting to wonder. They're pulling me off when she looks good to me. I come to you on Friday, get the warrant this weekend, do some digging. Finally, couple of hours ago, I call Glitsky to keep him in the loop as he's requested. I tell him what I got, the fucking gasoline, the motive, two positive IDs, Catherine's lying about where she was and when. She's it. I say we ought to bring it to you and get her in the grand jury before she blows town."

"And what was his response?"

"Bad idea, he says. Too soon. We really don't have anything on her. He says there's still a lot of questions. We don't want to rush to judgment. Plus, and we should know this, this is really my favorite…"

"What?"

"She hired herself a lawyer. You know Dismas

Hardy?"

"The name, yeah."

"Well, guess what? He's Glitsky's pal. They used to be cops together." He finished his drink and leaned back in satisfaction, tapping his toes to beat the band. "What we've got here, Chris, isn't just a sweet little double murder. There's some major conspiracy going on with these guys, going all the way up to the mayor. This city is lousy with politics, and these guys are smack-dab in the middle of it. And you want my opinion? Just between us. It doesn't start here, with Hanover. I'm betting it started back before Barry Gerson got killed."

"You mean Lieutenant Gerson?"

"My old boss, yeah. And a great guy."

"I thought… wasn't he killed at some shoot-out? I thought it was some Russian gang thing."

"Maybe. That's what they want you to believe. But the whole mess wasn't ever really investigated, not carefully enough anyway. And here's a factoid for you-one of the guys killed in the shoot-out with Gerson was a guy named John Holiday, wanted for murder at the time. And guess who his attorney was?"

"Got to be Hardy."

Cuneo made a gun with his fingers, pointed it at Rosen and pulled the trigger. "He and Glitsky both were all over that Holiday case. It's ugly as shit, Chris."

"So how does Catherine Hanover fit in? Or Paul?"

"I don't know yet, but I'll tell you one thing. She did him." He tipped up his glass and drank off the whole thing. Eyes shining, he came forward in his chair. "This is the biggest case you're ever going to be part of, and we've got to get this damned woman locked up before the whole thing blows away in the dust. Because believe me, these people can make it happen."

14

As soon as Hardy's children were out the door to school on Monday morning, he and Frannie unplugged the main telephone jack, turned off their own cell phones and repaired upstairs to their bedroom.

An hour later, Hardy climbed the stairs again, this time bearing two fresh cups of coffee. "It occurs to me," he said, "that carrying hot coffee in a state of undress might not be wise."

"No risk, no reward," Frannie said. "Besides, it's a good fantasy moment. Being waited on by a naked slave and all."

He bowed from the waist. "Your servant, madam." Handing her a mug, he slid in beside her, pulled a sheet over himself. "Your fantasy slave looks like me?"

"Who else would he look like?"

"I don't know. Brad Pitt, maybe. Who's that new guy Rebecca loves?"

"Orlando Bloom?" "Yeah, him."

"He's not that new, but why would I want either of them?"

"Well, we're talking fantasy, right? Your average fifty-something lawyer isn't exactly fantasy material."

"Who's talking average?" She lifted the sheet away, looked him up and down. "Yep. Works for me. Just did, in fact. Plus, the coffee's perfect, thank you. Brad and Orlando, those other guys, they'd probably burn it or something." She took another sip. "So speaking of fantasies…"

"What?"

She gave him a don't-kid-me look. "Have you decided what you're going to do with Catherine?"

"Well, first, Catherine is not my fantasy. You're my fantasy."

"All right, but you have to say that."

"I don't have to say anything like that."

"But I just did, so if you didn't, you'd be in trouble."

"That doesn't mean I don't mean it. Seriously. You don't think this is a fantasy? Monday morning, nobody home but us up here alone? Taking time out on a workday to make love? Do you know what we'd have done for this moment even a couple of years ago?"

"Probably killed small, cute, furry animals."

"At least."

"But you still haven't told me about Catherine." "That's because, truly, I haven't decided. The main thing is, I don't think it's likely they're going to charge her. Cuneo's just rattling her cage." "But if they do?"

"Charge her?" He turned to her. "I wouldn't take it if it would make you uncomfortable."

"It's not just me. There's this whole Cuneo thing. I know Abe's definitely worried…"

"But Abe worries for a hobby."

"Okay, but he's got a reason this time. Cuneo could make a big mess for both of you. If anything about that day ever comes out…"

"Actually," Hardy said, "that's one of the reasons the nasty side of me is almost hoping they go ahead and charge her and try to make a case with this lousy evidence."

"What reason is that?"

"Cuneo. Unless he strikes gold-or Hanover's blood on Catherine's stuff-he's got a weak case he's rushing in on. Abe says he's a sloppy investigator. That's just who he is. So depending on how fast and loose he decides to play, give me a chance to get him on a witness stand and I'll bet I can do some serious damage to his basic credibility as a cop. At least enough so nobody would be inclined to go on a wild goose chase after me and Abe on his say-so. I'd almost look forward to the chance."

Frannie sipped at her coffee. "Ifyou turned her down, how much would it cost the firm?"

Hardy considered for a minute. "High-profile murder trial? Three to five hundred thousand, maybe more. Plus, maybe, referrals."

"So do you want to do it?"

"We're not there yet. Maybe we won't get there. But really, as I said, if you've got a problem with it…" "Then I'm an insecure bitch."

"Not at all. It's completely legitimate that you'd be uncomfortable. Me and Catherine went together for three years. That's a significant chunk of time. Obviously, as I've already told you, there's still a connection. There'll always be some connection."

"And she's still attractive." Not a question.

He nodded. "She's very good-looking. But, you know, we've already done the fantasy thing with you and me this morning. I'm yours, you're mine. Like that."

"Yes, but here's a case where you can help someone you care about who you think is probably innocent and make half a million or more dollars in the bargain, and at the same time you'd get to professionally destroy someone who's out to get you and Abe. How can I ask you not to take it?"

Hardy put his coffee cup down, reached over and pulled his wife close against him. "You say, 'Diz, I'd just prefer you let someone else take this one.' "

"I'm not going to do that."

"Well, that is your decision, Flaversham." Hardy quoting a longtime household favorite line from Disney's The Great Mouse Detective. "And I haven't made my own decision yet, either."

"You can't turn her down if she needs you." "Somebody else could defend her." "But who as well as you?"

"Well… "

"But between us," Frannie added, cutting him off, "it is a little scary."

Just off the main lobby in Hardy's Sutter Street offices, the Solarium conference room contained a proni-sion of greenery-rubber trees, ferns, dieffenbachia. One of the associates had even brought a redwood tree in a two-hundred-gallon pot; thriving, its trunk was a foot thick and its boughs scraped the glass ceiling.

Now, after he and Frannie had continued their morning date with an early lunch, cell phones off, at Petit Robert, Hardy sat in one of the sixteen chairs that surrounded the immense mahogany table in the center of the room. Waiting for him on his arrival at the office were three urgent calls from Catherine Hanover-the first when the police had come early in the morning to serve a subpoena for her to appear tomorrow to testify in front of the grand jury, the second when Cuneo had arrived personally to deliver another search warrant at her house, and the third in a barely controlled, I need help right now hysteria, similar in tone to the first call he'd gotten from her on Saturday night. He called her right back and told her to get down to the office as soon as she could. She was barely coherent. Her voice had been choked and hoarse-"I'm sorry. I can't seem to stop crying."

Hanging up, he put in a call to Abe's pager. He wondered what, if anything, had happened on Sunday, or maybe Saturday, with the results of the first search warrant. Had the lab in fact uncovered significant evidence?

Clear on what he next wanted to do, Hardy forced himself to take a moment before he did it. Every action he took now as Catherine's de facto lawyer moved him closer to the decision he hadn't yet consciously made. But at each small incremental step, he didn't seem to be able to stop himself. Of course he would call Catherine back after her three urgent calls. What else could he do? Of course he would page Glitsky and try to discover what the police had come up with. On some level, he felt he didn't really have a choice. But up until now, his moves had been small and personal. What he contemplated next was larger and more public. He wanted more certainty about his commitment before he moved.

Whether it was more hangover from the guilt he'd felt at the way he'd had to drop her so long ago or a testament to the bond they'd once forged together, he couldn't deny that between him and Catherine there remained a strong personal connection. They'd come of age in the same culture-it had been immediately clear to Hardy on Saturday night at her house, when they'd easily fallen into a comfortable familiarity, even with the hard questions. The plain fact was that she'd been his first love, and the person he'd become could not bring himself to abandon her when she needed him so badly. Even as he recognized that she might-he told himself it was an infinitesimally small chance-even now be playing him. Because she knew she could.

But that, he told himself, was her fate, her karma. Hardy himself had no choice but to be true to his own character, and to trust that she would not betray him.

Finally, telling Phyllis to interrupt him if Glitsky called, he rang up the district attorney's office, where he talked to the relatively new chief assistant district attorney, Craig Bellarios, about the grand jury subpoena. There was really only one question Hardy needed to have answered, and that was whether his client-his client!-was considered a "target" of the investigation, i.e., a suspect, as opposed to a witness.

Bellarios, who didn't know Hardy very well, wasn't the most forthcoming man on the planet. He told Hardy that he couldn't predict what the grand jury would do, and that it was always wise to be prepared for any eventuality. Thanking him for nothing, Hardy asked and did learn the name of the presenting prosecutor-Chris Rosen-and called him next, but he was out.

He sensed a stonewall and it tightened his stomach. If things had gotten to this juncture already, he had no choice but to tell Catherine to plead the Fifth Amendment before the grand jury and to refuse to talk anymore to the police. And in the terrible catch-22 of the legal game, once she adopted that strategy, though technically she'd still be a witness, in the eyes of the prosecution she would have moved a long way toward becoming the target of the investigation.

Now, with his legal pad and another cup of coffee on the table in front of him, Hardy was cramming with a single-minded attention, reviewing all the notes he'd taken at Catherine's on Saturday night. Feeling her presence as soon as she entered the lobby, he looked up, stood and walked over to the Solarium door. "Catherine."

If she'd been crying, there was no sign of it anymore, other than maybe an added luminosity to her eyes. She wore a well-tailored khaki-colored pantsuit. Hardy was thinking that he was glad she'd chosen demure even as she turned toward him to reveal a light tangerine garment with a lace top, a sweep of decolletage underneath the jacket. An elegant chain of malachite beads encircled her neck and rested in the deep hollow of her chest. He realized that she'd had her breasts enlarged.

But he'd hardly digested these impressions when she stepped into his arms. Vaguely aware of the stares of Phyllis and Norma, the office manager, and a pair of paralegals who had stopped at the reception area for something, Hardy held her against him for the briefest of seconds, then turned to the gathered multitudes and introduced her, all business, as an old friend and new client.

A new client.

Back in the Solarium, they got seated and Hardy asked if he could see the subpoena. "You got this this morning?"

"Seven o'clock. I was hardly out of bed."

"They're still hassling you."

"I thought so, too. And they're doing another search. Is that unusual?"

He didn't answer that one. Instead, he asked, "When did they do this, the search? At seven, too?"

"No. Nine or so. They were separate. Cuneo was with the second bunch. I called you again."

"I had business this morning," Hardy said. "I called back as soon as I got in. Was Glitsky with the search team this time?"

"I don't think so. I've never met him, but I'm sure that wasn't the other name. I would have remembered."

"So what were they looking for this time?"

"I don't know. Everything, I think. They went upstairs and just started in."

Hiding his exasperation, Hardy smiled helpfully. "They list specifics on the warrant. Did they show that to you?"

"No."

"What about your husband? Wasn't he there? Did he ask to see the warrant, by any chance?"

She looked down, scratched at the fabric of her pants. "Will's taken a…" She stopped. "He's not home right now."

Hardy waited.

After a minute, she wiped an eye with her finger, then the other one. Reaching down, she opened her purse and removed a small package of Kleenex, brought one of the tissues up to her face. "This is anger, not sadness." She dabbed at her eyes some more, sniffed once, clenched the Kleenex in her fist. "He started having another affair," she said without looking at him. "The son of a bitch."

Hardy said the first thing that came to his mind. "So he wasn't fishing last Wednesday?"

She kept her eyes straight in front of her. "He was in Southern California, though. That's where they met up. On the same goddamn boat as the last one." Finally, she cast a sidelong glance at him. "I'm sorry about the language, and I didn't mean to lie to you about Will and me the other night." Again, a labored breath. "Anyway, after you left on Saturday, it blew up. He made some smart-ass remark about you and me…"

"You and me?"

"All the time we spent talking, just making it sound sleazy."

"I was there as your lawyer, Catherine." Hardy didn't like being cast as the wedge between wife and husband, but he immediately regretted referring to himself as her lawyer. It seemed to be another irrevocable step.

"Of course you were. What else could you be? But you have to know Will. As though he needed a real reason to pick a fight. Anyway, he was slandering you, too, and I just thought, 'How dare he?' and lost it. I threw him out."

"He thought you didn't know about the affair?"

"He must have thought I was an idiot. He even wanted to… to have sex with me when he got home, maybe so I wouldn't suspect he'd been rutting around for four days. The bastard." A bitter little sound escaped. "I thought if I could avoid bringing it up, it might stay hidden from the kids. I used to hope I could hold out until Heather went to college, then I could file for divorce. The kids wouldn't really be in our lives as much, so it would be easier. This last time, though, last week, I realized I couldn't do that anymore. I couldn't go on that way. But I still hadn't really decided, you know?" "Decided what, exactly?"

"When I'd call him on it. Move out or have him do it. Bring it to a head. I didn't want it to just happen the way it did. I wanted to control the timing, at least. Now I'm just feeling so ashamed of myself."

"For what?"

She turned in her chair and faced him. "Don't you see? For ruining our home life. Bringing it out into the open." She shrugged. "But something just snapped. Maybe it's all this being a suspect."

"If your husband was having an affair, how was it that you ruined your home life?"

"I know, it's stupid, but it's how I feel. If I were a stronger person, I could have kept pretending"-she motioned around the room ambiguously-"except for all this. And seeing you, in some way. Remembering how good you were, how sweet a relationship could be. It all broke me down."

"I'm sorry if I had a role in it. I wouldn't have come over if…"

"No, no. It was going to happen sometime."

Hardy let a moment pass, then said, "So that's why you went to your father-in-law's? To talk about this?

Will's affair."

She couldn't hide her startled expression. "Why do you assume that?"

"Because that's what changed, Catherine. You're going about your normal life and your husband goes off with another woman. You're going to do something. I'm glad you didn't decide to follow him down and kill him."

"The thought crossed my mind."

"Let's keep that between us, okay?"

She found half a smile. "I wouldn't have killed him, Dismas. Or his father, either."

Hardy's antennae were all the way up. Without a conscious thought, he noted her use of the subjunctive and wondered if she'd done it on purpose. She wouldn't have killed Paul, except for…

And then something happened, and she'd had to. It was only a small feat of mental legerdemain. A child, Hardy thought, could do it. And they often did.

At the same time, part of him hated himself for realizing the fundamental truth that while what she'd just said sounded like an absolute denial of her guilt, in fact it was not. As a good, Jesuit-trained former Catholic, Hardy was often able to argue himself into a state of tolerable comfort in the outer reaches of moral ambiguity, and he knew that Catherine's education with the Mercy nuns had trained her in the same way. Hell, she'd been the acknowledged master-it was the thing he could never beat her at. And so now he also knew enough not to ask her for clarification; it would only complicate things down the line.

All this in the blink of an eye.

He asked her, "So what did you want to ask him? Paul, I mean?"

"The same thing I said last time, Dismas. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the money." She threw him a glance that he couldn't read. "He was going to marry Missy in the fall and change his will to make her his beneficiary. Maybe he'd leave a few thousand dollars to each of his grandchildren. That was it. They weren't doing a prenup."

"Why not? Did he say?"

"Because Missy wasn't out for his money, and Paul resented the hell out of his family for implying that she was. In fact, before the family had started the campaign, as he called it, he'd been inclined to set up trusts for the kids and all that. But then Will and Beth and Theresa, especially, wouldn't let it go. And the blind greed of it, he said, made him sick. His kids and their families were getting along just fine. And Missy had had a tremendously difficult life, we had no idea. Now it was her turn for comfort and security and he was going to give it to her. And too bad if we didn't like it."

"That sounds harsh."

She lifted her shoulders. "It didn't when he said it, though. He was a straight shooter. He'd worked hard to get his kids set on their way. Now they should do the same with theirs."

"So where did that leave you? Did you tell him about

Will?"

"I didn't need to." She looked away. "He seemed to know, yes. To have known."

"You mean about Will's other affairs?"

She nodded. "Anyway, he gave me what I'd come to find out."

"And what did that mean to you?"

She worried her lower lip. "I wanted to know where I stood. I know it sounds mercenary, but I'd already endured more than a few rather difficult years with Will. If it looked like he was going to inherit several million dollars…" She stopped, unwilling to enunciate it.

"You might try to endure a few more?"

She scratched at her pants again. "I admit it sounds awful." She raised her eyes to his. "But if there wasn't ever going to be a windfall, if he signed it all over to her…"

"You might as well leave him now."

She bowed her head in tacit agreement. "I needed to know my options, Dismas." Then, "I hate him."

Outside the Solarium's glass walls, a tiny parklike area, a hundred or so square feet of open space tucked between the buildings, held a concrete bench that the associates had chipped in for in memory of David Freeman. Hardy spent a minute watching a few sparrows pecking around in the decomposed granite. Finally, he came back to her. "Had he changed his will?"

"He was going to… oh my God!" Her hand went to her mouth. "The will!"

"What?" "That's today!"

Bob Townshend's office was on the same twentieth floor as Paul Hanover's in the Bank of America building. Its great windows afforded a stunning view of the city spread out below, with the sunlight glinting on the bay, far off the Golden Gate Bridge standing sentinel over the entrance to the harbor, and closer in the spires of the churches in North Beach. None of the Hanover relatives seated in front of Townshend's ultramodern chrome-and-glass desk paid it the slightest attention.

Theresa Hanover sat in the third chair from the right in the row of seven that Townshend had set up for the reading of the will. Will Hanover sat in the center chair, next to his mother. The chair next to him was empty, and beyond that to his left sat Mary and Carlos. On the other side of Theresa were Beth and her attorney husband, Aaron.

Townshend had finally put down his coffee cup and saucer at the service table against the inside wall and had come around to claim his seat behind the desk. Florid and overweight, Townshend-unlike his partner Paul Hanover-had never been comfortable interacting with actual living people. He enjoyed numbers and games and legal puzzles. He was also an excellent legal writer and a whiz at business strategy, which made him an invaluable partner to Hanover, but dealing with humans in the flesh was for him always a bit of a strain.

And never more than at a moment like this one, when things weren't going according to protocol. He'd scheduled the reading of Paul Hanover's will for one o'clock, and now it was nearly two, and still no sign-not even a phone call-from Catherine Hanover. Neither had she returned any of the several calls he'd made to her home, or to her cell phone. There was nothing absolutely critical about her attendance, of course. Her husband was here representing the family and that was enough, but even with his limited sensitivity to human emotions, Town-shend sensed a tension in the group-especially between Will and his mother-that in turn made him nervous.

Now he checked his watch for the twentieth time, ran a finger under his very tight shirt collar, cleared his throat. Over an hour ago, he'd gone to his safe and removed the sealed Last Will & Testament of Paul Hanover, and placed it exactly in the center of his desk. Now he pulled the package toward him. "Well, then, if we're all in agreement…"

"Lord, Bob, we've waited long enough," Theresa said. "For some reason that I can't fathom or imagine, Catherine has decided she isn't coming. But her presence one way or the other doesn't make any difference anyway, so let's get this show on the road."

Mary, holding her silent Carlos's hand, spoke up in her timid voice. "Isn't anybody else worried about her?"

Will shot a glance across his mother at his younger sister. "I'm sure it's something with school and the kids," he said easily. "It's always school and the kids. You know that. More important than anything else."

"But you'd think this…" Aaron began.

Will cut him off. "She knows it's going to be what it's going to be. Her being here isn't going to change anything."

"Bob." Theresa, at the end ofpatience, used her most dismissive tone. "Either you open that damned folder or I'm going to take it from you and read it myself."

"Mom!" Beth said. "You don't have to be so difficult."

Theresa whirled on her elder daughter, her tone sharp and angry. "Don't you talk to me about difficult, young lady. I'm the one who knows how difficult it can be going it alone in this world. And I'm the one who wants to be sure that my grandchildren don't have to find out what that's like. That's why I'm here, and that's the only reason I'm here. I doubt if your father left me a dime." She came back front to Townshend. "Bob? Now. Please."

With a last look at Catherine's empty chair, he sighed and carefully unsealed the envelope.

"She called from here," Hardy said, "and they'd just read it."

"And he stops," Glitsky grumbled, half to himself. "You're going to make me guess?" He stood by one of the windows in Hardy's office, studying the traffic patterns-unmoving-on Sutter Street below. It was five thirty, still light out, still sunny.

"Of course not. I'll tell you." Hardy had his feet up on his desk. "If you just ask me politely, I'll tell you."

"All right." Glitsky took his hand off the window shade, half turned to face his friend. "I'm asking."

"Come on, Abe. Just say, 'Tell me about the will.' "

Glitsky threw his eyes to the ceiling, summoning all of his endurance. He sighed heavily. "Okay," he said, "tell me about the will."

Hardy shot back. "Say 'please.' "

"I don't think so." Shaking his head in disgust, Glitsky started walking over to the cherry cabinet where Hardy kept his darts. Glitsky hadn't stolen Hardy's darts in nearly six months now, and when he'd come in he'd been thinking that it was getting to be about that time again. If his friend happened to leave the room.

"If you just say 'please' "-Hardy was grinning broadly-"I promise I'll tell you."

Glitsky got to the cabinet and opened up the side doors to reveal the black, yellow, red and green "professional" dartboard within. Hardy's three custom tungsten darts were hanging in their little holders, blue flights attached. Glitsky pulled them and without a glance at Hardy walked to the dark-wood line in the light hardwood floor that had been inset seven feet, nine and one-quarter inches from the face of the board. Turning, he fired the first dart and hit a double bull's-eye, smack in the center of the board. He turned around again and put the two other darts on Hardy's desk.

"All right," Hardy said. "Bull's-eye counts as a 'please.' " He eyed the darts, looked up at Glitsky. "Hanover hadn't changed the will. Missy wasn't mentioned. All the money went to the family." "How much?"

"Well." Hardy pulled his feet offthe desk and grabbed the darts. "It's complicated, with the property and investments and various other liquidatable assets…"

"Liquidatable. Good word," Abe said.

"Thank you." Hardy was now around the desk and standing at the throw line. "But the best ballpark estimate looks like it's going to come out at something like seventeen, eighteen million." He threw the dart, then the next one in rapid succession. Two twenties. He leaned back against his desk. "Which of course isn't the best news in the world for Catherine."

"Or any of them," Glitsky said, "if they didn't all have alibis, which Cuneo says they do. Except the ex-wife, Theresa."

"Maybe it's nobody in the family. Are you getting anything on Tow/Hold?"

Glitsky shook his head. "I talked to a lot of people. Harlan Fisk, Granat again, went down to the corporate office in San Bruno. Swell group of folks. Nothing." Now he pushed himself against the back cushion and ran both hands over his buzz cut. "I know I'm a cop and ought to be glad we've got a suspect, but I don't want to think Cuneo has got this one right. Catherine doesn't feel right. Hasn't from the beginning."

"I love when you say that," Hardy said. In truth, though, he was far from sanguine. He flatly didn't believe, despite her low-key and self-effacing protestations to the contrary-"I am so scattered lately. I think all this stress must be eating my brain cells."-that Catherine had simply forgotten that the reading of the will was going to be today. She could have told him she didn't want to be in the same room as her husband, and okay, he could have possibly accepted that. But even with the distractions of a spouse's affair, a subpoena to testify before the grand jury and a police search of her house in progress, Hardy had to believe that your average person would probably remember that this was the day you found out if you were a millionaire or not. Sitting on his desk, the darts stuck in the board and forgotten, Hardy laid all of this out. "She didn't forget that today was the reading of the will, I promise you."

Glitsky, who'd settled on the first couple of inches of the couch, listened without interruption and when Hardy had finished said, "I admit it's improbable. So why would she pretend?"

"The drama of it. She didn't really need to be at the reading, did she? Her attendance wouldn't change anything. But she could make me feel her urgency, hook me into it."

"So call her on it and let her go." "I know. I know. I'm tempted. Except what if she really did forget?"

"You just made a pretty good case that that wasn't likely."

"No, not likely, but not impossible, either." Absently, he pulled the darts from the board again. "This is the kind of thing she always did to me. It used to drive me crazy, but at least it was never dull."

"Dull gets a bad rap. Give me dull anytime."

Hardy broke a smile. "That's why you went into police work, right? For the slow times."

Glitsky shrugged. "I was younger."

"So was I. I loved the mystery."

"I thought it drove you crazy."

"That, too. It was complicated. In fact, it was too complicated. It was fucking exhausting, which was why I gave it up."

"You miss it?"

"Not at all."

"But here you are, taking her on."

"Yeah." A small silence settled. At last Hardy said, "She's not stupid, Abe. There's no reason she would have given you her own motive."

"Except if she knew that that's exactly what I'd think."

"The old double-reverse, huh?"

A shrug. "It happens. And in the same general vein, why wouldn't she file a complaint against Cuneo? If she'd have filed the first time I talked to her…"

"I know."

But Glitsky went ahead. "If she'd done that, end of story. He was off the investigation against her. But now it looks like she was trying to run him off with a bluff.

And why had she wanted to run him off? Because he was getting close, and because she was guilty."

But Hardy said, "I don't know why she didn't file. A million reasons. Fear, mostly, then maybe embarrassment, finally just hoping it would go away. You know as well as I do."

Glitsky had come forward to the front of the couch again, elbows on his knees and hands clasped. He let out a heavy breath. "You want my advice?"

"No. You'll just tell me I don't want to do this."

"Right."

"So how do you propose I get out of it? Give her to somebody else?" "It's possible."

Hardy shook his head. "Not in real life, it isn't. I believe I can help her. I know her. I want to help her." Glitsky narrowed his eyes. "You believe her?" "I think so. I'm not sure." "Which one?"

"Right." Hardy shrugged. "I know. On the basic question-is she a killer?-I'm with her. Other than that…" He let the sentence hang. "Here's some good news, though. At least now I know she's got the money to pay me."

"You're billing her, then?"

"Double homicide, special circumstances. I'm billing her, trust me."

This seemed to give Glitsky a little relief. "Just making sure," he said.

PART TWO

15

Hardy awoke with a start, sweat pouring off him.

Not that it was warm. In fact, if anything, it was unusually cold, not only inside his bedroom but out in the terrible night. It was the third week of January, and the second full day of the Arctic storm that was pounding at the bedroom windows, shaking them with a low rumble.

He threw the covers off and sat up, trying at once to remember and to banish the dream that had shaken him from his sleep. Reflexively, he checked the clock on his nightstand. 2:53. The trial would start in under seven hours. He had to get back to sleep. He couldn't show up on the first day wiped out with fatigue. There would be the gauntlet of reporters, first of all. Not only the local channels, but stringers for every station and cable outlet in the country had been parked in the back lot of the Hall of Justice for each of the motion hearings-to quash the warrant, to exclude Catherine's statements to the cops, admissibility, 995 for dismissal-they'd been there for all of them. And they'd be there this morning, too. The judge had forbidden any communication with them, but they could be relentless and he had to be sharp, get back to sleep. Now.

The dream had been sexual, that much he remembered. He dreamed almost every night now, and they were all sexual, all mouths and legs, switched identities, all frustration and guilt and deception-his subconscious working overtime to process the conflicts and unacknowledged tensions to which he would give no assent in his daily life.

He wasn't in love with Catherine Hanover, but there was no point in trying to deny the attraction. He also ached at her plight, at where her life had gotten to. The physical chemistry between them had always been palpable. As teenagers, to their mutual pride, confusion, horror and shame, they'd gone from untried virgins to lovers without any commitment or discussion on their third date. The care they both took to avoid even the most innocuous and casual physical contact over the past months had been such a constant companion that it felt like a living thing in the visiting room with them.

She'd been in jail for nearly eight months for a crime that with all his heart he wanted to believe she'd not committed. In that time, the weak, circumstantial case against her-which nonetheless had been strong enough to persuade the grand jury to indict her for special circumstances double murder-had only grown stronger. It hadn't helped, either, that with all the fanfare, Chris Rosen had succumbed to his ambition and was now a widely rumored, though unannounced, candidate for district attorney in the next citywide election.

Catherine's own mother-in-law, Theresa, had become the witness from hell. Dan Cuneo had interviewed her for the better part of a week in the first flush of the indictment last May, and she'd done all she could to braid the rope that would hang her daughter-in-law. According to Theresa, Catherine had threatened to kill Paul Hanover and Missy D'Amiens not just once or twice. It had been a running theme. The threats were often given in front of her children and other members of the extended family.

Catherine's position was that this was just the way she talked when the family was gathered together-she tended to be histrionic, to exaggerate for effect, and this Hardy certainly knew to be true from his own experience. From the beginning, she knew she was unwelcome in the Hanover family. Catherine felt that the only path to even modest acceptance within the family was to be entertaining, a personality. Without a pedigree, a past, a bloodline, it was all she had.

So yes, she'd often joked that they all really needed to get together and kill Missy before the wedding, though of course she'd never meant it. They'd all laughed. They couldn't have believed she ever meant it. (Beth thought the repetition ominous enough, though; all the kids considered it unimportant, a joke.)

Her husband piled on as well. In his statements to the police, Will denied that he'd ever had an affair with anyone. He had time cards from his secretary, Karyn Harris, the "other woman" Catherine had suspected, for the days when he'd been fishing, and the records showed that she'd been at the office every one of those four days. Moreover, the captain of the Kingfisher, Morgan Bayley, swore that he'd been out on the ocean the whole time with Will, but that their radio had been on the blink. He had the radio repair records to prove it. They'd also been out of the cell-phone reception zone and hadn't been able to call anyone on shore.

Will told Hardy that his wife had always been jealous. In the past couple of years, she'd become dangerously unstable in a number of ways-accusing him of adultery being just one of them. She'd also, he said, conceived either an affection for his father or a mania for his money. There was a strong and in some ways almost uncanny resemblance between Catherine and Missy D'Amiens- remarked on by anyone who knew them both-and Catherine seemed to believe that if Missy could snag her very wealthy and charismatic father-in-law, she could and should have done it herself. She imagined that Paul had propositioned her when she'd first been married. She should have gone with his father when she had the chance. At the end, Will said that Paul had told him that she'd even come on to him, and he'd had to rebuff her. Finally, she constantly berated Will for his business "failures," his inability to adequately provide for his children's education, for his general lack of acumen and drive-this when he made what he called "strong six figures per year."

Hardy subpoenaed his tax records-his top grossing year was 1999, when he had earned $123,000. Last year he'd earned $91,000.

Catherine's response to all of these claims? A curt dismissal, a refusal to even discuss it. "He's delusional."

For the record, the kids more or less sided with her. But she was in jail and their dad was home full-time, paying her legal bills (out of his four-million-dollar inheritance), peddling the line that he was on Catherine's side, he wanted to help her, he felt sorry for her. She was sick, but a good woman. He would still love her and take her back if she ever got "better." He never, not once, came to visit her in jail.

Then there was Hanover's partner Bob Townshend, who got a call from Paul on the afternoon of the very day that he was killed. Catherine had just come to visit him and he'd felt threatened. She was near hysteria over the imagined infidelity of her husband. She freaked when Paul had told her that he was going to change his will in Missy's favor sooner rather than later. Townshend told Hardy that Paul had made an appointment for the following week to do just that.

Hardy had fought the good fight to keep much of this testimony out of the trial, but Judge Marian Braun had taken it under submission and Hardy couldn't shake the suspicion that she would let some, if not most, of it in. Braun herself was one of the worst possible choices of trial judge from Hardy's perspective (only Leo Chomorro would have been worse). As soon as she'd been assigned, he considered using his 170.6 peremptory challenge-for which no reason need be given and which can't be denied-to get Braun off the case. But then he stood the risk of drawing Chomorro. In fact, he wouldn't put it past the Master Calendar to arrange to assign Chomorro to punish him for his arrogance. In the end, he'd kept her on.

There was more. Catherine's alibi for the night of the murders had been blown by none other than her own youngest daughter, Heather, who kept a diary that Cuneo had discovered during his interview with her. Supposedly out having fast food for dinner with her brother and sister, in fact she'd had "a ton" of homework and she'd had Saul drop her off at the house and "scrounged" something to eat since neither her mom nor dad were home, which was "like, getting to be the norm lately."

Called on this, Catherine admitted to Hardy that she'd lied to him about that. A low point, to say the least. Catherine was sorry. She'd been trying to save face with him. She didn't want him to know that she could be the kind of insecure, snooping bitch who would actually go by the house of Will's illicit paramour, Karyn Harris, to make sure she was still not home. Every day for four days! And Ms. Harris hadn't once been there.

Hardy had subpoenaed the flight manifests of every airline that flew from any Bay Area airport to any Southern California airport on the days in question. No Karyn Harris. The plain truth was that whether or not her husband had been having this alleged affair, Catherine's alibi crashed.

Further, Glitsky, looking under rocks for other scenarios, both because of his own agenda vis-a-vis Cuneo and because of his work at the mayor's request, had come up empty. The "other dude" play, the argument that some mysterious other person had committed the crime, was ever popular among defense attorneys. Indeed, Hardy had used it to good effect during other trials. But if there was another dude in this case, Glitsky with the full weight of his position hadn't been able to unearth him. The Tow/Hold people had lost their contract with the city in June and nobody else had died, or had even caught a cold, as far as Hardy could tell. The mayor abandoned personal interest in the investigation.

With new evidence against Catherine appearing regularly, even Glitsky grudgingly came to consider the possibility that Cuneo had been right. For his own reasons, Glitsky still seemed ready to jump up at the slightest scent of another lead, but they had been scarce to begin with, and dwindled to none. And that left only one alternative-that Paul Hanover's death, and Missy's, had come at the hands of Hardy's client.

There were days Hardy considered the possibility himself.

Now, with his breathing under control, he got up and went into the bathroom where he drank a few handfuls of water and threw some more in his face, then toweled himself dry. Back in bed, he lay on his back, uncovered.

Silent up to now, apparently sleeping, Frannie reached out and put a hand over his hand in the night. "Are you all right?"

"Just nerves," he said, "the trial." "I guessed." "No flies on you." "Can I do anything?"

"It's okay. I'll get back to sleep in a minute." He squeezed her hand. "I couldn't find the car," he said as though the words made any sense.

"The car?"

"In my dream. Missy's car." The one he and Catherine were going to go and make out in, in the dream, as soon as they could find it, but he left that part out.

"What about it?"

"I don't know where it is. I mean, I still don't know where it is."

"You know everything that's possible to know about this case, Dismas. You've lived and breathed it for most of the past year. How many binders do you have?" These were his black, three-ring binders for testimony, evidence, motions, police reports, everything that comprised his records on the case.

"Twenty-six."

"Is that a new record?"

"Close anyway. But I know there's nothing about the car. How could I have forgotten that?" "I don't know. Is it important?" "No. I mean, I don't know why it would be. It's just a question I can't answer. We start in a few hours, Fran. I can't have questions I don't know the answers to. Not now."

Frannie turned onto her side, moved over against him. "If it's important, you'll have it when you need it. But right now, what you need is sleep."

He let out a long breath. "I'm a mess."

"You're fine."

"I can't believe Marian didn't recuse herself."

"That's good news, remember. Grounds for appeal. You told me yourself."

"Or venue? How could she leave the damn trial here? The jury's tainted. I can feel it."

"I've got a question for you."

"What?"

"Are you going to play this whole thing over in your mind before morning?"

"No. I hope not." Then, "You're right. I've got to stop."

"Okay. So stop then. Go easy on yourself." He put his arm around her. "Did I just say you were right?" "Yep."

"You are."

"I know." She kissed the side of his face. "Let's say we go to sleep, okay?"

"Okay." Then, as sleep approached, "I love you, you know."

"I know," she said. "Me, too." And kissed his cheek again.

Within two minutes, Hardy's breathing was deep and even.

Frannie, it took longer.

Hardy was dressed in a dark blue suit with a white shirt and red-and-blue rep tie. It was 6:42 by the clock on his stove. He had poured his coffee first thing as always, taken a drink, then realized that if Treya hadn't gone into labor during the night, Glitsky would be awake and at home.

He answered on the second ring with a cheerful, "This better be important."

Hardy didn't waste time with chitchat, either. "Where's Missy's car?"

"I don't know. Bolivia?"

"Why do you say that?"

"Are we a little wound up this morning? Oh, that's right. The trial…"

Hardy cut him off. "Do you know that? Is the car really in Bolivia?"

"Do I have any idea? I'd be surprised. Bolivia just seemed like a good answer at the time. What's this about?"

"Last night I had a dream and realized I didn't know anything about her car."

"So what?"

"So I don't know what that means. Why did I dream about it if it doesn't mean anything?"

"I give up," Glitsky said. "Because dreams are random?"

"Not as often as you'd think. I realized it's something I've never looked at. I wondered if you had."

"No."

"You know anything about it? She owned her own car, right?"

"Right." Glitsky's ongoing frustration with finding another suspect and his futile investigation to this point made him Hardy's go-to guy for all facts related to the Hanover case. "She drove a black Mercedes," he said, "like Catherine Hanover's."

"Okay, so where is it?"

"Real guess this time? It's parked in a garage somewhere. Where are you going here?"

Hardy took in another slug of coffee. "She comes home from wherever she's been. Where's she been? She doesn't work."

"Is this twenty questions? She was shopping, or hanging out with a friend of hers."

"Anyway"-Hardy running with it-"that doesn't matter. What matters is she gets home and parks…"

"Maybe she took a cab. Or even the Muni."

"I doubt it, but either way her car had to be somewhere around Alamo Square. The Willises both talked about her car."

"Okay. So she had a car parked around Alamo Square."

"Then she's killed in the house. Paul's car is in the garage. There's no second car. So where did it go?" "If it was on the street, it's towed or stolen," Glitsky said. "Mystery solved. Nice talking to you." Glitsky's voice changed, softened. "I've got a pretty little thing pulling on my leg that needs her breakfast, don't you, baby?"

"You don't think it's anything?" Hardy asked.

"Yeah, I do. I think it's first-day-of-trial jitters."

"You'd have the jitters, too, if your client was innocent and you knew it."

A lengthy pause. "Well, Diz," he said, "that's why they have trials. You can prove it there."

"I don't have to prove anything! That's the thing. They've got to prove she did it. The burden of proof is always on the prosecution."

Glitsky's voice was surprisingly gentle. "Oh, that's right. I forgot for a minute there."

Jacked up for the day and realizing he'd overstepped, Hardy started to apologize. "Sorry, Abe, it's just…"

"Hey." Still low-key. "Shut up. I'll find the car for you. Now say, 'Thanks, Abe,' and hang up."

"Thanks, Abe."

"Don't mention it."

Treya had been off work for the week since her due date. In theory she could sleep in every day, but that didn't seem to be in her nature. Hardy's phone call this morning hadn't helped, either.

Glitsky was sharing ketchup with some scrambled eggs, as opposed to scrambled eggs with a little ketchup, with Rachel-"one big spoonful for Daddy, one biggest spoonful for Rachel"-when his wife appeared in the door to the kitchen. "Who was that, this early?"

"Diz. He's having a breakdown."

"Catherine Hanover?"

A nod. "He says she's innocent."

"So do you."

"Yes, but only in the privacy of my own home. I actually think it might be tougher on Diz." "Why is that?"

"It's got to be easier if he thinks his client's guilty, wouldn't you think? That way, they get convicted, on some level you've got to know they deserve it, so how bad can you feel? They don't convict, you win, so you feel good about that. But if you think they're really not guilty… I think it's eating him up."

"Just like with you."

"Well, maybe not eating me up exactly. But somebody's walking around free who shouldn't be."

"You really want him, don't you?"

"Or her. Whoever. Yeah, I want 'em."

Glitsky's face wore a sober expression, and with some reason. After Cuneo and Chris Rosen had ramrodded the grand jury into returning an indictment against Catherine Hanover late last spring, the two of them got wind of the onetime personal connection between Hardy and his client. To the homicide inspector and the assistant DA, this relationship was anything but innocent-not that they cared about sexual involvement (which in the tabloid environment of the San Francisco political scene they both assumed without discussion). Working together on the case, Cuneo and Rosen both immediately took Hardy and Catherine's involvement as another level in their conspiracy theory. Now it wasn't just Glitsky and Hardy and Kathy West. All of those three were now neatly connected to the defendant in a sensational and highly political double-murder trial. They had to be colluding in some kind of cover-up.

Meanwhile, Glitsky had been continuing on his own semiparallel investigations into Tow/Hold and Paul Hanover's other business and political endeavors when, early one evening in his office, he got an unannounced visit from an FBI field agent named Bill Schuyler.

Field officers with the FBI didn't drop in at the office of the deputy chief of inspectors every day, or even every month, so clearly Schuyler had come with a specific purpose. The fact that he'd come after normal business hours was interesting, too. Though they'd always had an easy and collegial acquaintance, neither man wasted any time with pleasantries before getting to it. "I thought you'd want to know," Schuyler began, "that I got a call from Chris Rosen-one of your DAs here-a couple of days ago. He was asking questions about you."

Glitsky, at his desk in the amber twilight, sat deeply back in his chair, fingers templed at his lips. He'd been in a tense state of waiting for the appearance of this discussion for the better part of two years, and now that it was here, it was almost a relief. But he feigned complete ignorance. "What did he want to know?"

"He was following up on a report filed by Lieutenant Lanier, who interviewed you on the day that Barry Ger-son got shot," Schuyler said. "You remember that?"

"Pretty well. What did you have to do with that?"

"Nothing directly. But you mentioned me to Lanier, said you'd called me earlier in the day."

"That's because I did, Bill."

"I know. I remember. You wanted me to round up some of my troops and help you with an arrest. Your friend Hardy's client, if memory serves. But there wasn't enough time."

"That's right. That's what happened. So what's the problem?" Glitsky asked.

"I'm not sure, Abe." Schuyler was a broad-shouldered, always well-dressed athlete with a bullet head covered with a blond fuzz. Now he leaned forward in his chair. "Rosen wouldn't say, of course. But he asked me if I'd followed up with you. With what you'd done that day. If I knew whether you'd gone ahead, anyway, without my guys."

"That would have been stupid and indefensible."

Schuyler nodded. "That's what I told him. But the real answer was no, I hadn't followed up afterward with you. I didn't know what you'd done."

In the darkening room, Glitsky blew on his templed hands.

Schuyler continued. "Your alibi was that…"

Glitsky sat bolt upright. "Whoa! Alibi? He said the word 'alibi'?"

"Your alibi is that you spent the day with Gina Roake, Hardy's law partner, at her apartment."

"That's because I did. Her fiancee had just died. We're friends, Bill, Gina and I. She needed the company. I was with her." This was strictly true, although he hadn't been with Roake at her apartment, but out on Pier 70, where both of them had taken part in the gunfight that had killed Gerson and five others. So what he was telling Schuyler was the truth, but it was also a lie. "What do you want me to say, Bill?"

Schuyler held his palms out in front of him. "Nothing, Abe. You've got nothing to prove to me. But I thought you'd want to know they're asking around."

"They? Who's they, besides Rosen?"

"He mentioned this homicide cop, I don't know him, Cuneo. This case you're on now, evidently Hardy's in it and you've been working with him again and the mayor, too, to undercut him-Cuneo, I mean-since their suspect is Hardy's girlfriend…"

"So we're somehow in this grand conspiracy?"

"He seemed to be thinking that way, yeah."

Glitsky kept his voice low, under tight control. "And what exactly are we or were we conspiring to do? Did he say?"

Schuyler shrugged. "All I'm saying is, he's building a case. I don't know what it's about, but the smart bet is somebody wants to tie you to Gerson."

"I had nothing to do with Gerson. Although I heard he was dirty."

"Cuneo didn't think he was."

"Yeah, and he thinks he's got the right suspect here, too."

"You don't think he does?" "That's why I'm still looking."

Schuyler digested that for a minute. "Well, you want some free advice?"

"Always. Not that I always take it, but I'll listen."

"Bail on this case, the one you're still working on. Cuneo's got a suspect in custody, Rosen's got an indictment, so what the hell are you still looking for? What message are you sending out about these two clowns? They're jerk-offs-that's what. You don't believe they made their case?"

"I don't think they did."

Schuyler shook his head with impatience. "Doesn't matter, Abe. If their suspect didn't do it, odds are she'll walk, right? Your man Hardy's pretty good."

"He's not my man, Bill. He's a friend of mine, that's all."

"Whatever. Doesn't change the fact. The girl's not guilty, she's off. If not…" He shrugged again. If not, Glitsky was wrong looking for another suspect in the first place and he'd be well advised to be rid of the case sooner rather than later. "The point is you take the heat off yourself right now. If Cuneo wants this collar so bad, maybe he fucked up the investigation. Not your problem,

Abe. The trial goes south, maybe you get involved again later, low-key, point out where they fucked it up. But this guy's got a hard-on for you; both of them do. They don't think you're looking for an alternate suspect; they think the real story is that you and Hardy and Kathy West are covering something up, maybe going all the way back to Gerson. That's what I read."

Glitsky simmered for a long moment. By now the room was frankly dark. "Let them look," he said. "There's nothing to find."

"Don't kid yourself." Schuyler lowered his voice. "There's always something to find, Abe. Maybe not what they started looking for, but if you let them get a foothold, start talking to the whole world, get the accountants involved, they'll find a time card you filled in wrong, or a company car you went to the beach in, or some secretary says you felt her up, something. And ifit gets to the politicos sniping at West, once they got the climate established and you're all in some conspiracy together, then the pro liars will just use what Rosen's got and make up other shit. Unless you got a righteous somebody else for the murders…?"

"No. Nobody. Not a hint."

"Then drop it."

But he hadn't dropped it.

He couldn't do that, not while he was a cop and not while he believed that Cuneo had arrested the wrong suspect. Which meant that the real killer was still on the streets, and now-if not for Glitsky-with no one in pursuit. On top of that, Glitsky wasn't about to be chased off by the fear that Cuneo would expose him in some way. Once he let that happen, he might as well resign. He would be useless. No, the most effective way to neutralize Cuneo would be to discover what he'd missed-to be more thorough, more organized, a better cop.

He realized that in fact it would not hurt at all if Cuneo and Rosen believed that he was dropping out of the case. He could use the power of his office as a cover to pursue his own leads under their noses-if he played it right, and he would, he might actually be aided in his interrogations by his witnesses' perception that the police already had a suspect in custody, so Glitsky couldn't possibly be focusing on them.

He did not want this to become a political liability for Kathy West, however. There was no point in that, so he went to her and convinced her that he had to drop the case. He had nothing going anyway, no real leads. Then he told her a little about Schuyler's theories, Cuneo and Rosen, which she'd considered ridiculous and infuriating, but in the end didn't want to pursue. Obviously, the men lived in an alternate universe, but a witch hunt with her as the central figure in an undefined conspiracy theory was something she'd prefer to avoid.

Finally, Glitsky went to Lanier and gave him the news, too, that he was off the case. It was all Cuneo's from here on out. The homicide inspector had done a good job of identifying the defendant, and Catherine Hanover's arrest took Glitsky out of the loop.

So whatever conspiracy he'd been involved in around this case became moot to both Cuneo and Rosen, and he hadn't heard another word about it since.

It was still there, though.

Now, holding Treya's hand, he scratched at the kitchen table. "Maybe I should just call back and tell Diz no."

"I don't think so, hon. This thing has been sticking in your rather well-developed craw for months. If you want to help Diz, just acknowledge what you're doing so you're ready when the shit hits the fan, which it will, I promise." She smiled in her teasing way. "For the record, I apologize for the use of profanity in front of our daughter, too." She looked down at Rachel and said, "We don't say 'shit' in this house, little girl."

Rachel returned her gaze with a questioning, open expression. "What shit?" she asked.

Glitsky hung his head and shook it from side to side.

"Wonderful."

But Treya suddenly sat up straighter. "Oh." Her hand went to her stomach and she blew out a long breath.

Glitsky squeezed her hand. "Trey?"

She held up her index finger, telling him to be patient a minute. Breathing deeply and slowly, she looked up and found the clock on the wall. "We're there," she said.

"Where we?" Rachel asked.

"We're in labor, sweetie," Treya answered gently. "You know the little brother we've been waiting for all this time? He's telling me he's on his way."

16

Hardy parked under his office, in the managing partner's spot next to the elevator. His mind elsewhere, he got in the elevator and rode upward, not realizing that out of force of some long-buried habit, he'd pushed "3." Before he'd become managing partner, this was where he'd worked. Now, his partner, Wes Farrell, worked out of his old office. The elevator door opened and Hardy stepped out into the hall and stood for a minute, wondering where he was.

"Brilliant," he said to himself.

Knocking on Farrell's door and getting no answer as he passed, he descended the steps to the main lobby- Phyllis's station, the Solarium, David's old office, hermetically preserved-next to his own and then Norma, the office manager's. Off to his right ran a long hallway at the end of which was the lair of the firm's third name partner, Gina Roake. Behind the doors and their secre

taries' cubicles, the eight current associates now toiled. Hardy assumed most if not all of them were working already, although it was still a few minutes shy of eight o'clock. You didn't bill 2,200 hours a year if you didn't put in a very full day every day. Phyllis wasn't at her station yet-she came on at eight thirty-so Hardy crossed directly to his own ornate door and was surprised to see Wes Farrell, coat- and tie-less, throwing darts.

"I know what you're going to say," Farrell began.

"You do?"

"I do. You're going to say you're busy and you don't have time for any childish games. Your trial starts today."

Hardy brought a hand to his forehead. "That's today: Yikes!" He crossed around to behind his desk, lugged his triple-thick briefcase up and onto the blotter. "Actually, I knew it was today." He snapped open the clasps, started removing folders. He broke a brittle smile-not very convincing. He liked Wes a lot, but he didn't always work the way Hardy did, and sometimes his presence was more distraction than help. "So what's up, in ten words or less?"

"Today's shirt." He'd thrown the last dart of the round as Hardy had entered and had turned to follow his progress. Now, his grin on, Wes held open his unbuttoned dress shirt. Actually, this was an almost-daily ritual, and Hardy found himself breaking into a genuine smile. Wes prided himself on having one of the world's most complete, ever-growing collections of epigrammatic

T-shirts, which he wore under his lawyer's disguise. Today's shirt read: grow your own dope/plant a man.

"Sam gave it to me," he said, "and that goes a long way toward explaining why I love that woman." He was buttoning up. "Anyway, I thought you might need a little humor running around in your system before you hit the Hall."

"I might at that," Hardy conceded. "Did you drive by there on your way in?"

"No. You?"

Hardy nodded. "Thirty-seven mobile units, if you can believe it. You can't even get onto Bryant. They're diverting traffic around before you get within three blocks." Hardy glanced at his watch. "And we don't even start for an hour and a half. It's going to be a circus."

Farrell sat on the couch, doing up his tie. "You probably shouldn't have dated her. I mean, if you wanted to keep all these scurrilous lies out of the paper."

"Where were you when I was seventeen?"

"I didn't date until I was much older than that, so I couldn't have advised you very well."

"Funny. Frannie says the same thing."

A quick glance. Serious. "She okay with it?"

"Great. Peachy." He settled into his chair. "Although I can't say she's been totally thrilled with the Romeo lawyer angle everybody in the news seems to like so much. But the news jocks don't like it as much as my kids. Vincent's even taken to calling me Romeo in private, which of course just cracks me up. And then if the Beck hears him, she goes ballistic. It's a great time. Or how about last week, our 'Passion Pit' in the jail? Did you see that?"

"I thought it was pretty cool, an old guy like you."

"Yeah. Those Enquirer guys are talented."

"I wondered where that was exactly, the Passion Pit, to tell you the truth. But I was afraid you'd had so many intimate moments there that you didn't want to talk about it. Too private."

"So many. So many. Actually, it's the visiting room downstairs at the jail," Hardy said, referring to the antiseptic, brightly lit, glass-block-enclosed bullpen off the admitting area where lawyers got to meet with their incarcerated clients. "That's where we've 'consummated our love.' But to get to feeling really passionate in there, you've got to use some serious imagination, believe me. More than the Enquirer guys, even."

Wes had his tie on now and stood up, grabbing his coat. "And now it begins in earnest, huh? Can I do anything to help at home? Maybe Sam…"

Hardy shook his head. "No, I told you, we're fine. In fact, it's added a whole new dimension to our marriage, where she pretends it doesn't bother her and I pretend that I appreciate her understanding. It's special, but what am I supposed to do? It's a little late now."

"You could pray for a short trial."

"Prayer is always a solace," Hardy said. "I might go for that."

Twenty minutes later, he left his office to a gaggle of well-wishers in the lobby. This was a major case for the firm, and everyone was aware of its importance. It was still bitter cold outside, but Hardy was damned if he was going to hassle first with the impossible parking around the Hall of Justice, which for twenty-some bucks a day would not get him appreciably closer to the courtroom than he was in his office, and then with the gauntlet of the TV cameras and Minicams. No, wrapped in his long heavy coat and wearing gloves, he would walk the twelve blocks carrying his twenty-pound briefcase and sneak in past at least most of the jackals through the back door by the jail.

First though, there was the jail itself, and the pretrial meeting with his client. Over the months, he'd grown accustomed to seeing Catherine in the familiar orange jumpsuit that was her garb in the lockup, so this morning when she entered the "Passion Pit" in low heels, a stylish green skirt and complementary blouse, earrings, eye shadow and lipstick, he boosted himself off the table where he'd been sitting. He met her eyes and nodded in appreciation. "Okay, then," he said, "that works."

The female guard who'd escorted Catherine from the changing room closed the door behind her. Now the client took a step or two into the room, toward him, and stopped. There was something in her stillness that struck him as a falsely brave front, but she summoned what passed for a smile. "You ever get tired of being a lawyer," she said, "I think you've got a career in women's fashion."

Hardy had pulled a bit of a break with the judge when she'd allowed Catherine the dignity of changing into normal clothes upstairs instead of in a holding cell next to the courtroom. Hardy had contacted the good husband, Will, and he'd sent over three boxes of clothes and underwear, none of which fit her anymore because she'd lost so much weight in jail. So Hardy had her take her measurements and write down her sizes, then had spent the better part of a day a few weeks before buying a wardrobe for her at Neiman Marcus.

As it turned out, this straightforward and practical move had backfired in a number of ways. First off, Hardy really didn't know all that much about women's fashion, but his ex-wife, Jane Fowler, happened to still work in the field-she'd been a buyer at I. Magnin for years. The two weren't exactly close anymore, but they had lunch together a couple of times a year just to keep up. When he asked if she would do him a favor and accompany him on the shopping expedition, she'd agreed.

What happened next he might have guessed if he'd thought about it. But he really wasn't sufficiently paranoid yet, and maybe never would be, to fully appreciate what appeared to be happening around this case. Several tabloid reporters shadowed him on this shopping trip. Not only did someone snap a picture of him holding up a sexy bra, but the article followed up with the news that Hardy had bought the clothes with the firm's credit card, implying that he was paying for it. Although of course he'd just be listing the clothes in his regular bill to Will

Hanover for his hours and expenses, the article made the purchase look suspect.

And the icing on the cake was that Jane appeared behind him in the bra picture. The Romeo not just fooling around with his client, but now caught with his ex-wife. Frannie liked that part almost as much as the picture of her-wearing formless jogging clothes, with her hair in disarray and a somehow distracted and worried look on her face as she carried a couple of bags of groceries. The caption under that one: "Brave But Clueless."

Hardy shook his head to clear the memory. In front of him, Catherine did a little self-conscious pirouette. "I really look okay?"

"Better than okay."

She sighed, then threw a second sigh at the ceiling. When she came back to him, she was blinking. "I'm not going to cry and ruin these eyes today."

"No. Don't do that. That would be wrong."

Nixon's famous line from the Watergate era brought a smile, enough to stem the immediate threat of tears. "It's just," she sighed, "I thought I'd never wear anything like this again."

"You'll do that all the time, Catherine. You wait."

"Do you really think so?"

With more conviction than he felt, Hardy nodded. "You didn't do this. The jury won't convict you. You'll see. The system really does work."

"I want to believe that, but if that's the case, I keep wondering how it got me to here."

Now Hardy feigned his own brave smile. "One little teeny tiny design flaw. A bad cop. This is the version where he gets edited out. You ready?"

"I'm ready."

"All right. I've got to remind you that the next time I see you, we're in front of the jury. Some of them are going to think you and I have something going on, courtesy of our ever-vigilant media. So it's important that you and I appear to have a professional distance. Frannie's going to be out there. So is Will… no, don't look like that. He's got to be there. It's critical that the jury sees that your husband is supporting you through all this, that in spite of everything, he must believe that you're innocent."

"In spite of everything he's said about me. And what he's done."

Hardy nodded. "In spite of all that, he's our witness. He's got nothing to say about the crime itself. He's your husband. They can't make him testify against you."

"I hate him."

"I believe you've mentioned that, but it doesn't matter. He's out there, and it's good for the jury to see him and see that you're with him."

"But I'm not."

"Right. But that doesn't matter."

She closed her eyes and for a breath her structure seemed to crumble. Then she straightened up, opened her eyes, lifted her jaw and flashed a high-octane smile. "I'm innocent," she said. "I've got nothing to be afraid of."

"Correct. Let's go get 'em. I'll see you out there."

They'd been standing a foot apart and now Catherine stepped forward. "Dismas, I just want to say that I know how hard this has been for you. I mean personally. I never meant…"

"It's not you," he said. "It's all right."

She moved closer and leaned her head against his chest, the weight of it against him. Carefully, delicately, he put his arms around her and held her lightly. It was the first time they'd embraced. Catherine brought her arms around his back and tightened her hold on him. Again, her composure broke.

He patted her back, gradually easing her away, kissing her chastely on the cheek. Without another word, he picked up his briefcase, went to the door and knocked for the guard, and was gone.

The courtroom was Department 21 on the third floor of the Hall of Justice. Hardy had been in it on many occasions by now, but never failed to be disappointed by its lack of grandeur. More than twenty years ago, the city had installed extra security for the trial of Dan White, who'd shot Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in their offices at City Hall. Now heavy doors and bulletproof glass separated the gallery from the well of the courtroom in Department 21. Except for these amenities, the room might have been a typical classroom in a marginally funded school district.

In front of the bar, Hardy sat at a plain blond library desk on the left-hand side of the nondescript, window-less, fluorescent-lit room. His counterpart with the prosecution-Rosen, with case inspector Dan Cuneo next to him-sat at an identical table about ten feet to his right. Beyond them was the varnished plywood jury box.

They'd finished jury selection yesterday, and now the box was filled with four men and eight women; with three African Americans, two Asians, two Hispanics, five Caucasians; one dentist, one high school teacher, three housewives, a city employee, a computer repairperson, two salesmen, three between jobs. Hardy had been living with the endless calculations of the crapshoot of the makeup of the eventual panel for nine working days. Now here they were and he'd done all he could. He even felt pretty good about some of the people; but he still wished he could start again. But it was always like this- something you just couldn't know or predict.

He'd entered the courtroom through the back door, coming up the hallway by the judge's chambers, to avoid the reporters and the general madness, and now at his table he ventured a half-turn to catch his wife's eye. Fran-nie was in the first row, the first seat by the center aisle, next to their friend, the "CityTalk" columnist Jeff Elliot. Frannie didn't often come to court with Hardy, but for his big trials she tried to be there for his opening and closing statements. He caught her eye and put his hand over his heart and patted it twice, the secret signal. She did the same.

Behind her and Elliot, it was bedlam.

Every one of the twelve rows, eight wooden, theater-style seats to a side, was completely filled, mostly with media people. Hardy also recognized not just a few people from his office who had come down to cheer him on, but several other attorneys from the building, as well as what appeared to be quite a sizable sampling of regular folks and trial junkies. And now, before the entrance of the judge, everyone was talking all at once.

On Hardy's side, Will Hanover sat with the other adult members of his extended family who would not be called as witnesses for the prosecution-Catherine's two sisters-in-law and their husbands. unbelievably, Hardy thought, given the testimony they'd supplied to Cuneo, Beth and Aaron, like Will, still considered themselves to be on Catherine's side. Despite their comments in police reports to the contrary, none of them actually seemed to believe that Catherine was guilty. Yes, she'd known where Paul kept his gun. Yes, she'd been worried about the inheritance. Yes, she'd repeated many times that somebody would have to kill Paul and Missy. Either they didn't believe in causality or they didn't understand the gravity of their statements, but nonetheless, by their very presence on Catherine's "side" of the gallery, they would be living and breathing testimony to the fact that they still cared about her-and in the great nebulous unknown that was the collective mind of the jury, this might not be a bad thing.

Cuneo, of course, was turned around at the prosecutor's table and sat jittering nonstop, talking to a couple of assistant DAs from upstairs in the front row, down for the show. But then suddenly the bailiff was standing up to the left of the judge's utilitarian desk. "All rise. Department Twenty-One of the Superior Court of the State of California is now in session. Her Honor Judge Marian Braun presiding. Please turn off all cell phones and pagers, be seated and come to order."

Without any fanfare, Braun was seated almost before the bailiff had concluded his introduction. She scowled out at the gallery, as though surprised at its size, then faced the clerk and nodded. The clerk nodded back, then looked over to the second bailiff, who was standing by the back door to the courtroom, on Hardy's right. They'd already called the case number and read the indictment for special circumstances double murder when they'd begun jury selection so long ago. So now, today, there was little of that earlier formality-the defendant merely needed to be in the courtroom so that she could face her accusers.

The back door opened and Catherine Hanover appeared to a slight electric buzz from the gallery. The loss of the fifteen pounds hadn't hurt her looks. Neither had the light makeup, the subtle lipstick, the tailored clothing. In the brassy fluorescence of the courtroom, she seemed to shine, and Hardy was not at all sure that this was a positive. Good looks could backfire. He glanced at the jury for reactions and suddenly wished there were at least eight men on it and four women, instead of the other way around. Or even twelve men, all of them older and self-made.

During jury selection, he'd convinced himself that the women he'd accepted were of a traditional bent, and hence would be deeply suspicious of Missy D'Amiens and her unknown and thus arguably colorful and potentially dangerous past. On the other hand, he suddenly realized-and Catherine's appearance today underscored this-that these same women might have a great deal of trouble identifying with this attractive woman whose husband's six-figure income wasn't enough to support her lifestyle. In the end, he'd gone along with impaneling all the women because women, at least the sort he hoped he had left on the jury, tended to believe that sexual harassment happened. But he shuddered inwardly now, suddenly afraid that he might have outright miscalculated.

He tore his eyes away from the jury and brought them back to his client. He stood and pulled out the chair next to him for her, glad to see that she had apparently found her husband and in-laws in the gallery and acknowledged them.

Then she was seated. Hardy whispered to her. "How are you doing?" "Fine."

The judge tapped her gavel to still the continuing buzz, then turned to the prosecution table. "Mr. Rosen, ready for the people?"

Rosen got out of his chair. "Yes, Your Honor."

"Mr. Hardy?"

"Yes, Your Honor."

"All right, Mr. Rosen, you may begin."

Chris Rosen was a professional trial attorney with nine years of experience and a specialization in arson cases. He'd prosecuted three homicides and a dozen arsons in that time, winning four of them outright and getting lesser convictions with substantial prison time on the others. So he could say with absolute truth that he'd never lost a case, which in this most liberal city was an enviable, almost unheard of, record. Maybe Rosen hadn't always gotten a clear win, either, but Hardy knew the truth of the defense bias in San Francisco-indeed, it was one of the factors involved in this case for which he was most grateful-but this was cold comfort as he watched his young, good-looking opposite number rise with a quiet confidence and a friendly demeanor to match it.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began. "Good morning. We're here today and for the next few days or weeks- let's hope it won't be too many weeks-to hear evidence about the murders of two people, Paul Hanover, a lawyer here in San Francisco, and his fiancee, Missy D'Amiens." Hardy noticed that Rosen came as advertised-he was playing it smooth. He didn't refer to the dead impersonally as "the deceased" or even "the victims." Rather, they had been real, live people until they had been "murdered." He continued to the jury in his serious, amiable voice. "On Wednesday, May the twelfth of last year, someone set a fire at the home that Mr. Hanover shared with Missy D'Amiens. Firemen coming to fight the blaze found the bodies of a man and woman, burned beyond recognition, in the foyer of the house. Wedged under one of the bodies was a gun. Both victims had been shot in the head. The evidence will show beyond a reasonable doubt that neither wound was self-inflicted. Neither victim killed the other and then him- or herself. These people were murdered in their home, and the murderer lit a fire in the hope of destroying the evidence that would connect him or her to the crime."

Rosen paused to collect himself, as these grisly and dramatic events would obviously upset the psyche of any reasonably sensitive person. Clearing his throat, excusing himself to the jurors "for just a moment," he took a few steps over to his desk, where Cuneo pushed his glass of water to the front edge of the desk. Rosen took a sip, cleared his throat again and turned back to the jurors.

"We will prove to you, ladies and gentlemen, and prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person who fired those shots into the heads of each of these victims was the defendant in this case, Mr. Hanover's daughter-in-law, Catherine Hanover. She did it for a common and mundane reason-Mr. Hanover was going to change his will and name Missy D'Amiens his beneficiary. When he did that, his inheritance of nearly fifteen million dollars would go to Missy, and the defendant would get no share of it.

"On the very day that he died, according to the defendant's own statement to police, Mr. Hanover told her that he was thinking of changing his will in favor of Missy before the wedding date, possibly as early as the following week. Spurred by this confession of his plans, the defendant resolved to kill Mr. Hanover before he could change his will."

Here Rosen turned and faced Catherine, his body language as well as his tone suggesting that it pained him to make these accusations against a fellow human being. But she had brought it on herself; he so wished that she hadn't. He raised an almost reluctant hand until his arm was fully outstretched, his index finger wavering in controlled indignation. "And shoot him she did. At point-blank range, in the head. And shot Missy D'Amiens, too, because she'd had the bad fortune to come home and be in the house."

Recounting the tale was imposing a great burden on Rosen, and he needed another sip of water. Hardy thought this was overdoing the sensitivity a bit, and he was glad to see something about which he could- privately, at least-be critical. He knew that juries had a way of sniffing out a phony, tactical interruption, and they might resent it. Otherwise, Rosen was presenting a textbook opening statement-recounting the facts the prosecution had and would prove, without any editorializing. He had even avoided the potential minefield of Missy's presence in the house-clearly the killer had intended the scene to look like a murder/suicide, which would have ended the investigation before it began. But Rosen didn't accuse Catherine of that. He steered clear altogether. Hardy, with a grudging admiration, had to let him continue unchallenged.

"The relevant events of this tragic day are relatively straightforward and really began around noon. We will prove to you that the defendant, Catherine Hanover, stopped at a Valero gas station on the corner of Oak and Webster, about three blocks from Paul Hanover's home on Alamo Square. A worker at that gas station will testify that he saw the defendant get out of her car, a black Mercedes-Benz C240, and fill a portable container with gasoline and put it into her trunk.

"According to the defendant's own statement, she went to visit her father-in-law later that same afternoon to discuss the finances of her immediate and extended family. We will show you that the defendant came back to Mr. Hanover's home later in the day. You will hear two witnesses testify that she left Mr. Hanover's home a few moments before the fire broke out. You will discover that the defendant lied to the police about her actions at this time. She said that she was at home alone during these critical hours. But her own daughter's diary disproves her story."

Hardy covered his mouth with his hand, hiding from the jury his displeasure. Heather's diary was perhaps the biggest issue he'd lost in pretrial. Although Hardy had argued bitterly against its inclusion, there was no question ofthe importance and relevance ofthe diary entry. So one way or another, it was going in. And in the normal course of events, that evidence couldn't have been admitted-it wouldn't have had a foundation-if Heather as a prosecution witness against her own mother didn't testify in court that she'd written it. Understandably, this was a scenario that Catherine, in a genuine display of motherly protectiveness, wanted to avoid at all costs. The psychological damage to her daughter could be incalculable. But Rosen needed the evidence, which meant he needed Heather. And no one could stop him from forcing her to testify. The only solution had been for Hardy to cut a deal to allow the diary entry without the foundation. But even without Heather's testimony, it was a bitter pill, and potentially devastating for his client.

Meanwhile, Rosen was gliding easily over the last of the evidence. "Finally, you will learn that the same type of gasoline used as an accelerant to start the fire in Mr. Hanover's home exactly matches that found in fibers of rug from the trunk of the defendant's black Mercedes-Benz C240." He paused for one last sip of water.

"As I said at the outset, this is a straightforward story, and I'm nearly through with it. On May the twelfth of last year, Paul Hanover himself told the defendant that within days, she and her entire family would be written out of her father-in-law's will. That they would lose millions of dollars. She decided to kill him to keep that from happening, and to use his own gun that she knew he kept loaded in the headboard of his bed. She bought gasoline to set Paul Hanover's house on fire to cover her tracks. She had the means. By her own admission, she'd been at the house during the afternoon, and you will hear witnesses place her there again just before the fire broke out. Opportunity."

Rosen let out a little air. "We will show you, and prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that Catherine Hanover killed her father-in-law, Paul Hanover, and Missy D'Amiens for money by shooting them both in the head. This is first-degree murder with special circumstances under the law of the State of California, and that is the verdict I will ask for. Thank you very much."

In a California murder trial, the defense attorney has an option. He can either deliver his opening statement directly after that of the prosecuting attorney, as a sort of instant rebuttal, or he can deliver his statement at the conclusion of the state's case in full. Hardy was a big fan of the former, believing as he did that the jury made up a great deal of its collective mind-impressions of the players, general believability of the state's narrative, strength or likely strength of the evidence to be presented-in the very opening stages of a trial.

Hardy's experience was that by the time the jury members had heard and seen all the state's evidence, even if the veracity and provenance of every bit of it had been questioned, denied and demeaned by a vigilant defense lawyer, the weight of all of it often just got to be too much to lift. So despite being the defense attorney, Hardy didn't want to fall into a defensive posture. The last thing he wanted was to be passive, parrying the thrusts of his opponent without striking any blows of his own.

No, a trial was a war, and the goal was to win, not simply to defend. And if you wanted to win, you had to attack.

Hardy knew the book on Rosen was that he never objected during open, believing, as did most lawyers, that it ticked off the jury. So he had a hunch he could mix a little argument into a straight recitation of his facts-in fact, his plan was to find out exactly how much argument his counterpart could tolerate.

So after his own low-key and affably gracious greeting to the jurors, Hardy wasted no time bringing out his own guns. "Well, we've all now heard Mr. Rosen's account of the murders of Paul Hanover and Missy D'Amiens, and I couldn't help but be struck by his use of the phrase, 'we will show, and prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt.' Just hearing him use those words creates a powerful impression, doesn't it? He's telling you he's got evidence to support his theory of Paul and Missy's deaths that is so persuasive that it will leave you in a state of virtual certainty, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Catherine Hanover killed them both.

"But let me tell you something. He doesn't have any such thing. He has, in fact, no physical evidence at all that places Catherine at Paul Hanover's house at or near the time of the murders." He stopped as though struck nearly mute for a second by the enormity of what he'd just said. "Can that be right? You must be thinking, How can the State of California have arrested and charged Catherine Hanover with this heinous double murder of her fatherin-law and his fiancee if there is simply no physical evidence tying her to the crime?"

A flummoxed look on his face, he turned first to the prosecution table as though he expected an answer to this very reasonable question. When none was forthcoming, he came back to the panel. "That, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is a very good question. Because the pure fact is that Mr. Rosen does not have so much as a single fingerprint of Catherine Hanover on any part of the murder weapon. He does not have anything tying Catherine Hanover to the gasoline container that Mr. Hanover's killer used to start the fire at his house. He has, let me repeat this one more time, no physical evidence. Remarkable."

Hardy took a casual stroll of his own now across to the defense table where Catherine sat. Borrowing from Rosen's bag of tricks, he, too, raised his arm and pointed a finger at his client. "This woman is innocent, completely innocent of these crimes. She is guilty of nothing at all, in fact, except for drawing the attention and incurring the wrath of the lead investigating officer on this case, Sergeant Dan Cuneo, by resisting his inappropriate sexual advances and reporting them to his superior."

Out in the gallery, a low roar erupted. This was what all the reporters had come for! Sex and scandal. Salacious accusations and powder-keg secrets.

Hardy took a beat's quiet pleasure in the sight of Cuneo's startled fury, of Chris Rosen's jaw, visibly drooping. Startled and disconcerted, though he must have known that the issue would arise, he simply didn't seem prepared for the accusation so early in open court. Welcome to the big leagues, Hardy thought. He had drawn first blood.

It got better. Cuneo whispered something to Rosen, who belatedly rose to his feet. "Objection, Your Honor. Argument."

"The objection is overruled. He's not arguing, Mr. Rosen. He's telling his version of events, as you did. That's what opening statements are for. Go on, Mr. Hardy."

Hardy nodded respectfully. This was wholly unexpected. Not only had Braun ruled for him, but she'd thrown Rosen a backhanded rebuke in front of the jury. Hardy had to like it, but couldn't dare show any of it. "Thank you, Your Honor," he said.

He moved to the center of the courtroom. Again he turned and looked back over at the defense table. "I said a minute ago that there was no physical evidence tying Catherine to this crime. But more than that, there is no convincing evidence of any kind, physical or otherwise, that she is guilty." The adrenaline was definitely running now, and he was aware of a keen pleasure-almost a thrill-knowing that he was going to let it take him as far as it would.

"The critical prosecution witnesses are inconsistent and contradict one another. My client's statements have been twisted and taken out of context. The so-called motive has been exaggerated and distorted, and the whole foul-smelling mass has been coaxed into the feeble semblance of a case by an overhasty and careless investigation.

"Two people are dead here. And the evidence will show they were shot to death. The prosecution evidence beyond this is simply not clear enough, clean enough, convincing enough to convict Catherine of murder." He paused for a beat, confident now that he'd be able to slip in a last bit of argument. "At the beginning of your service," he said to the jury, "you swore an oath. As Catherine sits there now under your gaze," he said, "you must presume that what I have told you is the truth. You must presume that she is innocent. That is where this trial begins.

"Mr. Rosen would have you believe that she is not innocent. That she plotted and executed this double murder for financial gain. That she is guilty as charged. But no amount of political ambition, no desire to close a high-profile case can make her so. The law of this country presumes the innocence of the accused. It is on that presumption and upon your oath that we will rely."

He met the eyes of several jurors, every one rapt. Up to now, at least, he had them with him.

17

The only witness before the lunch break was John Strout, an ageless and usually uncontroversial figure at every murder trial that Hardy had ever attended in San Francisco. Prosaic as it might seem, usually one of the first orders of business for the prosecution was to establish that a murder had, in fact, taken place. Or, in this case, two murders.

Hardy had studied the forensics and the autopsy until he'd gone cross-eyed trying to find some wedge to cast doubt on the causes of death or, more specifically, to re-introduce the idea of murder/suicide. It certainly didn't look good, knowing all the facts as he did; in fact, the possibility was so remote as to be an impossibility. Still, he didn't see how it could hurt to give the jury a nugget of doubt about that point.

So when Rosen finished his none-too-rigorous direct on what had been the obvious causes of death of the two

victims, Hardy stood and walked up to where Dr. Strout sat with consummate ease in the witness box. As some people grow to look like their dogs, Strout the coroner had over time come to resemble a cadaver. Nearly six and a half feet tall, gaunt and sallow, Strout's many-lined cheeks were covered with a crepe-paper skin that sank into the hollows of his face. A prominent Adam's apple bobbed with every frequent swallow. But for all that, he somehow managed to retain something of a youthful air-a shock of unruly white hair, pale blue eyes that had seen it all and laughed at a lot of it. When he spoke, a Southern drawl cast much of what he said in a sardonic light. Although here, of course-on the witness stand under oath-he would strive to be nothing but professional.

Hardy had known the man for thirty years and greeted him cordially, then got down to the business at hand. "You've testified that both Mr. Hanover and Missy D'Amiens died from gunshot wounds to the head, is that correct?"

"Yes, it is." Strout was sitting back in his seat, arms resting on the arms of his chair, his long legs crossed in the cramped witness box, an ankle on its opposite knee.

In the kindergarten simplicity of the courtroom, Rosen had presented a drawing, mounted on a portable tripod, of the two victims' heads, showing the entry and exit wounds of the bullets and their trajectories. Hardy went first to the location of the wound on Missy's head-verifying that it was in the upper back. "Let me ask you then, Doctor. Could this wound have been self-inflicted?"

Strout's initial reaction, covered quickly, was a twinkle in those pale eyes. He knew Hardy well, and the question was so stupid on its face that he almost didn't know how to respond except with sarcasm. But it stirred him from his complacent lethargy. He uncrossed his legs and pulled himself up straight. "In my opinion"-"In ma 'pinion"-"it would have been well nigh impossible to inflict this wound on herself."

"Im-possible, you say?"

"That's right."

"All right. And turning now to Mr. Hanover's wound. Same question."

"Could he have shot himself there, over his right ear?"

"Right," Hardy said.

"Well, no. I don't rightly think so."

"But unlike the case with Missy D'Amiens, it might not have been impossible?"

"Well, no. If he'd used his left hand, but even so, the trajectory…" He stopped, shook his head with some decision. "I'd have to say no. No."

"No, Doctor? And why is that?"

"Because he had polio when he'd been younger, and his right arm was useless."

Hardy nodded at this fascinating discovery, brought in the jury with his eyes. "So he couldn't have lifted the gun with his right hand to where it needed to be to have fired the shot that killed him? Is that your testimony?"

Strout's eyes were narrowed down now to slits. He famously did not like his medical opinions challenged, either in or out of court. "That's my understanding. Correct."

"Your understanding, Doctor? I take it then that you did not have a chance to examine Mr. Hanover while he was alive, did you?"

"No. Of course not."

"No. Well, then, in your examination of the body after his death, did you find the muscles in Mr. Hanover's right arm to be atrophied or useless?"

"No, I did not."

"No? Why not?"

"Because there was essentially nothing left of the right arm. It had cooked away."

This macabre recital brought a hum to the gallery that made Braun lift her gavel, but it died away before she could bring it down.

"So, Doctor," Hardy continued, "there is nothing about your examination that precludes the possibility that Mr. Hanover shot Ms. D'Amiens and then himself. Is that correct?"

A glint of humor showed again in Strout's eyes. So this was where the apparently stupid questions were leading. He nodded. "That's right."

"In other words, according to your personal examination of Mr. Hanover after his death, you found nothing that would rule out the possibility of a self-inflicted wound?"

"Correct."

"And of course, Mr. Hanover, before he took his own life, could have shot Ms. D'Amiens. Isn't that true?" "Yes," Strout replied.

"Thank you, Doctor," Hardy said. "No further questions."

As soon as Braun called the lunch recess, Hardy gave his client a small pat on the hand before she was led away to her holding cell just behind the courtroom for her own jail-time meal. Most days, Hardy would probably be back there with her, going over issues with sandwiches or sometimes with food phoned in by Phyllis from any one of a number of terrific local eateries. But today-and Hardy had told Catherine beforehand-he had a point to make.

So he gathered his notes and binders into a neat pile in front of his place, then got up and pushed his way through the swinging gate to the gallery. Frannie stood waiting for him, and he slung an arm around her shoulders, drew her to him, kissed the top of her head-the picture of a happily married man casually meeting up with his spouse. He then leaned over to say hi to Jeff Elliot, who'd wheeled himself up next to Frannie before the proceedings began. "I love this woman," he said, "and you can quote me." Then, sotto voce, he added, "In fact, I wish you would."

"It's not exactly news," Elliot said. "Man loves wife. You know what I mean?" He knew what Hardy was talking about, however, and said, "But I'll see what I can do."

The three of them stood chatting in the press of people as the courtroom slowly emptied, the jury first. Hardy noticed Cuneo, who'd nearly bolted from the prosecution table, drumming the back of a chair in front of him. His face was a black mask as he tried to keep his cool, or rather not to show his self-evident fury, as the other people in his row (four rows away from Hardy) patiently awaited their turn to file out. There was only the one center aisle in Department 21, so exiting this courtroom was always a bit like leaving an airplane-slow, slow, slow-While the people in front of you struggled to get their luggage out of the overhead bins, or helped their children or older parents, or just talked and talked and talked, unaware that they needed to keep the goddamn line moving.

And then at last Cuneo was on his way up the aisle, his back to them after a few furtive and angry glances. When Elliot, Hardy and Frannie at last got out into the hallway, there was Cuneo again, in a heated discussion with Rosen. And again, as he saw Hardy, a flash of pure hatred.

"Who's that?" Even through the milling crowd, breaking up in various permutations as people went to lunch, Frannie noticed the directed glare.

Hardy still had his arm over her shoulder, and turned her away. "Cuneo."

"That would be Inspector Cuneo to you." Elliot was wheeling himself along next to them. "He seems a little perturbed."

Frannie turned for another look back. "I'd say scary." "He's just a cop," Hardy said dismissively, "and not a particularly good one." They were waiting with several other citizens for the elevator on the second floor to open. "And speaking of cops, did either of you see Abe around this morning before my brilliant opening?"

"You had a flash of brilliance? When was that?" Elliot asked. "Darn, I must have missed it."

"Come on, Jeff," Frannie said. "He was." She looked up at him, amusement in her eyes. "Or at least, as David used to say, he was 'fairly competent.' "

"You're both too kind, really," Hardy said. "But

Abe?"

Frannie shook her head no. So did JeffElliot. "Haven't seen him."

John Strout shambled over while the three of them were eating their lunch at Lou the Greek's. The medical examiner hovered over the table like a smiling ghost. "Y'all havin' the Special?" An unnecessary question, since Lou's only served one meal every day-the Special-always some more or less bizarre commingling of Asian and Greek foodstuffs. Today the Special came under less bizarre, although still passing strange-a "lamburger," with a bright red sweet-and-sour pineapple sauce over rice.

Strout peered down at the plates through his bifocals. "As a medical man, I'd recommend caution. You mind, Jeff?" He slid into the booth next to Elliot, shot an appreciative glance at Frannie, then held out his hand. "I don't believe I've had the pleasure."

In the middle of a bite, Hardy swallowed. "I'm sorry. John, my wife, Frannie. Frannie, John Strout, who gave such a fine performance this morning."

"Thank you," he said. But the smile faded. "Though I must tell you, Diz, that little primrose path you led me down in there don't lead nowhere."

Hardy put down his fork. "Never said it did, John. But now Mr. Rosen is going to have to talk about it. Might put him off his feed, that's all."

"My husband has a cruel streak," Frannie said. "It's well documented."

"I've seen it in action myself." Strout was all amiability. "You going after my forensic colleagues, too?"

"And who would they be?" Hardy asked.

"You know, the teeth people."

"Whoever's up next, John. I'm equal opportunity at skewering prosecution witnesses. But I'm saving the big show for later."

"Who's that?"

Hardy smiled. "You'll have to wait around and find out. Maybe I can get you a special pass to let you back in the courtroom."

"Put me on your witness list."

"That might do it." Hardy's fork had stopped in midair. He chewed thoughtfully for a second or two.

"He's thinking cruel thoughts again," Frannie said. "I can tell."

"Dr. McInerny," Hardy began his cross-examination of Hanover's dentist. "For how long was Paul Hanover your patient?"

"Twenty-seven years, give or take."

"And in that time, how many X-rays of his mouth did you take?"

"I don't know exactly. Usually we do one a year, but if a tooth cracks or… well, really any number of other reasons, we'll do another."

"So it's not a complicated process?"

"No, not at all."

"Would you describe the X-ray process for the court, please?"

Rosen spoke from behind him. "Objection. Three fifty-two, Your Honor." This was a common objection raised when the relevance of the testimony and its probative value was substantially outweighed by the time consumption, prejudicial effect, or by the likelihood of confusing the jury. "We all know how X-rays work."

Braun nodded. "Any particular reason to do this, Mr.

Hardy?"

"Yes, Your Honor, but I'm trying to draw a distinction between how X-rays get taken in a dentist's office and how he took the X-rays of the male victim's mouth at the morgue."

"To what end?"

"What I'm getting at, Your Honor, is that if the picture is taken from a different angle in the morgue, or with a different technique, it will look different than a typical office X-ray, and the identification of the victim might then not be as certain."

McInerny, apparently in his late fifties or early sixties, carried twenty or so extra pounds on a midsize body. Pattern baldness was well advanced, and what remained of his hair was snow white. But his face looked like it spent a lot of time outdoors-open, intelligent, expressive. Now he spoke up, helpful, but out of turn. "Really, though, that's not a concern."

Braun, surprised at his intrusion, swung her head to look at him. "Doctor," she said mildly, "just a moment, please." She looked out at the still-standing Rosen, then came back to Hardy. "I'll overrule the objection at this time. Go ahead, Mr. Hardy."

"Thank you, Your Honor. So Doctor, those X-rays. Is there a difference in the way you take standard diagnostic X-rays at your office, and the way you took them to help identify the victim in this case at the morgue?"

In his element now, enjoying this chance to explain the intricacies of his work, McInerny first walked through the familiar procedure that took place in his office-the film in the mouth, the big machine, the lead-lined sheet. "But of course in a forensic laboratory setting, such as a morgue, we typically don't take a picture at all."

"Why is that?"

"Well, because we can simply look at what's there and compare it to our known sample. Let's say, for example, you look in a victim's mouth and have seven fillings, a crown, and a root canal or extraction site, and they're just where they are in your sample. Well, then, you've got a match."

Hardy, sensing an opportunity, jumped at it. "So you can get a match with only, say, a few matching teeth? Less than a whole mouthful?"

"Sometimes, of course. Sometimes you don't have a whole mouthful. But you work with everything you have. In the case of Mr. Hanover, I compared all of the teeth. There was a one hundred percent correlation."

"And so you positively identified the victim as Mr. Hanover?"

But McInerny was shaking his head. "Not precisely," he said.

"No? Could you explain."

"Sure. I simply verify the match. My dental records match the victim's. And in this case they did."

Hardy, having wasted twenty minutes of the court's time on this dry well of a cross-examination, realized that he let himself succumb to the luxury of fishing. He'd gotten an unexpected and gratuitous, entirely minor victory of sorts from Strout during the morning session and he'd let it go to his head. He was going to alienate the jury if he kept barking up this kind of tree, to no effect.

Acknowledging defeat, he tipped his head to Dr. Mc-Inerny, thanked him for his time, and excused him.

The afternoon passed in a haze of redundancy. Toshio Yamashiru was, as Rosen took pains to point out, not only the dentist of Missy D'Amiens, but one of the top forensic odontologists in the country. As Strout had told Glitsky so long ago, he had assisted in the identification of the 9/11 victims. He had twenty-plus years of experience not only in general dentistry, but in advanced forensics.

No doubt prompted by Hardy's aggressive cross-examination of Dr. McInerny, Rosen went to great lengths not only to establish Yamashiru's credentials, but also the techniques that he'd used in the morgue and then in his own lab to exactly correlate the various fissures, faults and striations of each tooth in the skull he examined with the dental records of Missy D'Amiens.

After an hour and forty-one minutes of this excruciatingly boring detail, he finally asked, "Doctor Yamashiru, what was the correlation between the teeth you examined at the morgue and that of the woman whose records are in court, Missy D'Amiens?"

"One hundred percent."

"You're certain?"

"Completely."

"Thank you, Doctor." Rosen turned to Hardy. "Your witness."

Hardy blinked himself to a marginally higher state of awareness and stood up. "Your Honor, I have no questions for this witness."

With ill-concealed relief, Braun turned to Yamashiru. "Thank you, Doctor. You may step down." She then looked up, bringing in the jury, and raised her voice. "I think we've had enough for today. We'll adjourn until tomorrow morning at nine thirty."

* * *

In the holding cell just behind the back door of the courtoom, Catherine, caged, paced like a leopard.

Hardy, who'd endured complaints-many justified, he'd admit-about the family since Catherine had gone to jail, felt compelled to try and tolerate another round. Even if he were wrung out and ready to go home-or really, back to the office for a minimum of a couple of hours where he would check his mail and e-mail, answer urgent calls from other clients and deal with any other outstanding firm business that needed his input-he had to let her get some of her frustration out. Because if she didn't blow off steam back here, out of sight, she might do it in front of the jurors, and that would be disastrous. So he let her go on, unaware that with the tensions of the day his own string was near breaking. "I was just so conscious of them all day long, sitting there in the gallery, watching my back, my every breath, I think, and all of them believing I could have done anything like this. How could they even think that?"

"I don't think they do."

"Ha. You don't know."

"No, I don't. That's true."

She got to one end ofher twelve-foot journey, grasped the bars for a moment, then pushed off in the other direction. "Shit shit shit."

"What?"

"Just shit, that's what." She opened her mouth and let out something between a scream and a growl.

"Hey, come on, Catherine, calm down."

"I can't calm down. I don't want to calm down. I'm locked up, for Christ's sake. I might be locked up forever. Don't you see that?"

She reached the other end, turned again.

"Catherine, stop walking. Please. Just for a second." He patted the concrete bench next to him. "Come on.

Sit. You'll feel better."

She didn't stop walking. "I've been sitting all day."

He sighed, let the words out under his breath. "Christ, you can be a difficult woman!"

She stopped and looked at him. "You're not mad at me, are you?"

"No, Catherine. How could I be mad at you? I make a simple request for you to sit down so you'll feel better and, because I've been working all day every day for eight months already on your behalf, of course you completely ignore what I want and continue to pace. This makes me happy, not mad. And why? Because I need the abuse. I thrive on abuse, if you haven't noticed."

"I'm not abusing you."

Hardy had to chuckle. "And I'm not mad at you. So we're even. You continue pacing and I'll just sit here, not being mad, how's that?"

She stared down at him. "Why are you being this way?"

"What way? Calling you on your behavior? Maybe it's because how you behave in the courtroom is going to have an effect on the jury."

"Okay, but we're not in the courtroom now." Some real anger crept into her tone. "I've been behaving well in there all day and now, if it's all the same to you, Dis-mas Hardy, I'm a little bit frustrated."

"Well, take it out on me, then. I'm a glutton for it. Here." He got to his feet. "I'll stand up, be your punching bag. Go on, hit me."

She squared around on him as though she actually might. Hardy brought a finger up to his chin, touched it a few times. "Right here."

"God, you're being awful."

"I'm not. I'm facilitating getting you in touch with your inner child who wants to hit me. You'll really feel better. I swear. This is a real technique they teach in law school."

In spite of herself, she chuckled, the anger bleaching out of her, her face softening. "I don't want to hit you, Dismas. We can sit down."

"You're sure? I don't want to stem your free expression."

She lowered herself to the concrete bench. "It's just been a long day," she said.

He looked down at her. "I hate to say that it's only the first one of many, but that's the truth. We ought to try to keep from fighting. I'm sorry if I pushed you there."

"No. I deserved it. I pushed you."

"Well, either way." Hardy put his hands in his pockets, leaned against the bars behind him. "This is worse for you, and I'm sorry."

They were in a cell in an otherwise open hallway that ran behind all of the courtrooms. Every minute or so, a uniformed bailiff or two would walk by with another defendant, or sometimes an orange-suited line of them, in tow. The place was lit, of course, but in some fashion Hardy was dimly aware that outside it was close to dark out and still cold. Down the way somewhere, quite possibly in an exact double of the cell in which they sat, but invisible to them, they both could hear someone crying.

"She sounds so sad," Catherine said. "It could be one of my daughters. That's what I'm missing the most. The kids." She took a deep breath. "It's bad enough now, with them having to deal with all that high school nasti-ness, with their mother in jail, what they must be going through day to day. But what I really agonize about is how it's going to affect them in the long run, if I wind up…" She stared at her hands in her lap.

"That's not going to happen," Hardy said. "I'm not going to let that happen."

Down the hall, they heard the crying voice suddenly change pitch and scream, "No! No! No!" and then the clank of metal on metal. From out of nowhere, at the same instant, their bailiff opened the courtroom door at the mouth of their cage. "You want dinner, we better get you changed," he said.

Wordless, Catherine hesitated, let out a long sigh. Then, resigned, she nodded, stood up and held out her hands for the cuffs.

18

The pediatric heart specialist at Kaiser, Dr. Aaron True-blood, was a short, slightly hunchbacked, soft-spoken man in his mid- to late sixties. Now he was sitting across a table from Glitsky in a small featureless room in the maternity wing, his hands folded in front of him, his kindly face fraught with concern.

Treya had been a trouper. They got to the hospital well before nine o'clock that morning, and after eight hours of labor, Glitsky breathing with her throughout the ordeal, she delivered an eight-pound, two-ounce boy they would call Zachary. Crying lustily after his first breath, he looked perfectly formed in all his parts. Glitsky cut the umbilical cord. Treya's ob-gyn, Joyce Gavelin, gave him Apgar scores of eight and nine, about as good as it gets.

In a bit under an hour, though, the euphoria of the successful delivery gave way to a suddenly urgent con

cern. Dr. Gavelin had the usual postpartum duties-the episiotomy, delivering the placenta and so on-during all of which time Zachary lay cuddled against his mother's stomach in the delivery room. The doctor released mother and baby down to her room in the maternity ward, and Glitsky walked beside the gurney in the hallway while they went and checked into the private room they'd requested, where the hospital would provide a special dinner and where he hoped to spend the night. After making sure that Treya and Zachary were settled- the boy took right to breast-feeding-Glitsky went down the hall to call his father, Nat, to tell him the good news and check up on Rachel, who was staying with him. Everything was as it should have been.

When he came back to Treya's room, though, she was crying and Zachary was gone. Dr. Gavelin had come in for a more formal secondary examination of the newborn. But what began as a routine and cursory procedure changed as soon as she pressed her stethoscope to the baby's chest. Immediately, her normally upbeat, cheerleader demeanor underwent a transformation. "What is it? Joyce, talk to me. Is everything all right?"

But Dr. Gavelin, frowning now, held up a hand to quiet Treya and moved the stethoscope to another location on the baby's chest, then another, another, around to his back. She let out a long breath and closed her eyes briefly, perhaps against the pain she was about to inflict. "I don't want to worry you, Treya, but your little boy's got a heart murmur," she said. "I'd like to have one of my colleagues give a listen and maybe run a couple of tests on him. We'll need to take Zachary away for a while." "Take him away! What for?"

The doctor put what she might have hoped was a comforting hand on Treya's arm. "As I said, to run a few tests, shoot some X-rays. Maybe get a little better sense of the cause of the murmur. We've got a terrific pediatric cardiologist…"

"Couldn't you just do it here? Have somebody come down…?"

"I don't think so. We'll want to do an X-ray and an echo-cardiogram at least. And then maybe some other testing." "What kind of testing?"

"To get a handle on what we might be dealing with, Treya."

"But you just said it was a murmur. Aren't murmurs fairly common?"

"Some kinds, yes." "But not this kind?"

Dr. Gavelin hadn't moved her hand, and now she squeezed Treya's arm. "I don't know," she said gently. "That's why I want to have a specialist look at him."

And then, somehow, by the time Glitsky got back from his phone call, Zachary was gone.

Sometime later, the volunteer maternity staff people wheeled in the special dinner that had been ordered for this room and seemed confused that the baby wasn't with the parents, who were both on the bed, silent, clearly distraught, each holding the other's hands. They didn't even look at the food. Finally, when the orderlies came back to remove the untouched trays, Glitsky decided he had to move. He didn't have any idea how long he and Treya had been sitting together waiting, but suddenly he had to get proactive. He needed to get information. Like, first, where was his son? And what exactly was wrong with him?

He told Treya that he'd be back when he'd learned something, and walked out into the hallway. He at once had recognized Gavelin and an older man approaching, heads down in consultation. One of them must have looked up and seen him, because without exchanging too many words, it seems that they decided that Joyce would go back in to talk to Treya, and the other doctor-the stooped, sad and kind-looking one-would break the news to Glitsky.

Too worried to argue the logistics-why weren't they seeing him and Treya together?-he followed Trueblood into the tiny room, but they weren't even seated when Glitsky said, "When can I see my son?"

"I can't tell you that exactly." Glitsky recognized something in Trueblood's voice-the same sympathetic but oddly disembodied tone he'd used numerous times before, when he had to inform relatives about the death of someone in their family. He knew that your words had to be clear and carefully chosen to forestall denial. You were recounting an objective fact that could not be undone, painful as it was to hear. At that tone-by itself-Glitsky felt his heart contract in panic's grip. Trueblood's next words, even more gently expressed, were a depth charge in his psyche. "I'm sorry, but this may be very serious." "You mean he might die?"

Trueblood hesitated, then nodded. "It's not impossible. We're still not sure exactly what we're dealing with."

Arguing, as though it would change anything, Glitsky said, "But my wife said it was just a murmur."

Trueblood's red-rimmed, exhausted, unfathomably cheerless eyes held Glitsky's. His hands were folded in front of him on the table and he spoke with an exaggerated care. "Yes, but there are different kinds of murmurs. Your son's, Zachary's, is a very loud murmur," he said. "Now this can mean one of two things-the first not very good and the second very bad."

"So not very good is the best that we're talking about?"

Trueblood nodded. He piled the words up as Glitsky struggled to comprehend. "It could be, and this is the not very good option, that it's just a hole in his heart…"

"Just?"

A matter-of-fact nod. "It's called a VSD, a ventricular septal defect. It's a very small, pinhole-sized hole that can produce a murmur of this volume. Sometimes."

"So the very bad option is more likely?"

"Statistically, with this type of murmur, perhaps slightly."

Glitsky couldn't hold his head up anymore. They shouldn't have tried for this baby. He shouldn't have let Treya talk him into it. She was already in love with it, with him, with Zachary, as was Glitsky himself. After the long wait to welcome him, in only a couple of hours Zachary had moved into their hearts and minds. And not just the thought of him. The presence, the person.

But Trueblood was going on. "In any event, the other option is called aortic stenosis, which in a newborn can be very difficult to correct." He let the statement hang between them for a second. "But that's what we're testing to see now. We've X-rayed the heart already, and it doesn't seem to be enlarged, which is the most obvious sign of aortic stenosis."

Glitsky, grasping at anything resembling hope, said, "And you're saying it doesn't seem enlarged?"

"No. But at his age, we'll need to analyze the X-rays more closely. A heart that size, we're talking millimeters of difference between healthy and damaged. We'll need to have a radiologist give us a definitive read on it."

"And when will that be?"

"We've got a call in for someone right now, but he may not get his messages until morning. In any case, it won't be for a few hours at best. And the echocardio-gram couldn't be scheduled until tomorrow. We felt we had to talk to you and your wife before then."

Glitsky met the doctor's eyes again. "What if it's the VSD, the hole in the heart? The better option."

"Well, if it's a big hole, we operate, but I don't think it's a big one."

"Why not?"

"The murmur is too loud. It's either a tiny, tiny hole or… or aortic stenosis." "A death sentence." "Not necessarily, not always." "But most of the time?" "Not infrequently."

"So what about this tiny hole? What do you do with that?"

"We just let it alone as long as we can. Sometimes they close up by themselves. Sometimes they never do, but they don't affect the person's life. But if the hole does cause… problems, we can operate."

"On the heart?"

"Yes."

"Open-heart surgery?"

"Yes. That's what it is. And it's successful a vast majority of the time."

Glitsky was trying to analyze it all, fit it in somewhere. "So best case, we're looking at heart surgery. Is that what you're saying?"

"No. Best case is a tiny hole that closes by itself."

"And how often does that happen?"

Trueblood paused. "About one out of eight. We'll have a better idea by the morning."

Glitsky spoke half to himself. "What are we supposed to do until then?"

The doctor knew the bitter truth of his suggestion, but it was the only thing he could bring himself to say. "You might pray that it's only a hole in his heart."

"Only a hole in his heart? That's the best we can hope for?"

"Considering the alternative, that would be good news, yes."

It was eight thirty and Hardy told himself that he should close the shop and go home. He reached up and turned the switch on the green banker's lamp that he'd been reading under. His office and the lobby through his open door were now dark. A wash of indirect light from down the associates' hallway kept the place from utter blackness, but he felt effectively isolated and alone. It wasn't a bad way to feel. He knew he could call Yet Wah and have his shrimp lo mein order waiting for him by the time he got there, but something rendered him immobile, and he'd learned over the years to trust these intuitive inclinations, especially when he was in trial.

The primary reality in a trial like this is that there was just too much to remember. You could have pretty damned close to a photographic memory, as Hardy did, and still find yourself struggling to remember a fact, a detail, a snatch of conflicting testimony. The big picture, the individual witness strategies, the evidence trail, the alternative theories-to keep all these straight and reasonably accessible, some unconscious process prompted him to shut down from time to time-to let his mind go empty and see what claimed his attention. It was almost always something he'd once known and then forgotten, or dismissed as unimportant before he'd had all the facts, and which a new fact or previously unseen connection had suddenly rendered critical.

Once in a while, he'd use the irrational downtime to leaf through his wall of binders, pulling a few down at random and turning pages for snatches of a police report, witness testimony, photographs. Other times, he'd throw darts-no particular game, just the back and forth from his throw line to the board and back again. Tonight, he backed his chair away from his desk and simply sat in the dark, waiting for inspiration or enlightenment.

He hadn't noticed her approach, but a female figure was suddenly standing in the doorway. She reached for the doorknob and started to pull the door closed.

"Hello?" Hardy said.

"Oh, sorry." The voice of Gina Roake, his other partner. "Diz, is that you? I saw your door open. I thought you'd left and forgotten to close it."

"Nope. Still here."

A pause. "Are you all right?"

"First day of trial."

"I hear you. How'd it go?"

"You can flip on the light if you want. I'm not coming up with anything. It went okay, I think. I hope. I even got a little bonus from Strout's testimony, so maybe I should declare victory and go home."

But Roake didn't turn on the room lights. Her silhouette leaned against the doorpost, arms crossed over her chest. "Except?"

"Except… I don't know. I was waiting for a lightning bolt or something."

"To illuminate the darkness?" "Right, but not happening."

"It's the first day," Roake said. "It's too soon. It never happens on the first day."

"You're probably right," Hardy admitted. "I just thought it might this time."

"And why would that be?"

"Because Catherine didn't…" He stopped.

"Didn't what?" "That's it."

"Okay, I give up. What?"

"I told her she wouldn't spend the rest of her life in jail. Spontaneously. That I wouldn't let that happen."

Silent, Roake shifted at the doorpost.

"I don't think she did it, Gina. That's why I said that. She didn't do it."

But Gina had been in more than a few trials herself. "Well, you'd better defend her as though you think she did."

"Sure. Of course. That's about all I've been thinking about all these months. How to get her off." "There you go."

"But it's all been strategy. Get the jury to go for murder/suicide. Play up the harassment angle with Cuneo. Hammer the weak evidence."

"Right. All of the above."

"But the bottom line is, somebody else did it."

She snorted. "The famous other dude."

"No, not him. A specific human being that I've stopped trying to find."

Roake was silent for a long moment. "A little free advice?"

"Sure. Always."

"Defend her as if you believed with all your heart that she's guilty as hell. You'll feel better later. I promise."

But driving home, he couldn't get the idea out of his mind. So basic, so simple and yet he'd been ignoring it for months, lost to strategy and the other minutiae of trial preparation. If Catherine didn't kill them, someone else did. He had to get that message into the courtroom, in front of the jurors. In his career, he'd found nothing else that approached an alternative suspect as a vehicle for doubt. It struck him that Glitsky's failure to get an alternative lead to pursue-another plausible suspect- had derailed him from any kind of reliance on the "sod-dit," or "some other dude did it," defense. He never had come back to it, and he should have, because in this case some other dude had done it.

It wasn't his client. It wasn't Catherine. Somehow, from the earliest weeks, and without any overt admission or even discussion of the question of her objective guilt, Hardy had become certain of that. This was a woman he'd known as a girl, whom he'd loved. They'd met nearly every day for months and months now, and even with all the life changes for both of them, every instinct he had told him that Catherine was the same person she'd been before. He'd been with her when she sobbed her way through The Sound of Music. One time the two of them had rescued a rabbit that had been hit by a car. She'd been a candy striper at Sequoia Hospital because she wanted to help people who were in pain. This woman did not plan and execute a cold-blooded killing of her father-in-law and his girlfriend and then set the house on fire. It just did not happen. He couldn't accept the thought of it as any kind of reality.

Every night as he sought parking near his home he would drive up Geary and turn north on 34th Avenue, the block where he lived. He never knew-once or twice a year he'd find a spot. His house was a two-story, stand-alone Victorian wedged between two four-story apartment buildings. With a postage-stamp lawn and a white picket fence in front, and dwarfed by its neighbors, it projected a quaintness and vulnerability that, to Hardy, gave it great curb appeal. Not that he'd ever consider selling it. He'd owned the place for more than thirty years, since just after his divorce from Jane, and now he'd raised his family here. He felt that its boards were as much a part of who he was as were his own bones.

And tonight-a sign from the heaven he didn't really believe in-twenty feet of unoccupied curb space lay exposed directly in front of his gate. Automatically assigning to the vision the status of mirage, he almost drove right by it before he hit his brakes and backed in.

He checked his watch, saw with some surprise that it was ten after nine, realized that he hadn't eaten since his lunchtime lamburger. In his home, welcoming lights were on in the living room and over the small front porch. When he got out of the car, he smelled oak logs burning and looked up to see a clean plume of white coming out of the chimney.

Home.

Cuneo didn't hear the telephone ring because he was playing his drums along with "Wipeout" turned up loud. He had the CD on repeat and lost track of how many times he'd heard the distinctive hyena laugh at the beginning of the track. The song was a workout, essentially three minutes of fast timekeeping punctuated by solos on the tom-toms. Midway his sixth or seventh time through the tune, Cuneo abruptly stopped. Shirtless, shoeless, wearing only his gray sweatpants, he sat on the stool, breathing heavily. Sweat streaked his torso, ran down his face, beads of it dropping to the floor.

In the kitchen, he grabbed a can of beer, popped the top and drank half of it off in a gulp. Noticing the blinking light on his phone, he crossed over to it and pressed the button.

"Dan? Dan, you there? Pick up if you're there, would you? It's Chris Rosen. Okay, you're not there. Call me when you get in. Anytime. I'm up late."

Cuneo finished his beer, went in to take a shower, came out afterward wrapped in a towel. Armed with another cold one, he sat at his kitchen table and punched up Rosen's numbers. "Hey, it's me. You called."

"Yeah, I did. I just wanted to make sure you were still cool about this Glitsky thing."

"Totally."

"I mean, today, earlier…"

"It just pissed me off, that's all. It still does. But what am I gonna do?"

"Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. What you're going to do."

"Nothing. That's what you said, right?"

"It's what I said, yes, but I've been reconsidering. Maybe we can spin this sexual thing back at them. I mean, everybody already believes Hardy's poking her, right? So she's the loose one, she's easy, get it?" Rosen gave Cuneo a moment to let the idea sink in. "I mean, isn't she the kind of woman who would have made the first move? We didn't want to bring it up before because, well, I mean, what would be the point? Try her on the evidence, not on innuendo or her personal habits. More professional. Blah blah blah. We didn't want to embarrass her. But once they introduce the whole question, the jury needs to hear the truth. I mean, only if it is the truth, of course-I'm not trying to put words into your mouth. But if she did come on to you first, and you rejected her… it's your word against hers. And you're a cop with an unblemished record and she's a murder suspect. If we bring it up first as soon as I get you on the stand… you know what I'm saying?"

Cuneo brought the ice-cold can of beer to his lips. His internal motor suddenly shifted into a higher gear, accelerating now on the straightaway instead of straining up a steep grade. He'd never done anything to harass Catherine Hanover. He knew it. Whatever it was had been her imagination and her lies. Not him. He was sure of that.

Let's see how she liked it.

For the first couple of Hardy's murder trials, Fran-nie had tried to have some kind of dinner waiting for him when he got home. She went to some lengths to try to time his arrival at home to coincide with dinner being done so that they could sit down as a family together-the sacred ritual, especially when the kids had been younger. But the effort turned out to be more a source of frustration than anything else. Try as he might, Hardy couldn't predict when he'd get home with any regularity. It was another of the many things in their daily lives that was out of their control. Aspects not as ideal as they had once imagined it, and yet were part and parcel of this constantly evolving thing called a marriage. Tonight, as Hardy stood at the stove and Frannie, in jeans and a white sweater and tennis shoes, sat on the kitchen counter with her ankles crossed, watching him, neither of them remembered the growing pains of the dinner issue that had led them here. Hardy was in trial, so he was responsible for his own meals. That was the deal because it was the only thing that made any sense.

From Frannie's perspective, the best thing about Hardy's cooking was that it was all one-pot-or, more specifically, one-pan. He never messed up the kitchen, or created a sinkful of dishes. This was because he was genetically predisposed to cook everything he ate in the ten-inch, gleaming-black cast-iron frying pan that had been the one item he'd taken from his parents' house when he'd gone away to college. Ignoring his own admonition to keep the iron from the barest kiss of water lest it rust, she noticed that he was steaming rice as the basis of his current masterpiece, covering the pan with a wok lid that was slightly too small.

Talking about the usual daily kid and home trivia, interspersed with trial talk, and then some more trial talk, and once in a while a word about the trial, she'd watched him add a can of tuna to the rice, then a lot of pepper and salt, a few shakes of dried onions, a small jar of pimentos, a spoonful of mayonnaise, some green olives, a shot of tequila. Finally, she could take it no more. "What are you making?" she said.

He half turned. "I haven't named it yet. I could make you immortal and call it 'Frannie's Delight' or something if you want."

"Let's go with 'something.' Now what are you putting in there?"

"Anchovy sauce."

"Since when do we have anchovy sauce?" "Since I bought it. Last summer I think. Maybe two summers ago."

"What does it taste like?"

"I don't know. I just opened it."

"And yet you just poured about a quarter cup of it into what you're making?"

"It's the wild man in me."

"You've never even really tasted it?"

"Nope. Not until just…" Hardy put a dab on his finger, brought it to his mouth. "Now."

"Well? What?"

"Primarily," he said, "it smacks of anchovy." Hardy dipped a spoon and tasted the cooking mixture. "Close. We're very close." He opened the refrigerator, nosing around, moving a few items.

"I know," she said, teasing, coming over next to him. "Banana yogurt."

"Good idea, but maybe not." He closed the refrigerator and opened the cupboard, from which he pulled down a large bottle of Tabasco sauce. "When in doubt," he said, and shook it vigorously several times over his concoction. He then replaced the cover. "And now, simmer gently."

"Are you taking a conversation break while you eat this," she said, "or do you have more work?"

"If you're offering to sit with me if I don't open binders, I'll take a break."

She put a hand on his arm and looked up at him. "We're okay, right?"

"Perfect." He leaned down and kissed her. "We're perfect," he said.

19

Arson inspector Arnie Becker took the oath and sat down in the witness box. In a sport coat and dark blue tie over a light blue shirt, he looked very much the professional, completely at home in the courtroom. He canted forward slightly, and from Hardy's perspective, this made him appear perhaps eager. But this was neither a good nor a bad thing.

Chris Rosen stood and took a few steps forward around his table, until he was close to the center of the courtroom. After establishing Becker's credentials and general experience, the prosecutor began to get specific. "Inspector Becker, in general, can you describe your duties to the court?"

"Yes, sir. In the simplest terms, I am responsible for determining the cause of fires. Basically where and how they started. If there's a determination that it's a case of arson-that is, a fire that's deliberately set-then my

duties extend to other aspects of the crime as well. Who might have set the fire, the development of forensic evidence from sifting the scene, that kind of thing."

"Do you remember the fire in Alamo Square at the home of Paul Hanover on May the twelfth of last year?"

"I do. I was called to it right away. Very early on, it looked like an obvious arson."

"What was obvious about it?"

"There were two dead bodies in the foyer. They appeared to have been victims of homicide, rather than overcome by the fire. The assumption was that someone started the fire to hide the evidence they'd left."

Hardy raised a hand. "Your Honor, objection. Speculation."

Braun impatiently shook her head. "Overruled," she said.

Rosen ignored the interruption. "Would you please tell us about the bodies?"

"Well, as I say, there were two of them. They looked like a man and a woman, although it was difficult to tell for certain. The burning was extensive, and the clothes on the tops of their bodies had burned away. Under them, later, though, we found a few scraps of clothing."

Rosen gave the jury a few seconds to contemplate this visual, a common prosecutorial technique to spark outrage and revulsion for the crime in the minds of the panel. "Anything else about the bodies, Inspector?"

"Well, yes. Each had a bullet hole in the head, and what appeared to be the barrel of a gun was barely visible under the side of the man. So that being the case, I decided to try to preserve the scene of the crime-the foyer just inside the front door-as carefully as possible, and asked the firefighting teams to try to work around that area."

"And were they able to do that?"

"Pretty much. Yes, sir."

After producing another easel upon which he showed the jury a succession of drawings and sketches of the lobby, the position of the bodies, the location of the wounds-the prosecutor definitely favored the show-and-tell approach-Rosen took a while walking Becker step-by-step through the investigative process, and the jury sat spellbound. According to the witness, the blaze began in the foyer itself. The means of combustion, in his expert opinion, was one of the most effective ones ever invented-ordinary newspaper wadded up into a ball about the size of a basketball. Even without accelerants of any kind, a ball of newspaper this size in an average-size room-and the foyer of Hanover's would qualify as that-would create enough heat to incinerate nearly everything in it, and leave no trace of its source.

"You used the term 'accelerant,' Inspector. Can you tell us what you mean by that?"

And Becker gave a short course, finishing with gasoline, the accelerant used in this particular fire.

"But with all these other accelerants, Inspector, surely they would burn up in the blaze? How can you be sure that this one was gasoline?"

Becker loved the question. "That's the funny thing," he said, "that people always seem to find difficult to understand."

"Maybe you can help us, then, Inspector."

Hardy longed to get up and do or say something to put a damper on the lovefest between these two. Earlier, Hardy had interviewed Becker himself and had found him to be forthcoming and amiable. Rosen's charming act played beautifully here-the jurors were hearing interesting stuff talked about by two really nice guys. Not only were they giving him nothing to work with, if they did get on something worth objecting to, and Hardy rose to it, he would look like he was trying to keep from the jury what this earnest and obviously believable investigator wanted to tell them. So he sat there, hands folded in front of him, his face consciously bland and benign, and let Becker go on.

"All these accelerants, in fact everything, needs oxygen to burn, so whatever burns has to be in contact with the air. But there is only one part of a liquid that can be in contact with the air, and that is its surface. So what you can have, and actually do have in a case like this, is the gasoline running over the floor, sometimes slightly downhill, pooling in places. But no matter what it's doing, the only part of it that's burning is its surface. Maybe the stuff that isn't burning underneath, the liquid, soaks into some clothing fabric, or into a rug. Both of those things happened here, so we were able to tell exactly what kind of accelerant it was."

"And it was?" "Gasoline."

"Inspector, you used the word 'exactly.' Surely you don't mean you can tell what type of gasoline it was?"

Hardy and Catherine were of course both intimately familiar with every nuance of this testimony. Unable to bear his own silence any longer, he leaned over and whispered to her. "Surely he doesn't mean that?" A wisp of a smile played at Catherine's mouth.

"That's exactly what I mean." Becker gushed on, explaining the mass-spectrometer reading, the chemical analysis (more charts) of Valero gasoline, the point-by-point comparison. Finally, Rosen, having established murder and arson-although no absolute causal relationship between the two-changed the topic. "Now, Inspector, if we could go back to the night of the fire for a while. After you told the firefighters to preserve the crime scene as best you could, what did you do then?"

"I went outside to direct the arson team." He went on to describe the members of this team-another arson inspector, the police personnel-and their various functions, concluding with getting the names and contacts of possible witnesses from people gathered at the scene. "And why do you want to do that?"

Becker seemed to have some trouble understanding the question. Suddenly his eyes shifted to Hardy, but he braved a reply. "Well, lots of people tend to come to a fire, and you never know which of them might have seen something that could prove important. Sometimes a spectator might not recognize the importance of something they've seen. We just like to have a record of everybody who was there so inspectors can go back and talk to them later."

The reason for Becker's sudden edginess soon revealed itself. Rosen had obviously rehearsed this part of the testimony to get to this: "Inspector, isn't it true that, in your experience, when arson is involved, the arsonist, the person who set the fire, often comes back to admire his or her handiwork?"

Hardy shot up. "Objection, Your Honor. No foundation. The witness is not a psychologist." This was kind of a lame objection, since the question was more about what arson inspectors observed than what was in the mind of arson suspects, but it sounded good, and the judge went for it.

"Sustained."

Rosen tried again. "Inspector Becker, among arson inspectors is it common knowledge that a person who sets a fire…?"

Hardy wouldn't let him finish. "Objection! Hearsay and speculation."

"Sustained. Mr. Rosen, ask a specific question or drop this line."

"All right, Your Honor." Rosen stood still, all but mouthing his words first to make sure he got them right. "Inspector, in your own experience, have you personally ever identified and/or arrested an arsonist who had returned to a fire he or she had created?"

Hardy was on his feet. "Your Honor, I'm sorry, but I must object again."

But Rosen, this time, had made it narrow enough for the judge to accept. "Objection overruled. Go ahead, Mr. Rosen."

"Thank you, Your Honor."

Hardy caught a bit of a smirk in the prosecutor's face and, suddenly realizing his own blunder, he tightened down on the muscles in his jaw. By objecting time and again to Rosen's questions, he'd fallen for the prosecutor's bait, thus calling the jury's attention to an item they might otherwise have overlooked as unimportant. Now no one in the courtroom thought it was unimportant, and Hardy had no one to blame for that but himself.

Rosen asked the reporter to read back the question, which she did as Hardy lowered himself to his chair.

The answer, of course, was yes. Becker himself had personally had cases where arsonists had returned to or remained at the fire scene at least a dozen times.

"So now you were outside, across the street from the fire? Can you tell the jury what happened next?"

Hardy had seen this coming. He might have objected on relevance with some chance of being sustained this time, but he had a use in mind for the information.

Becker answered. "Yes, a woman saw that I was in a command position and she approached me and told me that she was related to the man who owned the burning house."

"Do you recognize that woman in this courtroom?"

"I do."

"Would you point her out for the jury, please?" "Yes." He held out his hand. "Right there, at the table."

"Let the record show that Inspector Becker has identified the defendant, Catherine Hanover." Rosen gave his little bow. "Thank you, sir." Turning to Hardy. "Your witness."

"Inspector Becker," Hardy said. "In your testimony, you used the word 'sifted' when you talked about recovering evidence from the scene of the fire. What did you mean by that?"

In spite of the time he'd already been on the stand, Becker remained fresh and enthusiastic. "Well, it's not a very high-tech procedure, but what we do is kind of sweep up and bag everything around a body and then try to identify everything that was at the scene, down to pretty small items."

"And you used this technique after the Hanover fire?"

"Yes, we did."

"Were you looking for anything specific?"

"To some extent, yes. I hoped to find the bullet casings, for example."

Hardy feigned surprise. "You mean you could locate and sift out something that small?"

"Sure, and even smaller than that. By the time we're through, we're pretty much down to ash and nothing else."

"And did you in fact find the bullet casings?"

"Yes."

"Two of them?"

"Yes."

"Were there any fingerprints or any other identifying marks on either of the casings?" "Yes. Mr. Hanover's."

"Mr. Hanover's?" Hardy said. "Not Catherine Hanover's?"

"No."

"What about the gun itself? Were there fingerprints on the gun?"

"Yes. Mr. Hanover's and some others."

"Some others? How many others?"

"It's hard to say. There was nothing to compare them with. It might have been one person, or maybe two or more."

"But did you try to compare them to Catherine Hanover's fingerprints?" "Yes. Of course." "And did you get a match?"

"No. And the other stuff in the house was all burned up."

"In other words, Inspector Becker, there is no physical evidence to indicate that Catherine Hanover had ever touched either the gun that has been identified as the murder weapon or the bullets that were used on the victims? Is that correct?"

"Yes."

"No evidence she was ever even near the gun at any time? Ever?" "None."

"In fact, Inspector, isn't it true that in your careful sifting of all the evidence found in the house after the fire, you did not discover any physical evidence that linked Catherine Hanover either to these murders or, for that matter, to the fire itself?"

Becker answered with a professional calm. "Yes, that's true."

Hardy took the cue and half turned to face the jury. "Yes," he repeated, driving the answer home. But he came right back to Becker. "I'd like to ask you a few questions now about the first time you saw Catherine Hanover on the night of the fire. Did you question her?"

"Not really. She came up to me and said she was related to the home's owner. That was about it. There was really nothing to question her about at that time."

"Nothing to question her about. Did anyone else join the two of you at about this time?"

"Yes. Sergeant Inspector Cuneo arrived from the homicide department, which we'd called as soon as we discovered the bodies."

"And did Inspector Cuneo question Mrs. Hanover?"

"A little bit. Yes."

"Just a little bit?"

"A few minutes. As I said, there was no real reason to question her."

"Yes, you did say that. And yet Inspector Cuneo chose to question her?"

"Your Honor!" Rosen said. "Objection. Where's this going? Sergeant Cuneo was a homicide inspector called to a crime scene. He can talk to anybody he wants for any reason."

"I assume," Braun said stiffly, "that your objection, then, is for relevance. In which case, I'll overrule it."

Hardy took a beat. He'd gotten in the inference he'd wanted-that Cuneo basically just wanted to chat up Catherine, and now he was almost finished. "Inspector Becker, on that first night that he'd seen her, did Sergeant Cuneo express to you any thoughts about Catherine Hanover's physical appearance?"

As a bonus, Rosen reacted, snorting, objecting again.

Braun spoke sharply. "Overruled. Inspector, you may answer the question. Do you need Mr. Hardy to repeat it?"

Hardy, with a second chance to put it in front of the jury, wasted no time. "Did Sergeant Cuneo express to you any thoughts about Catherine Hanover's physical appearance?"

"Yes, he did." "What did he say?"

"He said she was a damn fine-looking woman." "Those were his exact words?" "Pretty close."

When Hardy got back to his table, Catherine leaned over and urgently whispered to him, "What about the ring?"

"What ring?"

"Missy's. Paul gave her an enormous rock. If they swept up everything in the room down small enough to find a bullet casing, they must have found the ring, too.

Right?"

"Maybe it was still on her finger."

"Oh, okay. You're right. I'd just assumed…"

"No. It's worth asking," Hardy said, although he couldn't have elucidated exactly why he thought so. "I'll go back and ask Strout."

"Mr. Hardy." Braun stared down over her lenses. "If we're not keeping you…"

"No. Sorry, Your Honor."

Braun shifted her gaze to the other table. "Mr. Rosen, call your next witness."

Rosen got to his feet. "The people call Sergeant Inspector Daniel Cuneo."

Hardy put a hand over his client's hand on the defense table, gave what he hoped was a reassuring squeeze. "Get ready," he whispered. "This is where it gets ugly."

20

Glitsky's prayers were answered. It appeared that it was "only" a hole in Zachary's heart after all. It was so small that the doctor thought it might eventually close up on its own, although Glitsky and Treya shouldn't count on that since it was equally possible that it might not. But whether it eventually closed up on its own or not, Zachary's condition required no further immediate medical intervention, and neither doctor-Gavelin nor Trueblood-suggested an increased stay in the hospital for either mother or child.

So Paganucci had come out to the hospital with Glitsky's car, and Abe and Treya were back to their duplex by noon, both of them completely wrung out with the stress and uncertainty of the previous twenty-four hours. Neither had slept for more than an hour or two. And they were nowhere near out of the woods yet with their boy. There was still some likelihood that he'd need open

heart surgery in the very near term-the doctors and his parents would have to keep a close eye on his overall development, heart size, energy level, skin color-turning bluish would be a bad sign, for example. But what had seemed a bad-odds bet yesterday-that Zachary might be the one child in eight born with this condition able to live a normal life without surgery-now seemed at least possible, and that was something to hang on to, albeit precariously. At least it was not the probable death sentence of aortic stenosis.

Rachel was staying another day with her grandfather Nat. By pretending that he was going to take a much-needed nap with her, Glitsky got Treya to lie down in the bedroom with Zachary blessedly sleeping in the crib beside her. Within minutes she, too, was asleep.

Glitsky got out of bed, went into the kitchen, turned in a full circle, then walked down the hallway by Rachel's room. He checked the back door to make sure it was locked, deadbolt in place, and came back out to the living room. Outside, a bleak drizzle dotted his picture window, but he went to it anyway and stared unseeing at the view of his cul-de-sac below. Eventually, he found himself back in the kitchen. Apparently he'd eaten some crackers and cheese-the crumbs littered the table in front of him. He scooped them into his hand, dropped them in the sink, and punched the message light on his telephone.

The only call was from Dismas Hardy, wondering where he was, telling him that suddenly he had many questions, all of them more critical than the location of

Missy D'Amiens's car. They needed to talk. There'd already been a few developments in the first day of the trial that would affect him. But more than that, he needed to revisit what Abe had done to date.

Glitsky looked at the clock on his stove. Ten after one. There was some chance that Hardy wouldn't yet be back in court after lunch. In some obscure way, and despite his pure fatigue, Glitsky all at once became aware of a sharp spike in his motivation. Maybe the sense of impotence he'd experienced while unseen doctors performed tests on his newborn had upset his equilibrium. Or was it the fact that now there appeared to be a reasonable chance that his son would be all right? That sometimes a cause might appear lost, and that this appearance of hopelessness could be a stage on the route to success, or even redemption? All he knew was that it all seemed of a piece somehow. It was time to get back in this game.

And, a critical point, he could do it from his home. And in a way, conducting an investigation from his home would give him another advantage. There would be no reporters, nobody to witness what he was doing, to question who he might talk to. Rosen and Cuneo, busy in trial mode, would certainly never take any notice. Everything he did would remain under the radar, where he wanted it.

He reached for the telephone.

Hardy's pager told him to leave a number. He did that, then immediately placed another call to his own office. If and when Hardy called back, they'd coordinate their actions. In the meantime, Missy's car was a question even Glitsky had failed to ask. In fact, he realized, every strand of his failed investigation up until now had emanated from Paul Hanover-his business dealings, his politics, his personal life. To Glitsky's knowledge, neither he nor Hardy nor Cuneo nor anyone else involved in the case had given the time of day to Missy D'Amiens. She was just the mistress, then the fiancee, unimportant in her own right. But what if…?

At the very least it was somewhere he hadn't looked. And nowhere else had yielded any results. "Deputy Chief Glitsky's office." "Melissa, it's me."

"Abe." His secretary lowered her voice. "How are you? And Treya?"

"Both of us are pretty tired, but all right."

A pause. "And the baby? Tom"-Paganucci-"Tom said… "

Glitsky cut her off. "Zack's going to be fine."

"Zack? Of course, Tom didn't know what you called him." She was obviously spreading the news to the rest of his administrative staff. "His name is Zachary." Now she was back with him. "Thank God he's all right. We've all been sick here wondering."

"Well…" To avoid going into any more detail at the moment, Glitsky switched to business. "Listen, though, the reason I called…"

"You're not working, are you?"

"I'm trying to, Melissa. But you've got the computer. I'd like you to run a name and vehicle R.O."- registered owner-"for me. On a Michelle D'Amiens. D apostrophe…"

Hardy felt the vibration of the pager in his belt, but he was in the middle of an uncomfortable discussion with Catherine's husband. Hardy had originally intended to huddle with Catherine in the holding cell during the lunch recess, but had noticed that Mary and Will were the only family members who'd made it to the courtroom today, and he needed to talk to both of them. Separately. And sooner rather than later.

So he cut his time with Catherine short and was waiting at the defense table when the brother and sister got back from their lunch together. They had nearly a half hour before court would be back in session, so he walked back and said hello and asked Will if he could spare a minute, then Mary when he and Will were finished, if there was time. So, although obviously unhappy about this unexpected ambush-Will thought he knew what it was about, money, and he was right-he accompanied Hardy back up to his table inside the bullpen. Both men sat down.

"So," Will began with a not entirely convincing show of sincerity, "how can I help you?"

He'd given Hardy a retainer of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars eight months before. Between Hardy's hourly rate, the billable time his associates and paralegals had spent drafting motions and preparing briefs, the large and long-running newspaper advertisements to try and locate the girl who'd run out of gas in the Presidio, the fees for filings and his jury consultant and the private investigator Hardy had hired to find out the truth about Will and his secretary (an irony Will would certainly not have appreciated, had he known), the retainer was long gone. Now Will was past due on his last two monthly invoices, nearly forty thousand dollars.

"The point is," Hardy said, after a short recap and overview, "I don't want this billing issue to interfere with my defense, but we discussed this, you remember, when I first signed on. How it was going to get more expensive when it got to the trial."

"Not that it's exactly been cheap up until now."

"No. Granted. Murder trials are expensive. Even at the family-and-friends rates you're enjoying."

Will chuckled. "Enjoying. I like that."

Hardy shrugged. "I'd hope so, since it's saved you nearly sixty thousand dollars so far. But even so, I wanted to ask you if there was a financial problem. Frankly, it makes me uncomfortable to be here in the first days of the trial and have my client so far behind in payments."

"It's not that far, is it?"

"Sixty days." Hardy waved that off. "But that's not the issue. The issue is that I know you've come into quite a large sum of money recently. I'm assuming you've got significant cash flow, so that's not the problem. And meanwhile, I'm going ahead with my defense of your wife and you're not paying your legal bills."

"Well, I…"

"Please let me finish. I find this conversation as difficult as you do, believe me. But I told you coming in that my trial day fees are three times my normal billing rates, and at the time you said that sounded reasonable. It's still reasonable. But I want to tell you, you're going to get whiplash from sticker shock next month if you don't keep up on these monthly payments."

"Are you saying you're raising your rates now?"

"Not at all. It's all in the contract we signed last June. But the trial has started and that changes everything." Hardy leaned in closer and lowered his voice. "You may not realize it, Will, but it's standard practice among criminal attorneys to get the entire cost of the defense up front. You know why that is? Because a client who gets convicted often loses his motivation to pay his lawyer anymore. Now I didn't make that demand with you and Catherine because of the personal connection, but I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should have."

Will Hanover's eyes were flashing around the courtroom, and when they came back to Hardy, he'd obviously decided to be shocked and outraged. "You've got some balls trying to shake me down at a time like this. I've paid you a hundred and fifty thousand dollars already. Up front. If that's not good faith, I don't know what is."

"It was. Then," Hardy said. "This is now. And I wanted to put you on notice that it's becoming a big issue."

"Or what? You'll quit? You'd abandon Catherine over a late payment? You've got to be kidding me?"

Hardy didn't rise to the question. Instead, he said, "What might be easiest is if you provide another retainer like the first one…"

"You're out of your mind."

Hardy didn't pause. "… like the first one, to cover what you owe and get us through this month, if the trial goes on that long. And then to begin the appeals process, if we need it."

"If we need an appeal! In other words, if you lose."

"That's right." Hardy's voice was calm. "We won't need to appeal if we win."

"Well, I'm not writing you a check for another hundred and fifty thousand dollars on that off chance, I'll tell you that. And you can take that to the bank."

Hardy pushed himself away from the table, draped an arm over the back of his chair, and looked into the callow and handsome face. With an air of sadness, he came forward again. "Will. I know that you're through with Catherine, however this comes out. I appreciate you coming down here to trial and putting on the face of the good husband. But I also think I know why you're really doing it, and that's because you don't want to lose the respect of your kids."

Will shook his head in disgust. "I've had enough of this. You don't know what you're talking about." He started to stand up.

"I'm talking about Karyn Harris, Will. Your secretary."

Sitting back down, he said, "There's nothing between me and Karyn Harris."

Hardy nodded. "That's been the party line, anyway, that you've worked so hard to keep from your kids. You weren't having an affair. It was just Catherine who was crazed, right?"

"Right." Defiant still.

"And so to your kids, you're still the good guy, aren't you? The dad they can trust, who's holding the whole thing together?"

"That's right."

"But what if they found out you've been lying to them the whole time, too? How would they feel about that? About you?"

"I haven't been lying to them. There was no affair."

Hardy stared at him for several seconds. When he spoke, there was no threat to his voice or in his manner. It was more the measured tones of disappointment that things between them had come to this pass. "Will," he said. "Do yourself a favor. Take a look at the statements I've sent you over the past months. You're going to notice payments totaling about five grand to an entity called The Hunt Club. You know what that is? No? It's a private-investigator service."

Will's initial expression of disdain turned to disbelief and then a distillate of fear itself.

Hardy went on. "If you weren't having an affair, one of the things I considered early on was that you had the same motive to kill your father as Catherine did. You'd gone to some lengths to create an airtight alibi. You would have been perfect. So I had to know, you see, if you were really in San Francisco on May twelfth, or down south."

He let the words hang in the air between them. "Understand that I don't have to bring up any of this for Catherine's sake, and really never planned to. For my purposes, it's enough that Catherine believed you were being unfaithful, and suddenly she needed to go see Paul to find out where a divorce would leave her. But if you in fact were having this affair, and the jury knew it, they might view Catherine in a more sympathetic light. And all other things being equal, that's always to the good."

Will's hands were shaking; his color had gone gray. "You're blackmailing me," he said.

"I've had this for four months. If I was blackmailing you, I would have started then."

Will glanced back at the gallery, which had started to fill for the afternoon session. In the bullpen, the popular court reporter Jan Saunders was sharing a laugh with a bailiff. Several of the jurors had wandered back in and taken their seats. "Where is all this stuff?" he asked.

"Locked away," Hardy said. "No one ever has to see it. No one ever will."

Hardy kept his poker face straight. No one would ever see the documentation of Will's affair with his secretary because it didn't exist. The Hunt Club had come to the conclusion that Will and Karyn had spent their four days aboard the Kingfisher. The captain of that boat, Morgan

Bayley, wasn't talking-Hardy's private investigator was of the opinion that the newly wealthy Will Hanover had sent him a quiet bundle of cash to keep his mouth shut. And had given Karyn a nice raise.

Hardy was running a pure bluff, and wasn't one hundred percent sure he was right until Will stood up and growled down at him, "You'll get your fucking check by the weekend."

21

"Sergeant Cuneo, did you have a specific reason to question the defendant on the night of the fire?"

"Yes, I did."

"And what was that?"

"Well, I was called to the scene to investigate a double homicide. The defendant said that she was related to the owner of the house. That alone justified talking to her. But she also admitted that she'd been to the house that afternoon and had talked to Mr. Hanover."

"Did she say what they'd talked about?"

"At first, yes. She said they'd talked about family matters. But when I asked her if she could be more specific, she became evasive."

"Evasive?"

Hardy stood up with an objection. "Objection. Witness is offering a conclusion."

Braun overruled him, and Rosen barely noticed the

interruption. "When you asked the defendant to be more specific about these family matters, what did she say?"

"She asked why I wanted to know."

"And what did you tell her?"

"I said I was going to need to know everything that happened in Paul Hanover's last hours, which included what she'd talked to him about."

"And did she then go into the substance of her discussion with Mr. Hanover?"

"No. She did not."

"Did you specifically ask her about this?" "Yes. Probably half a dozen different ways." "And she did not answer?"

"Not the substance of the questions, no. She kept saying, 'It's private,' or 'That was between me and Paul,' or 'I can't think about that right now.' "

"Did you press her on this issue?"

"No, not really."

"Why not?"

"Because she was obviously distraught over the fire. She'd acted like she'd just learned that her father-in-law, her children's grandfather, was probably dead. She became very upset after a while. At the time, I thought she had a pretty good reason. I decided to let it go."

Hardy thought this was pretty good. Rosen letting Cuneo present himself as sensitive and empathetic. And now he was going on. "All right. Now, Inspector, did you have occasion to notice anything specific about the physical person of the defendant?"

"Of course. I'm supposed to notice things. It's my job. I checked out her clothes." "And what was she wearing?"

Hardy squirmed in his chair. He wanted to break this up, object on relevance, but he knew that Braun would overrule him. Catherine had been wearing what she'd been wearing and there wasn't anything he could do about that now.

"A blue blouse under a leather jacket. And jeans."

"Would you please tell the jury why you particularly recall the defendant's clothing that night?"

"Sure." Accommodating, Cuneo faced the panel. Hardy wondered if he might have taken a Valium or two during the lunch recess. There was little sign of the trademark jitteriness he'd exhibited before the break. "When we interviewed witnesses later, someone described a woman who had left Paul Hanover's house just before the fire wearing a blue blouse under a leather jacket and jeans."

"But you didn't know that on the night of the fire?"

"No."

Rosen wore his satisfaction on his sleeve. He paused for a drink of water, then came back to his witness. "Sergeant, we may as well address this question now. Did you make a comment to Inspector Becker about the defendant's attractiveness?"

Cuneo handled it well. They'd obviously rehearsed carefully. He shrugged with an almost theatrical eloquence. "I may have. I don't remember specifically, but if Inspector Becker said I said something of that nature, I probably did."

"Does a remark like that seem out of place to you in that context? At the scene of a fire and double murder?"

"I don't know. I don't even remember saying it or thinking about it. It was a nonevent."

"All right, Sergeant, moving along. On the day after the fire, did you see the defendant?"

"Yes. I went to her house."

"And what was your specific purpose on that visit?"

"I had two reasons. First, she'd mentioned the night before that the victims had been fighting, and I wanted to find out a little more about that. Second, I wanted to get some answers about the family issues she'd talked to him about."

"At that time, did you consider her a suspect?"

Here Cuneo showed a little humanity to the jury, another nice move. "That early on," he said with a smile, "everybody's a suspect." Then he got serious. "But no, the defendant wasn't particularly a suspect at that time."

"Okay, and did you get to ask your questions?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because right after she asked me inside and offered me some coffee, she told me that she'd been talking to Deputy Chief Glitsky."

"For the record, you mean Abe Glitsky, San Francisco's Deputy Chief of Inspectors?"

"That's right."

"How did he know the defendant?" "I don't know."

Rosen threw a perplexed glance at the jury. He came back to his witness.

"Inspector, is it unusual to have a deputy chief personally interview witnesses in a homicide investigation assigned to another inspector?"

"I've never seen it happen before."

"Never before? Not once?"

Hardy raised a hand. "Your Honor. Asked and answered." "Sustained."

"All right," Rosen said. "We may come back to the involvement of Deputy Chief Glitsky in a little while, but meanwhile you were with the defendant in her kitchen?"

"That's right."

"Can you describe for the jury what happened next?"

"Sure. She was in the middle of making homemade pasta noodles and she asked me if I liked them. Her husband, she said, was out of town…"

Catherine grabbed at Hardy's arm and started to whisper something to him. He couldn't let the jury see her react badly, and he all but jumped up, raising his voice. "Objection, Your Honor!"

Braun's voice was mild, merely inquisitive. "Grounds, Counselor?"

Hardy's thoughts churned. He had gotten to his feet to shut Catherine up and to challenge Cuneo out of pure rage because he knew the man was lying, but these weren't grounds for objection. "Relevance?"

Braun didn't have to think about it. "Are you guessing, Counselor? I believe you've made a point about this topic yourself in your opening statement. Objection overruled."

The gallery behind Hardy stirred at the promise of more fireworks. Rosen smiled up at Braun. "Thank you, Your Honor." He went back to Cuneo, all business. "Now, Inspector…"

But Hardy whispered quickly to his client and was again out of his seat, cutting off the question. "Your Honor!"

Making no effort to hide her exasperation, Braun pulled her glasses down and peered over them. "Yes, Mr.

Hardy?"

"Defendant would like to request a short recess at this time."

"Request denied. Mr. Rosen, go ahead."

But Hardy wouldn't be denied. "Your Honor, may I approach?"

Her endurance all but used up, Braun rolled her eyes, then folded her palm upward, beckoning Hardy forward with a warning look. He left the desk, came to the base of the podium, spoke in a low voice. "I'm sorry, but my client urgently needs to use the restroom, Your Honor."

"Urgently. That's a nice touch," she whispered. Furious, the judge paused for several more seconds. "This is beneath you, Counselor." Finally she lifted her gavel and brought it down with a snap. "Court will recess for fifteen minutes."

"I can't believe he's just lying like that." "Actually, it's worse than that. He's not saying anything you can deny."

"But I didn't…"

"You did. You told him Will was gone. You asked him if he liked homemade pasta. You've told me this." "Then I'll lie and say I didn't."

Hardy moved his hands up beside his ears. "Don't even privately say that to me, please. We have got to stick with the truth here. It's all we have."

They were in the holding cell, five minutes to go in the recess.

"But they're going to think I wanted to get him close to me so he wouldn't keep investigating around me."

"That's right. That's what they're going to think."

"So how are we going to fight that?"

"I don't know that yet, Catherine. I don't know. But the most important thing right now, the only thing right now, is that you can't react in front of the jury. Don't let them see you do more than look disgusted."

In the end, Hardy couldn't keep it from the jury. Cu-neo's testimony was that Catherine had offered him at least dinner and maybe more. He'd certainly gotten that impression, anyway. He'd had to rebuff her, reminding her that she was a suspect in a murder investigation. She did not take the rejection well and, scorned, had refused to answer any more of his questions. After a while, he'd decided to leave. For the first time, he began to regard her as a possible suspect.

And then, the damage done on that front, Rosen brought it back to Glitsky. "I'm curious, Inspector, did Deputy Chief Glitsky give you any explanation of why he, too, would be investigating the death of Paul Hanover?"

Hardy stood up. "Objection. Hearsay and irrelevant." "Mr. Rosen?"

"Your Honor, this goes to Deputy Chief Glitsky's bias and motive to skew testimony in this case. If he perceives he's under political pressure to obtain a certain result in this case, his recollection, conduct and testimony are all highly suspect."

"Your Honor," Hardy countered, "the deputy chief hasn't testified-he's not a witness so far, so there is nothing to impeach. This testimony, if relevant at all, only comes in after the witness says something that makes it relevant. If that happens later, then it happens, but it's premature right now." Hardy knew he was going to have to face this sooner or later, but he wanted Abe to bring it up first. Have him explain his status in the case in his own terms first, and not take the stand already burdened with the jury's preconception that he was somehow suspect. Hardy knew he was right-that Braun should have waited until there was a foundation to admit the testimony. But she wasn't having any.

The judge took a breath. "Counsel, given what I've heard so far, I'm going to let this in now, subject to a motion to strike. But you're on a short leash here, Mr. Rosen. Keep this very focused."