Michael Connelly: The Late Show

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Michael Connelly The Late Show
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The Late Show: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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CRIME NEVER SLEEPS. Los Angeles can be a dangerous city — never more so than in the dead of night. Detective Renée Ballard, once one of the department’s young hotshots, now works ‘The Late Show’, the notorious graveyard shift at the LAPD. It’s a thankless job keeping strange hours in a twilight world of tragedy and violence, handing over her investigations as the sun rises, never getting closure. Some nights are worse than others. And tonight is the worst yet. Two cases: a brutal assault, and a multiple murder with no suspect. Ballard knows it is always darkest before dawn. But what she doesn’t know is how deep her dual investigation will take her into the dark heart of her city, her department and her past...

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Michael Connelly

The Late Show

In Honor of Sgt. Steve Owen

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Executed, shot through the badge, October 5, 2016


Ballard and Jenkins rolled up on the house on El Centro shortly before midnight. It was the first call of the shift. There was already a patrol cruiser at the curb out front and Ballard recognized the two blue suiters standing on the front porch of the bungalow with a gray-haired woman in a bathrobe. John Stanley was the shift’s senior lead officer — the street boss — and his partner was Jacob Ross.

“I think this one’s yours,” Jenkins said.

They had found in their two-year partnership that Ballard was the better of the two at working with female victims. It wasn’t that Jenkins was an ogre but Ballard was more understanding of the emotions of female victims. The opposite was true when they rolled up on a case with a male victim.

“Roger that,” Ballard said.

They got out of the car and headed toward the lighted porch. Ballard carried her rover in her hand. As they went up the three steps, Stanley introduced them to the woman. Her name was Leslie Anne Lantana and she was seventy-seven years old. Ballard didn’t think there was going to be much for them to do here. Most burglaries amounted to a report, maybe a call for the fingerprint car to come by if they got lucky and saw some indication that the thief had touched surfaces from which latent prints were likely to be pulled.

“Mrs. Lantana got a fraud alert e-mail tonight saying someone attempted to charge a purchase on Amazon to her credit card,” Stanley said.

“But it wasn’t you,” Ballard said to Mrs. Lantana, stating the obvious.

“No, it was on the card I keep for emergencies and I never use it online,” Lantana said. “That’s why the purchase was flagged. I use a different card for Amazon.”

“Okay,” Ballard said. “Did you call the credit-card company?”

“First I went to check on the card to see if I’d lost it, and I found my wallet was missing from my purse. It’s been stolen.”

“Any idea where or when it was stolen?”

“I went to Ralphs for my groceries yesterday, so I know I had my wallet then. After that I came home and I haven’t gone out.”

“Did you use a credit card to pay?”

“No, cash. I always pay cash at Ralphs. But I did pull out my Ralphs card to get the savings.”

“Do you think you could’ve left your wallet at Ralphs? Maybe at the cash register when you pulled out the card?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’m very careful about my things. My wallet and my purse. And I’m not senile.”

“I didn’t mean to suggest that, ma’am. I’m just asking questions.”

Ballard moved in another direction, even though she wasn’t convinced that Lantana had not left her wallet behind at Ralphs, where it could have been snatched by anybody.

“Who lives here with you, ma’am?” she asked.

“No one,” Lantana said. “I live alone. Except for Cosmo. He’s my dog.”

“Since you got back from Ralphs yesterday, has anyone knocked on your door or been in the house?”

“No, nobody.”

“And no friends or relatives visited?”

“No, but they wouldn’t have taken my wallet if they had come by.”

“Of course, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise. I’m just trying to get an idea of comings and goings. So you’re saying you have been home the whole time since Ralphs?”

“Yes, I’ve been home.”

“What about Cosmo? Do you walk Cosmo?”

“Sure, twice a day. But I lock the house when I go out and I don’t go far. He’s an old dog and I’m not getting any younger myself.”

Ballard smiled sympathetically.

“Do you take these walks at the same time every day?”

“Yes, we keep a schedule. It’s better for the dog.”

“About how long are your walks?”

“Thirty minutes in the morning and usually a little longer in the afternoon. Depending on how we feel.”

Ballard nodded. She knew that all it would have taken for a thief cruising the area south of Santa Monica was to spot the woman walking her dog and follow her home. He’d keep watch to determine if she lived alone and then come back the next day at the same time when she took the dog out again. Most people didn’t realize that their simplest routines made them vulnerable to predators. A practiced thief would be in and out of the house in ten minutes tops.

“Have you looked around to see if anything else is missing, ma’am?” Ballard asked.

“Not yet,” Lantana said. “I called the police as soon as I knew my wallet was gone.”

“Well, let’s go in and take a quick look around and see if you notice anything else missing,” Ballard said.

While Ballard escorted Lantana through the house, Jenkins went to check whether the lock on the back door had been tampered with. In Lantana’s bedroom, there was a dog on a sleeping cushion. He was a boxer mix and his face was white with age. His shining eyes tracked Ballard but he did not get up. He was too old. He emitted a deep-chested growl.

“Everything’s all right, Cosmo,” Lantana assured him.

“What is he, boxer and what?” Ballard asked.

“Ridgeback,” Lantana said. “We think.”

Ballard wasn’t sure whether the “we” referred to Lantana and the dog or somebody else. Maybe Lantana and her veterinarian.

The old woman finished her survey of the house with a look through her jewelry drawer and reported that nothing other than the wallet seemed to be missing. It made Ballard think about Ralphs again, or that the burglar possibly thought he had less time than he actually had to go through the house.

Jenkins rejoined them and said there were no indications that the lock on the front or back door had been picked, jimmied, or in any other way tampered with.

“When you walked the dog, did you see anything unusual on the street?” Ballard asked the old woman. “Anybody out of place?”

“No, nothing unusual,” Lantana said.

“Is there any construction on the street? Workers hanging around?”

“No, not around here.”

Ballard asked Lantana to show her the e-mail notice she had received from the credit-card company. They went to a small nook in the kitchen, where Lantana had a laptop computer, a printer, and filing trays stacked with envelopes. It was obviously the home station, where she took care of paying bills and online ordering. Lantana sat down and pulled up the email alert on her computer screen. Ballard leaned over her shoulder to read it. She then asked Lantana to call the credit-card company again.

Lantana made the call on a wall phone with a long cord that stretched to the nook. Eventually the phone was handed to Ballard and she stepped into the hallway with Jenkins, pulling the cord to its full extension. She was talking to a fraud alert specialist with an English-Indian accent. Ballard identified herself as a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department and asked for the shipping address that had been entered for the credit-card purchase before it was rejected as possibly fraudulent. The fraud alert specialist said he could not provide that information without court approval.

“What do you mean?” Ballard asked. “You are the fraud alert specialist, right? This was fraud, and if you give me the address, I might be able to do something about it.”

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