Michael Connelly: The Wrong Side of Goodbye

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Michael Connelly The Wrong Side of Goodbye
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    The Wrong Side of Goodbye
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The Wrong Side of Goodbye: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Harry Bosch is working as a part-time detective in the town of San Fernando outside of Los Angeles, when he gets the invitation to meet with the ageing aviation billionaire Whitney Vance. When he was eighteen Vance had a relationship with a Mexican girl called Vibiana Duarte, but soon after becoming pregnant she disappeared. Now, as he reaches the end of his life, Vance wants to know what happened to Vibiana and whether there is an heir to his vast fortune. And Bosch is the only person he trusts to undertake the assignment. Harry’s aware that with such sums of money involved, this could be a dangerous undertaking — not just for himself, but for the person he’s looking for — but as he begins to uncover Vibiana’s tragic story, and finds uncanny links to his own past, he knows he cannot rest until he finds the truth.

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There were two photos of Vance with Larry King, the longtime interviewer of celebrities and newsmakers on CNN. In the first, Vance and King were seated across from each other in the studio recognizable as King’s set for more than two decades. There was a book standing upright on the desk between them. In the second photo Vance was using a gold pen to autograph the book for King. Bosch got up and went to the wall to look more closely at the photos. He put on his glasses and leaned in close to the first photo so he could read the title of the book Vance was promoting on the show.

STEALTH: The Making of the Disappearing Plane By Whitney P. Vance

The title jogged loose a memory and Bosch recalled something about Whitney Vance writing a family history that the critics trashed more for what was left out than for what it contained. His father, Nelson Vance, had been a ruthless businessman and controversial political figure in his day. He was said but never proven to be a member of a cabal of wealthy industrialists who were supporters of eugenics — the so-called science of improving the human race through controlled breeding that would eliminate undesirable attributes. After the Nazis employed a similar perverted doctrine to carry out genocide in World War II, people like Nelson Vance hid their beliefs and affiliations.

His son’s book amounted to little more than a vanity project full of hero worship, with little mention of the negatives. Whitney Vance had become such a recluse in his later life that the book became a reason to bring him out into public light and ask him about the things omitted.

“Mr. Bosch?”

Bosch turned from the photos to a woman standing by the entrance to a hallway on the other side of the room. She looked to be almost seventy years old and had her gray hair in a no-nonsense bun on top of her head.

“I’m Mr. Vance’s secretary, Ida,” she said. “He will see you now.”

Bosch followed her into the hallway. They walked for a distance that seemed like a city block before going up a short set of stairs to another hallway, this one traversing a wing of the mansion built on a higher slope of the hill.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Ida said.

“It’s okay,” Bosch said. “I enjoyed checking out the photos.”

“A lot of history there.”


“Mr. Vance is looking forward to seeing you.”

“Great. I’ve never met a billionaire before.”

His graceless remark ended the conversation. It was as though his mention of money was entirely crass and uncouth in a mansion built as a monument to money.

Finally they arrived at a set of double doors and Ida ushered Bosch into Whitney Vance’s home office.

The man Bosch had come to see was sitting behind a desk, his back to an empty fireplace big enough to take shelter in during a tornado. With a thin hand so white it looked like he was wearing a Latex glove, he motioned for Bosch to come forward.

Bosch stepped up to the desk, and Vance pointed to the lone leather chair in front of it. He made no offer to shake Bosch’s hand. As he sat, Bosch noticed that Vance was in a wheelchair with electric controls extending from the left armrest. He saw the desk was clear of work product except for a single white piece of paper that was either blank or had its contents facedown on the polished dark wood.

“Mr. Vance,” Bosch said. “How are you?”

“I’m old — that’s how I am,” Vance said. “I have fought like hell to defeat time but some things can’t be beat. It is hard for a man in my position to accept, but I am resigned, Mr. Bosch.”

He gestured with that bony white hand again, taking in all of the room with a sweep.

“All of this will soon be meaningless,” he said.

Bosch glanced around in case there was something Vance wanted him to see. There was a sitting area to the right with a long white couch and matching chairs. There was an office bar that a host could slip behind if necessary. There were paintings on two walls that were merely splashes of color.

Bosch looked back at Vance, and the old man offered the lopsided smile Bosch had seen in the photos in the waiting room, the upward curve on only the left side. Vance couldn’t complete a full smile. According to the photos Bosch had seen, he never could.

Bosch didn’t quite know how to respond to the old man’s words about death and meaninglessness. Instead, he just pressed on with an introduction he had thought about repeatedly since meeting with Creighton.

“Well, Mr. Vance, I was told you wanted to see me, and you have paid me quite a bit of money to be here. It may not be a lot to you, but it is to me. What can I do for you, sir?”

Vance cut the smile and nodded.

“A man who gets right to the point,” he said. “I like that.”

He reached to his chair’s controls and moved closer to the desk.

“I read about you in the newspaper,” he said. “Last year, I believe. The case with that doctor and the shoot-out. You seemed to me like a man who stands his ground, Mr. Bosch. They put a lot of pressure on you but you stood up to it. I like that. I need that. There’s not a lot of it around anymore.”

“What do you want me to do?” Bosch asked again.

“I want you to find someone for me,” Vance said. “Someone who might never have existed.”


After intriguing Bosch with his request Vance used a shaky left hand to flip over the piece of paper on his desk and told Bosch he would have to sign it before they discussed anything further.

“It is a nondisclosure form,” he explained. “My lawyer said it is ironclad. Your signature guarantees that you will not reveal the contents of our discussion or your subsequent investigation to anyone but me. Not even an employee of mine, not even someone who says they have come to you on my behalf. Only me, Mr. Bosch. If you sign this document, you answer only to me. You report any findings of your investigation only to me. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I understand,” Bosch said. “I have no problem signing it.”

“Very good, then. I have a pen here.”

Vance pushed the document across the desk, then drew a pen from an ornate gold holder on his desk. It was a fountain pen that felt heavy in Bosch’s hand because it was thick and made of what he presumed was real gold. It reminded Bosch of the pen Vance used in the photo to sign the book for Larry King.

He quickly scanned the document and then signed it. He put the pen down on top of it and pushed both back across the desk to Vance. The old man placed the document in the desk drawer and closed it. He held the pen up for Bosch to study.

“This pen was made with gold my great-grandfather prospected in the Sierra Nevada goldfields in 1852,” he said. “That was before the competition up there forced him to head south. Before he realized that there was more to be made from iron than from gold.”

He turned the pen in his hand.

“It was passed on from generation to generation,” he said. “I’ve had it since I left home for college.”

Vance studied the pen as if seeing it for the first time. Bosch said nothing. He wondered if Vance suffered from any sort of diminished mental capacity and if the old man’s desire to have him find somebody who may never have existed was some sort of indication of a failing mind.

“Mr. Vance?” he asked.

Vance put the pen back into its holder and looked at Bosch.

“I have no one to give it to,” he said. “No one to give any of this to.”

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