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Epub ISBN: 9781473536234

Version 1.0

Published by Century 2017

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Copyright © James Patterson 2017
Excerpt from 16th Seduction © James Patterson 2017
Cover photo of Chicago © Alamy
Figure © Colin Thomas

James Patterson has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this Work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This is a work of fiction. All characters and descriptions of events are the products of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons is entirely coincidental

First published by Century in 2017

Century
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www.penguin.co.uk

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Century is part of the Penguin Random House group of companies whose addresses can be found at global.penguinrandomhouse.com

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 9781780895314

Contents

About the Book
About the Authors
Also by James Patterson
Title Page
The Present
One
Two
The Past
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine
Ten
Eleven
Twelve
Thirteen
Fourteen
Fifteen
Sixteen
Seventeen
Eighteen
Nineteen
The Present
Twenty
Twenty-One
Twenty-Two
Twenty-Three
Twenty-Four
Twenty-Five
Twenty-Six
The Past
Twenty-Seven
Twenty-Eight
Twenty-Nine
Thirty
Thirty-One
Thirty-Two
Thirty-Three
Thirty-Four
Thirty-Five
Thirty-Six
Thirty-Seven
Thirty-Eight
Thirty-Nine
Forty
Forty-One
Forty-Two
Forty-Three
Forty-Four
Forty-Five
Forty-Six
Forty-Seven
The Present
Forty-Eight
Forty-Nine
Fifty
Fifty-One
Fifty-Two
Fifty-Three
The Past
Fifty-Four
Fifty-Five
Fifty-Six
Fifty-Seven
Fifty-Eight
Fifty-Nine
Sixty
Sixty-One
Sixty-Two
The Present
Sixty-Three
Sixty-Four
Sixty-Five
Sixty-Six
The Past
Sixty-Seven
Sixty-Eight
Sixty-Nine
Seventy
Seventy-One
Seventy-Two
Seventy-Three
Seventy-Four
Seventy-Five
Seventy-Six
Seventy-Seven
Seventy-Eight
Seventy-Nine
Eighty
Eighty-One
The Present
Eighty-Two
Eighty-Three
Eighty-Four
Eighty-Five
Eighty-Six
Eighty-Seven
Eighty-Eight
Eighty-Nine
Ninety
Ninety-One
Ninety-Two
Ninety-Three
Ninety-Four
Past and Present
Ninety-Five
Ninety-Six
Ninety-Seven
Ninety-Eight
Ninety-Nine
One Hundred
One Hundred One
One Hundred Two
One Hundred Three
One Hundred Four
One Hundred Five
One Hundred Six
One Hundred Seven
One Hundred Eight
One Hundred Nine
Read more

Also by James Patterson

STAND-ALONE THRILLERS

The Thomas Berryman Number

Sail (with Howard Roughan)
Swimsuit (with Maxine Paetro)
Don’t Blink (with Howard Roughan)
Postcard Killers (with Liza Marklund)

Toys (with Neil McMahon)

Now You See Her (with Michael Ledwidge)
Kill Me If You Can (with Marshall Karp)

Guilty Wives (with David Ellis)

Zoo (with Michael Ledwidge)
Second Honeymoon (with Howard Roughan)

Mistress (with David Ellis)
Invisible (with David Ellis)
Truth or Die (with Howard Roughan)
Murder House (with David Ellis)
Woman of God (with Maxine Paetro)

Hide and Seek

Humans, Bow Down (with Emily Raymond)

A list of more titles by James Patterson can be found at the back of this book

THE PRESENT

ONE

PATTI HARNEY STOPS her unmarked sedan two blocks shy of her destination, the narrow streets packed with patrol cars, the light bars on top of the units shooting a chaos of color into the night. Must be twenty squad cars at least.

Patti ditches her car, puts the lanyard around her neck, her star dangling over her T-shirt. The air outside is unseasonably cold for early April. Still, Patti feels nothing but heat.

She runs a block before reaching the yellow tape of the outside perimeter, the first officer stepping forward to stop her, then seeing her star and letting her pass. She doesn’t know that perimeter cop, and he doesn’t know her. All the better.

Getting closer now. The sweat stinging her eyes, the T-shirt wet against her chest despite the cold, her nerves jangling.

She knows the condo building even without following the trail of police officers to the place where they’re gathered under the awning outside. One of those cops—a detective, like Patti—recognizes her, and his face immediately softens.

“Oh, Jesus, Patti—”

She rushes past him into the lobby of the building. It’s more like a funeral than a crime scene, officers and plainclothes detectives with their eyes dropped, anguished, their faces tear-streaked, some consoling each other. No time for that.

She works her way toward the elevator, casting her eyes into the corners of the lobby for security cameras—old habit, instinct, like breathing—then sees a group of techies, members of the Forensic Services Division, working the elevator, dusting it for prints, and she spins in her gym shoes and pushes through the door to the stairs. She knows it’s on the sixth floor. She knows which apartment.

She takes the stairs two at a time, her chest burning, her legs giving out, a riot breaking out in her stomach. Woozy and panicked, she stops on the third-floor landing, alone among the chaos, and squats down for a moment, grabbing her hair, collecting herself, her body trembling, her tears falling in fat drops onto the concrete.

You have to do this, she tells herself.

She motors up the remaining stairs, her legs rubbery, her chest burning, before she pushes through the door to the sixth floor.

Up here, it’s all business, photographs being taken, evidence technicians doing their thing, blue suits interviewing neighbors, and Ramsey from the ME’s office.

She takes a step, then another, but it’s as if she isn’t moving forward at all, gaining no ground, like she’s in some circus house of horrors—

“Can’t go in there.”

“Patti.”

“Detective Harney. Patti!”

A hand taking hold of her arm. As if in slow motion, her eyes move across the face of the Wiz, the bushy mustache, the round face, the smell of cigar—

“Patti, I’m—Mary, mother of God—I’m so sorry.”

“He’s … he’s …” She can’t bring herself to finish the sentence.

“They all are,” he says. “I’m sorry as hell to be the one to say it.”

She shakes her head, tries to wrangle her arm free.

“You can’t go in there, Patti. Not yet.”

The Wiz angles himself in front of her, blocking her from the door.

She finds the words somehow. “I’m a … I know how to … handle a crime scene.”

A crime scene. Like this is just another act of violence she would encounter in the course of her job.

“Not this one, Detective. Not yet. Give us a chance to—Patti, c’mon—”

She bats away his hands, drives him backwards. He struggles for a moment before he braces her shoulders.

“Patti, please,” he says. “Nobody should see their brother like this.”

She looks into his eyes, not really seeing him, trying to process everything, thinking that he’s right, that she doesn’t want to see him, because if she doesn’t see him he won’t be dead, he won’t really be gone—

The ding of the elevator.

But—the elevator’s been taken out of service. The boys with FSD were dusting it. Who’s using the elevator? Someone must have pulled rank—

Oh—

“Chief of Ds is here,” someone says.

She looks over Wizniewski’s shoulder.

The tall, angular figure, those long strides, the beak nose—which she did not inherit.

“Dad,” she says, the word garbled in her throat, feeling every ounce of control vanishing.

Her father, chief of detectives Daniel Harney, a sport coat thrown over a rumpled shirt, his thinning hair uncombed, his eyes already shadowed. “Baby,” he says, his arms opening. “Oh, my little angel.”

“Is it true, Dad?” she speaks into his chest as he holds her tight, as if he would know, as if she’s a toddler again, looking to her father for all the answers in the universe.

“I want to see him,” says her father, not to her but to Wizniewski. He locks arms with Patti, as if escorting her down the aisle, and turns toward the door.

“I understand, sir,” says the Wiz, “but it’s—it’s not—brace yourself, sir.”

Her father looks down on her, his face bunched up, a dam holding back a storm. She nods back to him.

His voice breaks as he says, “Lead the way, Lieutenant.”

TWO

SHE CLICKS OFF something in her mind and flicks on a different switch. She will be clinical. She will be a detective, not a sister. She will view a crime scene, not her dead twin brother. Clutching, clinging with all her might to her father’s arm, stepping onto the tiled entryway of the condo.

She knows the place. It opens into a great room, a small kitchen to the left, bedroom and bathroom in the back. Pretty standard high-rise condo in Chicago, anyway, but she knows this one in particular. She’s been here before.

The first time was yesterday.

The apartment goes immediately silent, as if someone raised a hand for quiet. Everyone busy at work dusting or photographing or collecting samples or talking—everyone stops as the chief of Ds and his daughter, a detective in her own right, enter the room.

Patti does her detective thing. No sign of struggle in the front room, the main room. Furniture in place, the tile shiny and clean, no sign of activity other than what the detectives and technicians are doing.

Someone had turned the air conditioner on full blast, the air good and cool, which should moderate lividity—

Lividity. My brother’s dead body.

“It’s in the bedroom,” says Wizniewski, leading the way. “Now, I can’t let you go in there, Chief, you understand that. You’re the immediate family of one of the—”

“I just want to see. I won’t walk in, Lieutenant.” Her father, in that precise, resolute way he has of speaking, though she is probably the only one who recognizes the tremor in his voice.

Patti’s eyes moving about, seeing nothing. Amy kept a clean apartment. She’s seen, in her time, plenty of attempts to clean up a crime scene, and this shows no signs of recent scrubbing or spraying or incomplete attempts to wipe away smears or vacuum up debris. No violence happened in the great room or the kitchen.

Everything that happened happened inside the bedroom.

Red crime-scene tape, the inner perimeter, blocking access to the bedroom.

Her father delicately positions himself ahead of Patti, a protective gesture, allowing him the first look inside the bedroom. He leans over the red tape, takes a deep breath, and turns to his right to look inside.

He immediately squeezes his eyes shut and turns away, holding his breath, immobile. He swallows hard, opens his eyes—now deadened, filled with horror—and turns back and looks again.

He murmurs, “What in God’s name happened here?”

She hears Wizniewski breathe a heavy sigh. “The position of the bodies, everything—it looks pretty much like what it looks like, sir.”

Patti steels herself and angles past her father, looking into the room.

Three dead bodies. Kate—Detective Katherine Fenton—lying dead on the carpet, her eyes staring vacantly at the ceiling, a single gunshot wound over her right eye. A pretty clean shot, only a trickle of blood running from the wound, the rest of the blood following gravity’s pull, probably leaving through the exit wound in the back of her skull, soaking the carpet beneath her, obscured by her auburn hair. Her Glock pistol lying just outside the reach of her left hand.

She focuses on Kate—not because she’s never seen a dead body (she’s seen dozens), and not because she liked Kate (she didn’t), but because it’s preferable to what else there is to see in the room, something that thus far has only leaked into her peripheral vision.

Two bodies on the bed—her brother Billy and Amy Lentini, each of them naked. Amy with a GSW to the heart, a single shot. Her body sprawled out, her head almost falling off the bed’s left side, a large bloodstain barely visible behind Amy, where she bled out.

And then—

Billy. She fixes on him, her heart drumming furiously, heat spreading across her body as she looks at her twin brother sitting upright on the bed, blood streaked down the right side of his face, his head lolled to the side, his eyes closed and peaceful.

Take away the blood, the wound, and he could just as easily be sleeping. He could do that in a way she never could. She’s always had to sleep on her side, a pillow between her legs. Not Billy. He could sleep all night in a chair or sitting up in bed. He could catch some shut-eye in the middle of geometry class without making a single sound, without snoring or jerking or anything that would give him away—he could sleep in secret just as he could live in secret, just as he could do just about anything in secret. He could hide his fears, his emotions, his thoughts, his sorrows behind that implacable, genial expression of his. She was the only one who knew that about him. She was the only one who understood him.

You’re just sleeping, Billy.

Please. It’s me, Billy, c’mon. Pop open those eyes and say, “Surprise!”

Please be sleeping.

“Too early to know, of course,” Wizniewski says to her father. “Sure looks like Detective Fenton walked in—on this, on them—and opened fire. Billy shot back. They killed each other. A fuckin’ shoot-out at the OK Corral right here in the bedroom.”

“Ah, Jesus.”

No, Patti thinks to herself. That’s not what happened here.

Her legs giving out, her head dizzy. An arm pulling her away, her father, and just as much as she dreaded seeing Billy, even more so now she dreads taking her eyes off him.

Her father pulls Patti back into the main room. The officers all stop what they’re doing and stare at father and daughter as if they were museum exhibits.

Behind Patti, medical personnel slip past and head into the bedroom with body bags.

Body bags. She can’t stomach the thought.

“We do this by the book,” her father says to the room. “That’s my son in there, yes, but he was a cop. Before anything else, he was a cop. A damn fine one. Honor him and Detective Fenton by doing this case right. By the book, people. No mistakes. No shortcuts. Be at your best. And get me—”

Her father chokes up. Solemn nods all around. Patti’s chest is burning, so hot she struggles to breathe.

“Get me a solve,” her father finishes. “Solve this crime.”

Suddenly feeling claustrophobic, Patti turns and heads for the door. This isn’t real, she decides. This didn’t happen.

“Oh, my God.”

Just as she’s at the door, she hears the words. Not from her father. Not from any of the officers in the main room.

From the medical personnel in the bedroom.

“We have a pulse! We have a pulse!” the man shouts. “This one’s still alive!”

THE PAST

THREE

DETECTIVE BILLY HARNEY rubbed his hands, his breath lingering, frozen, in front of him, a wispy reminder of how cold Chicago can be in the middle of March. Three hours was long enough inside the SUV. He hated stakeouts. Even though this one was his idea. His case.

It started with a dead undergrad, a junior at U of C. The area around the campus—Hyde Park—had some rough spots, and everyone chalked up the murder to urban violence. But they didn’t know what Billy knew from a download of the data on her cell phone—that this young woman made money in her spare time as an escort. She worked through an Internet site that was taken down the day after her death, but her text messages indicated that she had one particular client who had some unusual needs and was willing to pay top dollar for them.

In a nutshell, he liked to choke her during sex.

He was a trader, married with kids, who made more money in a week than Billy made in two years. The kind of guy who could buy an army of top-shelf lawyers to defend him. Billy wanted this asshole to drop his guard, to relax, so he leaked some news that a suspect was in custody for the undergrad’s murder, that it looked like another garden-variety attack in Hyde Park. And then Billy followed the scumbag trader.

Precisely one week ago, at 9:00 p.m., the trader entered the brownstone down the street. Billy got him on video but wasn’t sure what was happening inside, so he laid low. A little recon work told him that this place was a high-rent brothel.

So assuming that this guy had a regular appointment—and Billy was willing to lay down good money that he did—tonight should be the night. Catch him with his pants down and offer a simple trade: no arrest for the prostitution if you answer a few questions about a dead undergrad. Billy could take it from there. Always better to start a Q and A with the subject sweating his ass off and eager to please.

He pushed back the sleeve of his overcoat and checked his watch. Half past eight. He blew warm air into his hands.

“Sosh, how we doin’?” he said into his radio to Soscia, the cop in one of the other vehicles, two blocks down, staking out the brownstone from the east.

The response came through Billy’s wireless earbud. “Ready, willing, and able,” Sosh said. “Just like your sister.”

“My sister wouldn’t touch you with a six-foot pole. And neither would Stanislowski.”

“Who the fuck is Stanislowski?”

“A six-foot Pole.”

“Harney, get back in the car.” This from his partner, Katherine Fenton, sitting in the warm car just next to him.

“Sosh, how’s your rook holding up?” Soscia had a new detective working with him, a nice kid named Reynolds. “You know I bought him lunch today.”

“Yeah, I fuckin’ know. He said putting extra pinto beans on the burrito was your idea. And I’ve been stuck in this truck with him for three hours.”

Billy smirked. Stakeouts weren’t all bad. “Hey, Crowley, you still awake?”

The third car, Crowley and Benson.

“Yeah, just dyin’ from all this excitement. How many cops does it take to rope one lowlife?”

Sosh and Crowley had both raised that point. But this was the hoity-toity part of town, the Gold Coast, and he didn’t need any mistakes. He wanted old hands like Sosh and Crowley on this.

“What, Crowley, you got somewhere better to be? I know your old lady isn’t home, ’cause she’s in the car with Sosh right now.”

“Well, then, Sosh won’t be getting no action, neither.”

It was freakin’ cold out here. Ten minutes out of the car and he felt the sting in his toes. “Hey, Fenton,” he said to his partner. “What do you call a clairvoyant midget who escapes police custody?”

He opened the passenger door and climbed into the warm SUV. Detective Fenton—Kate—shot him a sidelong glance.

“A small medium at large,” said Billy.

Sosh liked that one. Kate not so much.

“Hey.” Billy stiffened in his seat. “Two o’clock. Our first action.”

“Right.” Kate talked into her radio. “White male traveling northbound on Astor in a brown coat, brown cap.”

Katie, Billy thought to himself, always so intense, so keyed up. He’s the only person out here walking; they can probably spot him.

But he let it go. Telling Kate to calm down was like throwing a match on a pool of gasoline. “You got him, Crowley?”

“Aw, yeah. He’s smilin’ nice and pretty for the camera.”

“I know that guy,” said Fenton. “Right? That’s that guy from that show.”

“What show—”

“That show—that movie-critic thing … Front Row or something.”

“Right.” He’d seen it. The Front Row with … couldn’t place the name. “We should arrest him for that alone.”

“Yeah, it is—that’s him,” said Sosh. “Brady Wilson.”

They sat tight as the film critic waltzed up the steps of the brownstone. Before he pressed the buzzer, a man in a dark suit opened the door and ushered him in.

“Fancy,” said Crowley. “Do we think he’s here for business?”

“Definitely,” said Billy. “One guy owns all three floors. He claims to live there, but I haven’t seen any signs of anyone living there since I started sitting on it. Three floors, probably eight or ten bedrooms.”

“So this could be a real party we got going on.”

“Maybe we should call in Vice,” said Billy, knowing the reaction he’d receive.

“Fuck Vice,” said Katie. “This is ours.”

“Jesus Christ,” said Sosh. “Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick.”

“Talk to me, Sosh.”

“You’re never gonna believe who just walked past me. Crowley, you guys got video on this?”

“Roger that, we’ve got—holy mother of God.”

“Will you guys tell me already?”

Billy wished he had a high-powered scope. He wasn’t expecting this. He fished binoculars from the backseat and trained them on the steps of the brownstone as an elderly man trudged up toward the front door.

“Well, well, well,” said Billy. “If it isn’t His Excellency the Most Reverend Archbishop Michael Xavier Phelan.”

“Lord, he is not worthy; Lord, he is not worthy.”

Billy couldn’t decide if he was excited or disappointed. His partner, Kate, had made up her mind—she was all in. This had just become a heater case.

“Everyone take a breath,” said Billy. “He’s probably just going in to hear confession.”

A black SUV, not very different from the one Billy was in at the moment, pulled up at the curb outside the brownstone. The windows were tinted, as best as Billy could tell through binoculars in poor light. That was odd, because tinted windows were a no-no in this state, with only limited exceptions.

Exceptions such as vehicles that transport government officials.

Billy moved his binoculars down to the license plate, then back up.

“Oh, shit,” he said. “I better call the Wiz.”

“Why?” Kate asked, almost bouncing out of her seat.

Billy shook his head.

He said, “Because the mayor of Chicago just got out of that car.”

FOUR

BILLY CLIMBED INTO the sedan a block away from his stakeout point. The car reeked of cigar smoke. Wizniewski carried that odor on him at all times.

The Wiz turned his round face toward Billy. “How many inside?”

“We’ve seen twelve people go in,” said Billy. “No two of them at the same time. Like it’s all synchronized, so nobody sees anyone else. As discreet as discreet gets. Seven of them we can’t ID. One of them is my suspect in the undergrad’s murder, the trader. One of them is this film critic who has a TV show, Brady Wilson. Another is a male black who Sosh’s partner says is some rapper named Chocolate Q.”

“The fuck does that stand for?”

Billy looked at the Wiz. “When I arrest him, I’ll ask him.”

Wizniewski rubbed his eyes. “And you’re sure about the archbishop?”

“Positive.”

“And the …” Wiz’s lips came together to make an m sound, but he couldn’t bring himself to say the word.

“It’s the mayor. No question. His security detail dropped him off but didn’t go inside. The car is parked down the block. How we doin’ on numbers?”

“I have ten uniforms ready to assist on my call,” said the Wiz.

Ten plus the six detectives should be enough.

“You don’t have to do this,” said Wizniewski. “You know that.”

He meant that Billy didn’t have to arrest everybody. He could do what he came there to do—arrest the suspect in the undergrad’s murder and avert his eyes to anything else.

You chickenshit. The Wiz was always thinking of tomorrow, always looking to climb the ladder, always playing office politics. This thing could fall either way, Billy realized. The police superintendent, after all, was appointed by the mayor. The supe might not be too happy about the mayor getting bagged; if the mayor went down, he might, too. Billy could get a gold star on his report card for this or he could see the effective end of his advancement in the department. And the Wiz could, too. This could be the best thing that ever happened to their careers or it could be the worst thing. A guy like the Wiz, always weighing the political consequences, avoided risks like this.

But Billy wasn’t wired the same way as the Wiz. He kept it simple. It came down to three words for him—Do your job. Any consideration beyond that made you lose your edge. It blurred your focus and made you less than the cop you were supposed to be.

Do your job. He had probable cause to believe a crime was in progress, and that was all that mattered.

“Are you calling me off?” Billy asked.

“No, no.” The Wiz drew a line in the air. “Absolutely not.”

Absolutely not, because that would be even worse for the Wiz, telling a detective not to investigate a crime because it involved a high-ranking public official. That could mean dismissal from the force, maybe even criminal charges. The Wiz was far too cautious a politician to ever let something like that go on his record.

“Everything you do from this moment on will be carefully scrutinized,” said the Wiz. “Reporters, BIA, the IG, defense lawyers—everyone’s gonna put you under a magnifying glass. You get that, right? I’m just saying it’s okay with me if you don’t wanna push this. If you wanna stick with the murder suspect and leave everything else alone. We’re not Vice cops. We don’t make a habit of arresting johns and hookers.”

Billy didn’t respond, just waited him out.

“You fuck this up,” said the Wiz, “it could be the last arrest you ever make. It could tarnish your father. And your sister. You could get into all kinds of hot water over this. You don’t need it, Billy. You got a bright future.”

When it was clear his speech was finished, Billy turned to the Wiz. “Can I go do my job now?”

The Wiz dismissed him with a scowl and a wave of the hand.

Billy got out of the car into the sting of the cold air and headed for the brownstone.

FIVE

BILLY AND HIS partner, Detective Kate Fenton, approached the black SUV parked by the corner, the one carrying the mayor’s security detail. Billy approached the driver’s-side door, his star in hand.

The tinted window rolled down. A burly middle-aged man turned toward the detectives as if annoyed.

“You’re parked in front of a fire hydrant,” said Billy.

“We’re security for the mayor.”

“That exempts you from traffic laws?”

The man thought about that answer for a minute. “You want we should move?”

“I want you and your team to step out of the car.”

“Why do we have to get out of the car?”

“You have to get out of the car,” said Billy, “because a police officer told you to.”

The back driver’s-side window rolled down. “I’m Ladis,” the man in the back said. “Former CPD.”

“Good. You can explain to your friends the importance of obeying a lawful police order.”

It took a moment, but all three men emerged from the car. Billy settled on the former cop, Ladis. “How do you contact the mayor? Or how does he contact you?”

Ladis didn’t like the question but reluctantly answered. “He hits the Pound key twice on his phone, or we do the same.”

“Who has that phone?”

Ladis looked at the others. “The three of us and the mayor.”

“Give me your phones. All three of them.”

“Can’t do that.”

Billy stepped closer to Ladis. “We’re taking down that brownstone,” he said. “And we don’t need anyone getting advance notice. Hand over the phones or I’ll arrest you for obstruction, failure to obey, and whatever else I can think of between now and when we pull you up to Area 2 with about a dozen reporters waiting.”

Ladis found that reasoning persuasive, so he and the others handed over their phones. A young officer in uniform jogged up to the SUV. Billy said, “This officer’s gonna stay with you in the car. He’s gonna be upset if any of you try to use any form of communication. Text, e-mail, phone call, anything at all. Just sit in the car and listen to the radio. You get me?”

“I get you,” said Ladis.

“And one more thing,” said Billy. “Lemme borrow your coat.”

Billy approached the brownstone and started up the stairs. He hit the buzzer and waited.

“Hello?” A voice through the intercom.

“Mayor’s security detail,” Billy said, making sure the emblem on his coat was front and center for any cameras that might be watching. “I need to talk to him.”

“The mayor isn’t here.”

“We drove him here, dumbass. I need to speak with him.”

The light in the foyer came on. A tall, wide man in a suit approached the door. There was a bulge in his jacket at the hip. He was armed. And he probably didn’t appreciate being called a dumbass.

The man opened the door slightly. “Why don’t you call him?” he said.

“See, that’s the problem,” Billy said as he leaned in and pushed the door fully open. He stepped forward and drove a quick jab into the man’s exposed throat. He expelled a wet choking noise before losing the capacity to make any noise at all.

“Green, green,” Billy called into the radio attached to his collar while simultaneously seizing the big man, throwing him up against the railing of the stairs and keeping the door propped open with his foot.

The other detectives, followed by blue suits, swarmed up the stairs.

“Keep your hands on the railing, feet apart,” said Billy before handing the big guy over to one of the uniforms. “He has a piece on his left hip.”

And a sore throat.

Billy led the way inside. The lighting was dim, and the air smelled of incense. A staircase led up to the second floor. Next to it was a door to what looked like a closet. The faint sound of music—a thumping bass—came from below.

“Crowley,” said Billy, “clear the main floor. Sosh—”

From behind a curtain straight ahead, a man emerged, holding a shotgun upright. Before Billy could yell Police—don’t move, Katie was on him. She braced the shotgun, kneed the guy in the balls, then, when the man bowed forward in pain, drove her other knee into his midsection. The man crumpled to the ground with nary a sound, Katie triumphantly holding the shotgun.

Well, there’s that.

Another man came through the curtain—this was like clowns in a circus car—and once again, before Billy could say anything, Katie swung the butt of the shotgun into the man’s face, knocking him backwards off his feet.

Don’t fuck with Katie.

Billy directed officers forward and upstairs. He walked over to the door by the staircase and opened it up. It was, in fact, a closet, but an odd one. There was no horizontal bar for hanging coats. Nothing on the floor. No hooks, even.

But the thumping bass was more audible.

Billy stepped into the closet, placed his hand against the back wall, and pushed. It gave immediately. A false wall. This was the door to the garden level.

Billy motioned for some uniforms to follow him. He took the stairs down to the lower level slowly, his gun raised, the music pounding between his ears.

Wondering, Did they hear the commotion upstairs?

But he thought not. It seemed like the place was soundproofed.

The music was loud, the female singer’s voice sultry, almost a moan over the pounding bass. Billy hit the bottom stair and spun, gun raised.

The lighting was dim, a purplish glow. A stripper pole in the center of the room, a lithe, naked woman working it, upside down, her legs interlocked around the shiny steel beam. Around her on all sides, women in various stages of undress or erotic costumes—naughty nurse, Catholic schoolgirl, dominatrix—and men, some in costumes, all of them wearing masks of some kind to obscure their faces.

Caught up in their fantasies, nobody noticed him right away. The bartender, at three o’clock, was the first one, and he was a threat, obscured behind a small bar.

“Police—don’t move!” Billy shouted, his gun trained on the bartender. The bartender showed his hands as Billy shuffled toward him.

And then it was chaos—Billy’s team behind him, shouting commands, forcing everyone to the floor. The participants had nowhere to go; their only exit was cut off by the police, and none of them was in a position to challenge the authority of a half dozen cops with firearms trained on them.

Billy counted six men. Twelve had entered the brownstone.

“Crowley, how we doin’?” he called into his radio.

“Main level clear. Fenton took care of the only two goons.”

“Sosh, the top floor?”

“All clear. Only one up here’s the manager.”

Twelve men had entered the brownstone, not including the three oafs they had subdued. They weren’t upstairs or on the main floor. So where were they?

Then he noticed another door in the corner of the room.

SIX

BILLY PUSHED THE door open. It was thick, as was the wall—more soundproofing, he figured. It would make sense for a sex club … or whatever the hell this was.

He walked into a long hallway with three doors on each side.

Six more men to find, six bedrooms.

He signaled Sosh, Katie, and some uniforms into the hallway, everyone taking a door. Everyone with guns drawn, the detectives with their stars hanging from their necks.

Billy gave a nod, and all at once, six members of the Chicago Police Department kicked in six different doors.

“Police—don’t move!” Billy said, entering a dark room illuminated only by the glow of the street lamp outside. He saw movement on a bed. He flicked on the light and yelled his command again. Two people scrambling to cover themselves, naked, the man on top of the woman. But unarmed. They posed no threat, other than to their own dignity.

The woman looked young. Very young. Possibly underage.

The man was three times her age.

“On the floor! Both of you! Facedown on the floor.”

They complied. Billy cuffed the man behind his back. “Miss, how old are you?”

“Twenty-two,” she said, her voice shaky.

He didn’t really want to, but he cuffed her as well. “You’re twenty-two like I’m the king of Spain. And you, sir, what’s your name?”

“What?”

“What is your name, sir?”

“My name is … John Barnes.”

Billy squatted down next to him. “John Barnes, you say?”

“Yes … yes.”

“Okay. My mistake. For a minute there I thought you were Archbishop Phelan. But this city’s highest-ranking member of my church wouldn’t be soliciting a prostitute. Especially one who, it seems to me, is underage. Because that’s worse than a prostitution beef. That’s statutory rape.”

“Oh, no. Oh, God. Oh, God, help me …”

“Yeah, so good thing you’re John Barnes instead.”

Billy backed up and peeked out into the hallway. By now it was filled with police. He motioned over a uniform to secure his room.

Detective Soscia, stepping out of another room, nodded to Billy. “The mayor wants to speak with the man in charge,” he said, a smile spreading across his face.

Billy popped his head inside. The mayor, Francis Delaney, was sitting upright against the bed, a sheet wrapped around his waist, his hands cuffed behind him, what remained of the hair atop his head sticking nearly straight up. His ruddy complexion was flushed, maybe from the sex but more likely from the humiliation that was quickly enveloping him.

“You’re the detective in charge?” the mayor asked.

“I am.”

“Could you close the door?”

Billy shrugged. “I could, but I won’t. You already had your jollies tonight. And no offense, but you’re not my type.”

The mayor didn’t see the humor in Billy’s remark. “This is … this is a sensitive situation.”

“For one of us it is.”

“Well—I was wondering if I could get any consideration here.”

“Consideration? I consider you a moron for putting your job in jeopardy for some cheap thrills. I consider you a selfish asswipe for betraying the people who elected you. Will that do it?”

The mayor dropped his head. “I’m a good mayor for this city. I am.”

“You mean when you’re not cutting coppers’ pensions to balance the budget?”

The mayor looked up, sensing an opening. “Maybe we should talk about that,” he said.

“Sure. Let’s grab coffee sometime.”

“No. I mean—maybe that’s something you and I could work out right now.”

Billy squatted down so he was face-to-face with the mayor. “Are you saying if I let you walk, you’ll change your position on our pensions?”

The mayor, ever the politician, his chubby, round face gaining fresh color, looked hopefully into Billy’s eyes. “Well, what if I did say that?” he asked.

“If you said that,” said Billy, “I’d arrest you for attempted bribery, too.”

Billy left the room and found Sosh, a sheen of sweat across his prominent forehead, jacked up over the night’s events. “And here I thought this would be a boring stakeout,” he said. “Wanna go meet the manager of this place? She makes Heidi Fleiss look like a Girl Scout.”

SEVEN

BILLY SPENT THE next hour overseeing the cleanup. Making sure the scene downstairs was captured on video, getting each arrestee on camera, processing names (shockingly, several people gave false ones), and beginning the search for records inside the brownstone.

Once the arrestees were all inside the paddy wagon and the uniforms had their marching orders, Billy found himself with Sosh on the main floor.

“The manager,” Billy said. “Let’s go see her.”

Coming down the stairs, just as they were heading up, was Goldie—Lieutenant Mike Goldberger, Billy’s favorite person on the force, his “rabbi,” his confidant, one of the only people he truly trusted.

There you are,” Goldie said, slapping his hand into Billy’s. “Big night for you. Just wanted to say congrats. Thought you’d be up there taking the praise.”

“Up there?”

“Oh, yeah. The deputy supe’s up there.”

“He is?”

“Sure. This thing is spreading like wildfire. The Wiz is making it sound like he spearheaded the whole thing. You’d think it was a one-man show starring him.”

“What a prick,” said Sosh.

“Get up there,” said Goldie. “Get some spotlight. I tried to throw your name in there, but the Wiz has sharp elbows. Congrats, again, my boy.”

Gotta love Goldie. Billy and Sosh headed upstairs.

On the top floor, as Goldie said, the deputy superintendent of police was beaming widely, shaking the Wiz’s hand, the other hand clapped on the Wiz’s shoulder. The deputy supe was passed over for the top job by the mayor, so he wouldn’t be the least bit unhappy at seeing the mayor get pinched. No cop would be after the mayor tried to cut police pensions.

The Wiz nodded at Billy and Sosh but didn’t say anything, didn’t acknowledge them to the deputy supe. Sosh mumbled something unflattering under his breath, but Billy didn’t really care. Do your job. Keep it simple.

They passed by an office, and Billy stopped briefly and looked in. It was immaculate—a beautiful maple desk with several stacks of papers, neatly organized, on top. But no computer. Kate was in there with a number of uniforms, searching the place high and low, opening every cabinet, leafing through the pages of books on the shelves, pulling back the carpet, everything.

“How we doin’?” Billy called out.

Katie walked up to him. “You know the Wiz is over there taking all the credit for the bust.”

Billy shrugged. “Did you find anything in the office?”

She shook her head. “No records. No computer. The paper shredder’s even empty. There’s a lot of cash, but that’s it.”

Not terribly surprising. Computer records were almost as bad as e-mails and text messages—once created, they could never be truly erased. These guys were pros. They would have records, of course, but only of the pencil-and-paper variety.

“No little black book?” Billy asked.

Katie shook her head. “No little black book. There’s gotta be one. But it’s not here.”

Billy nodded toward the next room. “Let’s go meet the manager.”

They moved one room over, where Crowley was sitting with a woman who didn’t look very happy. She was a nice-looking woman, middle-aged, thin, with bleached blond hair. She was wearing a sharp blue suit.

“Meet Ramona Dillavou,” said Crowley, who looked like he was up past his bedtime, which he probably was. “She’s the manager of this place. Isn’t that right, Ramona?”

“Fuck you,” she said, crossing her arms. “I don’t have to say shit to you.”

“I read her her rights,” said Crowley, rolling his eyes. “I have a feeling she already knew ’em.”

Billy approached the woman. “Where’s your computer?” he asked.

“I don’t have to answer that.”

“I’m gonna find it anyway. Better if you tell me.” Billy removed a small pad of paper from his inside pocket, a pen clipped to it. “I’ll even make a note that you were cooperative. And I’ll draw a smiley face next to it.”

“Fuck you,” she said.

“Then how about your book?”

“Which book is that? My Bible?”

“C’mon.” Katie kicked a leg on the woman’s chair, turning her slightly askew. “Tell us.”

“I don’t have a computer. I don’t have a book.”

“Listen, lady,” Katie said.

“My name’s not Lady. My name’s Ramona. And I’ll call you cop slut.”

Sosh bit his knuckle. Katie was not the right gal to piss off.

“Never mind,” said Ramona. “You probably couldn’t even get a cop to fuck you.”

Billy winced. Sosh squeezed his eyes shut.

“I see your point,” said Katie. “On the other hand …”

Katie slapped the woman hard across the face, knocking her from the chair.

“That was my other hand,” she said.

Billy inserted himself between Katie and the woman, now on the floor. “Get some air,” he said to Katie.

“I’ll fucking sue!” Ramona cried. “I’ll sue your slut ass!”

Billy offered his hand to the woman. She gave him a long glare before she took it and got back in the chair. “Ramona,” he said, “we can tear this place apart looking for it, or you can tell us where it is and we won’t have to. Now, I know you have a boss. You think he’s gonna be happy with you if you make us break through walls and rip up carpets?”

A little good cop, bad cop. It was only a cliché because it was true.

Ramona, still smarting from the slap, a sizable welt on her cheek, shook her head as if exhausted. “You’re not gonna find a little black book,” she said.

“We’ll search your house next. We’ll have no choice.”

“I want a lawyer,” she said.

Et voilà! Thus endeth the conversation.

“Keep the uniforms here until they find it,” said Billy to Sosh. “Let’s find a judge and get a warrant for her house. We’ll find that little black book sooner or later.”

EIGHT

A BIG BUST, so a big night out to follow. Billy and Kate went to the Hole in the Wall, a cop bar off Rockwell near the Brown Line stop. A couple of retired coppers bought the Hole ten years ago, cleaned it up, got word out about giving cops discounts on drinks, and the place thrived from day one. A few years ago they set up a stage in the corner and put up a microphone and sponsored an open-mike night that was so popular it turned into a regular thing. Now the place drew more than cops and the badge bunnies who followed them; some people came for the comedy. A lot of people, Billy included, thought this place rivaled the comedy clubs on Wells Street.

When Kate and Billy walked in, they were greeted like royalty. The two of them were quickly separated in the rugby scrum, everyone grabbing Billy, slapping him on the back, putting him in a headlock, lifting him off his feet with bear hugs, messing up his hair, shoving shots of bourbon or tequila in front of him—which he accepted, of course, because he wouldn’t want to be rude. By the time he and Kate had found a table, he was half drunk, his hair was mussed like a little kid’s, and he was pretty sure he’d pulled a muscle or two.

“I think they heard about the arrests,” he said to Kate, who was similarly disheveled.

Two pints of ale appeared in front of them on the tall table, with a stern direction that their money was “no good here tonight.” Billy raised the pint and took a long swig, savored it. Yeah, it was a big night. The reporters were all over it. The archbishop? The mayor of Chicago? Too big for anyone to pass up. Half the cops in the joint right now were passing around smartphones, reading news articles and Facebook and Twitter posts. The mayor hadn’t been friendly to the cops’ union or to their pensions, so nobody was shedding a tear over his downfall. The archbishop—that was another story. Some people were upset, especially the devout Catholics on the force, of whom there were many, while others used the opportunity to rain some cynical sarcasm down on the Church, some of which bordered on the politically incorrect. Several cops noted that at least this time, a priest was caught with a female, not an altar boy.

Kate was enjoying herself. She was an action junkie, much more so than Billy. If you gave that woman a desk job, she’d put a gun to her head within the hour. She enjoyed detective work, but she really enjoyed the busts, the confrontations, the thrill of the moment. She became a cop for the right reasons, the good-versus-evil thing, but it was more than that for her. It was a contact sport.

He looked at her standing by the table they’d secured, her eyes up on the TV screen in the corner, which was running constant coverage of the arrests. She was wearing a thin, low-cut sweater and tight blue jeans. She cut quite a figure. She’d been a volleyball star at SIU and, more than ten years later, still had her athletic physique. The tae kwon do and boxing classes she took probably helped, too. So did the half marathons she ran. Sometimes Billy got tired just thinking about all the stuff Kate did.

But not tonight. He wasn’t tired. He was buzzing, like Kate, from the arrests. He always told himself that one arrest was like another—do your job, regardless—but he couldn’t deny himself a small thrill after the action tonight.

People kept coming up to him, offering their congrats and their jokes about the mayor and archbishop, which grew cruder as the booze continued to flow. At one point he turned toward Kate and saw Wizniewski, the Wiz, with his arm around her and whispering into her ear. Kate had a smile planted on her face, but Billy knew her as well as anyone did. He could see from her stiff body language and forced grin that she would sooner have an enema than deal with the Wiz’s flirtation.

Oh, the Wiz. The same guy who tried to talk Billy down from executing the arrests in the first place, the politician who was afraid that this bust might upset the status quo, who turned around and took full credit with the deputy superintendent, and here he was yucking it up with the brass as if he were just one of the guys.

“There you are. The man of the hour.”