Hiding Place - Collin Wilcox - ebook

Hiding Place ebook

Collin Wilcox

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Opis

Investigating a grisly murder in the park, Lieutenant Hastings finds that the victim had some secrets of her own. San Francisco's first murder of the year takes more than two weeks to come, but when it does, it's ugly. June Towers is seventeen, a high school senior just six months from graduation, when the police find her dead in the park. She's lovely, in the patchwork jeans and rainbow palette favored by the city's youth, but her hair is matted with blood. Was the murderer a mugger, a rapist, a serial killer - or someone the young girl called a friend? In search of answers, Lieutenant Frank Hastings digs into June's past and finds that she was many things to many people. Her mother thought she was a good girl - a fine student with a future - but to a certain class of her peers, June Towers was something else altogether. Hastings has little time to come to grips with this strange personality before another good girl turns up dead.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Twenty-two

Twenty-three

Twenty-four

Twenty-five

Twenty-six

Twenty-seven

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

Investigating a grisly murder in the park, Lieutenant Hastings finds that the victim had some secrets of her own.

San Francisco’s first murder of the year takes more than two weeks to come, but when it does, it’s ugly. June Towers is seventeen, a high school senior just six months from graduation, when the police find her dead in the park. She’s lovely, in the patchwork jeans and rainbow palette favored by the city’s youth, but her hair is matted with blood. Was the murderer a mugger, a rapist, a serial killer - or someone the young girl called a friend?

In search of answers, Lieutenant Frank Hastings digs into June’s past and finds that she was many things to many people. Her mother thought she was a good girl - a fine student with a future - but to a certain class of her peers, June Towers was something else altogether. Hastings has little time to come to grips with this strange personality before another good girl turns up dead.

About the Author

Collin Wilcox (1924–1996) was an American author of mystery fiction. Born in Detroit, he set most of his work in San Francisco, beginning with 1967’s The Black Door - a noir thriller starring a crime reporter with extrasensory perception. Under the pen name Carter Wick, he published several standalone mysteries including The Faceless Man (1975) and Dark House, Dark Road (1982), but he found his greatest success under his own name, with the celebrated Frank Hastings series.

Hiding Place

A Lt. Hastings Mystery

Collin Wilcox

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2013 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1973 by Collin Wilcox

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Michel Vrana

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-579-8

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

With the deepest thanks,

this book is dedicated to

Kenneth Millar

One

I UNLOCKED MY TOP right-hand desk drawer and grunted as I drew my revolver. I balanced the .38 in my hand, idly frowning at my “in” basket. The basket had been empty when I’d left to get a haircut an hour ago. Now two letters, a departmental memo, and a manila case folder lay in the gray metal tray.

I used the gun barrel to push the memo aside, revealing the folder’s label. Recognizing the case, I sighed, surrendering to a Monday morning’s moment of glum self-pity. Outside, the sky was cold and gray, threatening a day-long winter’s rain. I’d just come off a sunny three-day weekend, after sixteen straight days of duty. And already my fellow officers were up to their departmental tricks.

Irritably I ignored the “in” basket, looking instead at the .38, held flat on my open palm. The gun needed cleaning. For more than a month, ever since I last fired it, I’d been meaning to clean the gun thoroughly, instead of haphazardly swabbing out the bore with powder solvent.

Years ago, when I’d first made inspector, I had faithfully cleaned the revolver once a week, every Friday. But the feel of the gun had been different then—different in my hand, different on my hip. Years ago the metallic bulge beneath my coat had seemed my very special secret. Now the gun sometimes seemed merely a bulky nuisance.

I laid it in the open drawer. The drawer was stained with gun oil, even though I’d had the office for less than a year. Had the desk’s previous owner kept his gun in the same drawer? I’d never know. The previous owner, Lieutenant Travis, had died in the men’s room, of a heart attack. After almost thirty years of “meritorious duty serving the people of San Francisco,” they’d found Travis propped against a urinal, dead.

No one had really mourned him. As he’d gotten older, Travis had started to believe his own press clippings.

The gun, I noticed, was scarred and worn-looking. Bright metal showed through the bluing; the walnut grips were chipped and scratched.

The departmental psychologist had once said that a cop’s gun was his phallic wish-fulfillment. Cops, he’d said, fondled their guns instead of themselves. He’d been drunk at a Christmas party when he’d said it—sloppily, pugnaciously drunk. But no one would fight with him, and he’d finally passed out, snoring loudly, mouth wide open, his dentures clicking as he breathed. He’d been…

A knock sounded on my office door.

“Come in.” I closed the drawer, turning the key.

Pete Friedman, my senior co-lieutenant, stood in the open doorway. As usual, his suit was rumpled, his collar wilted, his vest powdered with chronic cigar ash. His shirt bloused between his vest and his belly-bagged trousers. His collar was unbuttoned, his twisted tie loosened.

Smiling quizzically, he glanced amiably toward my “in” basket as he nodded a sly, knowing greeting. “I see you got the Wagner case.” He eased his bulk into my visitor’s chair, sighing deeply, settling himself elaborately. “No hard feelings, I hope. The captain decided to give you a shot at it, with my blessing.”

“That case,” I said slowly, “is three months old. Half the witnesses aren’t even around.”

“Four months old, actually. Don’t worry about the witnesses, though. They weren’t worth a damn.”

“What am I supposed to do, read it and file it with my other sixty-two open cases?”

He shrugged indifferently, drawing a cigar from his vest pocket. “Use your own judgment. As far as I’m concerned, Wagner is just another dead hooker. She turned the wrong trick, and got herself strangled. Probably the John couldn’t get an erection, so he strangled her instead. Or maybe it was one of those sadistic-masochistic tricks. That’s very big now, I understand.”

“And the John left town. And has never been traced. Right?”

“Now, now, don’t get testy. You’ve got to expect these things, when you haven’t been a lieutenant for even a year.” He lit the cigar, shook the dead match once, and dropped it into my wastebasket, trailing a tiny plume of smoke. As I turned to stare pointedly at the paper-filled basket, I heard him saying, “When you’re the senior homicide lieutenant—when I’m comfortably retired, that is—you’ll have the privilege of sloughing off your unwanted cases on your fellow officer. Besides, maybe you’ll get lucky with Wagner. A different approach, you know, can often do…”

My phone rang.

“Lieutenant Hastings.”

“Just a minute, Lieutenant. I have Sergeant Markham for you.” It was Communications.

A moment later Markham came on the line. His voice was metallic; he was calling on his radio. “We’ve got a homicide in Golden Gate Park, Lieutenant—a female Caucasian, about eighteen years of age. Apparently she’s been dead since last night. She’s been bludgeoned. She seems to be clean and well dressed. Her name is apparently June Towers, address 848 Twenty-fourth Avenue.”

“Robbed?”

“Looks like it.”

“Raped?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Anyone else on the scene with you?”

“Just me and Culligan. And the park patrolman who discovered the body.”

I glanced at my watch; the time was 11:15 A.M. The date was January 17. June Towers was our first homicide of the new year. With last year’s San Francisco homicides totaling more than a hundred, she was an overdue statistic.

“All right,” I said into the phone, “I’ll call the lab and the M.E. and the coroner. I’ll be out in a half-hour. You’d better get reinforcements.”

“I’ve already put in the call. A black-and-white car’s just now arriving, in fact.”

“Anything else to report?”

“No. Culligan’s trying to line up possible witnesses, and the uniformed man is guarding the body. So far there isn’t a crowd.”

“Roger. I’ll see you in a half-hour or so.”

“Right.”

I broke the connection and gave the necessary orders, instructing Canelli to get my car. Finally I swiveled to face Friedman.

“I was beginning to believe the mayor’s oratory about how we’re stamping out violent crime.” He leaned laboriously forward, flicked his cigar ash into my wastebasket, then subsided, grunting. In the field—in action—Friedman could be surprisingly quick on his feet, especially taking cover. In the office, though, he seemed incapable of more than a portly, rolling waddle, propelling himself like an overweight banker from one chair to another, always seating himself with a long, grateful sigh.

I gestured to my “in” basket. “Wagner will have to wait.”

“Obviously. Who’s dead?”

“A teen-aged girl named June Towers. Well dressed. Lived in the Sunset, apparently. Robbed. Not raped.” I unlocked my top desk drawer.

“I wonder why Markham bothered to call in. Since he’s made acting sergeant, I’d expect him to be even more one-way than ever. Which is pretty one-way.”

“Here—” I pushed an ashtray across the desk.

Flicking the ash without looking, and missing the tray, Friedman said, “Did you recommend Markham for sergeant?”

“No.”

“I didn’t either; I was for Culligan. Markham must’ve been entirely the captain’s idea.”

“Culligan’s a good man, but he’s got an ulcer,” I said shortly. “He’s a worrier. Besides, Markham’s smart.” I scanned the two letters and the memo, and returned them to the basket. “Markham’s efficient too, and he doesn’t get rattled.”

“But you don’t like him much.”

“I wish he’d smile once in a while. But for that matter, I wish Culligan would smile once in a while.” I holstered my gun.

“I could say the same about you, if you want the truth. The plain fact is, there really aren’t many laughs in this business. It’s…”

My phone rang.

“Lieutenant Hastings.”

“Frank?” It was Ann.

“Yes.”

“Are you busy?”

“Well, I…”

“I’ll just be a minute. That’s all I can talk, actually. I’m between classes. But I just wanted to tell you that Billy’s spending the night with a classmate. So I wondered whether—” She let it go unfinished.

Glancing at Friedman, half turning away, I spoke into the phone. “Why don’t I call you about five? Maybe we can go to a movie. I’m not sure, though. I’ll have to see how things work out.”

“Fair enough. I’ll be home by four-thirty. “Bye.”

“Goodbye.” As I hung up, I realized that I was avoiding Friedman’s eye.

“Don’t let me keep you from the year’s first corpse,” he said breezily. “I’ll stay here and finish my cigar, if you don’t mind. Sometimes I think better in your office than in mine.”

“You’ll probably set it on fire.” I rose, taking my coat from the rack.

“Was that Ann Haywood? Your favorite grammar-school teacher?”

“Yes.”

He nodded mock-solemnly. “If I were you, I think I’d marry her. You might not realize it, but your face actually softens when you talk to her. Or for that matter, when you talk about her. I’ll bet you didn’t know that.”

“Listen, Pete, Canelli’s probably…”

“How long have you known her?”

“Approximately a month, as a matter of fact. Not that it’s really any of your…”

“You’ve smiled more this last month than you have during all of last year. Not only that, but my wife thinks you’re perfect for each other. Did you know that?”

“This is beginning to sound more like a sorority house than a homicide bureau.”

“Hmm—” Drawing on his cigar, he wagged his head elaborately, projecting a judicious approval. “Not a bad crack, considering that you’re not really a comic type. Maybe it’s Ann’s softening influence.”

“Shall I close my door? Or would you rather have it open?”

“Closed, please. Good luck.”

Two

I BRACED MYSELF AS the car lurched around the corner. Canelli drove like he did everything else: earnestly but clumsily, constantly at odds with the job at hand. Yet, somehow, Canelli managed to blunder through, thanks to an incredible run of perpetual good luck. The entire homicide detail could be searching for a suspect while that same suspect was tapping Canelli on the shoulder, asking for a match. It was Friedman’s theory that Canelli was lucky for all the wrong reasons: because he neither looked like a cop nor acted like a cop nor thought like a cop. Canelli was twenty-eight, weighed two hundred forty pounds, and usually looked as if he’d just gotten off an all-night bus. He never wore his haphazardly creased hat at the same angle, and he often needed a shave. His large brown eyes were round and wondering. His habitual expression was a thoughtful, half-perplexed frown. Canelli was the only cop I’d ever known who could actually get his feelings hurt.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!