After twenty years of loyal service, Detective Jane Bauer is just two months and one case away from leaving the NYPD for a cushy desk job. Her last assignment: working for a special unit that tackles unsolved crimes. At a crossroads in her personal life, Jane relishes the chance to lose herself in a challenging investigation.
Four years ago, Arlen Quill was found dead in the entryway to his apartment building--leaving no clues, no witnesses, and no leads. When Jane decides to interview Quill's old neighbors, she makes a startling discovery: Every single occupant at the time of the murder subsequently disappeared. Like any seasoned New Yorker, Jane knows that mere homicide isn't enough to drive people from their rent-controlled apartments. In Hell's Kitchen, where a cold case suddenly heats up--Jane soon finds herself face-to-face with a killer. . . .
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March 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Murder in Hell's Kitchen by Lee Harris
For seven days the picture had haunted front pages and small screens. In the overcast haze of a fall afternoon in downtown New York was the eerie image of the wheelchair with its small, lifeless occupant alone on the grass. The photograph had become the symbol of the dangers of a city so preoccupied with its own needs and wants that it ignored or overlooked a killing in its midst, that it passed alongside death and never stopped to look even once.
The City Hall Park Murder, as it came to be called, had promised to be the case of a lifetime, the capping of a career, the most fitting of departures. But that was a week ago. Today Jane Bauer's life was upside down and she hadn't thought of the little figure in the wheelchair for at least eight hours. She looked at her watch once again.
"We'll get there," Det. Martin Hoagland said.
"I know. I just can't help looking."
He was traveling north on Riverside Drive to avoid the problems on the Henry Hudson Parkway, which ran just west of the drive along the river of the same name. At red lights, he edged forward, then shot across. They drove along the western end of the Twenty-sixth Precinct, the Two-Six, her first assignment out of the Academy. Almost twenty years had passed since she had put on her blues, "the bag" as most cops called it, for the first time and reported there in the center of Harlem. Before graduation, still wearing her cadet grays, she rode for a week as the third person in a radio motor patrol car in the Two-Six so that the sergeant in the car could assess her ability to handle "jobs." He had been impressed and she had gotten the assignment at the Two-Six on graduation. Her father had beamed with pride; her mother had barely accepted it with tight-lipped apprehension.
They passed the street where she had seen her first dead body in a fifth-floor walk-up during a twelve-by-eight, a midnight-to-eight a.m. shift, early in her career when she was given the crap details. Just stay with it, kid, the veteran cop on the scene had said as she tried to control her trembling and her queasy stomach. Don't leave till the body's picked up, the area secured, and all the paperwork's done. If the smell gets too bad in here, just light a cigar. Then he laughed and wished her a nice tour.
Looking out the window Jane thought that she could relive her entire career by driving the streets of Manhattan. Who would have thought nostalgia was so easy to come by?
"I'll pull into Emergency and wait for you there," Marty's voice said, piercing her recollections. They were long past the Two-Six now.
"You don't have to wait, Marty. I can take the subway back."
"I'll wait for you."
It was the kind of firm reassurance that tended to settle stomachs in times of less distress. Not much would work this afternoon.
She thanked him in her head, her apprehension growing as they approached Columbia Presbyterian, the huge hospital complex just south of the George Washington Bridge overlooking the Hudson River and, on the other side, New Jersey. Marty turned and turned again, pulling in close to the Emergency entrance.
"Go," he said as the car came to a jerky stop in front of the door at the covered dock, now almost empty of ambulances.
Her heart was pounding as she made her way through the sick and the bored to the woman with the records. "John Bauer. I'm his daughter."
"Yes, Ms. Bauer. Your dad's been admitted. You can go up to see him." She wrote the room number and floor for her on a slip of paper and gave brief but good directions.
Jane ran. Arrows on floors and walls directed her around corners and down halls to the elevators and past frequently visited units. A rainbow of color coding indicated one specialty after another. The elevator took forever to arrive. Then it stopped on every floor. Then she ran again.
Her gun was in her large shoulder bag, which she held tightly to her side as she looked at room numbers. Two more. She slowed, trying to calm herself, not wanting her anxiety to become his.
The door was open and she walked in. A curtained bed stood near the window, and her father, a little pale, rested in the nearer bed.
"Janey," he said, seeing her, his face lighting up. "You didn't have to come, honey. I'm just fine."
"You look pretty good," she said grudgingly, edging up to the bed.
"I'm just fine. I'll be outta here tomorrow."
"What happened? You forget to take your medicine?"
"Nah. I took it just like you set it up for me, one of these, one of those, one of the other."
"Then what happened?"
"They gave me too much is what happened. They overmedicated me," he said, articulating the word carefully. "Doc'll come by; you'll talk to him."
She sat down hesitantly. "You were taking too much?"
"That's what he said. Gave me palpitations. Made me dizzy. Got my stomach all upset. I thought I ought to come in and they decided to keep me overnight. It's nothing, Janey. Believe me."
She started breathing again. "You look pretty good."