The Black Echo Excerpt

The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits.  It was  beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home.   Sunsets did that here.  Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.

The sun hung like a ball of copper in the driver’s-side window.  He had the car radio tuned to a jazz station and Coltrane was playing “Soul Eyes.”  On the seat next to him was a file containing the newspaper clippings from Bremmer.  The file was weighted down by a six-pack of Henry’s.  Bosch got off at Barham and then took Woodrow Wilson up into the hills above Studio City.  His home was a wood-framed, one-bedroom cantilever not much bigger than a Beverly Hills garage.  It hung out over the edge of the hill and was supported by three steel pylons at its midpoint.  It was a scary place to be during earthquakes, daring Mother Nature to twang those beams and send the house down the hill like a sled.  But the view was the trade-off.  From the back porch Bosch could look northeast across Burbank and Glendale.  He could see the purple-hued mountains past Pasadena and Altadena.  Sometimes he could see the smoky loom-up and orange blaze of brush fires in the hills.  At night the sound of the freeway below softened and the search lights at Universal City swept the sky.  Looking out on the valley never failed to give Bosch a sense of power which he could not explain to himself.  But he did know that it was one reason — the main reason — he bought the place and would never want to leave it.

Bosch had bought it eight years earlier, before the real estate boom got seriously endemic, with a down payment of $50,000.  That left a mortgage of $1,400 a month, which he could easily afford because the only things he spent money on were food, booze, and jazz.

The down payment money had come from a studio that gave it to him for the rights to use his name in a TV miniseries based on a string of murders of beauty shop owners in Los Angeles.  Bosch and his partner during the investigation were portrayed by two midlevel TV actors.  His partner took his fifty grand and his pension and moved to Ensenada.  Bosch put his down on a house he wasn’t sure could survive the next earthquake but that made him feel as though he were prince of the city.