The Devil Knows You're Dead Page 32

 Probably a third of that was the view, and wasn’t it spec-tacular? You didn’t mind sitting around by the hour waiting for prospects when you had that to look out at. She’d en-joyed living there, although she hadn’t been crazy about the neighborhood to begin with. But she liked it better as she got to know it more.

 “There’s a place right across the street,” she said, “that’s really super. Jimmy Armstrong’s? Looks like nothing much from the outside, but it’s nice and the food’s sensational. Se-rious chili, and the selection of beers on tap is outstanding. You ought to check it out.”

 I assured her I would.

 I called Elaine. “I had a hunch you’d be home,” I said.

 “I was out earlier, though. I went to the gym. Of course there were no cabs to be had, but I put on that plastic shmatte and I carried an umbrella. And I still got soaked going and coming, but it didn’t kill me. You’re home, I take it?”

 “And staying put.”

 “Good, because it doesn’t look as though it’s going to quit soon. If I lived on a lower floor I’d start building an ark.”

 I told her what I’d learned about MultiCircle. “Foreign money,” I said, “and no easy way to tell where it came from. One principal or a whole slew of them, and no way to tell that, either. A condo’s an attractive investment, a good hedge against inflation and a way to shift some money here to guard against political or economic instability at home.”

 “Wherever home is.”

 “Although that probably wouldn’t have been a big consid-eration, not if they were already incorporated in the Cay-mans and could stow the money in a dollar account there. Still, it’s a good investment and you can rent it out. There’s usually a minimum rental period, it’s not like a hotel, al-though some resort condos have the minimum down to three days. In NewYork it’s generally a month, sometimes longer.”

 “And in the Holtzmanns’ building?”

 “A month, but it didn’t matter to MultiCircle because they never had a tenant in there. Glenn and his wife”—interesting how I avoided saying her name—“were the first people to spend a night there.”

 “And they’d been married all of a week at the time? I bet they did a good job of christening it.”

 “MultiCircle paid cash,” I said. “They sent over a check in full payment.”


 “So how did they lose it? I was thinking foreclosure, but how can you foreclose on a nonexistent mortgage? Some-times a corporation has its assets seized to satisfy creditors, but this was some kind of shell in the Caymans. What kind of creditors would they have?”

 “Their lawyer could probably tell you.”

 “Could but wouldn’t. Assuming I knew who he was, which I don’t. She didn’t remember his name. It’s probably on a piece of paper somewhere, and I’ll try to find it, but even if I managed to find the guy I wouldn’t get anything out of him. MultiCircle. You know what that sounds like to me?”

 “Like going around in circles?”

 “Like wheels within wheels,” I said.

 “Does it even matter who they are, or why they lost the property? I mean, if you were investigating me, would you want to know who lived here before I did?”

 “This is different,” I said. “There’s something strange about MultiCircle Productions, and there’s something strange about US Asset Reduction Corp., and God knows there’s something strange about Holtzmann. All that strangeness, you’ve got to assume a connection.”

 “I guess.”

 “I have a feeling it’s right in front of me,” I said. “But I just can’t see it yet.”

 I called Joe Durkin. “I actually tried you an hour ago,” he said. “Two, three times. Your line was busy.”

 “I’ve been on it all morning.”

 “Well, just to set your mind at rest, Gunther Bauer was not the hired agent for an international conspiracy. I was lucky, guy I talked to was polite as can be. I could tell he wanted to laugh in my face, but he managed to control him-self. Gunther’s beef with George was personal and deeply felt, according to him. He was nobody’s guided missile. Un-less God told him to do it, which is possible, but he wasn’t taking orders from any intermediary.”

 “I didn’t really have much faith in that theory anyway.”

 “No, but you thought it was worth checking, and you’re an overly stubborn son of a bitch but you’re not stupid.”


 “The idea was somebody put him up to it to keep George from talking, right?”

 “Well, George wasn’t much of a talker. But to close out the case.”

 “It was already closed out, though I’ll grant you this slams the door. But if you’re thinking about somebody pulling strings inside Rikers—”

 “Which has been known to happen.”

 “Oh, no question, but it’s not something your average cit-izen can do. You can’t take a course at the Learning Annex, ‘How to Arrange a Homicide Behind Prison Walls.’ Might be a popular course, but they haven’t offered it yet.”


 “So you’re thinking in terms of somebody with reach. You must’ve found something indicates Holtzmann’s dirty.”


 “What did he do?”

 “Bought an apartment from a foreigner that nobody was living in.”

 “Well, Jesus, that’s just as suspicious as hell, isn’t it?”

 “Why would a foreigner buy an apartment and not live in it or rent it out? You got any idea?”

 “I don’t know, Matt. Why would a foreigner do anything? Why would a foreigner join the police force?”


 “You didn’t read about that? There’s a proposal to do away with the citizenship requirement on the NYPD.”

 “Seriously? Why would they want to do that?”

 “To make the department more representative of the pop-ulation at large. Which is a worthwhile goal, don’t misun-derstand me, but that’s a hell of a way to do it. You should hear the PBA delegate on the subject.”

 “I can imagine.”

 “ ‘Go all the way,’ he says. ‘Why should they even need green cards? Take illegal aliens, take wetbacks. Hang a fuck-ing sign on the Rio Grande, You too can be a police officer.’ He was in rare form.”

 “Well, it’s an unusual idea.”

 “It’s a terrible idea,” he said, “and it won’t do what they want it to, because what you’ll wind up with is half the male population of Woodside and Fordham Road, donkeys fresh off the Aer Lingus flight. Remember when they did away with the height requirement? That was supposed to get more Hispanics on the force.”

 “Did it work?”

 “No,” he said. “Of course not. All it brought in was a lot of short Italians.”

 I called Holtzmann’s previous landlord, owner of the build-ing in Yorkville where he’d been living when he met Lisa. When I was downtown I’d found the address in an old city directory and got the landlord’s name and address from city real estate records. That’s not always easy, a lot of landlords hide behind corporate shells as hard to penetrate as Multi-Circle, but not this fellow. He owned the building, lived with his wife in one of its sixteen units, and served as its superin-tendent himself.

 And he remembered Glenn Holtzmann, who had evi-dently lived there ever since he moved back to the city from White Plains. The landlord, a Mr. Dozoretz, had only good things to say about Holtzmann, who had paid his rent on time, made no unreasonable demands, and caused no prob-lems with other tenants. He’d been sorry to lose him as a tenant, but not surprised; the fourth-floor studio was a tight fit for one person, and far too small for two. A great shock, though, what had happened to Mr. Holtzmann. A tragedy.

 Sometime after noon I called down to the deli and asked them to send up some coffee and a couple of sandwiches. Fifteen minutes later I was so lost in thought that the knock on my door came as a surprise. I ate my lunch dutifully, without really tasting it, and got back on the phone.

 I called New York Law School and spoke to several dif-ferent people before I managed to confirm the dates of Holtzmann’s attendance there. No one I talked with remem-bered him, but his records indicated an unremarkable stu-dent. They had the name of the White Plains firm where Holtzmann had gone to work after graduation, and his ad-dress there, the Grandview Apartments on Hutchison Boule-vard, but that was as recent as their information got; he hadn’t bothered to keep them up to date.

 The Westchester Information operator had no listing for the law firm Kane, Breslow, Jespesson & Reade, but under Attorneys she had a Michael Jespesson listed. I called his of-fice but he was out to lunch. I thought, in this weather? Why couldn’t he order in from a deli and eat at his desk?

 I might have tried the Grandview Apartments but I couldn’t imagine what I might ask whoever took my call. Even so, it was a struggle to keep from calling them. There is an acronym in the New York Police Department, or at least there used to be. They taught it to new recruits at the Academy, and you heard it a lot in all the detective squad rooms. GOYAKOD, they said. It stood for Get Off Your Ass and Knock On Doors.

 You hear it said that that’s how most cases are closed, and that’s not even close to true. Most cases close themselves. The wife calls 911 and announces she shot her husband, the holdup man runs out of the convenience store and into the arms of an off-duty patrolman, the ex-boyfriend has a knife under his mattress with the girl’s blood still on it. And of the cases that require solution, a majority are closed through in-formation received. If a workman is as good as his tools, a detective is no better than his snitches.

 Now and then, though, a case won’t solve itself and no one will be obliging enough to drop a dime on the bad guy. (Or on the good guy; snitches lie, too, like everybody else.) Sometimes it takes actual police work to clear a file, and that’s when GOYAKOD comes into play.

 It’s what I was doing now. I was employing a foul-weather version of GOYAKOD. I was sitting on my ass and using the phone, waging the same kind of war of attrition on the blank wall of Glenn Holtzmann’s death. The only thing wrong with it is that sometimes it becomes pointless and mechanical. You’re at a dead end, but rather than admit it and try to figure out where you took a wrong turn, you keep on knocking on doors, grateful that there is an endless sup-ply of doors to knock on, grateful that you can keep busy and tell yourself you’re doing something useful.

 So I didn’t call the Grandview. But I didn’t throw their number away, either. I kept it handy, in case I ran out of doors.

 When I reached Michael Jespesson, he was shocked to learn that Glenn Holtzmann was dead. He had been aware of the murder but had paid very little attention to it; it was, af-ter all, a street crime committed on streets well removed from his own. And it had been several years since Holtz-mann had been associated with his late firm. Somehow the victim’s name hadn’t registered.

 “Of course I remember him,” he said. “We were a small firm. Just a handful of associates plus a couple of parale-gals. Holtzmann was a pleasant fellow. He was a few years older than the standard law-school graduate, but only a few years. The first impression he made was that of a real self-starter, but he turned out to be less ambitious than I’d guessed. He did his work, but he wasn’t going to set the world on fire.”

 That echoed what Eleanor Yount had told me. She’d ini-tially seen him as a likely successor, then realized he lacked the drive. But somehow he’d driven himself all the way to the twenty-eighth floor. Add up the cash and the apartment and he’d left an estate well in excess of half a million dol-lars. Imagine what he could have accomplished if he’d had a little ambition.

 “Maybe he was just in the wrong place,” Jespesson said. “I wasn’t surprised when he left. I never thought he’d stay. He was single, he hadn’t grown up in the area, so what was he doing in White Plains? Not that he was a born New Yorker. He was from somewhere in the Midwest, wasn’t he?”


 “Well, that’s not the Midwest. But he wasn’t from Philadelphia. He was from somewhere out in the sticks, if I remember correctly.”

 “I think Altoona.”

 “Altoona. New York is full of people from Altoona. White Plains isn’t. So I wasn’t surprised when he left us, and if he hadn’t left then he’d have done so a few months later.”


 “The firm broke up. Sorry, I took it for granted that you knew that, but there’s no reason why you should. Nothing to do with Holtzmann, anyway, and I don’t think he could have read the handwriting on the wall. I don’t think there was any handwriting on the wall. I certainly didn’t see it.”

 I asked if there was anyone else I should talk to.

 “I think I knew him as well as anyone,” he said. “But how do you come to be investigating? I thought you had a man in custody.”

 “Routine follow-up,” I said.

 “But you do have the man responsible? A homeless derelict, if I remember correctly.” He snorted. “I was going to say he should have stayed in White Plains, but we have our share of street crime here, I’m sorry to say. My wife and I live in a gated community. If you wanted to visit us I would have to leave your name with the guard. Can you imagine? A gated community. Like a stockade, or a medieval walled city.”

 “I understand they have them all over the country.”

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