On August 10th, we’ll be publishing TRIPLE CROSSING by celebrated journalist and investigative reporter Sebastian Rotella. Continue reading the novel Michael Connelly calls “one of the most accomplished first novels I have ever read,” and which Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called “unflinching and provocative … a superb debut.”
Missed the first except? Read it here. Continue here. Then read this.
He was rewarded with a brief snuffling smile. He escorted them to the back of the Wrangler. He hoisted in the girl first, helped the mother with a carefully applied hand to her elbow.
Then came the moment Pescatore anticipated and dreaded. As the father got in, Pescatore intercepted him. He pulled a wad of bills from his pocket without looking; he estimated it was about twelve dollars. He palmed it into the father’s hand down low.
The man looked from the cash to Pescatore, startled. He began to say something and moved his hand as if to return the money. Pescatore waved him off, tight-lipped.
“Take it, ándale.”
He drove them to a detention transport van. The couple exchanged brief words in the caged backseat. They sat stiffly. The girl leaned forward behind Pescatore on the other side of the steel grillwork. In a chirpy little voice, she sang “Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil…”
He hummed along with her. He thought about his insomnia. And about the money. At first, like many other agents, he had occasionally bought a meal or handed a couple of bucks to poignant cases who washed his way on the nightly torrent of misery. But after his trainee status ended, he started giving away money regularly. Every afternoon, he gathered up small bills and change. Although he told himself he wasn’t consciously setting it aside, he usually came up with about thirty dollars. He had tried at first to select the most deserving prisoners: ragged Central American women with babies, lone teenagers. But the arcane logic of selective charity wore him down. He stopped differentiating between hardship and despair. As long as they weren’t smugglers or scumbags, as long as they didn’t resist or disrespect him, he was likely to give them money.
While the prisoners transferred to the detention van, the father said something about how he had studied at a university in Puebla. There was a catch in his voice. In the shadows, Pescatore couldn’t tell whether the man was insulted or trying to thank him.
“De dónde es usted?” the man asked.
No matter how much he mimicked their intonation and expressions, they never pegged him for Mexican-American. They guessed everything else: Puerto Rican? Cubano? Argentino?
“I’m from Chicago,” Pescatore said, sliding the door shut. “Suerte.”
The rhythm picked up. The radio dispatchers called off motion-sensor hits and tips from citizens in measured tones, as if there were some logic or order to this business. “Group of nine crossing at Stewart’s Bridge… Group bushing up by the Gravel Pit… Five to eight in the backyards on Wardlow Street.”
The count became a cacophony as the night wore on. Garrison directed the PAs’ movements from a plateau by the Gravel Pit, where the infrared nightscope was operating. As reports of crossing groups intensified farther north, Garrison dispatched Pescatore to a housing subdivision about half a mile from The Line.
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