The Big Fear
spent all Tuesday locked in his office reading the case file that had come through on the shooting. Even five years ago you had to wait weeks to get a single scrap of paper from the police department. But everything was digital now. Now, the day after a shooting, it was all waiting to be opened on Leonard’s desktop. He could scroll through Mulino’s personnel file, photos from the deck of the ship, preliminary ballistics. Maybe not a full report—not an autopsy, he noted—but Leonard was pretty sure he knew what had killed the other detective.
    The dead man’s name had been Brian Rowson. A twenty-six-year-old kid who had grown up in Cambria Heights, in the farthest reaches of Queens. Seventy years ago it had been a tight middle-class community, but then they built the airport and it found itself right under the flight path. Searing noise and slow decay followed. Most whites had predictably skipped out soon after, but the place had never crashed and burned like the worst of the boroughs. It was no Ocean Hill or Brownsville. Instead, it stayed mainly black and middling prosperous. A neighborhood of clapboard houses and churches and a very long commute if you wanted to come to the city. Rowson got his degree at York College in three years. He had joined the force and made detective by the time he was twenty-five. Not a superstar exactly, but well above average. One investigation by Internal Affairs; no disciplinary action taken. No indication of what he would have been doing out on a container ship in Buttermilk Channel on his regular day off. Too bad Leonard wouldn’t get the chance to ask him.
    Scrolling through Rowson’s file, Leonard had thought about his own move, his relocation to the fringe. He was a funny sort of gentrifier; he’d lost a lease and realized he had nowhere to move but deeper into Brooklyn. It wasn’t a housing project, he kept telling his friends, but the Ebbets Field Apartments sure looked like one.
    The locals in Ebbets had been just as surprised as he was that he had joined them there. On the site of the old baseball stadium, it had been built to house the throngs moving to Brooklyn in 1960—twenty-six stories of thick yellow brick and tiny cement balconies. You had to walk up a flight of stairs from Bedford Avenue to get to the squat concrete plaza, a great wide space out of view of the street that had been Brooklyn’s biggest open-air drug market for twenty years. Inside, the stairs were narrow, the elevators were broken, and there was a strange sweet smell in the hallways most mornings.
    Most of the residents were middle-aged women or older—their husbands and sons locked up for long-ago minor transgressions—and the place was no longer dangerous. But it was still heavy, quiet, and old. It was nowhere you could bring a date. He could move to Nassau or Hoboken and live much better for the same price. He had been thinking it over between his bouts with the crime scene photos. If he didn’t get fired in the next few weeks, he might leave the city altogether.
    Leonard clicked back to the photos. Brian Rowson was just another corpse in a sweatshirt now, the blood from his chest indistinguishable, melting into the harsh shadow cast by an amateur flash. He was lying on his back, his left arm twisted behind him and his right arm stretched above his head. The blast had flung him backward onto the deck. There was nothing in the hand. Leonard scoured the cop’s waistband. No sign of a holster either. It could have been behind his crumpled sweatshirt, but if it was you couldn’t see it. Rowson had a beard too, which used to be against the regulations of the NYPD. Couldn’t have put him on the best of terms with the real old-school guys, Leonard thought as he clicked to the next photo—black kid with a beard and a hoodie making detective. A sign of the times, and one that wasn’t welcome to the Flynns and O’Briens of the department. Maybe Ralph Mulino thought that way too.
    The next picture

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