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To Die in Beverly Hills

by Gerald Petievich

Beverly Hills detective Travis Bailey knows that beneath the sun-baked sheen of luxury there is a world of predators on the prowl. He also knows how to take advantage-and his million-dollar scams fleecing the Beverly Hills rich are going just fine. Then a Treasury agent named Charles Carr steps onto his turf, and Bailey's cover is blown sky-high.

"This is a novel plotted with a delicacy... all interlocking events smash with precision, and the finished product is nearly flawless. This is a tough, pulse-quickening thriller that delves into the mind of a corrupt cop-and the Treasury agents sworn to bring him down." -The Miami Herald


L.A.'s permanent layer of smog was hidden by darkness.

Looking though binoculars, Charles Carr stood at the window inside a dark and bare-floored apartment. He knew that the black woman standing inside the bay-windowed apartment across the courtyard couldn't see him. In his line of work, he mused, invisibility was an ideal condition. His feet certainly didn't feel invisible. They were tired to the point of numbness. The stakeout was in its tenth hour.

A fit man, Carr was dressed in a short-sleeved white shirt, off-the-rack trousers and wing-tip shoes; attire that was neither fashionable nor particularly becoming, but served the Treasury Agent's Manual of Operations requirement "to be dressed in business attire at all times while on duty except when acting in an undercover capacity." Without the weight of a gold badge, handcuffs, revolver and bullet pouch on his belt to sag his trousers, he looked like most other middle-aged men with graying temples.

In the corner of the room, Carr's partner, Jack Kelly, lay on his back on the hardwood floor. A bear-sized man with enormous ham-hock fists, he had his arms folded across his chest like a cadaver. He was snoring.

Charles Carr adjusted the binoculars to get a better view.

The lanky black woman lit a marijuana cigarette and took a puff. She was dressed in a pink velour outfit two sizes too small and had a foot-high Brillo pad hairdo. The woman fiddled with a stereo set. The muffled sound of rock music came from the apartment. For the next few minutes she lollygagged about the room puffing smoke, picking things up and putting them down and adjusting her frizz in a mirror over the sofa. At one point she answered her telephone and, having said a few words, hung up. Back to the mirror. More picking at her frizz.

Because of fatigue, Carr's mind wandered. He remembered being on a similar surveillance over twenty years earlier when he was a young special agent still on civil service probation status. As he'd been taught in Treasury Agent School, he had kept a surveillance log and dutifully noted everything the suspect did and the time. During the trial, he had learned that such logs were nothing more than cannon fodder for defense attorneys. "Agent Carr, you log shows a notation that the subject read the newspaper at ten fourteen P.M.," the lawyer had said. "How do you know that the suspect read it? Couldn't he have been just looking at the pictures in the paper?" From then on, he had prepared only the most concise of reports. This habit, among others, was a source of constant consternation to his superiors, few of whom he respected, either then or now.