Release Date: 03/2009
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher Link: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=PBLA0003
Amazon: L.A. Bytes
Blurb: Malicious hackers break into Ste. Anne's hospital and alter records, resulting in a patient's death. Chris Bellamere is hired to track them down. It soon becomes obvious this cracker is only starting. Can Chris stop him before he brings a cyber Armageddon down on the city of Angels?
The phone broke through David's restless sleep. Thinking it was Chris, he rolled over and snapped it up.
"Detective Laine? This is Gunderson from the Times--"
"What can you tell me about the explosion at Ste. Anne's? Is it true your ah, spouse was injured in the blast--"
"No comment." David snapped and slammed the phone down. Almost immediately it rang again.
"What part of no comment don't you understand?"
"Is this a bad time, Detective? This is Detective Bentzen."
"Bentzen. What can I do for you?"
"Your name came up in my investigation," Bentzen said. He cleared his throat. "I'd like to get together to ask you a few questions."
David had expected this, since he'd been onsite during the crime. He sighed. "Sure. Do you want to meet at Northeast?"
"I have an interview room set up downtown. An hour?"
He grabbed a shower and shave. He arrived at the new LAPD administrative headquarters. The L-shaped, newly finished construction on Spring Street was impressive as hell. Flanked on three sides by City Hall, Caltrans and the venerable Times building, its ten story glass and steel reflecting back the center of downtown L.A. It was surrounded by green space and sculptures that had already triggered controversy. He signed in at the front desk. Bentzen, a muscular silver-blond haired man, came out to meet him and led him to a well-lit interview room on the fourth floor.
David glanced around the room. It was a far cry from what he had grown used to in the old outdated Parker Center. Everything still smelled new.
"We're recording this, that okay with you?"
David shrugged. "Sure."
Bentzen covered the basics quickly: date, time and both their names. Then, "Can you describe what happened yesterday morning at Ste. Anne's Medical Center?"
David thought back. Had it really only been twenty-four hours ago? So little time for so much to change.
"I woke up around seven. Some nurse I'd never seen before came in around seven-thirty, took my blood pressure and temperature." He shrugged. "The usual. She left and they brought my breakfast."
"You eat then?"
"I drank the coffee." He made a face. "Chris was supposed to come by with breakfast for us."
"Christopher Bellamere," David said, knowing Bentzen knew damn well who Chris was. The whole department knew. "My husband."
"Did he come by?"
"He never made it." David rubbed his face. "He called to tell me he was on his way. My impression was he had just picked up our food--"
"Did he say where he was during this call?"
"No, he just said he'd be there in a couple of minutes. The day before he said he would get breakfast from the taqueria across the street."
"So in fact you don't know where he was."
"Except he was there, wasn't he?" David thought of the still figure they had dug out of the rubble. Not moving, not breathing.
"He was just coming in when the bomb... when it went off."
Bentzen scratched notes in his pad. "Have you been to see Chris since the accident?"
David realized Bentzen must have gone by the hospital hoping to talk to Chris and been turned away. He nodded, knowing what was coming next.
"He tell you anything?" Bentzen asked.
"Sorry, no. He wasn't up to talking."
"What restaurant do you think he went to?"
"Across the street. Café Fresco."
"Ah yes, breakfast. We talked to them," Bentzen said. "They didn't see anything."
"They remembered Chris." David tried a question of his own.
"Have you determined the source of the bomb?"
"They used an explosive called NMXFOAM, something relatively new. It looks and feels like shaving cream." Bentzen rubbed his chin. "The foam is perfect for injecting into irregular-shaped cavities. Plug a detonator into it and you're all set. No amount of jostling will set it off."
"What was it delivered in?"
"Flowers." Bentzen tapped his pen on the table. "It seems our bomber was trying to get to the third floor, but when we thought someone had staged an attack on you, we had an officer stationed there. We found remnants of the flowers on the front lawn, we're now assuming he placed the explosive device in a garbage can outside the front door. We found a woman in reception who remembered him coming off the elevator looking upset."
"So she saw him?"
"White male, thirties, early forties. Heavy black beard. She's coming in later today to work with a sketch artist." Bentzen rubbed his chin. "She also noted he spoke with some kind of accent. She thinks it might have been French, but she wasn't sure. She just knew it wasn't Spanish."