By Edward Dee

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A young actress plummets through the sky, slamming down onto the roof of a parked car. Detectives Anthony Ryan and Joe Gregory believe the Broadway star’s “suicide” may actually be something more sinister. The main suspect is a big-time Broadway producer with a shady past. But who is the mysterious figure known only as the “Juggler” — and what connection does he have to the dead girl? From the back alleys of Broadway to the vanishing Irish communities of Yonkers, Ryan and Gregory work through family secrets and tarnished reputations to find out what really happened on that balcony. As they discover the truth, the case becomes personal for Ryan, bringing him dangerously close to losing everything.



This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 1999 by Ed Dee

All rights reserved.

Warner Books, Inc.,

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at

First eBook Edition: September 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7595-2329-6


Thanks to my editor, Susan Sandler, and to Jackie Joiner, for their skill and honesty in muscling this story into a novel; Jimmy Franco, Harvey-Jane Kowal, and everyone at Warner Books; and especially Maureen Mahon Egen, for creating an atmosphere where a writer can grow and still feel at home.

To my guardian angels: my agent, Gail Hochman; and Sona Vogel for the fourth time, somehow managing to make sense out of the scribbled notes of an ex-cop.

To my friend Larry Sheaf, for the theater trivia; to Bobby Doyle, for the phone info; Red McGrath, for the circus material; and Terry McCorry, for the weight of old cash.

To the usual suspects for the war stories, the laughs, the drinks, and those wonderful cop voices: you know who you are.

To my lovely researchers: my daughters, Brenda and Patti; and my wife, Nancy, for her insight and patience.


It was one A.M. when a figure in white plummeted through the incandescent Times Square sky and slammed onto the roof of a parked Ford van. Bits of broken glass danced gracefully across the luminous pavement in one of those silent, slow-motion moments that occur when the world stops. Stunned. As if even God were taken by surprise.

"Jumper," Detective Joe Gregory said.

Gregory and his longtime partner, Detective Anthony Ryan, were stuck in traffic across the street, in the short block near the TKTS booth on West Forty-seventh Street.

"You saw someone jump?" Ryan said.

"I saw white falling. A woman in white."

"From where?"

"Those terraces above the billboard. The white caught my eye. White nightgown. Young woman."

Within seconds downtown traffic backed up past David Letterman's marquee, and the horns began. Ryan rolled down the window of their unmarked, radioless Buick.

"How do you know she's young?" Ryan said.

"Because I'm a trained investigator."

"What's her zodiac sign?"

"Go ahead, mock me," Gregory said, peering up as if he could see the phosphorous trail of her flight. "But I'll lay odds she's under thirty. Distraught over a lover's quarrel. Ten bucks says we find a tearstained note on her pillow."

A few minutes earlier the veteran detectives had decided to call it a night, take a slow cruise downtown to Brady's Bar. Sip a gin and tonic, tell a few war stories. Now that nightcap would have to wait, because fifty yards away a crowd gathered as dust rose above the crushed roof of a van like incense in the glare of neon.

"Where the hell are all these young foot cops when you need them?" Ryan said as he waved his hand in a futile attempt to part traffic. "You see any uniforms anywhere?"

The NYPD's senior homicide investigators were accustomed to arriving when the scene was framed in yellow tape, blood already dry on the pavement. Gregory blew the horn long and angrily at a cabbie in a skullcap who acted as if the Buick's front bumper were not really inches away from his cab's side door.

"How do you say 'asshole' in Urdu?" Gregory said.

"Asshole," Ryan answered, and he opened the car door.

"Stay in the car, pally," Gregory said, grabbing his arm. "We'll get there soon enough."

But Ryan knew exactly why his mother-hen partner wanted him to stay put; they'd been reenacting this same scene… with every young victim… ever since the death of Ryan's son eleven months ago. Anthony Ryan Jr., known as Rip to his friends, died in a Utah hang-gliding accident. In the cruelest confirmation of their brotherhood, Ryan and Gregory had both joined the league of men who'd lost their only sons. Across the street the crowds began to spill into the roadway.

"Someone has to get over there," Ryan said, pulling away. He slammed the car door behind him, then rapped his knuckles on the hood of the Buick to let Gregory know he'd be just fine. He tapped out the shave-and-a-haircut knock he'd heard his partner inflict on apartment doors for three decades. He'd be just fine. Then he shoved his leather shield case into his breast pocket, the gold badge hanging outside, and weaved through the jumble of cars jamming the intersection. The warm night air was moist and heavy, the pavement soft underfoot. The smell of sewer gas spiked the air.

The woman in white had landed on a dingy white Ford Econoline. Hand-painted on the side was "Times Square Ark of Salvation." A halo of loose dirt ringed the pavement beneath the van, jolted from the undercarriage by the force of the falling body. On the sidewalk in front of the van stood a tiny black man in a white shirt and black bow tie, holding a microphone in his trembling hands.

"Sweet Jesus," the street preacher kept saying. "Oh, sweet Jesus."

Ryan elbowed his way through the crowd as a familiar queasiness came over him. It was a feeling he remembered from his days as a young uniformed cop, when a sudden scream ricocheted off the buildings. Everyone looks right at the uniform; you cannot hide in the color blue in this city. John Q. Citizen demands that the monster be dealt with quickly, shoved back under the bed. And that shove was the street cop's stock-in-trade.

"Where did she come from?" Ryan said.

"From the Lord," the preacher said.

Ryan couldn't remember how long it had been since he'd felt the jitters that came with being the first cop on an ugly scene. But the standing rule of the first cop was, "Take control." The crowd calms when a uniform appears. The first cop plays all the roles. He's the doctor: he takes a pulse, checks for breathing, performs CPR, fakes CPR, fakes something, anything. Then he plays cop: covers the body, talks into his radio, barks at the crowd, yells, "Move back… give her some air!" But he "takes control." No matter how wildly his stomach is doing back flips.

"I mean what building did she come from?" Ryan said, the thunderous boom of the falling body still ringing in his ears.

"From the house of the good Lord Jesus," the preacher said.

The woman lay curled on the swayed roof of the van, her head tucked awkwardly under her left shoulder. Long reddish brown hair covered her bloodied face. Ryan's legs trembled as he stepped up onto one of the preacher's wooden speakers. He leaned across the van's roof and adjusted the white garment to cover her bare thighs. The material felt thick and coarse between his fingers. It was not a nightgown, but a dress, pleated and full skirted. Old-fashioned, like something you saw on American Bandstand in the fifties.

Ryan took a deep breath and tried to detach, to keep his mind calm and think of this simply as a freak occurrence… not his life… not his problem. He looked around for his partner, then thought, Where the hell are the sirens?

He took another deep breath, and he was doing just fine… until he saw the pearl white shard of bone jutting through the skin at the base of her skull, and he saw his own gentle, funny son and shivered at the thought of his body shattering as it struck the floor of a bleak desert canyon.

"Someone call 911," Ryan said to the crowd, his voice hoarse. "Anyone, please." Someone had to have a cell phone: a hooker, a tourist, a drug dealer.

Ryan looked for Gregory, but the faces in the crowd were blurred and hazy. He tried to focus on something else. From its billboard perch across the street, the red Eight O'Clock Coffee cup steamed endlessly into the sultry night air.

Then he heard something.

Sounds. Coming from the woman in white. Like words… whispered in a moan or grunt. In that instant his senses exploded and he was aware of everything. Images of air and light went large and floated in slow motion. He moved closer to her face, trying to hear or feel the slightest hint of a breath or twitch. He could smell her hair, a fruity shampoo.

The Ark of Salvation groaned under Ryan's weight as he climbed onto the roof of the van. Creases in the metal cut into his shins; sweat ran down his sides. He cleared the woman's hair away, and white beads from a broken necklace fell, tinkling onto the tin. At first he thought pearls, but then he found the crucifix of a rosary. He placed his hand on her shattered ribs. She felt like a bag of broken glass.

Ryan curved his body until his cheek touched warm metal. He opened her mouth. He could feel her blood on his face. Wet. As were her lips… warm and moist.

He didn't know how long he'd stayed up there or exactly what he'd done. But a cop on horseback pulled at his jacket, saying that it was enough. Next thing Ryan was back on the sidewalk, where a uniformed cop half his age said, "I've been in this precinct five years, champ. This is the last place in the world I'd be giving anybody mouth-to-mouth. Know what I mean?"

Amid the lights swirling, radios squawking, car doors slamming, Joe Gregory handed his partner a wet cloth that reeked of disinfectant.

"You know that was stupid," Gregory said softly. "I don't have to tell you that, right?"

Ryan wiped blood from his face and felt a slight stickiness on his upper lip. A tacky sensation he'd first noticed when he was trying to breathe for her. Maybe she'd creamed her face, or it was some residue of makeup remover.

"I thought she might be alive," he said.

"Are you nuts, or what?" Gregory said, not softly this time. He looked around to see if anyone had heard him. It was private business, between partners.

"You gotta let go, pally," Gregory said. "You're gonna make yourself sick like this, the way you're going."

Horns honked, cars rode by slowly in the warm electric night. Some guy yelled to a cop, asking if it was a movie set, looking around as if he expected to see Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis.

"Who is she?" Ryan asked.

"Some actress, they think," Gregory said, pointing up. "From this building here. The Broadway Arms. It's a co-op for theater people."

The pace of the street had risen to near normal again. Act one to curtain in a New York minute.

"Do we know her name yet?" Ryan said.

"Gillian something. Nobody I ever heard of. The squad's canvassing the building as we speak. But I'm having second thoughts about the jumping."

Ryan himself had wondered why someone would cream her face, then choose to die. But he'd seen enough strange suicide rituals, from donning a tuxedo to complete nakedness, the latter being the most common. He folded the damp cloth carefully and put it into his pocket with the broken rosary beads.

"Just come over here with me for a second," Gregory said, his big paw on Ryan's shoulder. "I got something to show you."

Ryan followed his partner around to the back of the van. A uniformed cop had covered the body with a red-checked tablecloth, a souvenir from the closing of Mama Leone's. Gregory held the tablecloth in the air and pointed to her feet.

"Check this out," he said. "She's barefoot."

"I see that," Ryan said, shrugging.

"And her feet are clean," Gregory added emphatically, still holding the tablecloth in the air. "How the hell did she walk across a terrace in this city without getting dirt or soot on her feet?"

Maybe the terrace was newly carpeted, Ryan thought, or she'd kicked off her shoes at the last minute, then stood on a chair. Maybe her shoes came off in the fall. There were logical explanations. Almost always.

"She said something to me," Ryan said, and instantly regretted it.

On the sidewalk, a black midget in an ornate blue-and-gold doorman's uniform hawked the stragglers and out-of-towners. Yanking them toward the entrance to a tacky nightclub on the second floor.

"Said what?" Gregory asked.

"I couldn't understand it."

The rolling lights of the ITT Building announced, "Sweltering! 95 degrees high. Yanks 1, Tigers 3."

"This woman was dead before you got there," Gregory said. "What you heard was expelled gas. The body expels gas after death. You know that. She didn't say a freaking word."

Maybe he's right, Ryan thought. With all the street noise, the sirens, everybody yelling. Who knows? He tried to recall the moment, to hear the sounds again, but it was like trying to snatch a puff of smoke from the air.

"You're probably right."

"Freakin' A I'm right," Gregory said.

Ryan was well aware that in moments like this you stuck with what you knew for sure. Two things were definite: He could still feel the stickiness on his lips; and he could not possibly have saved her. The words she spoke, the words he thought he'd heard, were the spoken testimony of nightmares, not courtrooms. He would now go about the business of trying to put them out of his mind. After all, it didn't make sense, not even to him. It was just a whisper. He was being weird again, he knew that. But it had sounded as though she'd said, "I love you."


The late city final edition of the New York Post identified the Times Square jumper as Gillian Stone, a young actress only weeks away from opening in a chorus role in a superhyped revival of West Side Story. It was topic A on all the morning talk shows. Danny Eumont reread page three of the paper, editing the story, as he leaned against the warm stone wall of the Mid-Town North Precinct.

Three reporters shared the byline of the piece, which was well written considering the short deadline. As a journalist himself, Danny knew he had to write a far different West Side story. One with a personal subplot buried between the lines. He circled a reference to unnamed police sources who stated that the preliminary investigation indicated suicide. He knew that was false.

Angled shafts of sunlight formed geometric patterns on the brownstone across the street. A beat-up Honda sat directly in front of the hydrant, the windshield full of PBA cards, two baby seats in the back. A new bumper sticker stood out on the car's fading blue paint: "New York City Cops Deserve More." Just above the left brake light, another warned: "If You're Not a Hemorrhoid, Get Off My Ass."

Although he had press credentials Danny decided to wait outside rather than give the beleaguered desk officer an opportunity to break his balls. His most recent piece in Manhattan magazine painted one of the boys in blue as much less than New York's Finest. The welcome mat is never out for snakes in the media grass. Danny checked his watch; another two minutes had passed. Patience was not his virtue. He sipped coffee from a Starbucks double cup and stared at the front door, watching for his uncle, First Grade Detective Anthony Ryan.

Shifts were changing at the precinct, the day tour relieving the midnight watch. Armed people in baggy shorts and tight T-shirts bullshitted at the curb, the exchange of priceless parking spots in full swing. The late-tour cops looked grubby and exhausted, as if they could not possibly stay awake long enough to survive the LIE or the Palisades Parkway; as if they'd nod off long before the first breath of salty air in East Cupcake, Long Island, or the sharp scent of Rockland County pine.

Many of them never got home, for one reason or another. If they were lucky, however, a shower awaited—wash off the soot of midtown. Then fall into bed, hopefully make love to the good woman waiting there, still warm and funky from the night, sleep until five P.M., awaken to meat loaf and mashed potatoes, kiss the kids good night, drive to Manhattan. Do it all again. It was a tough life. One his uncle had told him to avoid.

Anthony and Leigh Ryan had practically raised Danny. After his father split, he and his mother, Nancy, moved in with the Ryans. That first night at the Ryans' they stayed up all night, unpacking boxes and talking. Danny remembered sitting in his cousin Rip's bedroom, crying as Rip furiously shoved furniture around, making room, making plans. Rip was a year older and seemed infinitely wiser. This is gonna be great, he kept saying. And he made it great. Leigh and Nancy were sisters who got along well enough to share the same household for four years. After four years in that tiny room Rip and Danny were brothers for life. He still couldn't believe he'd never see him again. When Danny and his mother finally moved to their own place, it was to an apartment less than a block away from the Ryans.

From the open station-house window Danny could hear the madhouse that was morning in Mid-Town North. A convoy of pissed-off hookers shuffled past the desk, heading for the front door. The smell of cheap perfume infused the air as the gang-chained hookers yanked each other sideways down the three front steps. They knew the drill and moved directly across the sidewalk, stepping up into the waiting wagon.

"Y'all waiting for me, sugah?" said a tall black girl in thigh-high boots and a red leather micro-mini. The line slowed as those with the highest heels and tightest skirts carefully negotiated the stretch up onto the van's metal steps. "You gorgeous baby, you stay right there till I get back. You hear me?"

Danny set his coffee on the window ledge and stared at his paper.

"Ain't that lovable, he's blushing," the woman said. "When I get back I'm going suck that pretty boy's dick until he screams, 'Lu Ann, Lu Ann, I love you!' I am, sugah baby, I am. You wait right there."

Danny ignored her and kept his eyes glued to the newspaper. The front page consisted of two pictures, side by side, underneath the headline. One picture was a studio head shot of the beautiful Gillian; the other was a long-range photo of the Broadway Arms. A curving arrow, superimposed on the eighteen-story building, traced the path of Gillian's descent. From a terrace on the top floor she traveled past a billboard of an immense sweating navel—an ad for suntan products—past the marquee of a shuttered porn theater—to the roof of a preacher's van.

Suddenly the paper flew out of Danny's hands and he was spun around, almost yanked out of his loafers by the force of two meaty hands. Blood drained from his face as he was spread-eagled against the wall, his hands yanked behind his back. The metal teeth of handcuffs clicked through their ratchets.

"We got a collar here, pally," Joe Gregory said. "Lewd and lascivious leering at an official New York City hospitality hostess. Wadda ya got to say for yourself, Romeo?"

This can't be legit, Danny thought as the Egg McMuffin he'd wolfed down earlier returned for a bitter encore in his throat. Maybe they got their wires crossed. He hadn't quite heard what Gregory said. It happened so fast. He turned his face away from the wall, far enough to see his uncle standing on the sidewalk, hands in his pockets… smiling. Anthony Ryan wouldn't be smiling if this were legit. Then he winked at Danny. It definitely wasn't legit. Just Joe Gregory's sick idea of fun. Danny caught his breath and in that instant went from frightened to angry. He twisted around to face Gregory.

"What the hell's wrong with you, asshole?" Danny yelled. He appealed to his uncle. "Please call this lunatic off."

"I never interfere with due process," Anthony Ryan said.

"This is my neighborhood, for Christ's sake. I live here."

Danny actually lived two blocks from the precinct, on West Fifty-sixth, in a studio with a broken Murphy bed.

"Taking the Lord's name in vain in proximity to an official police station," Gregory said. "The charges continue to mount."

The hookers begged Gregory to put Danny into their van. Cops on the sidewalk offered their opinions as to where he should go.

"Why don't we just let him ride to Central Booking in the van," Ryan said. "I hear he's quite the ladies' man."

"Yeah," Gregory said. "But then the media might criticize us. That might be sexual harassment, or some kind of ethical faux pas."

"Right," Ryan said. "We wouldn't want an ethical faux pas on our records."

Joe Gregory steered Danny by the back of his shirt all the way to Ninth Avenue. Apparently not satisfied that Danny was handcuffed behind his back in broad daylight, Gregory would jostle him every few steps so that he wobbled drunkenly. Danny never understood what his uncle saw in an idiot like Joe Gregory. And they'd been partners forever. Go figure.

"Okay, joke's over," Danny said. "Let's act like adults now."

"Oh, this guy deserves a beating, pally," Gregory said. "Just say the word. It would make my day."

"Great," Danny said. "Now he thinks he's Dirty Harry."

"I'd eat Dirty Harry for breakfast," Gregory said. "By the way, how soon can I expect to see this police brutality story in Manhattan magazine?"

"Soon as you find someone who can read it to you," Danny snapped.

"Maybe you can pick me up some comp copies," Gregory continued, pulling his handcuff key from his pocket. "I'd like one for my brutality scrapbook, one for my false arrest scrap-book. Couple others… send to my loved ones. They'll be so proud."

When they reached Ryan's car Danny felt the handcuffs fall away. His wrists ached from just that short time of steel against bone. He understood why more civilian complaints were filed over too tight handcuffs than any other police act.

"See… you… there, pally," Gregory said, pointing to his eyes, then to Ryan. Cops used signals, shrugs, and nods like a private language, their business not meant for the ears of civilians, especially reporters.

Joe Gregory tousled Danny's hair, then walked away north on Ninth Avenue. Gregory was a big meaty guy, the definition of burly. Pedestrians swung wide around him as he lumbered up the hill, arms hanging, the backs of his huge hands facing forward. Planet of the Apes, Danny thought. Pure Neanderthal. Only once, when he reached the corner, did Joe Gregory turn around to flash his red-faced, shit-eating grin.

"Funny guy, your partner," Danny said, rubbing his wrists. "He have an overwhelming need to be an asshole, or what?"

"Actually, he likes you."

"He's got some way of showing affection. I bet women are lining up to go out with that guy."

"He was just kidding with you, Danny."

"No, he wasn't. It's the Todd Walker story. That's what that shit was all about. Because I wrote a negative piece about a cop. Gregory's letting me know I've stepped over the thin blue line."

"Don't overanalyze him, please."

"I'm not. I don't care what he thinks. I'm proud of that story. Todd Walker was a bad cop. He should have been convicted, and you know it. He beat that kid for no reason, pure and simple. Beat him half to death. For what… because the kid called him a fag in Spanish?"

"Todd Walker was a dirtbag," Ryan said. "And most cops, including Joe Gregory, think he got off way too light. My partner just has a thing about seeing our dirty laundry in public."

"Yeah, and I'll bet he has a pile of his own dirty laundry."

Ryan gave Danny a look. A look he knew meant "Don't be a wiseass, nobody likes a wiseass." It was his pet peeve with Danny, who claimed he was haunted by the ghost of Groucho Marx whispering wiseass comments in his ear.

"How did you know I was here?" Ryan said.

"I called Aunt Leigh. Are you assigned to this case?"

"It's officially a Mid-Town North investigation, but it's high profile, so the chief of detectives wants us to keep a hand in. Plus we were first on the scene."

Anthony Ryan stood on the edge of the curb and turned to face foot traffic on Ninth; cops hated to leave their backs exposed. He leaned against his blue Oldsmobile Ninety-eight. The car was a 1990, but new to Ryan. He'd been driving Rip's 1975 olive green Volvo, but after Rip's death, he gave it to Danny. The car was such an ugly color, it was simple to find in any parking lot. Rip had nicknamed the car "the olive" and said all he needed was the martini.

"What were you guys doing in Times Square last night, anyway?" Danny said.

"Fighting the forces of evil."

"No, seriously."

"If you must know, we were schmoozing. Gregory was collecting money for the boat ride for Project Children."

"Project Children," Danny said. "Isn't that the charity that brings delinquents from Northern Ireland over here so they can swap notes with our delinquents?"

Ryan smiled. Danny knew he could never be angry with him for long. That was the smile he remembered whenever he and Rip got in trouble. The smile and the calmness.

"Okay, what is it, Danny?" he said. "What's going on?"

"It's about Gillian Stone."

"Information from the press. That's a switch."


On Sale
Sep 26, 2009
Page Count
304 pages