Sing a Song of Gladness and Cheer
by Theresa Kyle

SHSVS, Episode 804, Part 2

Back to Part 1

"Mrs. Magoch murdered! You're kidding?" The young woman standing in the doorway was so startled, she almost swallowed her gum.

"No, unfortunately, we're not," Starsky said, putting away his badge.

"How'd it happen? When?" The only other resident of the fourth floor of Paradise Towers--a redheaded twenty-something in electric blue jogging shorts, fuchsia legwarmers, a t-shirt that proclaimed she was a fan of the rock group Asia, and black ballet slippers--looked nervous as she glanced down the hallway, then back at the two detectives.

"We don't know many of the details yet; the body was just discovered," Hutch said. "May we ask your name?"

"Rose. Rose Garland." The redhead took out her gum, apparently deciding that gum-chewing was not appropriate for the occasion. "Garland, like Judy. Are you sure Mrs. Magoch is really dead?"

"Yes, we're sure," Starsky said. "Did you know her?"

Rose Garland shook her head. She was a slender woman, slender to the point of anorexia, but her face was fairly pretty, and her bright red hair--hair so red it reminded Hutch of Linda Baylor's--made her even more striking. Hutch wondered if she were an actress, or a model. "I can't say I really knew her, although we'd talk sometimes. You know, sharing the same floor and jazz, we'd see each other coming and going. Sometimes, she'd bring me homemade bread--her assistant makes it by the truckload--or cookies; her assistant made those, too. Mrs. Magoch couldn't cook worth a hoot herself--Oh, I'm sorry, I guess that's really horrible to say now, huh?" she added, apologetically. "Or sometimes, we'd go jogging together." She appraised Starsky. "Hey, you're really cute for a cop. You like to dance?"

Starsky smiled briefly. "Sorry, I'm already taken."

Hutch broke in. "Miss, if you wouldn't mind, can you think back and tell us if Mrs. Magoch said anything to you in the last few days? Maybe about some problems she was having, or someone who was bothering her?"

Rose frowned, as if in concentration; thinking, for her, was apparently something of a strain. "No, I can't think of anything," she said finally. "Mrs. Magoch kept pretty much to herself most of the time. I mean, she was always polite, saying hi and jazz, but that was about it. Except for the times we went jogging together, but we haven't done that lately. She likes a ten-minute mile, and I'm more in the seven-minute range."

"Me, too," Hutch said before he thought.

Rose looked at him approvingly. "You know, seeing that bod of yours, I could tell you're a jogger," she said admiringly. "You ever been in a marathon? I'm going to Boston next year--I'm training for it now. Running six miles a day."

Starsky spoke before Hutch could respond. "Did you see anyone in the hallway this morning? Coming or leaving Mrs. Magoch's apartment, maybe?"

Rose smiled. "Sorry, cute stuff, but I wouldn't have noticed if the Russians dropped an H-bomb if it happened in the morning. I'm totally not a morning person and I almost never get out of bed before noon. This morning, I didn't get up until about half an hour ago--and I have to be at work at two." She looked at Hutch again, speculatively this time. "How about you, blue eyes? You taken, too?"

"Afraid so," Hutch said. "How about in the last few days? You see anyone going into or leaving Mrs. Magoch's apartment?"

"No. She doesn't have many visitors; like I said, she kept to herself pretty much. Oh, except for that guy last night."

Hutch felt his heartbeat accelerate. Careful not to reveal his excitement, however, he just said, "Guy?"

"Yeah. Some guy visited her last night. A really cute one, too--although not as cute as either of you."

"Tell us about him," Starsky said.

Rose shrugged her angular shoulders. "Not much to tell. I come off the elevator and there's this guy walking out of Mrs. Magoch's pad. She was standing there in the doorway, looking at him, her face really tense and kind of scared. He didn't look scared, though, or mad either, just kind of hurt, or unhappy maybe. And he says to her, 'You haven't heard the last of me.' And she says, 'You come around here again and I'll call my lawyer.' Then she looks at me, and she looks kind of...embarrassed. Like she wished I hadn't seen this. Anyway, she slams the door shut and the guy, not even looking at me, walks to the elevator. And that's it."

"Could you describe him?" Starsky said--also, Hutch saw, keeping his voice casual with an effort.

Rose grinned. "Be happy to, sugar. He was tall and hunky, maybe about thirty, with gorgeous blond hair--not as blond as yours," she added to Hutch. "Kind of a dark gold, and this round face like a cherub, and big brown eyes that could melt the polar ice caps. Except for the hair color, he looked a little like that actor--rats, what's his name? He was in that show Vegas and now he's in Gavilan--you know who I mean--"

"Robert Urich?" Starsky guessed.

"Yeah, that's him. Anyway, this guy looked a little like him, just with lighter hair. Totally awesome. I tell you, I'd fall on my knees for him in about two seconds." She grinned again, flashing perfect white caps. Hutch, remembering what a big deal girls had made of kissing good night on the first date when he'd gone to college, suddenly felt a little old.

"You remember what he was wearing?" Starsky asked.

"Black pants and a leather jacket, I think. And he was carrying a leather bag, you know, those bags that men sometimes carry. It was really big and it was slung over his shoulder."

"About what time was this?" Hutch asked. "That you saw him."

"I'd just come home from my shift, which ends at ten, and I live about ten minutes away from my job, so maybe about ten-ten? I can't say for sure, though, since I don't wear a watch. Watches ruin your tan line, you know. Sorry," she added apologetically.

"Shift? You're a nurse?" Starsky asked.

She shook her head. "Waitress. At the Cat's Meow, that club on LeRoy." She flushed a little. "I know you're probably wondering how a waitress could afford a place like this, but I had an inheritance from my mother a few years ago, and I thought a condo would be a good investment. And the monthly maintenance fee costs less bread than rent on a good apartment. Oh, speaking of bread--if you don't mind, I really should be getting ready for work."

"Okay," Starsky said. "If we have any more questions, we'll be in touch."

Rose gave Starsky a slow, sensual smile as her eyes drifted, for just a second, down to the tight jeans he was wearing, then back up to his face. "I like that idea, sugar," she said, her voice a purr. "Being in touch. Yeah, you do that."

She closed her door, and they walked back to Mrs. Magoch's. "Jeez," Starsky said, "I thought she was gonna eat me alive."

"You go around looking the way you do, Starsk, you have to be prepared to be sexually harassed," Hutch teased.

Starsky gave him a look. "That's right. Blame the victim," he said.

They walked under the yellow tape back into Mrs. Magoch's apartment, to find that the lab boys and the photographer had left. Only Ginny was still there, standing in the living room and peeling off her gloves.

"My guys just wrapped her up and took her away," Ginny said, seeing them. "I hope you didn't need to see her again."

"No, we didn't," Hutch said definitely, and Starsky nodded his assent. "Where's the personal assistant?"

"Wolf? He's in the kitchen, cooking something. Poor guy. I don't think he quite realizes that nobody's here to eat his cooking anymore."

"When can you do the post?" Starsky asked.

"I don't have anybody else in the cooler right now, so I can probably finish before close of business today." Ginny glanced around, her eyes taking in the plush furnishings just as Hutch's had earlier. "Hard to believe somebody could get beaten to death in a place like this, huh? But what the hell, I guess there aren't any safe places anymore."

Hutch felt a chill, remembering what had happened to his partner right next to police headquarters just a few short years before. "Yeah," he said shortly.

Ginny left the apartment, and Starsky and Hutch went into the kitchen. As Ginny had said, Isak Wolf was at the stove, stirring what looked like a pot of milk on a front burner. He looked up when the detectives walked in.

"What are you making?" Starsky asked.

Isak looked back down at the milk, as if surprised it was there. "Oh...this is eggnog. I make it the old-fashioned way, mixing the eggs in the milk and cream and sugar and stirring it slowly on the stove to cook the eggs, then adding the nutmeg and the rum later. Lila really likes eggnog. Last year I made a huge batch, and we sat on her couch on Christmas Eve and watched old movies and got drunk together..." His voice trailed off.

"We're really sorry for your loss, Mr. Wolf," Hutch said.

"Yeah. Thanks." Abruptly, Isak turned off the stove and leaned against the kitchen counter. "Shit," he said. "Life really sucks, doesn't it? She was only seventy-one--that's not old nowadays. And she was healthy as a horse. A real survivor. Did you know she was on the Titanic?"

"Yeah, we know," Starsky said. "She must've been a remarkable woman."

"She was. Oh, I don't mean just because she was a movie star, or because she was married to Larry Magoch. She was just...special, period. She was so nice to people, even fans who bugged her about Larry. I asked her sometimes why she bothered, answering all his fan mail, talking to fans, wearing herself out guest-speaking at classes on movies at the university for no money. But she said she was the keeper of her husband's flame, that it was her duty to keep his memory alive. Maybe...maybe she's happier now, though. She told me once she felt like her life was over when she lost her husband."

"Yeah, it's obvious she really loved him a lot," Hutch said. "Mr. Wolf--"

"Oh, come on, call me Isak. Mr. Wolf sounds like some old guy."

"Okay, Isak," Hutch said, having a weird feeling of deja vu, remembering when Lila had also asked they call her by her first name. Had it really been just that morning? "A neighbor described a visitor Mrs. Magoch had a little after ten last night, tall, thirty or so, blond hair, kind of round face, looks a little like Robert Urich. Does that sound like anybody Lila knew?"

Isak shook his head. "No. She had a visitor last night? That's funny, she didn't mention it when she called me."

"She called you last night?" This was Starsky. "When?"

"I don't know, maybe a little before eleven. She said she just wanted to see how I was, and then she said that she had something she wanted to tell me today, something important."

Hutch, once again, felt that familiar surge of adrenaline. Maybe Lila had told Isak what she'd wanted to talk to him and Starsky about. "Did she say what it was?"

Isak hesitated. Then, reluctantly, he said, "She just said...it was about 'what happened in 1956.' That's all she said."

"Her son's kidnapping and murder," Starsky said.

"Yeah, that must've been it. It was kind of weird. I mean she never mentioned the kidnapping to me before, not once, not even in passing--never even mentioned her child, the one that died. But last night, she said she wanted to tell me something about it. I have no idea what it was, though. I guess I'll never know now."

"What else did she say?" Hutch asked.

"Nothing else. She told me to have a good night's sleep and then she said..." Isak hesitated again.

"What?" Starsky said.

The black man smiled, a little self-consciously. "She just said she loved me. She did that once in a while, would hug me and tell me she loved me. I think she thought I didn't get enough nurturing when I was a kid, just because I told her I was adopted, even though I told her over and over again my parents spoiled me rotten." He sobered. "Hey--you think her wanting to tell me something about that old kidnapping had something to do with what happened to her?"

"Dunno," Starsky said. "Do you?"

"I don't know. It's a little far out to think her child's kidnapping all those years ago would have anything to do with her getting killed now, though. You know what I think? I think maybe that guy who came around last night was a fan--a fan of her husband's, or maybe Lila's. Last night, he comes here to get an autograph or to talk with her about Larry or something, and maybe she said something he didn't like, or something, so today he comes back and kills her. That's what happened to John Lennon, you know--a deranged fan asked him for an autograph, and he gave it to him, and then a little bit later, he went back and shot him."

"It's possible," Starsky said noncommittally. "But not likely. Larry Magoch wasn't John Lennon, or Elvis--he was the lead in a bunch of cowboy movies, not a sex symbol. And Lila made her movies a long, long time ago. Unless, of course, you know of any crazy fans that have written Lila threatening mail or made threatening phone calls, or who've been stalking her. Do you?"

"No," Isak admitted. "But shit, the kidnapping was, what, twenty-six years ago? What could be the connection between that and...what happened today?"

"We don't know," Hutch said. "We're just thinking it's one hell of a coincidence that Lila's talking to you about her child's murder when she'd never mentioned it to you before, and then gets killed herself the next day. Isak, if you don't mind my asking, would you tell us how you got this job? You mentioned you'd gone to college, and you're obviously intelligent. And cooking eggnog and answering fan mail don't sound like much of a challenge for an intelligent man with a college degree."

Isak almost smiled. "Yeah, I guess it does seem kind of strange. Well, believe it or not, she came after me."

"Yeah?" This from Starsky.

"Yeah. I have a BA in journalism from UCLA," Isak explained. "But when I graduated in '76, I found out everybody else had majored in journalism, too. The wake of Watergate, I guess--everybody in the 1970s wanted to be another Woodward or Bernstein. Anyway, journalism jobs were thin on the ground--and the recession didn't help either--so, after a year of looking, I finally gave up and took a job in a paint store so I could pay the rent. Then one day last year, Lila shows up at my door and tells me that she wants someone to write a book about her husband and would I do it, and she'll pay me by the week. It kind of surprised me, since I've never written a damned thing--I mean for publication--but she said one of my former professors recommended me to her. Anyway, I said yes really fast." Another twitch of a smile. "I didn't know who Larry Magoch was then, I'm ashamed to admit, but she didn't seem to mind that."

"Did the book ever get written?" Hutch asked.

Isak's eyes clouded. "N-no. We worked on it for a while, she'd say stuff into a cassette recorder and I'd transcribe the tapes on this word processor she bought me, but after a while I noticed she started making excuses not to work on it. She said it was too painful to talk about all those old memories. She didn't mention anything specifically, but I think she meant the kidnapping. Like I said, she never talked about that--to me or, I think, to anyone. She's never given even one interview about it, to anybody--neither did her husband, while he was alive. Anyway, finally I asked her if she wanted to chuck the project for now, and she said yes. This was last spring, before we went to Bermuda for the summer. Then she asked me if I'd keep working for her at the same wage, as a personal assistant, and I said okay. It's not a bad job. She pays me $15,000 a year--more than I was earning at the paint store--and gives me flexible hours, so I've been able to go to grad school. That's what all unemployed or underemployed college graduates do eventually, you know--go to grad school."

"Ah, Isak, you mind me asking what you were doing this morning?" Starsky said. "Before you came here."

Isak answered readily; either he didn't understand the implication or didn't mind it. "I went to the university to hand in a paper that was late, winter break's just started but I was late getting a paper in, then I went to the campus bookstore and bought some books for next semester. I got home about ten-thirty, I think, and read a few hours. I had to stop to have my car looked at; that's why I was a little late getting here." His eyes went to Hutch, then back to Starsky. "Am I a suspect?"

"Everybody's a suspect right now," Hutch said. It was a standard line.

"Yeah, right. Is that why one of your lab guys asked me for my fingerprints?"

"Standard procedure," Starsky said. "We print the whole apartment, then eliminate the prints of people who live here--or work here."

"And also compare them to the prints on the murder weapon, right? If there are any. Hey, no big deal, I know you always look at the people who are closest to the victim first. But what would my motive be?" Isak sounded more curious than angry.

"We don't have any idea what anybody's motive would be right now," Hutch said. "By the way, we're going to want to look around this place. We don't need your permission since this is a crime scene, but we'd like you to know for your own information. If there's anything here that belongs to you, it's going to have to stay here for the time being."

"I don't have anything that belongs to me here, except some of the food in the fridge," Isak said. "And, hey, look at anything if you think it'll help. There're a lot of papers in the desk in the living room--mostly financial records and letters from fans, but maybe you'll find something useful. Lila always kept the bottom drawer locked, though, and I have no idea where the key is."

"We'll manage," Starsky said.

Isak nodded, then said, "Oh, there's something I wanted to ask you guys. Lila was Jewish."

"Yeah, we know," Hutch said. "So?"

"Well--although she wasn't very devout, I mean she ate BLTs, and she never went to shul or fasted on the holy days or anything--I think being Jewish was important to her, and people in the Jewish faith believe the body should be put in its final resting place as soon as possible. Can her body be released in time for her to be buried tomorrow?"

"That shouldn't be a problem," Hutch said, remembering Ginny had said she'd do the post that afternoon. "Go ahead and make your arrangements. You understand, though, that since this was obviously a homicide, there'll have to be an autopsy."

"Yeah, I understand. That's okay. I mean, I know there are rules against autopsies with some Jews, but I want you to find out who killed her. Well, I guess I don't have any real say in that--her lawyer has power of attorney, not me, but I don't think he'll object either."

"Speaking of which," Starsky said, "where can we find this lawyer guy?"

"Smigiel? He has an office downtown, but you won't find him there. It's Monday afternoon."

"Meaning what?"

"Meaning it's his golf day. He'll be at the golf course."

"Didn't you call him and tell him about Lila?" Hutch asked.

"Of course I called him. But nothing stops him from playing golf on Mondays. Trust me. He'll be there."

Hutch looked at Starsky, who shrugged.

"Okay," he said. "What course?"

Albee Smigiel, the late Lila Magoch's lawyer, aimed his driver and, in a strong, graceful swing, whacked the ball across the wide expanse of green grass. It sailed over a sand trap and landed just a few inches inside the green. 804-2.jpg

"Good shot," Hutch said.

"Thanks," Smigiel said. He started to carry his golf bag toward the green--scornful, Hutch noticed, of using a cart. He was a small man, no more than 5'4" and scrawny, perhaps in his mid-sixties, with neatly trimmed gray hair and a seamed face as hard as granite. "Now, would you policemen mind telling me why you're here?"

"Mr. Smigiel, your client, Mrs. Lila Magoch, just died by violence this morning," Starsky said. "I'd think it'd be obvious why we want to talk with you."

"Not really." The lawyer was walking at a quick, efficient pace. "We were business associates, not friends."

Cold-blooded bastard, Hutch thought. "So you didn't like her," he said.

"Like her? I neither liked nor disliked her. I was her lawyer and she was my client, period." Smigiel squinted up into the sun. "Dammit, I hate the winter. The sun sets so damned early. What time do you have?"

"A little past three," Starsky said.

"Damn. Well, maybe I can do nine holes anyway."

Starsky and Hutch exchanged glances, and Hutch knew Starsky was thinking the same thing he'd been thinking a minute before: Cold-blooded bastard.

"Tell me, Mr. Smigiel, do you know of anybody who would've had a motive to kill your client?" Hutch asked.

"No. No one," the lawyer said briskly. "I wouldn't call Lila a saint; she was far from that. Well, after all, she'd been a movie actress. But she didn't have any enemies that I know of. She was kind, even to fans of her husband who sometimes could be a bit overbearing. And she was generous, gave regularly to charities, animal shelters, the United Way, B'nai Brith. I never even heard her speak one word against anyone. No one would want to hurt her."

"Well, someone did," Hutch said.

Smigiel let out a snort. "You police have an unerring gift for declaring the obvious. Yes, someone hurt her, but I think it's apparent it was just some thug. Some random intruder bent on stealing some of her valuables, and, when he saw her, panicked and killed her."

"We don't think so, Mr. Smigiel," Starsky said. "There were no signs of a struggle, like there probably would've been if a stranger had attacked her. She also had a good lock on the front door, and it wasn't picked or forced, and neither were any of the windows, not to mention the fact that she was on the fourth floor. Either she let someone in, or they had a key, or she left the door unlocked, but her assistant told us she didn't do that."

Smigiel shrugged.

"How about telling us how many people had the key to Mrs. Magoch's apartment?" Starsky asked.

"Just me and her assistant."

"That's what Mr. Wolf told us, too. Any chance she would've given a copy of the key to anyone else?"

"I suppose it's possible, but very unlikely. Lila was getting older, but she was certainly no fool."

"Yeah." Hutch watched a woman golfer chop up some grass doing practice swings on the next hole. Then he looked back at Smigiel again. "We have a description of a visitor she had last night," he said. "Blond male, about thirty, good-looking, looks a little like the actor who was on Vegas, Robert Urich. Ring any bells?"

"No."

Hutch refrained from saying, Cooperative, aren't you? "Well, we have another possible lead," he said. "It so happens my partner and I saw her this morning--Mrs. Magoch. While she was still alive."

"You saw her?" Was it Hutch's imagination, or did the lawyer seem to tense up at his words?

"Yeah," Starsky said flatly. "She came by our house with some homemade bread. She said you told us we were there--that two cops had moved into the neighborhood."

Smigiel's colorless eyes widened. "You two are the policemen who moved into that old pink house by the lake last year? I'll be damned. Yes, I told Lila last summer, before she went to Bermuda, about two policemen living close by, but I didn't recognize the names when you identified yourselves. Quite a coincidence."

"Yeah," Hutch agreed. "One hell of a coincidence. She comes to visit us and gets killed a few hours later. But there was something else that was strange. She asked us if someone would go to jail if they killed someone but didn't mean to. Kind of an odd question to ask, isn't it?"

Smigiel looked away, squinting down the fairway. "Very odd," he agreed. "But then, Lila was inclined to be eccentric, like all actresses. Look at her keeping that room she called her 'memory room'--packed full of her husband's old junk, even though I've tried for years to get her to donate it to a museum and get the tax deduction. And look at all the time she spent responding to her husband's fan letters. Hell, even her husband's horse still gets fan letters, believe it or not. She and her assistant answer them all."

Hutch looked at Starsky. Starsky looked at Smigiel. "You're evading my partner's question, Mr. Smigiel," he said. "Why would Lila Magoch, a nice lady who looked like she never did anything more illegal than jaywalk, ask someone a question about murder?"

"I haven't the faintest idea," Smigiel said, but Hutch noticed he was still avoiding looking at either of them. "Perhaps she read an Agatha Christie novel or saw something on TV, and was wondering about it. You know how women are--they get fixated on the damnedest things." He put his golf bag down and walked up to his ball.

"We don't think so, Mr. Smigiel," Hutch said. "We don't think Mrs. Magoch was asking that question frivolously. In fact, we think it might have something to do with what happened to her."

"Nonsense."

"You have any idea what she was talking about?" Starsky asked, looking down the fairway and then back at the lawyer. "Like maybe it had something to do with the kidnapping of her son?"

Smigiel shot him a sharp look. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Starsky shrugged. "It's the only murder in her past that we can think of."

"You're grasping at straws," the lawyer scoffed. "For heaven's sake, that was twenty-six years ago, way back in 1956." He walked up to the hole, removing the flag from it and laying it on the grass. Then he walked back to his golf bag.

"Did she ever talk with you about the kidnapping?" Starsky asked.

"Actually, I knew Lila back in the fifties, when the kidnapping took place. But to answer your question, no, we never talked about it, other than my giving her and her husband legal advice after it happened. It was too painful a subject for her." He selected a putter.

"Okay, maybe you'll tell us this," Starsky said. "Who inherits Mrs. Magoch's estate? From the look of her apartment, it looked like she was pretty well fixed."

"Yes, she owned over a million dollars' worth of muni bonds and T-bills, plus the condo, which is worth about two hundred thousand now, I would estimate, due to the booming real estate market here in Southern California." Smigiel seemed much more relaxed now that they'd changed the subject, Hutch thought--or maybe it was talking about money that cheered him. "Not a fortune, certainly, but she had quite a comfortable income from the interest and dividends." He aimed the putter over the ball, trying different angles. "As for who inherits, I suppose I could claim client confidentiality, but it'll come out in a few days in any case. Basically, Isak Wolf and I both get about half a million, and Moonridge gets fifty thousand, with a few smaller bequests to other charities."

Hutch saw that Starsky looked as baffled as he probably looked. "Moonridge? What's that?" Hutch asked.

Smigiel didn't look up from his ball. "Moonridge Animal Park. It's a zoological facility in Big Bear that takes in injured or lost or orphaned wild animals, takes care of them until they can be returned to the wild. You know, raccoons and deer and bears and so on. Lila loved animals. A few other charities are named in her will, as I said, but Moonridge gets the most."

"What about the condo?" Starsky asked.

"That goes to me, I believe."

"Nice windfall for you, huh?" Hutch commented. "Half a million plus a condo."

"I suppose. And I suppose you should be informed that I'll also be collecting a legal fee for probating her estate--three percent. If either of you think that would be worth killing someone for."

"What about Isak Wolf?" Starsky put in. "Would he think half a million would be worth killing somebody for?"

Smigiel looked up from his ball, an icy look in his colorless eyes. "Leave Isak out of this," he said. "He wouldn't kill anyone, let alone Lila. Besides, he doesn't even know about the inheritance. Lila told me she didn't want him to know because she didn't want it to influence their relationship. Now, if I might ask your indulgence, gentlemen. Putting requires the utmost concentration."

Starsky and Hutch obediently fell silent as Smigiel stood over the little white ball, frowning at it as if it were a complex mathematical problem. Then, finally, he gave the ball a sharp, quick tap with the putter. The ball traveled within inches of the cup, then stopped.

"Shit!" Smigiel muttered, looking considerably more upset over his unsuccessful shot than he had when talking about his late client's murder. With a sigh, he walked up to the ball, hit it with the putter, and it went into the cup. He took the ball out, then replaced the flag.

"Three," he said in disgust. "Only one under par. I'll tell you, sometimes it isn't even worth playing this game."

"Mr. Smigiel--" Starsky began.

Smigiel cut him off. "Gentlemen, let's cut the crap, shall we? You want to know if I killed Lila. The answer is no, I didn't. You said it happened sometime this morning, and I spent the entire morning in my office with my secretary, until lunch, which I took at approximately one-thirty p.m." He took out a business card. "Call my secretary at that number to verify it, if you wish."

"Thanks," Starsky said stiffly. "We'll do that."

"Good." Smigiel put his putter and his ball back into his golf bag. "Any more questions?"

The man's cool efficiency annoyed Hutch. "I suppose you would tell us," he said, "if you had any idea who killed your client, even though you weren't 'friends'."

"Yes, I would. If only to divert suspicion from me. But, no, I don't have a clue. I honestly think it was an intruder. You said there were no signs of a break-in, but perhaps some hoodlum, intent on robbing her, managed to talk his way in. Perhaps someone knocked on the door and said he was a fan or collecting for some charity, and Lila let him in. Then, when they got in, they just let her have it."

"Without stealing anything?" Hutch said.

Smigiel waved a hand airily, dismissing the question. "Maybe he panicked, as I said before. Or maybe it wasn't a burglar, after all, but just some pervert. Some sex criminals prey on older women, you know." He picked up his golf bag and started toward the next hole. "Now if you'll excuse me, gentlemen, I really want to finish my remaining eight holes before the sun goes down."

He walked off, and Hutch looked at Starsky, who shrugged.

"Who's that guy who just got the artificial heart a couple weeks ago? Barney Clark?"

"Yeah."

"Well, in my opinion they were wasting their time with him. This guy Smigiel is the one who really needs it."

"Yeah. C'mon, let's go see if we can catch the secretary before she leaves for the day."

"Look, I don't care what the records say, I'm telling you, I am not overdrawn!" Starsky snapped into his phone. "I write down every check and go over every statement you guys send me with a pocket calculator two times, so don't tell me I made a math error. You guys boobed up, that's all. Fix your damned computer!" He slammed down the phone.

"Problems?" Hutch asked politely, sitting at his own desk.

Starsky growled, "I got one of those 'insufficient funds' statements from our bank on Saturday. I thought it was just a mistake and I could straighten it out today, but the bank still says I'm overdrawn. Overdrawn! How the hell could that have happened?"

Hutch grinned. "Maybe all the money you've been spending on Christmas presents and Christmas decorations has something to do with it."

Starsky wasn't amused. "This is serious, Hutch. My records say I have over two hundred in my account, but they're sayin' to me their records show I'm more than a hundred bucks in the hole. They're bouncing my checks all over town and charging me ten bucks each time. Ten bucks for every check! It's not enough they charge huge interest rates and zap you with fees if your checking account goes below a certain balance, now they're fucking us over with ten bucks for every little bounced check--"

"Come on, Starsk, settle down, will you?" Hutch soothed. "We'll go to the bank tomorrow and straighten it all out, okay?"

Starsky looked down at the phone for a few seconds, then looked up. "I need that money to buy your Christmas present, Hutch," he said miserably. "I have it all picked out; I was just gonna pick it up on Friday. But what if the bank won't fix the problem this week? I won't have the money to buy it."

Hutch refrained from telling Starsky the present wasn't important. Telling Starsky presents weren't important would be like telling J. R. Ewing on that TV show Dallas that money wasn't everything. "Hey, don't worry. Like I said, we'll straighten it out."

"Yeah. I just hope we can do it by Christmas," Starsky said. "What kind of Christmas would it be without me bein' able to give my partner a present? At least I already bought everybody else's." He looked over at the pile of papers Hutch was going through. "You find anything in that junk from Lila's desk?"

"Not much," Hutch admitted. He held up a large blue-covered book, its pages now yellow with age. "You ever see one of these?"

Starsky frowned. "No. What is it?"

"It's called a baby book. A book where parents write down things about their baby, the child's weight and height, for example, the day the baby took his first step, his first word, stuff like that. This is the one Lila Magoch kept on her son, Larry Jr., before he was kidnapped and killed."

"Wow," Starsky said, with an impressed whistle. "She kept it all these years?"

"Yeah. Although she probably hadn't looked at it in years. It was in her locked drawer, way at the bottom." He opened the book. "Y'know, Starsk, it's kind of strange. There are a lot of notes in this book about the baby--Lila kept careful records of his growth and progress almost up until the day he was stolen--but there's not one picture of him. There are plenty of places to put pictures, but she doesn't have even one. What kind of parent, unless they're very poor, doesn't take pictures of their own child?"

"Maybe she took 'em out at some point. To give to the police, for example."

"All of them? No, I don't think so. Besides, didn't you notice? There were no pictures of her child anywhere in her apartment. Not by her bed, not in her wallet, not in any of the scrapbooks we looked at earlier. Not even one."

"Well, maybe they never had any pictures taken because they were afraid of exactly what happened--the baby being kidnapped," Starsky suggested. "If it got out what the baby looked like, it might make him more vulnerable to a snatch."

"Well, I could see their not wanting to have photographs available for public consumption, but not having any pictures at all? Even for their own personal, private use?" Hutch demanded. "And another thing, there's a place in the book to put a lock of the baby's hair, and there isn't one. What kind of baby book doesn't have a lock of the baby's hair?"

"Maybe he was bald."

"At two years? No baby is bald at two years, Starsk." He flipped pages. "And here, listen to this. 'Larry, Jr. is so beautiful, I just want to cuddle him every minute. I can't bear the thought of losing him.' She wrote that a week before he disappeared. Coincidence?"

Starsky shrugged. "Maybe premonition. Mothers have that once in a while. But coincidence is more likely. It does happen, Hutch."

"Yeah, maybe," Hutch said. "But coincidences always give me an itch."

"Okay, hotshot, tell me what you think."

"I don't think anything. It's weird, that's all."

"You're weird," Starsky said. "What are you lookin' through that old baby book for, anyway?"

"Because given what Lila said to Isak not twenty-four hours before she was killed, and the question she asked us just this morning, there's very likely some link between her murder and her child's kidnapping. And I'd like to know what it is."

"Yeah, me, too. Y'know, if that guy hadn't confessed twenty-six years ago, I'd be wondering if the same guy who killed her baby also killed her. I mean, it would fit. She gets a visit from the guy who really killed her baby, maybe he confesses or maybe she just figured it out, so he pays her a visit to talk to her about it. He says it was an accident and therefore he won't have to go to jail, but she doesn't know whether to believe him or not. As he's leaving, she threatens to call her lawyer on him. Then she calls her assistant and tells him she wants to tell him about the kidnapping--who really did it--and, the next day, she comes and asks us about it, in hopes that maybe we'll arrest the guy. But before she can tell us the guy's name, he comes back to her apartment and kills her."

Hutch smiled. "I think you've been reading too many mystery novels, Starsky. There are a few holes in that theory. One, like you said, the kidnapper, that Henuber, confessed before he was executed. And two, her visitor last night was only about thirty years old. Far too young to have committed the kidnapping-murder in 1956."

"Oh. Yeah, I didn't think of that."

His partner looked so deflated, Hutch couldn't resist adding helpfully, "Of course, he might've had plastic surgery."

Starsky just gave him a look. "Why don't you go back to readin' your baby book, huh?"

Dobey came out of his office. "How's it going?" the police captain asked.

"Well, we're not sure, Captain," Hutch said. "You want a laundry list of all the negatives we've accumulated so far?"

Dobey grunted. "Sure, what the hell, go ahead. I'm a masochist."

Hutch picked up his notebook. "No prints on the murder weapon, and no prints in the room where she was killed, except hers. No stranger's prints anywhere, just hers and her assistant's. No signs of struggle, no signs of a break-in, no one saw or heard anything in the building, except the woman who made the disturbance call, in the apartment right below Mrs. Magoch's." Hutch noticed he was saying Lila's name and not calling her "the vic," but he didn't correct himself. "She heard a thump sometime late morning, thought it was nothing, then, later on, thought that maybe someone had fallen and broken a hip, so she called us. She wasn't sure of the time, but thinks she heard the noise a little after ten since she'd just finished watching Phil Donahue. Starsk and I went through Lila's apartment but found nothing worth noting. We went through the desk, too, but it was mostly her husband's fan mail and some financial records, nothing relevant as far as we could see."

"What about that locked drawer you told me about?"

Hutch shook his head. "We had our locksmith unlock it, but it was just personal stuff, like her son's old baby book, copies of old tax returns, some jewelry, things like that. Nothing that would indicate anyone wanted her dead."

"Lovely," Dobey said sarcastically. He looked at Starsky. "So, any good news?"

"Lila's neighbor gave us something that sounded like a good lead," Starsky said. Hutch noticed that his partner, too, was refraining from calling her "the vic." "Some guy visited her last night, about ten, a guy about thirty, blond hair. The neighbor didn't know who he was, but she--the neighbor--said Lila looked a little scared when she saw them in the hall, apparently as the guy was leaving. He said he'd come back, and she said if he did she'd call her lawyer, so it was something less than a friendly chat. And Lila's assistant says Lila called him shortly after the visit and told him she had something important to tell him, something about, quote, what happened in 1956, end of quote. That's when her child was kidnapped and murdered. So there could be a connection between the visitor, Mrs. Magoch's son's kidnapping back in 1956, and her murder today."

"Yeah, could be," Dobey said. "Could also all be just coincidence."

"Yeah," Hutch said. "But there's also the fact that this morning, she visits us and asks us that question about murder versus manslaughter." They'd told their captain about that earlier. "And the only murder we know of in her past is the murder of her child twenty-six years ago."

Dobey grunted. "Sounds to me like the best thing right now would be to find that visitor and have a chat with him. Any leads on that?"

"We asked Ms. Garland--that's the neighbor--to come in and look at mug books," Hutch said. "She said she'd come tomorrow before she goes to work. But it's probably a long shot. And neither the assistant nor the attorney recognized him from the description."

"Well, keep looking," Dobey said. "Meanwhile, you got any other good suspects?"

"The lawyer and the assistant both look good, at least superficially," Hutch said. "They both have keys to the apartment, and both have motive--an inheritance of half a million dollars each. And neither has a real alibi. The assistant says he was at the university but was home by ten-thirty, so he could've easily made it to Paradise Towers in time to kill Lila if he'd been so inclined. As for the lawyer, he says he was in his office, but his secretary can't vouch for him for the entire time because she went to the county clerk's office to file some papers and was gone from about ten to eleven."

"The lawyer's my personal favorite," Starsky said. "He's the type who'd batter a nice little old lady to death and then go play a few holes of golf in the sunshine. And he admitted he wasn't crazy about Lila. Problem is, the only motive we know of is the will, and he already has a pretty good wad of his own. R & I says he's worth in the fancy neighborhood of five million dollars."

Dobey grunted again. "I see I should have taken up law as a profession. Funny as hell, isn't it, that those of us who take the criminals off the streets get paid less than the folks who put them back there. What about the assistant, what's-his-name, Isaac?"

"Isak," Hutch corrected, pronouncing it as the young man had: EE-sack. "Isak Wolf. Well, he has a better motive than the lawyer. He's in debt up to his eyeballs from college loans, according to what we found out, and his salary from Lila wasn't much. Maybe he got a good look at her financial status--he said he balanced her checkbook--and got impatient waiting for his inheritance. If he knew about it. The lawyer says he didn't, but Lila could've told him and just not told the lawyer. On the other hand, if he was pretending shock and grief when he saw her body, they were wasting their time giving the Oscar to Olivier."

Dobey sighed. "Well, maybe it's the guy who was visiting last night, after all. Dammit, we've got to wrap this one up fast. The press has been burning up our phone lines wanting to know who did it. Larry Magoch was something of a legend, even if he's been dead for over twenty years, and nobody likes the idea that his widow just got her head bashed in."

"We don't like it much either, Cap'n," Starsky said quietly.

Dobey softened a little. "Yeah. I know you don't. That's really strange that you talked to her just this morning--her coming by your house right before she was killed, too. Do you have any feeling, with the benefit of hindsight, that she dropped by because, knowing you were policemen, she wanted to be protected from someone?"

"No," Hutch said immediately. "At least I didn't get that feeling. I think she came by for just one thing--to ask us that question about murder. Her attorney said he told her last summer about cops moving into the neighborhood, and we checked the dates of her trip to Bermuda--she's been back in the city since September. So why, all of a sudden, did she decide to pay us a visit? I think something just happened to make her need to know the answer to that question--and we think that conversation she had the night before, with that Robert Urich guy, was what made her ask it. But as to what the connection is between her question and her visitor--and to the kidnapping--we don't know."

Hutch's phone rang, and he picked it up and murmured a few brief words. Then he hung up. "Ginny's ready for us," he told his partner.

"Great," Starsky muttered. He hated autopsies. Then, hopefully: "Cap'n, I don't suppose you'd authorize me to get my paycheck a little early this time? I've been havin' trouble with the bank."

Dobey glared at him. "A little early? You just got paid a few days ago, Starsky."

"Yeah, I know, Cap'n, but that went to pay for some repairs on my car," Starsky wheedled. "C'mon. It's Christmas."

"Starsky, unless your calendar is different from mine, you've been aware of the fact that Christmas was coming for quite some time," Dobey said curtly. "You know the rules. No early paychecks." Suddenly he grinned. "Hey, the two of you have several loan sharks as snitches, right? Maybe one of them would give you a good deal on an interest rate."

Starsky smiled weakly. "Right. Thanks, Cap'n," he mumbled, as he followed Hutch out the door.

"She was dead about three hours before we arrived. No rigor mortis, nonfixed lividity, temp ninety-five, cooled off a little but not much." Ginny Simpson, the ME, sounded, as always, somber but efficient. "Meaning time of death was about ten a.m., give or take a half-hour either way."

"That would go with what the woman downstairs said, that she heard what sounded like a body fall a little after ten," Starsky said.

"It also means she was murdered just a few hours after we saw her," Hutch said. "We could've been the last people to see her alive--besides her killer."

Ginny blinked, first at Hutch, then at Starsky. "You saw her before she was killed?"

"Yeah," Starsky said. "We met her before we left for work this morning. She brought us a loaf of homemade bread and had coffee with us."

"Do you know who she was? Lila Magoch, widow of--"

"Yeah, we know," Hutch interrupted. "She told us. So what was the cause of death?" he asked, although he already knew the answer.

"Just like it looks, massive head trauma," Ginny said. "At least five distinguishable blows to the head. First blow--done with the killer facing her--was enough to kill her. The rest was just window dressing."

"Getting his point across pretty clearly," Hutch said grimly.

Ginny nodded. "Whoever did this really hated this lady, no question. He didn't just want to kill her, he wanted to blot her out."

"Left-handed or right-handed?" Starsky asked.

"Right-handed, I'd say. Three of the blows were on the left side of the victim's face, the other two from above. Not much help, huh, since about eighty-eight percent of the population is right-handed?"

"Yeah. And two of our suspects are right-handed, too," Starsky said. When Hutch looked at him, he explained, "You didn't notice? Wolf stirred his eggnog with his right hand, and old man Smigiel putted from his right."

"Well, I guess when you're a member of a minority you notice these things," Hutch teased.

Starsky ignored that, turning to Ginny again. "Would it've taken a really strong person to have inflicted the blows? One of our suspects is kinda puny."

Ginny pursed her lips. "No, in my opinion. I mean, we're not looking for a child or a disabled person here, but any adult of normal strength could've done it, even a woman. The perp wouldn't have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger."

"Who?" Hutch said blankly, and Starsky looked at him again, this time disdainfully. "He's that guy who was in Conan the Barbarian, Hutch."

"Oh," Hutch said. He hadn't seen it. To Ginny he said, "How about the murder weapon?"

"Oh, it was that award, no question. There are several matching indentations in her skull."

"Any signs of sexual assault?" Hutch asked.

"No."

"Thank God she was spared that, at least," Starsky murmured.

"Yeah," Ginny agreed. "Any more questions?"

"Just one," Hutch said. "Looking at the angle of the wounds, would you say that the perp would've gotten splattered with blood?"

"Oh, yeah, he would've been splashed good," Ginny said. "Head wounds bleed a lot, and he--or she--was standing pretty up close and personal. I don't know how he could've avoided getting blood on him. Find some blood-stained clothes, you'll have your man--or woman. You two seen enough?"

"Yeah," Hutch said. He looked back down at the body. No longer the nice-looking elderly lady who had come to their back door with her dimples and a loaf of homemade bread, now just a corpse. He heard himself say, "Did you know she was on the Titanic?"

"No, I didn't know that."

"Yeah. She lost her parents, her child, her husband--and now her own life."

"Some people just seem to attract tragedy, don't they?" Ginny said, closing the drawer. "Well, good luck getting this bastard. There has to be a special place in Hell for people who hurt little old ladies."

As they left the morgue, Starsky said, "Crazy world, isn't it? John Hinckley shoots the president and is found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a nice cozy hospital instead of a jail cell. Some wacko bastard poisons Tylenol bottles. And now somebody beats Larry Magoch's seventy-one-year-old widow to death for no reason--and right before Christmas, too."

"Yeah," Hutch sympathized. "You'd think a bloodthirsty killer would be considerate enough to at least wait until after New Year's."

"You're a regular Steve Martin, y'know that? You know, I've been thinking."

"No kidding?" Hutch affected amazement.

"You want to hear this or not?"

Hutch grinned. "Sure. Lay it on me, Gordo."

"Suppose Henuber--the guy who kidnapped the Magoch baby--had an accomplice. And suppose the accomplice was the one who really killed the baby, but by accident. And suppose Lila found out about it, and the accomplice came to her place and killed her to keep her from spillin' the beans."

"That could be. Except didn't Henuber say in his confession that he acted alone?"

"I don't remember. But if he did, he could've lied."

"And how does Lila's visitor last night tie in?"

"Maybe he was a friend of the accomplice, somebody who came to Lila, pleading with her not to go to the cops and reveal the truth. And then, when that didn't work, he threatened her, saying he'd come around again if she talked, so she told him she'd call her lawyer if he did. Hey, maybe it was a woman! A woman helped Henuber do the kidnapping, and this guy is the woman's boyfriend. Younger boyfriend," he added, when Hutch gave him a skeptical look. "Hey, I'm not saying that's what happened. I'm just saying it could've."

"Great. Now how do we find this mysterious woman, Starsk?"

"C'mon, do I have to think of everything myself?" Starsky complained. He stopped at a vending machine. "You got a quarter?"

Hutch sighed and handed one over, and Starsky promptly fed the machine and brought out a Hines root beer. Then they walked into the squadroom and sat down at their desks. Someone was playing a radio tuned to KLOW, and Judy Garland was singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Not for Lila, Hutch thought. No Merry Christmas for her.

Starsky gulped his soda, and Hutch, as he watched the bob of his partner's Adam's apple as he swallowed, felt, all of a sudden, kind of...hot. He didn't know why, but that happened sometimes: he would look at Starsky and think how beautiful he was, and feel desire so sharp it was painful. And think, all over again, This man is mine. He belongs to me, with a kind of wonder.

"Hey, it's after five," Starsky said. "Time to go home, huh? Unless you can think of something else we can do here. Hutch?"

Hutch blinked. Starsky's beautiful blue eyes were gazing at him quizzically.

"No, I guess not," he managed to say. "Just give me a few minutes to go through this stuff, okay? I keep thinking there's something I missed."

"Yeah, you and me both," Starsky said, looking at the file on his own desk. "Hey, why don't you order a pizza for us to pick up on the way home? We never did have lunch, and I'm starvin'."

"Yeah, me, too," Hutch admitted. "Okay." He picked up the phone, and, after he'd ordered and hung up, he saw Starsky giving him a fishy stare.

"What?" he demanded.

"What's this 'all cheese' bullshit?" Starsky wanted to know. "What happened to pepperoni?"

"I thought I'd order the vegetarian pizza, Starsk."

Starsky's voice was low and dangerous. "Why would you want to do something like that, Hutch?"

"I was just thinking we should think about becoming vegetarians, that's all." Hutch tried to keep his tone casual and non-threatening. "I've been reading some studies, and they say consistently that vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters."

"Yeah, I've heard that before, but it's all bullshit. Those statistics are because vegetarians are more likely to not be smokers or big drinkers than the general population, not because there's anything unhealthy about eating meat."

"No, that's not true, Starsk. They've proven vegetarianism is healthier by comparing the life expectancies of people in societies that eat a large amount of meat to societies that don't. We have one of the lowest life expectancies of any industrialized nation, did you know that?"

"That's because we have more car accidents and plane crashes and pollution and stress than anybody else."

"Okay, maybe, but it's also all the meat in our diet. I just read this book that came out a few years ago, What's Wrong with Eating Meat?, and it says that Eskimos, who eat a lot of meat, have very low life expectancies. Like thirty or forty years."

"That's because they don't have things like penicillin and proper sanitation, and because lots of their babies die when they're born because they don't have doctors and hospitals to take care of them."

"Then how do you explain people like the Hunzas of Pakistan?" Hutch wanted to know. "They live under pretty primitive conditions, too, but they live to be 110 or more--and guess what? Meat makes up less than one percent of their diet."

"Yeah, but who'd want to live 110 years stuck off in the Alps with no TV, no movies, no cars, and no pinball?" Starsky demanded. "What kind of life is that? I'll bet they don't really live 110 years, either--I'll bet it just feels like 110 years."

"The Himalayas, Starsk, not the Alps."

"So? Mountains are mountains."

Hutch ignored that. "And you should read some of the studies I've read, like this guy, Roland Phillips, did this study of Seventh Day Adventists, that's a religion that promotes vegetarianism. They took about 25,000 people and tracked them for several years, and guess what? The Seventh Day Adventists had half the death rate of non-smoking meat-eaters in the general population."

"Maybe meat had nothin' to do with it," Starsky said. "Maybe it's just goin' to church on Saturday that makes 'em live longer. Well, hey, I already do that, since I'm Jewish."

"You don't go to church, Starsky."

"Yeah, well, neither do you." Starsky opened up the Magoch file on his desk and began to look through it, pointedly signaling the conversation was over.

Hutch, on a sudden impulse, picked up the phone.

"Merrilee? This is Hutch at the BCPD. I wonder if you would do me a favor. I want to know everything there is to know about the Larry Magoch, Jr., kidnapping--yeah, the one in 1956. Books, magazines, newspaper clippings, whatever you've got. Could you get it all together and send it over to the house by messenger sometime this evening? Thanks, you're an angel."

He hung up to see Starsky looking at him. "Merrilee, huh?" he said. "That the middle-aged librarian who thinks you're irresistible?"

Hutch shrugged modestly. "Cute, maybe, not irresistible. But I'd be careful who you call middle-aged, Starsk. You and I could be called that, too, you know."

"Speak for yourself, Blondie. I'm in the prime of life. I guess it's a good idea for us to read up on the kidnapping, but do you really think there's something in the library that'll help us solve a murder that took place seven hours ago, even if they are related?"

"I don't know," Hutch admitted. "But at the very least, it'll give us some interesting reading while we eat our pizza."

"Yeah," Starsky muttered. "Oh, by the way, remind me to stop at a 7-Eleven on the way home to pick up some pepperoni."

Merrilee--a round, rosy woman in her fifties, wearing a Peanuts sweatshirt and ski pants--brought the material from the library herself...in a very large cardboard box.

"I copied all the microfiches of newspaper and magazine articles I could find in our archives, but I could bring you only two books," she told Hutch at the door, her tone apologetic. "Actually, there've been only two books about the Magoch case written, that I know of. Rumor has it it's because Mrs. Magoch put stumbling blocks in front of any writer who wanted to write about it. One book, The Magoch Kidnapping Case, that came out right after her husband died, she bought up all the copies she could find and had them burned. You can find copies through bookfinders occasionally, but they're pretty rare. We didn't have one in our library, but I found out they had one in Simi Valley, so I got them to send it over by messenger. The other book, Here Be Lions, came out several years ago. Mrs. Magoch tried to get a restraining order to stop the book from being written, but the judge ruled against her. But Mrs. Magoch didn't give up. She asked everyone who'd been involved in the case not to talk to the writer, so he had to rely mostly on old newspaper accounts and the trial transcript."

Hutch frowned; that seemed an odd thing for Lila to do. Especially since she had later gone so far as to seek out someone--Isak Wolf--to write a book about her husband. "Do you have any idea why she did that? I mean, why she didn't want those books to come out?"

Merrilee glowed; there was nothing she liked more than talking about books. "Nobody knows," she said. "People have suggested maybe she was protecting her husband. Maybe she thought his behavior during the kidnapping was less than exemplary; he did boss the police around a bit, you know, and screwed up the paying of the ransom. Or maybe the kidnapping was just so painful for her, she didn't want anyone reading about it. Or maybe she just wanted to preserve her privacy; lots of famous people can get nutty about that. My guess is number three, but who knows? Now can I ask you something?"

Hutch smiled. "Sure. I'm not saying I'll answer, but go ahead."

"Are you and Starsky trying to find out who killed Lila Magoch? Everybody at the library's been buzzing about it all afternoon."

"Yeah, we are."

"And you think it ties in somehow to the kidnapping in 1956?"

"I don't know, Mer. Maybe."

"Wow." Her green eyes glinted. "I remember the kidnapping. I was in my twenties then, and nobody talked about anything else for a year. It was the most bizarre case I'd ever heard of. For one thing, the kidnapper, that guy Henuber, had to have been crazy, snatching the baby in the early evening, when people were still up. And why'd he pick Larry Magoch? He was well off, yeah, but he wasn't as wealthy as a lot of the people in Hollywood then. Henuber didn't know him, didn't have any grudge against him that anyone could find out. But, like I said, he must've been crazy. And now some other crazy comes along and kills the baby's mother all these years later."

"Yeah." Hutch was eager for her to leave so he and Starsky could get started reading all the material she'd brought, but he didn't know how to say so without being rude.

"I hope you find who did it," Merrilee said. "I never saw any of Lila Magoch's movies--they were before my time--but I never missed a Larry Magoch picture when I was a kid, and he was wonderful. Maybe he wasn't a great actor, but he had a presence on the screen, you know? And so handsome. Tall, dark, and handsome. Tell Starsky I wish you both luck."

"Thanks, Mer. I'll do that."

She left, and Hutch carried the box she'd given him into the living room. It was heavy, and it hit him that it was going to be a long night.

On to Part 3

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