Marty Donovan cut the ignition and switched off his car lights at the blinking yellow light of the intersection. Beside him on the front seat his detective partner, Tony Alfieri, checked the set of his shoulder holster as the blue sedan rolled ahead silently into the next block. In the early morning stillness it curved in a sweeping arc into the shadowed mouth of the alley that loomed up on the right. The car drifted down the narrow, walled-in passageway, and eased to a stop with just a touch of the brake.
Marty lifted an arm and sleeved the breathless summer night’s perspiration from his forehead. He sat a moment and listened to the low-pitched street noises and the night sounds peculiar to this backwater of the city.
“Let’s go, man,” Tony growled beside him. “Hit the bricks. The bastard’s not comin’ to us out here.”
“He’s not coming to us in there, either, if he hears us,” Marty said softly. “Don’t slam the car door.”
Alfieri’s snort was muffled. “Eleven damn nights in a row we stake out this miserable hole, and eleven damn times you have to say ‘Don’t slam the car door’. Get yourself a new line, can’t you?”
Unheeding, Marty slid out on his side. The cement underfoot was damp with night mist. Marty wore a hundred and sixty-five lean-muscled pounds on his ramrod-straight seventy-two inches. He had quick, hard hands, and he moved with a negligent ease. A few people had made the mistake of judging him by his smooth-skinned choir-boy features. His dense black hair was brushed flat to minimize its tendency to curl.
From the front seat Tony’s sardonic whisper floated out to him. “I was tellin’ Lenore before you picked me up it was a good thing this had been her idea in the first place, or she’d never have trusted me out all these nights, even with you for a chaperone.”