Come to Light
215 pages

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215 pages

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  • ADVERTISING: targeted ads in Publisher's Weekly mystery feature, regional book trade holiday catalogs, and bookseller email via CALIBA.

  • AWARDS: submissions to California and book trade organizations.

  • EVENTS: events and exhibitions in Bay area, SoCal, and elsewhere based on author’s tour schedule. Paul routinely does art and lit talks at universities and libraries across the US.

  • ONLINE: outreach on Instagram and Facebook using an in-depth profile and engagement plan. Also, series of YouTube meet the artist videos and discoverable “Pages from Emit’s notebook” landing page with bonus sketches, back story, travelogue-style teasers and mini-stories.

  • PROMOTION: via email to author’s network to drive pre-sales. Mailings to mystery only bookstores for this breakout book.

  • REVIEWS: targeted in trade, art, travel, and regional media.

  • TRADESHOWS: features and targeted rep pick at CALIBA, PNBA, MPIBA, ALA, BookExpo, gift shows, etc.

  • Come to Light is three volumes of secrets, deceit, murder, and above all, a pursuit of whisky, art and books. Paul Madonna has taken No Reservations, The Goldfinch, and the classic detective novel, thrown them into a blender, and whipped up an addictive and memorable cocktail of a book.

  • A quick-paced fiction murder mystery (Elmore Leonard style) full of memorable, eccentric characters.

  • Not a graphic novel, rather an illustrated novel, with a museum quality package that is a portable and collectible keepsake.

  • Of interest and the perfect gift for fans of: art; lit; noir; detective fiction; travel fiction; and mysteries.

  • Author is very popular and has a devoted fan base who will be supportive of this new work. Paul's distinctive art can be seen on packaging and promos for popular brands like Tacolicious and Anchor Steam.

  • Each volume works independently, and each volume’s art helps to tell the story and plunges the reader into the story in real time. The first volume’s art is sketches, the second’s is sketches of another artist’s sculptures, and the third’s art is finished drawings from the first volume, tying the stories together.

  • Includes scenes in Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, the South of France, and Amsterdam. Images unfold as we watch them being made—a new and interesting approach to the illustrated novel.

  • Part of a growing series and a fictional “world” that will include serialization and numerous spinoff storylines.

  • True historical events, as told to the author/artist, were woven into the story. These include: a landowner smuggling Jewish people out under the nose of the Germans, and of the landowner who was killed by locals for informing on him, and a story of the last days of Saigon, of the underground railroad to get south Vietnamese civilians visas into the states, as well as Ambassador Martin's being thrown onto a transport because he wouldn't leave.



Publié par
Date de parution 06 octobre 2020
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781513264271
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 24 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0042€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Volume 1: Order Chaos
0 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Part 1 Order Chaos
1 Barcelona, Spain
2 Lisbon, Portugal
3 France
Part 2 Like a Parking Lot with Metal Teeth at the Exit
4 Lisbon, Portugal
5 Italy
Volume 2: Villa of Misfit Toes
Part 3 Villa of Misfit Toes
Volume 3: Ants in the Bananas
Part 4 Ants in the Bananas
14: San Francisco, California
15: Los Angeles, California
17: San Francisco, California
Epilogue: Post Exorcism from the House of Lone Pine
18: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Chiang Mai, Thailand
MAY 2 - 3, 2017
I t s maybe 11 PM , easily ninety-five degrees, and there s a Thai cover band belting out a damn good version of Hotel California from the go-go bar across the street. I m in the Night Bazaar along Chang Klan Road, sitting with Randy at a grimy purple plastic table on the sidewalk, waiting for a noodle soup. I m trying to read a Dutch crime novel. Randy is trying to get my goat.
What about one of them? Randy says, motioning with his arm that isn t in a sling to the pack of bikini-clad Thai women pawing every male tourist who walks by. I m sure any one of those lovely ladies would be happy to be your girlfriend. Then he giggles. They seem to love old white guys like you.
I m fine, I say, not looking up from my book. I m fifty-five. Not young, but also not what I d call old. Whereas Randy is twenty-three. Making fun of my age is his way of showing we re friends.
Just tell them you re Emit Hopper, he says. Artist-author extraordinaire. Then they for sure won t be able to help themselves. Maybe they ll even inspire you to start putting people in your drawings.
Still I ignore him. I put the book down and tune into the band. I ve heard them before. Locals from the university.
These guys are good, I say.
But Randy is having too much fun. I mean, your wife s been gone for what? Six years now? She d have wanted you to move on.
Now I look at him. As the guitarist launches into the classic solo, I raise my brows and shake my head to let him know he s crossed the line. To which he again giggles. I ve known Randy for all of three weeks. Which makes him a regular in the weekly drop-in drawing class I started teaching six months ago. Like me, he s American, as are around a quarter of the tourists passing through Chiang Mai who randomly show up to my sessions. Most are Chinese, the rest are Australian, British, or Irish. I get a range of ages, though most tend to be in their fifties, and pretty much all are women. Randy s one of the rare young men. And despite his obliviousness to personal boundaries-such as showing up at my house on days when I m not holding class, hanging around for hours, and interfering with my personal life-I like him. Which is why I let slide his jokes about my age and getting a girlfriend, and why I m not actually offended by his mentioning Julia.
Why did you even come tonight? I say. When your drawing arm is in a sling?
It s not my fault I got hit by a scooter.
I laugh, because I m sure it is. But I do appreciate that he came and tried to draw with his left hand. His drawings were actually much improved.
The noodle vendor waves, so I go over and get my soup. As I m loading it with extra bean sprouts and scallions I feel my phone buzz in my pocket. I take it out and look. Blocked number.
I hesitate a moment, glance back at Randy, see he s lost in the music, bobbing his head of overgrown curls and air-drumming with his one free hand, then answer.
I put a finger in my ear. M, is that-
It s Sara.
Sara. Is everything-
You haven t heard?
Just then my phone beeps with another call. I look at the screen. It s a US number, California. I do a quick calculation: eleven at night for me, nine in the morning there.
Sara, I ve got another-
You need to take that. And she hangs up. I click through to the other line.
Mr Hopper?
Sheriff Lawrence, Tuolumne County Sheriff s department. Forgetting Randy and my soup, I put a finger to my ear again and hurry through the line of plastic tables toward the back of the market.
I m sorry to call out of the blue like this, the sheriff says, but there s been a discovery. Then he pauses.
Weaving through aisles of jeans, sunglasses, and knock-off designer purses, I say, Okay, so he ll keep talking.
As you likely know, the past few years California has seen a major drought. Well, this spring all of that changed. We received excessive rainfall which resulted in a great deal of natural destruction. Several sections of the Pacific Crest Trail were severely damaged, which, until recently, have been inaccessible. But with the weather now cleared, we have multiple teams out working to restore passage. One of these sites is Lone Pine Ridge, where a significant portion of hillside collapsed. Three days ago, approximately two miles in from the trailhead, a survey team discovered what they believed to be a fractured human femur bone.
I ve passed through the maze of vendor stands and am now out on a side street where it s quieter. At the mention of a human bone I stop.
A cursory search immediately uncovered several additional human remains, the sheriff continues, most significantly a partial jawbone and breast plate, which triggered mobilization of an official search. The jaw retained several teeth which we began comparing against dental records of missing persons. The following day we recovered two backpacks. Given the durability of the synthetic materials, these were found relatively intact. An assessment of the contents positively identified the packs as belonging to Rachel Adams and Darlene Fenton. He pauses. If I have my facts straight, these were the two women who disappeared along with your wife, Julia Bowman, while hiking the PCT in November 2011, is this correct?
Yes, I say, moving now toward a small park built by a hotel chain to compensate for how much money they bilk out of the tourist industry.
We then narrowed our focus, the sheriff says, to the dental records of Mrs Adams, Mrs Fenton, and your wife, Julia, and yesterday came up with a match. The jawbone recovered along the Lone Pine trail belongs to Rachel Adams.
I stop next to a shrine. And the other bones? I say, as mosquitos instantly swarm my legs.
We are currently working to check DNA specifically against Rachel, Darlene, and Julia. However, the bones are in poor condition. Exposure to the elements has made extracting adequate DNA material surprisingly difficult. There is a possibility that these tests may prove inconclusive.
I understand, I say, swatting a mosquito feeding on my ankle. Tell me, sheriff, what do you think happened out there?
It s too early to say anything for certain. Current theory is that the bodies and possessions were buried approximately ten to twenty feet off the trail. But beyond that I m hesitant to speculate until we have more information. I can tell you, however, that a dedicated search is underway, of both the area affected by the slide as well as the surrounding terrain, and given all that we ve recovered so far, so early on, I am hopeful that our chances of recovering more remains are high. That said, I also want to temper expectations. The nature of this kind of event makes excavation extremely difficult. This is a large site, making the search zone quite wide. The mud in some areas is over twenty feet deep, and there is a great deal of debris. The force of such an event causes an enormous amount of destruction-downed trees, boulders, all sorts of forest refuse that is now churned together-which makes the site highly dangerous to traverse. But listen- his voice softens -I can appreciate the delicacy of the situation. Almost six years ago we saw three women disappear without a trace, and now we ve found definitive evidence of one, circumstantial evidence of a second, and no sign of a third. I can only imagine how emotionally exhausting the past six years must have been without answers, and how challenging this must be now-for you especially-given that in this scenario, the third woman is your wife.
I nod, even though he can t see me through the phone, and swat another mosquito siphoning blood out of me.
However, the sheriff says. I can assure you, we are doing all that we can. And in the meantime, I ask for your patience while we do.
Thank you.
You should also know I have already informed Julia s sister, Sara Bowman. I called her before you because Well, seeing what happened to her parents, I just thought
Of course, I say, sparing him the explanation. He s talking about the disappearance of Julia and Sara s parents on the 1981 commercial flight from Chicago to Rome which fell out of airspace over the Atlantic Ocean. The sisters were teenagers at the time, and to this day not one trace of the plane has been found, nor has any conclusive explanation of the accident been proffered, which is why Julia s disappearance has been that much harder on Sara. So I understand; I would have called her first too.
Thank you, the sheriff says. I ve also contacted the husbands of Darlene and Rachel, and now that I ve spoken to you, a press release will be issued. Beyond that, we will continue to keep you informed as we learn more.
I thank him again, then end the call.
For a moment I just stand there in the darkness of the small park, listening to the din of the night market a block away. Then another mosquito attacks my leg, and as I swat I begin to walk. A half hour ago it was just another day: In the morning I wrote, then during the heat of the afternoon I read and napped. Early evening my students arrived and I guided them through a classic still-life drawing of fruit and bottles. At dusk I poured a whiskey for anyone who wanted to stick around, then we moved onto the deck where, as my students swapped travel stories, I tuned out, peered toward the ring road, and watched as bats swooped and dove for the evening s bugs in the light of Tha Pae Gate. After that I would have just settled into bed to read myself to sleep had Randy-as he often does-not missed the obvious social cues to leave that everyone else-despite their widely-differing cultural backgrounds-easily caught, so I suggested he and I head to the Night Bazaar for soup to more easily send him on his way. Essentially, my regular routine, only tonight it s been broken by a call informing me that, after almost six years, there are finally some clues to the biggest unsolved mystery of my life. The sheriff is definitely right about emotional exhaustion. You get so used to living with unanswered questions that you forget they haven t always been there. Like hearing a jackhammer outside your window for so long that the deafening noise becomes your new silence. Then suddenly one day it quits, and it s like-well, shit, I have no idea yet what it s like. Seeing that this moment, right now, is that day.

I push back through the market and return to the noodle stand where I find my soup still on the condiment station but Randy gone. I sit at the table, drink the broth, and try to think. The band is rocking out with their version of Zeppelin s Black Dog. They re nailing the guitar parts, though the vocals leave more than a little to be desired.
I finish my soup and, during a raucous version of ACDC s You Shook Me All Night Long, leave the market. As soon as the noise of the bazaar is behind me, I dial Sara back.
So you know? she says.
I do.
What are you going to do?
What do you mean?
You know what I mean.
The better question, Sara, is what are you going to do? Silence.
Dammit, Sara-
There s nothing to do, she says.
I stop walking. Of course there is. Just don t- A click.
But she hung up.

As I walk toward the ring road, past the pharmacies, tattoo parlors, and shops of women calling, Hello-hello. Where you go? Ma-ssage. Ma-ssage, I replay the sheriff s call in my mind. I keep trying to come up with alternate scenarios of what the discovery could mean but can t imagine any beyond the obvious. I tell myself I need to make a decision, even though I know it s already made. What I need to do now is accept that I m actually about to do it.
In midstride I stop-it really is now or never. I turn back, take the soi-alley-that curves around the boxing arena, pass the ladyboy bar where drag queens decked out as Buddhist deities lip-sync to Thai pop songs, turn down the row of street vendors selling electronics, and buy a prepaid phone. It s a cheap flip phone, but doesn t matter. I won t need it for long.
It s after midnight when I arrive home. I go to the bedroom where, from the back of a bottom dresser drawer, I pull out a wooden box, take out a passport, notebook, and envelope of documents. In the notebook I find Ditti s number and, using my new flip phone, dial. The line rings twice and clicks. I enter my personal numeric code, then hang up.
While I wait I go to the kitchen, pour myself a hefty dose of Bulleit Rye over ice, down it, then pour another. A part of me feels as if this moment was always coming, as if our every movement up until now was leading to this inevitability. But the rest of me knows that s crap. We ve just been living.
I open my computer then hesitate; I d almost forgotten how tiresome it is to worry about the possibility that my every little action is being watched, and remember why I don t miss the life of subterfuge. I close the computer. If I m going to do this, I need to go all in. Which means every precaution.
I finish my whiskey, pour another, start packing.
Only the basics: underwear, T-shirts. I know how to do this, I ve done it many times before: pack light. And when I get to wherever I m going, buy the clothes of that place. And if and when I move again, repeat, discarding as I go. Mostly I take the necessities: chargers, cables, couple of paperbacks, and drawing supplies-which take up more room than anything. This definitely won t be a vacation, but that doesn t mean I can t read and draw. I m gathering my toiletries when the flip phone rings.
Account number, please, a woman says, and I read another series of numbers from the notebook.
It s a rush job, I say. How soon can he-
Can you meet?
Can you travel?
I think it over. Here in Thailand would be better, but I m going to Europe anyway, so I say, As long as it s not France.
Barcelona. Two days.
I hang up. From the safe I take out stacks of euros and US dollars, and along with the passport, documents, and notebook, slip them into the pouches I ve sewn between the lining of my rollaboard. From another drawer I retrieve my legitimate passport-Emit Hopper s passport-and set my packed luggage by the door.
Now it s time for the computer. Online I book a morning flight to Bangkok, then the earliest connection to Barcelona. I use my own credit card, my own passport, my own name. I m fine to continue being Emit Hopper, at least for the moment.
I finish my drink and do a mental check. I contemplate taking the computer. On it is the book I ve been writing, but while I ll have time to draw, I doubt I ll have the attention for plotting a novel, and anyway, it s safer to not have the machine with me, so I decide to leave it. What else? My drawing class. I draft a group email to my recent students saying I am out of town and there will be no more class for an indefinite period of time, but hesitate before hitting send, wondering if maybe I shouldn t leave the trail. The sessions are pay-as-you-come, so there s no money to refund, and most people-aside from Randy-attend only one or two evenings as they re only passing through, so I m sure my canceling will be of little consequence. But I decide it s worth it. I don t want anyone-again, Randy-pounding on my door, calling attention to my house being empty. Which is why I also delete my post on the local Craigslist, to avoid any new students. What else? Gai, my housekeeper. She s used to my coming and going, but if I end up being gone for a while I don t want her to wonder. So on a half sheet of paper I write: Gai, taking a short vacation. Not sure how long I ll be away. Emit . Then I fold the note and, along with three weeks pay, tuck it underneath the fruit bowl. What else? Nothing more comes to mind, so for now I should probably sleep. Except I m completely wired. Still, better if I try. So I take myself through the routine: brush teeth, undress, turn off all the lights except the bedside, read a little. It works.

I wake to the first bloom of orange on the gray dawn. It s just before six. My flight s not for three more hours.
I get up, go to the kitchen, load the moka pot, set it on the stove. I drink a tall glass of water, tear off a banana, peel, and-shit, the ants are back. They erupt out of the banana and spill over my hand like a voodoo curse and I immediately chuck the infested fruit into the compost bin then wash my hands of the little pests. There are a lot of things I love about living in the tropics, but the plethora of bugs is not one. Spiders, roaches, even geckos, they get everywhere. Inside your cabinets, your sheets, your shoes. But bananas? For over fifty years I thought these were nature s perfectly packaged fruits. Then about a year ago I was in Chatuchak, Bangkok s largest market, and peeled one to find a nest of ants living inside. I have no idea how they got in and frankly thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime fluke, but now here they are again. It s damn weird to discover, especially today of all days. Before they get everywhere I tie up the compost bag and stick it in the fridge, then grab another banana. This one s fine. Taking a bite, I look out the window. The morning sun is reflecting off the moat water like twinkling diamonds. It s a new day-in the most profound sense of the word. Which is a promising sentiment, if you ignore the lack of hint as to what kind of day it might be. Apparently one with ants.
Normally fruit and coffee would be all I take in the morning, but today is anything but normal, so I go back to the fridge, pull out a bag of leftover fried rice, and cut a chunk of butter. It s funny the things that pop into your mind when change is afoot. Like butter. It s 2017, and Chiang Mai is a big enough city that you can easily buy food like this. But in the late 80s, the only way to find Western food was on the black market. Back then I lived in the mountains north of here, in a village called Pai, where I happened to meet a former US Marine who was able to scare up all sorts of all-but-impossible-to-find items. His name was Roy, and he would randomly appear outside my hut with a bulging satchel and devious grin, and we d sit in the shade guzzling Jim Beam as if it were water and munching sticks of butter as if they were blocks of cheese. But that was thirty years ago. These days, while a decent bottle of American whiskey is a still a rare find in Thailand-and twice the price as in the States-you can buy all kinds of Western foods at a grocery store whenever you want. Though I still eat butter like it s cheese.
I melt the butter, empty in the cold fried rice, crack in an egg, and stir until it s cooked through. Just as I m serving, the moka pot bubbles. I pour a cup, load a tray, and go out to the porch. I lean on the railing and look out through overgrown ivy and banana trees. I live just outside of old town, in a modern house set back from the ring road, with a view of the moat and seven-hundred-year-old crumbling brick wall. When I lived in Pai back in the late 80s, I had no idea how long I d stay in Southeast Asia. Ended up being two years before I returned to San Francisco, which is where, aside from periods of travel, I called home for the next two decades. Then I met Julia, she went missing, and I ran back here, making a full circle, once again with no idea how long I d stay. Coincidentally, it s been a little over two years, though in that time I ve spent countless hours out here on the deck, sweating in a hammock, watching storm clouds crash into the mountains, wondering if, when, and how this chapter of my life would end. I guess now I know-or at least will soon enough.
Done eating, I clean my dishes, put on my best version of current expat wardrobe-shorts, threadbare button-down, sandals-sling my messenger bag over my shoulder, grab my rollaboard, lock up the house, and leave.
Out on the ring road I hail a songthaew, one of the red covered pick-up trucks that are a cross between a taxi and local bus, and call out to the driver, Airport, as I climb in. Settling onto the bench next to a row of schoolgirls dressed in powder-blue button-downs, navy-blue pleated skirts, and blood-red ties, I watch as my house passes out of view and imagine how I might explain this to Julia if she were here. I know this isn t what you d want, I say to her in my head. But I have to do it. Even if I m wrong. Even if I fail. I have to at least try. For too long, we ve been hiding in the dark. And now, whether we like it or not, that s about to change.
Order Chaos
Barcelona, Spain
MAY 4 - 6, 2017
M y flight to Bangkok passes easily enough, and by 10 am I m sitting in the Suvarnabhumi Airport food court waiting for my two-fifteen to Barcelona.
It s been many years since I ve been to Barcelona, and I remember very little. I poke around on my phone and book a hotel in the Gothic Quarter, which appears to be the appropriate district for a tourist. I m anxious to do more, but until I connect with Ditti, there s not a lot else I can do-or rather, not a lot I should do if I want what s coming next to go undetected, which I absolutely want. It s a fourteen-hour flight with a stop through Zurich, then another day before that meeting. Luckily I m pretty good at passing time. I settle in and read.
Ironically-considering the circumstances-I m a crime fiction fan. Mostly detective stories and police procedurals, but also noir, spy thrillers, and all-around mysteries and whodunits. I won t even bother trying to list all the writers I love because there s always someone who gets left out and countless more I ve yet to read-which is the beautiful problem of art: there are just too many greats you ve never heard of. But I will say that my current favorite is a late Dutch author, a mouthful of a name: Janwillem van de Wetering. His main characters are two Amsterdam cops, Grijpstra and de Gier. They re not your clich hard-boiled outsiders. One s a chubby wannabe musician, the other a Zen-practicing 70s hunk. Between leads they play the drums and flute in the police station, and when they catch criminals, rather than condemn them as inhuman manifestations of evil, they treat them as unfortunate citizens who have simply made bad decisions. It s a wonder the series isn t shelved under fantasy.

Even though I fly for over half a day, it s just after 9 PM when my Zurich layover gets in-which is something I love about international travel; it feels like you ve managed to suspend one of the universe s natural laws. As if you were a ball thrown straight up into the air; hovering, weightless, just as you reach the apex, until time catches up with you, sucking you back down to your otherwise inescapable time.
A muffin and an espresso then I m in line to board when my phone rings: my friend Adam in San Francisco. He must have seen the news about Lone Pine and is calling to see how I am. Adam Levy is one of my oldest friends. We met in the early 80s, during that hot minute when FurTrading, the heavy metal band my identical twin brother Brian and I started when we were nineteen, was a band people had heard of. This was before Brian went on to be a TV star and before I started writing books. Back then Adam edited a literary journal called Levied , and when he found out I wrote all FurTrading s lyrics, he offered to publish me. Since then he s published all my novels. The first, Glass Houses , was a novella-length version of an inside joke Brian and I had been telling since we were kids. Despite no one other than the two of us getting joke, the book became an overnight bestseller, propelling me to my second bout of fame, as well as transforming Adam s small-time literary scheme into a full-blown reputable publishing house. And ever since, despite unintentional periods of being out of touch, we ve thought of each other as family. So much so that after Julia disappeared-and when I was doing everything I could to disappear myself-Adam was the only person other than Sara who I kept in touch with and who knew the truth of my life.
I m happy to hear from him but silence the call. In line to board a plane just doesn t feel like the appropriate place to talk about what are most likely murdered women in the wilderness.

It s after midnight when I land in Barcelona, heave myself into a cab, and check into my hotel, and even though I ve done pretty much nothing for half a day but sit, read, eat, and watch movies, I go straight to sleep. Which is why it s now four in the morning and I m all too wide awake; the unfamiliar bed, the darkness, and all that s going on, crushing me with their enormous and invisible weight. Luckily I have my Dutch cop buddies to keep me company.
By dawn I ve finished the book. Wisely I packed the next in the series. With paperback in hand, I go downstairs and load up at the breakfast bar. But as I eat, rather than read, I make a mental list of what I can do in the time before connecting with Ditti. It s not long, or complicated: new clothes. That s it. Until that meeting, everything else-at least in regard to the plan-has to wait. I head out on foot.
On the way to La Rambla, a popular Barcelona shopping street, I pass Casa Batll , which I instantly recognize as one of architect Antoni Gaud s masterpieces. Seven stories, flowing ornate balconies, and a scaly, serpentine roof, if it weren t so obviously a building you could easily call it sculpture. Alongside a mob of tourists I stop and marvel at not just its audacious grandeur, but at the fact that something so artful managed to get built. In my experience, as much as people claim to want creativity and originality, they tend to balk at the first sign of anything too out of the ordinary and end up settling for a mess of banal compromises. Which is why it s refreshing to see an instance where people succeeded in getting over themselves. I d love to draw it, but the fa ade is completely in shadow, and no matter how alluring a site, without good light, the drawing would look flat and lackluster. I look up at the position of the sun, guesstimate its path across the sky, and conclude that it won t fall upon the building until late afternoon, so continue on my pursuit for clothes.
Happens easily enough, and an hour later I m heading back to the hotel with a new wardrobe: one pair dress shorts, one pair dark jeans-narrow in the leg with rolled cuffs-several long and short-sleeved fitted button-downs in white, black, and pink, a dark-blue blazer, and stylish leather walking shoes.
Showered, changed, I m still thinking about drawing Casa Batll , but not enough time has passed for the sun to have moved onto the fa ade, so using my phone I search for other Gaud sites in the city. There are over twenty, and I settle on Park G ell, a large public park where I figure a draw-worthy scene with good light should be easily found. I grab my bag and head out again on foot.

It s not exactly hot-especially after living in the tropics for two years-but the sun is remarkably intense, and after hiking an hour up Carmel Hill I ve worked up a tiring sweat. But once inside Gaud s park I m rejuvenated. This massive, fantastically realized dreamscape is both complex and simple, abstract and natural, and instantly two words pop into my head. They re like a magical incantation. Without thinking, I m reaching into my bag and pulling out my supplies.
Alluring compositions abound, and my eye quickly hones in on one with a pleasing balance of light and shadow. I find a table in the shade of an umbrella, sit, open my pad, uncap my pen, and begin to draw. For all my creative dabblings over the years-singing, painting, writing, general weird conceptual artmaking-at the end of the day, it s the simple practice of drawing that grounds me more than any. Which is why, when packing for this trip, I left my novel but brought my art supplies, and also why, six months ago, I reached out to old contacts looking for an exhibition. It had been over five years since Julia had gone missing, and I was tired of being lost. So I did the only thing I knew how: I went back to work. And whether it was luck, Adam s charm, or that I actually do have a semblance of a reputation left, the Bromswell Gallery in San Francisco offered me not just a show, but a spot in the 2019 Venice Biennale. Which is why I m drawing again: as a means to restart my life.

After two hours in Park G ell I have a finished line drawing. I ve also been taking photos the whole while, which I ll reference later when applying ink washes to create light and shadow. It s too much to do the washes now. They take time to apply, and since the sun is always moving, the scene would be continually changing as I tried to render one moment, which would result in a distorted image. I m telling you, I don t know how all those plein air painters throughout history did it, capturing storms and sunsets and fleeting light. They must have had damn good memories. As for the inadequacy of my own, I ll blame technology. Since that s the go-to excuse for all our shortcomings these days.
I start to pack up, then add one last touch: in the sign of the walk-up snack window I write the two words that popped in my head and set me to drawing, which, aside from summing up my feelings of Gaud , define this moment far more than the date or time. Then I float around the park in a rare and welcome bliss.
Cresting the top of the hill, Barcelona reveals the Mediterranean Sea. I d like to continue drawing, but grand vistas are more laborious than interesting, so I decide to head back to Casa Batll . I scamper down the hill, but by the time I m in the Gothic quarter dark clouds have blown in. Fine. I ll draw some of Gaud s interiors.

Rain douses the windows and for hours I lose myself. I draw three of the arched spaces, working right up to when the building closes and the guards shepherd me out. On the sidewalk I m high in a way that no drug can imitate. The rain has cleared, the air is warm, and the sunset serene. I walk, find a restaurant, sit outside. I order tapas, oysters, pulpo-octopus-and a glass of cava, which I toast myself with for having drawn so much today. But as I raise my glass I suddenly remember why I m here: not to compose the next chapter of my life, but to conclude the dangling, unfinished sentences of the last. And suddenly I no longer feel like celebrating.

I finish my cava but leave it at that. After dinner I head back to the hotel where I set up a work area on the small desk. Using my reference photos, I stay up half the night putting ink washes on all but one of the drawings I started today.

I wake to my phone ringing-or one of my phones. Both are on the bedside table. I fumble, see the light on the flip phone blinking, but after a second realize that it s actually Emit s phone that s ringing. Adam again, calling from San Francisco. It s five-thirty in the morning for me and I ve only been asleep for two hours, but he can t know that. He thinks I m in Thailand, which is five hours ahead. This time I answer.
Hey buddy, he says. I saw the news. How you holding up?
Yeah, I say, yawning. Doing okay, thanks.
I open the flip phone to see why it s blinking and see a text on the archaic little screen: Hotel Arts 2 PM . The rendezvous with Ditti.
Listen, Adam says, I m sure I know the answer, but I have to ask.
Reporters are knocking down my door wanting-
I don t want to talk to anybody, I say, texting back OK on the flip phone, then closing it.
I wouldn t think so.
What do they even want?
You know what they want. You re a celebrity whose wife went missing, and now the remains of her friends have been found. They re looking for something juicy to click on.
You mean they want a former suspect to crucify.

After hanging up with Adam I fall back asleep. When I wake again it s just after ten and I m wishing I d gotten up when he called to empty my bladder. I look up the Hotel Arts and see it s only a fifteen-minute walk from here. Still plenty of time before needing to meet Ditti, but only a few minutes to catch the breakfast buffet. I hurry down.
Food, shower, time to prepare.
I open the file I have on Lone Pine. Into my notebook I copy the basic information of one man: Guillaume Lavoy. Name, date of birth, passport number, and NIR-basically the French equivalent of a social security number. Next I empty my bag of everything except my notebook, wallet, and flip phone. As a precaution I m leaving behind my smartphone-Emit s phone-and even my drawing supplies. Normally I carry them with me everywhere, especially when I m in a new place, but this meeting trumps even the strongest creative habits, so I take them out. Then, with an unusually light load, I walk to the Hotel Arts.
I arrive early, ten minutes before two. The dining area is packed with conventioneers, so I go to the bar. I take a stool and decide to order a whiskey because why not. It s a swank hotel, but the only American they have is Four Roses bourbon, and nothing even close to rye. They ve got a ridiculous supply of scotches though, which I just can t do. I ve never acquired the taste. It s the peat. To me, the smokiness tastes like some blind hillbilly ruined a perfectly good batch of bourbon by stoking the fire with wet moss. I can t really complain about Four Roses, but I think, who knew it would be just as hard to find American whiskey in Spain as it would in Thailand?
At two on the dot I see Ditti enter the dining room. He s lithe, toned, barking up fifty, with thinning hair and leathery skin. We ve been acquainted for years but I know nothing about him-which is how we both prefer it. My guess is he used to be a gymnast. It s the way he moves; he bounces on his toes.
Excellent to see you, sir, he says, patting my shoulder as he sits next to me.
Thanks for meeting on such short notice.
It s what I do.
I need the basics, I say. Passport, driver s license, credit cards, smartphone. They don t need to be deep. I only need them to last a month, maybe two.
What happened to the last profile I worked up for you? I d bet my left nut that identity can t be blown. He laughs. For that one I went so deep I practically had Polaroids of you popping out of your fake mother s pussy.
I m sure it s fine. I never even used it.
Ditti smiles with half his face. You know they don t go bad, right?
They re like Ho Hos. If you don t open the package, they ll last forever.
I was hoping to maybe trade it in. With this being a rush job and my needing it for only a short while I open my hands, arch my brows.
Ditti throws back his head. Ha! I ve never had someone try to make an exchange before. Again, the half grin. He bobs his head. What the hell. You two have been good customers.
Another thing-this one s just between us.
Ah. His entire face lights up-this is why he loves his work: deception. He points his finger at me and clucks. Understood. Flying solo. Don t you worry.
From a tattered backpack he produces a digital tablet and plastic pen. On screen is a document I ve seen before. It looks like a loan application. Dozens of pages of legalese, bullet-pointed paragraphs with numeric subsets, basically bullshit; the point is for me to practice signing.
On the first page I see the name: Joshua Grunewald. Never thought of myself as a Josh. Using the digital pen I sign in a blank area. Then I swipe to the next page, sign again, swipe, sign, and repeat at least fifteen more times. In no time I have my new signature down.
No need for a photo, Ditti says. I ve got the one from a few years ago on file, which makes my work easier-customs agents aren t fond of fifty-year-old men with spanking new passport photos. You ve lost a few pounds since then too, yeah?
I nod.
He clucks. Even better. He unrolls a thin silver pad onto the bar and connects it by cable to the tablet. This, however, is new. Your right palm, please.
I lay my hand flat.
Ditti taps the tablet a few times. Good.
I remove my hand and he rolls up the pad.
Is that it?
That s it.
One more thing, I say. I need you to find someone.
On whether I ve helped them be unfindable.
Fair enough. But I doubt you helped this guy. I tear out the page from my notebook with Guillaume Lavoy s info and hand it over. Last traceable record I have of him is July 2010, in the south of France. I want whatever you can give me on his whereabouts since. As well as his current location.
Ditti nods and slips the paper into his bag without looking at it. Be here same time tomorrow, he says, sliding off his stool. Your new life will be waiting for you.

It s not even two-thirty when I m back outside. Step one of a who-knows-how-long plan in motion and so far, so good. Tomorrow, I can full-on run.
Walking back to the hotel, I consider how I d like to pass the rest of the day. In the room I use my phone-Emit s phone-to look up other Barcelona sites. I haven t seen all there is of Gaud , but for variety I decide to check out the Joan Mir Museum. I repack my bag with all I d emptied, then head back out.
Ditti s voice keeps bouncing around my head: Your new life will be waiting for you . It s not a surprising thing to say, considering that his job is to set people up with fake identities, but like the inspiration found at Park G ell yesterday, the words couldn t be more appropriate-just not in the way Ditti might think. My becoming Josh Grunewald isn t to escape being Emit Hopper; it s so that, for once and for all, I can be free to be him again.

Inside the museum, I drink an espresso then wander the galleries. The paintings I enjoy, but it s up on the rooftop, in the open-air sculpture court, amid a sparse collection of weird brightly colored objects, that has me pulling out my drawing supplies.
The compositions command themselves. I work quickly and am on my third drawing when I feel someone behind me and turn.
Sara? What-
What are you up to Emit?
I flash her my drawing.
She shakes her head and scoffs. Of course. Your precious art show. I read her with my every sense. If she knows about my meeting with Ditti, then my plan is shot. But my gut tells me she doesn t; it s how she moves. How on first glance she looks stylish and put together, but on second, nervous and frazzled. How she smells heavy of perfume, but heavier of sweat.
So I jump right in: It s wrong, Sara. You know it is.
She pins me with a cold stare. Well it doesn t matter. Because it s already done.

Wait-you re telling me you ve just had a man killed and all you can say is-
What? No! Jesus! She looks around. There s no one but me, her, and the scattering of weird sculptures. Fuck, Emit. Nobody s been killed. I mean, it s just, you know, in motion.
You mean to have a man killed.
Not just a man, Emit. Guillaume. Fucking Guillaume . A goddamn murderer.
Except we don t know that-not for certain. We ve been through this. Until we know exactly what happened out there-
She fusses with her purse. Opens it. Rummages. Dammit, where is my-
Sara- I reach for her shoulder.
She knocks my hand away and cocks her head; shitty; as if to say: What ?
Even if Guillaume did kill them, I say. Even if he dug a grave and buried them out there, you can t condone hiring someone to murder him. Two wrongs, Sara.
She shakes her head. I really don t understand you, you know that? You ve heard the news. They found Rachel s freaking skull buried along the goddamn trail she went missing on. How the hell do you think that happened? And Julia-you remember, my sister -
No, I say. No. You don t get to play the sister card. She s also my wife-remember? So no. There s no rank of ownership here.
It s not about ownership. It s about facts. She sticks out her thumb and starts counting off. One: Guillaume was in love with Julia and she broke his heart. Two- pointing finger -he began stalking her, then he broke into her apartment, threw her against the wall, and choked her. Three- other thumb -she moved, changed her number, then, just a few months before she disappeared, he tracked her down and began leaving threatening messages, saying- literally -that he was coming to get her. She throws open her arms and thrusts her head toward me in a way that says: See? It s obvious, you idiot .
I know, I say, as calmly as I can. I was there, remember? Marrying her in the middle of it. And anyway, we ve been through this a thousand times. It s just rationalization, Sara. Don t you see? You re justifying the very crime you re accusing Guillaume of because you believe he committed that crime. And- she tries to rebut but I cut her off - and -even if he is eventually caught, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death, that still doesn t give you the right to take that action yourself, today, when we don t even have all the answers. I take a breath and look at her imploringly. I m not just thinking about the law here, Sara-hell, I m not even thinking about morality. I m thinking about you personally-your conscience.
She scoffs. Wow, she says, shaking her head. That s rich. Really. That s-of all people to talk about conscience.
You re not able to see it, I say, ignoring the jab, but right now you have the moral high ground. You re a victim. You re clean. But if you do this, if you willfully contribute to murdering Guillaume, then you re no different from him. How do you expect to ever get on with your life?

Again she scoffs. You know, she says, all this time, I didn t want to believe it. I stood by you, saying, Emit is right here with us. He s committed. One hundred percent. But now I see I was wrong. You were never a part of this. Not really. You ve never been anything more than a- She stops herself.
What? I say. Come on. Let s hear it. I m what? A tourist?
Well, then why are you here?
I shake my head, confused.
Here ! she says, flailing an arm. In Barcelona! Drawing pictures at a fucking museum?! When out there, bones are being dug up and a murderer is going free?
Fine, I say. Then you tell me. Where should I be? Geneva?
She flinches.
Uh huh. So is Switzerland where one goes to hire a hitman these days?
She looks as though I just slapped her.
Oh, fucking A. Stop acting like I m the villain here. I m not the one tracking people across continents and contracting murders. There s a giant catalog for a Geneva auction house right there in your purse with a Swiss Air Lines ticket sticking out. You re bad at this, Sara. And you have a blaring tell. You always mess with your things when you re nervous.
You think you know everyone so well, don t you? She goes for her purse again; catches herself.
What I think, I say, is that this situation is completely fucked, and it s destroying you-has been for a long time. But not enough to justify murder!
Jesus, Emit! She looks around again. Still only the sculptures listening. What the hell is wrong with you? The least you can do is speak in euphemisms.
Right, because the problem here is my bluntness.
She exhales out her nose. Then, as if shedding a wet coat from her shoulders, she straightens up. I truly thought, she says, that after everything, if I looked you in the eye, you would understand. She shakes her head, gives a disappointed half-smile. Well, at least I can say I tried. Because frankly, Emit, whether you re with me or against me, it doesn t really matter. This is happening. So you may as well accept it. And she walks away.

I watch her disappear down the stairs, then try to return to my drawing. My hand is shaking though, and I can t make it stop. Goddammit.
I pack up and leave the museum. Five minutes ago I d been able to keep what is by any measure a maddening situation in check. But Sara showing up is just too much. I walk faster than normal, in no particular direction, fuming at her gall. Not just for tracking me down, but for thinking she could change my mind. But then it hits me: I m actually glad she tried. Coming to Barcelona was a serious mistake on her part. Before now, I d been wondering if my diversion to meet Ditti was excessive. It s hard to know. When you re forced to live as if your every action is being monitored, the line between diligence and paranoia becomes impossible to see. But Sara showing up is proof that she s been keeping tabs on me, which means that not only are my precautions not just paranoia, but that I should probably take even more. So, yes, thank you, Sara. And fuck you too.

It s dusk when I realize I ve been walking for hours, don t know where I am, and that I m hungry.
I find a tapas restaurant, order several appetizers, an entr e, and two double bourbons on ice-Four Roses again.
The server brings two sets of silverware and two cups of water with the two whiskeys. I don t bother telling him I m dining alone. I just down the first double, then swap the empty glass with the full one.
Even after a dose of booze, I m still a little rattled. I know that Sara showing up is ultimately a good thing as it only helps me, so I try to tell myself I should no longer be bothered-I mean, it s not like I didn t know what was going on: that she s finally enacting the plan she s been long obsessed with, to facilitate the murder of Guillaume, the man she holds responsible for the fate of her sister and two other women. It s what she was telling me with the call two nights ago in Chiang Mai, just not in so many words. But even though I understood-since her call is what prompted me to act-it still felt like an abstraction. Which is why I ve been able to wander around, drink, eat, and draw while I wait for Ditti. But now that s changed. In the same way that Sara needed to come here to look me in the eye to know for certain that I couldn t be swayed to her point of view, I also had to look her in the eye and hear her confirm that she was going to kill a man for it to be real to me. Which is very much how it is now; I feel the reality of murder in my gut.

I down the second glass of bourbon, and all at once the four shots hit me. I haven t eaten since breakfast, so it s a good thing food is on the way. Still, when the appetizer comes, I order another double.
I stay at the restaurant for I don t know how long-too long. I keep ordering more food, more whiskey. I eat too much, get too drunk. Eventually I stumble outside, manage to flag a cab back to the hotel, and flop onto the bed and pass out without undressing or brushing my teeth.

The next morning I wake to flush cheeks and a thick head. Seeing that it s light out, I scramble for my phone and look at the time. It s not even eight; I still have six hours before meeting Ditti. I get up, use the toilet, drink a glass of water, go back to sleep.
At ten I m up for real. In the mirror, my reflection. Probably not a good thing to spend too much time with right now, especially before coffee. But I m thinking about Sara, how she looked not just tired, but beaten. It s drained the life from her, this never-ending saga. Not that I m doing that much better. The bags under my eyes are enormous, and I ve lost easily twenty pounds in less than half a year. Granted, I needed to lose some weight, but unlike Sara-who is small boned with virtually no fat on her to begin with-I m a big guy: six-three, large frame, wide shoulders. So I actually look healthier. But that s only on first glance. Give it a moment and you ll see that what used to be a head of rich, sandy-blond hair is now a thinning mess of pale straw. And it s times like this that I wonder what Brian might look like, how my twin is aging. Yeah, okay. Enough of this looking-in-mirrors stuff.

I m still full from having eaten so much last night, but I m also still a little drunk, so I grab my bag and head downstairs where I eat a little breakfast in a half-dream, mostly as a booze sponge. From there I set out on foot to clear my head. But even walking feels difficult today. My new shoes are wrestling with my feet. Both pinkies have blisters and my left big toe is pinched. This isn t a good sign. I haven t even begun this journey, and already I m breaking down.
Falling in with a stream of people, I arrive at a huge arch. I d look up the name, but I don t really care. She knows where I am, I think. As long as I have my phone on me, she probably always knows before I do. I imagine a blip on some app somewhere showing this exact location, and consider going to the sea and throwing in my phone. With its thin, smooth shape, a smartphone would make a great skipping stone, and the thought of seeing it hop across the surface of the water a few times before dousing the signal by which I m surely being tracked gives me pleasure. But I resist. Sara tipped her hand by proving that I am in fact being watched; I d be a fool not to use that to my advantage.
Crossing a long esplanade, I come to a large iron gate with a sign that reads Park Ciut. So that s where I am. Now we all know. Above the treetops I catch a glint of golden chariots. Lured, I arrive at a fountain. Two grand staircases flank a majestic scene of gods and serpents. The erupting water feels prophetic, the screaming winged horses an omen.
After the museum yesterday, I m no longer feeling the urge to draw. But at the same time, I know it may be the only thing that gets me through this. So I find a spot, take out my supplies, and set to work.
My marks are stiff though; my focus too far down, submerged in a murky, post-drunken pool. Tonight, I tell myself, not so much booze. Then the pen tip breaks. It s these damn finicky drafting pens I use. They re not meant for textured paper, which is exactly why I like them-and exactly why they don t like me.
I have replacement nibs, but they re back in the room. What else do I have on me? A ballpoint, a gel tip, a pencil. I opt for the pencil. Considering my current state, it s fitting to have the ability to correct. But not on the watercolor paper. Too textured. I swap it for my writing notebook. It s smaller, but the paper is smooth. I haven t used pencil in years; not seriously, at least. I work too fast. I blame the lead-I don t have a sharpener. But I know it s not the pencil. And it s not the hangover. It s the whole situation: a missing wife; Rachel s bones; an ongoing search; a pending murder.
I turn the page to start another drawing, but the sun feels exceptionally bright. Even the notebook paper is like a tanning reflector, burning my cheeks and neck. So I move to the other side of the fountain where there s shade and start another pencil drawing. This one I also do too fast, too sketchy. Okay, enough for now. I sit on the stairs and watch Spanish women pass by in their high-cut shorts and loose-fitting tops. As they stop to strike poses in front of the fountain, I think: I really do miss my life. And start to question if I can actually get it back.

On the way back to the hotel I stop into a stationary store and buy a cheap laptop bag. In the room, from the lining of my rollaboard, I remove the passport and other documents of the unused identity Ditti worked up for me three years ago, then slip them inside along with two bundles of cash. Again, I leave behind everything but my flip phone, and head to the Hotel Arts.
Unlike yesterday, the dining room is empty. It s 2 PM on the dot and Ditti is already there, this time at a table, pecking at his phone, two cups of espresso waiting. I sit, set the laptop bag against his chair, and down one of the espressos. Still warm.
Josh is all set to go, Ditti says. But the other guy, Guillaume, he proved more difficult.
I know. That s why I asked you.
He smirks. I m not used to being stumped. I don t like it.
So what does that mean?
It means I found the same as you. Last trace was in July 2010, in France. Since then, nothing. No credit cards, no phone, no taxes, no travel. If you ask me, it s the work of a pro. Not mine, but maybe one of my competitors.
And I m guessing professional ethics bar you from inquiring.
I m sure there are those who would sell out their clients if the price was right, but I m not interested in finding out who. Believe me, it s how you want it. You wouldn t want me selling out Josh Grunewald simply because someone was willing to pay.
I nod. Fair enough. Thanks for trying.
Ditti takes my laptop bag, slips it into his tattered backpack, and pulls out a hardcover book, Lady in the Lake . The Raymond Chandler you lent me, he says. You are a man of taste, my friend. Chandler is stellar.
I open what is one of my favorite books to see the middle pages hollowed out with a bundle of documents and phone nestled inside. That he is, I say. That he is.

I leave the Hotel Arts, taking a different route back. As I walk, I consider what Ditti s being unable to locate Guillaume might mean. The work of a pro, he said. Which only strengthens my belief that whatever happened to the women out on the trail six years ago, Guillaume is responsible, and that after, he went underground. Which means finding him is going to be even more difficult than I thought. I can only hope for Sara s assassin too.
In my room I open the hollowed copy of Lady in the Lake and assess the documents of my new identity. Excellent work, Ditti does-and I should hope so, considering what I paid. I swap all the cards in my wallet, power on the new phone-the latest iPhone, since Josh Grunewald is apparently up on technology. But as anxious as I am to jump in and get this new identity up and running, Emit Hopper isn t ready to be packed into a hollowed-out book just yet. First, he needs to become a wild goose.
It would be easiest if he stayed here in Barcelona, but Sara s appearance showed me that I need to err on the side of caution, so I m inclined to send him elsewhere. If I was just living my life as Emit, what would I do next? Or more appropriately: what would Sara expect me to do?
That s easy. Your precious little art show . Her exact words. She thinks I m being selfish, wandering the planet drawing for the Biennale, not caring at all about the bones in Lone Pine. She s wrong, of course, but right now that serves me fine. The question is, where can I send Emit to reinforce her misperception?
I pull up a map and scan the continent. Since I need to stay in Europe I don t want to go too far. There s the obvious: Venice, since that s where I ll ultimately be showing, but it feels too on the nose Amsterdam, which would be fun given all the van de Wetering stories I ve been reading, but she won t know the reference, and if she can t make a connection between me and the place, then the misdirection won t work. To truly fool her, my destination needs to smack of predictability. I keep scanning-then I think I have it. I do a quick web search and confirm that, yes, The Bromswell Gallery-who s sponsoring my exhibition in the Biennale-has two other locations outside of San Francisco, one of which is Lisbon. I lean back, finger to my lips. Yeah That could work. It s subtle, but at the same time obvious enough that she ll make the connection. Of course Emit is going to Portugal to visit his gallery , she ll think. The self-absorbed prick . And hopefully her anger will blind her enough that she won t question it.
Using Emit s phone, credit cards, and passport, I book a flight to Lisbon leaving in three hours. No reason to wait.
Next, still as Emit, I create an account on a hotel site and rent an apartment as close to the gallery as I can find. I reserve the place for a month, self check-in, starting today.
Finally, it s time for Josh Grunewald. Using his new iPhone, credit card, and passport, I book a flight for the day after tomorrow from Lisbon to Bordeaux. France is a long shot. But since Ditti wasn t able to give me any better leads, I can only work with what I have. I ll deposit Emit in Lisbon, then leave the next day as Josh so I can find Guillaume. Why? Because I need to learn, once and for all, the truth of what happened out there on the trail six years ago. And who knows, if Josh actually manages to get his hands on Guillaume before Sara s professional killer, he might even try to save the guy s life. But let s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Lisbon, Portugal
MAY 6 - 8, 2017
W aiting for my luggage in the Lisbon airport I turn on all three of my phones-Emit s, Josh s, and the flip phone I bought in Chiang Mai.
On Emit s there s a text from the apartment rental and a voicemail from an unknown number. The text reads that while I can check myself in, the owner will be there cleaning this evening so can meet me. Perfect. The more people who physically encounter Emit in Lisbon, the better.
Next, the voicemail: Emit. Isao Takahashi. It has been many years. I have heard the news of California. I am very sorry. Additionally Pause. It seems we should talk. Please phone as soon as possible.
Adam calling makes sense, he s my oldest friend; but hearing from Isao is a surprise. He s a former patron who I haven t spoken to in years. Back before Julia disappeared, his family bankrolled two of my solo exhibitions in Tokyo, then purchased one of my more eccentric installations-a room full of sponges and sink strainers hanging from fishing line-which they installed in the lobby of their corporate headquarters. Last we spoke was in 2014, after I finished a major commission for him. It was also the last project I did before attempting to live the life of one who d been forgotten.
I stare at my phone, unsure if I should return his call. I like Isao, and believe we share a mutual respect. So given the news of Lone Pine, I suppose hearing from him shouldn t be such a surprise. But his last comment- It seems we should talk -is giving me pause. It could just be my paranoia sounding. But that I m feeling any hesitation at all tells me I should wait. There are more pressing matters at hand.
Except I m unable to stop thinking about it. So once I m in a cab I use Josh s phone to search the web for Isao Takahashi. He s the head of an international investment company, mainly known for hotel chains, so there are dozens of articles on him. All high profile: Forbes, Prestige, Connoisseur . The list goes on. One, a feature in Art Collector Magazine , was published just this month. So it appears that Isao s empire has not collapsed, which is good, and, for the moment, all I need to know. I turn off the phone and look out the window. As I try to focus on the last rays of sunlight washing over the passing Portuguese landscape, I once again tell myself Isao s message is just the thoughtfulness of a concerned acquaintance, and to let it go.

As we enter the city, the roads progress from wide, smooth pavement to ever-narrowing cobblestone streets, ending in a lane barely wide enough for a car, but not enough for me to open my door. The driver slows as he searches the building numbers, then he points and drives to the corner so I can get out. My home in Bairro Alto.
The property manager is a thin woman in her sixties named Belmira who appears to take flossing way too seriously. The gaps where her teeth meet her gums have been worn so wide that each tooth looks like a small shovel head protruding off its post. She takes me through the apartment pointing out details. I ve stayed in enough short-term rentals to know the difference between the places people live in and rent out only on occasion from the places people keep only as full-time rentals. This is the latter, though it s well enough equipped that it could almost be the former.
The kitchen is fully stocked with stylish plates, a range of pots and pans, and ample utensils. The bathroom has plenty of towels and even travel-size soaps and shampoos. And the art on the walls, while not gallery quality, is actual art, local from what I can tell, not just schlock images bought from Ikea. What s missing are the personal objects. No weird skin ointments in the vanity or clothes filling the closet. It s an almost perfect balance of home and rental, except for one thing: the kitchen drawers are loaded with what I can only define as a compulsion against waste. One drawer is full of Ziplock bags, several sizes, obviously used then washed as they have that muted, foggy look. Alongside are easily two dozen coffee cup sleeves, folded and neatly lined up like envelopes. Another drawer is full of plastic containers and lids beside stacks of Chinese food takeout containers.
Belmira doesn t show me these drawers. I m opening them as she s pointing out the coffeemaker and water filter. But when she gets to the range I stop snooping and pay attention since any American who has ever tried to cook abroad knows that European ranges are the most inscrutable devices on the planet. She finishes by opening the fridge and saying, And bottle of pink wine for your welcome.
Thank you, I say. I m sure I ll be very comfortable here. And I mean it. If circumstances were different, I could settle in easily. But of course, if circumstances were different, I wouldn t be here at all.
Yes, Belmira says. This area of Lisbon is quite nice. Many good restaurants. Short walk to many beautiful neighborhoods. What else? Ah-the key. She leads me downstairs and outside to a lockbox affixed to the front of the building. This box has key for all apartment, she says. Entire building is rental, so take only your key, yes? Normally guest self-check. But today I come to clean, so I meet you. She shows me the code to the box, pops it open, and hands me a set of keys. This one for main door. This one for apartment.
Great, I say. Easy.
Yes, Belmira says, flashing a big smile, allowing me to once again marvel at the perforated spaces between her teeth. It s hard to believe such excessive wear is actually healthy, and makes me wonder if maybe she has some sort of gum disease. Either way, I m reminded that I need to floss more. Who knows, maybe one drawer in the bathroom is filled with nothing but floss-though hopefully not used and washed. I hope very much you enjoy your stay, she says. I live in Alg s, by the sea. If you need- she waves a hand -something, anything, you call. I come to Lisboa one, two times a week because is the season I have many guests. Is not far for me. Thirty minute by car. The parking is not so good. But if you need, I do not mind.
I thank her, then she bids me goodbye.
I go back upstairs, wash my face, brush my teeth, check the drawers-no abundance of floss-then head out.
The late evening air is like bathwater. The cobblestone streets are narrow, the sidewalks even narrower. Streetcars rumble by so close that if I tried to pass someone I d be a casualty. Up a hill I find a maze of quaint passageways lined with bars and restaurants. Outdoor tables skirt the buildings with no boundary between pedestrians and cars. There s little traffic though. Mostly people on foot and the occasional taxi.
I pick a cozy caf , sit at one of two tables precariously balanced on the uneven cobblestone, order salad, polvo-Portuguese octopus-and the only bourbon they have: Four Roses. Big surprise. So it isn t just Spain. What is it with western Europe having no selection of American whiskey? Still, no complaints, and the first one goes down fast. The second too. And the polvo-wow. Grilled meat, perfectly tender, the suckers crunchy. Almost makes up for the lack of rye. Seriously.
After dinner, nighttime stroll. Interestingly, Lisbon feels like San Francisco. The streetcars, the hills, the wires overhead, even the attitude that floats elusively yet unmistakingly in the air. Laughter sounds from an open window, and for the first time in years I think, maybe, when all this is done, I could go back to San Francisco.

Back in the apartment I settle into the plush bed with too many pillows and crack open the current adventure of my Dutch buddies. This one is fun, a bit of a romp. De Gier is trying to quit smoking and Grijpstra is trying to solve a case no one else considers to be a case. But I m unable to focus. I keep reading the same paragraph over and over. Seems my mind isn t as interested in fiction when I ve got my own mysteries to solve.
Because now that I m in motion, I m thinking about how I m going to do this. How I m actually going to find Guillaume. I was counting on Ditti s help more than I realized. Luckily I m not completely ignorant when it comes to investigative work-and I don t just mean my love of detective novels. In the late 90s I spent some time working with the San Francisco Police Department. I wasn t employed exactly, but was more like a civilian contractor, and have the honor of being able to say that I had a hand in solving some big cases. Maybe some of those experiences rubbed off enough to help me now. Guess we ll see.
I turn off the light, lie flat on my back, try to sleep. Doesn t work. Now I m thinking about Isao. I feel foolish for my suspicion earlier. It s this situation with Sara. It s got me all turned around, unable to tell my friends from my enemies. And Isao has only ever been a friend to me-and more. He probably has no idea, but as far as I m concerned, he saved my life.
The first days after Julia disappeared were a whirlwind of shock and adrenaline. But it was in the weeks and months that followed, after friends faded into their regular lives and the overwhelming monotony of normalcy resumed, that the crushing silence fell. I slipped into a deep, dark hole which only grew deeper and darker with each passing day. That first year was lost to me. I couldn t work; could barely leave the flat. And when I did, I would find myself standing on street corners, unsure where to go. Every day felt like the same torturous moment over and over, until finally, on the first anniversary of the day Julia had left for the hike, I was so overcome by a sudden and explosive panic that I felt if I didn t do something, anything, I would disappear myself. And so, like a frantic baby goat atop a giant electric hotplate, I bolted to Thailand.
At that point it had been twenty years since I d lived in Pai, and I went to find Roy, my Marine-turned-smuggler friend who had been able to scare up whiskey and butter. It was a fool s errand to think I could find him after all that time, but I was delusional with grief. I was convinced I was stuck on a Great Wheel, destined to repeat my suffering over and over again, and believed the only person in the world who could understand was an old war veteran who, after serving two tours in Vietnam, had slipped into the jungle during the last days of Saigon and left everyone who had ever loved him to wonder upon his fate. I suppose it goes without saying that I didn t find him. But not until I was there, flailing around the jungle, did I realize my folly. And it was then, after I d sunk to the lowest depths of my hole, that Isao phoned. We hadn t spoken since before Julia disappeared, and now he was calling to offer me a lifeline: a commission.
Not that he knew it was a lifeline. Having been aware of the loss I d suffered the year before, I suppose the thought that work would be cathartic for me may have crossed his mind, but he had his own motivations for the commission. Either way, it doesn t change the fact that, for me, from deep inside my hole, his offer was the first glimmer of hope I had seen in over year, one small thread dangling off the end of a frayed rope, lowered into the depths like a gift from a shining angel above. I saw that thread and knew: if there was ever going to be a chance of pulling myself out, I had to grab hold.
So I did. For almost a year I worked on that project, and Isao paid for all of it. He even put me up in a suite in one of his Tokyo hotels. Every day I wrote and drew, and with each chapter and each drawing I pulled myself up a little further, until finally I was able to see some light and, eventually, return to life.
So yeah, I think, finally starting to doze, sorry to question your intentions, Isao. Tomorrow, my friend, I will call you back.

Morning, I snap awake, my mind racing. I have four immediate goals: call Isao; go to the Bromswell Gallery and introduce myself to Nolan, the director; begin my search for Guillaume; eat breakfast. Though not necessarily in that order.
I leave my building in the direction of the gallery looking for food along the way, and not two blocks from the apartment stop in amazement: a cereal caf . Inside, floor-to-ceiling walls are covered with cereal box covers: Captain Crunch, Franken Berry, Lucky Charms, Trix, Wheaties, Chex, Cocoa Puffs, Boo Berry, Quisp. Some I ve never heard of: Johnny Bravo Flakes, Rice Honeys, Juniors, Shreddies, Grand Dad. How did I not know there was an E.T. cereal? A Donkey Kong Junior? A Kiss Krunch? Yes, as in the rock band Kiss. I laugh at the thought of a FurTrading cereal for my and Brian s band. The cover of our first and only album was a life-size shot of my face with one of my teeth blacked out. Ha! Imagine that on a cereal box! But what kind of cereal would it be? Fruit-flavored penises and vaginas, obviously. I mean, what do you think FurTrading was a euphemism for? I totally have to eat here.
The menu is simple enough: mix and match, then choose your milk. They also have Wi-Fi, so even better; I can accomplish two of my goals.
With a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles and Reese s Peanut Butter Puffs I take a table outside; a fifty-five-year-old man in a quaint Portuguese neighborhood eating kid s food, plotting his role in a scheme of life and death.
A few bites and the sugar kicks in. Time to get to work. The task: locate Guillaume, a man I ve met only once-though the word met is a bit strong. It was one night, in a dark bar in San Francisco, where he lunged for Julia and I threw him across the room.
But where to start? Where all searches start, obviously: the internet. Thing is, if Ditti couldn t find him, what the hell kind of good will the internet be? But if there s one thing I learned from hanging around cops all those years ago, it s that most investigative work is following up on leads you know are dead ends but that you still have to confirm in order to cross them off the list.
Using Josh s phone I pull up a browser window and type: Guillaume Lavoy . Nothing-or rather, nothing relevant. I try: Guillaume Lavoy France . The same. I add the name of the region where he grew up: Guillaume Lavoy Dordogne . Nothing. Guillaume Lavoy Facebook ; Instagram ; Twitter . Nothing. Guillaume Lavoy chef -he d been a pastry chef. Guillaume Lavoy pastry . Nothing. Guillaume Lavoy Julia Bowman . Only pages about Julia: World-renowned chef disappears on Pacific Crest Trail , and the like; I close them quickly. I search just Guillaume . I go to images. A thousand faces-a modern-day book of mug shots. I scroll and scroll and scroll, but none I recognize.
The possible conclusions to be drawn? Depends. If you stalked your ex-girlfriend and two other women into the wilderness, committed murder, and buried the bodies, then it s not surprising you would stop using social media, which would explain no recent posts on the internet. What s odd is that there are no posts at all, not even from before the women went missing. And so the question is: was he ever on social media to begin with?
Unfortunately, I don t know the answer to this. I do know that back when Julia dated Guillaume, he was living out of a campervan with no more possessions than a few changes of clothes and whatever culinary tools a pastry chef needs to perform his trade. He was a nomad with no friends or family, and in the States illegally, having left France and overstayed his visa, which is to say seemingly not someone who would have had much use for social media.
But of course, I don t actually know. I do, however, find it curious that there is literally no trace of him to be found online. Which makes me wonder: did he intentionally wipe his digital presence?
The prospect is not outrageous nor impossible. I know, because I had it done to me. In 2010-which was also when I met Isao-my first three novels were being rereleased in Japan. My brother was working in Shanghai at the time, playing the role of the token Westerner on a Chinese soap opera, and thought it would be funny to hire a couple of Chinese high-schooler programmers to sabotage my publicity tour. Brian and I were like that with each other, always pulling what looked to others like cruel and outrageous stunts, but to us were just a series of returns in the ongoing volley of a lifelong, ever-escalating prank. My point is, purging yourself from what is generally considered to be the forever-memory machine of the web is entirely possible. And in Guillaume s case, if he did commit the heinous crimes I believe he did, then he would have more than ample incentive to erase his digital footprint.
But how to know for sure? How do I determine the relevance of Guillaume s total absence from the internet?
I decide to try an experiment. It may not be exactly scientific, but it is a way of testing what I already believe to be true, which is that the internet is not the world s absolute census. I comb my memory for someone I haven t seen in years, someone normal and-at least as far as social media is concerned-unremarkable, and come up with my cousin Rich who lives in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Last I heard, Rich worked building crates for plumbing supplies, lived with his mother, and thought the definition of a vacation was to hike deep into the woods, lie motionless on a wooden platform for days, and stare through a rifle scope waiting for deer to walk by. I type in his name and hit search. Nothing. Then I go through the same process I did with Guillaume, adding details as if he was someone long lost to me-which I suppose he is-but who I am earnestly trying to find. Not one relevant result comes up. Which, to me, is confirmation enough that being absent from the internet does not imply being a murderer in hiding.
Okay, time to move on. Except I don t. I reach for my cereal-which has gotten soggy-slurp up the bloated pieces, gulp the sugary milk, then search one more name: Roy Deville, my Marine friend from when I lived in Thailand in the late 80s. I don t know that he wholly counts for my test given that I ve searched for him before, but ever since leaving Chiang Mai he s been on my mind, and I just want to see what comes up.
I type: Roy Deville ; Roy Deville Vietnam ; Roy Deville Saigon ; etcetera, which serve up the same results as my previous searches: a few US government pages listing veterans, and one personal page by a highschooler named Orville, a pimply, angsty-looking teen who, at least in 2011, believed Roy Deville may have been his grandfather, and also part of a military conspiracy to undermine the South Vietnamese government and hasten their-as well as America s-defeat, who was then killed by the CIA to cover up his involvement. I can t speak for the former part of his assertion, but the latter I know to be undoubtedly false, given that I shared more than a few sticks of butter with the man well over a decade after Angsty Orville s claim that the CIA assassinated him. It s not up to me to set the record straight though. Which is the kind of knowledge that only makes the world feel that much lonelier.
Okay. Enough of this. The internet has offered me nothing, which I suspect is a conclusion we all arrive at eventually. I drink my espresso-now cold. Time to get my thoughts back on track. What next? But before I can answer, a burp of cereal followed by a burst of hot stomach acid shoots up my throat. Suddenly I m thinking that blend may not have been such a good idea. I run to the toilet.

I stick around the cereal caf until I m confident my bowels don t need to be within diving distance of an appropriate place to be emptied, then I head to the Bromswell Gallery. I ve gotten nowhere with tracking down Guillaume, but this is important, and not just because the Venice Biennale is part of my building a new life, but because I want to establish as much of a cover as possible for Emit Hopper being here in Lisbon while Josh Grunewald is off in France.
I find the gallery easily enough. It s off the beaten path, a single-story corner building in what appears to be the antique district. While not exactly a blue-chip affair, the space does look legitimate. Problem is, it s closed. I didn t think to check their hours when booking only one day in Lisbon. I was too concerned with moving on to France as soon as possible. You know, the whole trying to solve a six-year-old mystery thing.
I cup my hand against the window and peer inside. Aside from wanting to meet Nolan in person, there s a show of small charcoal drawings that I would love to see. I contemplate changing my-Josh s-flight, but decide against it. Getting to France is more important than looking at drawings. Or at least that s what I tell myself.

Walking in no particular direction I think: what next? As far as establishing Emit s cover, there s a strong inclination to lay as many breadcrumbs as possible. But I also know too many can be suspicious. The best way not to call attention to yourself is to act normal, whatever your normal may be. So I go to the grocery store and buy two bags of groceries using Emit s credit card. I m working on the assumption that not only is Sara tracking my movements through my phone, but through my bank charges as well. Granted, the whole time I m in France-and who knows where else after-my cards will be inactive, but I m hoping the month-long rental plus the stockpile of groceries will make it look as if I m just settling into Lisbon for a while.
On the way home I pass a hardware store and get an idea. I buy timers for lights-using cash. Back at the apartment I attach the timers to the lamps and set them at odd intervals so that for however long I m gone, at least from the outside, it will look as if someone is coming and going.
A pain shoots through my belly. That cereal did a number on my system, and I haven t had any decent food since. So I prepare lunch: half an avocado, a dozen precooked shrimp, a pinch of salt, and an entire squeezed lime-makeshift ceviche. It s the lime I m craving, to neutralize my gut.
The apartment has a narrow balcony that runs full length of the building. I open the double doors and take in the view as I eat my lunch and consider my next steps.
Isao. I need to return his call-and speaking of calls, it s been five days since the sheriff called me in Chiang Mai. Seems like a long time to go without an update, especially after he sounded so confident with the initial findings. I don t doubt that if there was anything new to report he would have phoned, but in order to go to France undetected I ll need to leave Emit s phone here in Lisbon, which means if and when the sheriff has new information, I ll be unreachable. A thought I don t love. One solution is to forward Emit s number to Josh s, but I don t know if that can be traced and don t want to risk it. That leaves only one other option. I do the math: it s one in the afternoon for me, which means it s six in the morning for California. Probably too early to call. I make a mental note to phone the sheriff in a few hours. What next?
Isao. Coffee.
I m in the kitchen sussing out the coffee-brewing setup when Emit s phone rings. A blocked number. I stare at the screen, deciding whether or not to answer. It s not Adam, and it s not the sheriff; those numbers would come through. Maybe Sara? Only if she s using a burner, which is more than possible given the level of spycraft she s been executing on me-though I have to say, given her emotional decline over the last year, tracking me is a job I m certain she s outsourced; but that s another matter for concern, one I don t have the bandwidth to consider at the moment. All of which means I m definitely letting this call go to voicemail.
The call quits mid-ring, so I stare at the phone, hoping for the sound of a message. Half a minute later it pings. I listen.
Emit. Isao Takahashi again.
I laugh. I was just going to call you, I say to his recorded voice. But why was your number blocked?
I apologize for the urgency, his message continues, his tone turning grave. However, this situation Pause. Three days ago a woman approached me at an auction house in Geneva inquiring about the artwork I commissioned from you. Only you and I were to know of our arrangement, and I assure you, I told no one. I am deeply concerned. Please call me.
Suddenly I m glad I didn t answer-or return his call. Because I get it now. His timing is absolutely not coincidental, and it s definitely not social. The reason is so clearly simple, and yet so finely intricate that it s only obvious having now heard it. The woman who approached Isao was Sara. I m positive. I flash back to her at the Mir Museum in Barcelona, when I saw both an auction catalog and a boarding pass from Geneva sticking out of her purse. She d probably just come from Switzerland, having blindsided Isao.
And why would she do that? Why would she try to get my work from him? There s only one answer I can come up with-as ass-backward as it is: she s trying to protect Julia. As to how getting my work from Isao might achieve this, and why her effort has him so disturbed, those are going to take a bit more explaining.
To start, the commission for Isao was not your standard artist-patron arrangement. In fact, his offer was unlike any I had ever received: I was free to make anything I wanted, but with the agreement that there would be only one copy, and no one, not even Isao, would ever see it. The work was to be placed directly into what he called his family vault, a collection of artwork amassed over centuries, commissioned from renowned creators, for the sole purpose of being locked away as a savings account. A collection so secret that even Isao did not know what it held, nor how far back in history it stretched. As he explained to me the day he made the offer, he had only just learned of the vault s existence himself following the death of his father, upon which he inherited stewardship. It was a fantastic proposition, and if anyone other than Isao had made it I probably wouldn t have believed them. But as patrons, the Takahashi family had already long proven themselves more than credible. So if Isao said he had a secret vault of unknown art, then I took him at his word.
Which begs the question only that much more: if the work I made for Isao-a work no one knows exists, in a vault no one intends to open-is already secured away, then why would Sara try to get it? Especially when even Isao doesn t know what he has? The answer to that, I have to admit, is my fault. You see, I committed two mistakes. The first being what I made: a novel-length story chronicling my life with Julia, and over a hundred drawings of Southeast Asia, which together I titled Close Enough for the Angels . It s only the story Sara is after though, which I can say with confidence, knowing what I wrote. The opportunity to channel all my pain and grief into a book no one would ever read was just too tempting; it allowed me to write with utter impunity. And so some of what I wrote, I probably shouldn t have.
Starting with the lies. The first being how I portrayed myself. As I said earlier, I was out of my mind. I d run away to Thailand thinking that if I could find a former Marine who had faked his death, then my pain would be magically relieved, only to find myself lost in the jungle at night, believing I was stuck on The Great Wheel, my existence nothing more than a cycle of suffering, which I was endlessly, and futilely, trying to escape. All my life I d mined my experiences for my work, but never had I envisioned myself as the Tortured Artist archetype. Now, though, reflected in the warped mirror of grief, that s exactly who I saw. And so that s who I wrote. The sort of na ve fool who had no control over anything he made, but who was merely a puppet of the muse.
I suppose, to some extent, this is how many creative people feel, that everything they make, while channeled through their talent and skill, is ultimately out of their hands, the product of some unpredictable and mysterious magic for which there is no formula. But I played the idea up to the extreme. For example, I claimed the only successes I d ever had were the result of accidents, and to have gone twenty years without making a stitch of artwork, working as a humble laundromat owner, waiting for the muse of inspiration to guide me. When the reality was quite the opposite. While I did own a laundromat on the ground floor of my building, that was only to offset my taxes. I went to the studio seven days a week, often morning till night, whether I was inspired or not, and exhibited and published as much as I could. I never sat around waiting for the muse. I chased, hounded, wooed-you cite a verb and I tried it in my pursuit of that elusive touch capable of transforming a piece of art from good to great. But the archetype of the disciplined, persevering artist with a blue-collar work ethic no longer aligned with the man I saw in the mirror: broken; in a deep, dark hole. Even though, in the end, those hardworking traits were what saved me. My pain hadn t inspired me to work; my pain inspired me only to suffer. My drive to transform that suffering into art, and my diligence to stick with it, gave me a vehicle in which to work through my pain. But then again, who knows. Maybe that s just one of the countless forms the mercurial muse can take.
Whatever the case, my artistic persona wasn t all I played loose with. I left out all my travels, as well as my work with the San Francisco Police Department-including the time I was held for ransom after being mistaken for a diplomat. I also left out pretty much every relationship I had, including my short-lived second marriage, implying decades of celibacy-though I m not sure what I was thinking with that one. Then there s Larissa, my more-than-likely daughter. I left her out completely. But she wouldn t mind-in fact, I m sure she d prefer it. I haven t even spoken to her in over a year. Not because of any rift, but because Larissa is an extremist in everything she pursues. Last I heard, she was on an ashram in India, sans all media. Which means she probably hasn t even heard the news about Lone Pine. Then there s my twin brother, Brian. While I didn t leave him out-in fact, he appears in much of the book-he and I weren t talking at the time, so let s just say I was feeling less than generous with my portrayal.
But all of this, as our father used to say, is neither here nor there. Because-as is often the case-more than the lies I told, it s the truths I m most worried about. Mainly, what I wrote about Julia. Which was that, contrary to what the world believed, she had not disappeared on the trail, but rather, on the night before the hike, had run away to hide in Mexico. And that two years later, as I was finishing up the commission for Isao s secret vault, she revealed herself to me.
Her story went like this: On the drive to Lone Pine, Julia thought she spotted Guillaume s van on the highway. So after dinner at the lodge, she crept out to the parking lot, where she confirmed that Guillaume was in fact there. Certain he had followed her with ill intentions, she tried to convince Darlene to cancel the hike. But Darlene wasn t having it. She and her husband Randall were writing new software that was going to transform global mapping, and the information they would gather on this hike was integral to finishing the project. Julia pleaded with her, but nothing she could say would change Darlene s mind. The two argued, and Darlene pushed her. So Julia left. In the dead of night she hiked out alone, leaving her two companions to fend for themselves. She made her way to Mexico to hide from Guillaume, embarking on a two-month trek into the high mountains of Oaxaca. And only when she returned did she hear the news of Rachel and Darlene s disappearance. By then the search had been called off and the women were presumed dead.
Scared as to how her coming forward after so long might look, she stayed. But with each passing day, the conflict inside her grew. Until eventually, enough time passed that she believed there could be no coming back. Ever. The guilt was overwhelming. Not just for her missing friends, but for the pain she knew she was inflicting on those who cared for her. On me, but more poignantly, on Sara. Having already suffered the loss of their parents when they were teens, Julia couldn t bear knowing that she d left her sister to believe the last of her family had also disappeared without a trace. Which is why, after a year and a half, she reached out to Sara, then, after another six months, to me.
So there it is, the first revelatory truth: Julia is alive. Brought not quite into the light, but closer to the surface than it was a few days ago. All by a woman who is trying to bury it in permanent darkness. Nice job, Sara. I told you you were bad at this.

The coffee has long been ready, and now I can smell it burning. Thick and muddy, I pour half a cup, fill the other half with water, then go out to the balcony. I lean on the railing, drink some of what tastes like day-old truck-stop brew, and try to think rationally about this situation with Isao. The facts are, my book is safe inside his vault, Isao doesn t even know that it s a book-let alone that it contains Julia s story-and he s not going to crack open a centuries-old collection to find out-or at least so I assume. I go inside, get my phone, and replay Isao s voice-mails. I listen specifically to how he refers to the commission. And yes, it is as I thought: when he refers to what I made, it s as the artwork, not the book. Which I infer to mean that he has not broken his family code and cracked open the vault. Great. Which means there s nothing to worry about. Except for Isao himself. Sara gave him a hell of a shock. And I need to address that.
I take a deep breath, drink another sip of the worst coffee I ve ever brewed, and think of how I might go about such a thing. How to explain to Isao that I chose to share his secret, breaking not just my word, but our professional agreement, without also betraying the truth of Julia s story?
Simple: by admitting I screwed up. I didn t mean to, of course, but since when did good intentions make up for the damage they so often cause? Thing is, I don t actually regret what I ve done. I feel sorry for the betrayal Isao will feel and for the scare Sara has given him, but I don t regret having written Julia s story. I just can t. That was something I had to do, in order to pull myself out of my hole. It s ironic that by climbing out I ended up betraying the man who lowered down the rope. But that s just how it went. When Julia revealed herself to me, she d been gone almost two years. Her disappearance had broken me. And while her return was a gloriously impossible gift, it couldn t put me back together. For a year I had been writing and drawing the book I deemed a map back from the hell her vanishing had sent me, and despite my joy, confusion, and anger at discovering she was alive, I still needed to finish it. Not just for Isao-I could have given him a stack of napkins with penis doodles and he wouldn t have known-but for me. The only way I could be made whole was to finish what I started, which meant seeing the work all the way through. And so I ended the book by telling her story. Because there was no other way. That was my first mistake. My second was what I did next: I told her I d done it.
Again, I don t regret it, but if I d only written her darkest secret, placed the book into the vault, and kept my mouth shut, then we wouldn t be here. But there s no point in playing that game. In the same way that I had to write her story, I also had to tell her. Because what you have to understand is, in those first days after she came to me, we were as fragile as two freshly hatched eggs. For two years she had been living with the world believing she was dead, and when she reappeared, she was, in her own way, as broken as I. The terror in her eyes that I might reject her for what she d done-how could I do anything but grab her, hold her as tightly as I could, and never let go? From then on, we refused to let each other out of our sight. We sat on the bathroom floor while the other went to the toilet. We clung to each other while we slept. And so of course I told her about the vault. I told her everything. The way you talk in your head to a loved one who has suddenly died, willing to give anything for one last chance to say all those words that had been left unsaid, here we were, having been given that chance. Of course I told her.
What I couldn t anticipate was that in time she would also tell Sara. Or that it would ultimately lead to Sara approaching Isao, maniacally trying to snip loose ends where there are none. I suppose I could blame Julia for having broken my trust, but that would be unfair, seeing that she d only done what I had: shared her soul with someone she deeply loved. So, no. If anyone is to blame, it s me. And yet, as I said, it could have been no other way.
And so that is what I ll tell Isao. Not about Julia being alive, of course. Or about Sara trying to get my book to protect that secret. But a simplified, heartfelt version of the truth, which is that I shared our arrangement with someone I deeply trusted, and that I am truly sorry for any trouble my having done so has caused him. Isao is a good man. He may not like it, but he ll understand. I hope.
I go inside, pour my terrible coffee down the drain, get my phone, scroll through my contacts, find Isao s number, then, with a deep breath, do what needs to be done.
Two rings, and a man answers.
Isao? I say, even though the voice doesn t sound like his.
Who is this?
Emit Hopper.
Emit Hopper! The man s pitch instantly rising. Keiji Takahashi. Isao s brother.
Right, I say. I remember. Though barely. We met only once, during my first exhibition in Tokyo. Over seven years ago. Where we exchanged little more than hellos.
Wow, Keiji says. The infamous Emit Hopper. How the hell have you been?
Ah, yeah, good, I guess. I m ah-I thought I was calling your brother s number. Is this
The master is currently out on masterful business. Shall I humbly take a message?
Sure, I say, instantly making a judgment call. I m thinking of coming to Tokyo soon and was hoping Isao might be free for a drink.
Drinks with the master are never free, Keiji says. Then laughs at his own joke. So where are you now?
Traveling in Europe.
I see. Specifically?
I don t know why, but I don t want to tell him. Probably because I ve already chosen to lie about my reason for calling. But I don t know what Keiji knows. If his family s secret art collection is a secret even from him, then the last thing I want is to blab the secret again by trying to apologize for blabbing the first time. I don t see how telling Keiji I m in Lisbon can hurt though, so after a brief hesitation, I blurt out, Lisbon. And wonder if it sounds as reticent as it is.
Lis-bon, Keiji says, drawing out the word. I can almost picture him bobbing his head as he does. Awesome city. Love that place.
Would you pass along the message to Isao that I called? I say.
Will do, Emit Hopper. Keep rockin the art.
I hang up wondering if that was weird or if it was just me.

I have three activities that I think of as main pillars: working, reading, and walking. A perfect day for me is to wake in the morning and cycle through each so effortlessly that soon I find it s night and time to sleep. Each has its own special magic, and when I need to clear my head, I walk.
I leave my building the opposite direction from earlier, taking turns at random. As usual, my drawing supplies are in my bag, but while I pass countless scenes I might draw, I m not feeling the urge to stop for any of them. Instead, I speed up, faster and faster, trying to blow out the dusty corners of my mind.
After an hour I come to a small terraced park atop a hill. I buy a fresh-squeezed orange juice from a cart and pause long enough to drink and take in the view overlooking the bay. It really is uncanny how much Lisbon feels like San Francisco. The landscape, the water, the bridge-seriously, it looks almost identical to the Golden Gate; I mean, the damn thing is even red!
I continue wandering.
Dusk, I stop for food. I sit outside at a quaint restaurant with only two sidewalk tables, order a dozen oysters and an assortment of croquettes. They have no hard liquor, so, fine, I order a chardonnay.
The wine comes and-without really meaning to-I down the entire glass, then flag the waiter-who has barely left my table-and order a bottle. Which, to my delight, he delivers almost as quickly.
At the table across from me sits a British couple in their thirties, staring off at nothing, neither talking. Their food comes and the woman says, Must you always eat your salad with a knife? To which the man fires back, Must you always criticize how I eat? Then they return to silence.
I take out my notebook and write it down.
Another glass of wine and I start a list of the tasks I ve completed only so I can cross them off and feel I ve accomplished something. I write: Ditti ; Bromswell Gallery ; Emit cover story ; Isao . But I can only cross off Ditti and Emit s cover story . The other two I have to circle, since, while I ve acted on them, they haven t been completed. That s when I remember another item: Call sheriff . I pull out the disposable flip phone I bought in Chiang Mai.
Yes, the sheriff says, his voice dropping after he realizes it s me. Mr Hopper. Unfortunately, progress has been painfully slow. The area remains unstable, and one of the crew has been injured, resulting in the need for greater precautions to be taken. However, I assure you, the moment we have any new findings to report, you will be among the first to know.
Thank you, I say. But I m actually calling to give you a new contact number. I recite the number of the flip phone in case it s not coming through on his end. It s the only way I can think to be reached in France without being traced. I want to ask him not to share this number with Sara, but I don t see why he would, and since asking might arouse suspicion, I don t.
He confirms the number and I hang up thinking about how, right this minute, a team of dedicated workers are painstakingly sifting through a hillside of mud and debris, searching for the remains of murdered women.
Which I feel bad about. Two women died in what was surely a violent and horrible event. Two men lost their wives, four parents lost their children, and on and on, the pain of loss rippling further and further out through ever-widening circles of family and friends, all the way to the baristas at their local coffee shops, who, if only one time, realized, She used to come in here. But the thing is, it is only two women. Not three. Which is why the search continues. And now one of the searchers has been injured. Which is why I feel bad. Because I know they re searching in vain, having likely found all they re going to find: two backpacks. That s it. Because that s all there are. The third was carried out-was never even carried in-by a woman who is alive and kicking and the goddamn love of my life. Even though I haven t seen her in six months.
Which makes me want to call the sheriff and tell him his search team can stop looking. To say, Thank you for caring so much about the lives of strangers, but you can all go home now. But of course I can t. Which frustrates me. For years I ve been complicit in keeping Julia s secret, and even now I have no intention of being the one who announces it from the rooftops. But at the same time, if the truth is to come out, then I m not going to stand in the way. Because I think it should come out, and have since the day Julia revealed herself to me. It s good that Rachel and Darlene s families are finally getting some closure. They deserve it. But what about for all those who knew Julia? They will always be left to wonder. And for Julia herself? When she appeared to me after two years in hiding, I saw the toll the burden of secrecy had taken on her. It was its own kind of disease, one that, in time, infected everything in our lives. I believe it s what ultimately caused her and I to split, her and Sara to bitterly stop talking, and Sara to go on a psychotic manhunt. Could the truth coming out really have been worse?
The oysters and croquettes arrive. I begin to eat, slowly, allowing myself to enjoy, despite the turmoil in my mind.
And speaking of truths, I can t help but wonder: what does Julia think about the discovery in Lone Pine?
I would call her to ask, but it s not as simple as that. For two years we were glued to each other s side; then one day, we just broke. And from then on-well, it just wasn t the same between us. Six months later she was packing a bag. It knocked the wind out of me. Because even though she had tears in her eyes when she walked out the door, I knew, if and when I ever saw her again, it wouldn t be up to me.
This thing with Sara though Now that she has officially contracted a hit on Guillaume, I think Julia would want to know-needs to know. Because I m sure she doesn t. The idea that we could have Guillaume killed, that murder was even an option to be debated, was what Julia and Sara fought about, and ultimately what caused them to go their separate ways. You see, for Julia, everything about that hike-Darlene and Rachel going missing, her having stayed in Mexico, even Guillaume-was the past. And she wanted to forget. It all just went way, way wrong, she d say. I didn t mean for it to, but it did. But at least I m alive. If I owe Rachel and Darlene anything, it s to move on, appreciate the life I have, and live as fully as I can. A na ve desire, I thought-even though I went along with it-but at least one free of hate. Whereas Sara was angry. She blamed Guillaume for ruining their lives-though, oddly, never mine-and constantly tried to get Julia to agree with her.
As long as he s out there, Sara would say, you can never be free. But Julia wasn t having it. She was too stubborn, too decisive. This is life, she d reply, calm and cool. Right here, right now. There s no going back. You have to let it go.
But Sara couldn t. She relentlessly tried to justify her logic. How can you even sleep at night? she d argue. Guillaume killed your friends. At any moment he could be right here, ready to finish what he started.
But even when Julia would concede that such a threat was possible, killing a man just wasn t her way. Which is why I m certain Sara hasn t told Julia that she s put her plan into motion, because she knows Julia would try to stop her. Why Sara took the chance with me in Barcelona, I can t say. I guess she thought that, unlike Julia, I wouldn t be able to interfere. She underestimated me though-or at least I hope she did.
As for alerting Julia, I could just let it lie. I could go in pursuit of Guillaume-which I need to do for myself-and leave her in the darkness she chose. Or I could use the avenues I have to get word to her. She is the center of this mess, after all. And I don t see that she gets to be free of responsibility simply because she wants to be. None of us chose what happened to Darlene and Rachel, but we did choose everything we did in response. And it s hard to ignore the fact that we wouldn t be in this situation had Julia not run off to Mexico and stayed for two months past when she was supposed to return from the hike-a point that s always stuck in my craw. So while I take responsibility for my own choices to throw in with her and stay hidden, I can t ignore that it was Julia s bad choices that put me in the position where I had to make such decisions. On my small-minded days I let this make me angry and feel she owes me. On my bigger-hearted days I sympathize with the burden she carries and accept my choices as mine and mine alone, no matter how boxed in I felt when making them. Whichever way the scales tip, or even if they balance perfectly, I take out my phone.
But first, more wine.
I m not sure how the bottle got so empty, but after downing the last drops, I press call on the contact labeled simply M. My heart thumps wildly as the line rings, and when the call is answered I hold my breath, only to hear an automated message announce that the number is no longer in service. Of course it is.
But there is one more way. I open an internet browser and sign into the email account that we d set up after first being reunited for emergencies. It was one we would both have the login to. The plan was, if ever we needed, we could leave a message in the drafts folder. Once the other read it, the draft would be deleted or altered, which is how we would know it was received.
But my login fails. I try again in case I mistyped. These tiny keyboards on phones are ridiculous. Fail again. I know I have the right login and password, so once more I type, slowly. Fail again. Dammit. Thanks Julia.

I sleep poorly. Which has little to do with the wine. My flight isn t until ten, but still, throughout the night I keep popping awake to check the time.
At six I can t take it anymore. I get up, make coffee, but drink little of it. My uncertainty about what s coming next has me wired enough. I fuss around, straighten the apartment, double-check the lamp timers, then at quarter till eight gather my things, secure the keys in the lock-box, and head back to the cereal caf .
I arrive at eight on the dot, just as they re opening. Yesterday s concoction wrecked my system, so I won t be eating that again-or probably any cereal, ever-so I order an espresso and croissant, paying with Emit s card-likely his last transaction for a while-and sit outside at the same table. I do it without meaning to, and as I sit, I think: we are all creatures of habit. And hope that works in my favor.
I m inclined to read, but this is the last van de Wetering book I have with me and I want to make it last. With that in mind, I pull out my phone-Emit s-and go to my Amazon account. There are fourteen books in the Grijpstra and de Gier series. I m currently reading number eight, so I order numbers nine and ten to be sent to the apartment here in Lisbon. The building has large mail cubbies for each unit, so delivery can be made without my being here. Whatever the outcome of this journey, at the very least I ll have some good reading to return to.
Now for the real reason I ve come here to the caf : to lay the final breadcrumb. Inside is a wall of shelves loaded with hundreds of toy surprises from cereal boxes over the years. I go in and scan the rows of small colorful objects. On the top shelf I see a solid blue Cap n Crunch figurine. I switch Emit s phone to silent-but leave it on-pick up the Cap n, set the phone face down on the shelf, place the Cap n on top, and push the pair to the back. Amidst the array of toys, the thin phone is unnoticeable. It s maybe not the wisest move to leave it here; probably safer to have left it at the apartment. But I can t help it. No matter how cautious I need to be, I still need to play this with a little bit of Emit style. Depending on how long I m away, the phone will remain here until either I retrieve it or Sara shows up and finds it-which the devious part of me hopes she does. Just one more cereal box surprise.
MAY 8 - 16, 2017
A s Josh Grunewald, I check into my flight to Bordeaux, board, go through French customs, holding my breath at each step. Josh is a newborn in this world. Though if Ditti has done his job, no one will know that. A historical footprint of this fictional man will have been planted in all sorts of databases, from tax records to school attendances to who knows what else-a lot, I m sure. But still, while it s not my first time owning a false identity, it s my first time using one, so I m a little nervous-I do have a slightly famous face after all, even if I am more often mistaken for my brother, which doubles the possibility of my being recognized-so while the ID might pass muster, I may not. But all goes easily enough.
In Bordeaux I rent a car and head east for the Dordogne Valley. After days of biding time, I am now able to fully act: an artist with amateur investigative experience in a country where I don t speak the language, searching for a man who clearly doesn t want to be found. Easy.
As I drive, I do my best to think through this as pragmatically as possible. What are the facts? I ll start with what I know: Born in 1985, Guillaume was an only child who grew up in a small village in the south of France. When he was a thirteen, his father abandoned him and his mother for a woman a short distance away. They married, had no children. I don t know if the woman had any previous children. I do know his father made a sharp break, cutting off all contact with Guillaume and his mother. Two years later, when Guillaume was fifteen, his mother died when her car plummeted off the road into a ravine. Officially ruled an accident, it was understood to be suicide. Guillaume was taken in by his aunt, his mother s sister, who trained him as a pastry chef in their village bakery. She is now dead. At nineteen he went to Paris, where he continued to work as a pastry chef. Then he heard of Julia Bowman, the young American chef who was famous for not just her three wildly successful New York restaurants, but because her parents had died in an infamous plane accident when she was a teen. To survive, Julia had thrown herself into her work, which is how she had become so successful at such a young age. Years later, when she and I met, this ability to use work as salvation was one of our shared bonds, which I mention only because, for Guillaume, this was a skill he lacked and desperately wanted to learn. And why, at twenty-three, he made his way to the States: to work alongside Julia. Not that she d invited him; she didn t even know he existed. But Guillaume believed that if he could only be in her presence, then maybe she could save him.
And by some stroke of luck, he did manage to get hired. However, their paths crossed only briefly, and he and Julia never actually worked together, as Julia was on her way out. She d been seventeen when her parents had died in the plane accident; she was now twenty-eight. The insurance claim, and the subsequent lawsuits which had lingered for almost half her life, had finally resolved. The payout was substantial, but she didn t need the money. And having worked so hard to save herself, she believed the settling of the legal case would be nothing more than a formality. Her parents were still missing, and not one piece of wreckage had ever been found, so what could the settlement possibly change? Turns out, everything. She d been a rebellious teenager when her parents died, and now she was a successful, disciplined woman. But the work that had for so long set her free was no longer fulfilling. When opening her first restaurant, she d scoured flea markets for furniture, handpicked dishware, and painted walls, all by herself. She worked night and day, seven days a week, and even still the business often hovered on the verge of collapse. At one point, unable to make payroll, she gave up her apartment and slept in the basement. In those early years, she had no other option but to succeed; failure meant destitution.
She did have a younger sister, but Sara was also coping with loss. Unlike Julia though, who had been wild and rudderless while their parents were alive, Sara had always been focused and obedient. A star student, she was considered by many a child prodigy. So even at fifteen, Sara intuitively understood how to shut out the pain of the world through work. In this way, she became a model for Julia. Already operating at genius level, Sara doubled down on academics to the point where there was simply no room for sadness. By sixteen she had graduated from high school and earned an early entry scholarship to the London School of Osteopathy. So while Julia was in New York working every waking moment to pave her way, Sara was across an ocean doing the same. All this to say that while the sisters did have each other as family, both young women were alone. And for Julia, desperation became her motivation, which she rode full force to success. It was only twelve years later, after the settlement, that she woke up and realize she was no longer desperate and no longer needed to run. The work which had once consumed her life so completely could no longer fill the void-because the void had changed. The new void was that she had no life other than work. That s when she decided to start over. She sold everything and headed west, with no plan other than to see what she could find.
This was the same time Guillaume arrived in New York and managed to get hired at one of the hottest restaurants in the city. He must have thought fate was on his side, seeing that he had no work permit and was underqualified for the caliber of the position. But as luck would have it, Julia s general manager recognized his accent, and the two realized they were from the same region in the south of France, which is the only reason he got the job. I imagine he must have laid awake that night, in whatever squalid bed he d found, dreaming of how this successful woman was going to save him. But no sooner had he been hired, Julia sold her stake in her empire and left, which only idolized her more in his eyes. She was so far ahead of him, and since he d already deemed her his teacher-if only to himself, in his mind-then logic dictated that he follow. Which he did. He quit his newly acquired job, and took off after her.
Julia, of course, had no idea. Guillaume existed for her as nothing more than an employee she d met once then promptly forgot. She d renounced everything she d built and was now on a solo journey to build whatever would be next. After two months of meandering across the country, she eventually landed in San Francisco. In that time she d developed a passion for walking, and every day explored the city on foot. It was on one of these excursions, while resting in Golden Gate Park, that she encountered Guillaume. She hadn t remembered him from the restaurant, and when he told her, it seemed a coincidence to run into someone who had worked for her, until he told her the rest of his story-or rather, a version of his story. He said that both his parents had died in that car accident on the ravine, and that he d come to America to work for her because he believed he and she were kindred spirits: both orphans of tragic accidents who had found salvation through working in food. Later, he would claim that this was not exactly a lie, since, to him, his father s abandonment had made him feel as if the man were already dead, and that he had in fact come to the States to work for her. But in the moment of their meeting, he used this manipulation to endear himself to the woman he so admired, and it worked. He told her over and over how they were the same, until Julia saw him as someone she d never before had: a person who understood.
Except that he didn t. Guillaume was not like her; he had not saved himself. He was still imprisoned by his past, and expected someone else to free him. Whereas Julia had escaped on her own, struggling against all odds, expecting nothing from anyone. It didn t take long for this inequality to become clear. For Julia, the euphoria of love quickly gave way to reality, and she cut him loose.
Guillaume fell into freefall. He needed her, yet she needed only herself. And her ability to so easily discard him became a knife to the same wound of his father s abandonment-the same pain he so desperately wanted Julia to heal for him. He begged her, but she wouldn t budge. Julia wasn t like him; she may have been lost, but she was unafraid. If losing her parents couldn t bring her down, nothing else would, certainly not someone else s weakness.
Guillaume began to stalk her. He accosted her on the street, threw a cement planter into a car window. Then one morning he broke into her apartment. She woke to find him sitting on her floor. She would have been afraid had he not looked so broken and small. That s when he finally told her the truth of his life: that his father was not dead. And more: that he had recently learned the man was dying and deeply regretted having abandoned him. Now he had to make a decision: to either confront the father who had betrayed him, or forget him. The way he had forgotten his son.
He begged Julia to help, to go to France with him and stand by his side. He even got on his knees and at one point dramatically ripped open his shirt, exposing the long scar along his sternum, the result of open-heart surgery when he was a child-another piece of his history he liked to milk when craving sympathy. But through it all she refused, and so he threw her against the wall and choked her until she couldn t breathe. She kicked free and made it out into the hall. The noise had stirred a neighbor, and in the eyes of a witness, Guillaume left.
Julia didn t know whether to believe the story about his father or if it was just another lie to win her back. But when some time passed and he didn t return, she figured whatever the truth, she was free of him, and once more she let his presence slip from her mind. It was around then that she and I met. I was almost twenty years older, but in our own way, we were the same: two people out of pocket who had devoted their lives to work. I was a former rock star turned artist, author, and laundromat owner. I d been twice married and divorced, and had a twin brother who was a famous actor. I was outside the norm, free, and lived a life of my own making. She was thirty, rich, a celebrity chef whose parents had disappeared in a plane crash, and was ready to reinvent herself. She said we were lucky-who else had such ridiculous lives?
Then one day she played me a voicemail: Guillaume. I went to France. My father is dead. Now I m coming back for you.
She could have gone anywhere, could have bought an island in some region of the world neither of us had ever heard of, but she refused to be run out of town. She had flawed logic about freedom; we both did. She moved in with me.
Guillaume did not reappear. And in time, once again, he was forgotten. Julia and I married. Then one night at a piano bar, he was there. Different from how I imagined-tall, lithe, eyes set a little too close together. He dove for her and I grabbed him, spun him around and pinned him against the bar. Beer glasses crashed to the floor. A bouncer threw me out.
Julia left town. She couldn t take it anymore. She didn t tell me where she was going; I wondered if even she knew. For two months she was gone, which, admittedly, was not out of the ordinary for how we lived. Then she was back. Her passion for walking had led her to Tennessee, where she hiked the Appalachian Trail, and now she was heading off again, to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Three weeks, she told me, then we can start over-you and me. She d cut her hair. She was tan. She was alive and free and I loved her more than ever. We spent every moment of those few days together, until one gray morning two women, Darlene Fenton and Rachel Adams, arrived to pick her up. Julia and I kissed goodbye on the sidewalk, she beamed a smile at me I will never forget, then the three women drove off, never to be seen again.
For a short while I was a suspect. I told investigators to look into Guillaume. They did. Guillaume was on record for leaving the US on a long-expired visa and entering France-over a year earlier; apparently he had in fact returned to be with his dying father-except there was no record of him returning. But I met him in a piano bar in San Francisco, I told them. So he clearly found a way back.
Impossible, the police said. I pleaded with them. They only suspected me more.
Time passed. Winter arrived. Storms halted the search for the women. The investigation into me was dropped.
The people closest to each of the women channeled grief in their own way. I became convinced I was stuck on a giant karmic wheel, forever doomed to suffer. Which is when I ran back to Thailand to find Roy, a man I barely knew and had not seen in over two decades, only to receive the call from Isao, offering me the commission. I d been tumbling ever downward, and from the bottom of my dark hole, saw him as an angel reaching out of the sky to save me.
As for the others affected by the loss, Sara went on a rampage to destroy her life. Her work, her marriage, she threw it all away. Having her parents disappear in a plane crash, only to then have her only sister disappear while hiking, she believed she was cursed. Except instead of turning to work as she had done in the past, she sought a different way out: she took pills. At the last minute she managed to call for help and be saved, but even after months in rehabilitation, she was never the same. She would never be the same again, not even after Julia came back.
Randall Fenton, Darlene s husband, inverted. Before the women disappeared, he had been an audacious Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He d launched one goldmine start-up, and he and Darlene had been working on another-which had been the premise for the hike: Randall and Darlene were developing a new mapping software, and Darlene was leading the expedition to gather data. But after she disappeared, despite finishing the mapping project and launching one of tech s most profitable new inventions-for a second time-Randall dropped out of sight and turned all his energy to nonprofit humanitarian work in Australia.
Jonathan Adams, Rachel s husband, became obsessed. Before the disappearance, he had been an average man with little ambition, but after, he worked night and day to solve the mystery of his lost wife. He hounded everyone involved. I told him about Guillaume, and he began digging. As the police had reported, US immigration had Guillaume Lavoy leaving the US, but had no record of him returning. Jonathan, however, through the help of a private investigator, uncovered evidence that Guillaume had not only returned to France, but traveled to Dordogne and attended his father s funeral. He was unable to find proof of Guillaume s returning to the States, but he did give me the name of Guillaume s father: Jean Lavoy. The man is dead, but his second wife is not. He also gave me her name: Simone Lavoy. And so she is where I will start.

I just want to say that, despite my annoyance at Sara tracking me through my phone-which I smile to think of resting on a shelf in the cereal caf in Lisbon-GPS is a wonderful thing. I m not the best with directions, so to have a device tell me which turns to take is pretty much the only way I d ever be able to navigate these French country roads-or any roads, probably. Which is how, two hours after leaving Bordeaux, I am able to enter the picturesque, cliff-lined village of Les Eyzies, and arrive directly at the address of Simone Lavoy.
Except instead of a home I find a market. I double-check Jonathan s report. The information is six years old, but considering that most of these buildings are easily twenty times that, if not much more, I find it odd that the structure is brand new. I go inside. It s an open air market with vendor stations. Immediately a man extends a tray of small toasts smeared with foie gras. Why yes, thank you.
Does he know how long this market has been here? He points to an enormous banner spanning half the ceiling: Grande Ouverture . Got it. So much for walking up and knocking on Simone Lavoy s door. Would he happen to know who lived here before the market was erected? I didn t think so. I take two more foie gras toasts and go.
My first and only lead, dead. That was fast. Now what? I walk. Find a tourist center.
Bonjour. Parlez-vous Anglais? Wonderful. Simone Lavoy?
No, monsieur. We do not have this information. Then she hands me a tourist pamphlet. I learn that Les Eyzies is home to Font de Gaume, some of the oldest cave paintings known to humans. Sounds amazing, but they ve been there for something like twenty thousand years, so they can probably wait.
Back on the street I find a caf , order an espresso, sit, and think. What else do I know about Guillaume? I start to run through his story again, then take out my notebook. I write down all I know in declarative statements. Then I read through and ask: where are the holes?
The big one: how did Guillaume get back into the US without immigration knowing? I have no doubt that the man I met in the piano bar that night in San Francisco was Guillaume, even though it was a year after he was on record leaving the country. Which leaves two options: one, he found a way to sneak into the US illegally; or two, he never actually left, and the record of his leaving is wrong. If not for Jonathan s research with evidence proving that Guillaume did in fact leave the States-airline manifesto, grainy but undeniable photos of Guillaume at immigration checkpoint-I would have opted for the latter. But how does this help me? If anything, it proves that Guillaume found a way to move undetected between countries, which only supports Ditti s suggestion that he likely had professional help, and means finding him is going to be that much harder. Which I hope means not just for me, but for the hired gun as well.
What else?
I approach from another angle: what was the origin of Guillaume s actions leading him to Lone Pine? Julia, of course, but what led him to her has a deeper root: his father. Yes. His father is why, as a young man, Guillaume left France to work for Julia in New York: to forget the man who had abandoned him. Which is also why he ultimately then returned to France: to confront him. But how did Guillaume know to return? The morning he broke into Julia s apartment, he told her that he d learned his father was dying, and that the man regretted having abandoned him. But how did he know? Who could have told him? Think What was the connection? The restaurant-Julia s restaurant. Right. The man who had hired Guillaume had been French, from the same region-could he have known Guillaume s father? Yes, I think so. It was through him that Guillaume found out. I remember because when Julia told me, I thought it was a rather big coincidence that Guillaume had traveled so far from home to work for a woman he believed would save him from his father s abandonment, only to meet a man from his home village who happened not only to know his father, but also know that his father was ill. Even Julia shrugged her shoulders at that one. I mean, by then, there was no telling which or how much of Guillaume s stories were true. So we both wrote it off as another lie from a disturbed young man who would say anything to win back the love of the woman he idolized. But, if this story is true, then the man who told Guillaume about his father is a possible link. His name though Shit, how am I supposed to remember that?
There is a way to find out, but it s a risk. I order another espresso. I run through my notes again, but I know this is my next move-my only move. I look at the time: 3 PM , which means it s 9 am in New York. The chefs are likely still asleep, but the offices of the Bowman Group surely keep regular business hours. Julia had done more than cook; she made her restaurants an industry.
A few searches and I have the number. My heart races as I dial. It s risky because I don t know how connected Sara has stayed with these people-little, if at all, I assume. But still. With all her snipping of loose ends right now
Bowman Group.
Hi, yes, my name is Emit Hopper, and-
Oh God. Emit, how are you?
I m okay, I-
This is Leslie. You probably don t remember me. I worked with Julia way back when. We ve never met, but after the accident I called you to express my condolences. I m sure you don t remember. I heard about those poor women being found in Yosemite. It broke my heart. Any word on Jules?
No. I m sorry to say there isn t.
Oh God. It s just so terrible. People here are a wreck. There s still a lot of us who knew her.
Actually, I say, that s why I m calling. There was a man who worked there around the time Julia sold the company. He was French, I think he worked as-
G rard. He was our general manager.
Great. Is he still around? I d like to-
No, sorry. He left about a year ago.
Would you know how to get in touch with him?
I m pretty sure he moved back to France. A family thing. I think I have a number for him. I don t know if it s still good, but
She finds the number. It s a France listing, so that s promising. More condolences. More me not telling all I know. I get off the call and dial the number.
A woman answers.
Bonjour, I say. Parlez-vous Anglais?
The phone drops.
Hello? Bonjour?
A minute or so passes. Sounds like the phone is just sitting on a table. I wait.
Sounds of shuffling. Bonjour? A teenage girl.
Hi. Do you speak English?
Yes. A little.
I m looking for G rard Chambrun.
Excuse me?
We have two. One G rard has die. Other G rard live here.
Um, okay. Did the living G rard work in America for a while, at a restaurant in New York?
I think maybe yes.
Great. May I speak to him?
Some conversation between the girl and woman.
Hello? Yes. G rard he is out. He return in afternoon.
And where are you? May I have your address?
Yes. And she rattles off something I need to ask her three times to repeat.
I hang up and look up the address. A town called Agen. My phone says it s an hour and a half s drive. I use the toilet and hit the road.

I m not a hundred percent this is the G rard who worked with Julia, or, if he is, that he did in fact know Guillaume s father. If he is, and he did, then I have a chance at another lead. If no on either, then I m back to where I started.
Arriving in Agen my stomach is grumbling. All I ve had to eat today is foie gras and coffee. The town is a maze of tight, winding streets. Parking is impossible. I put the car in a lot and look for food. On the corner, a bistro. No, they are not serving. It is only four-thirty. Food is from twelve to two and seven to eleven. I can get pastry. I get a pastry.
I eat as I walk to the address. It s an office building and I m confused. A few awkward inquires and the receptionist informs me that, Oui, this is G rard office, but he has leave for the day.
Okay. Can I have his home address?
No. I am sorry, sir. You may come back on Monday.
Today is Monday.
Monsieur Chambrun only visit office on Monday.
Do you know if he is going directly home?
She wishes not to say.
I m trying not to be annoyed. I give her a big smile. Maybe you can call him for me? I have his home number, but perhaps he has a cell? I would like to know if I can find him at home.
You would like I phone Monsieur Chambrun?
Oui. I would like.
The woman dials. Eyes me while the line rings.
Ah. Oui. Monsieur Chambrun? Un Am ricain est ici au bureau, et il aimerait parler avec vous. Oui. She holds out the phone to me.
Bonjour? I say. Yes. Are you G rard who worked with Julia Bowman-I m actually her husband-right. Emit. Right. Fantastic.
He s the G rard I m looking for. I write down his address, give a syrupy Merci beaucoup to the woman, then hit the road again.

Fifteen minutes later I am in an Agen suburb, ringing the bell at a modest two-story home. The door opens and a smiling, tall, gray-haired man greets me.
Emit Hopper- he takes me by the shoulders and moves me through two kisses, one on each cheek -welcome, please, come in. Have you eaten?
He leads me through the house out to the backyard where we sit at a table in the grass already set with an open bottle of wine, three glasses, and plates.
A woman comes out carrying a platter of hors d oeuvres: chicken wings, mini hot dogs wrapped in pastry dough, and small toasts smeared with foie gras-my second offering in less than half a day.
My sister, Celine, G rard says. I stand. Kiss, kiss. She goes back into the house.
G rard pours us each pink wine. I have followed the news, he says. Do we think there is any chance of finding Julia?
I shrug. Drink some wine.
G rard nods. She was a very special woman, your wife. Very driven.
She is. Awkward smiles. I m wondering if you can tell me about an employee of hers. Someone I believe you knew from this area, Guillaume Lavoy?
G rard looks surprised. Yes. Of course, he says. I remember Guillaume. He worked for us in our SoHo location, but for only a short while.
And you knew his father?
G rard offers me the tray of hors d oeuvres. I take a few chicken wings. He takes several of everything, then offers again. I take a couple foie gras toasts. The mini hot dogs I leave. I ve always been wary of those things.
Jean, yes. G rard eats a mini hot dog. He is dead now, five, six years maybe. Shortly before Julia.
I know. I m wondering if you can tell me about Guillaume. He came back to see Jean because I believe you told him his father was dying and that his one regret was that he had abandoned his son.
G rard s face grows heavy. He drinks, then nods. Yes, I told Guillaume this. He shakes his head. I should not have done so, as it was a lie-not the illness. This was true. Jean was quite ill. But the regret I knew Jean, and never did I know him to express an emotion that might be seen as regret-at least not sincerely. Jean Jean was a hard man. Who had a hard lot. It was the war, you see-the Second World War. In this region, the Germans came. They forced people to work for them. Many were farmers, and the Germans, they brought Jewish prisoners to work the fields as slaves. There was a wealthy landowner who was one of the village leaders-I will not tell you his name for his family is still very prominent in this region-he helped these poor people to slip away in the night. He told the Germans there was nothing he could do, that he had not the resources to contain so many workers. He was clever. He asked the Germans to provide him guards, to keep the Jews from running away, but of course they would not spare soldiers for this, so this landowner was able to continue to help many escape.
Sounds heroic.
G rard tilts his head. We were occupied, there was little else we could do in ways of resistance. Those who openly stood up to the Germans were shot in the streets. But many were suffering, starving, and some, such as Jean s grandfather, became collaborators. This man, Jean s grandfather, he went to the Germans, told them of the landowner s aid to the Jews, and the landowner was confronted. The Germans would have killed him outright, but they needed his knowledge. The man had three sons, so they imprisoned all three and told him if he did not continue to work his land and cease his aid to the Jews, they would kill his boys. Of course he complied. But the very next day, the landowner, along with the local police chief, went to Jean s grandfather s home and shot the grandfather dead in front of his wife and children. G rard shrugs. He was a traitor. This was justice.
So Jean s father-
Saw his own father murdered. The war, of course-thank all that is good-did not go the way of the Germans, but this meant Jean s father grew up the son of a traitor. While the landowner and his family came out very well. There are some who say they were also collaborators, profiting off the occupation, not to mention murderers. Accusations ran high in the years following the war. Jean s father, as well as the sons of those three boys, were all young men together. But Jean s father was smart. He proposed a deal: to not publicly denounce the family for their role of enslaving Jews and killing his father, in trade for a percentage of their land and business. The boys, also being shrewd, agreed.
So Jean s father became wealthy?
Yes. But he quickly lost it all. Gambling. Alcohol. The landowner s family acquired back much of what they d bartered away, and Jean s father shot himself in a field.
G rard refills our wine glasses.
And Jean?
The son of a blackmailing son of a traitor.
I shake my head.
The war, G rard says.