Thirty-seven year-old Hayden Glass is an accomplished Robbery-Homicide Detective with the Los Angeles Police Department; who has one vice of his own, in Boulevard (Forge, 2009), the debut novel by Stephen Jay Schwartz. Hayden is a sex addict who patronizes the young ladies he is supposed to protect: “He found himself at curbside, parked, the engine purring, the passenger side window down. Her hand extended, reaching for the door, smiling as she sat down, “You’re not a cop are you?”
At 14, Hayden’s father, an inherently religious man, leading a duplicitous life of chaste and carousal; was murdered in a drive-by-shooting on a California freeway. His death was Hayden’s impetus to pursue a career in Criminology. He taught Hayden that casual sex, dishonesty, and infidelity were standard. Hayden did marry Nicole, feeding his addiction on the side. Their marriage ended when Nicole demanded he take a lie detector test to address his adultery. He failed. Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) meetings help Hayden deal with his compulsion. He appreciates Sol, his sponsor, who enlightens him about his addiction.
Heinous murders terrorize Los Angeles; and Hayden is confident they’re the work of a serial killer. He learns the crimes are all committed in the same room numbers as SAA meetings he has attended. He realizes that the killer has him under a microscope. “I am the connection to these murders.” Hayden’s recent encounters with some of the female victims encourages the LAPD to suspect Hayden.
Hayden hires Private Investigator Kennedy Reynard to profile the serial killer. His challenge is to focus on her professional attributes as opposed to personal. In her early 30’s, at 5’4”, and natural auburn hair, Hayden’s interest is clear. Eventually, they act on their carnal attraction, sensing an extraordinary connection.
Yearning to name his villain, Hayden recalls a SAA member who referred to his addiction as “Rufus.” It’s the name he chooses for the killer.
Rufus’s crimes reach new heights when Hayden’s SAA sponsor, Sol becomes his victim. He’s found dead along with two prostitutes in an apartment. Schwartz’s writing will make anyone with compassion and a conscious cringe at his vivid, gruesome crime scene descriptions: “Brain matter, bone splinters, chunks of muscle tissues, bits of fingernail, a mosaic of nerve patterns like macabre snowflakes, strands of hair. Blood dripped and trailed over lamp shades and wooden chairs.” His narrative also envelops you in the contemporary aura of Los Angeles.
A DayGlo Orange flyer slapped on Hayden’s door late evening; taunts him to attend an all-night, avant-garde art show. His Admit One invitation to the exhibit in a downtrodden area of Los Angeles is, Hayden believes; his opportunity to confront Rufus. He hustles to the site without Kennedy, despite her declaration to accompany him. Hayden’s appearance doesn’t produce Rufus. It does result in meeting another prostitute, and him being pick-pocketed. She’s found murdered the following day, with Hayden’s wallet nearby, incriminating him further.
At the art gallery, Hayden places a GPS tracker behind a picture entitled, “You and Me, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.” The deathly painting featuring his profile is now traceable, once moved by Rufus. The next day, the device senses motion, leading Hayden to Kennedy’s apartment. The picture awaits Hayden in her bedroom; but Kennedy is gone. Knowing that she’s with Rufus, he gathers clues from Kennedy’s answering machine messages and computer screen. Google Maps indicates they’re headed to the California Central Valley, four hours away. While at Kennedy’s apartment Hayden analyzes case information obtained earlier that day at the Coroner’s Office. Hayden discovers Rufus’s identity. As he rushes to save Kennedy, the LAPD are on his trail, convinced that Hayden is the serial killer.
Reaching his destination, a picture-perfect country cottage awaits Hayden’s entrance. The evening ambience, including a bearskin rug, Cedar-burning fireplace, and fresh-baked cookies on the kitchen counter embodies silence. Then, metallic clanking on pipes alerts Hayden. He realizes the sound is coming from the basement.
Rushing outside, he locates recessed steps leading to a half-sized metal door. Entering, Hayden begins his chilling, life-changing experience. The cave-like space, with rock and dirt floors; leads him to a dimly lit room where he sees the backside of Kennedy’s red hair. He also hears the voice of Rufus who slowly comes into vision. Rufus states a haunting account of the addiction they share, and long-lost revelations about Hayden.