Guest Post: John Lansing, author of DEAD IS DEAD

I’m always pleased and honored when authors take time out of their busy schedules to stop by The Book Diva’s Reads. Today, I’m pleased to host a visit by the author of the soon to be published Dead is Dead and a host of other fine books, John Lansing. Mr. Lansing will be discussing his top ten list of authors he reads in the crime/thriller genre. You’ll probably be adding a few of these to your TBR list.




One of the most important things someone who wants to write a Crime/Thriller can do for themselves is to read work by the best authors in the genre. And if what you’re shooting for is to write a series, it’s a great help to read the first book the author penned, to see how he or she introduced their protagonist.

I always follow up by reading the next few books in the series to see how the author summarizes the first book. It’s a delicate balance. There has to be enough information so that each title can operate as a stand-alone, but still give the reader an understanding of the franchise. But, too much becomes repetitive and can bog down the new narrative line. 
There’s nothing more exciting to me than finding a new author that peaks my interest. Speaks to my crime/thriller voracious appetite, and keeps me glued to the page. Then I know I can happily look forward to reading their entire library. 

This is my top ten list. Writers that I revisit time and time again. Let me know if they work for you.



1. Raymond Chandler. He’s a grand master and reads like a comfortable, old, black and white movie. Start with The Big Sleep and you’re off and running.

2. Dashiell Hammett. Another major blast from the past. The Maltese Falcon is a perfect starting point.

3. Michael Connelly. Started out as a court reporter and became one of the best crime writers in the business. The Black Echo was his first. And it helps to read him in order. You get more depth out of Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, his detective. I’m rereading The Black Echo as we speak.

4. James Lee Burke. I’ll use the word brilliant. Very intense, but always worth the read. The Neon Rain is the first of his famous Dave Robicheaux Novels.

5. Dennis Lehane. A Drink Before the War was his first. This writer can do no wrong.

6. John Sandford. Lighter fare, but totally addictive and well constructed. His first novel was Rules of Prey. I just reread the book last week, and it keeps me going back for more.

7. Ian Rankin. A Scottish Author that makes Edinburgh his stomping grounds. The first in his Inspector Rebus Series is Knots & Crosses. Fine crime fiction.

8. Walter Mosley. Blond Faith is the first of his Easy Rawlins Mysteries. Tons of fun. And a history of LA from a black perspective. He’s a terrific writer.

9. Robert Crais and his Elvis Cole/Joe pike novels. The Monkeys’ Raincoat is his first. His protagonist Elvis Cole is a glib detective who’s easy to spend time with.

10. Jo Nesbo. I just finished his entire Detective Harry Hole Series. Start with The Bat, and you’ll be downloading his books and losing sleep in the process.


Okay, there are more on my list, but I think these will keep you busy for a while. I hope you enjoy.


John



Dead is Dead by John Lansing 
ISBN: 9781501147562 (paperback) 
ISBN: 9781501143564 (ebook)
ASIN: B0191YI6GA (Kindle edition)
Publisher: May 30, 2016
Publication date:  Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing

From the “pulse pounding” (Kirkus Reviews) writer of TV hit Walker, Texas Ranger comes a riveting Hollywood thriller that will keep you captivated until the shocking conclusion.

Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino gets his first taste of the erratic nature of Hollywood when A-list producer, George Litton, options one of Jack’s recent cases for a film.

Jack is engaged as the film’s technical advisor, which stars It Girl Susan Blake. But more importantly, he’s on hand to keep a protective eye on Susan, who’s being harassed by a disturbing cyber-stalker.

But that’s not all that starts to turn Jack’s world upside-down. When a five-year-old girl is shot dead in her family’s living room, just blocks from where the movie is being filmed, Jack realizes there are threads connecting the movie, the murder, a brutal gang of brothers, and a terrifying body count.

Will Jack be able to find justice for the young girl and keep Susan safe? Or will this be his last and fatal trip to Hollywood?



Author Bio:


John Lansing, started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre performing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease,” before putting together a rock ‘n’ roll band and playing the iconic club CBGB.

John closed up his Tribeca loft and headed for the West coast where he landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.

During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.”

John’s first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome he co-wrote with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.

The Devil’s Necktie, his first Jack Bertolino novel, became a bestseller on Barnes & Noble and hit #1 in Amazon’s Kindle store in the Crime Fiction genre. Jack Bertolino returns in John’s latest novel, Dead Is Dead, the third book in his detective series.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.


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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for John Lansing. The giveaway begins on May 15th and runs through June 30th, 2016.

There will be TWO (2) winners for this tour. One winner will receive one $15 gift card from Amazon.com (US Only) the other winner will receive a copy of Dead is Dead by John Lansing – US Residents may choose either an eBook copy or a Physical version however Winners outside the US will only be eligible for an eBook version.


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2016 Book 79: THE MURDER THAT NEVER WAS by Andrea Kane



The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane 
ISBN: 9781682320006 (hardcover)
ASIN: B01C0ZQT8Y (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 17, 2016  
Publisher: Bonnie Meadow Publishing


Given the opportunity, would you assume someone else’s identity and leave your old life behind? A serendipitous crossing of paths between Lisa Barnes, a down-on-her-luck job seeker, and Julie Forman, a personal trainer to an Olympic hopeful, forever changes the course of both women’s lives. One winds up dead and the other finds herself a fugitive, hiding behind one lie after another as a cold-blooded killer methodically hunts her. Desperately trying to stay alive, the terrified woman enlists the help of Forensic Instincts, a rogue investigative team that clandestinely operates in the gray area between legal and illegal. 

Safeguarding their client’s deception, Forensic Instincts digs into dangerous territory as they try to find out who’s after their client and why. Meanwhile, bodies are piling up in Chicago, New Jersey, and Vermont as a megalomaniacal genius will stop at nothing to eradicate anyone who threatens the success of his medical breakthrough. With an unhinged client and a monstrous criminal enterprise as its adversary, Forensic Instincts is forced into uncharted territory to protect their client and save one of their own from becoming the next corpse. Forensic Instincts is an unorthodox, criminal investigative team that carefully navigates the fine line between legal and illegal. The team consists of a behaviorist, a former Navy SEAL, a techo-wiz, an intuitive, a pickpocket, a retired FBI agent, and a human scent evidence dog.



Lisa Barnes never had too many breaks in life until she meets personal trainer Julie Forman. Julie gives her a job and a place to live. After witnessing the cold-blooded murder of her benefactor, Lisa has only one thought…run. She changes ID with Julie and quickly leaves town to start a new life with a new name in The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane.

Lisa Barnes was a foster child that never seemed to catch a break. The only good thing that came from her years in the system is her friendship with Miles “Milo” Parker. Once she opts to assume Julie Forman’s identity, she runs to Milo. Milo’s computer skills help her to make a seamless transition from Lisa to Julie and the two leave Chicago behind for New Jersey. Once they arrive in New Jersey, the new “Julie” opens a fitness facility and begins to enjoy her new life. Unfortunately, the new Julie has ties to the old Julie’s life in the form of one former client. A client that was training for the Olympics. A client that will never be able to compete again due to performance enhancing drugs. A client that the old Julie tried to help before getting killed. Meanwhile in Manhattan, Emma, the newest addition to the Forensic Instincts (FI) team, is heartbroken over the story of the murdered Lisa Barnes in her old hometown. Her distress over Lisa’s sad demise leads to a behind-the-scenes, informal investigation by FI’s computer guru Ryan, which leads to the entire FI team investigating this murder and stumble upon the unrelenting quest of a madman to eliminate all obstacles in order to fulfill his dream of perfection.

The Murder That Never Was is the fifth and latest addition to the Forensic Instincts series by Ms. Kane. As with previous books in this series, there’s murder, mystery, and mayhem. This book also adds identity theft, performance enhancing drugs, drug cartels, and the emotional carnage of being a foster child into the mix. Emma is the latest addition to the FI team and the youngest, but I liked the fact that everyone took her concerns over the murder of a fellow foster child into consideration and launched their own investigation. I particularly liked the relationship dynamic between Lisa/Julie and Milo, as well as their inventiveness in order to survive. Ms. Kane provides a fascinating glimpse into the devastation wrought by performance enhancing drugs into the lives of amazingly talented athletes (whether the usage is with or without their knowledge). I found The Murder That Never Was to be a fast-paced read and a great addition to the Forensic Instinct series.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes via Partners in Crime Tours. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Andrea Kane. There will be 6 US winners. One There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. The winners will each receive an eBook copy of The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane. The giveaway begins on May 9th and runs through June 9th, 2016.


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2016 Book 145: THE BODY IN THE WARDROBE by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page 
ISBN: 9780062439505 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062439550 (ebook)
ASIN: B0151VIA40 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: April 26, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow


Minister’s wife, caterer, and part-time sleuth Faith Fairchild pairs up with Sophie Maxwell, last seen in Body in the Birches and now a newlywed living in historic Savannah, Georgia, where Sophie crosses paths with murder. Another delightful entry in the beloved mystery series, complete with delectable recipes.

Attorney Sophie Maxwell has come to Savannah to be with her new husband, Will. But nothing throws cold water on a hot relationship faster than a dead body. Worse for Sophie, no one believes the body she knows she saw is real. Will is spending an awful lot of time in Atlanta on a case he claims is urgent, and she’s been tasked with house hunting for them with his former sweetheart, who Sophie can’t help but suspect wishes Sophie would return to her Yankee roots!

Fortunately, Sophie has a good friend in Faith Fairchild. With teenage Amy being bullied by mean girls and husband Tom contemplating a major life change that will affect all the Fairchilds, Faith is eager for distraction in the form of some sleuthing. In between discussions of newlywed agita, surprising Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer! 



Sophie Maxwell never expected to fall in love, but she did. She never expected to relocate from New England, but she has. Now she’s living in Savannah, Georgia with the love of her life and acclimating to her new life and environment. Sophie’s marriage takes a hit and she’s left in Savannah to fend for herself while her new husband takes a job in Atlanta. If being alone in a city isn’t bad enough, Sophie finds a body but no one believes her except for her friend Faith Fairchild. The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page is the newest addition to the Faith Fairchild mystery series.

Sophie Maxwell has started a new life as a newlywed in a new city and state. She loves being married and loves her new hometown, Savannah. Unfortunately for Sophie, all is not rosy in the new South. Her sister-in-law talked Sophie into donning a family heirloom for an informal party in honor of the newlyweds as a cruel prank. Sophie’s husband Will was outraged by Sophie’s audacity to wear this dress and the first cracks in their marriage appear. This is quickly followed by the re-emergence of Will’s former girlfriend as their preferred realtor and then Will leaves Savannah (and Sophie) for a job in Atlanta. Adding insult to injury, Sophie discovers a dead body in a wardrobe in their temporary home. Sadly, the body disappears when the police arrive and this makes Sophie appear to be another crazy antic of a displaced Yankee. Fortunately, Sophie can always rely on her friend Faith Fairchild as a sounding board and for support. Meanwhile, Faith is dealing with her own family problems. Namely, her husband’s contemplating relocating the family, her teenage daughter is dealing with school bullying in the form of mean girls, and she’s worried about several of her neighbors. Will Sophie and Faith be able to solve the mystery of the body in the wardrobe? Can Sophie successfully resolve the burgeoning problems in her marriage? Will Faith’s family be uprooted by her husband’s desire to relocate? 

The Body in the Wardrobe is the first Faith Fairchild mystery that I’ve read by Ms. Page. Although this is the twenty-third book in this series, it didn’t feel as if I was coming into the series in the middle. I found The Body in the Wardrobe to be a rather quick read. The story is told in alternating voices of Faith and Sophie with some obvious crossover. I liked Sophie, her husband Will, her mother Babs, as well as Faith, her husband Tom, and her children. I rather enjoyed the alternating storylines but was drawn to Sophie’s story more so than Faith’s for some reason. The Body in the Wardrobe provides hints of romance, tons of family drama, a bit of jealousy, a few family secrets, teenage angst, bullying (teen and adult mean girls), murder, intrigue, and mischief; a little bit of everything in one nice package. I enjoyed reading The Body in the Wardrobe so much that I’ll be going back to read the entire Faith Fairchild mystery series. If you’re looking for a quick and engrossing mystery, look no further, The Body in the Wardrobe just might be the book you seek! 

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





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 The Body in the Wardrobe (Faith Fairchild Series #23)
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 The Body in the Wardrobe


The Body in the Wardrobe

Book Excerpt: THE BODY IN THE WARDROBE by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page 
ISBN: 9780062439505 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062439550 (ebook)
ASIN: B0151VIA40 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: April 26, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow


Minster’s wife, caterer, and part-time sleuth Faith Fairchild pairs up with Sophie Maxwell, last seen in Body in the Birches and now a newlywed living in historic Savannah, Georgia, where Sophie crosses paths with murder. Another delightful entry in the beloved mystery series, complete with delectable recipes.

Attorney Sophie Maxwell has come to Savannah to be with her new husband, Will. But nothing throws cold water on a hot relationship faster than a dead body. Worse for Sophie, no one believes the body she knows she saw is real. Will is spending an awful lot of time in Atlanta on a case he claims is urgent, and she’s been tasked with house hunting for them with his former sweetheart, who Sophie can’t help but suspect wishes Sophie would return to her Yankee roots!

Fortunately, Sophie has a good friend in Faith Fairchild. With teenage Amy being bullied by mean girls and husband Tom contemplating a major life change that will affect all the Fairchilds, Faith is eager for distraction in the form of some sleuthing. In between discussions of newlywed agita, surprising Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer! 



Read an excerpt:

Her limbs were frozen in place as she stared down at the man, a dark shape against the rich colors of the Oriental carpet on the floor. It was impossible to believe. A body in the wardrobe?

She opened her mouth, took a deep breath, but couldn’t make a sound. And then as if a starter’s gun had gone off, she tore down the stairs and found herself in the kitchen, staring at a door she knew was locked. Just as all the doors were.

Her phone! She looked down at her bare legs. The phone was in the bedroom. She’d taken it out of her skirt. The skirt she was about to hang in the wardrobe. The wardrobe where the dead man had been. Waiting for her to open the door.

Think, Sophie, think! She snatched the landline receiver from the counter, punching in 9-1-1, turned the lock, and wrenched the door open, stumbling into the cool night air. Relief started to flood over her until she realized the killer could be hiding behind the stacks of lumber and bags of cement that filled that garden at the back of the house. Quickly she darted to the path surrounding the house and the gate beyond. She pushed down on the handle; it opened easily.

There was no front yard, only a small patch of ivy with a cast iron planter at the foot of the stairs leading to the front door. Gloria had filled the urn with red cyclamen, evergreens, and pinecones. Sophie moved across to the square and stood under a streetlight. No cars were passing and no one was on the sidewalks, although lights were on in most of the houses.

Her call was picked up. Listening to the voice on the other end saying “this call is being recorded,” Sophie struggled to clear her throat, finally gasping out, “There’s a dead man in my bedroom. He’s been stabbed.”

The remarkably calm-sounding woman on the line responded by asking Sophie’s name, the address, and if she was still inside the house. Sophie answered, her voice getting stronger. Her heart began to slow and her mind began to clear.

“Can you confirm the identity of the dead man?”

“No, I don’t know.” Her thoughts swirled again. Who was he? One of the crew working on the house? She was almost positive she had never seen him before, yet it had all happened so fast she hadn’t gotten more than a glimpse of his face.

“There is a squad car in your area and will be with you immediately,” the dispatcher said. “Are you alone?”

“Yes,” Sophie answered. “I’m alone.” Very alone.

But not for long.

Two police cars, lights flashing, pulled up. Officers wasted no time rushing into the house—through the back when Sophie told them she thought the front was locked. A female officer took Sophie into one of the cars and put a blanket around her. Sophie hadn’t realized she was shivering until she felt the warmth. She was able to answer questions—her name again and a description of the deceased—”At least six feet tall. Heavyset. Long dark hair. Greasy. Dark clothing. Maybe jeans.” She closed her eyes, trying to see it again. Not wanting to see it again.

“Can you describe the weapon?” The officer was busy taking notes.

“A knife with a long, thick black handle. I couldn’t see the blade. It was . . .” Sophie felt her throat close and stopped.

“That’s fine. You’re doing just fine, honey. Is there someone we can call? Family?”

Sophie almost laughed. An hysterical sort of laugh. Her accent had betrayed her. The question mark after “family” could have been drawn in the air with neon it was so vivid. She wasn’t from here.

“My husband is in Atlanta working. This is my mother-in-law’s house.”

Neighbors had gathered a safe distance away from the action. Sophie could see them in small knots speculating on what piece of Savannah news was unfolding. She was overwhelmed with fatigue. The fatigue that had haunted her since the night of the party. She wanted Will. Will, her husband, her beloved. And she wanted him now. Tears gathered in the corners of her eye and blurred the surreal scene outside the squad car window.

The door opened and the officer who had been the first to take off for the house slid next to Sophie.

“Mrs. Maxwell?”

Sophie wiped her eyes with her hand and sat up straight, clutching the blanket around her. “Yes?”

“You did say that the man fell out of the wardrobe in the bedroom at the top of the stairs in the front of the house?”

“Yes, I was putting my clothes away and he . . .” Her voice gave out again for a moment, but she regained it. “He came tumbling right out and I could see he was dead.”

The officer’s voice softened. “There’s no one in the house, dead or alive, darlin’.”




Author Bio:

Katherine Hall PagePhotograph by Jean Fogelberg


Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-two previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story “The Would-Be Widower.” The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic, she has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award. She lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Deer Isle, Maine, with her husband.



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2016 Book 127: THE WAGES OF SIN by Nancy Allen

The Wages of Sin: An Ozarks Mystery by Nancy Allen 
ISBN: 9780062438768 (paperback – available June 14, 2016)
ISBN: 9780062438751 (ebook)
ASIN: B0166JUGPM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 12, 2016 
Publisher: Witness Impulse 


In rural McCown County, Missouri, a young pregnant woman is found beaten to death in a trailer park. The only witness to the murder is Ivy, her six-year-old daughter, who points to her mom’s boyfriend—father of the unborn child. County prosecutor Madeleine Thompson promises the community justice, and in the Ozarks, that can only mean one thing: a death sentence.

When Madeleine’s first choice for co-counsel declines to try a death penalty case, she is forced to turn to assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold. Elsie is reluctant to join forces with her frosty boss, but the road to conviction seems smooth—until unexpected facts about the victim arise, and the testimony of the lone eyewitness Ivy becomes increasingly crucial. Against Elsie’s advice, Madeleine brings in the state attorney general’s office to assist them, while cutthroat trial attorney Claire O’Hara joins the defense.

Elsie will not let the power of prosecution—of seeking justice—be wrested from her without a fight. She wants to win the case, and to avenge the death of the mother and her unborn child. But as the trial nears, Elsie begins to harbor doubts about the death penalty itself. Meanwhile, the child Ivy is in greater danger than anyone knows… 



A pregnant woman is viciously beaten and dies. Her boyfriend is the murderer. The pregnant woman’s six-year-old daughter is a witness to the beating. Elsie Arnold, a prosecuting attorney in rural Barton City, McCown County, Missouri has the chance to try a death penalty case in The Wages of Sin by Nancy Allen.

Normally, Elsie Arnold, is the last person in the prosecuting attorney’s office expected to assist in a death penalty case, but there are major issues within the prosecuting attorney’s office that afford her this opportunity. The chief assistant prosecuting attorney had to recuse himself as he witnessed the defendant beat the accused at a campsite just a few days prior to the murder. Elsie’s best friend and fellow assistant prosecuting attorney, Breeon Johnson, recuses herself because she doesn’t believe in the death penalty. Elsie is relatively confident she can more than handle this case as second chair with her boss, prosecuting attorney Madeleine Thomas, until her boss decides to contact the States Attorney General’s office for assistance, and enter Samuel Parsons. Just as things are heating up with Elsie’s professional life (or so she thinks), her personal life is slowing down as her lover, Detective Robert Ashlock, has obtained custody of his fourteen-year-old son. Unfortunately for Elsie, she has to function as the liaison between the prosecuting attorney’s office and Family Services on behalf of the six-year-old witness, establish a relationship with a six-year-old witness, and do all of the scut-work for the legal case against the murderer. It isn’t until the actual trial begins, that Elsie begins to realize that all is not as it appears and there’s a lot more to this case than meets the eye. Will she be able to determine all of the major players before it’s too late for her witness and her case?

The Wages of Sin is the third book in the Ozarks Mystery series by Nancy Allen and the first book in this series that I’ve read. Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to read the previous books in this series in order to understand what is happening in the current book, as each book seems to function as a standalone with recurring characters. I found The Wages of Sin to be a rather quick read. Ms. Allen provides plenty of colorful characters to keep things interesting (Elsie and Ivy are a riot!). Ms. Allen seems to capture the essence of rural life without being apologetic about the poverty, deprivation, or depravation. If you enjoy reading mysteries  or legal thrillers, then look no further as The Wages of Sin is equal parts mystery and legal thriller.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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The Wages of Sin

Excerpt: THE WAGES OF SIN by Nancy Allen

The Wages of Sin: An Ozarks Mystery by Nancy Allen 
ISBN: 9780062438768 (paperback – available June 14, 2016)
ISBN: 9780062438751 (ebook)
ASIN: B0166JUGPM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 12, 2016 
Publisher: Witness Impulse


In rural McCown County, Missouri, a young pregnant woman is found beaten to death in a trailer park. The only witness to the murder is Ivy, her six-year-old daughter, who points to her mom’s boyfriend—father of the unborn child. County prosecutor Madeleine Thompson promises the community justice, and in the Ozarks, that can only mean one thing: a death sentence.

When Madeleine’s first choice for co-counsel declines to try a death penalty case, she is forced to turn to assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold. Elsie is reluctant to join forces with her frosty boss, but the road to conviction seems smooth—until unexpected facts about the victim arise, and the testimony of the lone eyewitness Ivy becomes increasingly crucial. Against Elsie’s advice, Madeleine brings in the state attorney general’s office to assist them, while cutthroat trial attorney Claire O’Hara joins the defense.

Elsie will not let the power of prosecution—of seeking justice—be wrested from her without a fight. She wants to win the case, and to avenge the death of the mother and her unborn child. But as the trial nears, Elsie begins to harbor doubts about the death penalty itself. Meanwhile, the child Ivy is in greater danger than anyone knows… 



Read an excerpt:

Oh my God. Let this be over, Elsie thought, doodling on the page of a legal pad. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Elsie Arnold had been tied up in Judge Carter’s court for nearly two hours that morning, representing the State of Missouri in a preliminary hearing. The criminal defendant was charged with robbery in the first degree. Only Judge Carter, Elsie thought, would be coldhearted enough to subject her to a robbery prelim on the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend.

Public Defender Josh Nixon was grilling the bank president, Donna Hudson, in cross-examination.

“So you were present at the time of the alleged robbery?”

“Yes—I said so. In my office.”

“But isn’t it true that, if you were shut up in your office, you did not have occasion to hear whether the defendant threatened any harm?”

“The buzzer sounded. I heard it.” The woman sat stiff, with righteous indignation in every wrinkle of her face.

“The alarm, right? But you didn’t hear any statements made by the defendant, did you? Because you remained safely in the back of the bank.”

“I saw the bomb.”

A comical grin grew on the defense attorney’s face; Elsie closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see it.

“The bomb?” he repeated.

“The box. The box with the tape.”

The criminal complaint filed by the prosecution did not allege that the defendant had threatened the bank employee with a bomb. The criminal charge stated that the defendant threatened the use of what appeared to be a bomb.

“Describe this box, please.”

“It was a box, about this size,” she said, making a rectangle shape with her hands. “And it was covered with duct tape.”

“Did the defendant detonate this deadly bomb? This dangerous instrument you described?”

The banker eyed the defense attorney with resentment. “You know what happened.”

“Tell me. For the record.”

“The bank teller gave him the money. Everything in her drawer. He ran out, left that box on the counter.”

“Then what happened?”

“The bomb squad came and took over.”

“What did they do? If you know.”

“They exploded it.” The lines deepened around the woman’s mouth. “They blew it up. And the mess went everywhere.”

“Mess? What kind of mess?”

Elsie wanted to cover her ears to block out the answer that was coming.

“The chocolate, the cherries.”

Josh Nixon leaned on the empty jury box, nodding sagely. “So the bomb was not a bomb at all? It was—what did you say?”

“A box of candy. Chocolate-covered cherries. Wrapped in duct tape.”

“And for the record, Ms. Hudson: was the money recovered? The money from the bank teller’s drawer?”

“Yes, it was. But—”

Before she could complete her sentence, the defense attorney turned his back to her, cutting the witness off. “No further questions,” he said, and walked back to the counsel table. Nixon slid into his seat, stretching his long legs out in front of him and tucking his longish sun-streaked hair behind his ear. He hadn’t bothered to don a tie.

Judge Carter, a slim man in his forties with prematurely silver hair, peered at Elsie over his glasses. “Redirect?”

Elsie stood at the counsel table, looking at the bank president with an encouraging face. “But did it appear to be a bomb? When the defendant threatened the teller with it?”

“Objection,” Nixon said, sitting up straight. “The witness wasn’t present, has no way of knowing other than hearsay!”

Elsie barked back. “You’re the one who opened the door on this line of questioning. In your cross-examination.”

The bank president rose from her chair, the picture of aggrieved fury. “What I want to know,” she said, “is who is going to pay? For that mess? The cleaning of the bank lobby?”

Judge Carter slammed the gavel. The bank president jumped, startled, and hopped back onto her seat on the witness stand.

“Ms. Arnold—further questions?”

“No.”

“Any further witnesses on behalf of the defense?”

“No,” said Nixon.

The judge turned to his clerk. “The court finds probable cause. Defendant is bound over to Circuit Court on the charge of robbery in the first degree. Arraignment to be held Friday at 9:00 A.M.”

When the judge left the bench, Josh Nixon turned to whisper with his client, a long-haired young man with a bushy mustache. The president of Bank of the Hilltop, Donna Hudson, stormed off the witness stand and bore down on Elsie.

“How could I be treated this way in a court of law?”

“No one meant to mistreat you,” Elsie said in a soothing voice. “It was just cross-examination—the defense attorney gets to ask questions. I explained that to you before.”

“But I am the victim. My family owns the bank.”

“That’s right, Donna. But the defense has the right to confront the witnesses against him.”

“Who gave that criminal the right to confront me? I am a taxpaying citizen.”

Elsie backed up a step, angling to make a getaway. “The US Constitution. Sixth Amendment.”

The banker’s eyes narrowed; Elsie sensed that the woman didn’t appreciate the finer points of the Bill of Rights.

“When will the court make him pay for the cleanup? The cleanup of the bank lobby?”

Edging closer to the door, Elsie shook her head. “Hard to say. You think this guy has any money?”

Mrs. Hudson’s unhappy expression showed that the conversation wasn’t over. But as she was about to speak again, Elsie’s friend and coworker, Breeon Johnson, hurried into the courtroom and grabbed Elsie’s arm.

“Downstairs,” Breeon said.

“Now? Right now?” Elsie asked.

“Just one darned minute,” Donna Hudson said. She opened a Louis Vuitton handbag and pulled out a Kleenex, rubbing furiously at her nose. Elsie eyed the bag with curiosity. It was probably the real article. Though as an employee of a rural county in the Ozarks, Elsie didn’t have sufficient acquaintance with designer goods to distinguish the genuine product from a knockoff.

Elsie gave Breeon an inquiring look. “Can you wait a sec?”

Breeon tugged at her arm. “Can’t wait. It’s an emergency.”

Elsie could see from Breeon’s face that she was deadly serious. “Okay,” she said. Looking back at the banker, Elsie spoke hastily. “The system is working, Mrs. Hudson. Your bank robber has been bound over; he’ll be arraigned in Circuit Court, and his case will be set for jury trial. I appreciate your cooperation, and your testimony. But I have to get downstairs.” She looked over to the door; Breeon had just vanished through it. “Something major is going on.”

“But will he pay?”

The woman’s voice rang in Elsie’s ears, and she was tired of hearing it. Turning away, she said, “Yeah. Yes, Mrs. Hudson. He’ll pay.”

“How?”

“The old-fashioned way, I expect. With his liberty.”

The banker protested, her voice shrill, but Elsie departed at a fast pace, and scrambled down the worn marble staircase of the McCown County Courthouse, catching up to Breeon at the back entrance to the Prosecutor’s Office.

“What?” Elsie demanded, as Breeon punched the security buttons to access the private entrance. “What is it?”

Breeon shook her head in disgust. “Another murder. They found the body in a trailer home, right outside the city limits. Can you believe it?”

“Again?” Murder cases were rare in rural McCown County, a small community nestled deep in the Ozark hills of southwest Missouri. Elsie had handled a murder case over the summer, prosecuting a juvenile for the death of a bus driver. A second homicide, occurring within such a short period of time, would shake the entire community.

“Yeah, another woman,” Breeon said, pushing the door open. “But a young one this time.”

“Aw, shit,” Elsie said.

Breeon gave her a look, righteous anger evident in her face. “She was eight months pregnant.”

The news stopped Elsie in her tracks. “A double murder,” she whispered.

© Nancy Allen




Author Bio:

Nancy Allen




Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She has tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. Her first novel, The Code of the Hills, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. The Wages of Sin is the third book in her Ozarks mystery series.






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Book Showcase and Giveaway: THE ADVOCATE’S DAUGHTER by Anthony Franze


The Advocate’s Daughter


by Anthony Franze


on Tour April 2016



The Advocate's Daughter by Anthony FranzeA Washington, D.C. lawyer and a frequent major media commentator on the Supreme Court, Anthony Franze delivers a high-stakes story of family, power, loss and revenge set within the insular world of the highest court of our country.


#1 New York Times bestseller Lee Child called The Advocate’s Daughter “smart, sophisticated, suspenseful, and written with real insider authenticity.” Suspense Magazine hailed it as “the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to suspense.” And Library Journal said it “gives readers an inside peek at the world of the Supreme Court, and tossing in an intriguing mystery only adds to the thrills.”


* * *


Among Washington D.C. power players, everyone has secrets they desperately want to keep hidden, including Sean Serrat, a Supreme Court lawyer. Sean transformed his misspent youth into a model adulthood, and now has one of the most respected legal careers in the country. But just as he learns he’s on the short list to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, his daughter, Abby, a talented and dedicated law student, goes missing. Abby’s lifeless body is soon found in the library of the Supreme Court, and her boyfriend, Malik Montgomery, a law clerk at the high court, is immediately arrested. The ensuing media frenzy leads to allegations that Malik’s arrest was racially motivated, sparking a national controversy.


While the Serrat family works through their grief, Sean begins to suspect the authorities arrested the wrong person. Delving into the mysteries of his daughter’s last days, Sean stumbles over secrets within his own family as well as the lies of some of the most powerful people in the country. People who will stop at nothing to ensure that Sean never exposes the truth.



Book Details:


Genre:      Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Published by: Minotaur Books


Publication Date: March 22nd 2016


Number of Pages:  320


ISBN:   1250071658 (ISBN13: 9781250071651)


Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads


Excerpt:


CHAPTER 1



Washington, D.C., Suburbs

Present Day

There should have been a sign. A feeling. Some sense of impending doom. But Sean Serrat’s day started like any other.

“Daddy, guess what?”

Sean always felt a tiny rush of emotion when his children called him Daddy, a word that was fading to extinction in his home.

“Daddy,” Jack repeated. Sean glanced at his son, who was perched on a stool at the granite kitchen counter shoveling Cheerios into his mouth. Sunshine cut through the window and a shadow fell across the seven-year-old’s round face. Jack’s teenage brother, Ryan, sat next to him crunching a bagel.

“What is it, buddy?” Sean stood near the stove, bowl in one hand, spoon in the other, trying not to drip on his tie.

“I told my friend, Dean, about our family Money Jar.”

“Yeah?”

“I told him that some families have Swear Jars where you have to put money in if you say a bad word. But we have a Money Jar that has money in it and you say bad words into the jar.” Jack cupped his orange juice glass over his mouth and demonstrated with a muffled, “Butt, poop, ass.”

Ryan blurted a laugh, spattering flecks of bagel over the countertop.

Sean tried to hold back a smile. “I don’t think you should tell your friends about the Money Jar,” he said. “And maybe let’s not tell Mommy about—”

“Don’t tell Mommy what?” Emily said, strolling into the kitchen. She wore black yoga pants and a T-shirt and her skin glistened from her morning jog. The boys snickered and Sean reached for the coffee pot and poured Emily a cup.

Emily’s eyes narrowed. “What are you boys up to?”

“Us? Up to something?” Sean said, handing her the coffee.

Emily gave a sideways look: Silly boys. She smelled the coffee, smiled, and took a sip. “You look so handsome,” she said. She set the mug on the counter and adjusted the knot on Sean’s tie. “The new suit looks great. Are you excited for your first day?”

Sean gave a fleeting smile, trying to look sufficiently enthusiastic, something he knew his wife would see through. The job change had been Emily’s idea. No, her demand.

“Hey Dad,” Ryan said, “what’s with the suit? I thought you were gonna be the boss, so doesn’t that mean you can just wear jeans or whatever you want?”

“It’s a big law firm, kiddo, and I’m not the boss. And anyway, I don’t take fashion advice from eighth-graders who need a haircut and can’t keep their pants pulled up.”

“Seriously, go with jeans,” Ryan said. “Set the tone. Show a little confidence.”

“Leave Dad alone,” Emily said. “He’s going to be the talk of the ladies at the office.” She clasped Sean’s chin in her hand and pressed his cheeks together. “How often do you think a tall, dark, and handsome man walks into that stuffy law firm?” She tippy-toed and gave Sean a soft kiss.

“Guys, please.” Ryan lifted a hand to shield his eyes.

Sean grabbed his wife’s bottom to torture his fourteen-year-old.

Ryan shuddered. “Really, stop.”

“You and Jack go get your backpacks together for school,” Sean said. “Unless you want us to make out a little first.” He wrapped his arm around Emily’s waist and pulled her to him.

“I’m out,” Ryan said. Hands on his temples like horse blinders, he marched out of the kitchen. His little brother imitated the move and followed after him.

“You said you might see Abby today?” Emily asked.

“Yeah. I’m going to a reception this afternoon at Georgetown for Justice Malburg’s retirement. Jonathan told me she’d be there.”

“Did Jon say how she’s doing?” Emily opened the refrigerator door. Its face was a collage of family photographs and Jack’s artwork held in place with magnets. Under one of the magnets, a bumper sticker: STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, EVEN IF YOU’RE STANDING ALONE.

“He says Abby’s the star research assistant of all his students.”

“Tell her to call me. And that she’d better come to dinner tonight. She missed last week, and tonight’s a celebration.”

Sean nodded. “That reminds me,” he said, “did she talk with you yesterday?”

“No, why?”

“I missed her call when I was at Brooks Brothers. She left me a voice mail that she wanted to talk about something, but with all the running around to get ready for today, I forgot to call back.”

“Did she sound okay?” Emily asked. Her smile lines were always more pronounced when she was worried. “I haven’t heard from her in a couple days.”

“It didn’t sound urgent. And she didn’t call back, so I’m sure she’s fine. I’ll see what she needs today at Georgetown.”

Distorted music whined from the kitchen counter. “Who Knew” by Pink. Last summer Abby had changed her mother’s ringtone as a joke, and Emily never figured out how to switch it back. Abby and Emily both now walked around with Pink blaring from their phones whenever someone called.

“Maybe that’s her.” Emily scanned the iPhone, then tapped on the screen, sending the call to voice mail. “Just Margo,” she said with a frown.

“Abby’s fine. I’ll tell her to give you a call.”

Sean kissed his wife and called out good-byes to his sons. On the walk to the subway he thumbed a text to Abby. She didn’t reply.

CHAPTER 2

Sean made his way down the escalator into the concrete arches and dim light of the Metro. The station smelled of smoldering rubber, and his tie blew over his shoulder in the push of air from a train entering the platform. He waved his SmarTrip card over the scanner at the gate and stepped into the train car just before the unforgiving doors clamped shut.

The orange vinyl seats were filled, and Sean gripped the metal handrail, trying not to lose his footing as the train jerked and jostled. He looked about the subway car. It was the usual cast: college students hypnotized by their phones, tourists wearing flip-flops and studying their travel guidebooks, and government workers with laminated security badges dangling from cords around their necks, the quintessential Washington status symbol. He caught one of the government types stealing a look at him. The man’s gaze dropped back to the Washington Post. Sean wondered if the guy recognized him from the story in that morning’s paper. Sean had already received several e-mails from friends about the piece: Nice photo—smile much? Don’t forget us little people. Mr. Big Shot, and the like. The story, and others like it over the past two weeks, speculated that Sean had resigned from the solicitor general’s office in anticipation that the president would soon nominate him to the Supreme Court; that Sean needed some daylight between himself and the controversial abortion and privacy cases that the office would handle next term. As is often the case in Washington, the truth was more pedestrian. The two Fs: family and finances. Heading the appellate group at a large law firm meant he’d have dozens of junior lawyers at his disposal—a large staff would allow him to be home more for the boys. And the firm paid ten times what he made at the solicitor general’s office, ending his constant worries about surviving in overpriced D.C. on a government salary.

For most lawyers, the prospect of being on the short list for a Supreme Court nomination would be thrilling, an actor’s Oscar nomination. For Sean, though, the newspaper story was unsettling. Not because of the job. After years of representing the federal government before the Supreme Court, he could do the job. History had shown that several justices had been dummies, and they’d gotten by. It was the attention. A nomination meant public scrutiny. A vetting. Which meant a deep look into his past. And that was something he didn’t want or need.

The train pulled into Dupont Circle. Sean stepped aside to let an elderly woman totter out. It was then that he felt a hard shoulder bump from behind. It wasn’t a brush-by—it had some energy to it. Purposeful. He watched the man with greasy hair and flannel shirt push roughly out of the subway car into the crowd on the platform. As the train doors started to close, the man twisted around and looked Sean in the eyes.

“They know, Sean,” he said. “They know.”

Sean did a double take. Did he just say my name? The train pulled away from the station, and Sean watched through the window as the man vanished into the sea of commuters. Sean must’ve misheard. Then it dawned on him. That damn story in the Post. But the guy said, They know. All the attention was making him paranoid.

The train hit Sean’s stop at Farragut North, and he walked the two blocks to the Harrington & Caine building. In the lobby, he paused for a moment and took it all in. A glass and steel atrium spiraled up twelve stories, each floor occupied by more than a hundred lawyers. Three women in headset mikes sat behind a sleek reception table. Copies of The Wall Street Journal were neatly folded beside leather chairs in the waiting area. The setting was a stark contrast to the ornate fifth floor of the Justice Department building where Sean had spent most of his career. No portraits, no crown moldings, no American flags or other pretentious symbols of the Office of the Solicitor General and its important work representing the United States before the Supreme Court. Harrington & Caine had a modern, ruthless design. A fitting metaphor, Sean thought, for his move from the self-important government sphere to the rainmaking-obsessed planet of Big Law.

As Sean checked in at the front desk, his phone vibrated and he read the text message from Emily:

Good luck today! I love you!

p.s. still no word from Abby 😦

CHAPTER 3

The morning at Harrington & Caine was a haze of computer training, tax and benefit forms, and lots of people whose names Sean would never remember. By early afternoon, he was eager to see some familiar faces at the reception for Justice Malburg.

He took a cab to First Street and walked to the Georgetown Law campus. A small fleet of black Cadillacs were parked along First, which Sean assumed was the security detail for the Supreme Court justices attending the event. A clock tower stood under a cloudless April sky, cutting a narrow shadow over the only patch of grass on the urban campus.

“Sean,” Cecilia Lowenstein called to him in her husky voice. She gave him a cheek-to-cheek kiss. He’d once told her that he hated the faux European greeting, but that only encouraged Cecilia. Sean scanned the queue at the entrance of the Hotung International building. The line was filled with Washington’s upper echelon: the Supreme Court Bar. A group of insufferable blowhards. Intellectual elitists. Terrible dressers. His people.

“Well, if it isn’t the ‘modest superstar’ I’ve read so much about,” Cecilia said, flapping a copy of the Washington Post.

Sean frowned and shook his head. “Let’s not…”

“You’re no fun.” Cecilia adjusted her skirt and wobbled slightly in heels that seemed taller than she could handle. “So how’s your first day in private practice? Realized how much it sucks yet?”

“They’re still just showing me where the restrooms are and how to turn on my computer, so I haven’t had to deal with billable hours yet.”

“Ugh, don’t get me started about billables. We were spoiled at OSG.” Cecilia, like most of the Supreme Court community, spoke in abbreviations and acronyms. It wasn’t the Office of the Solicitor General, it was OSG. It wasn’t Justice Robert Reeves Anderson, it was RRA. A case wasn’t dismissed as improvidently granted, it was DIG-ed. There was the GVR (granted, vacated, and remanded) and the CVSG (the court calling for the views of the solicitor general), and the list went on. An ivory tower version of annoying teenage text-speak.

Cecilia scrutinized the line ahead of them. “Most of these schmucks charge a thousand bucks an hour for lower court appeals, but will take the Supreme Court cases for free just so they can get oral arguments. With the justices hearing fewer and fewer cases every term, times are tough, my friend. And your law firm’s gonna be so starstruck the first year that they won’t give you grief that you’re not pulling in much money, but that’ll change.”

Sean had heard this a million times from Cecilia, who’d left OSG two years ago to head the appellate group at Beacher & Bishop. She was right that getting Supreme Court cases in private practice wasn’t easy. At OSG, they were part of a small band of elite government lawyers whose sole job was to represent the United States government in cases before the Supreme Court. The office was so influential with the nine justices that the solicitor general often was called “The Tenth Justice.” They didn’t have to go out and hustle for work; the cases came to them. The court accepted only about seventy out of seven thousand petitions requesting review each term, so in private practice the competition for a piece of that 1 percent was fierce. It was an open secret that when the court granted certiorari in a case, even the most prominent Supreme Court lawyers would engage in the distasteful practice of cold calling or e-mailing the parties offering to take the case for free. Still, it gave Sean solace that despite her gloom and doom, Cecilia already had racked up seven arguments while in private practice.

“Thanks for the pep talk,” Sean said wearily. “I can always count on you, Cel.”

“So, you really don’t want to talk about this?” Cecilia flapped the newspaper again.

Sean rolled his eyes.

“You know I hate modesty,” Cecilia said.

“I’m hardly being modest. We all know who’s getting the nomination.” Sean’s gaze cut to Senator Mason James, who was at the front of the line.

Cecilia wrinkled her nose. “Maybe you’re right. Those dumb shits on the Hill are determined to get one of their own on the court—even if it means a schemer like James. But clients will still be impressed, so you should take advantage of the attention.” All nine of the current justices had been federal judges at the time of their appointment, something a block of senators had criticized as a departure from history that left the court too detached from the policy implications of its decisions. Senator James, the former attorney general of Virginia and a brilliant legal mind, offered the best of all worlds, they said. But Sean considered James as nothing more than a politician.

At the entrance, the dean of the law school and Professor Jonathan Tweed greeted guests.

Cecilia scowled at the sight of Professor Tweed. “Your buddy seems to be relishing the attention as usual.”

“Can you be nice today?”

Cecilia didn’t respond. When they reached the receiving line, she skipped by Tweed and greeted the dean with a hug.

Tweed gripped Sean’s hand. “I see some things never change,” Tweed said, shooting a glance at Cecilia.

Sean shrugged.

“No wait, I take that back,” Tweed said. “Things do change. I thought you’d never sell out and join the private sector.”

“Maybe if law schools didn’t pay professors so much, we parents wouldn’t have to change jobs to afford the tuition.”

“You obviously haven’t seen my pay stub,” Tweed replied.

Sean grinned and then eyed the bandage that ran from Tweed’s left temple to the middle of his cheek. “I hope the other guy looks worse.”

“If only my life was so exciting,” Tweed said. “Biking accident—hit some gravel in Rock Creek Park. I was on a date, so it was a little embarrassing.”

“Hard to keep up with the nineteen-year-olds, I guess,” Sean said.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Tweed said, scanning for who was in earshot. “She was twenty.”

Sean emitted a small, dry laugh.

Tweed said, “I’ll come by and chat in a bit. And, hey, you’re in private practice now, so you need to actually say hello to people and be friendly.”

“Is Abby here?” Sean asked.

“I haven’t seen her. But you don’t think she’d miss out on being the envy of her classmates, do you?” Tweed pointed up. Windows lined the second-floor atrium overlooking the reception area. Law students were pressed against the glass gawking at the assemblage of legal elite.

Sean smiled. “I suppose she wouldn’t. If you see her before I do, please send her my way.”

Tweed nodded, already shaking hands with the next person in line.

“Get you a drink?” Cecilia asked. She plucked a cracker with olive tapenade from a silver tray offered by a server. Sean looked about the room. All clans accounted for. The former solicitor generals, the legal giants who got the best Supreme Court cases in private practice, mingled near the bar. At the boundaries, huddled in groups of three or four, the current staff of OSG. They talked in whispers and studiously displayed their non-alcoholic drinks. And at the center of the room, the VIPs: the dean, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress. Circling them were the nakedly ambitious. Sean saw Senator James chatting with Justice Scheuerman. The senator let out a big laugh at whatever the justice had said. Sean was sure it wasn’t that funny.

Cecilia clutched Sean’s arm. “There’s Justice Carr, let’s say hello.”

“I’d really rather just wait for the program to start.” Carr was the newest member of the high court, confirmed just a few months ago. He was the only member of The Nine whom Sean had never met. From what he knew, though, Thaddeus Dupont Carr—”T.D.” or “Touch Down” to friends—was one of those guys you loved to hate. College football star (thus the nickname), editor of the Stanford Law Review, and the youngest judge appointed to the Ninth Circuit until he breezed through the Supreme Court confirmation process.

“Come on, you’ll like him. He’s got a dry sense of humor, like you,” Cecilia said. “You’re coming.”

Cecilia soon had Justice Carr laughing. She was famously profane and didn’t censor herself for anyone, Supreme Court justices included. Carr finally turned to Sean and said, “I don’t envy you.”

Sean gave an apologetic smile and said, “Oh, Cecilia’s harmless, you just have to get used to her lack of a filter.” He’d spent a career apologizing for Cecilia.

The justice chortled. “No, I meant this morning’s story in the Post. I remember when the press was speculating about my nomination. Reporters actually dug through the trash cans at my house.”

Sean furrowed his brow. “Seriously?”

“Dead serious,” Justice Carr said. “Be careful.”

Sean nodded, not sure how to respond. After a few seconds, he opted for changing the subject. “My daughter met you recently.”

“Oh yeah?”

“She’s a law student here. Jon Tweed brought a group of his students to the court in January. Abby said your talk was ‘inspirational.’ Her word.”

The justice laughed. “Oh, to be young and so easily fooled.”

Senator James brushed by. Justice Carr’s eyes traced James’s path.

“Want some free advice?” Carr asked.

“From you?” Sean said. “Of course.”

“When I was being considered for the nomination, someone wisely told me to always keep an eye on the competition.”

Sean nodded.

“But in your case,” Carr tilted his head toward Senator James, “you might want to get a food taster.”

Cecilia was right. Sean was starting to like Justice Carr.


Copyright © 2016 Anthony Franze.



Author Bio:

Anthony Franze

ANTHONY FRANZE has garnered national praise for his work as a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a major Washington D.C. law firm. The New York Times, Washington Post, and other prominent news outlets have quoted or cited Franze concerning the Supreme Court, and he has been a commentator on high-court issues for The New Republic, Bloomberg, and National Law Journal. He lives in the Washington D.C. area with his family.





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