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5

When a homicide as big as Honor Newlin's happens in a city as small as Philadelphia, everybody knows about it right away. Emergency dispatch hears first, then homicide detectives, EMS drivers, reporters tuned to police scanners, the M.E., the crime labs, and the deputy police commissioners. Simultaneously the mayor, the police commissioner, and the district attorney get beeped, and the district attorney assigns the case as soon as the call comes in. The assignment, as crucial as it is, doesn't take much thought, because the result is preordained. In death, as in life, everybody has a pecking order; when a nobody gets killed, the case gets assigned to any one of a number of bright young district attorneys, all smart as hell and fungibly ambitious. But the murder of a woman the status of Honor Newlin, by a lawyer the status of Jack Newlin, could go to only one district attorney.

'Go away,' Dwight Davis said, picking up the phone.

Even though it was late, Davis was at his desk at the D.A.'s office, putting the finishing touches on a brief. His desk was cluttered, the room harshly bright, and a Day-Glo blue jug of Gatorade sat forgotten on his desk. A marathon runner by hobby, Davis seemed hardwired never to tire. A constant current of nervous energy crackled though his body, and if he missed his daily run, he was unbearable. The secretaries had been known to throw his sneakers at him, a heavy hint to take off, since they thought Davis got away from work by running. They didn't know that when he ran, all he thought about, stride after stride, mile after mile, was work. Murder cases, crime scenes, and jury speeches fueled his longest and best workouts.

'You're shittin' me,' Davis said into the phone. 'At Tribe?'

He often woke up with a legal argument on the tip of his tongue. He thought up his best closing arguments on the John. He told the funniest war stories in the D.A.'s office and laughed the hardest at everyone else's. Nothing thrilled, intrigued, or delighted him as much as being a prosecutor. In short, he loved his job.

They got it on video? That, plus the nine-one-one tapes? Oh that's beautiful, that's just beautiful!'

Davis burst into merry laughter. At what? At how the mighty had fallen? No, he wasn't mean. He was just happy. Happy to be alive, now, here, to draw the Newlin case. It was the reason he had turned down being promoted every time they'd offered it to him. The pay was better but he didn't want to process vacation requests, count sick days, hire secretaries, or fire paralegals. Why be a desk jockey when you can try cases? Why walk when you can run? And why try birdshit when you can try Jack Newlin?

They got the knife? They got his prints on the knife? Tell 'em to move their asses down there!'

He couldn't stop smiling, he felt so good. The biggest case in the city, bar none, and Newlin had the bucks to hire the best. Competition thrilled Davis, and he had the best record in the office. Why did he win so much? The question engendered gossip, speculation, and jealousy among the other D.A.s. Some thought he won because he was decent-looking and juries loved him. Not a bad theory. Clear hazel eyes, thick black hair, a well-formed mouth, and a sinewy runner's body. He was just under average height, but even his relative shortness worked in his favor; he managed to appeal to women jurors without threatening male jurors. But his looks weren't why he won.

'Who's on it from Two Squad? Brinkley, Kovich? Excellent!' Davis ran a hand through his hair, cut short for convenience. 'Chief, don't let Diego anywhere near that house, you hear? The man's a loose cannon!'

Other D.A.s thought Davis won because he worked his ass off. It was plausible, considering his hours. He lived the job and was there all the time; in the morning when others straggled in and at night when others staggered home. The life of a typical D.A. was a constant battle for time; it was almost impossible to try cases all day in court and still do the paperwork that had to get done, but Davis managed both. Of course, he had no personal life. His marriage didn't survive the first year and they'd had no children. He kept a small, empty apartment in town. He didn't even have a dog to run with. But his dedication wasn't why he won, either.

'Who's Newlin got for representation? Don't tell me it's a P.D., not with his money. Hey, I heard a good joke, Chief – what do a nun and a public defender have in common? Neither can get you off!'

The reason Davis won was simple: he won because he loved to win. The man was a self-fulfilling prophecy with a briefcase. He won for the same reason that money comes to the rich and fortune to the lucky. Winning was his favorite thing in the world. Winning was what Davis did for fun.

'Who? DiNunzio? What's a DiNunzio?'

He loved to win like a thoroughbred loves to race. As a little boy he'd shoot the moon, playing hearts at the kitchen table, and as a college quarterback he'd try the Hail Mary to the end zone. In court, he did anything he had to do to win, took whatever risks he had to take, and made whatever arguments he had to make. And it was precisely because he took those risks and made those arguments that they became the right risks and the right arguments and he won. Nor was Davis afraid of losing. He knew that losing was proof of being in the game. You couldn't win if you were afraid of losing.

'Oh, oh, only one problem, Chief,' he said suddenly. 'Bad news. I just realized something. I can't take the Newlin case. I can't take this case for you.'

His expression sobered abruptly. His face fell into the

lines of nascent middle age, a wrinkle that bracketed his full mouth and a tiny pitchfork that popped in the middle of his forehead. Something chased the delight from his keen eyes. His mouth drooped at the corners.

'Why, you ask? Why can't I take the Newlin case. Chief? I'll tell you why. Because it's too fuckin' easy!'

He howled with laughter as he hung up and threw his Bic pen at the dartboard hanging across from his desk. He didn't look to see where the pen had landed because it didn't matter. He rose quickly and grabbed a fresh legal pad, for that clean-slate feeling. Davis didn't have time for games.

He was on his way to a murder scene.


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