William Bankier: Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Vol. 110, No. 3 & 4. Whole No. 673 & 674, September/October 1997

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William Bankier Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Vol. 110, No. 3 & 4. Whole No. 673 & 674, September/October 1997
  • Название:
    Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Vol. 110, No. 3 & 4. Whole No. 673 & 674, September/October 1997
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Dell Magazines
  • Жанр:
    Детектив / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1997
  • Город:
    New York
  • Язык:
    Английский
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    4 / 5
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Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Vol. 110, No. 3 & 4. Whole No. 673 & 674, September/October 1997


Double Jeopardy

by Jeffery Deaver

© 1997 by Jeffery Deaver


With his knack for a super twist ending and his flair for suspenseful narrative, Jeffery Deaver has made a success of his writing not only with readers and reviewers but with Hollywood producers. His 1996 novel The Bone Collector, soon to be a Signet paperback, will also be made into a movie by Universal Pictures. It will be Mr. Deaver’s second motion picture, following A Maiden’s Grave.



“There is no one better.”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh. What’re my options?”

Paul Lescroix leaned back in the old oak chair and glanced down at the arm, picking at a piece of varnish the shape of Illinois. “You ever pray?” his baritone voice asked in response.

The shackles rattled as Jerry Pilsett lifted his hands and flicked his earlobe. Lescroix had known the young man all of four hours and Pilsett must’ve tapped that right earlobe a dozen times. “Nup,” said the skinny young man with the crooked teeth. “Don’t pray.”

“Well, you ought to take it up. And thank the good Lord that I’ve any options, Jerry. You’re at the end of the road.”

“I have Mr. Goodwin...”

A twenty-nine-year-old public defender. Unwitting co-conspirator — with the local judges — in getting his clients sentenced to terms two or three times longer than they deserved. A rube among rubes.

“Keep Goodwin, you want.” Lescroix planted his chestnut-brown Milanese shoes on the concrete floor and scooted the chair back. “I could care.”

“Wait. Just that he’s been my lawyer since I was arrested.”

He added significantly, “Five months.”

“I’ve read the documents, Jerry,” Lescroix said drily. “I know how long you two’ve been in bed together.”

Pilsett blinked. When he couldn’t digest that expression he asked, “You’re saying you’re better’n him? That it?” He stopped looking shifty-eyed and took in Lescroix’s perfect silver hair, trim waist, and wise, jowly face.

“You really don’t know who I am, do you?” Lescroix, who would otherwise have been outraged by this lapse, could hardly be surprised. Here he was, after all, in Hamilton, a hick-filled county whose entire population was less than Lescroix’s home neighborhood, the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

“All’s I know is Harry, he’s the head jailor today, comes in and tells me to shut off Regis ’n’ Kathie Lee an’ get the hell down to the conference rooms, there’s this lawyer wants to see me, and now here you are telling me you want to take my case and I’m supposed to fire Mr. Goodwin. Mr. Goodwin, who’s been decent to me all along.”

“Well, see, Jerry, from what I’ve heard, Goodwin’s decent to everybody. He’s decent to the judge, he’s decent to the prosecution, he’s decent to the prosecution witnesses. That’s why he’s one bad lawyer and why you’re in real deep trouble.”

Pilsett was feeling punched into a corner, which was what sitting with Lescroix for more than five minutes made you feel. So he decided to hit back. (Probably, Lescroix reflected, just what had happened on June third.) “Who ’xactly says you’re any good? Answer me that.”

Should I eviscerate him with my resume? Lescroix wondered. Rattle off my role in the Menendez brothers’ first trial? Last year’s acquittal of the Sacramento wife for the premeditated arson murder of her husband with a novel abuse defense (embarrassment in front of friends being abuse too)? The luscious not-guilty awarded to Fred Johnson, the petty thief from Cabrini-Green in Chicago who was brainwashed, yes brainwashed, ladies and gentlemen, into helping a militant cell, no not a gang, a revolutionary cell, murder three customers in a Southside check-cashing store. The infamous Time magazine profile? The Hard Copy piece?

But Lescroix merely repeated, “There is no one better than me, Jerry.” And let the sizzling lasers of his eyes seal the argument.

“The trial’s tomorrow. Whatta you know ’bout the case? Can we get it, you know, continued?” The three syllables sounded smooth in his mouth, too smooth; he’d taken a long time to learn what the word meant and how it was pronounced.

“Don’t need to. I’ve read the entire file. Spent the last three days on it.”

“Three days.” Another blink. An earlobe tweak. This was their first meeting; why would Lescroix have been reviewing the file for the past three days?

But Lescroix didn’t explain. He never explained anything to anyone unless he absolutely had to. Especially clients.

“But didn’t you say you was from New York or something? Can you just do a trial here?”

“Goodwin’ll let me ‘do’ the trial. No problem.”

Because he’s a decent fellow.

And a spineless wimp.

“But he don’t charge me nothing. You gonna handle the case for freer?”

He really doesn’t know anything about me. Amazing. “No, Jerry. I never work for free. People don’t respect you when you work for free.”

“Mr. Goodwin—”

“People don’t respect Goodwin.”

“I do.”

“Your respect doesn’t count, Jerry. Anyway, your uncle’s picking up the tab.”

“Uncle James?”

Lescroix nodded.

“He’s a good man. Hope he didn’t hock his farm.”

He’s not a good man, Jerry, Lescroix thought. He’s a fool. Because he thinks there’s still some hope for you. And I don’t give a rat’s ass whether he mortgaged the farm or not. “So, what do you say, Jerry?”

“Well, I guess. Only there’s something you have to know.” Scooting closer, shackles rattling. The young, stubbly face leaned forward and the thin lips leveraged into a lopsided smile.

But Lescroix held up an index finger that ended in a snappy, manicured nail. “Now, you’re going to tell me a big secret, right. That you didn’t kill Patricia Cabot. That you’re completely innocent. That you’ve been framed. That this’s all a terrible mistake. That you just happened to be at the crime scene.”

“I—”

“Well, Jerry, no, it’s not a mistake.”

Pilsett looked uneasily at Lescroix, which was just the way the lawyer loved to be looked at. He was a force, he was a phenomenon. No prosecutor ever beat him, no client ever upstaged him.

“Two months ago — on June second — you were hired by Charles Arnold Cabot to mow his lawn and cart off a stack of rotten firewood near his house in Bentana, the ritziest neighborhood in Hamilton. He’d hired you before a few times and you didn’t really like him — Cabot’s a country club sort of guy — but of course you did the work and you took the fifty dollars he agreed to pay you. He didn’t give you a tip. You got drunk that night and the more you drank, the madder you got ’cause you remembered that he never paid you enough — even though you never bargained with him and you kept coming back when he called you.

“The next day, when Cabot and his wife were gone, you were still drunk and still mad. You broke into the house and while you were cutting the wires that connected their two-thousand-dollar stereo receiver to the speakers, Patricia Cabot came back home unexpectedly. She scared the hell out of you and you hit her with the hammer you’d used to break open the door from the garage to the kitchen. You knocked her out. But didn’t kill her. You tied her up, thinking maybe you’d rape her later... Ah ah ah — let me finish. Thinking maybe you’d rape her later. Don’t gimme that look, Jerry. She was thirty-four, beautiful, and unconscious. And look at you. You even have a girlfriend? I don’t think so.

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