Michael Connelly: The Reversal

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Michael Connelly The Reversal
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    The Reversal
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Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years. With the odds and the evidence against them, Bosch and Haller must nail a sadistic killer once and for all. If Bosch is sure of anything, it is that Jason Jessup plans to kill again.

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Williams just glared at me. I obviously wasn’t getting through.

“And what was this shit about the death penalty?” he asked. “We haven’t even gotten there and you didn’t have the go-ahead to say it.”

He was bigger than me, taller. He had used his body to crowd my space and back me up against the wall.

“It will get back to Jessup and keep him thinking,” I said. “And if we’re lucky, he comes in for a deal and this whole thing goes away, including the civil action. It’ll save you all that money. That’s really what this is about, right? The money. We get a conviction and he’s got no civil case. You and the city save a few million bucks.”

“That’s got nothing to do with this. This is about justice and you still should have told me what you were doing. You don’t sandbag your own boss.”

The physical intimidation got old real fast. I put my palm on his chest and backed him off me.

“Yeah, well, you’re not my boss. I don’t have a boss.”

“Is that right? Like I said, I could fire your ass right here right now.”

I pointed down the hall to the door to the press conference room.

“Yeah, that’ll look good. Firing the independent prosecutor you just hired. Didn’t Nixon do that during the Watergate mess? Worked real well for him. Why don’t we go back in and tell them? I’m sure there are still a few cameras in there.”

Williams hesitated, realizing his predicament. I had backed him against the wall without even moving. He would look like a complete and unelectable fool if he fired me, and he knew it. He leaned in closer and his whisper dropped lower as he used the oldest threat in the mano a mano handbook. I was ready for it.

“Do not fuck with me, Haller.”

“Then don’t fuck with my case. This isn’t a campaign stop and it’s not about money. This is murder, boss. You want me to get a conviction, then get out of my way.”

I threw him the bone of calling him boss. Williams pressed his mouth into a tight line and stared at me for a long moment.

“Just so we understand each other,” he finally said.

I nodded.

“Yeah, I think we do.”

“Before you talk to the media about this case, you get it approved by my office first. Understand?”

“Got it.”

He turned and headed down the hall. His entourage followed. I remained in the hallway and watched them go. The truth was, there was nothing in the law that I objected to more than the death penalty. It was not that I had ever had a client executed or even tried such a case. It was simply a belief in the idea that an enlightened society did not kill its own.

But somehow that didn’t stop me from using the threat of the death penalty as an edge in the case. As I stood there alone in the hallway, I thought that maybe that made me a better prosecutor than I had imagined I could be.


Tuesday, February 16, 2:43P.M.

It usually was the best moment of a case. The drive downtown with a suspect handcuffed in the backseat. There was nothing better. Sure there was the eventual payoff of a conviction down the line. Being in the courtroom when the verdict is read-watching the reality shock and then deaden the eyes of the convicted. But the drive in was always better, more immediate and personal. It was always the moment Bosch savored. The chase was over and the case was about to morph from the relentless momentum of the investigation to the measured pace of the prosecution.

But this time was different. It had been a long two days and Bosch wasn’t savoring anything. He and his partner, David Chu, had driven up to Corta Madera the day before, checking into a motel off the 101 and spending the night. In the morning they drove over to San Quentin, presented a court order that transferred custody of Jason Jessup to them, and then collected their prisoner for the drive back to Los Angeles. Seven hours each way with a partner who talked too much. Seven hours on the return with a suspect who didn’t talk enough.

They were now at the top of the San Fernando Valley and an hour from the City Jail in downtown L.A. Bosch’s back hurt from so many hours behind the wheel. His right calf muscle ached from applying pressure to the gas pedal. The city car did not have cruise control.

Chu had offered to drive but Bosch had said no. Chu religiously stuck to the speed limit, even on the freeway. Bosch would take the backache over an extra hour on the freeway and the anxiety it would create.

All of this aside, he drove in uneasy silence, brooding about a case that seemed to be proceeding backwards. He had been on it for only a few days, hadn’t had the opportunity to even become acquainted with all the facts, and here he was with the suspect hooked up and in the backseat. To Bosch it felt like the arrest was coming first and the investigation wouldn’t really start until after Jessup was booked.

He checked his watch and knew the scheduled press conference must be over by now. The plan was for him to meet with Haller and McPherson at four to continue kicking around the case. But by the time Jessup was booked he would be late. He also needed to go by LAPD archives to pick up two boxes that were waiting for him.

“Harry, what’s wrong?”

Bosch glanced at Chu.

“Nothing’s wrong.”

He wasn’t going to talk in front of the suspect. Besides, he and Chu had been partnered for less than a year. It was a little soon for Chu to be making reads off of Bosch’s demeanor. Harry didn’t want him to know that he had accurately deduced that he was uncomfortable.

Jessup spoke from the backseat, his first words since asking for a bathroom break outside of Stockton.

“What’s wrong is that he doesn’t have a case. What’s wrong is that he knows this whole thing is bullshit and he doesn’t want to be part of it.”

Bosch checked Jessup in the rearview mirror. He was slightly hunched forward because his hands were cuffed and locked to a chain that went to a set of shackles around his ankles. His head was shaved, a routine prison practice among men hoping to intimidate others. Bosch guessed that with Jessup it had probably worked.

“I thought you didn’t want to talk, Jessup. You invoked.”

“Yeah, that’s right. I’ll just shut the fuck up and wait for my lawyer.”

“He’s in San Francisco, I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

“He’s calling somebody. The GJP’s got people all over the country. We were ready for this.”

“Really? You were ready? You mean you packed your cell up because you thought you were being transferred? Or was it because you thought you were going home?”

Jessup didn’t have an answer for that one.

Bosch merged onto the 101, which would take them through the Cahuenga Pass and into Hollywood before they reached downtown.

“How’d you get hooked up with the Genetic Justice Project, Jessup?” he asked, trying once again to get something going. “You go to them or they come to you?”

“Website, man. I sent in my appeal and they saw the bullshit going on in my case. They took it over and here I am. You people are totally fucked if you think you’re going to win this. I was railroaded by you motherfuckers once before. Ain’t gonna happen again. In two months, this’ll all be over. I’ve been in twenty-four years. What’s two more months? Just makes my book rights more valuable. I guess I should be thanking you and the district attorney for that.”

Bosch glanced at the mirror again. Normally, he would love a talkative suspect. Most times they talked themselves right into prison. But Jessup was too smart and too cagey. He chose his words carefully, stayed away from talking about the crime itself, and wouldn’t be making a mistake that Bosch could use.

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