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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In the mirror now, Bosch could see Jessup staring out the window. No telling what he was thinking about. His eyes looked dead. Bosch could see the top of a prison ink tattoo on his neck, just breaking the collar line. It looked like part of a word but he couldn’t tell for sure.

“Welcome to L.A., Jessup,” Chu said without turning around. “Guess it’s been a while, huh?”

“Fuck you, you chink motherfucker,” Jessup retorted. “This’ll all be over soon and then I’ll be out and on the beach. I’m going to get a longboard and ride some tasty waves.”

“Don’t count on it, killer,” Chu said. “You’re going down. We got you by the balls.”

Bosch knew Chu was trying to provoke a response, a slip of the tongue. But he was coming off as an amateur and Jessup was too wise for him.

Harry grew tired of the back-and-forth, even after six hours of almost complete silence. He turned on the car’s radio and caught the tail end of a report on the DA’s press conference. He turned it up so Jessup would hear, and Chu would keep quiet.

“Williams and Haller refused to comment on the evidence but indicated they were not as impressed with the DNA analysis as the state’s supreme court was. Haller acknowledged that the DNA found on the victim’s dress did not come from Jessup. But he said the findings did not clear him of involvement in the crime. Haller is a well-known defense attorney and will be prosecuting a murder case for the first time. It did not sound this morning as though he has any hesitation. ‘We will once again be seeking the death penalty on this case.’ ”

Bosch flicked the volume down and checked the mirror. Jessup was still looking out the window.

“How about that, Jessup? He’s going for the Jesus juice.”

Jessup responded tiredly.

“Asshole’s posturing. Besides, they don’t execute anybody in this state anymore. You know what death row means? It means you get a cell all to yourself and you control what’s on the TV. It means better access to phone, food and visitors. Fuck it, I hope he does go for it, man. But it won’t matter. This is bullshit. This whole thing is bullshit. It’s all about the money.”

The last line floated out there for a long moment before Bosch finally bit.

“What money?”

“My money. You watch, man, they’ll come at me with a deal. My lawyer told me. They’ll want me to take a deal and plead to time served so they don’t have to pay me the money. That’s all this fucking is and you two are just the deliverymen. Fuckin’ FedEx.”

Bosch was silent. He wondered if it could be true. Jessup was suing the city and county for millions. Could it be that the retrial was simply a political move designed to save money? Both government entities were self-insured. Juries loved hitting faceless corporations and bureaucracies with obscenely large judgments. A jury believing prosecutors and police had corruptly imprisoned an innocent man for twenty-four years would be beyond generous. A hit from an eight-figure judgment could be devastating to both city and county coffers, even if they were splitting the bill.

But if they jammed Jessup and maneuvered him into a deal in which he acknowledged guilt to gain his freedom, then the lawsuit would go away. So would all the book and movie money he was counting on.

“Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?” Jessup said.

Bosch checked the mirror and realized that now Jessup was studying him. He turned his eyes back to the road. He felt his phone vibrate and pulled it out of his jacket.

“You want me to take it, Harry?” Chu asked.

A reminder that it was illegal to talk on a phone while driving an automobile. Bosch ignored him and took the call. It was Lieutenant Gandle.

“Harry, you close?”

“Getting off the one-oh-one.”

“Good. I just wanted to give you a heads-up. They’re lining up at intake. Comb your hair.”

“Got it, but maybe I’ll give my partner the airtime.”

Bosch glanced over at Chu but didn’t explain.

“Either way,” Gandle said. “What’s next?”

“He invoked so we just book him. Then I have to go back to the war room and meet with the prosecutors. I’ve got questions.”

“Harry, do they have this guy or not?”

Bosch checked Jessup in the mirror. He was back to looking out the window.

“I don’t know, Lieutenant. When I know, you’ll know.”

A few minutes later they pulled into the rear lot of the jail. There were several television cameras and their operators lined up on a ramp leading to the intake door. Chu sat up straight.

“Perp walk, Harry.”

“Yeah. You take him in.”

“Let’s both do it.”

“Nah, I’ll hang back.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure. Just don’t forget my cuffs.”

“Okay, Harry.”

The lot was clogged with media vans with their transmitters cranked to full height. But they had left the space in front of the ramp open. Bosch pulled in and parked.

“Okay, you ready back there, Jessup?” Chu asked. “Time to sell tickets.”

Jessup didn’t respond. Chu opened the door and got out, then opened the rear door for Jessup.

Bosch watched the ensuing spectacle from the confines of the car.

Five

Tuesday, February 16, 4:14P.M.


One of the very best things about having previously been married to Maggie McPherson was that I never had to face her in court. The marital split created a conflict of interest that saved me professional defeat and humiliation at her hands on more than one occasion. She was truly the best prosecutor I’d ever seen step into the well and they didn’t call her Maggie McFierce for no reason.

Now, for the first time, we would be on the same team in court, sitting side by side at the same table. But what had seemed like such a good idea-not to mention such a positive potential payoff for Maggie-was already manifesting itself as something jagged and rusty. Maggie was having issues with being second chair. And for good reason. She was a professional prosecutor. From drug dealers and petty thieves to rapists and murderers, she had put dozens of criminals behind bars. I had appeared in dozens of trials myself but never as a prosecutor. Maggie would have to play backup to a novice and that realization wasn’t sitting well with her.

We sat in conference room A with the case files spread out before us on the big table. Though Williams had said I could run the case from my own independent office, the truth was, that wasn’t practical at the moment. I didn’t have an office outside my home. I primarily used the backseat of my Lincoln Town Car as my office and that wouldn’t do for The People versus Jason Jessup. I had my case manager setting up a temporary office in downtown but we were at least a few days away from that. So temporarily there we sat, eyes down and tensions up.

“Maggie,” I said, “when it comes to prosecuting bad guys, I will readily admit that I couldn’t carry your lunch. But the thing is, when it comes to politics and prosecuting bad guys, the powers that be have put me in the first chair. That’s the way it is and we can either accept it or not. I took this job and asked for you. If you don’t think we-”

“I just don’t like the idea of carrying your briefcase through this whole thing,” Maggie said.

“You won’t be. Look, press conferences and outward appearances are one thing, but I fully assume that we’ll be working as a tag team. You’ll be conducting just as much of the investigation as I will be, probably more. The trial should be no different. We’ll come up with a strategy and choreograph it together. But you have to give me a little credit. I know my way around a courtroom. I’ll just be sitting at the other table this time.”

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