If One L is the book to read before law school, Relentless Pursuit is the book to read after-a real-life legal thriller that shows, from the inside, a prosecutor's quest to deliver justice to a family devastated by murder.
What happened to Diane Hawkins and her daughter Katrina-a brutal double murder in which the girl's heart was cut from her body-devastated a Washington, D.C., community and left its mark on everyone involved in the subsequent investigation. Especially moved was federal homicide prosecutor Kevin Flynn. He had handled any number of grisly murders, and was no stranger to the depravity of the human soul. Yet the way Hawkins's family and friends rallied together to help each other through the tragedy-and the generosity they ex-tended to Flynn, whose own father was dying of cancer at the time-turned this case into a personal mission. He was determined to use his position to effect real closure, to right a wrong-to bring justice on behalf of the victims and their families.
Relentless Pursuit is the story of that journey to justice, an intensely gripping beat-by-beat reconstruction of the events as they unfold-the murder, the arrest, the trial, the verdict-told with astonishing candor, and providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a dedicated prosecutor. Above all, it's about healing and community, a story in which, in the end, the system works and-for once-justice prevails.
In this true crime narrative, prosecutor Flynn presents a "story of extremes ... humanity at its most brutal and noble," and if one can withstand the bleak proceedings-including detailed descriptions of the horrific double murder of a mother and daughter-this title has much to offer. In 1993, Flynn was a 36-year-old U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., when he was assigned to a case involving the murders of Diane Hawkins and her 13-year-old daughter, Katrina Harris. All signs point to Norman Harrell, Hawkins' former boyfriend and the father of one of her sons; the murders occurred just days before Hawkins was to meet Harrell in court over a child support dispute. As Flynn works through the tumultuous early days of the trial, he's surprised by the affection and faith of the "populous Hawkins clan," and prodded on by thoughts of his own wife and child. Against a backdrop of everyday life and domestic complications-including his father's diagnosis with lung cancer-the prosecutor chronicles the case in meticulous detail, taking readers step by step through the unfolding courtroom drama. The portrait of Harrell that emerges is chilling; remarking on their similarities (both prosecutor and defendant have "loner's souls"), Flynn surmises that something "had been horribly miswired in him. And the sad thing was, I don't think he ever knew it." Flynn's is a fascinating, rewarding story of one attorney's dogged determination to exact justice.
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-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Relentless Pursuit by Kevin Flynn
It's just after 11:30 p.m. on May 25, 1993, and an aging BMW is laboring through the city's deserted commercial district. It's heading south toward familiar landmarks: the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial beyond. But its destination isn't the official Washington of postcards and tourist trams, and within a few miles of the White House it turns east, then takes a series of side streets around the lighted, alabaster Capitol building. The dome shrinks to a dot of light in the rearview mirror as the car leaves the official Washington of politics and enters the living Washington of neighborhoods, mostly black and self- contained and church- oriented and Southern- influenced, where people go about their daily lives unnoticed by the national press.
Just after midnight, the BMW enters the Northeast Washington neighborhood of River Terrace. Aptly named, it sits above a river, the Potomac, just across a bridge from Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, home of the Washington Redskins. On autumn Sunday afternoons the air in River Terrace is charged with crowd noise from the nearby stadium, but on this late spring evening the stadium is dark and deserted. As the car rolls down the narrow streets, it passes row houses handed down from generation to generation of black middle- class families for more than half a century. Like every other pocket of the city, River Terrace has in recent years been touched by a crime plague that shows no signs of letting up, and drug dealers move about sporadically in some of its parks and parking lots. But in a city pockmarked by decaying slums and projects, this community- with its tree- lined streets, tidy dwellings, and backbone of longtime inhabitants- is notable for its relative normalcy. For those of a certain age who live in this neighborhood, or even walk through its streets on a late spring day, River Terrace serves as a poignant reminder of the way things used to be. Even its name evokes its place in the city, if only by accident: on a plateau, above life's ebb and flow.
It's too quiet, thinks Mike Harwood, one of the BMW's passengers, as he and his friends drive through River Terrace. The car itself makes more noise than anything else nearby; needing a new muffler and probably more, it announces its arrival from at least a block away. The car slows to a stop in front of a row house in the center of River Terrace. It discharges Harwood and leaves, its engine rattle dwindling to a buzz and then to nothing. The house, 3461 Eads Street, is a regular way station for Harwood in his travels around town. He's twenty- eight years old, small and wiry, with large, wary brown eyes and a small mustache, and he has a coiled energy and a swagger fashioned over years of having to assert himself against larger people. Once adrift, caught up in petty crime, he is now a success story: a rehabilitated ex- offender, working two jobs. For this he credits his parents, Malcolm and Jean Harwood, both staid working people and contributors to the community, and the other members of his extended family- especially his aunt, Diane Hawkins, in whose house he is looking forward to laying down his head for the night.
His parents actually own the house. They bought it thirty years ago and now lease it to his mother's sister, forty- two- year- old Diane. The house sits at the end of a block. To its left is an alley; to its right an adjoining house, vacant for some months, which in turn is attached to another vacant house. Across the street is a small, lushly foliated park said to be home to some dope peddlers but empty this night. Inside the tiny house at the end of Eads Street live, virtually on top of one another, Diane Hawkins and five of her six children: Reco, age twenty; Shante, age fifteen; Katrina, age thirteen; Rasheen (also known as Rock), age nine; and Kiki, age twenty- two months. A seventh person lived in the house until recently: Diane's boyfriend, Skeeter, evicted when their romantic relationship ruptured. Mike Harwood is a frequent visitor to the house, as are many members of his family; it's a center of activity for them as well as for Diane Hawkins's wide circle of friends.
So it's with some trepidation that Mike Harwood regards the house, which on other occasions has seemed to rock on its foundation with activity but which this night is dead still. He notes the time: 12:10 a.m. He'd wanted to arrive at his aunt's house before midnight, but now he's late. As he approaches Diane's house, he sees that while the outside and downstairs lights are off, the upstairs lights are on. This makes him even more anxious, maybe because he isn't used to seeing the lower level look so dark.