From New York Times bestselling author and former top prosecutor Linda Fairstein comes an electrifying new thriller rich with the riveting behind-the-scenes authenticity that only she can offer....
It's going to be a tough trial. Manhattan sex-crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper's case, involving an attack on investment banker Paige Vallis, would be difficult to prove even without the latest development -- it seems that Paige has something to hide.
Most of her story is clear. She'd had dinner with New York consultant Andrew Tripping three times before the March evening when she accepted his invitation to accompany him to his apartment. But what occurred that night? Why didn't she leave the apartment when he started to act strangely? What about Tripping's little boy, Dulles? What happened to the child that fateful evening? And who is the strange man whose appearance in the courtroom seems to terrify Paige?
While Alex's police detective friend Mercer Wallace helps her learn more of the sad details behind the increasingly puzzling rape case, colleague Mike Chapman is uptown in a decaying Harlem brownstone where eighty-two-year-old McQueen Ransome has been murdered, her apartment ransacked.
What could this impoverished, elderly woman have possessed that could have inspired such violence? Photographs on the wall suggest that "Queenie" was once a beautiful and voluptuous young woman who traveled to faraway places. Could there be a clue to her murder in her exotic background?
Her murder will be only the first. Others follow, as the tragic strands of the Paige Vallis and McQueen Ransome cases begin to converge in a poignant alliance of two women from very different worlds.
Faced with formidable personal and professional choices, Alex must learn the old lesson that appearances can deceive, even as she heads for a showdown in which her wits and her courage will be tested as never before.
With its winning combination of courtroom drama, historical detail, and the intriguing lore of a rare object whose fabled provenance provides a glistening thread through the story, The Kills is powerful, stylish writing from a hugely appealing crime-writing star.
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January 12, 2004
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Excerpt from The Kills by Linda Fairstein
"Murder. You should have charged the defendant with murder."
"He didn't kill anyone, Your Honor." Not yet. Not that I could prove.
"Juries like murder, Ms. Cooper. You should know that better than I do." Harlan Moffett read the indictment a second time as court officers herded sixty prospective jurors into the small courtroom. "Give these amateurs a dead body, a medical examiner who can tell them the knife wound in the back wasn't self-inflicted, a perp who was somewhere near the island of Manhattan when the crime occurred, and I guarantee you a conviction. This stuff you keep bringing me "
Moffett underscored each of the charges with his red fountain pen. Next to the block letters of the defendant's name in the document's heading, People of the State of New York Against Andrew Tripping, he sketched the stick figure of a man hanging from the crosspiece of a gallows.
My adversary had been pleased when the case was sent out to Moffett for trial earlier in the afternoon. As tough as the old-timer was on homicide cases, he had been appointed to the bench thirty years ago, when the laws made it virtually impossible to take rape cases before a jury. No witness to the attack, no corroborating evidence, then there could be no prosecution. He clearly liked it better that way.
We both stood on the raised platform directly in front of Moffett, answering his questions about the matter for which we were about to select a panel. I was trying to divine my prospects as I watched the notations he was making on the face of the indictment I had handed up to him.
"You're right, Judge." Peter Robelon smiled as Moffett scribbled out the image of the doomed man on the gallows. "Alex has the classic 'he said-she said' situation here. She's got no physical evidence, no forensics."
"Would you mind keeping your voice down, Peter " I couldn't direct the judge to lower his volume, but maybe he'd get my point. Robelon knew the acoustics in the room as well as I did, and was keenly aware that the twelve people being seated in the box could overhear him as the three of us talked about the facts and issues in the case.