From the Publisher
“The tension is palpable, and the pages fly by in this riveting stand-alone thriller…The voice here is every bit as engaging as in the Carpenter novels, with enough humor to lighten the story without diminishing the suspense. And the ending is a real shocker. Sure to appeal to fans of Harlan Coben and Robert Crais.” Booklist
“As usual, there is plenty of irony, humor, suspense, and affection here…Rosenfelt is, indeed, one of a kind; you will burn through this novel--like all his others--non-stop and totally rapt. It's an airtight cinch.” Examiner.com
“Perfectly controlled suspense.” Kirkus Reviews
“Keep[s] you on the edge of your seat.” Criminal Element
Lt. Luke Somers, of the New Jersey State Police, faces a critical deadline in this solid stand-alone from Edgar-finalist Rosenfelt (Heart of a Killer). When an anonymous tip names drug addict Steven Gallagher as the killer of Judge Daniel Brennan, who was about to sentence Steven in court, Somers confronts Steven and winds up shooting him in self-defense. Steven’s Marine brother, Chris, tells Somers he has one week to clear Steven’s name and find Brennan’s real killer, or else Chris will kill Somers’s brother, whom he has kidnapped. Somers’s desperate search for another explanation for Brennan’s murder takes him to Brayton, a town bitterly divided by a lawsuit over a plan to extract natural gas by fracking, with a major landowner in favor and the mayor against. Somers may be forced to cross ethical lines to save or avenge his brother. Rosenfelt’s cat-and-mouse game doesn’t rank high on the thrill meter, but Somers is a protagonist with series potential. Author tour. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (Feb.)
If a New Jersey state cop can't prove within a week that the murder suspect he shot dead was innocent, his brother will pay the price. When a knife attack ends rising legal star Daniel Brennan's rise just before he's scheduled to move up from the Superior Court bench to the Court of Appeals, Lt. Lucas Somers catches the case. The judge's murder is so high-profile that Luke's boss gives him extra resources, extra leeway and extra pressure. The very first lead Luke pursues--three-time drug offender Steven Gallagher, whom Brennan had promised a stiff sentence--turns up trumps for Luke, though not so much for Steven, whom Luke shoots three times as Steven, cornered in his Paterson apartment, raises his gun. It's clearly a righteous shooting, and Luke is rewarded with congratulations, television interviews and the kidnapping of his brother, Bryan, by Steven's brother, Chris, a Marine who flew home from Afghanistan to help Steven face his legal woes and now intends to deal with his death by taking the life of his killer's brother, whom he's chained in an underground shelter with a TV, a computer, some food and enough air for seven days. Can Luke rise to Chris Gallagher's challenge and collect enough evidence of Steven's innocence to save his own brother's life? Acting on another hunch, he quickly satisfies himself that the real reason for Judge Brennan's death was a civil suit concerning fracking in upstate New York. But Luke will need every one of his enviable law enforcement contacts in order to determine just which of the many interested parties was determined to tip the scales of justice. This latest stand-alone from the chronicler of attorney Andy Carpenter (Leader of the Pack, 2012, etc.) is two-thirds perfectly controlled suspense, one-third scrambled windup.
Read an Excerpt
The tabloids called it “The Judge-sicle Murder.”
It was a ridiculous name for an event so horrific and tragic, but it sold newspapers, and generated web hits, so it stuck.
In the immediate aftermath, very little was known and reported in the media, so they compensated by detailing the same facts over and over. Judge Daniel Brennan had attended a charity dinner earlier that evening at the Woodcliff Lakes Hilton. Judge Brennan generally avoided those type of events whenever he could, but in this case felt an obligation.
The Guest of Honor was Judge Susan Dembeck, who was at that point a sitting judge on the bench of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Since Judge Brennan’s nomination to that court was before the Senate and he was replacing the retiring Judge Dembeck, he made the obvious and proper decision to support his future predecessor by attending the event.
Others at the dinner estimated that Judge Brennan left at ten thirty, and that was confirmed by closed-circuit cameras in the lobby. He stopped at a 7-Eleven, five minutes from his Alpine, New Jersey, home, to buy a few minor items. The proprietor of the establishment, one Harold Murphy, said that Judge Brennan was a frequent patron of the store. He said it on the Today show the following morning, in what the network breathlessly promoted as an exclusive interview, which aired seven minutes before Good Morning America’s breathlessly promoted exclusive interview with Mr. Murphy.
Among the items that Murphy described Judge Brennan as buying was a Fudgsicle. It was, he said, one of the Judge’s weaknesses, regardless of the season. As was the Judge’s apparent custom, Murphy said that he started opening the Fudgsicle wrapper while walking to the door, such was his desire to eat it. Murphy seemed to cite this as evidence that the Judge was a “regular guy.”
Murphy didn’t mention, and wasn’t asked, the time that Judge Brennan arrived at the store. It was eleven forty-five, meaning the ten-minute drive from hotel to store had apparently taken an hour and fifteen minutes.
It was ten minutes after midnight when Thomas Phillips, who lived four doors down from Judge Brennan, walked by the Judge’s house with his black Lab, Duchess. In that affluent neighborhood, four doors down meant there was almost a quarter mile of separation between the two homes.
The Judge’s garage door was open, and his car was sitting inside, with its lights on. This was certainly an unusual occurrence, and Phillips called out the Judge’s name a few times. Getting no response, he walked towards the garage.
In the reflected light off the garage wall, he could see the Judge’s body, covered in blood that was slowly making its way towards where Phillips was standing. The Fudgsicle, melting but with the wrapper around the stick, was just a few inches from the victim’s mouth, a fact that Phillips related when he gave his own round of exclusive interviews.
The murder of a judge would be a very significant story in its own right, especially when the victim was up for a Court of Appeals appointment. But the fact that this particular judge was “Danny” Brennan elevated it to a media firestorm.
Brennan was forty-two years old and a rising star in the legal system. It was a comfortable role for him to play, as he had considerable experience as a rising star.
He was a phenom as a basketball player at Teaneck High School, moving on to Rutgers, where he earned first-team All America status. Rather than head to the NBA as a first-round draft choice after one season, which he could certainly have done, he chose instead to stay all four years. He then pulled a “Bill Bradley,” and went on to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar.
When his studies had concluded, he finally moved on to the NBA, and within two years was the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics. It was during a play-off game against the Orlando Magic that on one play he cut right, while his knee cut left. He tore an ACL and MCL, which pretty much covers all the “CLs” a knee contains, and despite intensive rehab for a year and a half, he was never the same.
Confronted with physical limitations but no mental ones, Daniel Brennan went to Harvard Law, and began a rapid rise up the legal ladder.
A rise that ended in a garage, in a pool of blood and melted Fudgsicle.
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