Bronx Justice [NOOK Book]

Overview


It is the late 1970s and criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker, better known as Jaywalker for his rebellious tactics, is struggling to build his own practice when he receives a call from a desperate mother. Her son, Darren Kingston, has been arrested for raping five white women in Castle Hill, an area of the Bronx long forgotten by the city.

A young, good-looking black man, Darren is positively identified by four of the victims as the ...

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Bronx Justice

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Overview


It is the late 1970s and criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker, better known as Jaywalker for his rebellious tactics, is struggling to build his own practice when he receives a call from a desperate mother. Her son, Darren Kingston, has been arrested for raping five white women in Castle Hill, an area of the Bronx long forgotten by the city.

A young, good-looking black man, Darren is positively identified by four of the victims as the fifth prepares to do the same. Everyone--from the prosecution to the community at large--sees this as an open-and-shut case with solid eyewitness testimony. Everyone, that is, except Jaywalker.

The young attorney looks deep into the crimes, studying both the characters involved and the character of our society. What he finds will haunt him for the rest of his career.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460305270
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/15/2012
  • Series: A Jaywalker Case
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 392,200
  • File size: 602 KB

Read an Excerpt




In the middle of the night

Jaywalker is dreaming when the ringing of his phone jars him awake. Something about hiking with his wife in the Canadian Rockies. He understands right away it has to have been a dream, because his wife has been dead for nearly ten years now, and he hasn't hiked the Rockies in twice that long.

Groping in the darkness for the phone, his first fear is for his daughter. Is she out driving? Riding with some pimply-faced boyfriend who's had his learner's permit for two weeks now and thinks of driving as some sort of video game? Then he remembers. His daughter is in her early thirties. She has a husband with no pimples, a child of her own, a career, and a house in New Jersey.

"Hello?" Jaywalker says into the phone, then holds his breath and readies himself for the worst. The clock radio next to the phone glows 3:17.

"Pete?" says an unfamiliar male voice.

"I think," says Jaywalker, "that you may have dialed the wrong number. What number were you trying to—"

The line goes dead. No "Sorry," no "Oops." Just a click, followed by silence and eventually a dial tone.

Jaywalker recradles the phone. He lies on his back in the dark, feeling his pulse pounding in his temples. Relief and annoyance duel for his attention, but only briefly. For already, Jaywalker is elsewhere. He's lying in bed in the dark, to be sure, but somehow his hair is brown instead of gray, his face less lined, his body more muscular. And his wife lies beside him, her warm body pressed against his back.

"Who was it?" she asks him.

"A mother," he says. "A mother whose son has just been arrested. A rape case. And it sounds like a bad one."

"For them," says Jaywalker's wife. "But that means a good one for you, right?"

"Right," agrees Jaywalker. He's not yet thirty, this younger version of him. He's been out of Legal Aid for a little over a year now, struggling to build a practice on his own. And struggling is definitely the operative word here. So he knows his wife is right: what's bad for the young man and his family is at the same time good for the lawyer and his. One of the strange paradoxes of criminal law that Jaywalker will never quite get comfortable with: that his earning a living is dependent upon the suffering of others.

What this younger Jaywalker doesn't know, what he has absolutely no way of knowing at this point, as he lies in the dark, is that this new case will be different, that it will mark a crossroads in his career and in his life. Should he live to be a hundred, no case that will ever come his way will end up affecting him as this one will. Before he's done with it, and it with him, it will change him in ways that will be as profound as they are unimaginable. It will transform him, molding him and pounding him and shaping him into the lawyer and the man he is today, almost thirty years later. So this is more than just the case he'll forever wake up to when the phone rings in the middle of the night. This is the case that he'll retry in his mind over and over again for the rest of his days, changing a phrase here, adding a word there, tweaking his summation for the hundredth—no, the thousandth—time. And long after he's grown old and senile and has forgotten the names and faces and details of other cases, this is the one that Jaywalker will remember on his deathbed, as clearly and as vividly as if it began yesterday.

No doubt whatsoever

That the case had come Jaywalker's way at 3:17 in the morning, while unusual, was not entirely unprecedented. That it had come by way of his home telephone was actually rather typical. Jaywalker had early on developed the habit of giving out his home number liberally. It was but one of many things that distinguished him from his colleagues, who never would have thought of doing such a thing, the functional equivalent of a physician's house call. Moreover, as technology advanced, with the advent of beepers, pagers, car phones, cell phones and BlackBer-ries, Jaywalker stuck to the practice with characteristic stubbornness, continuing to invite clients and their families to call him at home whenever the need arose. As it had apparently arisen for Inez Kingston on that particular night in September of 1979.

Then, as now, Jaywalker had answered with a fearful "Hello?" notwithstanding the fact that he knew his daughter was safely in bed upstairs and wouldn't even be of driving age for another twelve or thirteen years. Whatever the circumstance, there seems to be something about the midnight phone call that inspires instant dread.

"Mr. Jaywalker?" the woman had said.

"Yes."

"This is Inez Kingston. You represented my son Darren last year. Maybe you remember."

"Sure," said Jaywalker. "I remember." The name did sound familiar, though if pressed, he would have had trouble attaching a face to it, or recalling what the charges had been and how the case had turned out.

"I'm afraid it's Darren again," she said. "They've got him at the precinct. They say he raped some women. They won't tell me any more."

"What precinct?"

"The Forty-third."

Jaywalker jotted down Inez's number in the dark, something he'd learned to do. Otherwise, brilliant ideas that came to him in the middle of the night had a way of vanishing before morning. Written down on paper, they tended to lose some of their brilliance, but at least they survived.

He found the number for the 43rd Precinct. He knew from the precinct number that it had to be somewhere in the Bronx, but other than that, he didn't have a clue. Ninety percent of his practice was in Manhattan, which he liked to think of in sports language as his home court. Of course, at this particular stage of his career, the math wasn't all that hard to do: it didn't exactly require a calculator to convert nine out of ten cases into a percentage.

He reached the precinct and had the desk officer transfer his call to the squad room. There a detective confirmed that they did indeed have a Darren Kingston locked up. He'd been booked for five separate rapes and would be making court in the morning.

Jaywalker thanked the detective and called Inez back. He told her what he'd been able to find out, and offered to meet her in court at nine o'clock. Before hanging up, he told her not to worry. Like most people, if you woke Jaywalker up in the middle of the night, he could be pretty stupid.

It took him an hour or so, and the continued warmth of his wife's body pressed up against his own, but he eventually managed to fall back to sleep. He was sure Inez Kingston didn't.

He had a car back in those days, Jaywalker did. Or sort of. It was an ancient Volkswagen Beetle, its exterior equal parts blue paint and orange rust. The running boards had fallen off, the heater was history, the wipers stuck when they weren't busy scratching the windshield, and the horn worked if you were lucky enough to happen upon the "sweet spot" of the rim.

But it was transportation, something that came in handy when you'd been forced to flee the city's rich rents and poor public schools, and move to the suburbs. If Ber-genfield, New Jersey, qualified as a suburb. What it was, was a blue-collar, working-class community, where Jaywalker could mow his own lawn, rake his own leaves and shovel his own driveway without being mistaken for a hired man. Even if his wife hoped for better things, it suited him just fine.

Aiming the VW toward the Bronx that following morning, Jaywalker tried to remember what he could about Darren Kingston. He'd been one of Jaywalker's first clients after he'd left Legal Aid. His mother, Inez, worked at what today is referred to as the Department of Social Services. Back then it was the Welfare Department. Progress, no doubt. One of Inez's coworkers there was Jaywalker's sister-in-law. It had been at her suggestion that Inez had called Jaywalker when Darren had gotten into trouble. Along with two other young black men, he'd been arrested for robbing an elderly white man. Although the case had sounded bad at first, it turned out to be pretty harmless. One of the other defendants had done some work for the man and had had a dispute over how much money was owed him. When he went to collect, he brought his friends along. One of his friends being a knife. Seeing as Darren himself hadn't possessed it, had had very little involvement in the matter and had never been in any sort of trouble before, the charges against him had eventually been dropped.

This time, Jaywalker thought as he maneuvered around the potholes, trash and broken glass of the South Bronx, he was pretty sure things weren't going to be quite so easy.

Arraignments took place in a dark gray building at 161st Street and Washington Avenue, half a block from the abandoned elevated tracks above Third Avenue. It was one of two buildings that together made up the Bronx Criminal Court. Rumor had it that both had been condemned as unsafe since the early 1950s, and in fact they would finally be abandoned a few years later, replaced by a large modern structure closer to the Grand Concourse.

At the time, however, the decaying building was, for most people, their first encounter with what passed for Bronx justice. The floors were stained and uneven. Where they were supposed to be tiled, whole sections of tiles had been removed. Where they were wood, they were splintered and suffering from years of dry rot. The walls were cracked and paint-chipped, and covered with graffiti that was anti-police, anti-white, anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-just about everything. The two elevators took turns being out of order. Rather than guessing, Jaywalker headed for the stairwell. Just before entering, he took a deep gulp of air, then breathed through his mouth as he climbed, in order to block out as much of the stench of old urine as he could.

Reaching the second floor, he recognized Inez Kingston and her husband, Marlin. She was a short, heavyset woman whose pleasant smile and soft West Indian accent masked an inner nervousness and chronic high blood pressure. He was an equally short, wiry man with a face that wore the two-day-old stubble of a nightshift worker for the Transit Department. As accustomed as Inez was to hiding her feelings, Marlin was not, and his face that Wednesday morning was tense and unsmiling.

Jaywalker headed over and greeted them. Inez introduced him to her younger brother, who'd come along for support. Jaywalker asked if anything was new since the night before.

"No," said Inez, "but the detective's here. Rendell. He won't tell us anything, but he did say he'd talk to you. I told him we had a lawyer coming. Was that all right?" "Yes," said Jaywalker. "Where is he now?" "In there." She pointed to a door. A sign on it warned passersby to keep out.

Complaint Room Police Officers Only

"Point him out to me when he comes out, okay?"

It didn't take long. Robert Rendell, all six foot three of him, opened the door and strode out. He was young for a detective, and handsome, with a shock of graying black hair that fell across his forehead. Jaywalker immediately sized him up as a formidable witness. Then he moved to intercept him before he made it to the courtroom.

"Detective Rendell?"

"Yup."

"My name is Jaywalker. I'm going to be representing Darren Kingston. The family said you might be able to give me a little information. They seem pretty confused."

"What can I tell you, counselor? I've got five CWs—" complaining witnesses, Jaywalker translated mentally "—and everything they say points to your man."

"Lineups?" Jaywalker probed.

"You're going to have to talk to the D.A."

"Jesus," said Jaywalker, a seriously lapsed Jew. "I've known this kid for years." It was an exaggeration, but a modest one. "Shocks the shit outta you. When did these rapes take place?"

"August, mostly. But I've been looking for him for a couple of weeks."

"Statements?"

"No, nothing really," said the detective. "Says he's innocent. Tell you what, counselor. I got one of the girls coming down this morning. She IDs him, or she doesn't." He shrugged. "If he's not the guy, I don't want him." With that, he excused himself and walked into the courtroom.

Jaywalker looked at his watch. It was a few minutes after ten. Court was supposed to begin at 9:30 a.m., but the judge hadn't taken the bench yet. Nothing new there.

Jaywalker took a minute to consider what he had. Rendell hadn't given him much, but at least he'd added a few more facts to piece into the picture. There were five victims. At least one of them—the one who was on her way to court—apparently hadn't seen Darren since the incident. Assuming it was Darren. Most of the rapes had occurred in August, a month ago. That could be good. But Rendell's comment that he'd been looking for Darren sounded bad. It meant that Darren had been positively identified as the result of some sort of investigation. It also suggested that Darren might have been hiding out, trying to avoid arrest. Consciousness of guilt? That there were no admissions was good. If he was guilty, at least Darren had been smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

Already Jaywalker could sense things shaping up as a classic identification case. Five women had been raped. Was Darren Kingston the man who had raped them?

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Customer Reviews

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( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Teller's Best Jay Walker Tale to Date

    This is Teller's third Jay Walker tale and by far his best. Jay Walker remembers one of his early and toughest cases. This took place in the early 80's before he became the "sleezy" character that was portrayed in the first two novels. What makes this case so special is that Jay Walker has to defend a man he knows to be innocent. He is so fearful of losing and that the innocent man will go to jail so he pulls out all stops.

    The story is tense throughout as Jay Walker presents many brilliant arguments that seem to cast more than reasonable doubt on the DA's case. The main evidence against his client is that the victims pick his photo out (no physical line=up is ever called for. The book shows how weak this method of identifying guilt is as anyone with a common face can have many people that look like them. Especially, since there seems to be an army of men roaming the city that look a great deal like Jay Walker's client who has a very common face.

    The book was so good that I was able to overlook a lot of courtroom procedure miscues that would seem to cause a mistrial but are overlooked in arriving at the verdict.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Joseph Teller Has Another Hit in Bronx Justice

    I picked up a copy of "The Tenth Case" to read on the plane and I was hooked on Jaywalker. One of the best courtrooom procedurals I have read -and I read a lot! Imagine Perry Mason on steroids & with humanity. I have now read all three Jaywalker books and can't wait for more.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    Great new style

    I loved the way the author wrote about the case in the past tense. Very different, Very interesting.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Remarkable and Intelligent Legal Novel

    As a professor of law, I look for and read every legal novel that I can find. I found Bronx Justice by mistake when passing by the Romance section of the bookstore. I picked it up and realized that it was in that section by mistake. I devoured the book. It is the best book ever written about what goes on in the mind of a lawyer while trying a case. It is so realistic that lawyers will cringe while reading it. It is the story of a lawyer's defense of a young man whom he believes to be innocent, the worst nightmare for a criminal defense attorney. He HAS to get the young man off, no matter what, because defending an innocent client requires no less. Jaywalker, the attorney, goes through hell fighting for his client, at the expense of his health and family. This is one remarkable and compelling story. It is easy to read and it is not just for lawyers. But I assure you that it will be required reading in my class.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 13, 2009

    Tenth Case was superb. Amazingly, Bronx Justice is even BETTER!

    Once again Teller delivers terrific courtroom action. And the story is captivating. Tenth Case was a great debut, and hard to match. With Bronx Justice, Teller has delivered an even more compelling story. I eagerly await his next story, Depraved Indifference. Teller deserves great success with his first two novels!

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  • Posted March 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Jaywalker's second legal thriller is once again an insightful look at the dysfunctional American jurisprudence system

    In 1979 former legal aid attorney Harrison J. Walker struggles to make a success of his legal practice having gone private because he could no longer handle the stupidity of what was expected of him; which rarely was in the interest of his indigent client. In the middle of the night Jay receives a call from a distressed woman who begs him to defend her son. Inez Kingston says her adult child Darren has been accused of five counts of rape. Jay agrees to defend Darren.

    In the Castle Hill section of the Bronx, five different women picked Darren as their attacker. The DA believes it has an iron-clad case. Jay reluctantly agrees, but will insure he mounts the best defense he can. After interviewing his client, Jay begins to believe perhaps Darren is innocent. However, with each woman adamant even Jay goes back to his original position of guilty. Still as this case works through the process, Jay knows this case has fundamentally changed how he looks at the system. Decades later with his spouse dead for ten years and their daughter in her thirties, he knows the Castle Hill rapist case will always haunt him.

    Jaywalker's second legal thriller (see THE TENTH CASE) is once again an insightful look at the dysfunctional American jurisprudence system from the perspective of an attorney whose outlook on defending his clients is much different than the typical lawyer. This case occurs much earlier than the previous book as this time the relatively inexperienced Jaywalker learns the tricks of the trade in a defense that haunts him three decades later. With a historical feel to the pre-DNA legal system of the 1970s, fans will enjoy Joseph Teller's deep look at injustice, American style.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted December 29, 2009

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    Posted September 16, 2011

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