Criminal Intent (Ben Kincaid Series #11)

Criminal Intent (Ben Kincaid Series #11)

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by William Bernhardt
     
 

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When a priest with radical ideas and a parish council with traditional values lock horns over the beliefs they hold most sacred, there’s bound to be controversy—and consequences. But murder crosses the line between committing a sin and committing a crime, turning a battle over faith into a battle for justice. And smack in the middle of the explosive

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Overview

When a priest with radical ideas and a parish council with traditional values lock horns over the beliefs they hold most sacred, there’s bound to be controversy—and consequences. But murder crosses the line between committing a sin and committing a crime, turning a battle over faith into a battle for justice. And smack in the middle of the explosive case is Tulsa attorney Ben Kincaid.

Kincaid rescued Father Daniel Beale once before. When the priest’s renegade views and violent temper nearly cost him his position as rector of St. Benedict’s Church, Ben intervened and saved the day. Now Beale is the prime suspect in the brutal murder of a female parishioner—though lack of evidence has left the case unsolved. But as Father Beale struggles to escape the shadow of suspicion, another woman is savagely slaughtered. And this time, Ben himself discovers Beale literally red-handed . . . with the blood of the victim.

As Father Beale declares his innocence, Ben and his team feverishly work to build a defense that will deliver the man of God from a date with the death chamber. But each new revelation that emerges in the packed courtroom only serves to tilt the scales increasingly in the prosecution’s favor. And Father Beale’s own shocking testimony ignites a firestorm of controversy that could doom his last best hope for acquittal.

In his heart and in his gut, Ben knows Father Beale is innocent. But proving it means taking a leap of faith that will plunge Ben into the whirlpool of dark secrets and dangerous intentions that surround St. Benedict’s. And ultimately, it will force the idealistic attorney to confront the chilling face of evil in the most unexpected of places.

Criminal Intent proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the author of Murder One has earned his critical reputation as the master of the courtroom drama whose novels of legal suspense consistently offer a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the latest Ben Kincaid mystery, one parish priest may be going to heaven soon; he's facing the death penalty for murder. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tulsa attorney Ben Kincaid (Murder One, 2001, etc.) is still charging hard against a criminal-justice system that keeps getting it wrong. The unhappy defendant in Ben's 11th case is Father Daniel Beale, an Episcopalian priest with an unfortunate talent for disenchanting his flock. Those who view him darkly include virtually all the parishioners in the inner circle of St. Benedict's. So when vestrywomen Helen Conrad, Kate McGuire, and Susan Marino get knocked off faster than you can say "Vengeance is mine," the cops have no problem looking past priestly robes-especially since Father Beale is well-known for his hair-trigger temper, and since dozens of potential witnesses heard him shout at and threaten the victims, seriatim, moments before each met her fate. But Father Beale and Ben go way back together, to a time when Ben was a boy needing a friend and found one he never forgot. Father Beale can be wrong-headed, Ben knows, tactless in the extreme, unsettlingly liberal concerning church doctrine, and downright disdainful of his own best interests, but a murderer? Never-even if his are the only fingerprints on what the prosecution claims is a murder weapon. Clearly some conniving perp hates Father Beale enough to frame him. Who in heaven's name can that be? "You won't believe it," somebody tells Ben in response to his sleuthing. Well, he does, but you might not. Good courtroom scenes can't dispel a familiar feeling: been there, read that.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345441751
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/01/2003
Series:
Ben Kincaid Series, #11
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
255,653
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

“Father forgive me for I have sinned.

“Father forgive me for I have sinned.

“Father forgive me for I have—”

Helen’s voice broke off. She was breathless. She had murmured the words a hundred times, a thousand perhaps. But it didn’t seem to help. Nothing seemed to help.

She was on her knees in the church prayer garden, surrounded by birch trees and flowering plants and multicolored azaleas, a Garden of Eden recreated. Was she Adam, the one who submits to temptation and therefore must be cast out? Or was she Eve, the temptress who leads others to sin and degradation?

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done . . .”

Her hands were folded and her head was bowed. She was saying the words, chanting them like some arcane ritual. But who was listening? Who would hear the prayers of a woman who had done what she had done?

Had done and been doing for years, she thought, and the sickness took hold of her, sending waves of nausea throughout her body. She doubled over in agony.

At first, what they did had not bothered her. Or perhaps it had, but somehow she managed to suppress the guilt, to bury her true feelings in a morass of rationalization and intellectual posturing. And then one morning, not long ago, she awoke and realized—she was a sinner. A pawn of Satan. What she had done—what they all had done—was worse than mere sin. It was complete and utter corruption. Moral bankruptcy.

It was evil.

“Father forgive me for I have sinned.

“Father forgive me for I have sinned.

“Father forgive me for I have sinned.”

She recited the words over and over again, but she obtained no comfort from them. She glared up at the ebony sky, but she found no answer, no release. What was she going to do now? She had gathered some of the others, had talked to them about it. Some had even admitted they shared her feelings. But it wasn’t enough. Talking would never be enough. Action was required. She had to do something.

She heard a noise behind her, from somewhere deeper in the prayer garden. The door at the base of the bell tower was closing. But who would be in there at this time of night? Was it the priest? One of the church regulars? An irrational fear gripped her. She didn’t want to be seen, not in here, not now, not like this.

“What are you doing?”

She let out a small sigh of relief when she saw who it was. Nothing to worry about there. “I’m just . . . having a quiet moment. Spending some time alone. If you wouldn’t mind . . .”

“Could you please help me?”

Helen tried not to frown. This was one of the inescapable realities of being in a church—there was always someone who needed help. An old woman wanting someone to run after her groceries. An Altar Guild guy recruiting help with the cleanup. And it always seemed to come at the least convenient time. “I don’t know. . . .”

“Please. I really really really need your help.”

“What is it?”

“I saw something in the garden, near the base of the tower. Something strange and . . . frightening.”

Helen pushed herself to her feet. “Show me.”

She followed down the cobbled sidewalk toward the bell tower, in one of the most isolated and secluded parts of the labyrinthine prayer garden. There were two marble benches flanking a small recess planted with honeysuckle and flowered hedges. Many of the parishioners had buried the ashes of loved ones here; a tall marble obelisk behind one of the benches stood as a memorial.

“So? . . .”

“Over there. By the bench.”

Helen looked in the direction indicated. Someone had been digging. Signs of excavation were evident; an azalea bush had been all but uprooted.

“My God,” Helen whispered. Had someone been digging up . . . one of the graves? She had been at the funeral last week, and she knew this was where Ruth’s sister’s ashes had been buried. “Why would anyone—?” Helen’s eyes widened with repugnance and amazement. “You?”

She turned just in time to see the shovel right before it struck. It hit her on the side of the head, knocking her sideways. The pain was excruciating. She felt as if her brain had been dislodged, her jaw shattered. Her legs crumbled, and she fell down onto one of the benches.

She remained conscious, but just barely. She watched as the shovel came closer, then closer, then closer still.

“But . . . why?” Helen managed to gasp.

“Why not?”

Her assailant’s hands clutched her throat with a strong, unbreakable grip. Helen felt her consciousness fading, and she knew that in a few short moments she would be dead. Was this the penance she had been seeking? Was this what it took to make her feel clean again? Her brain was too muddled to make any sense of it. As she felt her life slowly trickling away, her thoughts were not focused on these questions of theology and personal redemption. As she stared into the face of her killer, all she could think was:

I can’t believe it’s you! I can’t believe it could possibly be you!

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Meet the Author

William Bernhardt is the author of fifteen books, including Primary Justice, Perfect Justice, Double Jeopardy, Naked Justice—which led Library Journal to dub the author “master of the courtroom drama”—Silent Justice, and Murder One. He has twice won the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction, and in 2000 he was presented the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award “in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large.” A former trial attorney, Bernhardt has received several awards for his public service. He lives in Tulsa with his wife, Kirsten, and their children, Harry, Alice, and Ralph.

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