Dead Even

Dead Even

3.8 58
by Brad Meltzer

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Lawyer Sara Tate is in danger of losing her new job with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office if she doesn't get noticed fast. Smart and tough—a fighter who makes things happen—she grabs a high-profile burglary case that could make her career. There are two problems: Sara's husband, Jared, is the attorney for the defense . . . and she's

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Lawyer Sara Tate is in danger of losing her new job with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office if she doesn't get noticed fast. Smart and tough—a fighter who makes things happen—she grabs a high-profile burglary case that could make her career. There are two problems: Sara's husband, Jared, is the attorney for the defense . . . and she's been warned that if she does not get a conviction, Jared will be killed. What she doesn't know is that her husband has received a similar threat. Unless his client walks, Sara's life is over.

Unaware of the stakes on the other side and forced to keep their secrets from each other, husband and wife become bitter adversaries, locked in a vicious head-to-head battle in the courtroom and at home. And there can be no victor in this struggle.

No matter who wins . . . someone dies.

Editorial Reviews
When a young and inexperienced Manhattan prosecutor named Sara Tate takes on a more-than-it-seems burglary case, she comes face-to-face with her husband, Jared, who works for a powerful New York law firm. The trial turns into a deadly affair when Sara is warned that if she fails to win, Jared will be killed. Trouble is, Jared's been given a similar ultimatum

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"What if it's a disaster?" Sara asked as she got into bed.

"It's not going to be a disaster," Jared said. "You're going to be great."

"But what if I'm not? What if I'm just average? Maybe that's what they were trying to tell me. Maybe that's the lesson."

"There's no lesson, and you've never been average," Jared said, joining his wife under the covers. "It's just your first day of work. All you have to do is show up and be yourself." He shut off the lamp on his nightstand and reached for the nearby alarm clock. "What time do you want to wake up?"

"How about six-thirty?" Sara paused. "Actually, make it six-fifteen." She paused again. "Five forty-five. Just in case the train's running late."

"Shhhh, take a deep breath," Jared said. He propped himself up on his elbow. "It's okay to be nervous, but there's no reason to get nuts."

"I'm sorry. I just —"

"I know," he said, taking her hand. "I know what's riding on this one — I remember what happened last time. I promise you, though, you're going to be great."

"You think so?"


"You really think so?"

"Sara, from this moment on, I'm choosing to ignore you."

"Is that a yes or a no?"

Jared pulled one of the pillows from behind his head and held it over Sara's face. "I refuse to acknowledge that question."

"Does that mean we're done talking about work?" Sara asked, her laughs muffled by the pillow.

"Yes, we're done talking about work." Jared straddled his wife, keeping the pillow on her face.

"Uh-oh, someone's getting kinky." Sara tried to pull the pillow away, but she felt Jared press down even harder. "C'mon, that's not funny," she said. "It's starting to hurt."

"Stop whining."

"What?"she asked.

He didn't respond.

"I'm serious, Jared. I can't breathe."

She felt him moving forward on her chest. Her left shoulder was suddenly pinned back by his knee. Then her right.

"Jared, what're you doing?" She grabbed his wrists and dug her nails into his arm.

He only pressed down harder.

"Jared, get off me! Get off me!" Her body was convulsing now, violently trying to knock him from his perch. As her nails tore at his arms and legs, her lungs lurched for air. But all he did was hold tight. She wanted to stop fighting, but she couldn't. Choking on her own tears, she called out his name. "Jaaared!" she sobbed. "Jaaared!"

Jolted awake, Sara shot up in bed. Her face was covered in sweat and the room was silent. Jared was asleep next to her. Just a dream, she told herself, trying to stop her heart from racing. It's okay. But as she put her head back on the pillow, she couldn't let it go. Even more than the others, this one felt real. Her fears, his response, even his touch. All so real. It wasn't about Jared, though, she told herself. It was about work. To prove it to herself, she pressed her body up against her husband and wrapped an arm around his chest. He felt warm under the covers. Clearly, it was about work. She took a deep breath and squinted at the clock on Jared's nightstand. Two more hours, she realized. Only two more hours.

"Here's what I want," Jared said to the redheaded man behind the counter at Mike's Deli. "A sesame bagel with most, but not all, of the seeds scraped off, a light schmear of cream cheese, and a coffee — very light, with one spoon of sugar."

"That's nice, dear," Sara said. "While you're at it, why don't you just ask him to suck the nougat out of the Snickers?"

"Don't give him any ideas." The man behind the counter started on Jared's order. "In my whole life, I've never seen a man who gave more instructions for a stinking bagel and coffee. You'd think it was a work of art or something."

"Mikey, by the time you're done with it, it will be," Jared said with a wink.

"Don't suck up to me," Mikey said. He turned to Sara. "Now what does the normal half of the family want?"

"Whatever you want to get rid of. Just make it exciting-nothing plain."

"See, now that's why you're my favorite," Mikey sang. "No headache, no pain-in-the-ass demands, just normal, considerate —"

"Are you the manager?" a gray-haired woman with large glasses interrupted.

"That I am," Mikey said. "Can I help you?"

"I doubt it. I just want to register a complaint." She pulled a coupon from the pocket of her LOVE IS A PIANO TEACHER book bag and thrust it across the counter. "This coupon says that I get one dollar off a box of original flavor Cheerios. But when I checked the shelves, I saw that you're out of this item and that the coupon expires tomorrow."

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but we're a very small store with limited space. If you want, you're welcome to use the coupon on the other flavors of Cheerios. We have multigrain, and honey-nut, and —"

"I don't want any other Cheerios. I want these Cheerios!" the woman shouted, causing everyone in the small grocery store to turn and look. "And don't think I don't know what you're doing. When you print up these flyers with the coupons, you hide all the items in the back room. That way we can never redeem them."

"Actually, ma'am, we just don't have the space to —"

"I don't want to hear your excuses. What you're doing is false advertising! And that means it's illegal."

"No, it's not," Sara and Jared said simultaneously.

Surprised, the woman looked over at the couple, who were still waiting for their bagels. "Yes, it is," she insisted. "When he sends out those coupons he's making an offer for his products."

"Hate to break it to you, but an advertisement isn't an offer," Sara said.

"Unless it specifies an exact quantity or indicates exactly who can accept it," Jared added.

"Uh-oh," a man in line behind Sara and Jared said. "I smell lawyers."

"Why don't you both mind your own business?" the woman snapped

."Then why don't you leave our friend alone?" Sara said.

"I didn't ask for your opinion."

"And our friend didn't ask to be talked down to like he was a piece of garbage," Sara shot back. "Now, as a Cheerios lover myself, I can appreciate your frustration, but we don't go for that kind of unpleasantness here. Instead, we've taken a new approach: It's called acting civilly to each other. I can understand if you don't want to participate, but that's the way we play it. So if you don't like it, why don't you make like a coupon and disappear."

As Jared fought to contain his laughter, the woman sneered at Mikey. "You'll never see me in this establishment again," she seethed.

"I'll live," Mikey said.

With a sniff, the woman turned and stormed out of the store. Mikey looked over at his two favorite customers. "Make like a coupon and disappear?"

"What can I say? I was under pressure."

"It did get her to leave," Jared pointed out.

"You're right about that," Mikey agreed. "Which means breakfast's on me."

Fifteen minutes later, Sara and Jared were crammed in the middle of a packed-to-capacity subway car. Sara was dressed in her best navy-blue pantsuit, while Jared wore a frayed Columbia Law sweatshirt and a pair of jogging shorts. A long-distance runner since his early years in high school, Jared still had his athletic build, although a small bald spot on the back of his head made him feel far older than he looked. With his suit packed neatly in a trifolding backpack, he began every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a half-hour run. "That's not a bad way to start the day," Jared said, pressed tightly against his wife. "Your first day on the job and you already have a victory."

"I don't know," Sara said as the train pulled away from the Fifty-ninth Street stop. "There's a big difference between cranky piano teachers and actual criminals. And if past performance is any indication, this job is going to be an even bigger loser than the last one."

"One stupid incident at one hotshot law firm means nothing about your value in the job market."

"But six months of looking — c'mon, Jared."

"I don't care, you're going to be great." Sara rolled her eyes. "Don't give me that look," Jared added. "I know what you're thinking and it's not true."

"Oh, so now you think you can read my mind?"

"I don't think I can read your mind — I know I can read your mind."



"Okay, then, lover boy, take your best shot. What's going through my panicky little brain?"

Jared closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. "I see great unrest. Great neurosis. No, wait — I see a handsome, brilliant, casually dressed husband. My, my, my, is he a good-looking one. . . ."

"Jared. . . ."

"That's his name — Jared! My God, we're sharing the same vision."

"I'm serious. What if this job doesn't work out? The article in the Times. . . ."

"Forget about the Times. All it said was that the mayor was announcing budget cuts. Even if it leads to layoffs, that doesn't mean you're going to be fired. If you want to be safe, though, you can call Judge Flynn and — "

"I told you last night, I'm not calling him," Sara interrupted. "If I'm going to stay here, I want it to be because I deserve it, not because someone called in a favor."

Jared didn't argue the point further. Since they had first met, Sara never wanted special treatment — no professional favors, no help. Her independent streak ran deep: When Jared's uncle had offered to put in a good word so she could get an interview at his law firm, Sara had refused. To Jared, her logic was irrational and counterproductive. But Jared thrived on connections; Sara despised them. "I'm sorry I even brought it up," he finally said. "Besides, if this job doesn't work out, you can always find another."

Copyright ) 1998 by Brad Meltzer

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Dead Even 3.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 58 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the most annoying and confusing books I've ever read with the most stupid leading characters. You had to keep saying to yourself, "Why don't they...?" A good mystery gives its reader a reasonable chance to solve it. Not this one. The endless onslaught of new suspects made me not even care who done it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Warning: do not read this book if you have anything else to do¿ You will not be able to put this book down. You will read from page 1 to the end without stopping. You will sleep wondering if Oscar Rafferty plans of follow through with his threat to kill Jared¿s wife if Jared does not get Rafferty¿s dirty criminal acquitted. You will dream about the dead criminal whose finger prints are found at the scene of Sarah¿s grandfather¿s death and, whether or not he plans to peruse his threat of killing Jared if Sarah does not convict. You will eat thinking about how Sarah plans to keep her job and her husband¿s life intact. You will bite your nails wondering if their marriage can survive the strain of each trying to win the case, and trying to keep each other alive. As the story unfolds you will find yourself more and more into the story line and wondering who will come out of this lethal story alive. Getting to know the characters and the suspense of their lives being in jeopardy, will reel you in. By the end of the novel you will be begging Sarah and Jared to tell each other their predicament, and to escape the country as soon as they can. You will be left wondering if Jared betrays his loving wife for the dark side (the criminal side) or if Sarah betrays her husband by breaking the law and going through his case information. You won't be able to put the thought away that maybe the two end up killing each other in the battle to save each other. I absolutely loved this novel. The brilliance of Brad Meltzer keeping the readers attention on every page truly shows through. You WILL NOT put the book down, no matter what you have to do consequently getting nothing done, other than the reading of this fabulous novel. As the tale unfolds and you get a grip on what influence each character has on another, your mind will be blown away. Discovering that the coincidences are actually NOT coincidences will rattle your every bone. I enjoyed every aspect of this novel, and did not once want to put it down. His intelligence and unique writing make this book very interesting and fun to read. I certainly plan to read all of Meltzer¿s novels.
FlyAAStew More than 1 year ago
kept me spellbound... some of the twist and turns were not typical; I could not see them coming; have read almost all of Brad's books.. this was one of the best!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Highly preposterous. This story is completely unbelievable. Every turn throughout the book seems to betray any type of legal education that Meltzer has. Both main characters are entirely unlikable and hard to root for in both of their selfish desire to climb their ladder and/or save themselves, despite threats on their blessed loved one's lives. Excessively formulaic and highly predictable, Guff is the only saving grace in the whole book, even if his schtick does get old by the end. And the end gets even worse. Save your time and read something else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SLOW, forced myself to finish reading. Dont reccomend.
bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
This is the second time that I read this book and I still loved it. The plot though far fetched was never dull. It had numerous twist and turns and when you think you have it figured out everything changes. Kept this book to read again because of only fair reviews and usually donate after second reading unless execeptional. Is now on preorder for paperbacks and am curious how well it will do. Will check reviews the next time I read. Definitely worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As all of Brad Meltzer's books, his are extremely easy to read. They keep your interest from cover to cover. You find yourself unable to put the book down. Toward the end, you don't put it down until you have finished the book. I enjoyed the book and look forward to his next one. Hopefully I won't have long to wait. I recommend this to lovers of mysteries and legal stories.
Anonymous 11 months ago
After a slow start, this kept me reading, but I found the plot twists often unbelievable; the relationships between the characters and their connections to each other were sometimes confusing.
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