In Hosp's strong third novel (after 2006's disappointing The Betrayed), Boston lawyer Scott Finn, the hero of Hosp's debut, Dark Harbor(2005), has resigned from his white-shoe law firm and gone into practice for himself, along with cop-turned-PI Tom Kozlowski and legal intern Lissa Krantz. Finn gets roped into the case of Vincente Salazar, an illegal El Salvador immigrant with gang ties who was convicted of shooting a policewoman. Salazar has spent 15 years in prison, but new DNA evidence might exonerate him. Finn bitches and moans about pro bono cases, but readers know that underneath his cynical shell lies an honest straight shooter who loves the law and will go to his grave defending it-which he nearly does as a host of bad guys set out to convince Finn it's unhealthy to reopen the Salazar case. Clever banter, interesting legalities and compelling characters put Hosp, an attorney who has worked on New England's Innocence Project, back in the running for a top spot in the Boston legal thriller stakes. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Innocenceby David Hosp
With life as a pawn in a prestigious Boston law firm behind him, Scott Finn has set course through the more colorful back alleys and bedrooms of the legal world as a solo practitioner who dabbles in civil litigation, divorce law, and criminal defense. But his new environment and his nose for justice and fair play land him a case that could end up taking his life. A policewoman is left for dead in an alley, but survives and points the finger at an El Salvadoran immigrant with ties to one of South America's most dangerous and notorious gangs. There's just one problem: the evidence suggests the wrong man's been fingered. Finn, along with the maverick detective and stubborn ally Tom Kozlowski, must now navigate through this explosive case to save an innocent man's life and to learn why decorated officers might be willing to risk their careers and even their lives by lying about the crime. But with time running out, it is Finn and Kozlowski whose lives hang in the balance as they search for the thin line between guilt and innocence.
In Hosp's third legal thriller (after Dark Harborand The Betrayed), attorney Scott Finn has been contacted by a junior lawyer at his old law firm to take on some pro bono work in the case of El Salvadoran illegal immigrant Vincente Salazar, who was sent to prison for shooting a police officer 15 years ago. The case is being revisited on the basis of DNA evidence that was never mentioned at the original trial and may prove Salazar's innocence. Although Finn agrees to represent Salazar in a hearing to get the DNA evidence examined, he isn't convinced of the man's innocence-until the junior lawyer on the case is carved up with a machete and left for dead. To prove Salazar's innocence, Finn must find out why he was set up in the first place, which puts him at odds with both the Boston Police Department and a vicious South American gang. A riveting book that is hard to put down and will keep you hooked until the very end; recommended. [This book was inspired by Hosp's own experience as an attorney working with the New England Innocence Project.-Ed.]
- Grand Central Publishing
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Hachette Digital, Inc.
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 787 KB
Read an Excerpt
By David Hosp
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2007 Richard David Hosp
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMonday, December 10, 2007
MARK DOBSON SAT on the hard wooden bench in the back of the small courtroom on the twelfth floor of the Suffolk County Courthouse. His bow tie was tight around his thin thirty-year-old neck, and his wool double-stitched Oxxford suit was buttoned against the cold of the outdated building. The courthouse was never comfortable in winter. The heat was either off, allowing icicles to form on the insides of the windows, or blasting, leaving those who'd dressed for December in Boston sweating. On balance, he'd take the cold, he decided.
Sitting several feet away from him in the gallery was an old, disheveled refugee from the streets. An oily newspaper from the day before was spread out next to him as he shifted his attention between the previous day's headlines and the proceedings at the front of the courtroom.
"Haven't seen you here before," the old man whispered to Dobson during a break.
"I don't get to court very often," Dobson replied. He was trying to be polite, but as the old man leaned in toward him, a foul odor attacked Dobson's nostrils, and he realized it was probably a mistake to encourage him.
The man jabbed a dirty thumb into his own chest. "I'm here every day," he said. "Got a bed at the Vets' Home over on State Street, but I come here every morning. Bailiffs know me and know I'm not lookin' for trouble, so they leave me alone. I served my country, so I figure I got the right to admire the fruits of my labor. Plus, it beats the streets; warm in here, at least usually."
"There are probably other courtrooms where the heat is on," Dobson suggested, trying at once to be helpful and to rid himself of the distraction.
"Sure there are," the man agreed. "But I check the docket every morning." He pointed to one of the lawyers at the front of the room. "His name's Finn. When he's due in court, I go where he goes. I been comin' here the better part of ten years now, and I bet I seen every lawyer that's stepped up to the bar in this city. He's one of the few I ever seen worth a fuck."
Dobson nodded. "He's the man I'm here to see." He stared at the homeless vet for another moment before turning his attention back to the front of the courtroom, where Scott Finn was questioning a witness.
"You were fifty-two when you married Mrs. Slocum, isn't that right, sir?" Finn asked the bald, thick-necked man on the witness stand. The tall, dark-haired lawyer was looking over his notes, pretending he didn't already know the answer. He was street-thin, and there was a quiet confidence in the way he questioned the witness. It was a preliminary hearing in a divorce case, and from what Dobson could tell, it had been a nasty split. Because the matter was set down for only a hearing on a pretrial motion, the jury box was empty.
"I was," the man testified.
Finn walked behind counsel's table and touched his client, an attractive woman who looked to be around thirty, on the shoulder. "And Mrs. Slocum was twenty-six?"
"That sounds about right."
"Half your age."
The witness's lawyer jumped to his feet. "Objection, Your Honor. Is that a question?"
Finn considered it. "More of a mathematical observation, Your Honor, but I'll take a response if the witness has one to offer."
Judge Harold Maycomber leaned back comfortably in his chair and smirked. He was a potbellied man with unfortunate hair that had inspired the popular courthouse nickname "Judge Comb-over." "Overruled, Mr. Dumonds. It's close enough to a question for the witness to respond."
Slocum, the witness, flushed as his eyes slashed out at Finn. "Yes, she was half my age," he answered at last.
Finn ignored the look and continued. "You were already wealthy when you married, were you not?"
A conceited grin poked through the older man's bulbous lips. "I suppose that depends on your perspective."
"Oh, don't be modest," Finn encouraged him. "You were already known as the 'Cement King' of Massachusetts, weren't you? In fact, you've been the top supplier of cement to construction projects in the Commonwealth for over a decade, isn't that right?"
"I was wealthy," Slocum admitted.
Finn walked back up to the podium. "And because you were already a wealthy man, you demanded that your wife sign a prenuptial agreement, isn't that right?"
"I'm too old to be naive, sir," Slocum responded, folding his arms in front of his sagging chest.
"Can I take that as a yes, Mr. Slocum?"
The eyes flashed again, and Dobson could sense violence in them. "Yes. I asked her to sign a prenuptial agreement, as any prudent man in my position would."
"Thank you. Did she draft the agreement?"
Slocum scoffed. "Don't be an idiot. I had my lawyers draw up the agreement to make sure there were no loopholes."
"I apologize; I'll try to keep the idiocy to a minimum. Did Mrs. Slocum at least have a lawyer review it on her behalf?"
"No, she couldn't afford a lawyer. Besides, she said she wasn't marrying me for my money, so she didn't care what it said. At least that's what she told me at the time." Slocum's focus shifted to Finn's client, but the look of hatred remained.
"Of course, I understand," Finn said. "Love can make people do some foolish things."
"Objection." Slocum's attorney got to his feet again.
"Move along, Mr. Finn," Judge Maycomber prodded, though he looked more amused than annoyed.
Finn nodded. "Just one more question, Your Honor." He picked up a document. "May I approach?" Getting a wave of the hand from the judge, Finn walked up to the witness stand. "This document has previously been marked and identified as the prenuptial agreement you had your wife sign. Looking on the second page at section thirteen, you'll see that the agreement is null and void if you had sexual relations with anyone other than your wife during the course of the marriage." He let his preamble linger for a moment, building suspense as the man on the stand was caught in an indignant stasis. At last Finn asked the question: "Did you?"
The crimson that had tinged Slocum's face throughout the questioning blossomed to purple. "I beg your goddamned pardon!" he growled.
"I'm sorry, was my question unclear?" Finn moved toward the witness stand, to within a few feet of Slocum, and spoke with exaggerated clarity. "Did you have sexual relations with anyone other than your wife during the marriage?"
Slocum looked as though he might leap off the witness stand and attack Finn. "No," he said at last, his voice quivering through the last threads of self-control. "No, I did not."
Finn smiled as though they were close friends concluding a hard-fought chess match. "Thank you, Mr. Slocum. Nothing further."
At the back of the courtroom, the old man with the newspaper chortled next to Dobson. "That was the setup," he whispered. "The kill's gotta be just around the corner."
The judge looked at Slocum's lawyer, a diminutive man with a pinched nose and shoulders so bony they looked as though they might slice through his suit. "Mr. Dumonds, any questions?"
"None, Your Honor."
"Fine, Mr. Finn?"
"Yes, Your Honor; one final witness. We'd like to call Abigail Prudet."
Scott Finn loved creating drama in the courtroom; always had. Even now, with no jury present, he knew that to keep the judge's attention, he had to be part entertainer. It was one of the things that separated him from other attorneys-what made him truly one of the most effective courtroom lawyers in Boston: his ability to draw his audience in and keep them interested. As he'd often explained to his clients, An argument can't be effective if people aren't listening to it.
That was one of the reasons he enjoyed being on his own as a solo practitioner. Out here, he could fight his battles alone and push the limits as he saw fit. He'd spent several years in the respected white-shoe law firm of Howery, Black & Longbothum, and the training had served him well. He could have stayed if he'd wanted, but he'd decided to take a risk. Sometimes, when he ran into a stretch where work was hard to come by and he found himself living off petty drug cases, slip-and-falls, or trumped-up disability claims, he wondered whether he'd done the right thing in turning down a partnership at his old firm. He'd be making well over half a million a year by now were he still there, living without any financial pressures other than those self-inflicted. Instead, he spent much of his time scraping and struggling to stay ahead of each month's expenses-both personal and professional.
And yet the work he'd done at Howery had been stifling in many ways, and it had never provided the drama he was able to feed off of in his solo practice. Like the drama he hoped to create now.
The doors at the back of the courtroom swung open on cue, and Abigail Prudet was led into the courtroom by Tom Kozlowski. They made quite a pair. She was young and pretty, with a brand-new designer suit and a sway to her walk that made even Judge Comb-over straighten in his chair. Kozlowski, on the other hand, was nearing fifty, wearing a suit so old only the shine on the elbows hid his shirtsleeves. He was an intimidating presence nonetheless, with his broad shoulders, solid torso, and thick scar running the length of the right side of his face. He peeled off as he neared the front of the courtroom, directing Prudet toward the stand.
Slocum put his head down as she passed him; then he turned toward Dumonds, grabbing his lawyer's lapels and pulling him over, whispering frantically into his ear.
Prudet shimmied her way up into the witness box and was sworn in. "Would you please state your name for the record," Finn directed her.
"Abigail Suellen Prudet," she replied, her voice ringing with a sharp, trashy, sexy Southwestern twang.
"Ms. Prudet, would you tell the court what you do for a living?"
She crossed her legs. "I'm a personal escort."
"You're a prostitute," Finn corrected her.
"I prefer 'personal escort,'" she replied, frowning at Finn. "But that's right."
Dumonds, who had been released momentarily by his client, stood again. "Your Honor, I hope that Mr. Finn isn't going to ask this young lady questions that might implicate her in criminal activity. She has rights, even if Mr. Finn isn't willing to apprise her of them."
"Wouldn't dream of it, Your Honor," Finn replied. "If I might proceed?"
Comb-over was leaning forward in his chair, practically drooling as he looked down at the young woman on the witness stand. Was he actually looking down her shirt? "Please," the judge encouraged Finn.
"Ms. Prudet, where do you work?"
"I work at Sylvester's Cathouse in Pahrump, Nevada."
"And to your knowledge, is prostitution legal in Nevada?"
"It is in eleven counties," she replied defiantly. "I work only in licensed brothels, and I get tested every week for sexually transmitted diseases. I've never failed once; I'm clean."
"Thank you." Finn turned and looked at Dumonds, raising his eyebrows as if to ask whether the little man had any other objection. Dumonds sat down only to be grabbed by his agitated client once more.
Finn turned back to Abigail Prudet. "Have you ever met Mr. Slocum, that man over there at the table?" he asked her, pointing toward Slocum.
"Will you tell the court under what circumstances you met him?"
She nodded. "He came to Sylvester's. Couldn't have been more than a couple months ago. He came in lookin' for a party, an' after a while he took me back to a room, and we had sexual relations." Finn cringed as Abigail Prudet spoke. She pronounced her words with an exaggerated precision and formality, unsuccessfully calculated to convey a sense of class and education. The words came out in a synthetic cadence-"sex-you-all rela-she-uns"-that would never play to a jury. It probably wouldn't matter in front of Maycomber, who was so focused on the woman's chest as it heaved up and down with her speech that he likely wasn't listening to a word she said. But if the case went to trial, Finn would have to work with her.
"Ms. Prudet, just to be clear, you have sex with a lot of men for money, right?"
"That's right," she answered, sounding defensive.
"So what makes Mr. Slocum stand out in your memory?"
"He was a specialty customer," she replied. "They're easy to remember; they pay more."
"A specialty customer? What does that mean?"
"He wanted somethin' unusual."
"Can you define 'unusual' for us?" Finn asked. He thought Comb-over might actually fall forward off the bench.
"You know, unusual. Some of the girls say 'weird,' but I don't judge like that. He wanted to be tied up, and then he wanted me to wear a vibrator, an' he had this-"
"Objection!" It looked like the veins on Dumonds's head might actually burst. "This is outrageous! What possible relevance, Your Honor-"
Finn leaped in to cut him off. "That's quite all right, Your Honor; I have no interest at the moment in causing any embarrassment. I'll rephrase the question. Ms. Prudet, is it fair to say that your experience with Mr. Slocum was unusual enough to have left an impression such that you're sure that the man sitting over there was the same man you met at the Cathouse?"
She took a long look at Slocum. "That's fair to say. Yes."
"Nothing further, Your Honor," Finn said, walking back to counsel table. "Your witness," he said to Dumonds as he passed the man. He couldn't resist tweaking him. Dumonds didn't even notice; he was busy listening to his client, who was hissing into his face.
"Mr. Dumonds?" Maycomber said after a moment. "Do you have any questions?"
Dumonds looked up. "Yes, Your Honor. One moment." He listened to his client rasping away, then finally got to his feet. "Ms. Prudet, just a few questions. You indicated that this alleged encounter took place a couple of months ago, correct?"
"Can you be more specific?"
"No. But I'm pretty sure he paid with a credit card, so there's probably records."
"That won't be necessary," Dumonds said quickly, flushing red. "Did the man you were with-assuming it was, in fact, Mr. Slocum-indicate that he was separated from his wife and had been for quite a while?"
"I don't remember him bein' much of a talker. He was very preoccupied; wanted to get right down to business. Seemed like he'd done this before."
"Objection, Your Honor, nonresponsive. Move to strike." Dumonds looked flustered again.
"Strike away," Maycomber said, his full attention still directed toward Abigail Prudet.
"No further questions," Dumonds said, sitting down.
"Redirect?" the judge asked Finn, a suggestion of hope in his tone.
"None, Your Honor," Finn replied. She'd already served her purpose.
Prudet stood up and walked out into the gallery, taking a seat halfway back in the courtroom. Maycomber paused for a moment to watch her walk before addressing the lawyers. "Any other witnesses?"
"That's all we have, Your Honor," Finn said. Dumonds just shook his head.
"Very well," Maycomber replied. "Mr. Finn, this is your motion to have the prenuptial agreement excluded. Do you want to argue the issue first?"
"Certainly, Your Honor," Finn said, rising out of his chair. "I don't want to waste too much of your time with this. The language of the prenuptial contract is clear: The agreement is null and void if Mr. Slocum slept with anyone other than Mrs. Slocum. He did. As a result, the agreement should be kept out, and Mrs. Slocum is entitled by statute to half of the marital estate and alimony sufficient to support her in her current lifestyle. By our calculations, that's eleven million dollars in marital assets, and monthly alimony of twenty thousand dollars."
Maycomber looked at Dumonds. "Counsel, I assume you disagree?"
"We do, Your Honor. The Slocums have been separated for over six months. Even if you credit Ms. Prudet's testimony, the encounter in question took place four months into the separation. Nothing in the agreement suggests that the fidelity clause was meant to apply after divorce proceedings had been instituted. The agreement stands, and Ms. Prudet is entitled only to those assets she brought to the marriage, along with the two-thousand-dollar-per-month stipend, as specified in the agreement."
"Excuse me, Your Honor," Finn said. "If I might? The agreement is clear that it is null and void if Mr. Slocum has sex with anyone other than his wife 'during the life of the marriage.' As you well know, they are still legally married today. Whether this particular encounter took place two months ago or two hours ago, it still nullifies the agreement. To the extent that there's any ambiguity, Mr. Slocum admitted that his lawyers drew up the agreement, and it's well established that any ambiguity in a contract is construed against the party that drafted the agreement. They lose, Your Honor. Either way, they lose."
"Your Honor, that's absurd!" Dumonds exploded. "You can't honestly think that the contract was intended-"
"Enough!" Maycomber bellowed. "I've heard enough." He looked at the two lawyers with weary disgust. "Here's what I'm going to do," he said. "I'm going to take this under advisement and issue a ruling in a few weeks. In the meantime, Mr. Dumonds, if there is a reasonable settlement offer on the table, I'd advise your client to consider it very seriously. There's every chance that you're not going to like my ruling."
Excerpted from Innocence by David Hosp Copyright © 2007 by Richard David Hosp. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
David Hosp is a Boston attorney. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and his J.D. from George Washington University. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter south of the city.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Enjoyed this read. Have read all four Nook offerings by Davis Hosp and am looking forward to more.
Officer Madeline Steele has devoted her life to fighting crime, until the night she is brutally attacked and left for dead. Miraculously surviving her attack, Madeline ID's Vincente Salazar, an illegal immigrant and doctor, as her attacker. Overwhelming evidence, as well as the victim's testimony make this an open-and-shut case that sends Salazar to prison, even as Salazar swears his innocence... Scott Finn has left his position at a powerful Boston firm to open his own practice in his hometown of Charleston. Finn will do anything for work taking on messy divorces, as well as defending hardened criminals, but nothing has prepared him for the twisted case he receives. Sitting in prison for fifteen years, Salazar has screamed his innocence with no one listening, but now an attorney has decided to look into the claims of innocence. Mark Dobson is the attorney that believes there is truth to Salazar's claim and he decides to look into the fifteen year old crime. Dobson knows he will need help and the man to help him is Scott Finn. Finn is hesitant to get involved in this case, but after someone close to him is murdered and new evidence surfaces that may prove Salazar's innocence, he teams up with his buddy Tom Kozlowski, a former detective with information on the attack of Madeline Steele. Together, Finn and Kozlowski must unravel a crime that stretches from Central America to Boston to bring a killer to justice. 'Innocence' is OUTSTANDING! This original and entertaining thriller is one of the best reads out right now. From the explosive first chapter, through every twist filled chapter the reader is held captive wondering what will happen next. To say that 'Innocence' is a great legal thriller would be unfair because it is so much more than that..this novel has everything-great characters, complex plot, surprising twists, brutal murders, and a fast pace...You will not be able to put this down. If you have not yet discovered David Hosp do yourself a favor and read this novel, then seek out his first two novels that are equally as good. A MUST read! Nick Gonnella
Another good book from David Hosp
Even though an avid mystery reader might have suspicions of possible plot developments about half way through the book - Hosp's developmental style is as interesting as his plots. You wonder how he is going to bring this all together. You care about the characters. You are going to be amazed at the end. Amazed as much with the author as the ending. I can't wait to read his next Scott Finn book, Among Thieves.
This is a pretty good crime novel about police corruption and the weakness of the forces of good when faced with more powerful evil-doers. I liked it and recommend it, but there is one thing that bothered me: the gratuitous homphobia. Why Hosp indulges that escapes me as otherwise I could rate his book higher.
This was the first book I've read written by David Hosp. Without giving anything away, as U.S. citizens we MUST be wary of law enforcement (and that's a shame). However, these things probably happen more than we think. I really enjoyed this book and I would purchase another book written by Mr. Hosp. David, keep up the good work.
This was the second David Hosp book I read. You will not be able to put this down. If you have not yet discovered David Hosp and like a good mystery, I would recommend all of his books to you. A must read for the lover of a good mystery book! I would recommend starting with his first novel as the characters are developed in subsequent novels. You care about the characters. They are well developed and Hosp makes you want to know what is going on with their lives. I hope he writes another novel soon as I love to read a good mystery.