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Carole returned to the present, realizing that at thirty-five years of age and three months, she was hardly able to begin thinking about retirement just yet. I wish, she mused. Not when she had a job to do-no matter how maddening and disillusioning at times-and people that depended on her to dispense justice to the best of her ability.
She turned her espresso eyes on the prosecutor. His name was Julian Frommer. He was in his early thirties, but looked about twenty-one with dirty blonde hair a bit too long, and a small goatee that looked almost taped under his chin. His wool navy suit was ill fitted on a tall, lanky frame.
"Are you ready?" she asked him routinely.
"Always, Your Honor." He pasted a flirtatious smile on his lips.
But Carole had not even noticed as she turned her attention to the defense. George McArdle, fortyish, African-American, and built like a house, was already on his feet and showing off a three-piece tailored gray suit. His closely cropped dark hair had a slightly crooked part off to the side. He acknowledged her with a twinkle in his eyes.
"The defense is ready to present its case, Your Honor."
She nodded and looked at the defendant. Roberto Martinez-a thirty-six-year-old, muscular, Hispanic construction worker-had been charged with beating his live-in lover half to death. The medical report said that she had sustained multiple fractures, including a shattered nose, broken jaw, broken arm, and broken leg. But she would live. And so would the memories.
Martinez flashed her a crooked grin, as if to say: "It would have been more fun had you been on the other end of my fists, Your Honor."
Carole glared at him. She could feel the tiny hairs stand on the nape of her neck. But this was invisible to those before her who saw only the cool, calm, and collected attractive judge. Her russet colored individual pixies curved under her chin and onto slender shoulders, contrasting a beautiful butterscotch complexion. Beneath the oversized black robe was a tall, shapely body with long, runner's legs.
She faced Julian Frommer again. "You may call your first witness, Counselor-"
* * *
It turned out that his first witness, the victim, was a no-show. She was going to be wheeled in from the hospital where she was still recovering from her injuries. She had apparently had a change of heart and now refused to testify against Martinez. The State's case further began to unravel when it turned out that the only other witness was a known drug dealer whose testimony came as a result of a plea bargain that would keep him from doing hard time.
Meanwhile the defense had produced witnesses who would testify that the defendant was seen at work at the alleged time of the assault. It was a shaky alibi at best that left a window of opportunity for Roberto Martinez to have committed the offense and returned to the job. But given that the victim was unwilling to refute this, the prosecution had little choice but to go along with George McArdle's request that the charges be dropped.
And neither did Carole, though this pained her more than she was willing to admit. The thought that a scumbag batterer like Martinez should get off so easily was disturbing. But then, that was the system for you. Justice often needed help to be dispensed properly.
Looking Roberto Martinez straight in the eye, Carole announced unaffectedly: "The charges have been dropped. You're free to leave, Mr. Martinez-"
He favored her a lascivious grin, gave his attorney a hearty bear hug, and headed for the door without so much as a slap on the wrist.
Growling at Julian Frommer, Carole snapped: "I would strongly suggest, Counselor, that in the future you not waste the court's time-or mine-with a case you were clearly unprepared to make!"
On that note and without giving him a chance for a lame response, she headed for her chambers, disappointed that another woman beater, who was obviously guilty, had found a way to beat the system. Much in the same way he had his lover.
* * *
At Portland General Hospital, Lucie Garcia winced from the pain that wracked her entire body like it was being assaulted all at once. This in spite of the painkillers she had been given. They told her she was lucky to be alive. She didn't feel so lucky.
The Hispanic twenty-three-year-old rolled her large ink-black eyes, as if to ward off danger. Her brunette hair splayed across the pillow soaked with perspiration. An irregular line of blood had seeped across it from her mouth, which had been cut and was swollen to twice its normal size. A tube was helping her to breathe. Her fractured bones were held together with pins and casts. The rest of her was held together through sheer willpower.
She thought about Roberto. She'd been told he had been released from custody. Without her testimony, the case had gone out the window. Like a parakeet freed from its cage.
When it came right down to it, Lucie knew she couldn't testify against Roberto. Though she was afraid of him, and the beatings had become more frequent and more violent in recent months as his alcohol abuse grew worse, she loved him. She couldn't help it anymore than a mother could help loving her son, no matter what he did to hurt her.
Roberto was the only man she had ever loved. The only one who didn't run away at the first opportunity another piece of ass came into view. For that she was grateful. The rest just came with the territory as far as she was concerned.
Still, Lucie wondered what awaited her when she got home. Would Roberto take it out on her that he had been in police custody? Would he want her back now that she was badly bruised and broken? And not looking anything at all like the pretty Latina that had captured his attention in the beginning?
Lucie winced again before the sedative began to take effect and she drifted off into a restless sleep. Her last thought was that maybe she would awaken and find it had all been an awful dream.
Deep down inside she knew otherwise.
Excerpted from Justice Served by R. Barri Flowers Copyright © 2004 by Dorchester Publishing. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted December 9, 2008
The media has latched on to a new feeding frenzy, the Vigilante Killer targeting abusive males who escaped punishment due to plea-bargains, frightened hung juries, or bogus legal wiggles. Detective Sergeant Ray Barkley and Detective Nina Preston lead the investigation that has two other links besides the so-called victims being abusive male predators. All the dead men walked free after their assault case was heard in the courtroom of Criminal Court Judge Carole Cranston and their female victims recovered at the Rose City Women's Shelter coincidentally or vigilante Judge Cranston donates plenty of money to the facility. --- Nina believes the circumstantial evidence enhanced by the Judge¿s attitude towards male abusers make her, the guilty party. On the other hand Ray likes the Judge and is convinced she is innocent. Nina assumes he is thinking with the wrong head. Is Carole a frustrated judge who has crossed the line or just the foci of an avenging angel? --- The magic behind R. Barri Flowers¿ terrific suspense thriller is that the serial killer is in plain sight as the clues are laid out for the audience to determine whether Carole is the Vigilante or not. The story line is action-packed as the two cops follow leads that each interprets differently as Ray wants Her Honor innocent while Nina is totally convinced otherwise. Fans of police procedural serial killer thrillers will want to read this fine tale while anxiously waiting to follow the next investigation, the opening tickler being the abduction of the Mayor¿s daughter. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 19, 2005
Criminal Court Judge Carole Cranston hates the battered-women cases the most. She chose her career in hopes of putting the abusive men in prison and off the streets. Yet far too often Carole can do nothing but watch as the guilty men go free due to a plea-bargain, hung jury, or some sort of small technicality. But that did not make her resort to becoming a vigilante. Or did it? ................... Detective Sergeant Ray Barkley and his partner, Detective Nina Preston, are the ones on the Vigilante Killer case that is getting so much media coverage. Seems that there is a serial killer, possibly female, on the loose. She targets abusive men who escape the justice system. As bodies pile up, the few clues they have point the finger at Judge Carole Cranston. All the murdered men had been in her court room. They all walked free. And the women abused had all spent some time in the Rose City Women's Shelter, where Carole donates a lot of money. Nina has no doubt that Carole is guilty and is doing all she can to prove it. That is hard to do without hurting Ray, who is very attracted to Her Honor. It causes tension between the two partners as well, because Ray is just as positive that Carole is innocent. In fact, Ray and Carole begin seeing each other, even though it is NOT a good idea. .................... **** I am lucky enough to be able to state that in my personal life almost half the people I know are black, almost half are white, and there are a few numbers of other races. So I am used to hearing titles such as 'brother, sister, dude, amigo, man, guy' and the likes every day. When I read a book where most, if not all, the characters are African-American it does not surprise me to read 'brother' or 'sister' in it. It seldom even registers to my brain. However, in my opinion, those two titles are use far too frequently. I felt as if they were being used on every second or third page. It seemed unrealistic and became frustrating. ..................... As for the story plot, characters, and suspense, R. Barri Flowers proves, once again, that he chose the right career. This author weaves a magical web, as well as, a tangled one. The clues are all there, but even toward the end I could not be positive that I had tagged the right culprit. I will be recommending this title to many! One last thing, if you hate to be left hanging do NOT read the last page or two. This is a stand alone story. The author wraps up the mystery thriller beautifully. But the last couple of pages begins with the killer of the next novel kidnapping his first victim. I was left feeling incomplete. ****Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 23, 2011
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Posted September 16, 2011
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