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Patrick AndersonResolved is perhaps the most enjoyable of the three Tanenbaum novels I've read -- there are 15 -- and a good starting point for those who haven't discovered the series.
— The Washington Post
The governor was late. No governor, no ceremony; the distinguished people gathered in the private office of the district attorney muttered to themselves and to their pals. They brought out their cell phones and their Date Minders and juggled their schedules. The office buzzed with talk, quiet or annoyingly loud, directed at people not physically present, so that the place took on the appearance of a day room in a mental institution. The DA himself, John X. Keegan, did not talk on either a cell or a regular phone, but simply relaxed, smiling, a drink in his big fist, and chatted quietly to a small group of men who were too big to bother about their own schedules. Keegan wore a wide white smile on his broad red face. It had hardly been off that face (not even in slumber) since he had gotten the news of his appointment some months ago. Today was his last day as district attorney after nearly a decade on the job. He was going to become a federal judge, a lifetime's ambition, or rather an important step toward his real ambition. It had never escaped Jack Keegan's notice that Chief Justice Earl Warren had started as a DA.
One other person in the room, now slouched against a corner of the long conference table in the center of the office, was equally unconcerned with schedules. His own smile was thin and a little false, because he disliked events of this kind. Even slouching, he was the tallest person in the room (at six-five), well-knit, and still athletic in these, his middle years. He had a peculiar flat, sallow face, close-cropped brown hair just starting to show gray on the sides, and eyes set slightly aslant over strong cheekbones. These eyes were his signal feature apart from his hugeness: bright, inquisitive, don't-fuck-with-me eyes, gray in color, shot with flecks of gold. An ethnologist observing the room as if it contained a herd of beasts would have noted that this tall man, like the DA, occupied the center of a circulation, a node of power. People came up to him, said a few words, smiled harder at him than he did at them, and were gently pressed away by others. The man's name was Roger Karp, called Butch by everyone, and he was the chief assistant district attorney, the operational leader of the six hundred or so lawyers who prosecuted criminal cases in the County of New York.
Taking advantage of an interval in which no one was in his face, Karp walked over to a window and peered out into the gathering gloom. It was snowing harder. Fat white flakes descended from the dust bunnycolored sky, obscuring the dun buildings across the street. This was why the governor was late.
Karp checked his watch. Clearly the goddamn thing would not begin at two, as scheduled. As if answering his unspoken desire to know when it would start, someone dinged on a glass. The governor's advance person, a thin redhead in a bright red suit, announced that both Teterboro and La Guardia Airports were socked, JFK was iffy, and so the governor's plane had been cleared for MacArthur Field, farther out on the island. He'd be landing shortly and would then come into the city by car. Regrets. The weather. If you'd all reassemble at four...
Murmurs and sighs from the crowd, which began to move toward the door, the juniors swiftly, the elders with more stately pace.
"He'd better use the Batmobile," said a voice at Karp's elbow: Murrow, his special assistant. "Can you imagine what the expressway's going to be like in this weather?"
"He's the governor, he'll find a way," said Karp, casting an eye over the man's outfit and frowning. "What is that you're wearing, Murrow?"
"This? A Harris tweed jacket, whipcord slacks, a Brooks shirt and tie. Why?"
"I mean that," said Karp, pointing.
"Oh, you mean this plum-colored velvet waistcoat, with gilt buttons. It's seasonal."
"So is a Santa suit, but we don't usually wear them in the courthouse."
"I could rush home through the freezing snow and change into something more funereal. Have I made you ashamed of me? Again?"
"A little. Look, I'm going to go hide in my office. Spread the word that I'm out of the building. Tell Flynn to hold the calls, too. Except from my family."
Karp glowered in a friendly way and vanished more easily than you would have thought possible for someone that large. His office was across the hall from the DA's, and its door had a jolly wreath on it, like all the others in the suite. Karp frowned at the wreath, went in, took off his sufficiently funereal navy pin-striped jacket, and sat down in his big black judge's chair. He swiveled and faced the window.
For a while he amused himself by seeing how long he could keep a single snowflake in focus. The burble of voices outside declined in volume. Karp knew that there would be a coven of old pols gathered around Keegan, sipping discreetly at his scotch, glad of the unscheduled demiholiday. They would be stroking or stinging one another in the ancient old-pol way. When pressed, Karp knew he could slip into that style and stroke and sting with the best of them, establishing himself as an in-guy, as he would clearly have to do now that Keegan was going. The difference was that, unlike Jack Keegan, he didn't love it. He sucked no nectar from the schmoozefests. They left him drained and irritable, as now. If he were a little more paranoid than he was (which was more paranoid than most people not actually on lithium), he would have imagined that Jack had done it for just that reason: to make him writhe. He leaned forward and pressed his nose against the glass. The streetlights were already on, made into haloes by the snow. The glass was cold. A chill ran across his shoulders, and he got up to put on his jacket. It was colder in his office than it had been this morning, and he recalled something, a memo, about the building's boilers being replaced over the Christmas break. They must have already started the work.
A sharp rap on the door. "Go away!" he said, too low to be heard. Murrow appeared. He whipped neatly through the doorway and pulled it closed in one motion, like a character in a farce. He was holding an irregularly shaped object draped in a bar towel. This he deposited on Karp's credenza, and drew away the draping with a flourish, revealing a plastic tray with a bottle and two snifter glasses on it.
"It's cognac," said Murrow. "It's a kind of liquor made from wine."
"I know what cognac is. You know I don't drink."
"You can learn how. In exchange for everything you've taught me over the years. It's only fair." He shivered. "My God, it's freezing in here! Can't you turn up the heat?"
"They're fixing the boilers."
"Well, we'll certainly be perfectly Dickensian by the time the gov gets here." He uncorked the cognac and poured a generous slug into each glass. "Aren't you sorry now you don't have a cozy plum-colored waistcoat?"
Murrow sat on the worn leather couch across from Karp's desk and raised his glass. "To the future, or at least to an end to this horrible year!"
"Oh, I'll drink to that," said Karp, sipping. A surprise: the liquor was stingingly warm, and seemed to expand like a gas into his sinuses. He held the glass balloon up to the light. "This isn't bad. It doesn't have that boozy taste."
"No. Mr. Hennessy has it removed when he puts the XO on the bottle. It's the beverage of the ruling class. You should get used to it."
"I can live without it," said Karp, taking another small sip. His face became warm. The roiling in his gut, which had begun with his awakening that morning, diminished.
"Again?" asked Murrow, holding out the bottle, grinning.
"Sure. Why not? Jack and his pals are hitting the scotch in there. We might as well all get loaded. When the governor gets here we can all lean against each other and sway."
"I notice you're not in there."
"No. I'm not one of the boys. I'd cramp their style, and Jack deserves a couple of hours of fun. It's a big day for him, too."
"Why aren't you?" asked Murrow. "One of the boys. I always wondered about that. You're a boy and you've been here since the year one."
"It's a long story."
"We have time."
"It's longer than that. Let's just say they don't really trust me. Let's just say..."
The office door burst open and a woman walked in. Murrow stared up at her, higher up than he ever had at a woman before, for she was over six feet tall, even without the thick-heeled knee boots she wore. She also had on a knee-length dark leather coat lined with grayish fleece and a flat gray wool hat, dotted with melting snow.
"So, here's where you're hiding!" she exclaimed. "I should have known. And a secret drinker, too, I see. Who's your friend, and will he pour me a shot of...what is that, cognac?"
"You'll have to ask him," said Karp. "Murrow, this is Ariadne Stupenagel, a friend of my wife's. A reporter." His tone on this last word was what he might have used saying "pedophile."
Murrow stood up and shook hands with the woman. A man of moderate size, he felt as if he were back in third grade. He tried not to stare, but this was difficult; she seemed to invite staring: the bottle green eyes, heavily made up with mascara, shadow, and cynicism; the big beak; the enormous, ravenous-looking mouth slashed with orange-pink lip gloss. She whipped off her hat and flung it onto a filing cabinet, spraying droplets.
"I'm sorry, we only have two glasses," Murrow said.
"Oh, that's not a problem," replied Stupenagel, reaching into the capacious canvas sack she carried and coming out with a heavy cut-glass Old-Fashioned tumbler. As he poured, Murrow noticed that the bag was stenciled with Cyrillic lettering and was extremely dirty.
"Absent friends," said Stupenagel, raising her glass. She drank deeply, sighed. "Oh, this is good. I should come here more often." She plopped herself down on the couch and stretched out her legs, which were draped in a full shin-length skirt of black wool. Murrow estimated that these legs were very nearly as long as he was.
"I thought you were in Afghanistan," said Karp.
"Oh, I was, I was, but it's winter and the facilities are not all one might wish. They should only stage wars in warm climates. Plus the men won't talk to you, and how many stories can you read about the plight of Afghan women? So I'm back in what I think I now have to call my homeland. How's Marlene?"
The abrupt change of subject was a reporter's trick, but it was a prosecutor's trick, too, and Karp was not discommoded. "She's fine. You should go see her."
"She's still with that kennel business out on the ass end of the island?"
"The dog farm, yes. Business is booming, I hear. Security dogs are a hot item nowadays."
"I'm not a dog person myself. I hear you're breaking up."
"Where did you hear that?"
"Around. I'm a reporter. Is it true? Because if it is, I want to get on the Karp short list."
"You're supposed to be her friend, Stupenagel."
"I am! Ciampi is my dearest pal in the whole wide world, but do you know how few men on the planet there are that I don't have to look down at their bald spot? Of those, eliminate the brainless, the evil, the smelly, the faggots, the needle dicks, what have you got left? You and Bill Bradley, and Bill turned me down already. Ciampi's only five-four. It's not fair."
"No, it's not, and as flattering as it is, I have to tell you I'm not on the market." An image of what it would be like to be in bed with Ariadne Stupenagel crossed unbidden across Karp's interior TV. He had to look away from her then, and his eyes fell on Murrow, who was staring at them, as if at a show.
"I believe Murrow is single," said Karp. "You could fit him with lifts."
"Stilts," said Stupenagel. "But he certainly is cute," she said, turning her gaze full upon him. Murrow felt warmth rising on his neck. She added, "Mm, yes. A lickable item. Maybe you'd like to sit on my lap, Murrow?"
"Yes, I would," said Murrow, "but my Mummy said I mustn't."
A booming man's laugh from Stupenagel, in which, after a pause, the men joined. Karp recalled Marlene once saying that Stupe was the most infuriating and also the most uninfuriating person she knew, someone who would both steal your shoes and give you the shirt off her back.
"In that case, you can pour me another drink," she said. "Oh, now, this is cozy. A blizzard outside, great changes in the DA, and the death of the year. You know where I was when the story of the century broke a couple of blocks away? In Havana. They wanted me to check if Fidel was actually still alive."
"Did you fuck him?" asked Karp.
"Puh-lease! He could barely get it up in eighty-five. I never worked so hard for a story in my life."
"Yes, Murrow," said Karp, "if you succumb to Stupenagel's charms, you'll be able to share STDs with some of the world's great leaders, past and present."
"That was unkind," she pouted. "See, that's what happens to nice men when they're not getting it regular, they become unkind. Fill him up again, Murrow. Anyway, when Nine Eleven hit I realized there was no point in coming to the city, because everyone was here, so I hopped a flight to London and then to Pakistan, because it was obvious the story was going to be there. I heard you had quite a summer, by the way. Escaped maniacs...?"
She said, "Yeah, Tighe. I remember the original case. I was in Guat at the time, but I read what the wire services had on it. I recall thinking that it was hard getting all excited about a couple or three people getting killed in New York when we had them in windrows along every road in the country. That was the guy that snatched Marlene, or was that his brother?"
"The brother," said Karp. "And the mom. She was running a Satanic pedophile ring out of a fancy day-care center. The brother was a feeb, and she'd trained him to pick up stray little girls off the streets, like a Labrador retriever. She was aiming to make Felix the next prince of darkness, or whatever, but he liked freelance evil instead. Go have children."
"I thought that whole Satanic ritual in the day-care center was a load of horseshit. Like an urban legend."
"It is," said Karp. "But there's always the exception. One giant alligator really does live down in the sewers, and one poodle really did go into the microwave. This one was it for the Satanic day cares. We never tried the case. The old lady killed herself in custody and the brother died, too, and the only other witnesses were the kids, and I wasn't going anywhere near that."
"Marlene plugged him, didn't she?" asked Stupenagel. "Now it's coming back. God, how the years fly! This was when you were still a rug rat, Murrow. I might have dandled you on my knee. I might still, if you're lucky. Yeah, now that I think about it, that was Marlene's first hit, wasn't it?"
Karp was silent.
"Yeah, it was. But not anywhere near the last. What's the count now, or don't you keep track? No comment? Oh, right, this is talking rope in the house of the hanged, isn't it?" She slapped her cheek. "Naughty, naughty Stupenagel -- again! Murrow, this is why I so infrequently get invited back, except regrettably, by horny short men. There was something else about the mother, too, wasn't there? Didn't get a lot of play?"
"Felix was screwing her," said Karp. "They used to meet in a hotel, I understand, her in disguise, him in some kind of trance. It came up in pretrial, the defense feeling out how we would sit with an insanity plea, but Felix put the kibosh on it. 'It never happened,' says Felix, 'my mom was a saint.' I think Ray Guma has to get credit for the best line: 'And here I thought that "mean motherfucker" was just a figure of speech.'"
She laughed. "Dear old Guma. But that's interesting. I wonder if it happens a lot or rarely. Mother-on-son incest. The other kind we know all about, girls blabbing about what bad old Daddy did every time you switch on the fucking TV. But the boys don't blab. Does that mean there's nothing there? Silence arouses my journalistic instinct. What about it, boys? Anyone want to confess. Off the record, of course. I'm not on duty."
"Rare, but not unknown," said Murrow after a pause. "A lot of fantasy around it, which is suggestive. Just check out the Internet. As a matter of fact, about ten percent of child sex abuse vics are boys, but that includes dad as the perp, of course. Then there's art. Luna by Bertolucci, Le Souffle au Coeur by Louis Malle."
"My God, he talks!" crowed Stupenagel. "It's a pity you're not up for adoption, Murrow. Or doesn't that hold any interest? I'd wear a housedress and you could be in diapers. No? Then you can refresh my drink."
She drank, and said to Karp, "So, do you think it was Mom who warped him and sent him on a life of crime?"
"I try never to speculate on causation. It's irrelevant, although there's practically never a case where the defense doesn't try to bring up their boy's sad life. A mutt is a mutt."
"Even when he's a cop?"
"I could never figure out what happened in that thing last summer," she said. "I mean, even after all the shit that's been going down about bad shootings and police brutality, why a cop would even take the chance...what did you make of it?"
"Are you back on duty?"
"No. But as a victim of police brutality in four countries, including this one, I have an interest."
"It wasn't a police brutality thing," said Karp. "Not really. It was a police stupidity thing. A hell of a lot more common, to tell you the truth."
"So there must have been a lot of pressure on that case," said the reporter. "White cops, black victim. How come you took the case?"
Karp explained the situation and added, "Even so, I didn't think Jack would let me take it. They usually keep me away from cases with racial overtones, as you know."
"But I don't know. I was out of the country at the time. I'm a foreign correspondent."
"Then what are you doing here?" Karp said, not quite keeping the snarl from his voice. I'm getting drunk, he thought. Am I going to be a mean drunk?
She appeared not to notice. He imagined people snarled at her all the time, given her personality. She said, "Every place is foreign from the standpoint of someplace else. Pretend I'm reporting on the strange customs of American jurisprudence for a Canadian paper. No, really, all I know is the gossip. You punched out a black reporter is what I heard."
"I didn't punch him out," said Karp. "He got in my face in a hallway and I pushed past him and he tripped on some TV cables. Then a guy fell on him with a TV camera and his face got bruised. There was some tape with me scowling and this little guy with blood streaming down his face. The press made a big thing of it. And it was the case I was working on at the time, that had a lot to do with it."
"Okay, now it's coming back. That was that wacko who was after black grannies. You lost that one, if memory serves. Another racial thing?"
"Not really. It was a good jury. I just got beat. The guy, Rohbling, was a weedy white boy with a lot of money. His family hired the best lawyer in the country and the rest is history. He's in Matteawan now, until the shrinks decide he's not a danger to the community. It happens. The African-American sector was not pleased."
"Was that when they started calling you KKKarp?"
"Around then. They thought I was being insufficiently aggressive. They thought it was funny that a prosecutor who'd won over a hundred straight homicide convictions, mainly, if you want to know, where the defendants were what they call people of color, just couldn't hack it when it came to nailing a rich white guy."
"Did they have a point?" she asked slyly.
Copyright © 2003 by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Posted June 10, 2013
Am still unable to read Resolved or Absolute Rage. Have contacted "tec" help twice, and the problem is still not resolved. these two books will NOT format to the largest print in a readable manner. Have taken my Nook to my local B&N. They were unable to change the formant, said it simply can't be done. Tec help told me they could and would fix the problem. that was May 9th. I called back 4 days ago and the tec simply wanted me to keep repeating what the tec at my local store had already done. He simply was'nt listening to me, did'nt get what m the real problem was. I was so frustrated that I siply said sorry amd hung up the phone.. Look guys, I'm an avid reader and losing my sight. The only way ai am still able to read is with my Nook set to the largest print. Yuo can check my account I spend more on books than the average person. I'm 77 and pushing 78 up hill way to fast, PLEASE help. If the problem cannot be solved just refund my account for these two books, and I would much rather read them. Thanks Rita Youso 360-528-9242
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