Seeds of Doubtby Stephanie Kane
Denver defense attorney Jackie Flowers doesn't want to take the case. Convicted child killers are not her favorite clients.
Thirty years ago, Rachel Boyd was just a child herself when she was found guilty of killing her little playmate, Freddie Gant. After three decades in reform school and adult prison, Rachel is finally free. Free to find a new life. Free to
Denver defense attorney Jackie Flowers doesn't want to take the case. Convicted child killers are not her favorite clients.
Thirty years ago, Rachel Boyd was just a child herself when she was found guilty of killing her little playmate, Freddie Gant. After three decades in reform school and adult prison, Rachel is finally free. Free to find a new life. Free to kill again?
Has she, in fact, already killed another child? Shortly after settling in at the home of her brother, wealthy banker Chris Boyd, Rachel may have succumbed to temptation. Could it be just a coincidence that the gardener's child, Benjamin Sparks, is found dead in circumstances somewhat similar to the Freddie Gant murder?
Against her better instincts, Jackie accepts Rachel's case. Everyone deserves a good defense. Jackie wants desperately to embrace her client's innocence and believe what Rachel tells her. Can she trust her enough to invite her into her home to stay while she prepares for trial?
And what about Lily, the child next door whom Jackie loves as her own? Just kicked out of boarding school, she's facing a rocky adolescence. Rachel's influence on her may be dangerous in more ways than one.
As Jackie fights to prove Rachel's innocence, she must struggle with challenges both inside and outside the courtroom: her dyslexia, which makes it tough to be a lawyer, especially when the other side throws unexpected documents in her face; her conflicted relationship with ex-lover Dennis Ross, who's now an affluent civil litigator; her paralyzing fear of heights. Will her fear cause her to fail at the most crucial moment?
With its riveting insights into the legal process and its devastating observations on good and evil and the way the past can haunt the present, Seeds of Doubt confirms the literary power of one of our brightest new crime-writing talents.
"Jackie Flowers is back with a vengeance in the third installment of Stephanie Kane's bestselling, nail-biting series that has 'momentum to last'"
San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] fast-paced satisfying ride...The novel's climax is heart-stopping, and its conclusion just right."
The Denver Post
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
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Seeds of DoubtA Crime Novel
By Stephanie Kane
ScribnerCopyright © 2004 Stephanie Kane
All right reserved.
Chapter One"You were the chief investigator at the scene of the accident?"
Seated at the defense table, Jackie Flowers kept her voice low. Courtroom 12 was as tight as a shoe box and the jurors were so close they could have heard Assistant District Attorney Tom Tuttle break wind.
Tuttle sprang to his feet and two jurors winced.
"This is a manslaughter case," Tuttle said, oblivious to the judge's pained expression as his words echoed in the airless room. The walnut slats covering the wall behind the bench made Jackie feel as if she were trapped inside a pipe organ. "'Accident' is hardly appropriate in view of the fact that Ms. Flowers' client decapitated -"
"My client has already sworn under oath, and he intends to repeat that testimony in this court" - gracefully rising, Jackie caught the same two jurors, now joined by a third, gazing at her client with renewed interest - "that he secured his trailer to his pickup truck with a steel bolt and chains. It came unhitched and sailed across the median into oncoming traffic. That sounds like an accident to me."
"Overruled," the judge said. "If this were a murder case, Mr. Tuttle, you wouldn't be assigned to it."
Jackie strode to center stage.
Accident. Focus the jury on the accident, not her client. Or, God forbid, the victim. In her cobalt suit and two-inch alligator heels she stood eye to eye with the seated witness. Positioning herself directly between him and the jury box, she hooked a honey blonde curl behind her ear and softly continued.
"What was the condition of the road?"
"Help us out, Officer. Don't you mean washboard?"
"And you were able to ascertain the exact section of that washboard asphalt where my client's trailer came unhitched?"
Damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Admit Jackie's client hit a three-foot pothole, or pretend he didn't know where to look for that wire and bolt? The biggest mistake most cops made was getting in a pissing match with the lawyer instead of focusing on the jury. The witness looked helplessly at the DA and Jackie smiled. With every eye in the courtroom on her, she could afford to be generous.
"You told this jury your job was to examine the highway for evidence that the hitch was or wasn't bolted. What precisely were you looking for?"
"Metal bolt and piece of wire." Sweat prickled his upper lip.
"What did you find?"
"Bottles, cans, rubber. You name it." The officer gave a weak laugh and tried to look past Jackie at the jury. "Some people think I-25's their personal dump site."
"How high are the weeds at the side of the road? Eighteen inches?"
"So you used a metal detector."
She took a step closer. "Get your uniform dirty?"
Now she was leaning over the witness stand.
"When you got down on your hands and knees on the shoulder of I-25 and dug through all those weeds and trash looking for a three-inch scrap of wire and a sheared-off steel bolt!"
"No further questions, Your Honor."
Tuttle and his two assistants fled through the door behind the bench as soon as the gavel dropped. Jackie watched her client being manacled and led off by a deputy laden with chains, pepper spray, stun gun - enough junk to stock a militiaman's RadioShack. Until he hit that pothole, he'd been just another carpenter on his way to work. Albeit one with two previous DUIs to his credit. Shaking her head, she took her time packing her briefcase with the blank legal pads and unopened Rules of Criminal Procedure that were her stock-in-trade. When the courtroom finally cleared she left.
On this first Monday in April, the fourth-floor corridor of Denver's City and County Building was a cacophony of wailing babies, bleating walkie-talkies and screeching cell phones. The marble pillars and terrazzo floors made the clattering heels of hookers and their higher-priced attorneys audible from the far end of the hall, and a tide of shackled prisoners whose color-coded scrubs denoted their presumed level of culpability streamed from the sheriff's private elevator. Jackie stood aside for a trio of women in washed-out olive and pea-green jumpsuits destined for drug court.
"We'll knock it down from manslaughter to neg homicide."
It had taken ADA Tom Tuttle eight minutes to recognize his case was going down after his chief witness bailed out. Record time.
"The only negligence is your office going to trial with this case."
"Come on, Jackie." He was trying not to beg. "What choice did we have? Sixteen-year-old honor student driving down I-25 in a brand-new Mustang, minding his own business -"
"That cop never even looked for a bolt, and you know it."
"Your client's been busted twice for drunk driving."
"Not this time, he wasn't. The most we'll consider is careless."
"Careless driving?" A felon shuffling by in leg irons and Day-Glo orange turned to look, and Tuttle lowered his voice. "Duncan Pratt's not going to like that."
Since when did the Denver district attorney have to bless every plea?
"He'll like it more than an acquittal. When my guy takes the stand tomorrow all bets are off." Tired of waiting for the public elevator, Jackie started for the stairs.
"Hear about that six-year-old boy who's been reported missing out by the country club?" Tuttle was at her elbow. The marble staircase behind the elevator bank conferred an unwanted intimacy and she quickened her pace. "Another missing kid, right up your alley."
"Didn't you defend that sleazebag accused in one case last year?"
Why did every DA take his brethren's defeats so personally?
"My client walked," she said. "And the alleged victim was a college coed, not a six-year-old boy."
"Maybe you'll be lucky enough to defend another innocent client."
"Keep filing on the wrong guys, and what do you expect?" She began counting the steps to the lobby. "So you've already made a bust?"
"He's only been missing since yesterday."
Not even long enough to file a missing person's report. DAs were all alike; they took it personally and they saw a pervert behind every bush.
"Maybe he ran away."
Tuttle's smile pitied her.
"How far can a six-year-old run?"
Jackie stepped through the City and County Building's majestic doors and into the sunlight. Standing with her adversary beneath the fifty-foot columns, she gazed down at beds of purple and yellow pansies whose festivity mocked the grim business within. Across Civic Center, the gold dome of the state capitol gleamed but clouds were massing to the north.
"You know how easy it is to lure a kid," Tuttle said before turning to go back in. "All it takes is something bright and shiny."
A little girl in a frilly dress. A man in a dark sedan easing to the curb and leaning out the window. A handsome man, with a snap-brim hat and an easy smile - Blinking away the memory of the public safety film shown so many years ago to her grade school class, Jackie started down the granite steps.
Since when did evil wear a snap-brim hat?
Excerpted from Seeds of Doubt by Stephanie Kane Copyright © 2004 by Stephanie Kane. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Stephanie Kane, born and raised in Brooklyn, has clerked for the Colorado Supreme Court and been both a partner in a top Denver law firm and a criminal defense attorney. The author of Extreme Indifference, Quiet Time, and Blind Spot, she is married to a federal judge and lives in Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.writerkane.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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That is what Jackie Flowers must find out and fast. While defening Rachel Boyd, convicted 30 years earlier of the murder of a playmate, Jackie must face her own fears to save those she loves. Kane does it again with an inspiring tale of family dysfunction at its worst. Kane does a great job exploring Jackie's character in this book and looking at the decisions she makes. I am anxiously awaiting more Kane novels.
Stephanie Kane has another great Jackie Flowers book. This is by far her best yet, with many twists and turns that keep one guessing until the last page. Kane's intelligence and grasp of the law reflect in her writing.
¿Seeds of Doubt¿ is another fine book in the Jackie Flowers series by Stephanie Kane. Flowers is a criminal defense attorney whose dyslexia gives her difficulty with the written word. Kane has no such problem. Her writing is descriptive yet spare, her characters complete and her plots deft and deep. Flowers ¿ as would any good fictional lead character of the genre ¿ always takes cases that simply cannot be won. In this book, her client is a woman convicted three decades earlier of killing a playmate. Recently released from prison, she¿s accused of a similar crime. And the evidence against her is compelling. My favorite part of Kane¿s series, of course, is Jackie Flowers. Hollywood should wake up to Flowers¿ potential as a quirky character for a TV crime series. (OK, like ¿Monk,¿ though not exactly. But when did the entertainment industry shy away from appropriating a good idea?) ¿Seeds of Doubt¿ kept me guessing, even after I thought I¿d figured out whodunnit.
From the first page you have to know what happens. A 30-year-old crime ¿ the victim so very innocent. Rachel Boyd has just been paroled after serving 30 years for a crime with a virtually identical MO. She was just a child when the first crime occurred; they called her a bad seed. Her brother, and staunchest supporter, welcomes her home and tries to help her adapt. Then the unthinkable happens. Another crime. Another innocent. Jackie Flowers takes on her most enigmatic client yet. Rachel will not speak of the either crime; will not assist in her own defense. Jackie must investigate the old crime to help build Rachel¿s defense. The story will sweep you away ¿ the action is tight and keeps the adrenaline pumping. This is Kane¿s best work yet ¿ I look for much more from this writer.
Jackie Flowers, a successful female lawyer with dyslexia, recalls when she was a child in school and everyone was looking at her to spell a word correctly so their team could win the box of chocolate covered cherries. The teacher tells her it's an easy word and that doesn't help when Jackie starts to spell the word 'seed' with a 'c' instead of an 's' and the class erupts in laughter. I appreciate Kane's ability to be able to relate to someone with a learning disability and yet bring out their strengths more than their weaknesses.
If it's a no-brainer you're looking for, don't read Stephanie Kane. But if you relish a complex, psychologically sound tale with fascinating characters and great descriptions and dialogue, Kane is the writer you've been looking for. Seeds of Doubt is her best yet...and I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole Jackie Flowers series.
Thirty years ago in Vivian, Colorado, four years old Freddie Gant disappeared; his body was ultimately found by a grain elevator. The police deduce that someone shoved him off the top of it. Attention focuses on twelve years old Rachel Boyd, who eventually was arrested and found guilty by a jury. She recently was paroled and lives with her brother Chris, a wealthy banker.--- When the six years old son of Chris¿ gardener vanishes, everyone looks towards Rachel. When his corpse is found near Denver, attention again focuses on Rachel. Besides her history, she was seen with Benjamin the day he disappeared. Chris hires dyslexic lawyer Jackie Flowers to defend his sister. Jackie goes the extra mile when she agrees to allow Rachel to stay in her home as part of the bail stipulation. Jackie, who has spent her life hiding her learning disability from even loved ones, struggles with the defense because Rachel refuses to cooperate by defending herself. Jackie knows the prosecution has circumstantial evidence, but the prosecution¿s strength lies with the fact that the same MO used in both child murders.--- Stephanie Kane is part of the Supreme Court of legal thriller writers who readers know always provides dramatic courtroom scenes that bring electrifying realism to her tales. Her current novel, SEEDS OF DOUBT, is complex with multilayers as readers wonder if Rachel is guilty or, if not, what is she hiding and why rather than help make a viable defense. With powerful action and strong characters, the verdict beyond a shadow of a doubt is that Ms. Kane has provided another superb read.--- Harriet Klausner