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Skeleton Justice

Skeleton Justice

4.8 5
by Michael Baden

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The star crime-solving pair of Dr. Jake Rosen, world-famous pathologist, and top litigator Manny Manfreda, return in a gripping new thriller.
New York City is on high alert for a serial killer—a strange kind of thief who stalks his victims for the purpose of extracting a vial of blood, earning him the tabloid nickname “the


The star crime-solving pair of Dr. Jake Rosen, world-famous pathologist, and top litigator Manny Manfreda, return in a gripping new thriller.
New York City is on high alert for a serial killer—a strange kind of thief who stalks his victims for the purpose of extracting a vial of blood, earning him the tabloid nickname “the Vampire.” As the attacks escalate to torture and then to murder, Jake and Manny begin to suspect there is a connection between the killer’s seemingly random victims. But how do they link it to a case that Manny’s been working for a kid whose high school prank-gone-wrong has earned him the moniker the Preppy Terrorist?  They soon discover that their case is a tragic tale of corruption interlaced with cover-ups, conspiracies, death squads, and dictators who committed crimes that to this day go unpunished.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The middling second forensic thriller from eminent pathologist Baden and his attorney wife (after Remains Silent) finds their fictional alter egos, Jake Rosen, New York City's deputy chief medical examiner, and his girlfriend, lawyer Philomena "Manny" Manfreda, both pursuing important cases. Jake is helping the police look into the attacks of "the Vampire," who has rendered five victims, including an opera singer, unconscious before draining some blood from their arms. Later, the Vampire ups the ante to murder. Meanwhile, Manny is defending a young man charged with setting a bomb in a mailbox that almost killed a federal judge. Few will be surprised when these separate plot lines intersect. Weak characterizations, a predictable damsel-in-distress twist and a shot in the dark, rather than Jake's scientific skill, that saves the day won't satisfy fans of Kathy Reichs and other authors of first-rate forensic thrillers. Author tour. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A bizarre series of attacks that terrify New York may be linked to the brutal history of a foreign regime. Dr. Jake Rosen spots details the police miss. When he's called in to examine the latest victim of the Vampire, a strange attacker who uses ether to subdue his apparently random victims and then withdraws a vial of their blood, he sees a clinician's touch in the odd crime. His girlfriend, chic and beautiful lawyer Philomena Manfreda (Manny), is intrigued too, but riled when Jake tries to warn her against defending one of the so-called "Preppy Terrorists," two private-school students mixed up in the bombing of a mailbox that injures a federal judge. Despite her fascination with fashion, Manny's a bulldog on a case, and she sees her client being railroaded while his buddy, the child of an ambassador, gets a free pass. When Manny hires Jake's brother to investigate for her, and a contact ends up dead, things grow complicated. Meanwhile, the Vampire has progressed to murder, and the only lead is a Spanish-language cookbook hidden in the apartment of one of his victims. Naturally, the two cases turn out to be linked, and before long Manny finds herself in the Vampire's clutches, privy to secrets from a very dark past. The married authors use their backgrounds-he's a forensic pathologist, she's a trial attorney-to great advantage in their second collaboration (Remains Silent, 2005). Scenes with both the living and the dead are always believable, and the protagonists' love for their professions shines through. But it's the chemistry between appealing Jake and Manny that really drives the book, as well as Manny's amusing, and useful, affection for her toy poodle, Mycroft. A well-plottedthriller supported by real-world experience and the main characters' likability. First printing of 60,000. Author tour to Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
From the Publisher
“The first couple of forensics has done it again. Skeleton Justice is a ripping good read from start to finish.” —Kathy Reichs

“Your hair will be raised and you’ll be up all night with [this] ingenious sequel.” —Charles Brandt
“A fascinating tome that is perfect for filling several cold, winter evenings. Pull up a cozy chair and a warm fire, and enjoy.” —Ann Rule

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Random House
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3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter OneThe harsh buzz of the doorbell shocked the knife out of Annabelle Fiore’s hand.She jumped back to avoid being nicked by the blade as it clattered to the floor. Just what I need right now . . . chop off my own toe.As Annabelle put the knife safely on the counter, the microwave clock rolled to 7:00. The Linggs were unfashionably punctual. She had been counting on their tardiness to give her time to finish making the salad.But Rosemarie and David weren’t expecting to be entertained. Her friends were here to distract her from pre- opening-night jitters, relax her—they’d be happy to sit in the kitchen while she cooked. Annabelle crossed the foyer and opened the door of her Greenwich Village brownstone. The final aria from Tosca, piped through her high- end sound system, tumbled into the raindarkened street.“Welco—”A person dressed in black—not Rosemarie, not David—pushed Annabelle backward. A hand, gloved despite the balmy night, grasped her forearm. A steel- toed boot kicked the door closed.Annabelle opened her mouth. The quick intake of breath needed to scream accelerated her downfall. A cloying, harsh scent burned her nose and mouth as a thick square of damp cloth pressed into her face. The bold tones of the Roger Selden abstract paintings on the foyer wall faded into the distance. Annabelle’s knees buckled, and the gloved hand released its grip.Falling, she glimpsed a flash of metal.Her attacker’s fist opened, revealing a small glass vial. Annabelle’s last coherent thought formed. Why me, dear God, why me? skeleton justiceChapter TwoGet back where you belong.Dr. Jake Rosen could hear his boss saying it as he looked down at Annabelle Fiore. The opera singer’s olive skin had blanched to white; her arms lay stiffly at her sides. Jake reached out to touch her wrist. Her eyelids fluttered.The living are not your concern.That’s what Pederson would say if he knew his leading forensic pathologist was at St. Vincent’s Hospital conducting a physical exam of a living victim. As deputy chief medical examiner of the City of New York, Jake spent most of his working hours at crime scenes or in the autopsy suite of the morgue. The chief ME, Charles Pederson, frowned on unauthorized field trips. Gently, Jake turned Fiore’s right arm to examine the inner side. There, in the crook of her elbow, was a tiny puncture where a needle had been inserted to draw blood. He studied it closely. No multiple attempts, not even much bruising around the site.The emergency room physicians and residents who had treated Fiore the night before wouldn’t have noticed this. They had saved Fiore the night before wouldn’t have noticed this. They had saved the opera singer's lofe by evaluating her injuries from a medical standpoint. To them, the lack of trauma at the blood-extraction site was good news: no treatment required, so they could focus all their attention on her compromised central nervous system. To Jake, that tiny, perfect puncture was significant. Whoever had attacked Fiore knew how to extract blood from a vein. This was not the work of an amateur. Not a random act of violence.His gaze traveled down the length of her arm. There, near the wrist, were three distinct bruises. Her assailant had gripped her arm tightly and held her until she stopped struggling. Just as with the first four victims.Jake hadn’t examined them, but he’d been briefed by Vito Pasquarelli, lead detective on the case. The first attack had occurred over a month ago. A young mother on the Upper WestSide had responded to a knock on her door in the middle of the day. The next thing she remembered was waking up groggy from ether-induced unconsciousness. She, and the police, had assumed the attacker had come to rob her. Except nothing was missing from her home.It wasn’t until hours later that she noticed the tiny needle mark in the crook of her arm. The police shrugged it off. She hadn’t been harmed. It was weird, but weird was status quo in New York. File a report and move on.Then it happened again. A teacher in the Bronx, an investment banker in Battery Park City, a foreign tourist attending a pharmaceutical conference in midtown. None of them seriously hurt, all of them thoroughly freaked-out. It didn’t help that somewhere along the line the tabloids started calling the stalker “the Vampire.”Although Jake didn’t subscribe to the media melodrama, skeleton justice he did understand the public’s fear. New Yorkers, blasé aboutdrive-by shootings and shoves onto subway tracks, were terrified by a guy with a needle. He’d seen it often enough in his medical training—hulking football players who stoically endured compound fractures, then passed out when the nurse arrived to give them a tetanus shot; gang members who survived knife fights, only to whimper when it was time to be sewn up. Needles were scary.And now the Vampire had nearly killed someone, a famous someone, not with his needle, but with an overdose of ether. Jake pulled a stethoscope from his pocket. He’d had to search to find one; it wasn’t an instrument he had much use for in the normal course of his day. Fiore stirred slightly as he listened to her heart. The beat was steady, but the rate was slow, consistent with having been drugged into unconsciousness. This is where the Vampire analogy fell apart. Vampires, the kind who lived in Transylvania and flapped around in black capes, didn’t anesthetize their victims. And apparently, New York’s vampire wasn’t too adept at it.Of course, even a trained anesthesiologist could easily make a mistake with ether. That’s why it wasn’t used much anymore. And if you were administering the drug via a soaked rag, getting the dosage right became even more problematic. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that an overdose hadn’t happened until Fiore, the fifth victim.Annabelle Fiore’s central nervous system had been seriously depressed. She would have died had her friends not arrived shortly after the attack. The effects still hadn’t worn off. Jake would have liked to ask her some questions, but although she stirred slightly as he examined her, she was only semi-conscious. An interview would have to wait.Jake turned away from the hospital bed just as a short, rumpled man entered the room.“Hey, you made it!” Detective Vito Pasquarelli shook Jake’s hand enthusiastically. “Thanks for coming. Have you looked at her?”“Yes. It’s hard to draw much of a conclusion, given that I didn’t get to examine the others. But if their blood- draw sites were as perfect as Ms. Fiore’s, I’d say you’re dealing with someone with some medical training.”Pasquarelli nodded. “What about the ether?”“Hard to know if the overdose was accidental or intentional.He seems to have given her quite a bit more than the others.” Jake ran his hand through his hair, moving his style further along the scale from casually wild to unkempt. “But here’s a thought that occurred to me. I know you said none of the victims is acquainted with any of the others. But you might want to ask them if they have any ties to a person who works around laboratory animals.”“You mean like rats and mice? Why?”“When researchers conduct experiments on animals and then have to autopsy them, they often kill them with an overdose of ether. That’s the most common use for the drug these days.” Vito perked up as they walked toward the elevator. “And a medical researcher would know how to draw blood, right?”Jake nodded. “And how to test it. Which is what I’d like to do.”“Our CSI guys already did that. No trace of drugs in any of them. Nothing hinky.”Jake grinned. “Funkiness is in the eye of the beholder. Send the samples over to me. I’d like to run my own tests.”“You got it.” The packed elevator arrived and the men descended in silence.“What do you think he does with it?” Vito asked as the impatient crowd pushed past them into the lobby.“I think he tests it, just like I’m going to do with it,” Jake said.The detective looked relieved.Jake raised his hand in a mock toast. “Unless he drinks it.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Michael Baden, M.D., is one of America’s leading forensic experts. He is the host of Autopsy, the HBO hit documentary series. He has overseen cases ranging from the death of John Belushi to the examination of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and has served as an expert witness in countless criminal cases, including the trials of Claus von Bulow and O. J. Simpson. He has been a consulting forensic pathologist to the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the FBI, and the Russian government, as well as a visiting professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Albany Medical College.

Linda Kenney Baden is a trial attorney who has won dozens of civil rights lawsuits, participated in many high-profile criminal cases, and has appeared as a guest legal commentator on numerous television programs.

The Badens are married and live in New York City with their dog, Mycroft.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Skeleton Justice 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
dmglaeser More than 1 year ago
Michael Baden & Linda Kenney Baden are best mystery writing teams in Americas history. You read the first chapter and you can't put the book down until you finish.
harstan More than 1 year ago
New York City deputy chief medical examiner Dr. Jake Rosen and his girlfriend lawyer Philomena "Manny" Manfreda are very busy working difficult complex cases. Jake and the police investigate the assaults of "the Vampire," who has knocked out five people with ether before siphoning blood from the unconscious victims. Manny is defending one of the two "Preppy Terrorists"; private-school students charged with setting a bomb in a mailbox that severely injured a federal judge. Jake realizes the Vampire knows what he is doing medically though with a European flavor until one of the attacked dies. Manny rejects Jake's advice to not handle the Preppy Terrorist case, as she feels her client is unfairly being held responsible because his partner is an ambassador's son so immunity has surfaced. Neither expected their seemingly exclusive cases to merge over an allegedly dead politician. The fun in the second forensic-legal thriller (see REMAINS SILENT) is the relationship between the lead couple who bring love, obstinacy and professionalism into the mix. The story line is fast-paced as the two subplots start off their separate ways, but consolidate into an over the top conspiracy cover-up thriller. Fans will enjoy the tale though ironically readers will anticipate the merging of the plots while considering the underlying conclusion that vicious murdering rulers rarely are punished. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
khalv92 More than 1 year ago
This was one of those books you don't want to put down until you've read the last page. Very unpredictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To say opposites attract is an understatement in this second book by Baden and Kenney. Manny and Jake work together wonderfully to create a tale with fast paced, witty conversation (to say the least), and a pleasantly entertaining storyline. Who else could couple together a killer and a blood sucker! I recommend this book for light, easy summer on the beach reading!