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Two attorneys with everything to lose fight for justice in THE PROSECUTOR by USA TODAY bestselling author Adrienne Giordano
Chicago assistant state's attorney Zac Hennings just got handed a political hot potato: keeping the convicted murderer in a high-profile case behind bars. He's up against his most formidable—and alluring—adversary. First-year law student Emma Sinclair is passionately fighting to free her brother. But she needs the ...
Two attorneys with everything to lose fight for justice in THE PROSECUTOR by USA TODAY bestselling author Adrienne Giordano
Chicago assistant state's attorney Zac Hennings just got handed a political hot potato: keeping the convicted murderer in a high-profile case behind bars. He's up against his most formidable—and alluring—adversary. First-year law student Emma Sinclair is passionately fighting to free her brother. But she needs the take-no-prisoners prosecutor's help.
Caught between attraction and letting a killer go free, Zac walks a tightrope. Until evidence surfaces that the real culprit's still out there. With his career and Emma's life on the line, Zac races to right a terrible wrong. Refusing to back down, he'll bring a cunning lawbreaker to justice—or die trying.
Assistant State's Attorney Zac Hennings leaned back in his chair the second before a newspaper smacked against his desk.
"If there's any blowback on this," Ray Gardner said, "it's yours."
Zac glanced at the newspaper. On page one, below the fold, was a photo of a young woman-brunette-gazing out a window framed by a set of gold drapes. Someone's living room. The headline read Fighting for Justice. He skimmed the first few paragraphs. The Chelsea Moore murder.
A burst of adrenaline exploded in Zac's brain. Big case.
Turning from the newspaper, he looked back to his boss. Ray's generic gray suit fit better than most he wore but still hung loose on his lean frame. Once in a while, to keep his staff sharp, Ray would show up in a blue or black suit. Regardless, the guy needed a good tailor, but Zac wasn't going to be the one to suggest it. Not when Ray led the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, the largest of the six divisions of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Ray gestured to the newspaper. "The Sinclairs got traction with this. Steve Bennett-"
"The detective? The one who died last week?"
"That's him. Brain cancer. He apparently refused to face his maker without clearing his conscience. He sent Emma Sinclair a video-starring himself- telling her the witness who ID'ed her brother wasn't sure he got the right guy. According to Steve, detectives pressured the witness into saying he was positive."
Zac took his time with that one, let it sink in. "We locked up Brian Sinclair for murder and now we've got deathbed revelations?"
"Something like that. The State's Attorney called me at six this morning after seeing her newspaper. She wants the office bulldog on this. That's you, by the way. You'll have all the case files this afternoon."
More files. Every open space in Zac's office had been jammed with stacks of folders containing all the lurid details of crimes ranging from robberies to murders. Where he'd put more files he had no idea, but as one of nine hundred assistant prosecutors in Chicago, a city plagued with over five hundred murders last year, he had bigger problems than storage space.
Not for the first time, his responsibilities settled at the base of his neck. He breathed in, gave that bit of tension its due diligence and put it out of his mind. Unlike some of the attorneys around him, he lived for moments like this. Moments when that hot rush of scoring an important case made him "the man," marching into court, going to battle and kicking some tail.
The cases were often brutal, not to mention emotionally paralyzing, but his goal would always be telling the victim's loved ones they got a guilty verdict. No exceptions. In this case, they'd already convicted someone. Zac had to make it stick.
Adding to the drama was Chelsea's father, Dave, who was a veteran Chicago homicide detective. A good, honest cop who'd lost his child to a senseless act of violence.
In short, Zac wanted to win. Every time.
"We're already behind the curve with this article," Ray said.
"I'll get us caught up."
When Chelsea Moore's murder occurred, Zac had been grinding his way through misdemeanors. After getting promoted to felonies, he'd worked like a dog to win his cases and it paid off. Big-time. Ray had just assigned him a politically and emotionally volatile case that he'd bleed for in order to keep Chelsea's killer behind bars.
No matter how hard Emma Sinclair came at them, Dave's daughter deserved justice. And Zac would see that she got it. He'd study the trial transcripts and learn the facts of the case.
"The P.D. will go to the wall for Dave Moore," Ray said.
"Yep. The guy breaks cases no one else can. He won't tolerate his daughter's murderer going free. His buddies won't, either."
Ray pointed. "Bingo."
If Emma Sinclair managed to get her brother's conviction overturned, the Chicago P.D. would not only be angry, they'd also make sure Helen Jergins, the new State's Attorney who'd promoted Zac, got run out of town. Hard.
Ray shifted toward the door then turned back. "Whatever you need, you let me know. We have to win this one."
"I got this," Zac said. "Count on it."
Emma stood in front of the huge whiteboard she'd rolled to her mother's basement wall and contemplated her revised list of target defense attorneys. Given the newspaper article, today would be the day to once again get cracking on Project Sinclair.
Eighteen months ago her twenty-two-year-old brother, a guy who had nothing but love for those around him, had been convicted of strangling a young woman outside a nightclub. Unable to withstand the injustice of the circumstantial case-no fingerprints or DNA-Emma started banging on the doors of defense attorneys all over the city, trying to win a reversal. No matter how many times she was told no, she would not be silenced. Not when her innocent brother was rotting in prison.
She flicked her finger against the whiteboard. The new video evidence would lure one of these lawyers in. It had to. The case suddenly had all the political melodrama- corruption, false witness testimony, withholding information-defense attorneys thrived on.
She spun back to the oblong folding table, shoved aside an open banker's box, grabbed the binder with her latest set of research and made a note to study up on Brady and Giglio material. Being a first-year law student, a field she'd never imagined for herself, she hadn't yet mastered the concepts, but they involved impeaching a witness and items prosecutors were required to share with the defense. Maybe in the next few days she'd have a defense attorney-preferably pro bono, considering that she was broke-to help her slice through the technical aspects of the case.
Above her head, the exposed water pipe clunked. Her mother flushing the toilet. Emma sighed. She should move all this stuff upstairs to Brian's old room, but her mother didn't need to see a daily reminder that her son was a convicted murderer. Bad enough the poor woman had to think about it, never mind see it every time she walked upstairs.
So Emma and her effort to free her brother would stay in the cold, dreary basement, surrounded by cobwebs that, no matter how many times she brushed them away, kept returning. When the time came for her to move out on her own again, she'd have a finished basement. No doubt about it. For now, she'd left her cute little apartment in Wrigleyville so her widowed mother wouldn't have to face her demons alone.
A rapid click-click-click of heels hitting the battered hardwood came from the first floor. Emma had spent countless hours listening to her mother's footsteps above. Whether early morning or the darkness of night when sleep eluded them, Emma recognized the sound of her mother's shoes. The ones she'd just heard didn't belong to her mom. Someone's here.
"Emma?" her mother called from the doorway.
"There's a Penny Hennings here to see you."
Emma froze. Penny Hennings. She perused her whiteboard, where she'd alphabetized the lawyers' names. Hennings. There it was. Not Penny, though. Gerald, from Hennings and Solomon.
Maybe Penny was a relative sent to check her out for Gerald Hennings, who might want to take the case. And if said relation fought downtown traffic on a weekday morning and hauled herself to the North Side, to Parkland, it had to be serious. Emma linked her fingers together and squeezed. Please, let it be.
"Be right up, Mom."
She glanced down at her sweats, torn T-shirt and pink fuzzy slippers. Great. She'd have to face some snazzy lady from a big-time law firm in this getup. She plucked a rubber band from the little bowl with the paper clips. Least she could do was tie back her tangled hair.
Forget it. She had to put her appearance out of her mind. For all she knew, Penny Hennings could be a cosmetics saleswoman.
But what were the chances of that? Particularly at 9:00 a.m. on the morning an article about Brian ran?
"Emma?" her mother called.
She straightened. If Penny Hennings was from Hennings and Solomon, Emma had to go into full sales mode and convince this woman that her firm should take Brian's case. After eighteen months of studying overturned convictions and hounding lawyers, it was time for their odds to change. And Hennings and Solomon could make that happen.
Emma ditched her slippers at the base of the stairs and marched up. She looked like hell, but she'd dazzle this would-be-lawyer-slash-cosmetics-saleswoman with her powers of persuasion.
The basement door stood open and Mom's voice carried from the living room. Emma closed her eyes. This could be it. After a long, streaming breath, she stepped out of the short hallway.
A minuscule woman-maybe late twenties-with shoulder-length blond hair sat on the sofa. The plaid, overstuffed chair tried to swallow her, but her red power suit refused to be smothered. No, that puppy screamed strength and defiance and promise. Could be a good sign.
Plus, to the woman's credit, she kept her gaze on Emma's face and not her attire. One cool cookie, this blonde.
Emma extended her hand to the now standing woman. "Hello. I'm Emma Sinclair."
"Good morning. I'm Penny Hennings. I'm an attorney from Hennings and Solomon. I'm sorry to barge in, but I saw the story on your brother this morning."
Emma glanced at her mother, took in her cloudy, drooping brown eyes and flat mouth. A heavy heart had stolen her mother's joy. Ten years ago, at the age of forty, the woman had been widowed and learned that hope could be a fickle thing. Emma, though, couldn't give in to that defeatist thinking. There was a reason she'd been left fatherless at sixteen and now, with her brother in prison, had assumed the role her father would want her to take. To watch over Mom and free Brian.
Some would say she didn't deserve all this loss. Why not? It turned out their family had crummy luck. Her father's sudden death from a brain aneurysm had left a void so deep she'd never really acknowledged it for fear that she'd be consumed by it and would cease experiencing the joy the world offered. Ignoring that vast hole inside her seemed easier.
Then Brian went to prison-more crummy luck-and the hole inside grew. The thing she held on to day after day, the thing that kept her focused and sane and standing, was the fight to free her brother.
Whatever it took, she'd find a way to put their family back together.
Make this happen. "Forgive me. I'm well, I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, but you're the first attorney to contact me in eighteen months and I'm really, really happy to see you."
Penny offered a wide smile and instantly Emma's pulse settled. "Please, have a seat. Would you like coffee?"
"No, thank you. I can't stay long. I spoke to my father- Gerald Hennings-on the way over. He indicated that you'd contacted him about this case some months back."
Emma sat on the love seat and rested her hand over her mother's. Maybe they'd finally get the break they deserved. "Yes. He was kind enough to review the case, but said there was nothing he could do."
"At the time, that was true, but I'm intrigued by this video you've obtained. If the video is accurate, we might be able to prove that your brother's constitutional rights were violated. Any information regarding witness testimony should have been turned over to the defense before trial."
"It's Giglio material, right?" Emma asked.
Penny cocked her head. "You've brushed up."
"Yes. I'm also a first-year law student at Northwestern. I left a job at a public relations firm so I'd be available during the day to work on my brother's case. With the hands-on experience, I figured I might as well go to law school. I waitress at night and work my classes in around everything else."
"Wow. You're good."
Emma shrugged. "Not really. My brother is innocent and he's slated to spend the next twenty-five years in prison. I can't let that happen."
Penny's expression remained neutral, her lips free of any tightening or forced smiles. No pity. Good. They didn't need pity. They needed a shrewd legal rainmaker.
"That's why I'm here. I'd like to review the information you've collected and possibly take your case. Pro bono. I'm not going to lie: this will be tough. The victim's father is a Chicago P.D. detective. The State's Attorney will go to war with us to keep your brother in prison, but I won't back down. If Brian's rights were violated, I'll prove it. Besides that, I'm hungry for a big case and I think yours might just be the one."
Suddenly, Penny Hennings seemed young. Idealistic maybe. Not the battle-hardened defense attorney her father was. Did it matter? Her wanting to step out from under her father's shadow and make a name for herself was a great motivator.
She's a rainmaker, smart and determined.
Emma gestured down the hall to the basement door. "Would you like to see what I have on the case?"
Penny smiled. "You bet I would."
Zac pushed his rolling cart stuffed with case files from the courtroom to his fifth-floor office. Along the way he passed other prosecutors dragging their own heavy loads and their stone faces or smirking, sly grins told the tales of their wins and losses.
Zac's day had consisted of jury selection for a murder trial he was scheduled to prosecute. The pool of candidates wasn't ideal, but his evidence was strong and he'd parlay that into a win.
He nudged the cart through his doorway and turned back to the bull pen for Four O'clock Fun. On most days, prosecutors coming from court gathered to compare notes, discuss the personalities of judges and opposing lawyers, anything that might be good information for one of the other ASAs. Some days, Four O'clock Fun turned into a stream of stories that would scandalize the average person, but that prosecutors found humorous. For Zac, gallows humor was a form of self-protection. A way to keep his sanity in the face of the day-to-day evil he grappled with.
"Zac," Stew Henry yelled, "Pierson got his butt kicked by Judge Alred today."
Alred had to be the easiest-going guy on the bench. It took a lot to aggravate him. Two steps toward the bull pen, Zac's cell phone rang. He checked the screen. Alex Belson, the public defender on the Sinclair case, returning his call.
"Have to take this," Zac yelled to the bull pen before heading back to his office. "Alex, hey, thanks for getting back to me."
"No prob. Got to say, screwy timing since your sister called me today, too."
What's that about?
"Yeah. She's taking the Sinclair case. Wants copies of all my notes."
Zac dropped into his chair to absorb this info. "You didn't know?" Alex asked.
Penny had left a voice mail earlier in the day, but he'd been in court and hadn't had a chance to get back to her. "I haven't talked to her today."
Another call beeped in and Zac checked the screen. Penny. "Alex, let me call you back." He flashed over to his sister. "Pen?"
The sound of a horn blasted. Outdoors.
"Hi," she said. "Are you in your office?"
"I'm walking into the lobby. Be there in two minutes."
She was here. "What's this about your taking the Sinclair case?"
"Word travels fast. How'd you know?"
"The PD told me. Pen, I caught this case."
Posted March 9, 2014
While the Private Protectors will always be my first love, Adrienne Giordano presents her usual wonderful style in The Prosecutor! The Prosecutor is another winner from an awesome author.
Emma Sinclair has been battling for a year and a half to prove that her imprisoned brother not only is innocent of the murder but that he did not receive a fair investigation and trial. When new evidence turns up that the key witness may have been "led" a bright, young, and slightly crazy attorney takes up the battle. The Assistant State's Attorney assigned to look over the case and make it go away is at first excited to get his hands on the case but before long he is finding it difficult to do to make the case go a way or to get the defendant's sister out of his mind.
Loved Emma and am looking forward to Penny's book. I like her kind of crazy!
Posted March 6, 2014
This book has it all, mystery, suspense and romance. Assistant DA Zach and law student Emma try to prove the innocence of Emma's brother. Who was convicted of a murder. The romance is sizzling between Zach and Emma, which they tried to pretend that it was not there between them. This is a fast paced read with plenty of action and romance.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2014
This is the second book by Adrienne Giordano that I have read in a week and it is another home run! I really enjoy the style of writing Giordano uses. The main characters are Emma, Penny, and Penny's brother Zachary. Penny is the defense attorney for Emma's brother, Brian. Zachary is the prosecutor on the case and doesn't have the typical mindset of a prosecutor. It was great to see the brother/sister rivalry when they are working a case. This book is full of twists and turns that constantly keeps you guessing. The suspense was killing me so I actually read the book in a few hours because I couldn't go to bed without knowing what happened with the case. Thanks Adrienne for another great book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2014
I gave The Prosecutor a five star rating because it had me turning the pages to try to discover who the bad guy really was. The characters are really well written. Zac the prosecuting attorney, he is strong and determined but honest and a truly good guy he wants justice nothing more nothing less. His sister Penny is a tiny woman with a spine of iron and a brain that jumps 3 steps ahead of others. Emma the sister of a Brian who is in prison for a murder that Emma says he did not commit. Zac is determined to keep a guilty man behind bars, Penny is determined to help Emma prove her brother is innocent. Someone does not want them to dig too deep into the facts. Zac is warned at work to "make the case go away." Emma is paid a visit by a detective who warns her that she needs to back off or else. Zac has another problem he is attracted to Emma. Her strength, courage and determination are hard things for him to resist. Emma of course finds herself attracted to Zac. He is honest, strong and a truly good guy, but he is also the enemy. Sparks will fly and lives will be never be the same. To free Brian Emma must find the true killer without becoming the next victim. If you love a good mystery full of twists and turns and a bit of romance this one is a must read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2014
Full of suspense and fast paced action, this book was fantastic! The characters and the plot were very realistic. Don't miss the The Prosecutor!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2014
What a wonderful book. Really the best suspense/romance book I have read in quite a while! Emma is determined to get her brother released from a wrongful conviction of murder. Zac is the newly assigned to the case prosecutor. I loved watching the sparks fly between these two. And Zac's sister, Penny, is hilarious! Buy this book. You can't go wrong.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Posted March 2, 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed Zach and Emma's story. I found the story line to be well thought out and written with just the right amount of heat and spice. None of the plot twists felt contrived or over the top and although I've been a mystery reader for many years, I didn't see the villain until the last couple of chapters. Of course, now I want to read both Penny and Brian's stories. The family interactions were funny and heart breaking in turn.
I received an arc of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and am happy to say that I strongly recommend this book.
Posted March 2, 2014
A thoroughly enjoyable read! It was fast-paced and hard to put down, with a nice blend of suspense and romance. I didn't have a clue whodunnit until it was revealed, which was a nice change....
I loved the characters--not just Emma and Zac, but Zac's sister/Emma's lawyer Penny too--they were so much fun to read. The sibling dynamics were especially well-written between both sets of siblings, though Emma and Brian's were understandably a bit more bittersweet throughout the book. The chemistry between Emma and Zac? Fantastic!
There was one thing the characters did that bothered me--there could have been major and far-reaching consequences. Zac did own up to it, though, which made me feel a bit better, but still...it was a huge risk. I felt it could have been fun, to draw it out more--though the timeline of the book wouldn't have allowed such a scene later on, so I guess I can forgive them. This time. ;)
The ending felt a bit rushed, but not enough to affect my enjoyment of the book as a whole. I turned off the ereader with a smile on my face. How about a sequel? Penny needs her own story, I think ;)
Rating: B+ / 4 stars
I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Posted March 1, 2014
Five Star Prosecution
A young man wrongly convicted if it was your brother would you fight to see the truth revealed and justice prevail.
I hope that I would but it makes Emma an instantly likeable character fighting for what is right. She is such an
independent and strong person not necessarily through choice but through circumstances, which makes her
even more relatable, and as she is fighting for her brothers innocence somehow we believe it too.
Most of the action is seen through the eyes of Zac a States Attorney who has been given the hot potato of
the case, the opposing lawyer is his own sister which makes it even more interesting. Zac is a person with
strong ideals who truly believes he is doing right but when proven wrong he admits it and fights for justice.
Who wouldn't fall for him, you just have to love those blue eyes.
Penny is a real character and I could imagine her every time she was described so vibrantly and vividly.
This kept me guessing with twists and turns I didn't see coming, but in the end they got their HEA.
A mystery romance that you won't be able to put down.
I received a free copy for an honest review
Posted March 1, 2014
Assistant State Attorney Zac Hennings is given a case to re-try.... one that reeks of a cover-up. His sister Penny gets hired as the defense attorney, and sibling rivalry runs rampant. Then Zac meets Emma.... the sister of the man charged with the crime. Zac will pull out all the stops to make sure this gets a fair trial, and hopefully win him the woman of his dreams in the process.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2014
Murder, wrongful conviction, city corruption, sibling rivalry, strong family bonds and a budding romance captivate you as this story unfolds. Andrienne Giordano has written a fast paced, action packed story full of suspense with interest well defined characters. I found this book hard to put down as the storyline is packed with intriguing twists and turns from beginning to end. Loved this book and its author and look forward to more from her in the future.
Received copy for review
Posted March 2, 2014
No text was provided for this review.