True Crime (2 Cassettes)

Overview

Six years ago, Frank Beachum was convicted of the murder of a shop clerk and sentenced to die by lethal injection. Now his appeals have run out, and his number has come up. There is nothing left for him to do but say good-bye to the wife and child he loves, get his mind right with the God in whom he believes - and give one last statement to the public: an interview with a reporter for the St. Louis News. Steve Everett is the reporter. Despised by his colleagues and unfaithful to his wife, he's looking for a big ...
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1996 Audio Cassette Very good 2 tape audio cassette book. Tapes play perfectly. Minor shelf wear to the case.

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Overview

Six years ago, Frank Beachum was convicted of the murder of a shop clerk and sentenced to die by lethal injection. Now his appeals have run out, and his number has come up. There is nothing left for him to do but say good-bye to the wife and child he loves, get his mind right with the God in whom he believes - and give one last statement to the public: an interview with a reporter for the St. Louis News. Steve Everett is the reporter. Despised by his colleagues and unfaithful to his wife, he's looking for a big story to get his life and career back on track. The last thing he needs is to waste his time on a human-interest feature about a convicted killer's last testament. But Everett is good at what he does, and when the Beachum interview is dropped in his lap, he begins to uncover another story - a more frightening story - just below the surface. As Frank Beachum's time dwindles to nothing, Everett begins to believe that the man may be a wholly guiltless victim of rough justice, political blindness and human error. He believes the state may be about to murder an innocent. There are eighteen hours until midnight. In those hours Frank Beachum is going to be pushed to the very limits of his faith, looking over the edge into a nightmare. And Steve Everett, in spite of himself, is going to risk everything, even his own life, in a breathless attempt to save him.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though this is only Klavan's fourth novel under his own name (he received two Edgar Awards for pseudonymous mysteries), his stylistic range and thoroughly compelling plots have earned him a loyal readership-an audience that should be broadened with this gripping tale. Here Klavan puts an intensely human, often intriguingly quirky face on a familiar plot device: the race to save a convicted killer on death row. When a St. Louis News staffer crashes her car hours before her scheduled interview with Frank Beachum (the interview itself to take place just eight hours before Beachum's execution), reporter Steve Everett is handed the assignment. Everett, 35 (and possessing ``wicked, sharply angled brows and a wicked, sharply angled smile''), is already under pressure: though married, he has been shtupping the boss's wife, which creates no little tension at work and at home. Furthermore, he comes to believe that Beachum is innocent, and both personal ethics and career opportunism propel him to pursue his theory. To this end, Klavan gives us the photo finish to end all photo finishes: readers may be gasping for breath by the time Beachum's fate is decided. Even before that, however, the author's vivid characterizations and dramatic prose-packed with tension, black humor and wry observations on the human condition-command attention. Alternating chapters (their style changing as deftly as their settings) present a harrowing portrait of a killer's final hours along with perceptively observed personal and professional crises of an oddly likable schlemiel. 250,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights to 20th Century-Fox; simultaneous Random House audio. (June)
Library Journal
Six years ago Frank Beachum, at his wife's request, was sent to buy steak sauce and ended up being accused of shooting a pregnant convenience store clerk. Although he swears his innocence, the only person to believe him is his wife. On the day he is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection, he agrees to an interview from a reporter for a local newspaper. As jaded reporter Steve Everett gathers background material for the interview, he discovers some alarming inconsistencies in the evidence used to convict Beachum. This novel is so well written that it is difficult to read. All the horror and panic of an impending execution are convincingly portrayed; particularly terrifying and nauseating are the descriptions of the minute details the prison staff attends to in preparation for the execution. The tension is at times unbearable. Highly recommended, but not for the faint of heart. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/95.]-Dawn L. Anderson, North Richland Hills P.L., Tex.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679455967
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/13/1996
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged, 2 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 4.11 (w) x 6.95 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Frank Beachum awoke from a dream of Independence Day. His last dream before the hour, a cruel dream, really, in a sleep that had been strangely sound, considering. He had been in his backyard again, before his trip to the grocery, before the picnic, before the police had arrived to take him away. The heat of the summer's morning had come back to him. He had heard the sound of the lawn mower again. He had felt the mower's handle pressed against his palms and even smelled the mown grass. He had heard her voice too, Bonnie's voice, as she called to him from the screen door. He had seen her face, her face the way it had been, pert and compact under short, tawny hair, pale--not pretty, she was never pretty--but given luster by her large, tender and encouraging blue eyes. He saw her holding the bottle up, the bottle of A-1 Sauce. She had been waggling it back and forth to show that it was empty. He had stood in his backyard under the hot sun, and his little girl, Gail, had been a baby again. Sitting in her sandbox again, the plastic one shaped like a turtle. Whacking the sand with her shovel and laughing to herself, to the world in general.

It had all been to Frank as if he were really there. It hadn't seemed like a dream at all.

For several moments after he awoke, he lay as he was, on his side, his eyes closed, facing the wall. His mind gripped at the dream, held on to it with terrible longing. But the dream dissolved mercilessly and, bit by bit, the Deathwatch cell came back to him. He became aware of the cot beneath his shoulder, the white cinderblock wall just in front of his face. He turned over--half-hoping. . . . But there were the bars ofthe cage door. There was the guard on theother side, sitting at his long desk, typing up the chronological: 6:21--prisonerawakes. The clock hung high on the wall above the guard's bowed head. Seventeen hours and forty minutes were left before they strapped Frank down on the gurney, before they wheeled him into the execution chamber for the injection.

Frank lay back on the cot and blinked up at the ceiling. The wise Chinaman says that when a man seems to dream of being a butterfly, he may truly be a butterfly dreaming he's a man. But the wise Chinaman is wrong. Frank knew the difference, all right; he always knew. This leaden weight that encased him like his skin, this inner tonnage of sadness and terror: this was the real stuff; he knew it was the living stuff. He closed his eyes and for another aching second or two, he could still smell the mown grass. But not like he could feel the movement of the clock's hands, not like his nerve-ends picked up the passing of time.

He clenched his fists at his sides. If only Bonnie wouldn't come, he thought. It would be all right, if Bonnie wouldn't come to say good-bye. And Gail. She was no baby anymore; she was seven now. She drew him pictures of trees and houses with her Crayolas. "Hey," he'd say, "that's really good, sweetheart."

That was going to be the worst of it, he thought. Sitting with her, with them, the time passing. That, he was afraid, would be more than he could bear.

Slowly, he sat up on the edge of his cot. He put his hands over his face as if to rub his eyes, and then kept them there a longmoment. That damned dream had made him heart sore with longing for the old days. He had to steady himself or the longing would weaken him. That was his greatest fear. That he would go weak now. If Bonnie saw him break at the end--or, God help him, if Gail did. . . . It would be with them their whole lives. It would be their memory of him forever.

He sat up and drew breath. He was a six-foot man, slim and muscular in his loose green prison pants and his baseball shirt stenciled CP-133. He had shaggy brown hair that fell on his brow in a jagged shock. His face was lean and furrowed and he had close-set eyes that were brown, deep and sad. He dragged his thumb across his lips, wiping them dry.

He felt the guard's gaze on him and glanced over. The guard had raised his eyes from the typewriter and was looking Frank's way. Reedy was the guard's name. A wiry boy with a severe white face. Frank remembered hearing that he had worked at the local drugstore before coming to Osage. He seemed nervous and embarrassed today.

"Morning, Frank," he said.

Frank nodded at him.

"Can I get you anything? Some breakfast?"

Frank's stomach felt bad, but he was hungry all the same. He cleared his throat to keep from sounding hoarse. "If you got a roll and some coffee, I'll take that," he said. His voice trembled just a little at the end.

The guard paused to type the request into his chronological report. Then he stood up and talked to the other guard stationed outside the cell door. The other guard poked his head in through the door. He looked nervous, too, and pale. He seemed to receive Frank'sbreakfast order with great respect and gravity. There was an air of ceremony to the whole procedure. It made Frank nauseous: one step following the next in an inevitable ritual. As the minutes followed each other.

"We'll have that for you right away," Reedy told him solemnly. He returned to his desk and sat down. He typed the transaction into his report: 6:24--Breakfast order relayed to CO Drummer.

Seated on the edge of his cot, Frank looked down at his feet now. He tried to put poor nervous Reedy out of his mind. He tried to focus his thoughts, block out everything, until he felt as if he were alone. He put his hands between his knees and clasped them. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He began to pray: his morning prayer.

It steadied him. He was always aware, every moment, that the eye of God was on him, but when he prayed, he could feel the eye, there, above him, very clearly. The eye was motionless, unblinking and dark, like those cameras in the ceilings of elevators that watch you just when you feel most secluded and alone. When he prayed, Frank remembered that he was not alone and he felt that eye watching him. Behind that eye, he told himself, there was a whole other world, a whole other system of justice, better than the state of Missouri's. To that system, and to its judge, he appealed as he prayed.

He prayed for strength. It wasn't for himself he was asking, he said, it was for his wife, for Bonnie, and for their little girl. He asked Jesus to take them into consideration now, on this final day. He prayed that he'd be given the strength to tell them good-bye.

After a while, he did feel stronger. The dream was half forgotten. He raised his gaze to the clock on the wall. And he felt the eye of God was ever on him.

Excerpted from True Crime by Andrew Klavan. Copyright (c) 1995 by Amalgamated Metaphor, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Crown Books, a member of the Crown Publishing Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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