What does a lawyer do when she discovers her client may be a liar, or worse?
Charles Kendrick, the senior United States senator from Massachusetts, has been named a person of interest in connection with the disappearance of his twenty-five-year-old spokesperson, Michelle Forrester. Represented by Attorney Marty Nickerson, Kendrick incriminates himself as Nickerson soon finds that parts of his story don’t check out.
Meanwhile, Marty and her law partner-turned-lover, Harry Madigan, work together to Derrick Holliston, an ex-con accused of murdering a local priest on Christmas Eve. Derrick admits to the killing, but claims it was done in self-defense...
One the day Derrick’s trial begins, Michelle Forrester’s body is found, leaving Marty and Harry with two mounting legal battles and two clients whose stories don’t make sense. Together they must confront the law in all its maddening complexity, battling for—or maybe against—their own cagey clients in order to see that justice is undoubtedly served.
“Excellent, fast-moving courtroom drama headed by a plucky, energetic heroine.” –Publishers Weekly
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False TestimonyA Crime Novel
By Rose Connors
ScribnerCopyright © 2005 Rose Connors
All right reserved.
A person of interest. That's what local authorities dubbed Charles Kendrick, the senior United States Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He wasn't a target of the investigation, they told him. He was merely an individual believed to have information relevant to the search.
And he did. Twenty-five-year-old Michelle Forrester was a member of his D.C. staff. He hired her more than three years ago, just after she graduated from the University of Virginia with dual degrees in government science and drama. An ambitious and disarmingly attractive young woman with obvious political aspirations of her own, she quickly became Senator Kendrick's preferred spokesperson. For the past year -- while rumors ran rampant about his planned bid for the Democratic nomination -- Michelle Forrester alone fielded questions at his frequent public appearances. She enabled the Senator to say his piece at each event and then make a dignified -- perhaps even presidential -- exit.
This past Thursday, Michelle handled the members of the media after the Senator addressed a standing-room-only crowd at Cape Cod Community College in Hyannis. The evening news featured a poised and charming Michelle entertaining endless inquiries from local reporters, joking and laughing with them easily and often. She stayed until their voracious journalists' appetites were satisfied, until the last of their detailed and often repetitive questions was answered. She extended Senator Kendrick's sincere thanks to all of them, for their attendance and their attention, before she left the auditorium.
And then Michelle Forrester vanished.
She was due at her parents' home in Stamford, Connecticut, the next day to help with preparations for a cocktail party to be held that evening in honor of her father's sixtieth birthday. She didn't show up -- not for the preparations and not for the party. She was expected back at work in D.C. first thing this morning, her office calendar jammed with appointments from eight o'clock on. She didn't show there, either. And though her worried parents had been calling both Massachusetts and Connecticut authorities all weekend, it wasn't until her no-show at work that the search began in earnest.
Postpone it. That's what I advised when Senator Kendrick called my office at ten A.M. He'd stayed on the Cape after Thursday's speech, intending to work by phone and fax through the holidays from his vacation home in North Chatham. The Barnstable County District Attorney's Office called his D.C. number first thing this morning and his executive secretary phoned him right away with the message. It was from Geraldine Schilling -- the District Attorney herself -- wanting to set up a time when she might ask him a few questions. Today, if at all possible.
Senator Kendrick made it clear to me from the outset that he wasn't seeking formal representation. He simply wanted to know if one of the lawyers in our office would be available by telephone later in the morning in case he needed a word of advice during his interview. He didn't anticipate a problem, he assured me more than once. He was calling only out of an abundance of caution.
Twenty-four hours, I told him. Of course you'll cooperate with the investigation, and of course you'll do it promptly; time is paramount in these matters. But you shouldn't speak to the DA -- or to any other representative of the Commonwealth, for that matter -- without an attorney at your side. He was quick to inform me that he is an attorney -- Harvard-trained, he added -- whereupon I recited my personal version of the old adage: Never mind the fool; the lawyer who represents himself has a certifiable moron for a client.
Answer questions tomorrow, I urged. Spend this afternoon in my office, preparing, and we'll go to the District Attorney together in the morning. That way, if her questioning takes a direction it shouldn't, I'll be the one to hit the brakes. You'll remain the willing witness, reluctantly accepting advice from your overly protective attorney.
Senator Kendrick's laughter took me by surprise. I wasn't trying to be funny. After a good chuckle, he thanked me for my time. And before I could answer, I was listening to a dial tone.
Copyright © 2005 by Rose Connors
Excerpted from False Testimony by Rose Connors Copyright © 2005 by Rose Connors. Excerpted by permission.
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