Riveting Legal Suspense from Lawyer Todd M. Johnson Ian Wells is a young criminal defense attorney struggling to build a Minneapolis law practice he inherited from his father while caring for a mother with Alzheimer's. Nearly at the breaking point, everything changes for Ian when a new client offers a simple case: determine whether three men qualify for over nine million dollars of trust funds. To qualify, none can have been involved in criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian's fee for a week's work: the unbelievable sum of two hundred thousand dollars. Ian warily accepts the jobbut is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust with a decades-old criminal enterprise and the greatest unsolved art theft in Minnesota history. As stolen money from the art theft surfaces, Ian finds himself the target of a criminal investigation by Brook Daniels, a prosecutor who is also his closest law school friend. He realizes too late that this simple investigation has spun out of control and now threatens his career, his future, and his life.
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|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he has also taught for two years as an adjunct professor of international law and served as a U.S. diplomat in Hong Kong. He is the author of The Deposit Slip and lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. He can be found online at www.authortoddjohnson.com.
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JUNE 8, 1998
Tight as a tendon, the boxer stood under a dark sky on a carpet of closely cropped grass leading to a coffin. With his black umbrella overhead, he shuffled his feet and stewed.
The casket, dark and shiny, was propped over an open hole lined by a knot of people on the far side. Flower wreaths decorated one end of the hole. Palm branches twisted overhead in a warm breeze, loosing raindrops from the recent shower. The refreshed air smelled of orange blossoms and grass clippings and carried the low words of the priest and a mockingbird's call from a distant tree.
It wasn't an unpleasant view, the boxer thought — Christina would have appreciated it. But it still was rotten. Rotten that his boss had lost his wife to cancer. Rotten how few people were here to pay their respects to Christina, who'd always been good to him and as much a second mother as the boss had been a second father. Even ten years ago, the boxer mused, this place would've been packed and the flowers could've filled a moving van.
He shook his head and rolled his shoulders to loosen muscles tight from his punching-bag workout that morning. But that's how life worked, didn't it? People remembered you so long as you had something they needed. When that ended, they moved on without so much as a glance over their shoulder. It was all wrong. Wrong and rotten.
The boxer looked past the coffin. A young man in a well-tailored suit held an umbrella over his prim, equally well-dressed wife. A boy in a suit and a little girl in a black dress — twelve years old, he guessed — were fidgeting restlessly at the wife's side.
At least they'd shown up, the boxer thought. He didn't think they would. That was something anyway.
The boxer sensed nervous movement at his side as a voice muttered sadly, "Where'd he get the cash for that Rolex?"
The boxer glanced to where his boss stood under the protection of his umbrella. A fedora was pulled low on the smaller man's head; his lips were pursed tight, his eyes locked on the same young family the boxer had been watching.
"How about those diamonds hanging from the wife's ears?" his boss went on bitterly. "Or the clothes that make the kids look like English royalty?" He thrust his chin toward the parking lot, his voice deepening with disgust. "And how'd he pay for that Mercedes they drove all the way down from Minnesota?"
The boxer raised a hand to signal his boss to quiet.
The gesture was ignored. "I told him we'd give it time to cool," the older man said. "Go back to real work. The inheritance will come. Don't do anything to bring attention to you." He paused, shook his head. "Now look at 'em. We're supposed to say goodbye to our Christina today, and I've got to worry about what my own son's doing to earn that kinda cash."
The dresses of women mourners rustled in a gust of breeze. The priest raised his right hand to make the sign of the cross. Like a conductor ending a symphony, the motion released everyone to trickle away from the grave toward the parking lot.
But his boss didn't move, so the boxer didn't either. Car doors were shutting and engines coming to life when the boss removed his hat and walked to the coffin to place a hand on its sleek surface, dotted with droplets like a black Cadillac in the rain.
"If he gets caught doing something illegal, it'll all lead back to us," the boss said. "We'll all pay the price. But what can I do?" The boxer winced at the open confession. He swiveled his head to see if anyone was near enough to have heard.
The grass on either side of the grave was empty. From the corner of his eye, he caught a shape on the hill at his back.
A small boy stood there — nine or ten maybe. Near enough to fall under the umbrella's shadow as the sun left the clouds. The boxer fixed his attention on the boy, who looked back with a bright stare.
I know that boy, the boxer thought, startled. What is he doing here?
Fury fired his muscles, replacing the anger at his boss's son and his graveside show of money. This boy shouldn't be here, on this day of all days, and he shouldn't have heard every careless word his boss had spoken.
Lowering the umbrella, the boxer bowed and reached out for the boy's shoulder.
"What do we think we heard, little Master?" the boxer asked, tightening to a firm grip.
The boy stayed mute. The boxer leaned further down. Fear appeared in the bright eyes.
"What do we think we heard?" he asked more insistently.
The fear went deeper. "Just what the man with the hat said," the boy responded, his voice trembling.
The boxer nodded his head. "Aye. And what exactly does the little Master think he understands?"
Excerpted from "Fatal Trust"
Copyright © 2017 Todd M. Johnson.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
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