The Heat of Lies

The Heat of Lies

by Jonathan Stone

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Young, beautiful, police detective Julian Palmer is growing up. Just a few years out of the New York Police Academy, she's earning her stripes fast. Julian has solved high profile murder cases, and been promoted to Lieutenant upstate Troy, New York. But her latest case has her baffled. She's tracking the killer of a respected husband and father. With no suspects, a family hungry for answers, and the press breathing down her neck, Julian is desperate and in over her head.

That's when Julian gets an unlikely visitor: her one time mentor and the first man she arrested for murder, former police Chief Winston "The Bear" Edwards. Once famed for his physical immensity and unmatched detective skills, Edwards is now a shadow of his former self. He's managed to escape a life in prison, but emerged a beaten man with no family and nowhere to turn. The only thing he has left is his brilliant police mind.

Now the one time mentor has returned to his former student, looking for a shot at redemption, and a reason for living. Despite Julian's mistrust and fear of Edwards, the young Lieutenant knows he's still a gifted detective and cautiously brings him in on this seemingly unsolvable case. Working side by side with a man who once tried to kill her, Julian gets drawn deep into the murder investigation-and into the mind of the murder victim's young daughter. The girl forces Julian to confront once again the bizarre events surrounding the decade old murder of her own father.

Taut, edgy and utterly unpredictable, The Heat of Lies will shock and scare you and keep you turning the pages long into the night. Jonathan Stone is widely praised as one of today's top thriller writers. Stone knows the importance of character, the significance of nuance, and folly of cliché. This is his second, and most riveting novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429981255
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/01/2007
Series: Julian Palmer Thrillers , #2
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 640,144
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Jonathan Stone, author of the Julian Palmer novels, is a graduate of Yale University, where he was a Scholar of the House in Fiction Writing and twice won the English Department's John Hubbard Curtis Prize for Best Imaginative Writing. He works in advertising and lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Jonathan Stone, author of the Julian Palmer novels, is a graduate of Yale University, where he was a Scholar of the House in Fiction Writing and twice won the English Department's John Hubbard Curtis Prize for Best Imaginative Writing. He works in advertising and lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Ahhh!" Jesus! Sonuvafuckingbitch!!!

    Lieutenant Palmer had just turned back from the big picture window of the cramped office six floors above Police Plaza, to hang up the phone after making yet another patiently irate call to Office Services checking on furniture ordered eight months ago, and there—seated silently in the wooden folding chair across the Lieutenant's crowded desk—was the first murderer Palmer had ever sent to prison.

    Instinctively, the Lieutenant crossed her arms over her blouse to cover her breasts.

    Her pulse surged. Her entire physiology sounded a well-orchestrated general alarm. Heart jumped, endorphins released, mouth went dry, stomach muscles clenched, in a fight-or-flight symphony of physical response. Memory came flooding back on a river of nausea. Five years, three promotions, twenty-four more murders and twenty-two murder convictions, had not, it appeared, sufficiently intervened.

    Sonuvafuckingbitch, she thought. But she wouldn't say it. Wouldn't give him the satisfaction.

    In a reassuring instant, she saw that Mendoza and Ng were in a state of high alert at their desks just outside her office, looking warily and protectively and not least of all curiously in through her open door. It calmed her somewhat. She felt herself relax a degree.

    She regarded the huge man cautiously, tensely, like eyeing a still-armed bomb. But now that she'd recovered from the shock of knowing him immediately, she saw that he was in fact almost unrecognizable. In theintervening five years, he'd aged unimaginably. His body, whose epic size had once projected immense power, now projected simply immensity—sloppy, uncooperative, defeated mass, rolling over the edges of the folding chair.

    "How'd you get in here?"

    "Flashed a badge," he said. Adding, "Old one."

    His hair had gone fright white, thinned from a proud mane to a strandy wispiness. The furrowed facial lines that once evoked character and experience had finally overwhelmed his features, becoming simply wrinkles, like any old man's. His skin was ashen, chalky, like a patient's.

    Beneath the wrinkles, though, his eyes still harbored some semblance of that nasty, restless alertness—now even more startling, in contrast to the thick, loose, epidermal folds surrounding them. Rhinoceros eyes—steady, unblinking, uncaring, brute.

    Apart from the eyes, he looked close to death.

    Close, she thought, but no cigar.

    She appraised him silently for another long moment before asking—carefully measuring her tone to be flat, without judgment or affront, like a disinterested clerk gathering information for a form—"What are you doing here?"

    The unblinking eyes wandered aimlessly over the unadorned green institutional walls of the tiny room. He shrugged noncommitally.

    She asked again—evenly, identically—as if he hadn't heard her the first time, which, given his startling aged appearance, he genuinely might not have—"What are you doing here?"

    Another shrug.

    She noted the rumpled white shirt beneath the open trench coat. Its collar, its cuffs, no longer crisply starched. "Wife finally threw you out, didn't she?" observed Lieutenant Palmer.

    The man's eyebrows went up briefly, momentarily impressed with her deduction, then down again, sullenly confirming that it was correct.

    She noticed the dirt ingrained on his shirt cuffs. Noticed that his left shoe heel was turned somewhat, askew beneath the rest of his shoe.

    "Defense like that'll cost you, won't it?" she speculated further.

    His lack of response was acknowledgment enough.

    Whatever nest egg he'd managed to hide from the forensic accountants, whatever on-the-take money he'd augmented it with, had apparently gone significantly toward the fees of the famously brilliant and famously expensive attorney, one Lawrence Cooperman, Esq.

    And it had been an exceedingly long defense, after all, longer than anyone could have predicted. Maybe he'd even had something on Cooperman as well—she had a nagging sense there was more to know about Cooperman's advocacy. His defense might have expended all his capital—the conventional green sort, and his deep hoard of black currency as well. Regardless, it had done its job.

    Ladies and gentlemen, it is the word of one woman, a police officer at the outset of her career, against the word of another police officer, in the twilight of his. That's the cold truth of it. So do you believe the word of police officers, or don't you? Do they tell the truth, or are they liars?

    Cooperman's cynical, sneering disregard for the proceedings in general. Inviting the jury to share that cynicism, cozying up to them.

    Now if you think police officers generally tell the truth, then based on this little sampling at least, you'd have to rethink that, wouldn't you? And if you think police officers are generally liars, then this little sampling would suggest you're onto something.

    The adeptness of the lawyer's delivery, coupled with the impression, the force, of slow, seamless, confident logic. She still heard it. It still pained her....

    She held now to her careful monotone. Continued to speak, firm, clear, her trademark gentle interrogative, a mere notch above a whisper.

    "What're you going to do?"

    He shrugged.

    What happened to that young waitress out there in the snow, let's face it, we're never going to know. We have two conflicting versions of events, and we'll simply never know which version matches the truth, if either....

    "Where you gonna go?"

    He shrugged again.

    The alleged murder weapon was never found. Lost in an evidential mix-up in the small upstate police department that, it's been implied, he somehow controlled. I can only tell you that unfortunately and statistically, crucial evidence is lost and misplaced all the time, in departments of all sizes....

    She'd put him in prison five years ago, on the lesser charges that he'd pled to—tax evasion, financial malfeasance—and naturally she had gotten used to picturing him there. But it had proved particularly onerous for the State to find an acceptable venue for his murder trial, given his local reputation, and the sparseness of options in that sparely populated upstate New York county. Months had stretched to years. Legal technicalities and issues and delays had presented themselves aboundingly. Until at last, the trial had begun.

    She's a poised, beautiful young woman. He's a powerful, hated, difficult man. Right there, that makes me doubt, makes me suspect, the easy version of events, the version the prosecutors are trying to serve up; right there, that makes me listen again to the less palatable version....

    Even then, there were further technicalities; another change of venue; witness-tampering and jury-tampering accusations and counteraccusations; false starts and full stops.

    And the trial itself. Cameras' banned. Access limited. Conducted during a brutal February of a brutal winter at the Canadian border. The venue inaccessible. A judge who would not allow a circus. This is no Heisman Trophy winner, the bald hawk-nosed judge had asserted with a smirk. The public has a right to know, yes, but not a right to watch. The reporters, and thus the public, could barely follow it. Soon lost interest in the legal tangle. Precisely what Lawrence Cooperman would have hoped.

    No weapon. No real witnesses. I'm frankly surprised that the State chose to proceed on such meager evidential grounds. Political pressure? Pressure exerted by vocal friends of the young officer? By well-placed enemies of the famously difficult defendant? Don't discount it. It would at least explain why we're all here....

    And under the law, it had had to be divided into distinct and separate proceedings. Further diluting, further dulling, the incidents' sum of impact. The trial itself had solely concerned the murder of the waitress. In a few hours one morning, Julian delivered her testimony; her testimony was challenged; and that was the extent of her role and her presence.

    The State chose not to proceed at all in the matter of the suspected murder of psychic Wayne Hill. No evidence. No body. And a long and documented history of erratic behaviour, sudden self-exiles, even periodic disappearances, on the part of the purported decedent. There was little more than Julian's accusation: that Hill had been killed to cover up the waitress's murder. But she soon saw how that accusation—with little evidence behind it—undercut her credibility, even in the eyes of the prosecutors.

    As for the accused's attempt on the life of Julian Palmer? Evidence nonexistent. Details extremely vague. Night. A blizzard. White-out conditions. Zero visibility. And because it was a matter between police officers, servants of the State, the State interceded on its own behalf. The career of a promising young police officer, in the State's view, should not be jeopardized; nor should the reputation of an acclaimed senior officer be needlessly compromised. In the absence of physical evidence, the State concluded, the matter should be adjudicated privately. Counselors to both parties—each feeling an advantage to themselves—unhesitatingly agreed. And so it became a closed hearing. An internal affair, thick with procedure, rich with technicality. Documents. Closed-door presentations. Arbitration and mediation panels. A police matter. And a muddling, obfuscatory mess.

    Both of their versions are in some sense convincing, because we are here, after all, considering them each carefully. Then again, neither is convincing enough. Because neither version, I'll wager right now, has flatly convinced any of you.

    It was all long ago now. Another place. Another lifetime. A handful of senior officials here knew of the events, and that was it.

    In the intervening years, she'd become used to the world's grays. To its imperfections, to its drift and sway, the certainty of its uncertainty. She still didn't accept it. But she did now at least expect it.

    You can't convict. Even if you think he did it, even if you feel somehow certain of that, you can't convict. Much as you might want to. Much as you might hate him. Because you haven't got one piece of credible reliable evidence with which to do it.

    "You're a murderer," she said to him now. Reminding him of the fact—as quietly, as flatly, as matter-of-factly—as she had said everything else.

    And only now did he finally turn his attention, his famous gaze, directly at her. And only now did he speak, the first words in that crusty, deep-mean voice she had not heard in five years. "But not a convicted murderer," he said as quietly back.

    And suddenly, the smile. Brazen and infuriating, unregenerate and unchanged ...

    She pushed the intercom button.

    Mendoza and Ng were flanking the strange immense figure before she even had to say their names. But they wore looks of confusion as loud as orange raid jackets.

    "Detective Mendoza, Detective Ng, meet Winston the Bear Edwards. Former chief of police of Canaanville, New York, who I interned with five years ago...."

    Ng smiled broadly, relieved, before the rest of her introduction robbed him of his congeniality.

    "He stabbed a waitress forty-six times. Killed a man to try to cover it up. And when I went tumbling over a ledge, he thought he'd killed me too...." She could see the shock register on their faces. Big Ng looking incredulously at the old broken form seated in the chair, while the wiry, muscled Mendoza looked as incredulously directly at her. They knew she didn't lie. She didn't fool around. That's why they were having such a hard time with it.

    "And not knowing where to go, he's come to see us. Like all the other flotsam and jetsam that washes up here. He doesn't know what he's doing here. Or he's not saying."

   Now she was standing by the ancient crooked coat tree, lifting her own black trench coat off and swirling it onto her shoulders, having first, as always, strapped on the service revolver—an accessory, a necessity, like a handbag or wallet or keys.

    "I want him watched, day and night," she told them. "I want a man tailing him everywhere. I want a man stationed in the hall of his fleabag hotel. I want someone beside him when he goes through restaurant trash. When he drinks rotgut, I want someone to know the brand. When he sleeps in the gutter, I want someone to watch him snore. He says he doesn't know what he's doing here. But we're going to. Every moment. Every move."

    The short tirade had loosed her feelings, she discovered. They'd snuck out, leaked beneath the cold steel door of her professionalism, and now were gathering into a torrent she felt less and less control over.

    She was as surprised as anyone to suddenly find the black muzzle of her service revolver sunk deep into Winston Edwards's mouth; before she could even process who exactly had done such a thing, before Mendoza and Ng could even respond with wide-eyed wordless shock.

    Only Edwards seemed not to react. Looking up at her with big sleepy eyes behind the rhinocerative, pale, unhealthy folds.

    You don't care, do you? she thought. A valuable perception ... store it away ...

    Of course, she was now indicating how deeply she cared.

    She was showing him—once again—the depth of her feeling for him.

    She pulled the muzzle from his mouth.

    And was nearly as surprised as before to find the same muzzle running high along his gums, making each tooth appear individually, sorrowfully, in a broken, ulcerative, yellowed periodontal parade. Livestock, examined meanly.

    "He's a free man now," Julian said with mock gospel exuberance. "He can do whatever he wants."

    Now she pressed the revolver muzzle hard just below his right eye, gathering up and pulling down the loose skin beneath the eye with it, opening the eye brutally, comically wide.

    She put her own eye just above his brutally opened one, made a show of peering in, as if to see for herself the precise shape of the evil inside. A gemologist, appraising a strange brown stone in its crusted, folded setting.

    She pressed the gun muzzle beneath his left eye now, pulled down, the folds of skin following helplessly obedient, a wake of stretched flesh. She made the same optometric inspection.

    Mendoza shifted his feet uncomfortably. She heard Ng's breath come short and loud and nervous. Edwards never moved.

    Now she pushed the muzzle against his right nostril. Lifted the outer edge meanly. Distorting the entire nose harshly for a long, held moment.

    Lifted the right nostril identically.

    Mendoza and Ng stood, transfixed.

    She pulled the gun muzzle away, holstered it mechanically.

    Regarded Edwards once more in the rickety folding chair.

    Then reared her foot back and with all her gathered fury kicked the left front leg of the wooden chair. The same left front leg she'd seen threatening to give way on previous occupants for months now—eager clerks, nervous sergeants, Ng and Mendoza themselves.

    The chair leg snapped crisply and cooperatively, and the two hundred eighty pounds of Winston the Bear Edwards puddled onto the floor sideways, gracelessly on top of it, aided in speed and awkwardness by the immensity and unpreparedness of the weight.

    Beyond the sound of the broken wooden chair hitting the wooden floor, though, there was no accompanying sound from Edwards. No involuntary huhn, no raging curse, no strangled syllable of surprise, nothing. Only a studied, respectful, obedient silence. Maybe stoic and challenging. Maybe mocking. Maybe just stunned surprise.

    Slowly, the huge form splayed facedown on the floor managed to turn its immense ursine head slightly toward her, to crane its neck just enough to present a coldly expressionless black pupil to her, peering out from behind the curtainous folds of skin.

    She stood over the black pupil purposefully, to fill its vision with the bottom of her trench coat, to momentarily overwhelm it with her presence.

    "Welcome to the big city," she said.

    She adjusted the holster, buttoned her trench coat over it, clutched her handbag. "My city," she added. A perhaps unnecessary amplification.

    She looked up at Mendoza and Ng. "I'm due at a deposition across town," she told them.

    She headed briskly out the open office door.

    It was frankly all she could think to do.

    And with any luck, it would at least speed that furniture along.


By Jane Haddam


Copyright © 2001 Orania Papazoglou. All rights reserved.

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Heat of Lies 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read Stone's Cold Truth(last year) and now Heat of Lies. I read the latter book to see if the first one was just a bad start as a first novel. The answer is NO! His Heroine, Julian, might be beautiful( as Stone keeps telling us in both books), but she is just plain dumb. In Stone's world, police don't go out and investigate to solve crime; they sit around, ruminate and play head games with each other. In Heat, Julian can't solve a crime, so she takes on Bear Edwards as a consultant. Bear tried to murder Julian in Cold Truth and got away with serving only 5 years on a lesser crime because of the collusion of the police department. Now she takes him on!! Can you believe that?? Is she dumb or what? The plot of this book is dopey, as was Cold Truth, and the characters are cardboard. Worst of all, Stone has a writing style that is truly awful. He has sentences that run on and on, with three, four or five commas separating meaningless thoughts, adjectives, adverbs and just plain inane descriptions of things that are usually mutually contradictory. There are often several of these on the same page. There are no redeeming merits of a book/books that have dumb plots, shallow characters and bad writing.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Lieutenant Julian Palmer works in the Troy, New York Police Department, a powerful position for a young beautiful female. Her life seems in perfect balance until Winston 'Bear' Edwards reenters her office. Bear was once her friend and mentor in a small town near the Canadian border, but he controlled their hamlet to the point of getting away with murder. Julian saw Bear kill one man, knew he killed another person, and barely fled town before he murdered her. The police arrested Bear but the most powerful evidence mysteriously vanished although the former cop served five years on lesser charges.

For Bear to be in her office leaves Julian to suspect he has an agenda of his own. Meanwhile, Julian works on the murder investigation of a prominent Troy businessman. Even though she cannot explain why, Julian impulsively puts Bear on the case, hoping he will lead her to a clue. A strange relationship exists between Julian and Bear that her co-workers notice.

For anyone who enjoys psychological suspense and cerebral puzzles, THE HEART OF LIES is necessary reading. The relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist is unique, rarely seen in literature or movies, though a reader will wonder why the logical Julian brought Bear into the investigation. Bear remains in the centers of the mysteries, but is he a hero, a villain, or both?

Harriet Klausner