A successful trial lawyer and “one hell of a writer,” Robert K. Tanenbaum crafts his legal thrillers with authenticity and breath-taking suspense. Here are three books in his series featuring Manhattan assistant district attorney Roger “Butch” Karp, who struggles against an often-corrupt judicial system. But with the help of Marlene Ciampi, he fights the good fight with energy, wit, and a passion for the truth (New York Post).
Reversible Error: When a group of politicians back his bid for Manhattan’s district attorney, Butch soon realizes that his benefactors have their own sinister motives . . .
“Sizzles and explodes . . . a gut-wrencher that takes Tanenbaum to the summit!” —Booklist
Material Witness: When a star basketball player is found murdered with a huge stash of cocaine, Butch must go undercover to stop a conspiracy of drugs, gambling, and murder . . .
“[A] witty, highly intricate big-city police thriller.” —USA Today
Justice Denied: After a Turkish diplomat is gunned down in the street, Butch and Marlene are caught in a deadly web of corruption more sinister than even he could have imagined . . .
“[A] gritty tale of intrigue.” —Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Robert K. Tanenbaum is the New York Times–bestselling author of twenty-six legal thrillers featuring Butch Karp and his crime-fighting wife, Marlene Ciampi. Before publishing his first novel, Tanenbaum had an accomplished legal career. He served as bureau chief of the Criminal Courts, ran the Homicide Bureau in New York City, and was deputy chief counsel to the Congressional Committee Investigations into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. He has also served two terms as the mayor of Beverly Hills.
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The dope dealer Larue Clarry was in the bedroom of his apartment with one of the fourteen-year-old white girls he fancied, and Booth, his old buddy, was in the living room watching Carson on the big TV and growing bored. Booth glanced at his imitation gold Rolex and adjusted his feet on the coffee table, a thick red marble thing four feet on a side. The couch was red too.
A compact, broad-shouldered man just past thirty, Booth was dressed for the summer as a semiprosperous Harlem player of the mid-seventies: peach cuffed slacks, a loose alpaca V-neck sweater in lemon yellow over bare brown skin, the showing V of skin adorned with three gold chains, from one of which depended a gold goat's head and a tiny gold spoon. His feet were shod in two-tone (green and red) bulbous-toed shoes with three-inch leather heels.
He fingered his little spoon and considered the bowl on the coffee table. It was a lidded crystal sphere containing approximately half a pound of the purest Bolivian flake cocaine in New York City. Always, when he waited for Clarry like this, he considered lifting the lid and taking a monster snort, and as always he declined. Larue knew it too, that Booth was reliable, that he wouldn't lift a man's blow when the man wasn't looking. A guy who would take a little snort without being asked would start bringing vials into the house, and then jam jars. Booth was not that kind of guy, which was why from time to time his buddy Larue would lay a baggie on him, holding a casual scoop of flake, maybe fifty grams, and so pure that Booth could step on it three times and move it to a couple of kids he knew for up to five large.
Booth himself was not a dope merchant, nor even much of a user. He did what he had to to survive, which was generally acting as a reliable assistant at various illegal activities; he was a street watcher, a follower of people somebody wanted followed, a deliverer of packages, a driver. From time to time he took people like Larue around town in their big cars. It was a living. He had been arrested fourteen times, convicted twice, and imprisoned once, a four-year stretch in Elmira for assisting at an armed robbery.
He heard the door to the bedroom open. The girl who emerged was a redhead with a skin so pale it shone blue in the bright track lighting. She was in her stroll duds, the little tap pants that showed plump crescents of buttock, the laced vest open down the front, the tall high-heeled boots. She looked at Booth, at the bowl on the table. She gave him a trial look; he could have anything she had for a pinch of that, said the look. He shook his head slightly and flicked his hand toward the door. She seemed about to say something, but detected an element in Booth's demeanor that stifled dalliance. Shrugging, she hoisted her fake leather bag to her shoulder and trudged out of the apartment.
Booth heard the shower start and stop, and ten minutes later a cloud of sharp and manly cologne heralded the entrance of his host. Clarry was dressed to kill in a suit of sea green over a white spread-collared shirt open to the breastbone. He had six gold chains. As he entered the living room, he smiled broadly at Booth, but his eyes flicked briefly over the crystal bowl.
Booth caught the look and said, "You took your time."
"Yeah, I did. That little girl won't be able to say fuck for a week. We about ready to cruise, my friend, after we fix our heads. You want to snort some?"
"No, I'm cool."
Larue shrugged and sat down on the red couch. He pulled the bowl to him and inserted the little finger of his left hand, the nail of which had been allowed to grow out half an inch beyond the fingertip. He scooped up a mound of cocaine, dumped it on the marble surface, chopped and raked it with a gold-plated razor that hung from one of his chains, and constructed two fat lines, which he proceeded to suck up, one to a nostril, through a gold tube that also hung conveniently about his neck.
He leaned his head back and sighed, and paused while the coke flooded his brain. Then he popped to his feet with the flying jitters, tossed Booth a set of car keys, and hurtled out the door, off to the hot spots, to see and be seen and to ply his trade.
Larue Clarry was a scuffler from 136th Street who had started dealing heroin at fifteen and had been one of the first Harlem dope peddlers to switch from selling heroin to poor black junkies and whores to selling cocaine to rich white executives and whores. By now, by the late 1970's, it had made him wealthy, and more than wealthy — sought after and jollied up by people whose faces appeared on TV and whose names appeared in newspapers. He had a cachet throughout tony Manhattan undreamed of by previous generations of pushers, undreamed of by the Mafia itself. For the first time since the Prohibition twenties, people of Clarry's moral provenance were welcome among café society. He could get in anywhere, any club, Studio 54, you name it. The candy man.
And it was, he believed, just the beginning. There seemed no limit to the demand, no limit to the amount of disposable income available for fine blow. He was still amazed at his good fortune. He could have ended like the other dudes he had come up with: dead, or bums, junkies, jailbirds, or square, working for chump change at dead-end jobs — bus drivers.
Or like Tecumseh here, a cheap rip-off artist, a gofer. As he considered his companion, a wave of cheerful generosity swept over him. He touched Booth's arm.
"Hey, Booth — I been meaning to ask you — what say you start running some stuff for me?"
They were just leaving the paneled lobby of the building, and Booth paused and looked at Clarry with an irritated frown.
"Ain't you got enough mules?"
Clarry shook his head. "What, did I say mule? I ain't talkin carryin, I'm talkin sellin, man. I'm talkin a territory, man. You gettin on, boy, you oughta think about gettin yourself a little something outta your hustle, you know?"
Booth's expression turned suspicious. "What you talkin about, man? How come you want to give me somethin?"
Clarry chuckled and clapped Booth on the shoulder. "I don't need no reason. I like you, man. I wanna see you smile. You too serious. Besides, I got to take care of my homeboy. We a long way from hangin out on Thirty-six, now, hey? They ain't no catch, man — I mean it. So, smile!"
Booth managed to comply with a thin one as they left the building and approached the glittering dark blue Mercedes 600 sedan parked illegally in front. It was a mild spring midnight. For the moment, at this latitude, Park Avenue was as deserted as the streets of a small town. Booth opened the rear door for Clarry and walked around to the driver's side. He got in, settled himself, and started the car.
The engine rumbled to life. From the back, Clarry said, "So what you think, man? We in business?"
Before Booth could answer, the man who had been crouched in the foot well of the passenger's side uncoiled his body, reached over the front seat, and shot Larue Clarry in the face with a small-caliber revolver. Clarry fell back and his left foot kicked out spasmodically. Booth felt it kick the back of his seat twice. The shooter fired another two rounds into Clarry's head.
Booth rolled down his window and headed the car north on Park Avenue. The stink of gunpowder and death mixed unappealingly with the remnants of Larue Clarry's ultimate cologning. The shooter fired his last three rounds into Clarry and then turned around in the seat. He carefully buckled his safety belt.
"You think he dead yet?" Booth asked.
The other man reached into his jacket pocket and took out a thick brown envelope, which he handed to Booth. "Just drive, Tecumseh," the man said. "I don't need any wiseassery tonight."
Booth put the envelope in his belt under his sweater.
"And what the fuck took you so long?" the man asked. "I almost got a hernia scrooched up like that."
"Man had to get his last fuck in, blow some coke. I figure there's no rush. He was feeling pretty good anyway. He ask me if I want a job."
"Yeah? You take it?"
"I was thinking about it. This where you want to go?"
The man looked out the window. "Yeah, pull over here. OK, take this load of shit down under the highway, like we said. Make it look like somebody roughed him off. Take the watch and the chains. And don't fuckin let me see you with any of that shit on you, understand?"
"Shit. What you think, I'm a fool?" answered Booth, insulted.
"And this." The shooter held out the empty revolver. He had wrapped it in a piece of rag. "In the river. Ditch the car where we said. Take the subway after. Anybody know you was with him?" "Just the ho."
"She don't count," said the shooter.
Booth nodded and put the gun next to him on the seat. The shooter slid out of the car without another word and walked a few yards to where a tan Plymouth waited at the curb, its engine running. The shooter got in and the car took off.
Obediently Booth drove east on 96th Street, then north on First to 120th Street, where he turned right and drove until he was under the humming FDR Drive. These truncated streets, which lie in perpetual shadow and endure the stench and noise of a major elevated highway, constitute a sort of grease trap, catching the lumps of urban detritus no longer wanted in the lighted zones. In the especially dark area in which Booth chose now to stash the great automobile, there were, for example, a burned sofa, two cars stripped of everything merchantable, their hoods and trunks gaping like starving seagulls, a coil of rusted mesh fencing, a wooden cable spool, half a dozen fifty-five-gallon drums, windows of corrugated cardboard and paper trash, and any number of dead dogs, cats, pigeons, and rats, slowly decomposing into gritty city humus. All this lay on a surface of crushed glass glittering in the scant light.
Booth now began the distasteful task of stripping Larue Clarry's corpse of its valuables. Wallet from the inside jacket pocket, vial of traveling coke from the side jacket pocket, gold watch, four finger rings. The neck chains were embedded in a thick mass of congealed blood, and rather than fumble with the catches and get all messy, Booth cut them off with the efficient pliers supplied by the Mercedes-Benz Corporation. After pocketing the cocaine and the money from the wallet, Booth tied the rest of the swag in Clarry's handkerchief.
He was just about to back out of the car's rear compartment when he heard the unmistakable sound of a man clearing his throat. The weird acoustics of the underfreeway made it seem to come from directly behind him, as if a passing stranger were about to ask him directions or politely offer help; it froze his blood and brought his head up sharply, cracking it against the door frame. Stunned, he fell back, landing on the filthy pavement, with his feet still in the car.
He stifled a curse and rose shakily to stand, glancing about wildly, vainly attempting to read the darkness. Under the traffic sounds, silence. He waited a long minute. Another.
Then he realized that he was still holding in his hand the things he had taken off Clarry. He looked dumbly at the bundle as if for the first time, a lumpy white package slowly turning pink. Street instinct kicked in and he began to run, south and east toward a little park under the highway, toward the river.
It was only after he had flung the heavy package as far toward the lights of Randall's Island as he could manage that he realized that he had forgotten the little pistol. It was still wrapped in its rag on the front seat of the car.
As Booth walked out of the park toward the subway, he tried to figure if he was in any real trouble over this. Going back was out — no way was he going to get anywhere near that car this night. For all he knew, somebody had spotted him and called the cops. If the cops found the gun, he would be in trouble, but the shooter would be in worse trouble and would probably leave him alone for the foreseeable future, which in Booth's case amounted to about four days.
But the likelier outcome was that a big expensive car abandoned in that neighborhood would be stripped that night, the gun scarfed up by some street kid. It might as well be in the river. He walked on, relieved. He had nearly a thousand dollars and two grams of prime cocaine. Time to party.
The face that peered in through the window of the Mercedes was a junkie's face; yellow and thin, with a twisted scar over one eye and an expression of deep pain and profound fatigue. A heroin addict of long standing, the man couldn't recognize the bullet-riddled face of the man in the back seat, but he knew the car. Making the logical jump that he was looking at its late owner was easy.
The man's name was Enrico Laxton, known as Po'boy. Like many aging junkies, he made a modest living as a snitch, trading bits of information to the police for small sums, or better yet, bags of smack.
He saw Larue Garry's end as Tecumseh Booth had seen it — as a business opportunity. Laxton was debilitated and shaky, but there was nothing wrong with his eyes. In his yellow sweater and pale slacks Booth had shone like neon and Laxton had got a good look at his face as he ran by the pile of cardboard and rags on which Laxton had nodded out, as invisible as city grime.CHAPTER 2
Three months out of law school, Peter Schick sat in the outer office of the Criminal Courts Bureau, of the New York District Attorney's Office, watching the action and waiting to be called into his third job interview of the day. He crossed his legs and glanced at his watch and then at the round clock on the wall. His watch was running but the clock had stopped. At the two Wall Street firms where he had interviewed that morning, the clocks worked, the secretaries were cool and competent, and the furniture was polished wood and real leather, not painted metal and cracked vinyl. The office staff here looked toughened and tired, and drawn from the less prestigious minorities of the city.
He discovered he had been picking nervously at a crack in the covering of the tan couch and stopped. There were no magazines to read. He went back to staring at the woman sitting on the edge of a desk across a narrow aisle. She was making call after call on the desk phone. She kept the receiver crooked against her shoulder and made an occasional note on a yellow pad, afterward shoving the pencil into the thick mass of lustrous black hair that, from Schick's location, concealed her face from view. She was wearing a black skirt of some rustling material; it was slit and rode entrancingly up her thigh when she crossed her legs. The legs were marvelous, tapering without fragility, wrapped in shimmering mist-colored stockings. She wore a black kid glove on her left hand, like a gunfighter.
Schick adjusted his position slightly, so as to improve his view of inner thigh for the next leg cross. But something must have lit up the invisible radar that is the secret possession of the girls; she snapped her head around and gave him the stare.
He felt his jaw drop and a blush rising up his jaw. The woman was a classic cover-girl beauty — large black eyes over razor-sharp cheekbones, a wide lush mouth, the skin a delicate pink bisque. Schick took in that there was something wrong with one of her eyes, a crazy light in it, or perhaps it was slightly, but fetchingly, crossed. He felt the blush rising to his cheeks and pointedly looked away from her at the unmoving clock.
Just then, the door to the bureau director's office opened and Schick's interview walked out. Schick was over six feet tall, but the bureau director rose nearly four inches higher than that. He extended a big hand and Schick took it. Schick looked him in the eyes, which were a strange deep gray with little yellow flecks. They slanted slightly above broad cheekbones. Karp's nose was fleshy, his mouth full, his chin bold and knobby, his hair neatly cut, medium length, and ash-brown.
"Mr. Karp?" Schick said.
"Yeah. You're Schick. Let's go in my office."
The big man gestured toward the open door, and as he followed Schick he said something in a low voice to the dark-haired woman perched on the desk. She responded with a hearty guffaw. Karp stopped and said something else. Out of the corner of his eye Schick thought he saw the woman make a casual grab for the rear end of his prospective employer — if true, yet another sign that he was not on Wall Street.
Schick entered the bureau chief's office and looked around. In the center of the room a long scarred oak table was surrounded by a dozen or so miscellaneous chairs. At one end was a massive walnut desk, with a battered brown leather chair behind it and two straight chairs before. The desk was cluttered with a drift of russet case folders, assorted papers and yellow pads. Schick noticed his own résumé floating on top of the pile.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi Novels Volume Two"
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Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Table of Contents
Preview: Corruption of Blood,
A Biography of Robert K. Tanenbaum,