The Hearing (Dismas Hardy Series #7)

The Hearing (Dismas Hardy Series #7)

by John Lescroart
The Hearing (Dismas Hardy Series #7)

The Hearing (Dismas Hardy Series #7)

by John Lescroart

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Hardy's best friend, Lieutenant Abe Glitsky, has kept a secret from him...and everyone else. Hardy never knew that Abe had a daughter-until she was shot dead. It seems obvious that the heroin addict hovering over her body with a gun is the guilty party, and Glitsky has few qualms about sweating a confession out of him. But there is more to this murder-much more. And as both Hardy and Glitsky risk their lives to uncover the truth, others are working hard to stop them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451204899
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/01/2002
Series: Dismas Hardy Series , #7
Pages: 656
Product dimensions: 4.28(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.41(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Lescroart is the author of nineteen previous novels, including The Betrayal, The Suspect, The Hunt Club, The Motive, The Second Chair, The First Law, The Oath, The Hearing, and Nothing But the Truth. He lives in Northern California.


El Macero, California

Date of Birth:

January 14, 1948

Place of Birth:

Houston, Texas


B.A. in English with Honors, UC Berkeley, 1970

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Next to Lieutenant Abraham Glitsky's bed, the telephone rang with a muted insistence.
A widower, Glitsky lived in an upper duplex unit with his youngest son Orel and a housekeeper/nanny named Rita. During his wife's illness, he'd deadened the phone's ringer so that it wouldn't wake anyone else in the house when, as often occurred, it rang in the middle of the night.
He located the source of the noise in the dark and picked up the receiver, whispering hoarsely. "Glitsky. What?"
Surfacing slowly into consciousness, he didn't really have to ask. He was the head of San Francisco's homicide detail. When he got calls in the dead dark, they did not tend to be salespeople inquiring about his satisfaction with his long-distance service provider. It was nearly two hours past midnight on Monday, the first day of February, and the city had produced only two homicides thus far this year-a slow month. In spite of that, Glitsky spent no time, ever, wondering if his job was going to dry up.
The caller wasn't the police dispatcher but one of his inspectors, Ridley Banks, on his cell phone directly from the crime scene. It wasn't standard procedure to call the lieutenant from the street-so this homicide must have an unusual element. Though Ridley spoke concisely with little inflection, even in his groggy state Glitsky detected urgency.
A downtown patrol car had seen some suspicious movement in Maiden Lane, a walking street just off Union Square. When the officers had hit their spotlight, they flushed a man squatting over what looked like, and turned out to be, a body.
The suspect ran and the officers gave chase. Apparently drunk, the man staggered into a fire hydrant, fell in a heap and was apprehended. Cuffed now, in the backseat of the squad car, he had passed out awaiting his eventual trip to the jail.
"Guy appears to be one of our residentially challenged citizens," Ridley said drily. "John Doe as we speak."
"No ID of course." Glitsky was almost awake. The digital clock on the bed stand read 1:45.
"Not his own. But he did have the wallet."
"The victim had a wallet?" To this point, Glitsky had been imagining that this homicide was probably another incident in the continuing tragedy of San Francisco's homeless wars, where an increasingly violent population of bums had taken to beating and even killing each other over prime downtown begging turf. Certainly, the Union Square location fit that profile.
But if the current victim had a wallet worth stealing, it lowered the odds that the person was a destitute vagrant.
"Taken from her purse, yeah."
"It was a woman?"
"Yeah." A pause. "We know her. Elaine Wager."
"What about her?"
"She's the stiff."
Glitsky felt his head go light. Unaware of the action, he moved his free hand over his heart and clutched at his breast.
The voice in the telephone might have continued for a moment, but he didn't hear it. "Abe? You there?"
"Yeah. What?"
"I was just saying maybe you want to be down here. It's going to be crawling with media jackals by dawn or the first leak, whichever comes first."
"I'm there," Glitsky said. "Give me fifteen."
But after the connection was broken, he didn't move. His one hand dug absently into the flesh over his heart. The other gripped the telephone's receiver. He simply lay there, staring sightlessly into the darkness around him.
When the phone started beeping loudly in his hand, reminding
him that it was still off the hook, it brought him to. Abruptly now, he hung up, threw the covers to one side and swung himself up to a sitting position.
And stopped again.
Elaine Wager.
"Oh God, please no." He didn't know he'd said it aloud, didn't hear his own voice break.
Elaine Wager was the only daughter of Loretta Wager, the charismatic African-American senator from California who'd died a few years before. Elaine-tonight's victim-had worked for a couple of years as an assistant district attorney in the Hall of Justice.
No one was supposed to know it, but she was also Glitsky's daughter.

Somehow he'd gotten dressed, made it to his car. He was driving, the streets dark, nearly deserted.
No one knew. As far as Glitsky was aware, not even Elaine herself.
She believed that her biological father was her mother's much-older husband, Dana Wager-white, rich, crooked and connected. In fact, when Loretta had found out she was pregnant by Glitsky, she kept that fact to herself and pressed him to marry her. He didn't understand the sudden rush, and when he said he needed time to decide-he was still in college, after all, with no job and no money-Loretta dumped him without a backward glance and made her move with Wager, the other man courting her, with whom she'd not yet slept.
For nearly thirty years, the senator had kept her daughter's paternity secret, even and especially from the girl's true father. Until, finally, a time came when she thought she could use the fact as a bargaining chip to get Glitsky to agree that sometimes it was okay for a senator to commit murder.
That strategy hadn't worked. Abe and Loretta had once been lovers, true, but now he was a cop in his bones, and three years ago she'd killed someone in his jurisdiction. The knowledge that their past union had produced a daughter wasn't going to change what he had to do.
Which was bring her to justice.
So when Glitsky let her know he was going to expose her, she decided she wasn't going to endure an arrest, a high-profile trial and the loss of her national reputation. At the time she was, after all, one of the most prominent and respected African-American women in the country. She chose her own way out-an "accident" with a gun in her mansion.
After that, Glitsky had never been able to bring himself to reveal the secret to his daughter. Why would she need the baggage? he asked himself. What good could it possibly do her to know?
And now suddenly it was-forever-too late.
He'd followed her life, of course, the path her career had taken after she left the D.A.'s office. Plugged into her mother's political connections, she'd gone into private practice with Rand & Jackman, one of the city's premier law firms.
Through the grapevine, Glitsky heard that she'd gotten engaged to some doctor from Tiburon. She'd recently been short-listed for appointment to a judgeship. She also taught moot court at Hastings Law School and donated her honorarium back to the scholarship fund.
She was going to be fine. Her life was going to work out on its own, without any interference from him. He could take pride from a distance, privately savor her accomplishments.
She hadn't needed him as a father.
Now she was beyond needing anything.

Glitsky had himself tightly wound down. Hands in his pockets, he walked almost the length of Maiden Lane-maybe a hundred yards-from where he had parked his car on Stockton at the edge of Union Square. The body lay at the other end, twenty feet or so west of Grant Avenue. A small gathering of authorities and onlookers had already appeared and Glitsky used the walk to steel himself.
He saw a couple of black and white cruisers, what he supposed were some city-issued vehicles, and the coroner's van parked at angles, on the sidewalk and in the alley itself. He heard his steps echoing-the buildings were close on either side of him. Halfway down the lane, he suddenly stopped, took a deep breath and let it out. He was surprised to see the vapor come from his mouth-he wouldn't have said it was that cold. He wasn't feeling anything physical.
Casting his eyes up for a moment, over the buildings that rose all around him, he noticed the star-studded sky. Here between the buildings it was full night. The filigreed streetlights-four of them, two on each side-glowed. The street had that glassy, wet look favored by cinematographers, although the asphalt itself was dry.
A figure separated itself from the group and began walking toward him. It was Ridley Banks. After he'd closed to within fifteen feet, he stopped-perhaps catching the "keep away" vibe that his lieutenant projected-and waited until the two men were side by side. Glitsky's usual style was all business in any event, and today it served him particularly well. "What've we got?" he asked tersely.
"About as clean as it gets, Abe. We got a body, a shooter, a weapon and a motive."
"And what's that, the motive?"
They were still standing off a ways from the knot that had formed around the body. Banks kept his voice low. "Robbery. He took her purse, the watch, a gold chain ..."
Glitsky was moving forward again. He'd made it down from his duplex to the scene in only a bit more time than it had taken the techs, and now, just as he came up to the main knot surrounding the body, one of the car's searchlights strafed the lane. Reflexively, Glitsky put a hand up against the light, pressed himself forward, went down to a knee by the fallen body.
It lay on its right side, stretched out along the pavement in an attitude of sleep. It struck Glitsky that whoever had shot her had laid her down gently. He saw no blood at first glance. The face was unmarked, eyes closed.
He'd come to love that face. There'd been a picture of her in the Chronicle in the past year and he'd cut it out and stuck it in the bottom of the junk drawer of his desk. Two or three times, he'd closed and locked the door to his office, taken it out and just looked at her.
Seeing her mother in her face. Seeing himself.
In recent months, he'd told himself it was possible that if they came to know about each other, it wouldn't be baggage after all, but a source of something else-connection, maybe. He didn't know-he wasn't good at that stuff. But the feeling had been building and he'd come close to deciding that he would tell her, see where it took them.
The body was clad in an elegant overcoat, still buttoned to the neck. Blue or black in color, it looked expensive with its fur-trimmed collar, red satin lining. One black pump had come off her left foot and lay on its side, pathetically, in the gutter.
She was wearing black hosiery-and again, there was no sign that it had snarled or that the nylon had run when she'd gone down. Under the overcoat, Glitsky saw a couple of inches of what appeared to be a blue or black skirt with white pinstripes.
The lack of blood nagged. Glitsky stood, moved around to her back side, studying the pavement. Ridley was a step behind him and anticipated his question. He handed the lieutenant a Ziploc bag which held an almost impossibly small handgun. "One shot at the hairline in back, close contact, up into the brain. No exit wound."
Glitsky opened the bag and looked inside, put his nose against the opening and smelled the cordite. He recognized the weapon as a North American Arms five-shot revolver, perhaps the smallest commercially made weapon in America. It was most commonly worn as a belt buckle, out in the open, so small it did not seem possible that it could be a real gun. It weighed less than ten ounces and fit easily in the palm of his hand. Ridley was going on with his descriptions and theories and Glitsky ached to tell him to shut up.
But he wasn't going to give anything away and he didn't trust himself to utter a word. Instead, he left it to his body language. Zipping up the plastic that held the gun, he gave it to Banks without comment, and moved off, hands in his pockets. The message was clear-Glitsky was concentrating, thinking, memorizing the scene. Disturb him at your peril.
Ridley hung back with the body. After a minute, he started giving directions to the techs.

Twenty minutes later, they had triangulated the body in high beams and the alley had taken on an unnatural brilliance. The crime scene people had set up a cordon of yellow tape, uniformed officers, black and white police cars, all of them conspiring to block unauthorized access to Maiden Lane, although due to the hour that wasn't yet much of an issue. Still, half a dozen police radios crackled. The first news team had arrived-a van and its crew from a local television station-and the negotiations over access to the scene between the perky, aggressive newscaster and the supervising sergeant tempted Glitsky to take out his gun and shoot somebody.
Instead, he accompanied Ridley Banks to the squad car and the officers who had discovered the body and apprehended the suspect. Two uniformed men exited the vehicle from both front doors at the same time, introducing themselves as Medrano and Petrie.
"That the shooter?" Glitsky asked, pointing to the backseat where the suspect sat propped against the side door, slumped over. "I think I'll talk to him."
The two officers exchanged a glance and a shrug. The older officer, Medrano, replied. "You can try, sir. But he hasn't moved in an hour."
"At least that and plenty of it." The other uniform, Petrie, hesitated for an instant, then continued. "Also appears to be mainlining something. Tracks up his arms. He's gonna need some detox time."
Glitsky received this not entirely surprising news in silence. Then he nodded and walked around to the other side of the squad car, where the suspect leaned heavily against the door, and pulled it open quickly. With his hands cuffed behind him, the man fell sideways out onto the pavement. His feet stayed up in the car while his head hit the asphalt with a thick, hollow sound. The man moaned once and rolled over onto his back.
"Sounds like he's coming around," Glitsky said.
Ridley Banks pulled a toot sweet around the front of the car and got himself standing between his lieutenant and the lights at the head of the alley. There'd been so many accusations of police brutality lately that the media were watching for it at every opportunity. And now his lieutenant was giving them something. Ridley motioned with his head, a warning, then spoke in a whisper. "Cameras, Abe. Heads up."
Glitsky was all innocence. "What? The poor guy fell." The suspect lay unmoving at his feet. He hadn't moved after the first rollover. The lieutenant looked over the hood of the squad car to Medrano and Petrie. "Take this garbage to the detail until he wakes up."
Petrie looked at his partner again. Neither of them had ever met Glitsky before and he was making an impression-he wasn't one of your touchy-feely modern law enforcement community facilitators. The younger officer cleared his throat and Glitsky glared. "What?"
Petrie swallowed, finally got it out. "The detail, sir?"
"What about it?"
Medrano took over. "The guy looks good for medical eval, Lieutenant. We were thinking we'd show him to the paramedics."
Glitsky knew that this meant the suspect would probably wind up going to the hospital, where there were secure rooms for jail inmates who needed medical care. This prospect didn't much appeal to him. "What for?"
Medrano shrugged. It wasn't that he cared personally, but the lieutenant's suggestion ran counter to the protocol. He wanted to cover himself. "Get him cleared before we take him anywhere, maybe start detox before he goes into withdrawal."
Glitsky had a deep and ancient scar that ran across his mouth, and now with his lips pursed it burned as a whitish gash under the hawk nose, the jutting chin. Glitsky's mother had been African-American, his father Jewish-his visage was dark, intense, hooded. "How do we know he needs medical care?"
Medrano risked a glance to where the suspect slumped against the door in the backseat. He was at best semiconscious, filthy, still bleeding from where his head had hit the pavement. "We don't, sir. But the paramedics are here. To be safe-"
Glitsky cut Medrano off. "He's just drunk. I want him in homicide. You bring him up. That's the end of this discussion."
Petrie and Medrano looked at one another and said nothing. They were too intimidated to do anything but nod, get the man back into the car and start the drive down to the Hall of Justice.
Ridley Banks bit his tongue. Glitsky was putting out the word that he intended to let this suspect get all the way into withdrawal before he would acknowledge any problem. This would ensure that the man endured at least a little of what was purportedly the worst known hell on earth, and the orders struck Ridley as gratuitously cruel. More, they weren't smart. Neither was the earlier door-opening incident. He knew that if the suspect was in withdrawal from heroin, the paramedics and people at County could set him up in short order. Then the agony of withdrawal could be mitigated. They'd get a better statement from a set-up suspect at San Francisco General Hospital than they ever could from a sick, sweating junkie in withdrawal at the Hall of Justice. If he was merely drunk, he could be in a cell at the jail by midmorning. Either way, they would have a clean interrogation within a reasonable period of time. Glitsky's orders wouldn't accomplish anything good.
As he watched the squad car backing out of Maiden Lane, Ridley wondered what else might be going on. He and Abe had both known Elaine Wager, worked with her, when she'd been a high-profile rising young star with the district attorney's office. Ridley, himself, had found his guts more than ordinarily roiling at the scene when he realized the woman's identity. She was one of their own, part not only of the law enforcement but also of the African-American community. Even to Ridley, whose job was homicide, on some level it hurt.
Abe's reaction, though, seemed a long march beyond hurt. Ridley had come to know most of his lieutenant's moods, which generally ran the gamut from grumpy to glum, but he'd never before seen him as he was tonight-in a clear and quiet unreasonable rage, breaking his own sacred rules about prisoners and regulations.
Walking back to where the body lay, the knot of people bunched in the mouth of the alley, Ridley decided to risk a question. "You all right, Abe?"
The lieutenant abruptly stopped walking. His nostrils flared under piercing eyes-Ridley thought of a panicked horse. Abe let out a long breath, took in another one, looked down toward the body. "Yeah, sure," he said. "Why not?" A pause. "Fucking peachy."
Abe made it a point to avoid vulgarity. He'd even lectured his inspectors, decrying their casual use of profanity. His troops had been known to make fun of him for it behind his back. So Ridley was surprised, and his face must have shown it. The lieutenant's eyes narrowed. "You got a problem, Ridley?"
"No, sir," he replied. Whatever it was, it was serious. "No problem at all."

—Reprinted from The Hearing by John Lescroart by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2001 by John Lescroart. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.


An Exclusive Interview with John Lescroart

Barnes & You're one of the few successful writers of legal thrillers who is not a practicing attorney. What kind of background -- legal or otherwise -- do you bring to your books?

John Lescroart: I guess the best answer is that I try to be a conscientious and clear writer of prose. My first three novels had no legal element at all, and even the first two Dismas Hardy books were mysteries, not courtroom dramas. In all my work, I try to research the issues I'm dealing with pretty carefully, and the law is part of that big picture. In this area, I'm fortunate to have a best friend (since I was 14 years old) named Al Giannini. He is a homicide district attorney in San Francisco and has been for over 20 years. So there really couldn't be a better person to vet my manuscripts for verisimilitude. My first drafts are littered with legal fictions that couldn't happen in real life, and Al helps me to fix them. A bit closer to home, I worked at several law firms as a typist/word processor for nearly a decade when I was just starting to publish, so I became familiar with some personalities and mind-sets among practicing attorneys, many of whom remain close friends.

B& The courtroom thriller has undergone a popular resurgence in recent years and is now a thriving subset of the mystery/suspense genre. To what do you attribute this upsurge in popularity?

JL: I'm not so sure I buy the premise that there's been an upsurge in popularity in recent years, unless by "recent" you mean a dozen or more. Ever since Perry Mason, good legal books have been popular. There's no doubt that Turow and Grisham opened new doors back in the early '90s, writing novels that usually combined mystery or thriller elements with rather more areas of interest than typical linear mystery stories. Add to that O. J.'s and other notorious trials over the past ten years, as well as the host of talented writers who decided to work in this setting, and you've got a thriving genre.

B& Aside from household names like Grisham and Turow, who do you consider to be the leading practitioners of the legal thriller at this moment?

JL: Grisham and Turow set the standards early on, and at more or less the same time, people like Ric Patterson, William Bernhardt, Steve Martini, Philip Margolin, John Martel, and myself started writing these kinds of books. I think many of this early group -- good writers all -- are still doing very fine work. Now we've been joined by David Baldacci, Brad Meltzer, Lisa Scottoline, Mimi Latt, and several others, and much of this is great stuff as well. Some of us (Richard North Patterson, Grisham, Baldacci) have set books outside of the legal realm and moved into other areas, such as politics, and others continue to work within, but all these writers tend to produce intelligent, well-plotted suspense. It's a great group with which to be affiliated.

B& What other writers -- past or present, in or out of the suspense genre -- do you particularly admire? What writers have had a particular influence on your own work?

John Lescroart: This is a term paper question, but I'll give it a shot. I grew up through college as pretty much a classically trained English Lit major, and was simply overwhelmed with books from an early age. Writers such as Flaubert, Tolstoy, Twain, Fitzgerald, Camus, Lawrence Durrell, and Hemingway shaped my earliest visions of what writing was. I didn't really read a "mystery" story, except for the Hardy Boys, until I was in my 20s when I discovered Rex Stout and the Nero Wolfe stories, which led me backwards to Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. Obviously, these had a profound impact on me since my first published hardbacks were pastiches of Holmes and Wolfe. But I finished Son of Holmes when I was about 24 years old and didn't publish it, or even try, for 14 more years. In the meanwhile, I began to devour the modern mystery -- particular favorites were John D. MacDonald, Lawrence Saunders, Ngaio Marsh, P. D. James, Agatha Christie, and Elmore Leonard. By the time I found what I consider to be my own "voice" in the Dismas Hardy novels, I felt that I had combined some of the elements of classical "literature" such as a carefully crafted third person narrative with a strong and sometimes humorous vernacular, especially in dialogue.

But most if not all of the influences come to bear at different places in my books, and I'm grateful to them all. As to who I admire now, the list is similarly lengthy, but is topped by Nelson DeMille, Max Byrd, and Patrick O'Brien.

B& Your early novels -- Son of Holmes, Rasputin's Revenge, Dead Irish -- were consistently entertaining, but less ambitious than your recent work. With the publication of Hard Evidence in 1993, you began working on a much larger canvas. What accounted for that sudden sense of increased ambition?

JL: This was a case of necessity being the mother of it all. I wasn't making any money doing what I was doing with "little" books, and I felt that to break out, I had to write a different kind of story. Not just a mystery, but a true novel with more life and character, issues and real-life situations that were inherently suspenseful. I must add that just at this time, I suffered a bout with spinal meningitis, was in a coma for 11 days, and nearly died. This experience lent a certain urgency to the way I worked afterward. And fortunately, this longer format seemed to "click" with my subconscious in some way I don't fully understand and gave me a sense of freedom and confidence that I don't think I ever could have found in the shorter form.

B& Your latest novel, The Hearing, deals with a great many complex issues, including drug addiction, capitol punishment, political malfeasance, and tangled family relationships. Did you find this big new book particularly difficult or challenging to write?

JL: All of my recent novels have dealt with myriad social issues -- battered woman syndrome, euthanasia, guilt, race, etc. -- so that part wasn't too different than most. But The Hearing also completed a character arc with Abe Glitsky that has been going on for about five books, since A Certain Justice. I love Abe, and somehow the resolution of some of his demons pulled me through this book with an ease I've rarely experienced before. In many ways, this is the novel of mine that came closest to writing itself. Over a three-month period, it just flowed to its conclusion. I think that, to date, it is my own favorite among my books.

B& Do you find that writing a series -- with a common background and a solid core of recurring characters -- is restricting or liberating for you? Are you ever tempted, these days, to write a stand alone novel in which Dismas Hardy or Abe Glitsky don't appear at all?

JL: If I did, my publisher would kill me. No, not really. But there is a commercial side to the Hardy/Glitsky books that I'd be foolish to ignore completely; there is also a comfort level for me, where I know the main characters and find it reasonably "easy" to hang a plot on them. I envisioned the first four Hardy books (Dead Irish, The Vig, Hard Evidence, The 13th Juror) as a kind of Alexandria Quartet set in San Francisco. Hardy was clearly the center of these books, both emotionally and morally, and his arc was my compass. But after they were finished, I decided to write what I thought was and would be construed as a stand-alone book. I did, but it wasn't. The hero of A Certain Justice turned out to Hardy's "sidekick," Abe Glitsky, along with an entirely new guy, Wes Farrell. But everyone saw this book as a continuation of the "series." Guilt, again, is Glitsky and Farrell all the way, no Hardy at all, but everyone considers it one of the "Hardy" books.

By this time -- in for a penny, in for a pound -- I was ready to come back to Dismas. I really enjoyed writing The Mercy Rule and Nothing but the Truth. With The Hearing, I'm back more with Glitsky, and in next year's book, presently untitled, I've got Hardy, Glitsky, and Farrell all together. So I'd suppose I'm writing more or less a San Francisco fugue based around various characters.

I've just finished next year's book, and now I'm thinking about the plot of my next story after that, regardless of who the characters turn out to be. I'd like a "stand-alone" book in some ways -- I do think it would be liberating to write an entirely different kind of thriller, but my standbys are jealous of their page time, and I don't know if they'll let me do it.

B& Here's a related question. Your recent novels --Nothing but the Truth comes particularly to mind -- are as notable for their portrayal of Dismas Hardy's personal evolution and day-to-day domestic life as they are for their more melodramatic aspects. Have you ever considered turning away from the thriller form and writing a mainstream, non-genre novel?

JL: Yes. Over several of my past books, the "story" hasn't been mostly about the mystery at all, but about the characters, their lives, their loves, and their reactions to crisis. I am constantly looking to explore the themes of duty, betrayal, love, justice versus mercy, death, and redemption in my books. I believe that, in a grand sense, the mystery genre is a very good form in which to explore these issues. I don't read, and don't want to write, books that don't have plot. And suspense, to me, is that which makes a reader want to turn pages, whether it's to find "whodunit" or whether the hero gets the girl, or vice versa. If a compelling story occurs to me, and it doesn't involve a murder, I would be delighted, and would try to write it. But in real life, I spend much of my time trying to develop a "high-concept" idea that would make for a good mystery, since this is how I pay my bills. I guess my compromise for now is to fill my books with "novelistic" elements while trying to maintain the puzzle of a good mystery. But I feel a shift coming on, and it could happen soon.

B& Have you done much work in other literary forms -- drama, screenplays, short stories -- or are you most comfortable working as a novelist?

JL: Again, this is mostly a monetary question. I'm getting well paid now to write my novels. I've got a great, literate, and fairly large audience for my work, and this continues to be a marvel and source of pride and accomplishment. So much of the creative life is getting your work recognized, and this has happened with my novels. For which I say, "Yahoo." But I have written several screenplays -- some adaptations of my novels, some stand-alone -- that I think are competent. I've published a couple of short stories in the past two years, one of which -- "The Adventure of the Giant Rat of Sumatra" -- was included in The Best American Mystery Stories, 1998. I've also published some poetry and written well over 100 songs, some of which have been performed and recorded by other people. So in general, I'm happy with my creative life. I try to keep myself open to opportunities, and there are always a few ideas, in whatever form, kicking around in my brain. When they kick hard enough, they get to come out and play.

B& In closing, could you give us a clue as to what lies in store for Dismas Hardy in the years to come?

JL: Diz lives in real time, so he's going to get older, as will Frannie and their children, and I'd expect the concerns of teenagers and young adults to enter his world in the near future. He seems to be getting a little more impatient with age, less tolerant of the injustices in the world. He has a way of getting involved in cases that address the big issues, and I expect this will continue. Next year's book is about American medicine and health care, for example. Beyond that, Diz very much has a mind of his own, and he's going to take the cases that ring his bells, regardless of the objections of Glitsky, Frannie, or any of his other co-characters. He has a knack for getting into and out of trouble, and this makes him a fun guy with whom to hang out. I expect he'll be around for quite a while.

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