Grudge Match (Chris Sinclair Thriller)

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9780765308924: Grudge Match (Chris Sinclair Thriller)
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In the high stakes courtroom battles of his legal career, San Antonio District Attorney Chris Sinclair has prided himself on getting it right--sending society's dregs away for a long time. But when he discovers he wrongly sent a police officer to prison he begins to question his faith in the system.

Eight years ago Chris sent officer Steve Greerdon to jail. Recently, new DNA evidence gave Chris cause to undo the wrongful conviction and help clear Greerdon's name, but when two police officers are murdered and Greerdon is at the scene of the crime with no alibi, Chris is once again suspicious. Greerdon claims a police conspiracy wants to send him back to jail, or is Greerdon playing Chris for a fool?

Chris's girlfriend, child psychiatrist Anne Greenwald, is drawn into the deepening mystery when one of her patients confesses to her facts that could give him the evidence he needs to break the conspiracy. But she can't violate doctor-patient confidentiality, even if it might prevent a tragedy.

Time is running out, and murders are piling up. If the killer can't be stopped, Chris could be next. As Chris and Anne struggle to balance their personal lives with their professional concerns, this intense, powerful novel weaves an ever-tightening web of suspense that will keep readers chasing the truth until the final page.

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About the Author:

Jay Brandon is the author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including the Edgar Award-nominated Fade the Heat. As an attorney, Brandon has practiced at the highest criminal court in Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals. He continues to practice family and criminal law. Brandon lives in San Antonio with his wife and three children.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Grudge Match
CHAPTER ONE Trials end with a verdict. The victim's family sobs. Jurors look stoic, or hug each other, or at last talk to reporters. The judge nods in agreement. He thanks the jurors for their hard work. Closure is achieved. The lawyers move on to the next case."The defendant showed no emotion."This is the phrase always used to describe the lunk sitting alone, or still standing to receive the verdict. He lifts his chin, or drops his head. But his eyes don't fill with tears. He has nothing to say. The person on trial has just been stripped not only of his freedom but of his singularity, as he will soon be stripped of his clothes and draped in a jail coverall. One moment he is one of us, his fate uncertain, as are all our fates, his destiny unknown. In the next second he has become part of a subhuman herd: the convicted. The guilty. Now everyone knows. What you did, what you are.The newly convicted defendant grows an instant shell. He knows he is no longer quite present in the courtroom. He is on his way to a new life, the main feature of which is invisibility. He will no longer be among us. Even if the defendant emerges someday, he won't quite rejoin the race. Cut out from the herd, he remains one of the others. "Ex-con."It seemed a horrible, terrifying fate. Then why do they never show emotion, Chris Sinclair wondered. He assumed it was because they knew they were guilty. They had it coming. The jurorshad found them out. Suddenly the trial just past was revealed for the academic exercise it had been. "Okay. You got me."Yes. We get you. And no longer have to think about you. Chris seldom did. It was rare for him to revisit a past trial, except as an anecdote.But one defendant had shown emotion. A man of average height but broad shoulders, he had sat with the required stoicism throughout his trial, but at the word "guilty," he had gone berserker. He had slammed his fists down on counsel table, and roared as if he'd been stabbed. His pain sounded physical.The defendant had picked up his chair, raised it over his head, and actually pulled one of its arms free. He had been advancing across the front of the courtroom--toward the judge or the jury, accounts differed afterwards--until he'd been stopped by the bailiffs, one of them rough and contemptuous, the other surprisingly gentle.The arms of the defendant's blue suit had ripped at the seams, as if he'd been revealed. His transformation had begun. The next time he had appeared in the courtroom, for the punishment phase, he'd behaved appropriately. The defendant showed no emotion.He was the one Chris remembered. 
 
Years passed, and Chris Sinclair went on to other trials and other jobs. By now, Chris had been an attorney for twelve years: seven as an assistant district attorney, three as a defense lawyer, two so far as the district attorney of Bexar County, in San Antonio. Though his job now was administrative, he still thought of himself as a trial lawyer. A week spent in meetings left him peevish and restless. Many days, without knowing why, he drifted downstairs to the trial courts. There his fingers stopped tapping, his shoulders expanded, and he stood taller, with a faint smile of which he remained unaware. His physiological reactions were similar to an athlete's returning to his high school stadium. But Chris was lucky. At thirty-six, he could still compete.So when on a Thursday morning in October, he strolled into the 186th District Court on the third floor of the Justice Center and saw an emptychair at the prosecution table, he reacted without thought, walking quickly up the aisle and through the gate in the wooden railing."What's happened?" he asked, standing behind the chair.The remaining prosecutor, Bonnie Janaway, barely glanced up. To her credit, she didn't do a double-take at the sight of her boss standing over her. "Kenny's out. Spent half the night throwing up, according to his wife." Bonnie was thin and intense, with tightly compressed lips and sharp brown eyes. She continued going through her file, occasionally making a note. Across the aisle, the defense lawyer leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. He and Chris nodded to each other."You didn't have a backup?" Chris asked his assistant.Bonnie shook her head. "Don't need one. It's a simple case. Agg robbery. Four eyewitnesses." She snapped her fingers, still not looking up at him.Chris could have told her from experience that one eyewitness is often preferable to more. Multiple tongues tell multiple tales, and Bill Gibs, sitting there at the defense table, was a veteran lawyer who could exploit differences in testimony.The empty chair called Chris's name. "Mind if I sit in?" he said, taking the seat beside Bonnie.She shot him a suspicious glance, then a totally artificial smile that looked as if it hurt her lips. "Really not necessary, Chris. We're halfway done anyway."Chris smiled, well aware of the mixed feelings she must have. Bonnie was a second-chair; the first-chair prosecutor from this court had taken sick. This presented an opportunity to Bonnie to win a first-degree felony conviction on her own. If the district attorney sat in, he would undoubtedly take any credit for a win. Bonnie didn't know Chris well, but she knew how things worked."It's your case, Bonnie. I won't question anybody unless you want me to. I'll just fetch things for you."He smiled ingratiatingly. She shrugged and went back to her note-making. Within minutes Judge Ernest Ormond took his place. After a formal exchange of remarks allowed Chris to join the prosecution team, the judge said, "Bring the defendant."A uniformed bailiff opened a side door of the courtroom and broughtout a man in handcuffs. The man wore black pants and a white shirt and looked young until he lifted his head. His dark eyes were watchful with long, bad experience. They fixed on Chris Sinclair for a long stare, then he slunk down in his chair and stared at the table as the bailiff removed his handcuffs and his lawyer talked to him. Just before the jurors entered, the young defendant took thick, black-rimmed glasses from his pocket and put them on. The glasses seemed to change his age and expression. Now he appeared thoughtful, a scholar. His magnified eyes looked watery with worry.Chris had a tingle of apprehension. Bonnie Janaway sat studying a report. Her thick black hair, cut short, didn't get in her way. Neither did Chris. But as Bonnie called her next witness, a firearms examiner who had tested bullets found at the scene, Chris read the prosecution's file. The police offense report told him there had been a robbery at a small family-run grocery store on the city's west side. Three men had entered, faces obscured by caps and scarves, pulled out guns, and ordered everyone to the floor. Three members of the Rivera family had been in the store at the time, the owner in the office, his mother running a cash register, and a teenage daughter stocking shelves. One of the robbers had put a gun in the grandmother's face, another had approached the girl. The report blandly sketched what must have been a terrifying few minutes before the robbers had run out.Chris looked over at the defendant and wondered which of the three he had been. The guy looked up at the ceiling as if bored. His lawyer didn't appear much more interested as the firearms examiner gave his opinion that a certain bullet had been fired from a certain gun.Chris found that Kenny, the missing prosecutor, had taken very careful notes of the previous day's testimony. Much of it had been dry, the collection of evidence, but the first witness had been the store owner. His testimony could have been dramatic--a bullet had been fired just past his face into the wall beside him, while an armed thug stood over his daughter--but the quality of the testimony was impossible to tell from the notes.Beside Chris, Bonnie sat looking as tight as if the case were slipping away from her. She nudged Chris's arm and he saw that she had written him a note on her legal pad: "See who else I've got out there."He knew she meant what witnesses waited in the hall. This was a second-chair prosecutor's job, being the stage manager for the first-chair's director. That was the job for which Chris had volunteered. He hurried up the aisle of the courtroom and out.The hallway of the Justice Center had a purified, clinical aspect. Its surfaces were varying shades of bland. Humans intruded. At once, Chris spotted the family group across the hall. They huddled together on and around a stone bench. A very young woman held a baby. A young man in a ribbed undershirt paced and glared. Older adults talked in murmurs. On the bench sat an elderly woman who must have been the grandmother mentioned in the police report. She wore a shapeless, thin gray dress, from which her hands emerged like talons, gnarled by work or arthritis. Her skin was very dark brown, her hair long and gray. She looked up at Chris and caught his attention. The plumpness of her cheeks held wrinkles at bay, but they clustered at the corners of her eyes. Her gaze, looking startled, held on him.She looked familiar. Of course she looked familiar. In his decade-plus as a trial lawyer Chris had seen thousands of faces. Victims and their families, defendants and theirs, cops, witnesses, jurors. By this time, everyone looked familiar to him.But the old lady seemed to recognize him, too. Her mouth opened expectantly, waiting for him to come up and give her an order."Olga Rivera?" Chris said, and she nodded.He consulted his witness list and asked for two other names. The girl holding the baby turned out to be the teenager who'd been working in the store at the time of the robbery. He checked off the names and said they'd be called soon. Then...

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ISBN 10:  0765347873 ISBN 13:  9780765347879
Publisher: Forge Books, 2006
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