J.D. Scrbacek is young, talented, and the best criminal lawyer money can buy. But after winning the biggest trial of his career, his victory ends in violence. At first, Scrbacek assumes the bomb that killed his assistant was meant for his monster-mobster client. But with a second attempt on his life, he comes to realize he’s a marked man.
On his own and on the run, Scrbacek seeks safety in Crapstown, the forgotten, run-down slum of the city. But when he gets there, he’s forced to face his past… if he ever wants to see his future. Scrbacek must argue for his life to a jury that would rather see him dead. Is he lawyer enough to save himself?
On his rush out of the courtroom in search of the nearest camera, Scrbacek ran smack into Thomas Surwin. The prosecutor’s expression was understandably darker and more pinched than usual.
“I hope you’re proud of your fine work in there,” said Surwin.
“Take my advice, Scrbacek, and watch your ass.”
“Oh, I will,” said Scrbacek, with a wink. “On the evening news.”
The lovely glow of Casinoland was just infiltrating the darkening sky to the east when J.D. Scrbacek stood on the courthouse steps with the cameras on and the heavy white lights picking up his rugged features. His tie was tight; the collar of his raincoat was turned rakishly up. His intern had already been dispatched to drive the Explorer from the parking lot behind the courthouse to the front steps, so as to provide the cameras a view of Scrbacek’s dramatic exit with his client. All was as it should have been, except that his client wasn’t by his side. Surwin had unexpectedly kept Caleb Breest locked up one more night, pending a probation revocation hearing scheduled for the next morning. But still the scene was as near-perfect as Scrbacek could have wished when he began to crow to the crowd of reporters.
“The Jury’s verdict wasn’t just a victory for Mr. Breest, it was a victory for all of us. This was a case without motive or evidence, a case that should never have been brought, a case hatched in the mind of First Assistant County Prosecutor Thomas Sour-Wine simply because he doesn’t like my client. Well, I’m not sure I like my client either, but if that’s enough to put a man in jail and kill him dead, then we all have much to fear.”
He gave good press, Scrbacek, especially on the courthouse steps after a high-profile win.
“Now that Mr. Breest has been found innocent of Mr. Malloy’s murder, I hope the police redouble their efforts to find exactly who committed this horrible crime. My sympathies and the sympathies of Mr. Breest remain, as they have all through this ordeal, with the Malloy family. Nothing that happened in this courtroom can disguise the fact that a man is dead and his murderer still at large. There might be celebrating tonight by Mr. Breest’s friends and associates, there might be fireworks in the night sky over this fine city, but our thoughts will be with the brave—”
A loud pop, followed by a deafening explosion from behind the courthouse.
The crowd ducked. Some reporters dived to the ground, others threw their arms over their heads as if mortars were incoming. Scrbacek alone remained standing tall, his anger rising at the goons who had started the celebration before he had finished his speechifying. He raised his voice and began again.
“As I was saying, there may be fireworks in the night sky over this fine city, but our…”
It was no good. The cameras were off him now. The reporters were running in a pack down the steps, circling the building. TV crews lugged their equipment, straining to keep up. There were calls, yelps, and poundings of hard-soled shoes on cement.
“What I’m trying to say,” Scrbacek shouted to the retreating backs of the media, “what is important to remember…” But no one anymore was listening.
Standing alone on the steps of the courthouse, Scrbacek cocked his head at the commotion before following the mob down the steps. People were now running away from the explosion, running madly, with terror etched on their faces, as they passed the reporters. The two groups were shouting back and forth, the reporters heading to the rear of the courthouse and the sane civilians running away.
“What is it?”
“A car, I think.”
About William Lashner
Lashner is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He worked as a prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. before retiring to write full-time.
He is the New York Times bestselling author of the Edgar-Award nominated novel The Barkeep, as well as Guaranteed Heroes, The Accounting, and the Victor Carl series of legal thrillers. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife and three children.
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