WINTER'S JUSTICE Stephen Penner

Winter's Justice

Talon Winter Legal Thriller #4

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     Cobb had a much nicer office than he deserved. All of the prosecutors did. Their offices were on the top floors of the 11-story County-City Building, which sat near the top of a large hill overlooking Commencement Bay. Cobb’s office had a peekaboo view of the water and a sweeping one of Mount Rainier, the 17th tallest mountain in the United States and an inactive volcano that took up about a quarter of Pierce County’s land area. On a clear day, every purple and white detail was visible for a hundred miles. Talon grunted at it as Cobb welcomed her into his office and commented, “Nice view, huh?”

     “I didn’t come here to discuss your view,” Talon grumbled. “I came here because you said you had an offer for my client.”

     “What? We can’t be civil, too?’ Cobb protested.

     Talon sat down and set her mouth into a thin line. “Fine. Nice view,” she allowed. “Now, what’s your offer? It better be credit for time served.”

     Cobb sat down, too, laughing. “Oh, no. It’s not going to be credit for time served. Not unless we push the plea out until you and I are both retired.”

     “How old do you think I am?” Talon asked instinctively, then thought better of it. “Never mind. What’s the offer?”

     Cobb nodded. “Okay, fine. Straight to business. I like that. So, first order of business: you drop your motion for a second autopsy and let the family bury the victim.”

     “Alleged victim,” Talon corrected. “You’re as bad as Judge Harvey.”

     “I’m allowed to say ‘victim’,” Cobb countered. “I’m the prosecutor. I wouldn’t be prosecuting this unless he was a victim. I don’t care what the judge says, although he isn’t wrong.”

     “Agree to disagree,” Talon crossed her arms. “And no way. I’m not dropping my motion.”

     “Well, that’s just it,” Cobb went on. “The only reason I’m even making this offer is because the family is freaking out that they can’t give Mr. Dank a proper funeral. Plus, they really don’t like the idea of some defense doctor carving up their loved one. They find it disrespectful.”

     “I have no sympathy for them,” Talon answered. “You’re holding an innocent man in jail. That’s worse than a doctor performing a forensic examination on a body that’s already dead.”

    “Agree to disagree,” Cobb parroted with a grin. “But you have to agree to releasing the body. That’s non-negotiable.”

     “I can give you a hard maybe on that,” Talon answered. “It really depends on what the offer is. If it’s good, I can live with that—although I will need iron clad assurances you don’t back out of the deal because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t trust you. Like, at all. I do not trust you in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I would probably want the offer in writing, signed by your boss and maybe a priest or two, before I’d be willing to let go of that body. Especially now that I know it’s a negotiating chip.”

     “You’re using a dead man as a negotiating chip?” Cobb sneered.

     “I am, now that you told me I can,” Talon answered. “Now, hurry up and tell me the offer already. I’m starting to think it can’t be that good if you’re taking this long to spit it out.”

     “Fine, fine.” Cobb threw his hands up. “Murder Two.”

     “Murder Two,” Talon repeated. “That’s your amazing offer?”

     “Yes, but,” Cobb raised a cautionary finger, “he has to agree to exceptional sentence upward to twenty years, the minimum for Murder One.”

     Talon nodded. “So, plead guilty to murder in the second degree, but agree to be sentenced as if he were convicted of murder in the first degree. Do I have that right?”

     “And release the body for burial,” Cobb reminded her with a jab of his finger. “That’s key.”

     “That’s ridiculous,” Talon shot back. “That’s what that is. Absolutely ridiculous.”

     “It saves him ten years in prison,” Cobb defended.

     “Ten years off your absolute best-case scenario,” Talon countered. “If you get a conviction for Murder One, which you won’t, and if you convince the judge to give the maximum sentence, which you won’t.”

     She stood up. “I’m actually surprised at what a complete waste of my time this has been. I shouldn’t be, but I am. I let myself believe you had actually come to your senses.”

     “So give me a counteroffer,” Cobb said, also standing up. “The family is pissed. They want to bury him, but they don’t want his murderer to walk away with nothing.”

     “He’s not a fucking murderer!” Talon shouted. “It was an accident! How many more times do I have to say that?”

     Cobb crossed his arms. “Well, at least one more. To the jury when this thing goes to trial. If you’re not going to take my offer.”

     Talon shook her head. “I’m not going to take your offer. I’m not going to make you a counteroffer, because the only counteroffer I would make is a misdemeanor with credit for time served, and even that I would advise my client to reject. This entire prosecution has been a travesty, and I for one will see to it that justice prevails.”

     Cobb chuckled and started to reply, but Talon cut him off. Don’t laugh at Talon Winter.

     “And you know what else I’m going to see to?”

     Cobb took a moment, then went ahead and asked, “What?”

     “I’m going to see to it,” Talon growled, “that James Dank’s body gets carved into so many pieces they won’t need to cremate him to fit him into an urn.”

There is no disappointment when Brunelle takes a case. From the first page to the last, the reader is drawn ahead, even into the wee hours of the night. The very human and very conflicted lead character seems to reflect a lot about all of us. I can see a little of me in him as he makes decisions concerning his profession and his family. He is one of my favorite characters.

Amazon Reader Review

 

Penner is an excellent author. His books are exciting and very hard to put down. Each novel seems to be better and more exciting than his last. I love his characters and the many twists in his stories. I consider Penner to be in my top ten authors.

Amazon Reader Review

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