Excerpt of Close Case by Alafair Burke
(Page 2 of 8)
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At last count, the bureau had arrested
212 protesters for various counts of criminal trespass, reckless endangerment,
vandalism, and disorderly conduct. Clashes among and between opposing
political groups and police officers continued until 2 A.M. And, on Monday
morning, extra available bodies in the District Attorney's Office -- including
mine -- had been summoned to misdemeanor intake for the overload.
So that's why I was at intake when I
found out that hotshot reporter Percy Crenshaw had been killed.
"This is a shitty way to spend my
thirty-second birthday," I said, this time not to myself but to Jessica
Walters. Jessica was the head of the District Attorney's Gang Unit. She had
just walked in, forty minutes behind me, grande mocha latte in hand, trademark
pencil tucked between her pearl-studded ear and her sporty frost-tipped
"Could be worse, Kincaid. I got ten years
on you, it's not even my birthday, and I'm stuck drinking decaf because of
this little fucker." She gestured with her Starbucks cup at the swollen belly
hidden beneath her black maternity pantsuit. Leave it to Jessica to find a way
to drop the f-bomb as a maternal term of endearment. "I guess intake is
Duncan's idea of a reward for coming in early."
The boss of all the bosses, District
Attorney Duncan Griffith, had left an office-wide voice mail for all of his
deputies that morning. The gist: Intake needed help issuing custodies from
Sunday night. The rule: The first deputy to arrive in each unit was to report
to misdemeanor intake immediately to help, unless the lawyer had a trial
scheduled to go out.
It takes a lot to make me yearn for a
trial, but that did the trick. Doing someone else's work is bad enough, but
this was mundane stupid busywork. Not to mention the fact that the intake unit
was located in the Justice Center, two blocks from the courthouse, so in this
case doing someone else's work had started with a walk back out into the rain.
"I guess the early birds really do get
the worms," I said, handing her a misdemeanor intake file. "When I got the
boss's message, I was tempted to hightail it out of the courthouse. Let
someone else take the bullet."
I left Jessica with the misleading
impression that my conscience had gotten the best of me. In truth, it was my
paranoia, combined with my ignorance of technology. For all I knew, Griffith
could be keeping track of who had logged in to voice mail and in what order. I
didn't need to furnish him yet another opportunity to accuse me of not being a
team player. Or, better still, to unleash my very favorite motivational
phrase: 'There is no 'i' in team."
Maybe not, I say, but there is a me,
and that "me" had little interest in churning out another misdemeanor
complaint. Jessica Walters, on the other hand, had little sympathy. "Cut your
whining. If I can pull this duty, you can suck it up for one morning."
Known in some circles as Nail-'Em-to-the-Wall
Walters, Jessica was a career prosecutor, a fixture in the office for nearly
twenty years. Before her promotion to supervise the Gang Unit, she'd preceded
me as the only female lawyer in the Major Crimes Unit, handling some of the
toughest capital murder prosecutions in the state. She was right. It had been
only six months since my promotion into MCU. If she wasn't too good for
intake, I guess I wasn't either.
I counted another four files from the
large stack we were facing, handed them to her, and then plucked out five more
for myself. "Want to race to make it interesting? Winner on each set of five
cases buys a drink?"
From Close Case by Alafair Burke, Chapter 1,
pages 3-17 of the hardcover edition. Copyright © 2005