Excerpt from The Oath by John Lescroart, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Oath

By John Lescroart

The Oath

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Hardy was a successful defense attorney. Though he and Glitsky were on opposite sides of the fence professionally, there was also most of a lifetime of history between them. When Glitsky's first wife, Flo, had died some years before, Hardy and his wife, Frannie, had taken his three boys in to live with them until Abe could work his way through some of the emotional and logistical upheaval. Last fall, Hardy had been the best man at Abe's wedding.

They didn't talk about it--they were guys after all--but each was a fixed point of reference in the other's life.

The heart attack got their attention.

Since a month or so after Abe's marriage, they'd fallen into some semblance of a regular exercise program, where a couple of days a week one would goad or abuse the other into agreeing to do something physical. After the macho need to demonstrate their awesome strength and breathtaking endurance to each other in the first few weeks had almost made them quit the whole thing because of all the aches and pains, they finally had arrived at a brisk walk a couple of times a week, or perhaps throw some kind of ball on the weekend.

This morning they were eating up maybe three miles an hour walking on the path around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. It was a cool and clear morning, the sun visible in the treetops. A mist hung over the water, and out of it at the near shore a swan with her brood of cygnets appeared.

Glitsky was talking work, as usual, complaining about the politics surrounding the appointment of two inexperienced inspectors to his detail of elite investigators in reaction to the unexplainable renaissance of hit-and-run accidents in the City by the Bay. In the past twelve months, Glitsky was saying, ninety-three persons had been struck by motor vehicles within the city and county. Of these, twenty-seven had died. Of the sixty-six injury accidents that didn't result in deaths, fourteen were hit and runs.

"I love it how you rattle off all those numbers," Hardy said. "Anybody would swear you knew what you were talking about."

"Those are the real stats."

"I'm sure they are. Which is why I'm glad we're on this path and not the street where we could be senselessly run down at any moment. But how do these numbers affect your department? I thought hit and runs weren't homicides."

Glitsky glanced sideways at him. "Technically, they are when somebody dies."

"Well, there you go. That's why they come to you. You're the homicide detail."

"But we don't investigate them. We have never investigated them. You want to know why? First, because there's a separate detail cleverly named 'hit and run.' "

"That's a good name if they do what I think," Hardy said.

"It's a fine name," Glitsky agreed. He knew, although the police department would deny it as a matter of course, that no hit-and-run incidents-even the homicides-were more than cursorily investigated by inspectors. What usually happened was that a couple of members of the hit-and-run detail would take the paperwork at the Hall of Justice the day after the incident. Maybe they would go to the scene of an accident and see if they could find a witness to provide a description or license number of the vehicle. If that failed, and there were no good eyewitnesses in the report, that was essentially the end of the investigation. If they had a license number, they punched it into their computers to see if they had a street address associated with the vehicle. Sometimes, if the accident got a lot of press and they had a vehicle description, they would call a body shop or two and see if any cars matching the hit-and-run vehicle had surfaced. Usually the answer was no. "It's a fine department, even. But it doesn't do what we do, which is investigate murders."

"In spite of your detail's name, which indicates an interest in all homicides."

Reprinted from The Oath by John Lescroart by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2002, John Lescroart. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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