Excerpt from A Well-Known Secret by Jim Fusilli, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Well-Known Secret

by Jim Fusilli

A Well-Known Secret
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2002, 304 pages
    Oct 2003, 320 pages

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I went toward Fourth, stopping briefly by the melted candles, weathered fliers and inexhaustible well of sadness at the makeshift tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center attacks that stood sentry to Brown's statue of Washington on horseback. As I walked along the wide avenue, passing a Salvation Army thrift store, a year-round costume shop dubbed the Masters of Masquerade and the elaborate and decidedly English architecture of the Grace Church School, I called Sharon Knight, the best known and perhaps the best of Morgenthau's army of assistant district attorneys. A secretary with a Jamaican accent told me she was in court, so I asked for Julie Giada and got her voice mail. The clock in the musical quarter note on Carl Fischer's building told me a lunch recess wasn't too far off, so I kept going and arrived at Hogan Place just short of 45 minutes later: If Julie got my message, she'd help.

If Sharon was the star in the D.A.'s office, Julie was its angel. Julie, Sharon once said, had "a big, big heart," and added that "it's too bad she's doesn't check with her head now and then." Julie was plenty smart, but I knew what her boss meant: She liked to dig through the system to find lost causes— a bag lady who didn't want to move off a grate in Sutton Place, a wizened old man set up to take a fall by his pinstriped nephew and trophy wife, a wide-eyed yet insolent kid caught playing lookout for the neighborhood drug dealer. Julie had interned in the Brooklyn D.A.'s, then joined full-time after graduation from Penn Law. She spent a year in private practice, but jumped at the chance to come into Sharon's small group. "She really should've joined the Legal Aid, ACLU, something," Sharon laughed. "If I didn't trust her with my soul, I'd think she was working us from the inside." Maybe Julie's compassion would extend to the mother and grandson of a murderer.

I breezed through the first metal detector, then another, and I took the elevator upstairs. The receptionist was a cop who long ago had been taken off the streets and given a job that kept him warm and relatively safe: He still carried a service revolver. His family name was Casey, and whenever I came up here, perhaps 50 times in the past four years, he reacted as if he'd never seen me before.

"Officer Casey," I said with a nod.

He pushed aside his copy of the Post. "What'll it be?" he asked blankly. The thin black man had pale blue eyes and a long chin.

"Julie Giada, please," I said.

"Are you somebody by the name of Terry Orr?"

"Terry Orr," I replied, surprised.

"You have some ID?"

I dug out my wallet and showed him my P.I. license.

He handed me a white envelope that bore the New York County crest. "Julie's still out."

I nodded.

"You can call later if you want."


I tore open the envelope and slid out a single sheet of paper.

Sonia Salgado's address. St. Mark's Garden in the East Village.

Excerpted from A Well-Known Secret © Copyright 2002 by Jim Fusilli. Reprinted with permission by Putnam. All rights reserved.

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