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Judge & Jury
By Andrew Gross
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The novels of James Patterson
FEATURING ALEX CROSS
Pop Goes the Weasel
Cat & Mouse
The Big Bad Wolf
Jack & Jill
Four Blind Mice
Kiss the Girls
Violets Are Blue
Along Came a Spider
Roses Are Red
THE WOMEN'S MURDER CLUB
The 5th Horseman (and Maxine Paetro)
4th of July (and Maxine Paetro)
3rd Degree (and Andrew Gross)
2nd Chance (and Andrew Gross)
1st to Die
Maximum Ride: School's Out—Forever
Beach Road (and Peter de Jonge)
Lifeguard (and Andrew Gross)
Honeymoon (and Howard Roughan)
Sam's Letters to Jennifer
The Lake House
The Jester (and Andrew Gross)
The Beach House (and Peter de Jonge)
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas
Cradle and All
When the Wind Blows
See How They Run
Miracle on the 17th Green (and Peter de Jonge)
Hide & Seek
The Midnight Club
Season of the Machete
The Thomas Berryman Number
For more information about James Patterson's novels, visit www.jamespatterson.com
MY NAME IS NICK PELLISANTE, and this is where it started for me, one summer out on Long Island at "the wedding of weddings." I was watching the bride celebrating at the head of the dance line as it festively wound through the tables. A conga line. I groaned. I hated conga lines.
I should mention that I was watching the scene through high-powered binoculars. I followed as the bride slung her ample, lace-covered rear end in every direction, toppling a glass of red wine, trying to coax some bowling ball of a relative who was scarfing down a plate of stuffed clams up into the procession. Meanwhile, the grinning, affable groom did his Gowanus Expressway best just to hang on.
Lucky couple, I thought, wincing, thinking ten years down the line. Lucky me, to get to watch. All part of the job.
As special agent in charge of section C-10, the FBI's Organized Crime Unit in New York, I was heading up a stakeout of a wiseguy wedding at the posh South Fork Club in Montauk. Everybody who was anybody was here, assuming you were into wiseguys.
Everybody except for the one man I was really looking for.
The Boss. The Capo di tutti capi. Dominic Cavello. They called him the Electrician because he had started in that trade, pulling off construction scams in New Jersey. The guy was bad, terror-level-red bad. And I had a slew of warrants on him, for murder, extortion, union tampering, and conspiracy to finance narcotics.
Some of my buddies at the Bureau said Cavello was already in Sicily, laughing at us. Another rumor had him in the Dominican Republic at a resort he owned. Others had him in Costa Rica, in the UAE, even in Moscow.
But I had a hunch that he was here, somewhere in this noisy crowd on the South Fork Club's beautiful back deck. His ego was too large. I'd been tracking him for three years, and I expect he knew it. But nothing, not even the federal government, was going to make Dominic Cavello miss his closest niece's wedding.
"Cannoli One, this is Cannoli Two," a voice deadpanned in my earpiece.
It was Special Agent Manny Oliva, whom I'd stationed down on the dunes with Ed Sinclair. Manny grew up in the projects of Newark, then got himself a law degree at Rutgers. He'd been assigned to my C-10 unit straight out of Quantico.
"Anything on the radar, Nick? Nothing but sand and seagulls here."
"Yeah," I said, dishing it back, "ziti mostly. A little lasagna with hot sausages, some stuffed shrimp and parmigiana."
"Stop! You're making me hungry down here, Nicky Smiles."
Nicky Smiles. That's what the guys I was close to in the unit called me. Maybe because I was blessed with a pretty nice grin. More likely it was because I'd grown up with a bunch of these wiseguys in Bay Ridge, and my name ended in a vowel. Plus, I knew more about La Cosa Nostra than just about anyone else in the Bureau, and I was offended by what this scum had done to the reputations of all Italian Americans: my own family, friends of mine who couldn't have been more law-abiding, and, of course, myself.
So where the hell are you, you sly sonovabitch? You're here, aren't you, Cavello? I swept the binoculars along the dance line.
The procession had snaked all the way around the deck by now, past all the juiced-up goombahs in tuxedos with purple shirts and their high-hairdo wives busting through their gowns. The bride sidled up to a table of old-timers, padrones in bolo ties sipping espresso, trading old tales. One or two of the faces looked familiar.
That's when the bride made her mistake.
She singled out one of the old men, leaned down, and kissed him on the cheek. The balding man was in a wheelchair, hands on his lap. He looked feeble and out of it, as if he were recovering from an illness, maybe a stroke. He had on thick black-rimmed glasses, no eyebrows, like Uncle Junior on The Sopranos.
I stood up and focused the lens on him. I watched her take him by the hands and try to get him up. The guy looked like he couldn't pee upright, and he could barely wrap his arms around her, never mind get up and dance.
Then my heart slammed to a stop.
You arrogant sonovabitch! You came!
"Tom, Robin, that old geezer with the black glasses. The bride just gave him a kiss."
"Yeah," Tom Roach came back. He was inside a van in the parking lot watching pictures sent from cameras planted in the club. "I got him. What's the problem?"
I took a step closer, zooming in with the lens.
"No problem. That's Dominic Cavello!"
"THIS IS A GO!" I barked into the mike attached to my shirt collar. "Target is a bald male in black glasses, seated in a wheelchair at a table on the left-hand side of the deck. It's Cavello! He is to be treated as armed and likely to resist."
From where I was, I had a firsthand view of the next few minutes of action. Tom Roach and Robin Hammill jumped out of the van in the parking lot and headed for the entrance.
We had manpower, backup all over the place—even agents posing as bartenders and waiters on the inside. I had a Coast Guard cutter half a mile offshore, with an Apache helicopter that could be mobilized if necessary.
Not even Dominic Cavello would turn his brother's daughter's wedding into a firefight, right?
A couple of hoods in light-blue tuxedos were taking a smoke break outside when they spotted my team coming out of the van. One headed back inside while the other blocked their approach. "Sorry, this is a private affair. . . ."
Tom Roach flashed his shield. "Now it's open to the public. FBI."
I zoomed back to the other wiseguy hurrying out to the wedding party on the deck. He ran up to the crippled old man in the wheelchair.
I was right! It was definitely Cavello! But our cover was shot.
"We're blown!" I yelled, fixing on the commotion on the deck. "Everybody close in on Cavello! Manny, you and Ed stay put and cover the dunes. Taylor," I called out to an agent posing as a waiter, "wait for Tom's crew."
Then Cavello jumped out of the wheelchair, suddenly the healthiest guy in the world. Steve Taylor put down his serving tray and pulled a gun from under his jacket. "FBI!" he yelled.
I heard a shot and watched Taylor go down and stay down.
Chaos erupted. Guests were scurrying around the deck, some shrieking, others ducking under tables. A few of the well-known mob bosses were hurrying toward the exits.
I refocused on Cavello. He was hunched over, slinking through the crowd, still in disguise. He was making a path toward the stairs leading down to the beach.
I took out my Glock and hopped off the ledge I'd been perched on. Then I ran for the clubhouse along the shore road.
I stayed near the white clapboard clubhouse, then ran in the restaurant's front door and through to the deck. I could still see Cavello. He had peeled off his black glasses. He shoved an old woman out of his way and leaped over a wooden fence—then he was running toward the dunes.
We had him!
"MANNY, ED, he's headed toward you!"
I saw where Cavello was going. He was trying to get to a helicopter up on the point, obviously his helicopter. I pushed through the crowd, shoving people out of the way. At the edge of the deck, I looked down.
Cavello was stumbling over the grassy dunes, making his way along the beach.
Then he ducked behind a tall dune, and I lost sight of him.
I shouted into the radio, "Manny, Ed, he should be on you any second now."
"I got him, Nick," Manny squawked.
"Federal agents," I heard Manny shout through the radio.
Then there were shots. Two quick ones—followed by four or five more in rapid succession.
My blood turned to ice. Oh, Jesus. I leaped over the fence, then ran down the dunes toward the beach. I lost my footing and fell to one knee. I righted myself and hurtled in the direction of the shots.
Two bodies were lying faceup on the beach. My heart was pumping. I ran to them, sliding in the sand, which was stained dark with blood.
Oh, dear God, no.
I knew that Manny was dead. Ed Sinclair was gurgling blood, a gunshot wound in his chest.
Dominic Cavello was fifty yards ahead, holding his wounded shoulder but getting away.
"Manny and Ed are down," I yelled into the mike. "Get help here now!"
Cavello was running toward a helicopter. The cabin door was open. I took off after him.
"Cavello, stop!" I shouted. "I'll shoot!"
Cavello looked back over his shoulder. He didn't stop though.
I squeezed the trigger of my gun—twice. The second bullet slammed into his thigh.
The godfather reached for his leg and buckled. But he kept going, dragging the leg, like some desperate animal that wouldn't quit. I heard a thwack, thwack, thwack—and saw the Coast Guard Apache coming into sight.
"That's it," I yelled ahead, aiming my Glock again. "You're done! The next shot goes through your head."
Cavello pulled himself to an exhausted stop. He put his hands in the air and slowly turned.
He had no gun. I didn't know where he'd thrown it, maybe into the sea. He'd been close enough. A grin was etched on his face despite the bullets in his thigh and shoulder.
"Nicky Smiles," he said, "if I knew you wanted to be at my niece's wedding, all you had to do was ask. I woulda sent you an invitation. Engraved."
My head felt like it was going to explode. I'd lost two men, maybe three, over this filth. I walked up to Cavello, my Glock pointed at his chest. He met my eyes with a mocking smile. "You know, that's the problem with Italian weddings, Pellisante, everybody's got a gun."
I slugged him, and Cavello fell to one knee. For a second I thought he was going to fight me, but he just stood up, shook his head, and laughed.
So I hit Cavello again, with everything I had left in me.
This time, he stayed down.
IN HIS HOUSE on Yehuda Street in Haifa, high above the sky-blue Mediterranean, Richard Nordeshenko tried the King's Indian Defense. The pawn break, Kasparov's famous attack. From there Kasparov had dismantled Tukmakov in the Russian Championship in 1981.
Across from Nordeshenko a young boy countered by matching the pawn. His father nodded, pleased with the move. "And why does the pawn create such an advantage?" Nordeshenko asked.
"Because it blocks freeing up of your queenside rook," the boy answered quickly. "And the advance of your pawn to a queen. Correct?"
"Correct." Nordeshenko beamed at his son. "And when did the queen first acquire the powers that it holds today?"
"Around fifteen hundred," his son answered. "In Europe. Up until then it merely moved two spaces, up and down. But . . ."
Affectionately, he mussed his son's blond hair. For an eleven-year-old, Pavel was learning quickly.
The boy glanced silently over the board, then moved his rook. Nordeshenko saw what his son was up to. He had once been in the third tier of Glasskov's chess academy in Kiev. Still, he pretended to ignore it and pushed forward his attack on the opposite side, exposing a pawn.
"You're letting me win, Father," the boy declared, refusing to take it. "Besides, you said just one game. Then you would teach me . . ."
"Teach you?" Nordeshenko teased him, knowing precisely what he meant. "You can teach me."
"Not chess, Father." The boy looked up. "Poker."
"Ah, poker?" Nordeshenko feigned surprise. "To play poker, Pavel, you must have something to bet."
"I have something," the boy insisted. "I have six dollars in coins. I've been saving up. And over a hundred soccer cards. Perfect condition."
Nordeshenko smiled. He understood what the boy was feeling. He had studied how to seize the advantage his whole life. Chess was hard. Solitary. Like playing an instrument. Scales, drills, practice. Until every eventuality became absorbed, memorized. Until you didn't have to think.
A little like learning to kill a man with your bare hands.
But poker, poker was liberating. Alive. Unlike in chess, you never played the same way twice. You broke the rules. It required an unusual combination: discipline and risk.
Suddenly, the chime of Nordeshenko's mobile phone cut in. He was expecting the call. "We'll pick it up in a moment," Nordeshenko said to Pavel.
"But, Father," the boy whined, disappointed.
"In a moment," Nordeshenko said again, picking up his son by the armpits, spanking him lightly on his way. "I have to take this call. Not another word."
Nordeshenko walked out to the terrace overlooking the sea and flipped open the phone. Only a handful of people in the world had this number. He settled into a chaise.
"This is Nordeshenko."
"I'm calling for Dominic Cavello," the caller said. "He has a job for you."
"Dominic Cavello? Cavello is in jail and awaiting trial," Nordeshenko said. "And I have many jobs to consider."
"Not like this one," the caller said. "The Godfather has requested only you. Name your price."
New York City. Four months later.
ALL ANDIE DEGRASSE KNEW was that the large, wood-paneled room was crowded as shit—with lawyers, marshals, reporters—and that she'd never been anywhere she wanted to get the hell out of more.
But it was the same for the other fifty-odd people in the jury pool, Andie was quite sure.
Jury duty—those words were like influenza to her. Cold sore. She had been told to report at 9:00 a.m. to the federal courthouse in Foley Square. There she filled out the forms, polished her excuses, and killed an hour leafing through Parenting magazine.
Then, at about eleven thirty, her name was called by a bailiff, and she was herded into a line of other unfortunate people with unsure, disappointed faces and up to the large courtroom on the seventh floor.
She looked around, trying to size up the rest of the fidgeting, kibitzing group squeezed into the bull pen. This was definitely not where she wanted to be.
The scene was like a snapshot taken on the number 4 Lexington Avenue train. People in work uniforms—electricians, mechanics—blacks, Hispanics, a Hasid in a skullcap, each trying to convince the person on either side that he or she didn't belong there. A couple of well-to-do types in business suits were punching their BlackBerries, demonstrating in the clearest possible way that they had something far more important to do with their time.
Those were the ones Andie had to worry about, and she regarded them warily—the prospective jurors who had their time-tested, A-number-1 alibis honed and ready to go. Bosses' letters. Partners' meetings. Travel schedules, deals going down. A cruise to Bermuda that was already fully paid.
Of course, Andie hadn't exactly come empty-handed.
She had put on her tight red T-shirt with the words DO NOT DISTURB emblazoned across the chest. It was the tackiest thing she owned, but we weren't talking fashionista here.
We were talking adios—excused. Even if it was on the grounds of being thought an airhead or a bimbo.
Then there was the single-mother thing. That was legit. Jarrod was nine, and he was her best buddy as well as her biggest handful these days. Who would pick him up from school, answer his questions, help him with his homework, if she couldn't be there for him?
Finally, there were her auditions. Her agent at William Morris had scheduled two for this week alone.
To amuse herself, Andie counted the faces of people who looked intelligent and open-minded and didn't seem to be conveying they had somewhere else to go. She stopped when she got to twenty. That felt good. They only needed twelve, right?
Next to her, a heavyset Hispanic woman knitting a pink baby's sweater leaned over. "Sorry, but jou know what kinda trial dis is?"
"No." Andie shrugged, glancing around at the security. "But from the looks of it, it's something big. You see those guys? They're reporters. And did you notice the barricades outside and those cops milling around? More uniforms in this place than in an NYPD Blue wardrobe closet."
The woman smiled. "Rosella," she said amiably.
"I'm Andie," Andie said, extending her hand.
"So, Andie, how jou get on dis jury, anyway, jou know?"
Andie squinted at her as if she hadn't heard right. "You want to get picked?"
"Sure. My huzban say you get forty dollars a day, plus train fare. The woman I work for, she pay me whichever way. So why not take the cash?"
Andie smiled and shrugged wistfully. "Why not?"
The judge's clerk came in, a woman with black glasses and a pinched, officious face, like an old-time schoolmarm. "All rise for Judge Miriam Seiderman."
Everyone pushed themselves out of their seats.
"So, Rosella, you want to know how to get on this thing?" Andie leaned over and whispered to her neighbor as an attractive woman of around fifty, with touches of gray in her hair, entered the courtroom and stepped up to the bench.
"Just watch." Andie nudged her. "Whatever I do, do the opposite."
JUDGE SEIDERMAN STARTED OUT by asking each of them a few questions. Name and address. What you did for a living. Whether you were single or married, and if you were, if you had kids. Highest level of education. What newspapers and magazines you read. If anyone in your family ever worked for the government or for the police.
Andie glanced at the clock. This was going to take hours.
A few of them got excused immediately. One woman announced she was a lawyer. The judge asked her to come up to the side of the bench. They chatted a few seconds, and she let her go. Another man complained that he'd just served on a jury up in Westchester. He'd only finished up last week. He got a pink slip, too.
Some other guy who was actually half cute announced he was a crime novelist. In fact, another woman in the jury pool held up his book. She was reading it! After he finished up, Andie heard him snicker, "I don't have a prayer of ending up on this thing."
Then, Judge Seiderman nodded Andie's way.
"Andie DeGrasse," Andie replied. "I live at 855 West One eighty-third Street, in the Bronx. I'm an actress."
A few people looked back at her. They always did. "Well, I try to be," she said, qualifying. "Mostly I do proofreading for The Westsider. It's a community newspaper in upper Manhattan. And regarding the other question, I was, Your Honor, for five years."
"Was what, Ms. DeGrasse?" The judge peered over her glasses.
"Married. The nuclear option, if you know what I mean." A couple of people chuckled. "Except for my son. Jarrod. He's nine. He's basically a full-time occupation for me now."
"Please continue, Ms. DeGrasse," the judge said.
"Let's see. I went to St. John's for a couple of years." What Andie really wanted to convey was, You know, Your Honor, I dropped out in the fourth grade, and I don't even know what exculpatory evidence means.
"And let's see, I read Vogue and Cosmo and, oh yeah, Mensa. Charter member. I definitely try and keep up with that one."
A few more chuckles rippled around the courtroom. Keep it going, she said to herself. Push out the chest. You're almost off this thing.
"And regarding the police"—she thought for a second—"none in the family. But I dated a few."
Judge Seiderman smiled, shaking her head. "Just one more question. Do you have any reason or experience that would prejudice you against Italian Americans? Or render you unable to reach an impartial verdict if you served on this trial?"
"Well, I once played a role in The Sopranos," she replied. "It was the one when Tony whacks that guy up at Meadow's school. I was in the club."
"The club?" Judge Seiderman blinked back, starting to grow short.
"The Bada Bing, Your Honor." Andie shrugged sheepishly. "I was dancing on one of the poles."
"That was you?" a Latino guy cracked from the first row. Now a lot of people were laughing around the courtroom.
"Thank you, Ms. DeGrasse." Judge Seiderman suppressed a smile. "We'll all be sure to check out the reruns when they come around."
The judge moved on to Rosella. Andie was feeling pretty confident she had done her job. She felt a little guilty, but she just couldn't be on this jury.
Now, Rosella was perfect. A juror's dream. She'd cleaned house for the same woman for twenty years. She'd just become an American citizen. She wanted to serve because it was her duty. She was knitting a sweater for her granddaughter. Oh, you're a lock. Andie grinned to herself. Rosella hit every question out of the park. She was like a juror commercial!
At last the judge said she had just one question for the jury at large. Andie's eye checked the clock. One fifteen. If she was lucky, she could still catch the Broadway number 1 and pick Jarrod up at school on time.
Judge Seiderman leaned toward them. "Do any of you know the name, or have you been associated with in any way, Dominic Cavello?"
Andie turned toward the stolid, gray-haired man seated in the third row of the courtroom. So that's who that was. A few people murmured. She glanced at Rosella, a little sympathetic now.
These people were in for one scary ride.
I WAS SITTING in the second row, not far from the judge, during the jury questioning. Security marshals lined the walls, ready to go into action if Cavello so much as scratched his nose. Most of the marshals knew I was the one who had taken Cavello down and that this case was personal for me.
It was driving me crazy waiting to have the opening arguments begin, to have the first witness take the stand.
We got Miriam Seiderman as the judge. I'd had her on trials twice before, and she always seemed to bend for the defendants. But she was thorough, fair, ran a tight court. We could have done a lot worse.
I was thinking this looked like a pretty decent pool of jurors. A couple of them were downright entertaining.
There was a Verizon guy with a New England accent who said he had three town houses in Brooklyn he'd fixed up and that he was bagging the phone company job anyway, so he could care less how long the trial ran.
And a crime novelist who someone in the jury pool recognized. In fact, she was actually reading his book.
Then the woman in the third row. The actress and single mom. She was feisty and cute, with thick brown hair with reddish streaks in it. There was some writing on her T-shirt—DO NOT DISTURB. Kind of funny.
Once or twice, Cavello glanced back at me. But most of the time he just sat there, hands joined, staring straight ahead.
A couple of times, our eyes met. How ya doin', Nicky, his smile seemed to say, like he didn't have a worry in the world, a guy about to go away for life.
Every once in a while he huddled with his attorney, Hy Kaskel. The Ferret, he was called. Not just because he made a living representing these bums, but because he was short and barrel-chested, with a hanging nose, a pointy chin, and thick, bushy eyebrows you could brush your shoes with.
Kaskel was a showman, though, among the best there was at his job. The Ferret had gotten two mistrials and an acquittal in his last three mob trials. He and his team just sat there sizing up each juror on a large poster board, taking notes. The Verizon guy. The MBA. The author.
I glanced up at the actress again. I was pretty sure she thought she was out of here. But sometimes that's what you need on a jury, someone who can cut through the bullshit, break the ice.
"Ladies and gentlemen." Sharon Ann Moran, the judge's clerk, got everyone's attention. The defense and the prosecution had finalized their selections.
I was thinking, just give me twelve jurors smart enough to see through the bluster and bullshit, twelve jurors who won't be intimidated.
One by one, the judge announced the names. Twelve jurors and six alternates. She told them to come up and take a seat in the jury box.
The crime writer was in. Shocked. So was the Verizon guy. And the Hispanic housekeeper, the one who was knitting for her granddaughter.
But the biggest surprise was the actress. She was in, too! I never saw anyone so stunned. I think everyone in the courtroom was holding back a smile.
"Ms. DeGrasse, Juror Number Eleven, you can take a seat in the jury box," the judge told her, amused herself. "You got the part, dear."
THE GLASS ELEVATOR of the Marriott Marquis rose higher and higher above Times Square. Richard Nordeshenko watched the glittery bustle of the street grow distant and small below.
- On Sale
- Jul 31, 2006
- Page Count
- 432 pages
- Little, Brown and Company