MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
I’m in bed, silently reciting their names. Number one, Lester Beale, stabbed his girlfriend twenty-six times. Number two, Jeffrey Younts, shot a fifteen-year-old boy as he stepped off the school bus. Number three, Omar Monteiro, gunned down twin brothers on their thirtieth birthday. This is my nighttime ritual. I count killers, the people I’ve prosecuted for murder.
My list contains twenty-six names. It’s arranged in chronological order and reaches back four years. It used to include victims, the people who fuel my addiction to the job and keep me coming back for more. When my homicides climbed into double digits, there were too many names to remember. Someone had to go, either predator or prey. Reluctantly, I let go of my victims, held on to my killers. I had to. That’s the whole point. They remember me, so I have to remember them.
Many of my victims’ names have blurred, but I’ll never forget their faces. Number four, Devon Williams, smashed the life out of his son. The boy was fifteen months old. He had big brown eyes, pudgy cheeks, and weighed all of twenty-two pounds. When paramedics brought him to the morgue, there was blood spatter on the front of his Tony the Tiger onesie.
When I reach number five, Rodney Quirk, who shot his cousin at point-blank range, I feel a familiar jolt of anxiety. My heart pounds as the beginning of a panic attack takes hold. I sit up and remind myself to breathe, knowing that it will pass.
Rodney is the reason I started my list. He strapped a vest onto the chest of a ten-year-old, grabbed a fully loaded .357, and pulled the trigger. Turned out, the vest wasn’t bulletproof. He was charged with first-degree murder, but my only eyewitness got cold feet, and the case fell apart.
Now Rodney is my silent stalker, part of my daily routine. Every morning he takes up his perch in the window of a coffee shop across from the courthouse. He sits, stone-faced, and watches me stride by on my way to work, hugging my Prada tote. He’s never confronted me—not yet—but he wants to remind me that he’s there, thinking about me.
It would be easy to avoid him. I could enter the rear of the building with the judges and prisoner vans, but that would signal defeat. I don’t want him to know I’m afraid. I don’t want anyone to know I’m afraid. Besides, this way, I can keep track of him. We can both know where the other one is. There’s only one thing scarier than seeing Rodney in that window every morning—not seeing him, wondering where he is and what he’s up to.
I steady my breathing and reach for the bottle of ginger ale that I keep on my bedside table. As the warm, spicy soda trickles down the back of my throat, I let go of Rodney and move on to numbers six and seven, Jimmy Franklin and Roosevelt Prince, drug deal gone bad.
The phone chirps, startling me. I grab it, catching it between the first and second rings. There’s no need to check the name on the display. A phone call at 3:00 A.M. can be only one thing: someone in Boston has been murdered.
Copyright © 2016 by Pamela Wechsler