Authors: Richard North Patterson
First published in Great Britain in 2014 by
Quercus Editions Ltd
55 Baker Street
7th Floor, South Block
Copyright © 2014 by Richard North Patterson
The moral right of Richard North Patterson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 78206 411 4 (TPB)
ISBN 978 1 78206 410 7 (HB)
ISBN 978 1 78206 412 1 (EBOOK)
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
You can find this and many other great books at:
Also by Richard North Patterson
Loss of Innocence
Fall From Grace
The Devil’s Light
In the Name of Honor
Balance of Power
Protect and Defend
No Safe Place
The Final Judgment
Eyes of a Child
Degree of Guilt
Escape the Night
The Outside Man
The Lasko Tangent
For Dr Bill Glazer
Wonderful friend, gifted therapist, and superb literary advisor on psychiatry, sailing and life, with deep gratitude for the pleasure of his company.
For three days, Adam Blaine and his family had entered the Dukes County Courthouse, a modest two-storey brick structure with white trim and doors, and passed through a double door to a spiral staircase that rose to the courtroom itself.
Its new carpets were a rich blue, lending it a certain majesty augmented by the high ceilings and four fluted chandeliers. From the raised mahogany bench, framed by the flags of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Judge Aaron Carr presided. At a desk below him, the court reporter, a young woman with long blond hair and a grave expression, transcribed the proceedings; still lower were the tables for the prosecutor and the witness’s counsel. Black and white photographs of judges, some gazing out from the recesses of the nineteenth century, gave the room a further aura of gravity. But to Adam, the pallid walls and scarred benches where his family sat watching bespoke a certain world weariness, decades of human missteps and misdeeds and, on occasion, tragedies – traffic tickets,
theft, assault, divorce, domestic violence and, less frequent, a fatal car accident. Murder came to this courtroom every thirty years or so. Now his family was trapped here, suspected of killing one of its own.
On a wall, a schoolroom-style clock marked the agonizing passage of time, its second hand twitching from mark to mark. Though four tall windows on each side admitted light, it was dulled by lowering clouds and a steady rain that streaked the glass. Gloom seeping into his soul, Adam could only watch, gripped by the foreboding that his careful plan to conceal the truth would evaporate before his eyes.
His father sat in the witness stand, preparing to deny what Adam alone knew to be true. The stakes for his family were reflected by the media clustered outside, denied entrance to the medical examiner’s inquest into the death of Benjamin Blaine, the most famous novelist of his time – a man as arrogant as he was gifted, a great sailor, adventurer, and womanizer; the man everyone believed to be Adam’s father. Another lie to be concealed.
The degree to which Adam’s mother and brother grasped these perils differed. Sitting to Adam’s right, Teddy Blaine was an uneasy mix of worry and gratitude, knowing only that, if this witness were believed, the inquest would clear him of murder. Clarice Blaine understood much more. With a characteristic exercise of will, she projected an aura of patrician calm, as perfectly maintained as her blond, tinted hair, which, even now, helped preserve the beauty of her youth. Beneath which, Adam now understood, lived the fear that had consumed her since the day he was born.
On the stand was Benjamin Blaine’s brother, Jack – a man in his late sixties, with stooped shoulders and silvered hair,
whose long face was relieved from homeliness by an aura of modesty and kindness. The only person who knew all that Adam knew, and bore for them both the burden of burying it.
With an unwonted look of wariness, Jack faced his interrogator, District Attorney George Hanley, a bulky figure whose white hair and mustache marked him as Jack’s contemporary. From the front bench, Sergeant Sean Mallory, the ascetic, sharp-eyed homicide inspector for the Massachusetts State Police, studied Jack fixedly. So, too, did Jack’s lawyer, Avram Gold, a Blaine family friend and, of more import, an eminent law professor and defender of hard cases for more than forty years. Adam could not help but wonder if Gold knew, or sensed, how much hatred festered beneath the surface, and how much more was at risk in the next few moments than Jack Blaine’s freedom.
As Gold had explained to Adam, on Martha’s Vineyard the medical examiner’s inquest was invoked in the rarest of cases – a high-profile death where the circumstances were ambiguous, the media pressure unrelenting, the stakes for public officials high. Its modern genesis was the Chappaquiddick incident: the death of a young woman; the fate of a potential president; a swarm of media; a politically ambitious district attorney. In these circumstances, Gold went on, the authorities had needed an investigative tool to determine whether to impanel a grand jury. But, as Gold had trenchantly added, ‘No one intended for that tragedy to happen. Whereas a lot of people think someone in your family decided that your father deserved to die.’
Though Judge Carr had broad discretion to conduct the hearing, certain rules protected the witnesses and, especially,
the person who might be charged. The inquest was closed; the potential subject – in this case, Jack Blaine – could be represented by counsel. The judge could bar all others from attending, though an exception was sometimes made for the next of kin of the deceased – as it was for Clarice, Teddy, and Adam, who had already given their testimony. But only Teddy, Adam was painfully aware, had told the truth as he understood it. The other three Blaines had committed, or were about to commit their own separate acts of perjury or omission.
For Adam Blaine, knowing this, the wait for the judge’s final report would be excruciating. The report could precipitate a grand jury, and then a trial, with Jack or Teddy accused of murder. But whatever the result, it would be Adam who had caused it.
Still and silent, he watched the district attorney approach the crux of Jack’s testimony. Peering at Jack from the bench, Judge Carr wore a half frown on his bespectacled banker’s countenance, the overhead lights illuminating his bald pate. Stepping forward, George Hanley put his hands in his pockets, the thrust of his belly lending his questions an air of aggression. To Adam’s eye, trained to survive by separating truth from falsehood, Jack leaned back a fraction: the posture of a man about to lie, who is unused to lying in public.
‘When you confronted your brother on the promontory,’ Hanley asked, ‘what was his appearance?’
Briefly, Jack grimaced. ‘Worn,’ he answered. ‘Almost enfeebled. I didn’t know about the brain cancer. But, looking back, death was peering through his face.’
Even now, this was hard for Adam to imagine. He had cut off all contact with Benjamin Blaine a decade ago, and had
never returned to Martha’s Vineyard until Ben’s death. But the man he remembered, whose mirror image he was, would forever be imprinted on his heart and mind.
On the day Adam recalled, they had been sailing, the joint passion of a great outdoorsman and the young law student Ben had raised as his son. It was their last sail before the event that divided them forever. At the helm of his sailboat, Ben had grinned with sheer love of the Vineyard waters, looking younger than his fifty-five years, his thick, silver-flecked black hair swept back by a stiff headwind. To Adam, he resembled a pirate: a nose like a prow, bright black eyes that could exude anger, joy, alertness, or desire. He had a fluid grace of movement, a physicality suited to rough seas; in profile, there was a hatchet-like quality to his face, an aggression in his posture, as though he were forever thrusting forward, ready to take the next bite out of life. ‘When Benjamin Blaine walks into a room,’
had gushed, ‘he seems to be in Technicolor, and everyone else in black and white.’ As a boy, Adam had wanted nothing more than to be like him.
They had even looked alike, causing others to smile at the stamp of one generation on another – the lithe, rangy frame, the black hair and dark eyes, the strong features which, more than simply handsome, marked them as distinctive men. But much had changed between them that fateful summer; ten years later, Ben’s death had only sealed Adam’s hatred. In a last, corrosive act, Benjamin Blaine had made Adam the executor of his will, whose provisions were a poisoned arrow aimed at Ben’s family. So Adam had stayed to wage war against a dead man, learning more than anyone, save Ben, had ever wanted him to know. More than he had ever wanted to know.
The last piece had come to Adam scant weeks before, at night, brooding over a photo album – a hitherto puzzling bequest from Ben – in the bedroom of the home in which he had grown up.