Tuesday 28 March 2023

Introducing Keera Duggan by Robert Dugoni - Extract from Her Deadly Game

Keera Duggan peered across the King County courtroom to the swinging wooden door and willed her father to walk in. Leaving him to lunch alone had been a mistake. The bailiff entered from a door behind the elevated bench and commanded the few people in the courtroom to rise as Superior Court Judge Ima Patel retook her seat behind her desk, instructed the three people in the gallery to sit, and invited Officer Greg Walsh to retake the witness stand. Walsh pushed through the railing gate and made his way past the jurors. He looked official in his navy-blue uniform and utility belt. His SPD badge glistened. Walsh wore the belt at the request of the young prosecutor standing at the adjacent table. Keera used to give officers the same advice, despite the efforts of many judges to prohibit weapons in their courtrooms. 

 Patel turned her attention to Keera. “Counsel,” she said. “Will Mr. Duggan be joining us this afternoon?”

Patrick Duggan had sparred with King County prosecutors for four decades, including Ima Patel before she ascended to the bench. “Sparring” was a polite term. Patsy had routinely knocked out prosecutors, earning his nickname, the Irish Brawler, a moniker he wore as a badge of honor. The prosecuting attorney’s office felt differently. Patsy had not been opposed to hitting below the belt, throwing elbows in the clenches, and rabbit-punching out of the break. He defended his clients the way he’d won a Golden Gloves boxing tournament as a young man—any way he could. But alcohol abuse had softened Patsy’s punches and slowed his reflexes, if not yet his razor-sharp mind, and prosecutors and jurists on the King County bench knew well his binge drinking. When she’d been a prosecutor, Keera had heard colleagues in the office say, “If you want a chance to beat the Brawler, save your best witnesses for the afternoons, and hope Patsy Duggan goes on a bender.”

Clancy Doyle, apparently now Keera’s client, looked at the empty chair at counsel table with genuine concern. With good reason. Keera sat second chair at this DUI trial only at the insistence of her eldest sister, Ella, now the managing partner of Patrick Duggan & Associates. Babysitting duty. Ella had suspected Patsy to be on the brink of a binge. Damned if she hadn’t been right.

 Keera knew almost nothing about the details of Doyle’s case.

 “Counsel?” Patel asked, sounding impatient.

 Keera rose and tugged at the lapels of her black suit. “Mr. Duggan has been detained,” she said, as if her father had a dental appointment that had run long. “I’ll conduct the cross-examination of Officer Walsh.”

 Patel’s lips nearly inched into a grin. Keera clearly wasn’t fooling at least one person in the courtroom. “Proceed,” Patel said.

 Officer Walsh looked tightly wound as Keera approached. He expected a confrontation. The prosecuting attorney, also young, inched to the edge of her chair, prepared to stand and defend Walsh with objections and interruptions intended to throw Keera off her game.

They wouldn’t.

Her Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer) Out Now

A defense attorney is prepared to play. But is she a pawn in a master's deadly match? Keera Duggan was building a solid reputation as a Seattle prosecutor, until her romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. For the competitive former chess prodigy, returning to her family's failing criminal defense law firm to work for her father is the best shot she has. With the right moves, she hopes to restore the family's reputation, her relationship with her father, and her career. Keera's chance to play in the big leagues comes when she's retained by Vince LaRussa, an investment adviser accused of murdering his wealthy wife. There's little hard evidence against him, but considering the couple's impending and potentially nasty divorce, LaRussa faces life in prison. The prosecutor is equally challenging: Miller Ambrose, Keera's former lover, who's eager to destroy her in court on her first homicide defense. As Keera and her team follow the evidence, they uncover a complicated and deadly game that's more than Keera bargained for. When shocking information turns the case upside down, Keera must decide between her duty to her client, her family's legacy, and her own future.

More information about Robert Dugoni and his work can be found on his website. You can also find him on Twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook.

No comments: