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Secrets Girls Keep | Michael Gresham, book 2

What if you invited a young man into your guest room…only to find out he had killed someone?

Michael Gresham is a criminal attorney whose priest has fathered a son. The boy is now seventeen, acting-out, and arrested for first-degree murder. The priest asks Michael to take his son into his home so he can be released on bail. Michael and his wife agree and the boy, with his snake and mice, moves in.

One young client who looks guiltier with each new death…

The new houseguest gets questioned by the police for yet a second murder. Michael Gresham and his wife become uneasy and, when the young man begins acting out, they finally move him out. The snake and mice move out with him.

One courtroom thriller that curls around and surprises even the keenest readers…

Read an Excerpt

Outside U.S. Grand Jury Room 204 in Chicago, in the nook just beyond the elevators, is a black leather bench where I practice law. That’s how much the federal judiciary thinks of me and other defense lawyers who, it is foreseeable, would wait outside the grand jury room in order to help our clients formulate their answers to questions posited by the U.S. Attorney. The U.S. Attorneys get offices in this court building with windows that look down on the mere mortals below, a lordly view. We defense attorneys, by contrast, are given a public bench–one to share among us–maybe leather, probably naugahyde. Which is how criminal defendants and their attorneys are treated by the justice system. The worst of the worst, the crummiest of the crummiest, always second-rate for second-rate citizens. Even the cops get their own office. But am I bitter? You’re damn right I am.

Here’s another thing as long as I’m making my case. I feel I am representing my client in the most half-assed way possible. He’s under subpoena so he has to be inside the grand jury room with the grand jury. But I’m defense counsel so I’m not allowed to enter that sanctum. However, he has the right to come out into the hall and discuss questions and formulate answers with me. Which we’re doing, one question at a time–which is also his right. Then he goes back inside and tells them what I think. How, you might wonder, would this be any different than me, Michael Gresham, being inside the grand jury room with him? The answer is that the identification of the grand jury is secret. If I were allowed inside, the rationale goes, the grand jury’s anonymity might be compromised. So here I sit, tearing up the New York Times crossword, trying to flash on a four-letter word that means forlorn. Down? Might it be down? Surely it’s not that simple. It’s from New York, after all, for the love of God.

My client is Thomas A. Meekins. He is the thrice-elected sheriff of Mackenzie County. Meekins is under investigation by the grand jury for embezzlement of public funds, money they say he ripped off from the sheriff’s office with phony invoices and real checks. One $54,000 check, to Glock, Inc., was cashed at Imperial Casino in Wisconsin, ninety minutes north of Chicago. Was it my guy who presented the check to the cashier? Or did someone else? To solve such mysteries, grand juries are hatched, defendants are subpoenaed to appear and encouraged to give testimony against themselves, and lawyers like me are allowed to make camp on a sun-faded couch surrounded by crazies who look like they just stepped off some Martin Scorsese soundstage. They’re waiting for their grand juries, too, and they don’t mind standing close-by, where they just might pick up a gem of legal wisdom as I advise my sheriff. So we whisper and he frowns at me, stone deaf in his right ear from too many hours at the gun range and two tours as a tank commander in Iraq. Did he hear that I just told him to take the Fifth in answer to being asked whether he’d ever been to Imperial Casino? Or did he think I told him pay the rent before playing bingo? Frankly, I have no idea. My audience is probably getting more out of my admonitions than my client, if his perpetually troubled face is any indicator.

Here he is again. The tenth question in an hour.

“Is that my signature on the check?” he asks. His face is ashen and I don’t like that. Fear is one thing; self-incrimination by skin tone is something else.

“Well, is it?”

He scrutinizes me. The crowd steps forward.

“I endorsed it,” he whispers.

“Have they asked that?” I whisper in return.

“Not yet.”

“Well, let’s talk about that. If you admit you endorsed it, then bam, you’re indicted. If you deny endorsing it, then bam, you’re guilty of perjury. Perjury is the lesser of the two charges.”

“Isn’t there any other way?”

“Do you remember what I told you about the Fifth Amendment, Tom?”

“You told me if I’m unsure of something to take the Fifth.”

“Right. This is one of those times.”

“So take the Fifth?”

“Definitely.”

“How long can they keep me in there?”

“All day. Days. A week.”

“State grand juries take maybe an hour, tops,” he says from experience.

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