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Moment of Truth

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Newlin had no choice but to frame himself for murder. Once he had
set his course, his only fear was that he wouldn't get away with
it. That he wasn't a good enough liar, even for a lawyer.

The detectives led Jack in handcuffs into a small, windowless room
at the Roundhouse, Philadelphia's police administration building.
Bolted to the floor at the center of the room was a straight-backed
steel chair, which reminded Jack of the electric chair. He looked

The walls of the room were a dingy gray and marred by scuff marks
as high as wainscoting. A typewriter table topped with a black
Smith-Corona stood against the side wall, and in front of the table
sat two old wooden chairs. One of the chairs groaned when the
heavyset detective, who had introduced himself as Stan Kovich,
seated himself and planted his feet wide. "Siddown, Mr. Newlin,"
Detective Kovich said, gesturing to a wooden chair across from

"Thank you." Jack took a seat, noting that the detective had
bypassed the steel chair, evidently reserved for murderers who
weren't wealthy. Special treatment never suited Jack. A
bookkeeper's son, he had worked his way through school to become an
estates lawyer who earned seven figures, but even his large
partnership draw remained a pittance in comparison to his wife's
family money. He had always wished the Buxton money away, but now
he was glad of it. Money was always a credible motive for

"You want a soda? A Coke or somethin'?" Kovich asked. The detective
wore a short-sleeved white shirt, light for wintertime, and his
bullish neck spread his collar open. His shoulders hunched,
powerful but gone to fat, and khaki-colored Sansabelts strained to
cover his thighs. A bumpy, working-class nose dominated his face
and he had cheekbones so fleshy they pressed against the rims of
his glasses, large gold-rimmed aviators. Their bifocal windows
magnified his eyes, which were earth brown and addressed Jack
without apparent judgment.

"No, thanks. Nothing to drink." Jack made deliberate eye contact
with Detective Kovich, who was closer and seemed friendlier than
the other detective. Propped against the wall on a thin Italian
loafer, he was black and hadn't said anything except to introduce
himself. Hovering over six feet tall, rangy and slim, the detective
had a face as narrow as his body, a small, thin mouth, and a nose a
shade too long in proportion to high cheekbones. Dark, almost-onyx
eyes sat high on his face, like judges atop a dais.

Let's start by you telling me something about yourself, Mr.
Newlin." Kovich smiled, showing teeth stained by coffee. "By the
way, just for the record, this interview is being videotaped." He
waved vaguely behind the smudgy mirror on the wall, but Jack didn't
look, steeling himself to be convincing in his false

"Well, I'm forty-three. I'm a partner at Tribe & Wright,
heading the estates and trusts department. I attended the
University of Pennsylvania Law School, Yale, and Girard before

Kovich nodded. "Wow impressive."

"Thank you," Jack said. He was proudest of Girard, a boarding high
school established by the trust of Stephen Girard for fatherless
boys. Girard was a Philadelphia institution. He never could have
made it to Yale or any other university otherwise.

"Where you from?"

"North Philly. Torresdale."

"Your people still up there?"

"No. My father died a long time ago and my mother passed away last
year, from lung cancer."

"I know how that goes. I lost my mother two years ago. It's no

"I'm sorry," Jack said. No picnic. It was such a rich
understatement, his mouth felt bitter. His mother, gone. His
father, so long ago. Now honor. He cleared his throat. "Maybe we
should move on."

"Sure, sure." Kovich nodded quickly. "So, you're a lawyer at the
Tribe law firm. Pretty big outfit, right? I read somethin' about
them in the paper, how much they bring in a year. They're printin'

"Don't believe everything you read. Reporters have to sell
newspapers. "

"Tell me about it." Kovich laughed, a harsh guttural noise that
burst from his throat. He turned to the other detective, still
standing against the wall. "Right, Mick?" he asked.

The detective, who had introduced himself as Reginald Brinkley, not
Mick, only nodded in response, and the pursing of his lips told
Jack he didn't welcome the attention. Brinkley, also middle-aged,
wore a well tailored brown sport coat with a maroon silk tie, still
tight despite the late hour and affixed to his white shirt with a
gold-toned tie bar. His gaze chilled the room and the uptilt to his
chin was distinctly resentful. Jack didn't know what he had done to
provoke the detective and only hoped it worked against him.

"So, Mr. Newlin," Kovich was saying, "hey, can I call you

"Of course."

"You got any other family, Jack? Kids?"


"Oh yeah?" Kovich's tone brightened. "What flavor?"

"A girl. A daughter."

"How old?"


"I got a sixteen-year-old!" Kovich grinned, showing his bad teeth.
"It's" a trip, ain't it? Teenagers. You got just the one?"


"Me, I got a thirteen-year-old, too. Also a girl. Houseful of blow
dryers. My wife says when they're not in the bathroom, they're in
the chat rooms. Yours like that, on the computer?"

Jack cleared his throat again. "I don't mean to be impolite, but is
there a reason for this small talk?" He didn't want to go there and
it seemed like something a murderer would say.

"Well, uh, next-of-kin notification is our job. Standard procedure,

He tensed up. He should have thought of that. The police would be
the ones to tell Paige. "My daughter lives on her own. I'd hate for
her to hear this kind of news from the police. Can't I tell her

Excerpted from MOMENT OF TRUTH (c) Copyright 2000 by Lisa
Scottoline. Reprinted with permission from the publisher,
HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Moment of Truth
by by Lisa Scottoline

  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • ISBN-10: 0061030597
  • ISBN-13: 9780061030598