Cover image for Seeds of doubt
Seeds of doubt
Kane, Stephanie.
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Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, [2004]

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285 pages; 24 cm
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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Denver defense attorney Jackie Flowers doesn't want to take the case. Convicted child killers are not her favorite clients.
Thirty years ago, Rachel Boyd was just a child herself when she was found guilty of killing her little playmate, Freddie Gant. After three decades in reform school and adult prison, Rachel is finally free. Free to find a new life. Free to kill again?
Has she, in fact, already killed another child? Shortly after settling in at the home of her brother, wealthy banker Chris Boyd, Rachel may have succumbed to temptation. Could it be just a coincidence that the gardener's child, Benjamin Sparks, is found dead in circumstances somewhat similar to the Freddie Gant murder?
Against her better instincts, Jackie accepts Rachel's case. Everyone deserves a good defense. Jackie wants desperately to embrace her client's innocence and believe what Rachel tells her. Can she trust her enough to invite her into her home to stay while she prepares for trial?
And what about Lily, the child next door whom Jackie loves as her own? Just kicked out of boarding school, she's facing a rocky adolescence. Rachel's influence on her may be dangerous in more ways than one.
As Jackie fights to prove Rachel's innocence, she must struggle with challenges both inside and outside the courtroom: her dyslexia, which makes it tough to be a lawyer, especially when the other side throws unexpected documents in her face; her conflicted relationship with ex-lover Dennis Ross, who's now an affluent civil litigator; her paralyzing fear of heights. Will her fear cause her to fail at the most crucial moment?
With its riveting insights into the legal process and its devastating observations on good and evil and the way the past can haunt the present, Seeds of Doubt confirms the literary power of one of our brightest new crime-writing talents.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Well-crafted prose and strong character development are hallmarks of Kane's latest Jackie Flowers novels. When Dennis Ross, Jackie's old beau from the Denver public defender's office, calls to ask for her help on a case, Jackie is torn. Now a hotshot corporate attorney, Dennis still has the power to make Jackie's temperature rise--both from anger and attraction. A small boy has disappeared from the mansion of a prominent Denver banker, and the prime suspect is the banker's sister Rachel, who was convicted of killing a playmate when she was a child. Jackie believes Rachel is innocent and invites the complex woman to stay at her home until the trial starts. Rachel, a rather odd guest, strikes up an ill-advised friendship with the young girl who lives next door. As Jackie prepares Rachel's defense, she must get to the bottom of the crime Rachel supposedly committed as a child, but dredging up old memories proves difficult and dangerous. Readers of Alafair Burke's Samantha Kincaid novels need an introduction to Jackie Flowers. --Jenny McLarin Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A dead six-year-old child named Benjamin Sparks; his troubled aunt, Rachel Boyd, just out of prison after serving 30 years for killing a playmate; a powerful and believably dysfunctional Denver banking family all add up to business as usual for defense attorney Jackie Flowers in Kane's taut and thoughtful third crime novel about the dyslexic lawyer (after Extreme Indifference and Blind Spot). The best thing about Kane's books is that Jackie's dyslexia is no mere gimmick: the condition colors her life and courtroom work and makes her searches for truth and justice harder and more compelling. When she agrees to take the case of Rachel Boyd, who was looking after Benjamin when he disappeared and was later found murdered, Jackie is reacting strongly to Boyd's past experiences as well as to her own childhood memories. "Give them what they want so they won't see what's really there," Flowers thinks. "Let them think they know the worst, so you can protect what you really want to hide. Was her own transformation a fraud, all the devices that made her successful in court a sham?" Insightful moments like this mark Flowers as more than just another shrewd criminal defense lawyer. Kane deserves to join the ranks of the big-time legal-thriller eagles. Agent, Fred Morris at Jed Mattes Inc. (Nov. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Criminal defense lawyer Jackie Flowers returns in her fourth case, one that hits a little too close to home. Kane, a corporate lawyer-turned-criminal defense lawyer and a 2004 Colorado Authors League Award winner, lives in Denver. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



May 1973 "You wanna see it, don't you?" Gravel pierced his sandals as he struggled to keep up. "Slowpoke." A dusty wind fanned purple flowers in the field. They passed a trailer with a chicken-wire hutch. He saw the rabbits prick up their ears. "Sissy." The sun was hot and his mouth tasted like dirt. The footsteps he was following got longer. They'd left the others in the shade of the park. "Change your mind?" He'd never go there alone, he'd get spanked if he got caught. But he wasn't alone. So it was okay, wasn't it? "Then hurry up!" He stumbled but kept on his feet. Now they were trotting, and the only sound was trucks whipping by on the interstate past the railroad tracks. When the footsteps came to a stop he almost fell. He looked up and saw twin flashes of silver. Arrows with gleaming tips pointed straight at the sky. Rocket ships. "Go on, you can touch them." He took a step forward and ran his fingers over the ribbed metal. Slowly he circled the huge bins that guarded the windowless tower. It was cooler here in the shadows; the highway was in another world and he stopped thinking about what would happen if he got caught. The tower was so tall he couldn't see the top. Braided wire thick as rope tied the ships to the ground. Ducts and chutes, an upside-down funnel big enough to swallow and spit him out whole -- He felt a warm breath at the back of his neck. "Pretty neat, huh?" From where he was standing, the highway and the railroad tracks were gone. Even the town had disappeared. How would they look from the tower? High above the bins stood a catwalk with a small platform. "What are you waiting for?" Metal bars hugged the wall with nails for handholds. The ladder was too steep, but he wanted to see -- "I knew you were too little." He stepped onto the first rung, sandal slipping on the greasy metal. "I'm right behind you." He'd really catch it if his mom -- A gentle push made him reach for the handhold. Slowly he began to climb. "Go on..." Driven by soft grunts behind him and the creak of heavier feet on the rungs, he kept climbing. After five steps his arms were shaking and his fingers cramped. Halfway up the ladder his trousers caught something sharp. He heard them tear. "Not gonna stop now, are you?" He'd show them. When he reached the catwalk his legs were jerking so badly he couldn't stand. Dropping to his knees at the platform's edge, he shut his eyes. "Well, go ahead. Take a look." The four-wheelers on the interstate were the size of his red truck, the railroad tracks no bigger than the ones in the train set his brother got for Christmas. On the other side the ground was patched like a quilt, one piece brown and flat and the next ribbons of green. A gust of wind parted the grass and ran through the field like a comb. "Wanna see something else?" A flash. Something flat and shiny, with a -- He grabbed, but it was snatched back. "Come and get it!" Now it was above his head. He reached up with both hands only to have it pulled away. He was hot and he was out of breath, and suddenly he was too tired to play. "What do you think you're doing?" "Wanna go home..." The whiny voice was his. "I knew you were a baby." He made himself stand. "Pull them down." The giggle added to his confusion. "I said, take them off!" A smile, but this was no longer fun. "Do it now." He stepped back and bumped the railing. He felt a warm surge. "Don't be a baby. It's just a game." Pee rolled down the inside of his leg. "Not a fraidy-cat, are you?" He could hear the trucks on the highway. "Do it." The eyes shined like black buttons. His heel touched the platform's edge. "Do it now." The voice was scarier than the eyes. Metal flashed. Then his sandal slipped. He tried to grab the railing. His feet went out from under him. It was too late. All he could hear was his own scream. Copyright (c) 2004 by Stephanie Kane Chapter One "You were the chief investigator at the scene of the accident?" Seated at the defense table, Jackie Flowers kept her voice low. Courtroom 12 was as tight as a shoe box and the jurors were so close they could have heard Assistant District Attorney Tom Tuttle break wind. "Objection!" Tuttle sprang to his feet and two jurors winced. "This is a manslaughter case," Tuttle said, oblivious to the judge's pained expression as his words echoed in the airless room. The walnut slats covering the wall behind the bench made Jackie feel as if she were trapped inside a pipe organ. "'Accident' is hardly appropriate in view of the fact that Ms. Flowers' client decapitated -- " "My client has already sworn under oath, and he intends to repeat that testimony in this court" -- gracefully rising, Jackie caught the same two jurors, now joined by a third, gazing at her client with renewed interest -- "that he secured his trailer to his pickup truck with a steel bolt and chains. It came unhitched and sailed across the median into oncoming traffic. That sounds like an accident to me." "Overruled," the judge said. "If this were a murder case, Mr. Tuttle, you wouldn't be assigned to it." Jackie strode to center stage. Accident. Focus the jury on the accident, not her client. Or, God forbid, the victim. In her cobalt suit and two-inch alligator heels she stood eye to eye with the seated witness. Positioning herself directly between him and the jury box, she hooked a honey blonde curl behind her ear and softly continued. "What was the condition of the road?" "Irregular." "Help us out, Officer. Don't you mean washboard?" "I guess." "And you were able to ascertain the exact section of that washboard asphalt where my client's trailer came unhitched?" Damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Admit Jackie's client hit a three-foot pothole, or pretend he didn't know where to look for that wire and bolt? The biggest mistake most cops made was getting in a pissing match with the lawyer instead of focusing on the jury. The witness looked helplessly at the DA and Jackie smiled. With every eye in the courtroom on her, she could afford to be generous. "You told this jury your job was to examine the highway for evidence that the hitch was or wasn't bolted. What precisely were you looking for?" "Metal bolt and piece of wire." Sweat prickled his upper lip. "What did you find?" "Bottles, cans, rubber. You name it." The officer gave a weak laugh and tried to look past Jackie at the jury. "Some people think I-25's their personal dump site." "How high are the weeds at the side of the road? Eighteen inches?" "Thereabouts." "So you used a metal detector." "Well, no." She took a step closer. "Get your uniform dirty?" "Beg pardon?" Now she was leaning over the witness stand. "When you got down on your hands and knees on the shoulder of I-25 and dug through all those weeds and trash looking for a three-inch scrap of wire and a sheared-off steel bolt!" "I -- " "No further questions, Your Honor." Tuttle and his two assistants fled through the door behind the bench as soon as the gavel dropped. Jackie watched her client being manacled and led off by a deputy laden with chains, pepper spray, stun gun -- enough junk to stock a militiaman's RadioShack. Until he hit that pothole, he'd been just another carpenter on his way to work. Albeit one with two previous DUIs to his credit. Shaking her head, she took her time packing her briefcase with the blank legal pads and unopened Rules of Criminal Procedure that were her stock-in-trade. When the courtroom finally cleared she left. On this first Monday in April, the fourth-floor corridor of Denver's City and County Building was a cacophony of wailing babies, bleating walkie-talkies and screeching cell phones. The marble pillars and terrazzo floors made the clattering heels of hookers and their higher-priced attorneys audible from the far end of the hall, and a tide of shackled prisoners whose color-coded scrubs denoted their presumed level of culpability streamed from the sheriff's private elevator. Jackie stood aside for a trio of women in washed-out olive and pea-green jumpsuits destined for drug court. "We'll knock it down from manslaughter to neg homicide." It had taken ADA Tom Tuttle eight minutes to recognize his case was going down after his chief witness bailed out. Record time. "The only negligence is your office going to trial with this case." "Come on, Jackie." He was trying not to beg. "What choice did we have? Sixteen-year-old honor student driving down I-25 in a brand-new Mustang, minding his own business -- " "That cop never even looked for a bolt, and you know it." "Your client's been busted twice for drunk driving." "Not this time, he wasn't. The most we'll consider is careless." "Careless driving?" A felon shuffling by in leg irons and Day-Glo orange turned to look, and Tuttle lowered his voice. "Duncan Pratt's not going to like that." Since when did the Denver district attorney have to bless every plea? "He'll like it more than an acquittal. When my guy takes the stand tomorrow all bets are off." Tired of waiting for the public elevator, Jackie started for the stairs. "Hear about that six-year-old boy who's been reported missing out by the country club?" Tuttle was at her elbow. The marble staircase behind the elevator bank conferred an unwanted intimacy and she quickened her pace. "Another missing kid, right up your alley." "Missing kid?" "Didn't you defend that sleazebag accused in one case last year?" Why did every DA take his brethren's defeats so personally? "My client walked," she said. "And the alleged victim was a college coed, not a six-year-old boy." "Maybe you'll be lucky enough to defend another innocent client." "Keep filing on the wrong guys, and what do you expect?" She began counting the steps to the lobby. "So you've already made a bust?" "He's only been missing since yesterday." Not even long enough to file a missing person's report. DAs were all alike; they took it personally and they saw a pervert behind every bush. "Maybe he ran away." Tuttle's smile pitied her. "How far can a six-year-old run?" Jackie stepped through the City and County Building's majestic doors and into the sunlight. Standing with her adversary beneath the fifty-foot columns, she gazed down at beds of purple and yellow pansies whose festivity mocked the grim business within. Across Civic Center, the gold dome of the state capitol gleamed but clouds were massing to the north. "You know how easy it is to lure a kid," Tuttle said before turning to go back in. "All it takes is something bright and shiny." A little girl in a frilly dress. A man in a dark sedan easing to the curb and leaning out the window. A handsome man, with a snap-brim hat and an easy smile -- Blinking away the memory of the public safety film shown so many years ago to her grade school class, Jackie started down the granite steps. Since when did evil wear a snap-brim hat? Copyright (c) 2004 by Stephanie Kane Excerpted from Seeds of Doubt: A Crime Novel by Stephanie Kane All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.