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Synopsis

Twenty-two years ago, Ike Rossi’s life was shattered when his parents were murdered. He surrendered his football scholarship and returned home to find their killer and raise his sister. Now, the crime of a local ten-year-old genius, Jack Cole, threatens to unearth old wounds.

When Ike meets Jack inside the Pittsburgh courthouse, he doesn’t see a murderer but instead a boy who's been victimized by a system that's left them both without justice. Despite knowing the case will resurrect the painful demons of his parents’ unsolved murders, Ike agrees to clear Jack’s name. The court of public opinion and the district attorney have an airtight case. Worse, taking Jack’s side thrusts Ike into the crosshairs of the most powerful family in Pittsburgh, the Falzones.

Now, with only days before the trial, Ike confronts the Falzones’ crumbling empire to find the shocking evidence that could save Jack. At the same time, he races to decipher a series of cryptic clues from Jack’s dead father that could hold the key to his son’s freedom. But each step closer to the truth draws them further into danger, and as three fractured families collide, Ike is forced to choose between saving Jack—and saving himself.

Jack Cole knew they were coming for him next. He waited in the dense shrubs with a vengeful patience. He reminded himself he was here for a reason—one that justified the action. He fought back the dark sensation that this was wrong. Thou shalt not kill had been drilled into him at Saint John’s. But this was the only way to end it—to be safe. 

His hand shook as he gripped the heavy rifle and took aim at the front door of the mansion across the private cul-de-sac. He settled the jitter with the thought that this man had killed his dad. 

He leaned back against the tree and braced for the kick. Then, through the bushes, he saw a sliver of light widen as the front door opened. He dropped his head and took aim through the scope. He’d been watching the lawyer’s house for days. 

The thick door swung open and his target stepped out, closing the door behind him. Jack hesitated when he came face-to-face with him through the scope. Still, he steadied the heavy rifle and squeezed the trigger.

The blast slammed his back against the thick tree. The kick felt stronger than it had when he’d fired it on his first hunting trip with his father, just two months ago. As he scrambled to regain his balance, he saw his prey—the man responsible for destroying what was left of his family—fall against the front door of the red brick home, his white shirt splattered with blood and his face paralyzed in shock. Blood smeared as the man grabbed at the door, apparently reaching for someone inside. Finally, the attorney collapsed with his contorted body wrapped around his large legal briefcase. 

Jack stood and froze, shocked by the carnage he’d unleashed. When the door swung open and a panicked woman rushed out, he came to his senses. 

In seconds, Jack secured and covered the rifle and began his escape. Halfway down the cul-de-sac, he was sure someone had called 911. As he calmly pulled the red wagon his father had given him on his ninth birthday, he heard the police cars responding. They raced through the expensive suburban homes toward 1119 Blackbird Court. 

The two cars turned onto the cul-de-sac and slowed when the patrolmen passed a mom and her children standing in their driveway, gaping at the terrifying scene. At the deep end of the cul-de-sac, the police cars screeched to a stop. Their doors sprang open and two officers swept the area with their guns drawn. The other two rushed to the porch. The woman cradled the man’s body, screaming wildly. Blood coated the porch and covered the woman’s face and arms. 

Jack fought the urge to run and wandered out of the cul-de-sac. Two other police cars and an ambulance raced past. Over his shoulder, he saw the paramedics rush to the porch. Then Jack turned the corner and lost sight of what he’d done—and he began to cry. 








About the author

Steve Hadden attended Penn State, graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, and began a career in the oil business that ultimately led to the idea for his first thriller. He returned to his hometown with his latest thriller, The Victim of the System. Visit Steve at http://stevehadden.com. view profile

Published on April 03, 2018

80000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Legal thriller

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