Author: Ed Rucker
Publisher: Chickadee Prince Books
In The Inevitable Witness California criminal defense lawyer Ed Rucker has delivered a fast-paced compelling legal thriller.
In the opening scene we read about a decorated Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Officer Terrance Michael Horgan laying on his back in a Chinese restaurant and about to expire as a result of gunshots through his chest.
We are next introduced to a professional safe cracker, Sydney Seabrooke who two hours earlier broke into this same restaurant and was about to burglarize a safe located on the premises when he heard the clanking of the security gate as it was opening. According to Seabrooke, this was not as planned as he had been engaged by someone to break in at this exact time and was assured he would be undisturbed.
Realizing he was in “deep do do,” Seabrooke knew he had to get out pronto. He gathered his tools, coat and hat and stepped quietly to the office doorway peering out. When he eventually escaped to the restaurant's kitchen he overheard two people arguing about money after which he heard a few gunshots. Frightened, he ran out the back door but not before noticing someone lying on the floor.
Unfortunately for Seabrooke circumstantial evidence pointed to him as the murderer being at the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition, discovered at the scene of the crime was a tool that was used to drill the restaurant's safe that could be traced to him. And there was his dropped cell phone indicating that he tried to call his home and a bondsman who engaged him to break open the safe. Nonetheless, Seabrooke may be an notorious safe-cracker, but he was not a killer.
Now enter hot shot criminal defense attorney Bobby Earl who was “as the saying went, the trial lawyer you called when you fixed bayonets." Earl did not ask to defend Seabrooke, rather he had been appointed by a Judge McKeene due to the unavailability of the public defender as a possible conflict of interest. Surprised would be an understatement, as Earl thought he ranked last on the judge's list of attorneys to defend Seabrooke. Moreover, he was puzzled as to why he was chosen as there were dozens of lawyers itching to defend Seabrooke which meant being seen on television and was a ticket to some subsequent high rent cases.
When the judge indicated that he would be hearing the case, Earl began to put two and two together as he knew McKeene wanted to run against Carmine Cavalli, the sitting district attorney, in the next election. This would mean that he would have to resign from the bench and he would not have taken the chance if he felt he could not defeat Cavalli. He needed this trial to gain publicity “what the politicos call name recognition.”
As Earl digs more into the background of the murdered Horgan things get murkier when he discovers that he was not the “clean” cop as originally portrayed but rather someone mixed up with goons of the underworld and the business of drug trafficking. Poking your nose, however, into some dangerous terrains can lead to all kinds of ramifications which is exactly what happened to Earl that led him to cross paths with drug dealers, dirty cops, an loathsome television personality nicknamed “The Thumb” and a jailhouse snitch.
Using his over thirty years of knowledge as a criminal defense attorney, Rucker has a good perception as to what transpires in the criminal justice system and it is not always a pretty scene. Fans of legal thrillers will have much to like in this thrilling yarn. This is Rucker's debut novel and it should be pointed out that he has been included in the Los Angeles Bar Association's “Trial Lawyer of the Year” and the LA County Bar Association's “Distinguished Career Award.” In addition, he is listed in “Best Lawyers in America.” Among some of his cases have been ones that he has drawn on to portray the role of the media in the American judicial system.