The Beach House

The Beach House

BY James Patterson & Peter de Jonge

Jack Mullen is a driven student of the law. His brother Peter is a servant of the rich, parking the cars of the Hamptons' elite-and perhaps satisfying their more intimate needs as well. Then Peter's body is found on the beach. Jack knows the drowning was no accident, but someone's unlimited power and money have bought the cops, the judges, the system. Now Jack is learning a lesson in justice he never got in law school- and his astonishing plan to beat the billionaires will have you reeling-and cheering-to the very last page.

Chapter 2

I WAS STILL MARVELING at how well the Mudman was bearing up when Pauline Grabowski, one of Nelson, Goodwin's top investigators, stuck her head in my office. To introduce the new recruits to the unique resources of the firm, Grabowski had been assigned to Mudman's case and had spent the past two weeks sussing out things in East Texas.

Grabowski, who was renowned for her resourcefulness and was said to have made as much as a junior partner, carried her reputation lightly. Somehow she'd carved out a niche for herself in this male bastion without being overtly aggressive. She was low-key but straightforward. Although attractive in a captain-of-the-soccer-team way, she did nothing to draw attention to it. She wore no makeup or jewelry, except for earrings, pulled her dark brown hair back in a hasty ponytail, and seemed to wear the same tailored blue suit every day. Actually, I liked her looks just fine.

What gave her such style was the way the simplicity of everything else in her appearance contrasted with her tattoo. Rather than a discreet, dainty turtle or butterfly, Pauline had the indelible mark of the Chrysler Building on her right arm.

It started just below her right shoulder and extended for several inches, to her elbow. It was rendered in a lustrous gold that caught the light bouncing off the spire, and in such detail that it included a winged gargoyle scowling down at the metropolis. According to rumor, it had taken six eighthour sessions.

When I asked her why she felt so strongly about a skyscraper, her brown eyes flashed as if to say I didn't get it. "It's about people choosing to make something beautiful," she said. "Plus, my grandfather worked on a Chrysler assembly line for thirty-eight years. I figured he helped build it."

Pauline sat on the edge of my desk and told me that Stanley Higgins, the prosecutor in Mudman's case, had sent six men to death row from one little Texas county. He'd retired recently, mainly to a redbrick bar in a working-class section of Amarillo. "According to some nice people who befriended me there, Higgins has a serious drinking problem. Approximately every night, he spouts off about his career as a prosecutor and what he calls 'Higgins's justice.' I should probably make another trip before he parties himself to death."

"Is this what you do all day? Collect voir dire on the enemies of Nelson, Goodwin and Mickel?"

She smiled, and it was hard not to join in with her. "You can use the Latin if you like, but I call it dirt. There's no lack of it out there, young Jack."

"Not as young as you might think. Mind if I ask what you do in your spare time?" "Garden," Pauline said, straight-faced. "Seriously?"

"Cactus, mainly. So be careful, Jack. Besides, I hear you're spoken for. Private investigator, remember?"

Copyright © 2002 by James Patterson

Read by Gil Bellows

Gil Bellows stars in the TV Show The Agency and played "Billy" on Ally McBeal. He also appeared in The Shawshank Redemption, Miami Rhapsody, and Looking for Richard on the big screen.

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The Beach House
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