When it comes to the dark side of humanity, Vince Cardozo has already seen plenty. But his encounter with cult leader Corey Lyle will challenge even Cardozo. Lyle stands accused of a brutal terrorist bombing and the murder of a Manhattan power couple. His trial transfixes the city—but nothing about the case is what it seems. While the prosecution and defense duel, an explosive secret lurks in the jury box: One juror is not the person she claims to be. Now Cardozo must race against the clock to prevent a terrible miscarriage of justice . . . and save a woman from a cold-blooded killer.
In Jury Double, master storyteller Edward Stewart unleashes his most engaging thriller yet—an irresistible tale of deception, passion, and justice.
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April 15, tax day
"We're into countdown, boys and girls." Walter Egan, a red-faced man with curly brown hair and an oddly sweet voice, slapped three white plastic belts down onto the kitchen table. Scottie Egan, the greatest five-year-old who ever tumbled out of a crab-apple tree and laughed at his skinned shins, made a face. "Why are they so lumpy?"
Walter patted the boy's copper-blond head. "Because they won't work without the lumps."
Marla Egan lifted up Scottie's blue-striped polo shirt. "Now just hold still a minute, Mr. Flibbertigibbet." She placed the smallest belt around his little tummy and fastened the Velcro-tipped ends together.
"Ouch!" he groaned. "Too tight!"
"It has to be tight, honey, or it won't stay up." Marla picked up the middle-size belt. "Look the other way, guys."
Walter faced the wall. His heart gave a jump when he saw that the hands on the kitchen clock were tiptoeing around to 8:30.
Marla unzipped her skirt and fastened the belt around her waist. Scottie jammed two fingers into his mouth and let out an ear-fracturing wolf whistle.
Marla turned around with that I'm-going-to-be-mad-at-somebody face, and Scottie put on his nobody-here-but-us-mice look, eyes all sky-blue innocence, staring up at the ceiling.
"And Daddy gets the biggest." Walter opened his shirt and slipped the third belt around his stomach. "Anything showing?"
Marla examined him. Boss shirt, Calvin Klein necktie, hair slicked down from the shower--he looked good, he smelled good. "You look great, hon. What about me?" She held her hands out in a fashion-model pose and slowly twirled. She had a body to stop time and noteven a floppy cardigan could hide it.
Marla smiled, but the smile died when she saw the kitchen clock. "Oh, my. Twenty-seven to nine. Shake the lead out, fellas, or we're going to be late!"
Scottie took a leap over the kitchen chair, startling the dog, and the kitchen was full of running and laughing and barking. Any other day Walter would have told Scottie to cut it out, but today was special; ordinary rules didn't apply. He felt his hip pocket for the small white plastic box that had come with the belts in the Fellowship carton. He snapped the box open to check that the four AA batteries were aligned correctly, positive to negative. Everything looked copacetic. "We're all set, boys and girls."
Marla checked details. Window curtains were closed. Formica tabletop was wiped clean. Dishwasher was clackety-clacking. After she was gone, she didn't want anyone saying she'd been a poor housekeeper.
Walter saw tears beginning. "Come on, hon." He gave her a cheer-up squeeze and steered her toward the back door. Scottie and Robespierre ran ahead, shrieking and yapping.
Wham. The screen door banged open. Walter Egan stuck his head out into the morning. The day had a brand-new smell. Sunlight rocked the trees and the houses like the oompah of a brass band.
The Egan family piled into the Ford pickup.
"Robespierre stays behind," Walter commanded. "Today's a people day. Dogs aren't included."
"Shoot." Scottie tipped Robespierre over the window and the dog landed light on his front paws and scampered across the lawn.
Walter drove down to the center of town, savoring the rush-hour traffic and the tangerine haze that hung over the streets like a sweet pout of Mother Nature. Scottie kept tugging under his shirt.
"Don't pull at it," Walter warned. "It won't work right if you keep fiddling with it."
"It itches," Scottie whined.
"Now, just sit straight," Marla said, "and think about something that doesn't itch."
Walter pulled up at the garage entrance of the White Plains Post Office Building. People called it the P.O. Building, but it also housed the offices of twelve separate U.S. government agencies and bureaus. Over four hundred federal employees worked there. Smoky windows climbed twelve stories of shimmering black granite facade.
Walter kissed his wife and son good-bye. He could feel Marla wanting to cling. She looked into his eyes, but he let her see only calmness behind his sunglasses.
"Are you sure?" she whispered.
He nodded. "See you in seven minutes."
"Seven minutes," Marla echoed.
He tousled Scottie's hair and patted Marla's butt. Those seven minutes were going to be an eternity.
Today, instead of pulling away, Walter sat with the motor idling and watched his wife and son go into the building, Scottie tugging his mom forward, Marla with her diagonally slung little purse bouncing on her hip. You'd never have guessed they were each wearing seven pounds of explosives. They joined the scurrying stream of government employees that crowded through the door.
The metal detectors didn't even notice them. That was the beauty of plastic explosives.