About your Book:
When Paul Forte is indicted by a federal grand jury, everyone suspects prosecutor Bernard (don’t call him “Bernie”) Kilroy has more on his mind than justice. Then the FBI agent in charge of Paul’s case gives him a clue to the mystery: Kilroy is bent on settling an old family score, and he’s not above breaking the law to do it.
Paul is already dealing with the death of his parents and divorce from a woman he still loves. Now, with the support of an alluring grand juror, Paul must expose the vindictive prosecutor’s own corruption before the jury renders a verdict on his Osso Buco.
Targeted Age Group: 25+
Genre: Legal/political thriller
The Book Excerpt:
The dreadful Holiday Season was near its zenith with the arrival of Christmas Eve.
It used to be bearable for me, when I could accompany Kate to her folks in rural Connecticut, just the four of us cozied up in a charming old farmhouse, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and all that. But then they died too. Cancer, within a year of each other. Not as bad as a freak car accident on an Irish country road. Or maybe worse. It depends on your perspective. It occurred to me when her mother went that perhaps only children shouldn’t be allowed to marry their own kind. Now that we’re no longer together, it’s moot. We can’t even be alone together.
I accepted a few party invitations, visited with some old classmates, had some laughs, a bit too much to drink and eat, the sort of thing that’s expected this time of year. Another time, they might have been a howl. But holiday parties are no less depressing than the holidays themselves. Except Halloween. Properly planned, a Halloween party is the nuts, although facing criminal prosecution tends to dampen one’s frivolity.
And this Shannon lady. Man! Talk about playing hard to get. I drove by her place three nights in a row, never once were the lights on. I’d have thought she’d come home for Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, I found myself at the St. Botolph bar. I’d drunk too much, but there was a party of revelers whooping it up, also with no better place to be, so I kept pace with them until my first slurred word and then headed for home. I called Kate to wish her well, see if maybe she wanted some company, just to not be alone, but I got her answering machine. Good thing, because I was in no shape to drive to Providence.
I was damned if I would spend the rest of Christmas eve drunk and alone in my condo, so I walked over to Copley Square, thinking I might osmose the Christmas spirit from the lights adorning the trees in the plaza of Trinity Church. The night was unusually warm for December. A thin fog enshrouded the plaza like dishwater in the air. The lights glowed dully as people trickled into the church. The old clock on the Boston Public Library said 11:52, and I wondered if they were having a midnight service, so I teetered across the plaza to investigate. As I approached the front of the church, the sonorous bass of the pipe organ came to life, soon met by a melodious treble and the sweet, radiant harmony of young choir voices. I broke out in goose bumps.
I followed the people slowly through the vestibule into the cavernous nave and slipped into the back pew as the organ quieted. In a moment, it piped again as the procession of robes entered the apse and moved toward the altar. The choir voices began O Holy Night, a song my father had sung to me as a child, with his classical guitar.
Long lay the world in sin and error, longing
For His appearance, then the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Soon I knelt (maybe it was the choir singing “fall on your knees”), head buried in my hands, humming through the tennis ball in my throat and sobbing like a fool, attracting furtive glances from even the street people who had advanced beyond the last row that I alone occupied.
What kind of mess have I made? I’m a goddamn criminal. I’ve ruined my life. All for a few meals and golf games I could easily afford. Dad would have been mortified, his only son tried in a federal courtroom. How badly he would regret ever teaching me how to play golf. I’ve failed them. I failed at my marriage. I have no one.
This pathetic maudlin sentiment would not do, I thought. I was the fortunate recipient of a superb education, but no one ever taught me how to grieve. I got up and left the church as the choir reached its crescendo.
He knows our need, our weakness never lasting,
Behold your King! By Him, let Earth accord!
Behold your King! By Him, let Earth accord!
I huddled in my coat and marched down St. James Street through the mist. I didn’t stop until I was in Chinatown, which I noticed when the smells of egg rolls and dumplings reminded me I hadn’t eaten since morning. A little dim sum was what the doctor ordered! I stumbled into The Dynasty, a ballroom-sized place with gaudy glass chandeliers and faded carpeting. It was nearly deserted except for a large round table at the front. It was occupied by a large Chinese family — a very old man and woman; a younger man and woman; and two young teenage girls. They all drank tea and ate from heaping platters on the table.
The younger man rose. “We close now.” He had smooth skin, kind eyes and shiny black hair. The old woman jabbered at him, waving her hand and pointing outside. His mien softened.
“I would like some dim sum,” I managed to say. The teenagers tittered and the old man regarded me blankly. The old lady continued to jabber at the younger man. He waved his arms and spoke to the girls, who promptly rose from their seats and cleared the empty plates from the table, taking them through a swinging door. The man waved his arm toward me and gestured to the vacated seats. I sat, and the old man passed me an empty plate and slid the platter over. He said something to the younger man, and they all tittered.
I smiled stupidly and looked around at them all, shrugged and asked, “What’d I do?”
The younger man said, “You drink too maah,” nodded and smiled. He didn’t look much older than me.
I nodded my head vigorously. “Yes, I did!” They all laughed and jabbered to each other.
The man poured tea into a tiny ornate cup and slid it to me. “Gree tea.” I drank, but it was insipid, tasteless. “Good fo you.” I toasted him and the others as the old woman pushed a platter of chicken feet toward the man and gestured while she jabbered at him. “She say, you heart weak.”
“You heart weak,” he said, pointing to his temple. I thought perhaps he meant I was crazy, which I could understand. He reached over and pointed to the few white hairs that salted my temples. “You get gray. Young man, gray hair. Heart weak.” He pushed the chicken feet toward me. “Eat.” I popped a chicken foot into my mouth, sucked off the skin and gristle and spit the bones and nails delicately onto my plate. They were tasty, if you didn’t think about it. Like chocolate covered ants. I looked down at the plate. I could see how each of the bones fit together to form the foot.
I ate more, some dumplings and whatever else the young girls pushed my way at their mother’s command.
“You say my heart is weak,” I asked the man.
“Is that the same word as broken?”
“No, different. You heart broken too?”
“Ohhhhh, very bad,” he said. “You eat chicken feet every day. I give you herbs for cooking. And gree tea. Drink gree tea. You feel bettah.”
“Okay. Will you be my doctor?”
“I am doctor. Chinese medicine. Chinese remedies three thousand yeah old.”
“How long have you been a doctor?”
“You must have started when you were ten.”
He chuckled, his shoulders bobbing. “I sixty-fi.”
I looked over at the old man. He must be a hundred and fifty then. “I want what you’re taking.”
The doctor went into the back and emerged with a bag full of herbs, roots, legumes and a bottle with tiny pills that looked like 4-12 shot. I looked at the ingredients on the bottle and noticed one: “penis sheep,” it said. I didn’t ask. The doctor took each item from the bag and explained to me how to make his turkey soup. I tried to pay him, but the whole family jabbered in unison and he shooed me out the door, bowing several times, and I heard the door lock behind me.
I walked back to my condo with renewed sobriety, and immediately set about making a pot of soup with all of the doctor’s weird ingredients. I had to substitute two Cornish game hens, what I had available at one-thirty on Christmas morning.
Perhaps it was the soup, but I muddled through Christmas day without once entertaining the thought of jumping off the roof. It’s so obvious why people do that sort of thing at this time of year.