There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed.
The Way of Lao-tzu
Friday, October 6, 2017 The Honorable Judge Russell Hastings’ courtroom was located on the third floor of the Florida First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, Florida. He was part of a panel of three judges including Judge Paul Mattingly and Judge Andrew Runner. They had been working together as a cohesive team for many years. In his late fifties, the judge had graying hair and a significant potbelly. With his Irish ancestry and love of good whiskey his face had taken on the familiar red splotches. His private chambers were located behind his courtroom at the rear of the courthouse. To the left of his desk was a floor-to-ceiling window open halfway, to his liking; a cool autumn breeze flowing in. To the right of his desk was the door to the courtroom, now locked. In front of his desk was the door to a back hallway which led down to the lobby. The door was secured and locked at all times with admittance acquired only by entering a security code which was changed frequently.
Sitting at his desk, his back was to a wall which contained a floor-to-ceiling credenza overflowing with his sports trophies, numerous law books, a framed diploma of his law degree from Harvard Law School, and his certificate of passing the Florida Bar Association. He’d commissioned an artist to draw a picture of him arguing a case before the Supreme Court and there was a framed Time magazine cover of him as well. To the right of the credenza was the door to his private bathroom. On this particular day, after taking a final look at case notes left by one of his clerks, he leaned back in his leather chair, put one foot up on his hand-carved El Salvadoran oak desk, and played his favorite song on his violin.
The case at hand was an appeal by a large pharmaceutical company in a wrongful death lawsuit. He vowed to himself, as he always did, to remain impartial even though he did not care for the large pharmaceutical giants. He believed they never operated with fairness, but rather were a greedy bunch, putting profit above everything else. Judge Hastings checked his watch. Realizing he was now more than five minutes late returning to his courtroom, he set his violin down on his desk and gathered the notes into a file folder. He took another minute to use his private bathroom.
Coming out of the bathroom, the judge was caught off guard at a stranger looming over his desk. But only for a moment. He took in the intruder with all his senses, noting the person was medium height, slim, with an athletic build, and wore a dark sweater and dark pants. “What are you doing in here?” He tried to reach his desk for the always loaded and ready Smith and Wesson. In a blink, the intruder moved behind him and with one hand pinned the judge’s arms behind his back; leaving him at the intruder’s mercy.
It then took only a few seconds for the intruder to grab the judge’s neck and pull his head backward in a secure grip. The judge struggled against the intruder; struggled against the feeling of being strangled. But at his age and with his protruding belly, he was no match for his adversary who was in top physical condition. The intruder, still holding the judge’s neck in a vice-grip, was astonished when the judge’s body went limp, slipped, and fell to the floor. Less than five minutes had elapsed. Judge Hastings’ lifeless body lay on the thick carpet and the murderer had vanished into thin air.
In a locked door, no access typical murder mystery, Jake Ludefance is faced with a death by heart attack, but considered murder because the attack was brought on by somebody who attacked Appellate Judge Hastings whereby resulting in his death.
Judge Hastings had been due for court and, when he didn't arrive, had been found dead. Immediately, all the courthouse went into lockdown, and all within remained for questioning by the police. After a year of what appeared in the record to be an exhaustive investigation, Jake had been contacted, through her lawyer, to find out what had happened to her father. Cindy, who had been very close to her father and was infuriated that the case was still unsolved.
But Cindy had another major reason for being upset. Her mother was now, and was also before her father's death, involved in various affairs. Even though she had been told that her father had ED and had agree to her mother seeking outside involvement, Cindy felt it was the worst of betrayals for her father to endure. Thus, Cindy was now estranged from all of her family. And, worse, she had to beg her mother for the money which had been left in her hands, to conduct any type of investigation.
Cindy had done her research--she wanted Jack Ludefance who, by that time, had a substantial reputation for solving highly complex cases. And what Cindy wanted...she always seemed to get.
But, soon, after accepting the job, Jack began to learn that she had lied to him about her role, as the youngest child, being the one to request the investigation. Nevertheless, Jack had already signed the contract.
I'm in the midst of catching up on reading all books in this series. One more to go. Ludefance is a force that can move from gentle persuasion to extensive violence within a short time. He played, mostly, within the lines of the law, and usually working together with the local police. But his goal was to solve the case, a cold case that had been set aside... And whether the police liked it or not, he usually found the angle that had not been seen as possibly leading to the perpetrator(s).
With hacking help, he soon began to learn through reading emails of various people, just what could have happened... And he began traveling to interview all those that could have been involved, for instance, he checked with a confidential informer who could tell him whether "hits" were put out for anybody in the pharmaceutical company for which the hearing had been scheduled... And often, as he traveled he'd be listening to his hometown music...
And when he meets anybody new, and sees their staring at his long scar on his face, he simply says, "Alligator Bite..."
But he also has a lot of ex-military training and investigative experience... Quite simply, he's the best! And, quite simply, he's climbed to be the top PI fictional character for this reader. He's cool, dangerous, yet, surprisingly, quite caring! And I'd be seeking him out myself...for various reasons...
And when Ludefance learns that the Judge was a part of a quartet, we get to hear a little more classic selections, as he conducts research on the members of that group which met every Friday...
He never knew when he would feel that tingling feeling that told him he was on the right track... But readers will ensure enjoy finding it, along with him! Watch for more in Kaya's Jack Ludefance PI series here at Book Readers Heaven! And enjoy what I've been having fun with, solving some of the mysteries...or not!? Then I leave it up to Jack! 'Cause you know I love it when the mystery is so complex that I don't realize whodunit! More Coming with Ludefance!
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