John Lescroart

John Lescroart by The Hearing Read Free Book Online

Book: John Lescroart by The Hearing Read Free Book Online
Authors: The Hearing
doing this.”
    She sighed, considering. “It’s a bully pulpit, Gabe. We’re way ahead of the curve in our thinking. We knew that going in. We can’t just keep building more prisons and throwing more people into them. We’ve got to—”
    Torrey put his hand on Pratt’s arm, stopping her. They had to educate the masses, and the criminals, and the victims, and do counseling, and rehab, and yada, yada, yada. At some point, before he’d come to work full-time in the Hall of Justice and become immersed in the stupidly hopeless march of crime through the system, he’d even believed a good portion of it. But that day was in the past.
    â€œLet’s keep this discussion on point,” he said a little more firmly than he’d planned. But before his boss could react negatively, he pressed on. “We’ve tried to raise the moral bar, Sharron. We’ve done the right thing time and time again. But the polls are telling us that the people aren’t getting the message, or it’s not the one they want. Now the question is, do you want to go ahead? And if you do, I really think the wise move would be to consider”—he paused—“refining your position slightly.”
    Her mouth twisted in distaste. “No.”
    He almost said, “Well, that was a delightful exchange of ideas.” But the words that came out were, “No what? You don’t want to go ahead?”
    â€œNo. I don’t want to quit. I’ve worked hard for this position, for the people’s trust. I am the absolutely best person for district attorney. And let’s not forget that I’m running the office the way it should be run.”
    Torrey brought a hand to his mouth to hide the grimace. That old “should” again. Pratt’s vision was at least entirely, self-righteously consistent, he thought: never mind the way things actually were. Pratt had a vision of a better world, and the people who didn’t share it were stupid, damned, ignorant, venal, criminal, clueless or all of the above. Therefore, they didn’t count. But her adviser had to try to get Pratt at least to realize that their votes did. “Okay,” he said. “Then maybe it’s just a question of perception.”
    Pratt’s bright eyes sparked. She liked this direction. “Of what?”
    â€œThat you’re soft on crime.”
    The spark turned dark. “That’s rubbish. I hate crime. Why do you think I ran for the job in the first place? It’s criminals—the people—that I don’t hate. I try to understand them, see what happened, how they got—”
    He brought some more pressure to her forearm. “Sharron. Perception, okay?”
    A show of reluctance, then she nodded. “Go on.”
    â€œThe killing of Elaine Wager by this vagrant.”
    â€œThat is so horrible. I loved Elaine, Gabe.”
    â€œEverybody loved Elaine, Sharron. That’s my point. Here’s a much-loved, well-known community figure, daughter of a popular ex-senator, and African-American to boot. She is brutally murdered by a homeless white man for a few coins in her purse. Are you seeing where I’m going with this?”
    To his satisfied surprise, he saw that his idea had clicked with Sharron.
    â€œAnd one other thing,” he said.
    â€œWhat’s that?”
    â€œIf you don’t mind, I’d like to try the case myself.”
    This did bring a clearly visible reaction, almost a start. “But I need . . .” She slowed herself down. “Why would you want to do that, Gabe?”
    Torrey had stopped chewing his nuts. He put down his glass, met Sharron’s eyes. “When she first came up . . .”
    â€œThis is Elaine?”
    He nodded. “When Chris Locke was D.A.”
    Her mouth tightened. In private, Sharron referred to Locke’s administration as “the Neanderthal years.” Since her own

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