Robert B. Parker's Kickback (Spenser)

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9780399170843: Robert B. Parker's Kickback (Spenser)

P.I. Spenser, knight-errant of the Back Bay, returns in this stellar addition to the iconic New York Times–bestselling series from author Ace Atkins.

What started out as a joke landed seventeen-year-old Dillon Yates in a lockdown juvenile facility in Boston Harbor. When he set up a prank Twitter account for his vice principal, he never dreamed he could be brought up on criminal charges, but that’s exactly what happened.
 
This is Blackburn, Massachusetts, where zero tolerance for minors is a way of life.
 
Leading the movement is tough-as-nails Judge Joe Scali, who gives speeches about getting tough on today’s wild youth. But Dillon’s mother, who knows other Blackburn kids who are doing hard time for minor infractions, isn’t buying Scali’s line. She hires Spenser to find the truth behind the draconian sentencing.
 
From the Harbor Islands to a gated Florida community, Spenser and trusted ally Hawk follow a trail through the Boston underworld with links to a shadowy corporation that runs New England’s private prisons. They eventually uncover a culture of corruption and cover-ups in the old mill town, where hundreds of kids are sent off to for-profit juvie jails.

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About the Author:

Ace Atkins is the Edgar-nominated author of seventeen books, including five books in the Quinn Colson series. Selected by the Robert B. Parker estate to continue the Spenser novels, he has also written Robert. B. Parker’s Lullaby, Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland, and Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. Atkins lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Maybe he shouldn’t have gone out and celebrated. Maybe he should have stuck around for the vanilla ice cream after the lasagna victory meal. But what-ifs and should-haves didn’t cut it the next morning as the gray dawn crept up at five a.m. over a row of clapboard houses with peeling blue and green paint. You could smell the Merrimack River rolling by.

The cops were there. They were talking to the old man with the gun.

The boy stood in the open, his pal Tim already in a squad car. Tim’s old man’s Coupe de Ville getting hooked up to a tow truck with spinning lights. His parents were going to freak.

Another cop was talking to the boy now, wanting to know how much they had to drink.

“I don’t know,” he said. “A beer. Maybe two.”

“That’s illegal,” the cop said. “You’re only seventeen.”

“Yeah,” he said, not caring for a lecture, knowing he was screwed. “No shit.”

The cop just shook his head. He was young, maybe five years older than the boy. The cop stood ramrod straight, had hair clipped close like he’d been in the military. He wrote down some notes, wanting to know the boy’s parents’ phone number.

“It’s just my dad,” he said. “I live with my dad.”

“Is your mom alive?”

“Yeah,” he said. “But I don’t talk to her. Listen, this is a big mistake. We weren’t doing nothing. We were just fooling around and that crazy old guy comes busting out the garage door waving his pistol and saying he was going to blow our brains out.”

“Why were you in his garage?”

“We were lost,” the kid said. “We ran out of gas.”

“Is the car stolen?”

“No, it’s not stolen,” the kid said. “It belongs to my friend. It was his grandfather’s and then his father’s. He rebuilt the engine. Now it’s his. Kind of.”

“What do you mean ‘kind of’ his?” the cop said.

“It’s his,” the kid said. “His old man lets him use it when he wants. He’s gonna get the title on the Caddy when we graduate.”

“What school?”

“Blackburn,” he said. “I go to Blackburn High. Am I getting charged with something? Because I don’t see what we did. I mean, we’re not the one with the gun.”

The cop looked over to a squad car and an older cop with stripes on his sleeve. The old man nodded to the younger. Out came the handcuffs.

“Shit,” the kid said. “I knew it. I fucking knew it.”

The night was gone, slipping into a dull bluish-gray morning, roadwork light when he’d wake up and jog those five miles. Every day. Even Sunday. He wasn’t an all-night-party kind of guy. But Tim had told his parents he was staying with him and he’d told his dad he’d be at Tim’s. They didn’t have anywhere to go after the party was over. There were girls and beer. Danielle had been there with that older guy and he wasn’t about to leave first. Now the spinning blue lights.

“You’re being charged with attempted burglary,” the cop said. “You got some beer in the car. And we found a controlled substance.”

“Shit.” The girl from the party, the one Tim had made out with, had given them a few pills. They didn’t know what they were, didn’t even ask. Tim had tried to be cool, stick them in his pocket. Now they were drug dealers.

Yesterday morning, he’d stood on the podium with a gold medal around his neck for winning his weight class in Worcester. His dad had been proud. His coach. His grandmother had cooked a big Italian meal for them, even turning off the TV as they said grace. She’d made lasagna, a big salad to keep him healthy and in shape, ice cream since the next wrestling tournament was weeks away. It had been a perfect day. Damn near everything had clicked into place.

Now he was being pushed into the back of a squad car with Tim. He’d like to be mad at his friend, but this wasn’t his fault. No one forced him into that garage to see if they could find a can of gas. Controlled substance? Now he’d be labeled a drug addict, too.

He tried to calm himself, think rationally. You let your head get filled with a bunch of junk and you can’t think straight. What he did wasn’t smart, but it wasn’t the worst. He’d tell his dad the truth. He’d never lied to him. His dad knew some Blackburn cops and they’d straighten out the whole mess.

This was a mistake. A really bad mistake, but just a screwup. Nothing like this ever screwed up a person’s whole life. A person does the right thing every day of his life and that has to mean something. A kid pushes himself to run faster, lift more, not ever quit. You build up some kind of points for that. Right?

“Can I have my phone back?” he said.

The cop didn’t answer.

“Don’t I get to make a call?”

“You can do that at juvie intake,” the cop said. The young cop wasn’t looking at him as he slammed the door shut.

“What do we do now?” he said to Tim.

“Pray hard and fast,” Tim said. “We’re freakin’ screwed.”

1

On the first day of February, the coldest day of the year so far, I took it as a very good omen that a woman I’d never met brought me a sandwich. I had my pair of steel-toed Red Wings kicked up on the corner of my desk, thawing out, when she arrived. My morning coffee and two corn muffins were a distant memory.

She laid down the sandwich wrapped in wax paper and asked if my name was Spenser.

“Depends on the sandwich.”

“A grinder from Coppa in the South End,” she said. “Extra provolone and pickled cherry peppers.”

“Then my name is Spenser,” I said. “With an S like the English poet.”

“Rita said you were easy.”

“If you mean Rita Fiore, she’s not one to judge.”

“She also said you’re tough.”

“True.”

“And hardheaded.”

“Also true,” I said. “And did she say if you scratched behind my left ear my leg would shake?”

“No,” the woman said, squeezing into a client chair. “But when I told her my problems, she said to go see Spenser.”

“And bring him a sandwich?”

“She said that would help.”

I shrugged and walked over to the Mr. Coffee on top of my file cabinet, poured a cup, and offered her one. She declined. I mixed in a little sugar, set the spoon on the cabinet, and moved back to my desk. My peacoat and Brooklyn Dodgers cap hung neatly from my coat tree.

“You can go ahead and eat,” she said. “Don’t let it get cold.”

I unwrapped the sandwich, which was still miraculously warm, and took a bite. I nodded with appreciation. The woman had indeed made a friend. Outside, traffic bustled and zoomed along Berkeley and Boylston. It was still early, but dark and insular, with snow predicted all week. I had crossed winter days off the calendar until opening day for the Sox.

“My name is Sheila Yates,” she said. “Three weeks ago, my son Dillon was taken from me by the state of Massachusetts. He was sentenced to nine months in a juvie facility out in the harbor.”

She motioned with her chin as if you could see the harbor from the Back Bay. I was still able to leap medium-size buildings in a single bound, but my X-ray vision was a bit iffy. Sheila was big and blond, with thick, overly styled hair, a lot of makeup, and gold jewelry. She wore a blue sweater and blue jeans under a heavy camel-colored coat. She also wore a lot of perfume, which in small quantities might have been pleasant.

“What did he do?” I said.

“Jack shit.”

“Okay,” I said. “What was he charged with?”

“Terrorism, stalking, and making physical threats against a school administrator.”

I started to whistle, but my mouth was full. I chewed and swallowed and then took a sip of coffee.

“You want to know what he really did?”

I nodded.

“He set up a fake Twitter account for his vice principal,” she said. “He’s a funny kid. Although some might say he’s a smart-ass.”

“I like him already.”

“Does any of this make sense to you?”

“What did your lawyer say?”

“Then?” Sheila said. “We didn’t have a lawyer. I couldn’t make the hearing. I had to work or I’d get fired, so Dillon’s grandfather took him. It’s my mistake. I would have never signed that stupid piece of paper. It waived his right to an attorney.”

“Not good.”

“You bet your ass,” she said. “Rita’s now got a young attorney at her firm to help.”

“Did he make threatening remarks on Twitter?” I said.

“No way,” she said. “It was all a big joke. He may have wrote something about the guy getting his privates stuck in an appliance. He did say the guy liked to garden in the nude.”

“In all fairness,” I said, “pruning shears could be dangerous.”

“You get it,” Sheila said. “It’s a gag.”

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” I said. “And in those years it never ceases to amaze me the great wealth of people born without a sense of humor.”

Sheila took in a large breath, threw her hands up in the air, jewelry clanging, and said, “Oh, thank God,” she said. “So you’ll help me?”

“What can I do?” I said. “Sounds like Rita’s firm is on it.”

“They are,” she said. “But while they’re filing papers and stuff, I want to know how this crap happened. Rita says it’s one of the craziest things she’s ever heard.”

“Where was he charged?”

“Blackburn.”

“Ah,” I said. “The Riviera of the North.”

“Wasn’t my choice to live there,” she said. “I grew up in Newton. I took a job there after I split with Dillon’s dad. You do what you can.”

I nodded. I reached over the sandwich for a yellow legal pad and wrote her name at the top left corner. I asked her for a phone number and an address. I asked her son’s full legal name and his date of birth. She told me more about the charges and then a lot about the judge.

“Judge Scali,” she said. “He’s a class-A prick.”

“Now, that’s a campaign slogan.”

“He’s the Zero Tolerance for Minors guy,” she said. “You know who I’m talking about now? He’s all over the news and on the radio. He says what he does is tough love. Says parents that complain can deal with him now or go see their kids at Walpole later.”

“Never heard of him.”

“Well, he’s a big freakin’ deal in Blackburn,” she said. “Everyone up there is afraid of him. They think his word is God. The DA, the public defender, the cops. No one will listen to me. That’s when I called Rita. I used to work in the business office at Cone, Oakes. I don’t have a law degree, but I know when I’m being jerked around.”

“How’s Dillon?”

“They won’t let me see him,” she said, reaching into her purse for a tissue. “They won’t let me talk to him but once every couple weeks. They say it’s part of his rehabilitation out on Fortune Island. Rehabbing what? Being a wise guy? These people up there are nuts.” She started to cry but then just as quickly wiped her eyes and sat up.

I leaned back into my chair. I crossed my arms over my chest. “I can’t make any promises,” I said. “But I can check into things. Maybe find out something to help your attorney for appeals.”

“Thank God,” she said. “When can you start?”

I looked down at the day planner on my desk. I flipped through several empty pages. “How about tomorrow?”

“Jesus, you mean it?” she said, standing, coming around the desk. As I stood, she reached to hug me. I didn’t return the embrace, only patted her back a couple times. “You know I probably can’t afford your day rate, whatever it is. I saw how much some snoops charged the firm.”

“Outrageous.”

“But you’ll help anyway?”

I nodded. She walked back to the client chair and grabbed her big purse. She did not sit. I looked down at my desk and saw my sandwich waiting, only one bite mark in place. The coffee had probably grown cold.

“Thank you,” she said. “I haven’t been able to sleep or eat since this happened. I blame my dad. I blame myself. The only person I don’t blame is Dillon.”

“Doesn’t sound like it’s his fault.”

“He’s a good kid,” she said. “He doesn’t deserve to be treated like this.”

“Nobody does.”

“Everyone in Blackburn says I’m an outsider,” she said. “They tell me to let this all play out. Keep my mouth shut. Don’t piss people off.”

“Let me piss ’em off,” I said.

“I heard you’re good at that.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve had years of practice.”

2

Blackburn, Massachusetts, didn’t appear on many tourist maps of New England. The old mill town, about thirty miles north of Boston on I-93, had lost any of its Norman Rockwell charm long ago. The huge brick mills stood like forgotten fortresses along the slow-moving black water of the Merrimack. The skies were gray. A light snow was falling. As I crossed over a rusting metal bridge, I saw ice chunks in the river. I made a mental note: only sixty-nine days until opening day.

I drove around a bit, cruising the downtown and Central Avenue toward the Victorian-era city hall. Most of the storefronts sat empty. I passed the police station, an all-night diner called The Owl, a Vietnamese grocery, and several corner bars. There was the high end of town with an upstart coffee shop and a ladies’ boutique. There was a low end of town with Farman’s Salvage and a scratch-and-dent furniture warehouse. I soon ended up in front of Blackburn High School and parked in a space reserved for the school resource officer.

Might as well start making friends now.

Blackburn High looked to have been built in the twenties, constructed of blondish brick and dull glass blocks. According to a sign, it was home to the Fighting Eagles. I checked in at the office, as thuggish middle-aged men were often frowned upon for wandering school corridors. And these days, schools were locked down after the first bell.

A dour-looking woman in an oversized T-shirt reading ACHIEVE! issued me a badge, unlocked the entrance, and gave me directions to where I was headed.

The school had that familiar scent of old books and disinfectants. Being in school always tightened my stomach. My best day in high school had been graduation.

I found Officer Lorenzo sitting at his desk, hunched over a computer and not looking up even after I knocked on his open door. He was a fat guy with a couple chins in need of a shave. He wore a baseball hat, too small for his big head, with an embroidered law enforcement star reading BLACKBURN POLICE DEPARTMENT. I waited in the doorway until he could summon the energy to look up at me. To call his appearance slothlike was a true insult to the animal kingdom.

“Fill out the form,” he said. “You can drop it at the front desk.”

He had yet to look up.

I didn’t speak. Finally he lifted his eyes, refocusing.

“Yeah?”

“I’m not here for the form.”

“Aren’t you a sub?”

“Do I look like a sub?”

“You look like me,” he said. “A guy who loads trucks.”

“Well, I’m not here to award you officer of the year.”

“Ha, ha,” he said. “Then what the hell do you want?”

I took a seat without being asked. His minuscule office was very sloppy, filled with stacks of newspapers, old copies of Guns & A...

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Descrizione libro G.P. Putnam s Sons, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. P.I. Spenser, knight-errant of the Back Bay, returns in this stellar addition to the iconic New York Times bestselling series from author Ace Atkins. What started out as a joke landed seventeen-year-old Dillon Yates in a lockdown juvenile facility in Boston Harbor. When he set up a prank Twitter account for his vice principal, he never dreamed he could be brought up on criminal charges, but that s exactly what happened. This is Blackburn, Massachusetts, where zero tolerance for minors is a way of life. Leading the movement is tough-as-nails Judge Joe Scali, who gives speeches about getting tough on today s wild youth. But Dillon s mother, who knows other Blackburn kids who are doing hard time for minor infractions, isn t buying Scali s line. She hires Spenser to find the truth behind the draconian sentencing. From the Harbor Islands to a gated Florida community, Spenser and trusted ally Hawk follow a trail through the Boston underworld with links to a shadowy corporation that runs New England s private prisons. They eventually uncover a culture of corruption and cover-ups in the old mill town, where hundreds of kids are sent off to for-profit juvie jails. Codice libro della libreria FLT9780399170843

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Descrizione libro G.P. Putnam s Sons, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. P.I. Spenser, knight-errant of the Back Bay, returns in this stellar addition to the iconic New York Times bestselling series from author Ace Atkins. What started out as a joke landed seventeen-year-old Dillon Yates in a lockdown juvenile facility in Boston Harbor. When he set up a prank Twitter account for his vice principal, he never dreamed he could be brought up on criminal charges, but that s exactly what happened. This is Blackburn, Massachusetts, where zero tolerance for minors is a way of life. Leading the movement is tough-as-nails Judge Joe Scali, who gives speeches about getting tough on today s wild youth. But Dillon s mother, who knows other Blackburn kids who are doing hard time for minor infractions, isn t buying Scali s line. She hires Spenser to find the truth behind the draconian sentencing. From the Harbor Islands to a gated Florida community, Spenser and trusted ally Hawk follow a trail through the Boston underworld with links to a shadowy corporation that runs New England s private prisons. They eventually uncover a culture of corruption and cover-ups in the old mill town, where hundreds of kids are sent off to for-profit juvie jails. Codice libro della libreria FLT9780399170843

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