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Authors: Sarah Shankman

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First Kill All the Lawyers

BOOK: First Kill All the Lawyers
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Table of Contents



Author’s Note

“The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

First Kill All the Lawyers



















First Kill All the Lawyers

A Samantha Adams Mystery

By Sarah Shankman

Copyright 2013 by Sarah Shankman

Cover Copyright 2013 by Ginny Glass and Untreed Reads Publishing

The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.

Previously published in print, 1988.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold, reproduced or transmitted by any means in any form or given away to other people without specific permission from the author and/or publisher. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to the living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Also by Sarah Shankman and Untreed Reads Publishing

Impersonal Attractions

To Harvey Klinger

’s Note

The people listed below have been very helpful to me in the writing of this book, and I would like to thank them.

In Atlanta, for advice and information, Carmen Alonso, J.D., Dr. Kenneth Alonso, Alfred W. Brown and
Brown’s Guidebook: Atlanta,
Robert Coram, and Chuck Perry. For continuing encouragement and a home, Cliff Graubart and the Old New York Bookstore.

In Virginia, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and its director, William Smart, and staff for residencies that have given me the gift of time.

In New York, Harvey Klinger, my agent, and Jane Chelius, my editor, were wonderful. Every writer should be so lucky as to have two such as these in her corner.

“The first thing we do,

let’s kill all the lawyers.”


Henry VI
Part II,

Act IV, Scene ii

First Kill All the Lawyers

A Samantha Adams Mystery

Sarah Shankman


Billy Gene Chandler was mean as a junkyard dog,” George said. “Wasn’t worth the powder it would’ve taken to blow him to kingdom come.”

Samantha Adams smiled at her uncle across the dining table. She could feel him warming up, and once he got started, he could really tell some stories.

“Why didn’t somebody do something about Chandler?” she asked. “Turn him in? Report him?”

George Adams shrugged. “To whom?” And then he waggled his fork at her. “If you don’t know the answer to
question, you’ve forgotten more about the South than you’ve relearned in these few months you’ve been back.”

“You’re never going to forgive me for moving to California, are you?” She tilted her face toward the ceiling. “No more than he’s going to forgive the engineers for building the interstates through the city, is he, God?”

“God’s not going to help you with the big things if you go bothering him with the small fry all the time,” volunteered Peaches as she entered the dining room. She peered at Sam’s water glass, then into the silver water pitcher. “More water?”

Sam laughed. “Just because I don’t drink anymore doesn’t mean I want the whole Chattahoochee River poured down my gullet every day, thank you.”

“And God doesn’t like ugly,” Peaches sniffed, then proceeded to clear the salad plates.

“Now, Peaches,” Sam protested.

“Don’t ‘Now, Peaches’ me. You heard what I said. He doesn’t like ugly.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I just meant—”

“I know what you meant.” Peaches stood her ground, one hand on a bony hip. “Now, just drink your water and let’s change the subject.”

It made Peaches cranky when Samantha referred to her alcoholism, to what Peaches called her “being bad to drink.” After all, Sam, who had first come to live with them as a young girl, was in part
creation. She didn’t like anyone, including Sam herself, badmouthing her handiwork.

“Tell them to leave you be. Shame on you two, ganging up on her,” said Horace as he entered the room carrying a platter of fish.

“That’s right.” Sam nodded.

“And I guess you’ve been standing in the kitchen twiddling your thumbs and eavesdropping,” Peaches said.

Horace’s eyebrows rose a hair, but only a hair, for this routine between the Johnsons, man and wife, was well rehearsed.

“George! Are you going to answer my question or not?” Sam demanded.

“My dear, I’m sorry.” He shook his white head in mock seriousness. “In all this commotion, I’d almost forgotten it.”

Sam reached across the wide dining room table with a heavy silver serving spoon and rapped her uncle on the knuckles. “Quit playing with me. Now, why didn’t any of the good people of Raritan County turn Sheriff Billy Gene Chandler in to the district attorney—or call the governor’s office? There must have been
they could have reported him to if he was as awful as you say.”

The look bounced from Peaches to Horace to George, then back the other way.

“Don’t just roll your eyes at one another. Spill it,” said Sam.

“Is that how you earned their praises at the
Saying things like ‘spill it’? That kind of talk may go over big in San Francisco, but you’re going to have to develop a more ladylike style if you ever expect to make it in Atlanta,” George said.

“I imagine the folks downtown at the
like Samantha’s style just fine,” said Horace as he boned the fish Peaches had cooked to perfumey perfection. “Otherwise, why would they have stolen her away from that paper in ’Frisco?” He smiled at Sam. “Don’t you listen to your Uncle George.”

“Will I never be free of the tyranny of my help?” George asked of no one in particular.

And no one answered, for the relationship among George and Peaches and Horace required no response. They had lived together like family in this
split-timber Tudor mansion on Fairview Road for almost fifty years.

“Horace, maybe you can answer my question, since George obviously isn’t going to,” Sam persisted. “He was telling me about Sheriff Billy Gene Chandler from down in Raritan County, and I asked him why nobody reported him for being so corrupt.”

“’Cause it wouldn’t have done any good.” Horace placed fish and vegetables on Samantha and George’s plates and placed the plates carefully before them, a style of service he’d adopted to accommodate George’s rapidly failing eyesight. “Here’s some more wine for you, George,” he said, replacing the glass precisely at the one o’clock position. Then he continued, “It’s never done any good to complain about lawmen. They just do what they gonna do anyhow.”

Samantha shot her uncle a questioning look, then realized he couldn’t read it from that far away—but she was wrong. As his vision dimmed, George Adams was honing his already sharp intuition.

“No, Sam, Horace doesn’t mean just blacks. White folks would gain nothing either by complaining.” Race had always been so negligible an issue in this household that the mention of it was not an impoliteness, as it would have been in many quarters.

“That’s right,” Horace continued. “Puff adders like that Sheriff Chandler, they’d just as soon poison their own kind. Fact, what I heard about him with women, he didn’t discriminate when it came to color.”

“Now, don’t go talking about that, ’specially at the dinner table,” Peaches warned, all the while busying herself brushing at imaginary crumbs so she wouldn’t miss a word.

women?” Samantha’s curiosity sat up.

“Sheriff Chandler was known for a peculiar way of gaining the attentions of those whom he fancied,” George explained. “When he took a shine to a lady, if she didn’t return his interest, he just locked her up.”


“Yep. Then sent his deputy out for a moonpie and a
RC Cola while he had his way with her.”

“And those people put up with that?”

people are afraid, Sam. They’re terrified of men like Billy Gene Chandler—and with good reason. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you ever since you got me off on this subject. Rural sheriffs in this state rule their counties like fiefdoms. Once in office, they’re there for life. You cross the man, and you’re either going to have to pay the price, settle with him somehow, or move out—fast. There’s a lot of ignorance and in-growth in these little backwater places. They take care of things in their own way.”

“I can’t believe I grew up not knowing this. What was I thinking about when I was a girl?” But she
known some of it, if only subliminally.

“Boys,” Peaches answered. “Pajama parties. Nail polish. Normal things.”

Sam ignored her. “What do you mean, ‘take care of things in their own way’? Like how?”

“You name it—murder, rape, robbery. They keep it all very close to home,” George said.

“By that you mean it never makes the papers.”

The other three exchanged looks.

“Makes the papers! Why, Sam, it never gets to trial. Most of the time charges aren’t even pressed. Rural justice is much more primitive than that.” George sipped his wine. “A man kills someone, let’s say. Now, unless the one who was killed
killing in
the sheriff’s eyes, then within a year that murderer is going to find himself dead too, unless he has the good sense to move out.”

“George, you are making this up,” Sam protested. “Why, all this reeks of the
South. This is the
South, darlin’. Don’t try to tell me nothing’s changed while I’ve been away. I can see changes everywhere I turn.”

And that, in part, was true. But deep down, Sam knew that many things about the South had not changed and never would, and that was in part why she had returned to it. One of the things she’d always said, as a stranger in the even stranger land of California, was that she’d never regretted growing up Southern. Most certainly the South had its dark side, and she was among the first to point out its obvious flaws. But it had its charms, too, its gentility, its beauty, and, not least, its humor—none of which she had ever seen the likes of in all her travels. And although the Kmarts and the tract houses and the McDonalds in some ways made it look like other places, it wasn’t.

“Unfortunately, some things that ought to change don’t,” George answered her charge.

“So you’re going to sit here and tell me that most of the justice in this state is still dealt out catch-as-catch-can by a handful of fat rednecks?”

“Well, I don’t imagine they’re all fat, and as you’ll remember we mostly call them crackers, but yes, that’s what I’m saying.”

“And no one does a thing about it?” Sam demanded.

“Well, only every once in a while. And usually only when it can’t be helped. I mean, the mess Sheriff Chandler got himself in had nothing whatsoever to do with local folks—that was on account of the Drug Enforcement Administration.”

BOOK: First Kill All the Lawyers
2.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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