BY: JD DAVIS
Wife of a prominent judge, Vivian Reinhold’s world gets turned upside down when she arrives home to find their beloved maid has been shot in an apparent robbery gone wrong. Miles Whitman, an expert medical examiner, who has recently relocated to the Midwest, does not believe a word of what the not-so-honorable judge, Bill Reinhold, has to say. Miles quickly determines that Vivian was, most likely, the intended target. Vivian and Miles put their heads together and, after a string of near-deadly “accidents,” Vivian realizes that the life she thought she knew was all a lie. Together they set out to solve the case, but both discover they are dealing with more than they bargained for…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Judicial Justice by JD Davis, Vivian Reinhold comes home to discover that her maid has been shot. The scene seems to have been staged as a robbery, but Vivian is suspicious since she has had a few too many seemingly innocent accidents lately. Now she wonders if she was the intended victim. The new medical examiner, Miles Whitman, agrees with her, but who is to blame—her devoted husband, the not-so-honorable judge Bill Reinhold, or her angry ex-husband, who blames her for sending him to jail? Or could it be one of her husband’s enemies, or perhaps even a mistress, looking to take Vivian’s place? Whoever it is, Miles and Vivian need to find the killer fast, before it’s too late.
Davis’s character development is excellent, her plot solid, and the mystery intriguing. Add in the flashes of humor and the touch of romance, and you have really good read,
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Judicial Justice by JD Davis is the story of greed and corruption and the many innocent lives they destroy. When recently relocated medical examiner, Miles Whitman, is called to the scene of a murder, he gets the feeling that something isn’t right. The murdered woman was the maid of a well-known judge, Bill Reinhold, and it looks like the maid interrupted a robbery. But Miles suspects the judge’s wife, Vivian, was the real target, especially since she has had one “accident” after another, all of them potentially fatal. As Vivian and Miles compare notes, she begins to realize that everything she thought she knew about her life was wrong.
With charming and realistic characters, an intriguing mystery, and plenty of fast-paced action, Judicial Justice will keep you happily glued to your seat, riveted all the way through.
Rock music filled the room as Miles worked tediously trying to recover the female body of a burn victim. He had already been at it since the wee hours of the morning, and he rolled his neck from side to side to release the tension.
The windowless room made it easy to lose track of time and the overhead light swayed from side to side, and cast a yellow appearance over the otherwise stark white room, casting shadows into the corners. Miles hummed along to the familiar tune underneath his surgical mask as he worked to repair the cadaver.
Right now, the body was considered Person X, but he hoped to put a name to this mangle of burnt flesh. A young couple, amateur hikers, found the body at a nearby campsite. It was still smoldering when they stumbled across it. When they placed the call in the morning hours, it was obvious that they were shaken up. The police contacted his team, and they had arrived on scene in record time.
To Miles, this looked like no accident. He usually had a sixth sense about these things. He found that all too often people who committed a crime of passion regretted their momentary lack of sanity. In their haste to cover up the evidence, they ignorantly thought that burning the body would get rid of all the evidence pointing in their direction.
However, in forensics, more often than not a fire would sizzle out long before growing hot enough to disseminate an entire body. In fact, there was usually enough composition left to make a full identification. Evidence was always harder to cover up than what the suspect thought. Due to watching too much television, they thought they could flawlessly cover all of their tracks.
This body was proving to be no different, as Miles patiently collected all of the evidence. Teeth, most often, were left behind and, after checking dental records, this corpse would have a name.
Miles determined the gender to be female, and, at first glance, the woman appeared to be in good health with long brunette hair, which he was able to determine after finding strands still intact within the follicles. Due to the bone structure and the small frame, Miles would guess her to be in her teenage years, as her body had not finished maturing. Her face was charred beyond recognition, but there was something that would narrow down their search immensely.
The young girl was with child, pretty early stages of pregnancy, but nevertheless expecting. Miles had extracted the nearly ten-week-old fetus. Was this a situation of a lover scorned or perhaps an unwilling father? He had seen a lot of things in his thirty-three years on earth, but it never did get easier delivering the news of such a tragedy.
When Miles performed the autopsy, he found the telltale signs. Her lungs showed no smoke inhalation, which proved she was dead before the fire was set. In fact, her lung tissue was quite pink and healthy, mostly attributed to her young age. Then he saw what he was looking for. The small flap of cartilage in a woman’s throat was generally very fragile and, in this circumstance, it was broken. It was a clear sign of manual strangulation.
If a perpetrator squeezed firmly around the victim’s neck, it most often would break, and the act was usually so slight that most likely the aggressor would not have noticed it had happened. But the evidence was clear that this girl was murdered. The truth was in the autopsy, and a body never lied.
Miles continued whistling as he took a moment to jot down his findings in the chart when Ann, a member of the team, walked in.
He looked up from his clipboard, preoccupied.
“There is a call for you. It seems they found a body in a residential neighborhood. They said it’s urgent. It’s at Judge Reinhold’s house.”
Miles looked at the clock and then back at Person X and swore under his breath. He promised the young girl he would find her justice as he threw his gloves in the trashcan and turned out the lights.
When Miles arrived at the judge’s house, the place was surrounded by police cars. A small crowd had gathered outside and was standing on the street behind the yellow tape. Most of them were nosy neighbors wondering what the abnormal commotion was all about on an otherwise quiet sunny afternoon.
His team had been immediately called to the scene so they beat the news vans, whom Miles speculated would appear before they had concluded their investigation.
Miles had already been advised that this was to be kept quiet, and their movements were to be as discreet as possible, given Judge Reinhold’s prominent position and public standing. When working on any case, the moments directly following a crime were extremely crucial, before too many hands got in the way and tampered with the evidence. When working any high-profile case, the initial findings were highly confidential, and any clues were kept concealed.
Miles looked around as his team was briefed on the importance of staying quiet. It was a ritzy neighborhood, and nobody but the best lived on this street. It required money to own one of these homes and lots of it at that. Every lawn was neatly manicured and the cars in the driveways were all the latest models. The trees were in full bloom, and the decor was perfectly matched.
The crowd that had gathered was mostly women who were perfectly tailored and groomed. They looked like a scene right out of The Stepford Wives, and their homes were from an article out of Better Homes and Gardens. None of this impressed Miles, as he was here to do a job and he knew better than most that things were not always as they seemed.
Miles had a flashback to a different chapter of his life when he had dealt with a serial murderer in the small town of Mason. He had moved shortly after the case was over when a better-paying-job opportunity had become available in Madison County. That case had taught him a lot about not always trusting your first impression. This case had his full attention, but the back of his mind would not let go of Person X, the nameless, young girl waiting at the morgue.
It was a better paying job, but Madison County was a fairly large area and with a more dense population so it kept him quite a bit busier and carried more responsibility. Still, most calls were to the darker, seedier areas of town and not in the perfect suburbia.
Miles strode through the front door, where he was greeted by an officer with a clipboard documenting everyone that came in and out of the scene. No one was getting through that door unless they were invited to do so.
After he checked in, he took a moment to look around. The place was immaculate and the floors were practically gleaming. He would have trusted eating off of them before most restaurants that he frequented near his home. The house had vaulted ceilings with a chandelier that looked like it belonged in a palace. The winding staircase led to another spacious floor, filled with rooms that held pricey items that very well could have cost more than his entire house.
Well-known paintings hung from every wall and he would bet money they were all originals with obnoxious price tags. The abstract art could have been a kindergartner finger painting for all he knew, but given the rest of the decor in the mansion, he doubted that that was the case.
On the right side, from his position in the foyer, he could see a formal sitting room with stiff leather armchairs and a fireplace. Given the spring season, it was not currently being used. He wondered if they ever really used the room to entertain or if it was more for aesthetics.
Miles was ushered past the room and to the left, when he heard muffled voices coming from behind swinging doors that appeared to be the kitchen. The lead detective on the case introduced himself as Doug Marshall, and the two men shook hands swiftly. Miles had seen Marshall on some of the scenes he had worked before, but the man had just recently received the promotion to detective. Miles felt momentarily sorry for his colleague that one of his first assignments would be a case that he could not afford to have a misstep on because all eyes were watching.
Miles understood the pressure, but luckily for him, he was very competent in his occupation, rose to the challenge, and performed well under pressure. It was not that he was cocky, per se, but he knew his qualifications and was very confident in his abilities. Science never lied and, if it was present, he would find it and let it speak for itself. It usually delivered them directly to the truth.
Miles left the questioning and speculating to the police, not that he didn’t have opinions of his own on particular cases, but his job was to help prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In forensics, there was only black and white. He could not afford for his opinions to create gray areas.
Marshall was briefing him on what kind of scene he would be walking into. Judge Reinhold was in the courtroom that entire day, and his wife Vivian had ran errands in the morning before attending her tennis lesson, followed by a run. She returned home after she had picked her daughter Drew, age five, up from kindergarten.
That was when she discovered the maid’s body in the study. Vivian had said she only touched the maid long enough to turn her face and check her pulse, but that was when she had realized the older woman had been shot, right between the eyes. She immediately called Nine-One-One but knew that the woman she had grown close to was dead.
The security alarm had not gone off to alert the authorities of a break-in, but with all the excitement, she could not be completely sure she had set it that morning when she left to take Drew to school. But she usually tried to make a habit of it Although the intruder had not triggered the alarm, a few telltale signs pointed to burglary. Papers were strewn around the room, and drawers were askew, but Vivian and the Judge would need to go through their valuables to know if anything had been stolen.
When Marshall had finished briefing him on the information they had thus far, he led Miles into an office that was more than just a study. It was a small library, with walls books. The room was well furnished and filled with more of the finer things, with a bearskin rug in front of yet another fireplace that was controlled by a simple flip of the light switch. Upon closer inspection, Miles could tell that this room was used often. It had a more comfortable feel than the sitting room. It faintly smelled of cigar smoke, leather that bound the collection of books, a barely noticeable smell of gunpowder, and the unmistakable stench of blood.
The room looked to be very well organized, other than the chaos that ensued in the center of the room and older woman’s body crumpled on the floor in a pool of dark blood that had seeped out around her. Miles assessed the situation quickly, itemizing his order of importance on the tasks that would be completed. He pulled on the latex-free gloves ready to begin, while Marshall watched him.
“Let me know if you need any assistance. We will be happy to accommodate you.” Marshall seemed to think about what he was going to say next and chose his words wisely. “Also, tell me what you think about this robbery theory.”
Miles already had decided he did not believe this was a real fact, but instead was staged to give the impression of a motive: the maid walks in on a robber, who gets startled and shoots her, resulting in her untimely death. The items were randomly placed around the office and around the body. The drawers from the desk were removed from their hinges and thrown to the ground.
In Miles’s experience, a true thief was in too much of a hurry to pull the entire drawer off of its track. Which was unnecessary as they could simply pull the drawer open and rifle through it. This scene before him appeared that the perpetrator had taken his time with meticulously setting up the cover, but had no real direction in choosing the items. It appeared to be books, papers, and things purchased from OfficeMax.
They would, of course, sift through the paperwork in search of a red flag, but Miles speculated inwardly that this was no robbery. It was cold-blooded murder, but why break into a judge’s home to kill the hired help?
Unless, quite possibly, it was not the maid they had expected to find.
© 2018 by JD Davis