Previously published as MERCY
San Francisco lawyer Alex Sedaka is surprised when California governor Chuck Dusenbury offers eleventh-hour clemency to Sedaka’s Death Row client Clayton Burrow - persuaded to do so by the dying mother of the victim. But there is a condition: Burrow must reveal where he buried body.
The problem: Burrow insists that he is innocent and claims that he was framed by the missing girl herself. Until then, Sedaka – who only recently took over the case – thought that Burrow was guilty. But now that Burrow has rejected the clemency offer, he is not so sure. Thus begins a race against time to unravel the mystery, aided by his secretary, an enigmatic legal intern and his own computer expert son.
Alex finds evidence of school bullying, marital infidelity and even child abuse. But with the clock ticking down to Burrow’s execution, Alex is frustrated at every turn by elusive evidence that casts doubt on Burrow’s guilt, but is not enough to satisfy the rigorous requirements of the courts or the governor at this late stage.
And as the execution looms ahead, the race turns frantic… and dangerous.
Perfect for fans of John Grisham, Scott Turow and Harlan Coben, Mercy is the first in a series featuring US lawyer Alex Sedaka.
The curtain that covered the window between the execution chamber and the observation room was opened.
Clayton Burrow lay strapped to the gurney.
Although no one was supposed to say anything, there was a collective gasp. The guards who stood at the corners of the observation room said nothing. They knew that it was an involuntary reaction and in any case could not be heard in the execution chamber itself. The flow of sound was regulated by microphones and speakers: the glass itself was triple-glazed.
The warden of the prison began reading out from a single-page, black-bordered document. But Nathaniel Anderson was not listening. He was looking down at Burrow, now a pathetic figure, staring up at the ceiling, making no effort to look round at the spectators.
What was he thinking? Nat wondered. Was he afraid? Did he feel guilty? Ashamed?
The warden finished reading the warrant and then looked up, through the window.
“Mr. Burrow has made a short written statement, which he has asked me to read to you:
“‘There are things I have done in my life that I’m not proud of. There were things I shouldn’t have done. I was a product of my upbringing. I wasn’t always taught right from wrong. And I was taught to hate people for things they had no control over or for things that I thought were bad because that’s the way I was brought up. But whatever wrongs I am guilty of, murder is not one of them. Dorothy Olsen suffered at my hands. I bullied her in school and I raped her. But I did not kill her. I am saying this, not in the hope of being spared the death penalty. I know it is too late for that. But simply because I want the truth to be known.’”
The warden then looked down at Burrow.
“Do you want to add anything to that?”
Burrow nodded, lifted his head slightly and turned to face the spectators.
“I just want to say that I have no complaints about the justice system. I had a fair trial and everything was done that could and should be done in order to ensure that I had a fair trial and in order to ensure that justice was done.”
Then he lay back and the prison staff found two veins and inserted two needles, one for the sodium thiopental and one for the other two drugs. Then they stood back from the table. The execution was about to begin.
At that point, Clayton Burrow turned his head to face the spectators again, but this time, he tilted his head upward relative to his body, so that he could see all of them.
‘This will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.’ Closer