The First 48


By Tim Green

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 5, 2007. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

This is the latest from Green, whose previous novel, “The Fifth Angel” hit the “New York Times” extended bestseller list. Green is a featured commentator on NPR and FOX Sports, and he’s a regular contributor to “Salon” and “USA Today.”


Also by Tim Green





The Red Zone

Double Reverse

The Letter of the Law

The Fourth Perimeter

The Fifth Angel


The Dark Side of the Game

A Man and His Mother: An Adopted Son's Search

For my Illyssa,
because the day I met you
was the best thing that ever
happened to me.


Some of the best things in this book, and the book itself, couldn't have been without the help of others: my agent, Esther Newberg; my editors, Rick Wolff and Sara Ann Freed; and my parents, Richard and Judy Green, for their careful reading and constructive criticism; my friends in the Syracuse Police Department, Inspector Michael Kerwin and Detective Pete Patnode, for their endless patience in answering my questions; Exec Air manager Mark Germia and chief pilot John Leary; Pat Scova of the Valhalla (N.Y.) Town Clerk's Office, for helping a stranger; and all the people from my Warner Books family, including Larry Kirshbaum, Maureen Egen, Jamie Raab, Chris Barba, Dan Ambrosio, Mari Okuda, Flamur Tonuzi, and Tina Andreadis.

I thank you all.

In addition, once again, a very special thanks to my brother in words and my particular friend Ace Atkins.

A Special Tribute to the Memory of Sara Ann Freed

In June 2003, Sara Ann Freed, my coeditor and friend, left this world much sooner than she should have. For those of us at Warner Books who knew her, a light went out, but we will always remember her easy smile and the warmth she brought with her to share wherever she went.

Sara Ann, you will be sorely missed—but never forgotten.

"I sometimes think that all you tell me of knighthood, kingdoms, empires and islands is all windy blather and lies."

Sancho Panza
Don Quixote, Book 1, Part 15


His name was Nobody. Nobody Jones. Nobody Smith. His passport and cruise ship ticket said Mott, a name he'd found on a bottle of apple juice. You could do such things without much effort when you knew the right people and you had the money. Official documents and tickets were only what you told people you were. He liked being Mr. Nobody. Especially Nobody on a vacation.

On the third day, they'd cruised out of Jamaica and headed over to Grand Cayman. He spent most of his time on deck by the pool, watching the women slather themselves with suntan oil and drink funny little drinks with umbrellas. There was nothing like this in Ukraine. This was like Mars.

But now he had a feel for it all. He knew the ship. He knew the people, their habits, and the way they talked to one another. There was a group of twenty-something men who sat around a glass table under the eaves of the bar playing a drinking game they called quarters. He had practiced in his cabin, bouncing his own quarter off of the small bathroom vanity and into his drinking glass.

There was an empty chair. He bought two pitchers of beer at the bar, and standing there in his flowered shirt and khaki shorts, he asked if he could play.

They looked at him, grinning, red-faced from too much sun and too much drink. Two laughed out loud. One grin turned into a frown.

"Sure," someone said.

He plopped down the pitchers in the middle of the others. Beer sloshed up over the lip of one and spilled into the swill that already lathered the tabletop. He sat down and adjusted his straw hat. He stroked his thick mustache, and the game began again. Quarters bounced off the glass. Some went awry, finding the deck. Many plunked into the drinking glass full of beer and they shone brightly from the bottom amid the swirl of bubbles and golden liquid.

You had to point with your elbow, or you were the one who had to drink. He learned fast though, and soon his own dark hairy elbow was flashing around the table, making the others drink. There were groans and a few cheerful curses. He flagged a waitress for four more pitchers and then lost his turn on purpose so as not to hog the game.

The laughter grew hot, like the sunbaked wood beneath his feet. They began to call him the Russian Bear. He had to roll back a sneer. He was a Soviet from Ukraine. He'd told them that. Hadn't he shown them the CCCP lapel pin stuck to the collar of his shirt? Leave it to a handful of American jackasses not to know the difference.

It was his turn again. He reached into his pocket and fingered the little wax bead until it broke. Then he bounced the quarter into glass after glass, sending beer all around the table.

It was half an hour before a tall thin man with bad skin and a shock of short blond hair popped up out of his seat, turned, and vomited in the general direction of the pool, spattering three rows of deck chairs. Screams erupted, and two of the people in deck chairs got sick as well.

The Soviet stroked his wiry mustache and left the table in the midst of the uproarious howls of his new friends. He climbed the stairs to the deck that overlooked the bar and pool. There was a chair by the railing with no one in it. He removed the soggy towel from its back and sat down to watch. Within a half hour, two more young men lurched to their feet, also sick. The game broke up, and he went to the casino.

The next day the ship stopped at Cozumel. The Soviet was in the casino again when the fat lady next to him at the blackjack table turned green, clutched her stomach, and hustled for the bathroom. Later, a farmer from Ohio lost his ham sandwich at the roulette wheel and the casino shut down amid the twittering laughter.

That night less than half the vacationers showed up for dinner. People stared accusingly at one another and if someone coughed, heads turned and hands gripped the table's edge. Waiters in cheap tuxedos shot nervous glances at one another and spoke in subdued tones about the three-layer chocolate cake. The Soviet drank a good deal of the tart cork-tainted Chardonnay and grinned around at the others, who sat at the half-empty table picking at their food.

On deck at 2 A.M., a helicopter sputtered secretly down out of the dark sky. Medivac. Two gurneys were hurried out across the deck. In the flashing lights of the helicopter, he could see the wincing faces. Tubes in their noses. IV bottles swinging above them. Nobody knew that they probably wouldn't make it. Word spread fast. By 6 A.M. there was an angry crowd outside the bridge demanding that the ship return immediately to port.

Later that day, as they were pulling into Miami, a line snaked in front of the ship's hospital, all the way out onto the deck. People covered their faces with T-shirts and makeshift masks. A dozen people were trampled by the crowd pushing to get down the stairs and off the ship. The Soviet waited patiently, then tugged the wrinkles out of his flowered shirt and marched ashore with his leather briefcase, trying not to smile at other people's misfortune. But who could have blamed him for smiling? After all, it had been a very fine vacation.


Tom Redmon didn't need to hear more, but he knew the couple needed to talk. Beneath the desk, he clenched and unclenched his hand, squeezing the tennis ball, trying to be patient. Finally they finished. The mother was sniffing and dabbing her eyes with a napkin from McDonald's. He looked past them and out through the old glass to a bright locust tree, wavy and distorted.

In his office, the paneling of one wall sagged under the weight of diplomas. A 1996 calendar of a German castle high on a mountaintop hung by a pushpin. In a wood frame was a cheap print of van Gogh's View of Montmartre with Windmills. Tom loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar. Size nineteen. If he could have, he'd have taken off his coat.

The couple was young. Their little girl sat between them, her eyes hollow, her head bald and white. When she smiled, her teeth shone gray, with great gaps between them. The father worked at the power plant, stoking coal. The mother stayed at home. There were four other kids too. None of them were sick. Yet.

Tom slapped his hand on the desk and said, "We'll sue them."

"Who?" the father asked.

"Everyone," Tom said, standing. "GE. The State of New York. The City of Ithaca. The Power Authority. The EPA and the DEC."


"I mean it," Tom said. "I've done it before. I just sued the New York State Dormitory Authority and won.

"These big corporations. These colossal government entities. They need to be taken down, and that's what I do, Mr. Helmer. Don't you worry, Mrs. Helmer. They'll pay."

"I just want her to be okay," she said through the napkin.

"We all do," Tom said.

He patted the little girl on the shoulder. She smiled up at him.

"I'll have the papers ready for you to sign by the beginning of next week," Tom said. "Say Tuesday. How's ten?"

He opened the door and Sarah, his secretary, looked up from her romance novel. She was sixty. Yellow hair. Cat glasses and chewing gum.

"Tuesday at ten for the Helmers, Sarah," he said. "We'll start on the papers first thing tomorrow morning."

He showed them out and turned to Sarah. She sat staring blankly at him.

"The property management company called again," she said.

"That's the problem," he said, smiling. "When one man owned this building, a favor here and there wasn't forgotten. Now it's a nameless, faceless LLP that you can't appease and you can't kill."

"We are two months late."

"Let them evict me," he said. He winked and grinned and took off his blazer and lost the tie. "Take the rest of the day, Sarah. Get some sun."

"You've got Mr. Potter scheduled for three-thirty."

"Cancel it."

"Tom, they will evict you."

"Cancel it. This Helmer case could be the big one."

"We've had a lot of big ones, Tom," she said. "They never pay. The small stuff is what pays."

"We got the janitor."

"That's one. They settled because their witness died, remember? Mr. Potter will pay a retainer up front. I told him that on the phone and he agreed."

"Sarah," he said. "I know you care, and I appreciate that. But I'm sick and tired of DUIs and shoplifters and aggravated assaults. I'm tired of drug dealers, pickpockets, drunks, crack-heads, motorcycle gangs, and dregs. These are the people I used to put in jail."

"You're a defense lawyer, Tom. You need money to file that suit. You need an index number. You need an investigator," she said. She was standing now, with her hands on her thick hips. "You already owe Mike Tubbs six thousand dollars."

"He sent a bill?"

"Of course not," she said, pressing her lips tight.

Tom flattened the tennis ball and rubbed his chin.

"Then reschedule Potter for Thursday and go get some sun," he said. "It's beautiful out there. And do me a favor, will you? Dial up Mike Tubbs and tell him I'll meet him at Friendly's at three-thirty, sharp."

"Of course," Sarah said.


At Friendly's Ice Cream, Tom edged past a sunburned crowd of summer tourists wearing visors, shorts, and golf shirts to where an empty booth waited for him in the back. The waitress set down two sweaty glasses of water just as Mike Tubbs stumbled in, jostling the tourists. Thirty years old. Flirting with the three-hundred-pound mark. A head of thinning hair with small matching ginger mustache and goatee. Extremely capable.

The broad forehead beneath his fine hair was beaded with sweat. A streamer of toilet paper rode in on the bottom of his sneaker.

"Sorry I'm late," Mike said as he wedged his way into the vinyl booth.

Tom took the younger man's meaty hand and shook it.

"A good investigator," Tom said, "respects time."

Mike smiled, but his cheeks went pink.

"Sorry, I—"

"Two chocolate Fribbles," Tom said to the waitress.

"Could you make mine light on the chocolate?" Mike said, raising an inquiring finger toward the waitress.

She scrunched up her face.

"You just make it with vanilla ice cream," Mike said.

The waitress looked confused.

"Forget it," Mike said. "It's okay."

"Okay," she said.

"And miss," Tom said.

"Yes, sir?" she said, barely forcing a smile.

"You better take this now," he said, handing her his American Express card.

"This one's on me," he said to Mike with a wink.

"Hey, you don't have to do that," Mike said.

Tom raised his hand, signaling an end to any debate.

"Now," Tom said, "you and I have some things to discuss . . ."

Mike looked down at his hands and pattered his fingers against the tabletop.

Tom smiled and leaned back into the booth, feeling a cold blast of air-conditioning on his face.

Over Mike's shoulder, he noticed a man who had just entered the restaurant wearing a three-quarter-length army coat. His eyes were small and shifty. His face was dirty with stubble, his dark hair long. Tom squinted and started to slide out of the booth.

"Tom?" Mike said, turning to look over his shoulder.

"Shh," Tom said. His hand was on the tabletop, his butt on the edge of the booth, his feet tucked up under his knees.

"Who would wear an army coat in the middle of summer?" Tom said in a low hiss.

"I don't . . . know," Mike said.

The man looked around and then marched up to the cash register. His hands were jammed in his coat pockets. He spoke to the cashier. A young girl with a paper hat whose face went suddenly pale. Her mouth, pink with lipstick, formed a perfect O.

"The price of greatness is responsibility," Tom said under his breath, his eyes on the man.


"Yes," Tom said. He was on the move.

"Tom?" Mike said, from somewhere behind him.

Tom was halfway there. When he hit the cluster of tourists, he shoved them aside.

"Hey," someone said. Irate.

The girl was nodding to the man now. Frightened. Teary-eyed. She reached into the cash register, saw Tom and hesitated. The man looked over his shoulder and spun around, his hand clenching something inside the jacket pocket. Tom was in his stance. He uttered a cry.

The man's hands darted from his pockets. In one was a dark heavy object.

A woman screamed.

Tom shot in. He chopped one hand, then the other. The object fell to the floor. The man lunged. Tom had his arm. He pivoted and tossed the man over his hip to the floor.

When the man hit, his breath left him in a great gust. Tom was on him instantly. One hand expertly clamped to his throat. The other pinning the wrist that had held the weapon.

"I've got him!" Tom yelled. "Everyone back! I've got him!"

Someone was crying.

The robber's eyes rolled into his head. Tom looked up. The cashier. Her pink face was crinkled. Mascara streamed down her cheeks.

"It's all right, young lady," Tom said. "It's all right. Someone call the police."

The girl cried harder.

Mike was there, bending over. He had the weapon.

"Tom," he said, putting a hand on Tom's shoulder. He held something in front of Tom's face.

"Come on, Tom," Mike said in an urgent whisper. "Let him up. It's a wallet."

A uniformed policeman burst in through the front door with his gun drawn. More people screamed. The herd of tourists broke past the hostess's stand for the rear of the restaurant.

"Freeze!" the cop yelled.

"I've got your man," Tom said. "He was trying to rob her."

The girl behind the cash register, still bawling, said, "He wasn't. He wasn't. That's my dad."

The store manager popped up from behind the counter. He put his arm around the girl and patted her back. He glared at Tom.

"What?" Tom said.

"Mr. Redmon," the cop said. "What the hell did you do this time?"

"I . . ."

"It's my fault," Mike said. "I'm sorry. I told him it was a robbery. Tom is a martial arts expert."

"Jujitsu," Tom said, getting up and dusting his hands. "I'm terribly sorry. It's a martial art with roots in feudal Japan, a period lasting from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries of near-constant civil war."

"Jesus," the cop said, holstering his gun and kneeling down beside the fallen man. He began to chafe the man's wrists.

"I'm very sorry," Mike said. He pulled a fat wad of money from the front pocket of his pants and stripped off a hundred-dollar bill. He slapped it down on the counter. "This is all my fault. Come on, Tom. I'm sorry."

Mike led him out by the arm.

"Holy shit," Mike said.

"Hey, my credit card," Tom said, turning to go back.

"Tom," Mike said. "Later. Please."

"Who the hell wears an army coat in the middle of summer?" Tom asked, shaking his head.

"Please," Mike said, tugging at his arm, looking frantically around, his cheeks burning with color, "let's just get out of here."

"Now you're not going to cover my back?" Tom said, shaking free. "When I was a cop, a partner covered your back."

"How can you say that?"

"How can I not?"

"You . . . I . . ." Mike's face bunched up. "Who helped you dig up that federal judge's wife to see if she died of natural causes? Who was that?"

"I'm not talking about that kind of stuff," Tom said, getting into his old Ford truck. "That was a mistake. I just have discipline. I've trained myself to react."

"I've got discipline too," Mike said, raising his chin. His nostrils widened.

"In what, Mike?"

"Fiscal discipline," Mike said. His lips were smashed together tight.

Tom's face went slack. He opened his mouth, then stopped to catch his breath.

"Is that what this is about? Money?" Tom said. He looked hard at Mike. "And I'm buying you a Fribble?"

Mike threw his hands up in the air.

"I knew about your doubts. Ellen said something to me . . ."

"Ellen?" Mike said, his face losing tension. "What?"

"She . . ." Tom clamped his mouth shut. He had slipped. How could he tell anyone that sometimes she was still there? There and gone. Sometimes whispering. Sometimes it was just her laughter. He wondered himself.

"I've got to go," he said, closing the door.

"Tom . . ."

Tom backed out of his spot and got onto the road.

Halfway to the marina, he pulled into the convenience store and bought a six-pack of Labatt Blue beer. Next door he picked up a small brown bottle of Knob Creek. His heart pounded in his chest just watching the deep brown liquor swish in the thick glass.

The summer in upstate New York brought with it a rich canopy of trees. But even the sweep of broad green maple leaves and the whispering blades of the huge locust trees couldn't entirely conceal the crumbling gray concrete, the sagging metal roofs, and the corrugated walls washed in rust.

Like so many small upstate New York cities, Ithaca was pockmarked with structures that had long outlived their usefulness. The worst of these buildings butted right up against a lush green park that capped the south end of Cayuga Lake. Tom drove through the worst of them—grafittied brick, plywood for windows—kicking up gray dust in the heat.

The marina lay nestled in the midst of this eyesore. Tom's boat was a once-proud twenty-one-foot Regal with an open bow. Rockin' Auntie. Previously owned by the spinster from L.A. who spent her summers on a lake home up in Aurora.

The hull had been battered up one side and down the other by nearly twenty years of minor accidents. The windshield wiper had no blade. The prop was gouged and bent. Its red racing stripe had faded to a drab dirty pink. It rested between two sailboats, sleek and white with long sweeping lines. Tom didn't know how to sail; that was for people who grew up with money.

He was the son of a cop who was the son of a cop. Their combined experience on the lake could be traced to a couple of fishing poles and a bag of ketchup and bologna sandwiches on board a battered aluminum skiff. In his mind, he could still hear the wheezy seven-horse Johnson outboard motor and smell the oil that bled from every seam. It had been the sole constituent of the Redmon family fleet.

Tom popped open the first of the Labatt Blues. He dropped down in a cushioned seat and leaned back, cutting off the wax around the whiskey bottle's neck. When he tilted his head a certain way, that first bit of whiskey heating the inside of him, he almost felt like she was there.

Had it really been ten years?

"You know the secret everyone wants to forget," she said. "It's why you are who you are."

He looked at her foggy shape, his cheeks feeling wet.

"You know there's evil in this world," she said. "True evil. And it's only a matter of time before it enters your life again."

He nodded.

And he drank.


The newsroom was a jumble of metal desks painted in primary colors. Bland white columns thick enough for a person to hide behind stood guard along the outside wall, and the few glass-fronted offices were against the windows. For the rest of them, light spilled down from a pattern of square fluorescent panels throughout the ceiling's grid.

"Look at this crap," someone said.

Jane looked up from her computer, tapped a few more keys, then got up and slipped into the small crowd clustered around the little TV on Gina's desk.

"TV," someone else said in disgust.

A man on the television screen doubled over and emitted a stream of vomit.

"Can you believe that?"

Jane felt slightly ill.

"I believe it. Who in hell would go on a cruise anyway?"

"I went on one once," Gina said, turning from the TV to face the small group. She was sitting at her desk, and she looked up at them all. "It was like a frigging floating Motel Six. If a guy didn't have a tattoo, his nipples were pierced."

Gina turned back to the TV.

"I went on one once too. Motel Six has better food."

"At least it didn't kill you, right?"

"I mean can you believe they put that on TV?"

"Why not?" Gina asked. "They show people practically screwing on network television at nine o'clock at night."

The small screen was now filled with a big white ship. In the foreground a reporter with a solemn face talked about the outbreak and the dead.

Jane turned away. She had a deadline. As if on cue, Don Herman stood up at his own desk across the big room. Face like a mastiff. Overweight. Fifty. Bald with tufts of frizzy brown hair decorating his freckled skull above the ears. He looked at her and pointed at the clock. He held up two fingers, then three. She had twenty-three minutes.

Jane twisted her lips and looked away from him. She sat and put her fingers to the keyboard. There was Gina. By her side.


"Yup," she said, her fingers pounding out a flurry of words.

"Big one?"

"Big load of horse crap," Jane said, still pounding. "Unless you think anyone runs out in their bathrobe and tears through the morning paper to find out what happened in the Senate Finance Committee's meeting on funding for the Department of Weights and Measures."

"You gotta start somewhere," Gina said. "I told you that from the start. Just because you got a Pulitzer nomination doesn't mean you don't have to pay your dues. This is the Washington Post, sister."

Jane's maniacal patter stopped. She looked up at Gina, past the short frosted hair and the thick eyeliner.

"I don't have to like it, do I?"

"I'm going out for a cigarette," Gina said. "Meet me when you're done and we'll get a drink."

"You're on."

"That's what I like," Gina said. "We'll pull that hair of yours into a ponytail and they might mistake us both for college girls."

Gina was almost forty. Divorced. No kids. Nice figure, but a face Jane had overheard two copy editors describing as five miles of bad road. She drank too much and always regretted the men she slept with.

"Leave my hair alone," Jane said.

"Just trying to help."

Jane swept a long dark lock out of her face and back behind her ear, then continued to type. Gina repeated her instructions and left. Jane looked up at the big white clock on the wall. The thin red second hand swept around quicker than she would have liked. She flexed her fingers, cracking their knuckles, and got back to it.

She finished and sent the document to Don Herman. It wasn't what she would call good, but it wasn't bad, either. She got up, looked in her satchel, shut it, and slipped it over her shoulder. That's when the phone rang.

"Houston's at eight," the thin voice grated at her. "Manhattans and big Greek salads."

"It's seven-thirty, Frank," she said. "Why didn't you wait a little longer?"

"God, the market was crazy today," he said. He was a financial consultant for Dean Witter. "But we made a freakin' ton."

"I've got plans with Gina," she said. "Sorry."

In truth, she was sick of having the bill arrive and the two of them sitting there, looking at it, waiting for some magic trick that would make it disappear. She believed in chivalry. He regularly forgot his wallet.

"And do me a favor," she said, "don't come knocking on the door at midnight. I've got an early morning tomorrow."

"Sometimes I just need you," he said.

"I know what you need."

She hung up and was already on the other side of her desk when it rang again. She tried to walk away, but for the same reason she couldn't shit-can him altogether she picked up the phone.

"What, Frank?"

"I've got something for you," the voice said.

It wasn't Frank.

All the noise around her, all the typing, all the talk was reduced to a low hum.

"What?" she asked.

"Have you checked out everything else?"

"Yes," she said. She picked up a pen. She squeezed it. She twisted it. "It's good, but I still need more if I'm going to get it in. I have editors and they have editors. Something like this will have to go all the way up the line. You can't just attack a United States senator with some loose allegations. We don't print rumor."

"This will get it in. Meet me at L'Enfante Plaza at nine. 3-F."

"Can't we—"


On Sale
Dec 5, 2007
Page Count
336 pages

Tim Green

About the Author

Tim Green has written twelve previous thrillers and the nonfiction New York Times bestseller The Dark Side of the Game. He played eight years in the NFL and is a member of the New York State Bar. He has also been a featured commentator on NPR and Fox Sports. He lives with his wife and five children in upstate New York. For more information about the author, visit his website

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