From the book
"Jed, let me bring you in," DEA agent Rowe Cusack's voice crackled in the beat-up pay-phone receiver.
Because everyone had cell phones nowadays, Jed had been lucky to find a pay phone, let alone one that was still working. But then this small mid-Michigan town was a throwback to about fifty years ago. With bright-colored awnings on its storefronts that faced out onto cobblestone streets, Miller's Valley might as well have been called Mayberry.
"You're not safe out there," Rowe continued.
Even at night, with the antique street lamps barely burning holes into the darkness, it was hard to imagine any danger here. Despite the cold and blowing snow, in any other city, people would have still been out--selling or buying things or services that shouldn't be commodities. Jedidiah Kleyn would like to believe that there was actually a place where no crime happened, where no evil existed, but he'd learned the hard way that nothing and nobody were ever as innocent as they might appear. And at times, some things and some people weren't as guilty, either.
"Is that because I'm a cop killer?" Jed asked quietly with a quick glance around him to make sure nobody overheard. But the cobblestone street was really deserted. No one lurked in the shadows here, as they had at Blackwoods.
This town, on the outskirts of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was so rural that everyone was early to bed, early to rise. So hopefully no one, inside their little houses behind their picket fences, was awake yet to notice the stranger in the borrowed dark wool jacket with the knit cap pulled low over his face, walking the snow-dusted streets of their town.
"You're not a killer." The certainty in the lawman's voice eased some of Jed's anxiety.
"That's not what a jury of my peers and a judge decided three years ago." He had been convicted of killing his business partner and a police officer who must have happened upon the murder.
"I've been going through the case file and the court transcripts," the agent said.
For the past three years he'd wanted to get his hands on those files, but his lawyer hadn't been able to get the records past the guards at Blackwoods Penitentiary. The maximum security prison had had no law library, no way for prisoners to learn about their legal rights.
The warden hadn't cared that even convicted killers had the right to aid in their own appeals. Jefferson James hadn't been just the prison warden. He'd been the judge, at least the appeals court judge, the jury and, more often than not, the executioner.
But Jed was no longer in any danger from Warden James. The warden was the one behind bars now. So Jed focused on what was truly important--on what had kept him going for the past three years.
"Did you find anything that will prove I was framed?"
And who the hell had done it?
A sigh rattled the already crackling connection. "Not yet. But I will."
Jed appreciated the agent's support but there was only so much the man could do. "You don't even know where to start."
"You do," Rowe surmised. "That's why you broke out of prison."
"The prison broke," Jed reminded him. From the gunfire and explosions, the brick, mortar and wood structure had nearly imploded. "It was more dangerous to stay than to leave."
"Not now. It's too dangerous for you on the outside," the DEA agent insisted, his voice deep with a life-and-death urgency. "You need to let me handle this."
Over the past three years, Jed had learned that his black-and-white code of integrity was...