EW.com’s exclusive excerpt of John Grisham‘s The Associate continues today with Chapter 2. (Click here if you missed Chapter 1). Check back at EW.com next week to see chapter 3 of the legal thriller, which hits bookstores on Jan. 27.
Buster’s Deli was long and narrow with red vinyl booths along the wall to the right. To the left was a bar and a grill behind a counter, and a row of pinball machines. All manner of Yale memorabilia was tacked haphazardly on the walls. Kyle had eaten there a few times during his first year in law school, many months ago.
The last two booths were properly secured by the federal government. Yet another trench coat stood at the last table, chatting with Plant and Ginyard, waiting. When Kyle made his slow approach, the agent glanced at him, then offered the standard smirk before sitting in the next booth. No. 4 was waiting there, sipping coffee. Plant and Ginyard had ordered sandwich platters with subs and fries and pickles, all of it untouched. The table was covered with food and cups of coffee. Plant climbed to his feet and moved around to the other side so that both agents could watch their victim. They were shoulder to shoulder, still in trench coats. Kyle slid into the booth.
The lighting was old and bad; the back corner was dark. Pinball racket mixed with a loud game on ESPN from the bartender’s flat screen.
”It takes four?” Kyle asked, nodding over his shoulder at the booth behind him.
”That’s just what you can see,” Ginyard said.
”Would you like a sandwich?” Plant asked.
”No.” An hour earlier he had been famished. Now his digestive system and his excretory system and his nervous system were on the verge of a meltdown. He was struggling to breathe normally as he desperately tried to appear unfazed. He removed a disposable pen and a note card, and with all the nerve he could summon, he said, ”I?d like to see those badges again.”
The responses were identical — disbelief, insulted, then oh-what-the-hell as they slowly reached into their pockets and extracted their most prized possessions. They laid them on the table, and Kyle selected Ginyard’s first. He wrote down the full name — Nelson Edward Ginyard — then his agent number. He squeezed the pen hard and recorded the information carefully. His hand shook, but he thought it wasn’t noticeable. He rubbed the brass emblem carefully, not sure what he was looking for but still taking his time. ”Could I see a photo ID?” he asked.
”What the hell?” Ginyard growled.
”Photo ID, please.”
”I’m not talking until I finish the preliminaries. Just show me your driver’s license. I’ll show you mine.”
We already have a copy of yours.”
”Whatever. Let’s have it.”
Ginyard rolled his eyes as he reached for his back pocket. From a battered billfold he produced a Connecticut license with an ominous snapshot of himself. Kyle examined it and jotted down the birth date and license data. ”That’s worse than a passport photo,” he said.
”You wanna see my wife and kids?? Ginyard said as he removed a color photo and tossed it on the table.
”No, thanks. Which office are you guys from?”
”Hartford,” Ginyard said. He nodded at the next booth and said, ”They’re from Pittsburgh.”
Kyle then examined Plant’s badge and driver’s license, and when he had finished, he pulled out his cell phone and began pecking.
”What are you doing?” Ginyard asked.
”I’m going online to check you out.”
”You think we’re posted on some nice little FBI Web site?” Plant said with a flash of anger. Both found it humorous. Neither seemed concerned.
”I know which site to check,” Kyle said as he entered the address of a little-known federal directory.
”You won’t find us,” Ginyard said.
”This will take a minute. Where’s that tape recorder?”
Plant produced a slender digital recorder the size of an electric toothbrush and flipped it on.
”Please give the date, time, and place,” Kyle said with an air of confidence that surprised even him. ”And please state that the interrogation has yet to begin and that no statements have been made before now.”
”Yes, sir. I love law students,” Plant said.
”You watch too much television,” Ginyard said.
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Excerpted from THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham
Published by Doubleday
Reprinted by permission of the publisher
Copyright © 2009 by Belfry Holdings, Inc
THE ASSOCIATE is on sale January 27, 2009 wherever books are sold