The Good Daughter (The Good Daughter #1) - Karin Slaughter Page 0,2

too cheap to be called an antique and a large chiffarobe wedged into a small closet that their mother said they’d have to pay Tom Robinson a nickel to bust up.

Nothing hung in the chiffarobe. Nothing was folded into the keeping room drawers or placed on high shelves in the pantry.

They had moved into the farmhouse two days ago, but hardly any boxes had been unpacked. The hallway off the kitchen was a maze of mislabeled containers and stained brown paper bags that could not be emptied until the cabinets were cleaned, and the cabinets would not be cleaned until Gamma forced them to do it. The mattresses upstairs rested on bare floors. Overturned crates held cracked lamps to read by and the books that they read were not treasured possessions but on loan from the Pikeville public library.

Every night, Samantha and Charlotte hand-washed their running shorts and sports bras and ankle socks and Lady Rebels Track & Field T-shirts because these were among their few, precious possessions that had escaped the flames.

“Sam.” Gamma pointed to the air conditioner in the window. “Turn that thing on so we can get some air moving in here.”

Samantha studied the large, metal box before finding the ON button. Motors churned. Cold air with a tinge of wet fried chicken hissed through the vent. Samantha stared out the window at the side yard. A rusted tractor was near the dilapidated barn. Some unknown farming implement was half-buried in the ground beside it. Her father’s Chevette was caked in dirt, but at least it wasn’t melted to the garage floor like her mother’s station wagon.

She asked Gamma, “What time are we supposed to pick up Daddy from work?”

“He’ll get a ride from somebody at the courthouse.” Gamma glanced at Charlotte, who was happily whistling to herself as she tried to fold a paper plate into an airplane. “He has that case.”

That case.

The words bounced around inside Samantha’s head. Her father always had a case, and there were always people who hated him for it. There was not one low-life alleged criminal in Pikeville, Georgia, that Rusty Quinn would not represent. Drug dealers. Rapists. Murderers. Burglars. Car jackers. Pedophiles. Kidnappers. Bank robbers. Their case files read like pulp novels that always ended the same, bad way. Folks in town called Rusty the Attorney for the Damned, which was also what people had called Clarence Darrow, though to Samantha’s knowledge, no one had ever firebombed Clarence Darrow’s house for freeing a murderer from death row.

That was what the fire had been about.

Ezekiel Whitaker, a black man wrongly convicted of murdering a white woman, had walked out of prison the same day that a burning bottle of kerosene had been thrown through the Quinns’ bay window. In case the message wasn’t clear enough, the arsonist had also spray-painted the words NIGGER LOVER on the mouth of the driveway.

And now, Rusty was defending a man who’d been accused of kidnapping and raping a nineteen-year-old girl. White man, white girl, but still, tempers were running high because he was a white man from a trashy family and she was a white girl from a good one. Rusty and Gamma never openly discussed the case, but the details of the crime were so lurid that whispers around town had seeped in under the front door, mingled through the air vents, buzzed into their ears at night when they were trying to sleep.

Penetration with a foreign object.

Unlawful confinement.

Crimes against nature.

There were photographs in Rusty’s files that even nosy Charlotte knew better than to seek out, because some of the photos were of the girl hanging in the barn outside her family’s house because what the man had done to her was too horrible to live with, so she had taken her own life.

Samantha went to school with the dead girl’s brother. He was two years older than Samantha, but like everyone else, he knew who her father was and walking down the locker-lined hallway was like walking through the red-brick house while the flames stripped away her skin.

The fire hadn’t only taken her bedroom and her clothes and her purloined lipsticks. Samantha had lost the boy to whom the leather jacket had belonged, the friends who used to invite her to parties and movies and sleepovers. Even her beloved track coach who’d trained Samantha since sixth grade had started making excuses about not having enough time to work with her anymore.

Gamma had told the principal that she was keeping the girls out