By Gordon Campbell
Published by William Morrow
November 2007; 006133751X; 448 pages
The president of the Arizona Golf Association carried a battery-powered megaphone. He didn't need it. At the hour we were starting, there were only a handful of people around the tee. Still, he raised it to his mouth, and his voice carried all the way across the San Marcos Country Club.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the final match of the 1973 Arizona Golf Association Men's Amateur Championship. On the tee the defending champion, Dr. Winthrop North."
Winthrop North stood confidently beside his caddie and his huge, hand-tooled golf bag. Harvard educated and, at least by any Arizona standard, patrician, he seemed almost to pose in his madras pants and wing-tipped golf shoes. He wore a white shirt with a crocodile on it and over that a white cashmere cardigan. It all could have been a scene from the cover of Golf Digest, save for the old flat course whose Bermuda fairways were beginning to turn yellow with the coming of winter. After announcing his name, the president rapidly cataloged the doctor's biggest golf accomplishments: the United States Amateur, the British Amateur; his years on the Walker Cup team, multiple state championships. I fiddled with my head cover and wondered how on earth he'd managed all that while conducting a medical practice.
The president lowered his megaphone, and my opponent took two precise steps to where he had already teed his ball. He hit a driver, a low, controlled fade to the right side of the fairway. He couldn't have walked out and placed it any better.
Could I beat him? Sure I could. I had as many clubs in my bag as he had in his. We played the same course under the same conditions and the same rules. Besides, when you've joined a law firm to work for one partner and that partner hasn't shown up for work in the two months you've been there, and you've spent almost every afternoon with another partner entertaining insurance adjusters at various country clubs around the valley, your golf game tends to sharpen dramatically. Why shouldn't I beat him? I commend those sorts of thoughts to anyone who might find himself in the situation I was in that morning. A more realistic question dominated my consciousness, however: It was to be a thirty-six-hole match; could I take him to twenty-seven?
"On the tee. Mr. Douglas McKenzie. Phoenix City Junior Champion, 1959."
I hooked it. I did all the things they tell you to do to get rid of the butterflies. An extra practice swing, an extra deep breath, a long and focused look at my target. Then I swung, and I watched the ball go left and held my breath as it rolled close by a small barrel cactus that used to be on the left side of the first fairway at San Marcos. Winthrop North and his caddie and his enormous golf bag started quickly up the fairway. Berating myself at not having shelled out for a caddie, I turned and picked up my little bag that had Ben Hogan printed on the side.
"That'll play!" I swung around just in time to see a golf cart careen off the path in front of the pro shop and plow through a bed of flowers. I saw beer splash out of a can and all over the passenger, and I heard the passenger yell, "Jesus H. Christ, Tom!" The cart took a dive through a sprinkler, and as it emerged, I could make out the two occupants. Uncombed and grizzled, they both wore suit pants and white dress shirts that looked like they'd been slept in. A big swing to the right, and the cart skidded sideways to a stop directly in front of me. I looked down into the bulging eyes and the unshaven face of Tom Gallagher, the man for whom I'd been working, the one with whom I'd been entertaining insurance adjusters. I knew instantly that he was more than just a little drunk. "That'll play," he said for a second time. "You didn't hit it very well, but you've got a shot at the pin."
"I hope I do," I said with my mouth hanging open.
"Doug McKenzie," Gallagher announced, "Dan Morgan." My gaze jumped to the other side of the cart. He looked worse than Gallagher. He hadn't shaved for days. His eyes were veined with red. His shirt was splashed with beer. "You say you want to work for him, Douglas. Well, here he is. Back from two months in the country."
Dan Morgan put the cigarette he was holding in his hand into his mouth and squinted from the smoke. He shifted a can of beer to the left and put out his right hand. He nodded one time, not saying a word. I managed to get my golf bag around on my shoulder so I could shake his hand. And there it was, on the third Sunday in October, on the first tee at the San Marcos Country Club, that I finally met him.
"Throw your clubs on here," Gallagher ordered. "We'll caddie for you." I strapped my bag onto the back of the cart, and as I did, I saw a tub full of ice and beer. Then they were gone, bouncing up the fairway with their beer and my clubs, and I was walking far behind them shaking my head in disbelief.
That may have been the first time I met Dan Morgan, but it wasn't the first time I'd seen him. I had indeed been forewarned, back on a day in August when I sat, for the first time, in the lobby of the offices of Butler and Menendez. Paul Butler had insisted that I let the firm fly me down to Phoenix so he could propose a substantially larger salary than I'd been offered in San Francisco. I sat there that August morning, waiting for Butler, sensing the onslaught of . . .
The foregoing is excerpted from Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
The case is seemingly a slam dunk. A beautiful woman, with a gun in her purse and accompanied by her teenaged daughter, walks into a house. Shots are fired, and the woman's husband lies dead on the floor. She did it, right? But her wealthy father-in-law — the murdered man's father — doesn't think so. Right away he hires the best lawyer in Phoenix to defend her. That lawyer is Dan Morgan, a legendary criminal attorney who rarely loses a case.
Morgan and his green young assistant, Doug, go to trial. And they pull off a miracle. But wait, that is just the beginning.
This is a big, full-bodied, riveting, beautifully written novel, with a plot that hangs together brilliantly, and with characters that fascinate.
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Gordon Campbell graduated in 1964 with a B.S. degree from Brigham Young University and in 1972 with a J.D. degree from Arizona State University, where he was the editor-in-chief of the Arizona State University Law Journal. He was admitted to the Arizona State Bar in 1972 and the Utah State Bar in 1976.
He practices law with the firm of Parsons Behle & Latimer in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has over 100 jury trials in both private practice and as Assistant United States Attorney for Utah. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He lives with his wife, United States District Judge Tena Campbell, in Salt Lake City, Utah.