Today’s Sampler: Sufficient Certainty by Stephen Woodfin

A reminder that justice, even if it is delayed, is the lifeblood of democracy. Read an excerpt from Stephen Woodfin’s new legal thriller.

When the grandmother of a student blamed for a deadly school shooting hires attorney Etch Danielson to clear her deceased grandson’s name, Danielson and legendary Texas lawman Red Roper open an investigation into the killings.

The facts they uncover force them to conclude things are not as they appear and that responsibility for the tragedy lies on the person the community has deemed a hero.

Sufficient Certainty is a cautionary tale about the rush to judgment, an indictment of a system that turns a blind eye to sexual harassment and racism, and a reminder that justice, even if it is delayed, is the lifeblood of democracy.

Stephen Woodfin is an East Texas attorney and author of legal thrillers. Sufficient Certainty is his tenth novel.

Stephen Woodfin


My next stop was Laird Hill, Texas, a crossroads without a town connected to it, a post office the size of a milk carton, five miles south of Kilgore. I turned off State Highway 135 onto a red clay series of potholes masquerading as a road and drove two miles into a pine forest before I came to a mud driveway the size of a biking trail. The mailbox, smashed by a baseball bat or a tire iron, bore the faded black-block letters POTEET. I parked in the road behind a rusted Chevy truck which had been new when Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy, and which displayed a KHS Employee sticker on the back window of the cab. I got out of my Ford F-150 and walked through low-hanging crimson-flowered mimosa branches to a shaded house.

In another life, Vesuvius Poteet and I had played little league baseball together, attended kiddie shows at the Texan theater in Kilgore on Saturday mornings, learned reading, writing, and arithmetic under the tutelage of stern female teachers who instilled fear and admiration in our young heads.

As I approached his decrepit shack, he sat on the front porch wearing faded denim overhauls over a Beatles T-shirt smoking a corncob pipe. He had a ten-gallon plastic bucket turned upside down next to him as a stand and on it a leather-bound King James Bible, its cover frayed, finger tabs with letters of the alphabet indented in the gold-embossed pages.

I sat down in a rocking chair on the other side of the plastic bucket from him and swayed back and forth, listening to the wood of the chair and the weathered timbers of the porch creak to each other.

“I wondered how long it would be before you came to see me, Danny,” he said, looking off into the woods not at me.

I saw no reason to dance around it. “Your name keeps coming up in the investigation, Ves. I figured the best thing to do was to ask you straight up if you had anything to do with what happened the day of the shootings.”

“You should consider your sources, Danny. From what I can tell, we’ve had an outbreak of lying since those kids got killed.”

“Maybe. Or maybe where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I’ll keep digging until I find out which way it is.”

He leaned down and set his pipe on the floor, placed his left hand on the Bible and raised his right. “This is what they’ll make me do at the courthouse, right?”

“That’s right, Ves. They’ll make you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help you God.”

“When they do that, here’s what I’ll say. I didn’t have nothing to do with Jim Briscoe killing those kids. But I made a bad mistake, and I’ll regret it to my dying day.”

“What was the bad mistake?”

Please click HERE to find Sufficient Certainty on Amazon.

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