In addition to being a standard lawyer suspense novel, the type that first caught my attention when I binged on John Grisham’s 1991 –The Firm, 1992 – The Pelican Brief, 1993 – The Client, it is also a mystery with more twists than a pretzel.
I’m certain the genre was around before John Grisham but, for me, he turned the genre from Graham Crackers into Hershey’s Chocolate.
In March 2017 William L. Myers Jr.‘s A Criminal Defense looked more appealing to me than the other Kindle First offerings that month. I’m glad I bumped this one to the top of a very long list of “to read” books.
Our author, Mr. Myers, gets us into the story quick enough. His protagonist, Mick McFarland is standing outside the home of a convicted murderer’s mother who has begged him to appeal her only son’s hopeless murder case. Mick took the case pro bonoa and has lost two costly appeals already but his Hail Maryb legal maneuver was caught in the end zone, so now Justin Bauer will be getting a new trial. The mother has been so distraught she no longer answers the phone. So Mick is at her door to try to give her the good news. Great that Justin will get a new trial, nightmare that Mick’s firm will be likely go broke from the trial.
Who doesn’t like the guy who saves the day at his own expense? Susan, Mick’s law partner is worried about the firm’s finances. Mick is equally as worried about the firm’s finances since his pro bono work is the cause of the firm bleeding economically into bankruptcy. The defendant in their cash cow case, Phillip Baldwin. Philadelphia’s own homegrown mini-Madoffc Ponzid,e criminal decides to take an insane plea deal that will eliminate the trial they hoped would earn them millions of dollars. They needed the money that trial could earn them and they could get a better deal for their client but he was determined to get himself into jail.
It is important to get the reader hooked early and our author, Mr. Myers, succeeds. It occurred to me later, when writing this review, that the opening events are almost irrelevant to the primary story central to A Criminal Defense. I do love being hooked quickly as a reader. My favorite all time hook comes from Dean Koontz‘s Dragon Tears. He opens Dragon Tears like this:
Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.” The next three pages are intentionally tedious, letting the reader know that Harry Lyon is a perfectionist with a case of Obsessive Compulsive Behavior by describing his morning routine in exhaustive detail.
Sorry, not a review about Dean Koontz,but he is possibly one of the best commercial authors of all time and is symbolically heroic to me.
Our view point character Mick McFarland won’t be killing anyone at lunch, but his marriage is becoming more disappointing by the day, and Mick desperately wishes it was more like newlywed days as he still loves his wife dearly.
This too, seems a minor sub-plot in the story that the reader hopes will turn out great drawing the reader in deeper and deeper. Page by page the problems pile on.
Jennifer Yamura, the reporter who wrote a Philadelphia story about a secret grand jury investigating dirty cops running a drug ring is being subpoenaed to this grand jury to extract her source(s). Devlin Walker, the first assistant district attorney who has convened this grand jury has worked furiously to keep this investigation secret in order to catch all the bad cops in Philadelphia.
Now we are in the whirlpool of this book, flowing towards the drain.
David Hanson, one of Mick’s old law school roommates calls him from jail. David is one of the richest people in Philadelphia, possibly in the country, maybe even the world. He is the chief counsel to a mega corporation, and owns a large portion of this mega-corporation “family business”. He wants his old law school buddy, Mick, to defend him. He has been charged with the murder of Jennifer Yamura, the reporter. The police have caught him running from Jennifer Yamura’s home where they then found the reporter murdered.
The main arc of this book follows the David Hanson trial, but the book is complex as any master mystery writer could conceive. Piper, Mick’s wife, Tommy, Mick’s brother, Gabby, Mick’s daughter, Marcia, David Hanson’s cancer suffering wife all play significant roles. Oddly, Angie, Mick’s receptionist at his law firm seems the only person not completely drowning in the story’s ever growing complexity. Except for one very significant point, when she she is not in the office, completely off stage, and Mick answers the firm’s phone since she is out. So our author, Mr. Myers, even manages to involve his minor characters when they are not around.
For me the story took off like a tornado when first assistant district attorney Devlin Walker shows up at Hanson’s preliminary arraignment on his murder trial. This amounts to sending a company’s vice president to make coffee for the routine staff folks. It tosses in a curious detail that things are not happening as routinely as they would normally occur.
Me and the book…
I rarely do books anymore unless the audiobook is also available. With Amazon Prime Members the monthly Kindle First new release has a Whispersync audiobook companion that comes out the first of the following month. The whispersync audiobooks are usually affordable even for someone of my limited income. Sometime around the Fall of 2016 I started tossing the a monthly Kindle First book into my ongoing cycle of 5-10 currently reading books. It is still rather random process but it does add authors I wouldn’t normally read and mixes things up a little. I’m glad for this one.
I’m considering taking an active role in “The Library Thing“. I’m already a “free” member but have only visited the site a few times. A recent visit has me thinking they have improved it enough so I can understand some of what it is about. If anyone has experience or advice I appreciate any input.