Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Bad Lawyer Takes a Very Unusual Case

This is not your usual legal thriller and Sid Kaplan is definitely not your usual legal thriller lawyer/protagonist. Sid--and the story he inhabits--are far removed from the cases and legal beagles created by authors like John Grisham, Scott Turow, John Lescroart and Michael Connelly.

Sid was once riding high as a prominent New York defense attorney, but then he crashed and burned in the wake of too much booze and coke. He's now cleaned up his act and is attempting to claw his way back, but his one-man practice is pitiful in the extreme. Then, however, a woman named Thelma Barrow begs Sid to take the case of her daughter, Priscilla, a white woman who is accused of murdering her drug-dealing black husband. Thelma can't afford to pay much, but Sid realizes that the publicity generated by a high-profile trial could put him back on the fast track to fame and fortune.

Sid agrees to meet with Priscilla who's in jail on Riker's Island and it's immediately clear that Priscilla, a tough, street-wise and very sexy babe, is going to be nothing but trouble. She admits to shooting her husband but is claiming self-defense. Actually, Sid couldn't care less whether she was justified or not in pulling the trigger, and as the evidence against his client accumulates, Sid carefully schools Priscilla in how the killing might have gone down in a way that will square her claim of self-defense with the evidence that is piling up against her.

Sid is assisted in the defense by his two closest friends, Caleb Talbot, who serves as his investigator, and Julie Gills, who works as his office manager. All three are badly wounded souls, but they form a bond so tight that they not only work together, they all live together.

To say much more would spoil the twists and turns of a tough, gritty and very surprising story. It doubtless goes without saying that things are not always what they seem and that in taking Priscilla's case, Sid Kaplan may get a lot more than he bargained for. This is a well-written book with interesting and quirky characters that are fully drawn. It should appeal to a wide range of readers who enjoy crime fiction.        

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