Archive for the ‘Legal Thriller’ Category

Alligator Man-James Sheehan

October 21, 2013

Alligator Man
James Sheehan
Center Street, Oct 8 2013, $23.00
ISBN: 9781455508648

After his company Dynatron went bankrupt destroying the lives of 20,000 employees and their families, and decimating investors, gazillionaire CEO Roy Johnson retired to Gladestown, Florida with a hundred million dollar Golden Parachute package. The Feds sent his accountant to prison for three years, but Roy and the rest of management proved uncatchable.

Roy’s wife Sylvia reports him missing to County Sheriff’s only local employee Carlisle Buchanan. On a hunch, Carlisle goes to the Everglades where he finds pieces of clothing that apparently belong to Roy. This leads to many locals assuming an alligator grabbed Roy during his nightly intoxicated stroll. Sheriff Cousins assigns Carlisle to work with detective Vern Fleming on the missing “Alligator Man” case. High school student Freddie Jenkins swears to Carlisle that he saw a hit-and-run and another witness claims to have overheard bar talk re a murder. Evidence soon points to angry ex-Dynatron employee Billy Fuller as the Alligator Man killer. Meanwhile Kate Parker calls lawyer Kevin Wylie with news that his estranged father Tom is in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. Though almost three decades have passed since his mother, accompanied by their eight years old son Kevin, left his dad; he and his father defend Billy.

The Alligator Man is an entertaining legal thriller with roots in the capitalistic avarice underbelly of the Great Recession. Although the key cast is either pure of heart goodness or dark of heart wickedness and a twist improbable, readers will enjoy the reconciliation of father and son lawyers as they defend the accused in a Florida court.

Harriet Klausner


Tragic-Robert K. Tanenbaum

August 17, 2013

Robert K. Tanenbaum
Gallery, Aug 13 2013, $2600
ISBN 9781451635553

With the death of North American Brotherhood of Stevedores union leader Leo Corcione, a power struggle between brutally corrupt heir apparent Charlie Vitteli and ethical challenger Vince Carlotta explodes; as the latter accuses the former of being a violent crook. Vitteli’s henchmen end the debate when they assassinate Carlotta though the waterfront crime scene looks more like a robbery gone badly.

New York County DA Roger “Butch” Karp seeks evidence to take down Vitteli. Meanwhile his wife private investigator Marlene Campi meets a frightened potential witness at the East Village Women’s Shelter. That lead has her seeking several hit men with one of them probably the “masked robber” who pulled the trigger. Finding the killer and getting him to testify should prove Vitteli cannot wash the blood from his hands.

The latest entertaining Karp-Campi legal thriller (see Bad Faith) is an exciting tale when the focus is on union waterfront activity as those segments bring to life hard working workers and violent thugs. The fascinating courtroom segue is also well written; while the metaphorical references to Macbeth turn from intriguing to overused distractor. Readers will enjoy this tragedy wondering who will be the highest rank living official providing the final soliloquy.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Side Of Wrong-Reavis Z. Wortham

July 8, 2013

The Right Side Of Wrong
Reavis Z. Wortham
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201486

In 1966, twenty-four year old Constable Cody Parker is stunned by the snow piling up as it rarely comes down let alone sticks in Center Spring, Texas on the south side of the Red River. He notices tire marks in the snow so he follows them using his wife Norma Faye’s vehicle as his car’s battery died due to the freezing temperature. When he sees the sedan parked, Cody down shifts but skids anyway. The other driver fires a 12 gauge through the windshield hitting Cody whose Plymouth crashes. A starving pack of abandoned dogs fights over his injured body until elderly newcomer Tom Bell kills the alpha and another sending the rest fleeing.

Cody’s Uncle Constable Ned Parker and deputy sheriff John Washington lead investigations into the near fatal attack and other homicides in the area. Each concludes that a new type of trafficker had come to Red River; these homicidal predators sell drugs that they obtain in Mexico. Still upset with the assault that nearly killed him, Cody follows suspects south of the border. Ned follows his foolish nephew to save him from killers.

The third Parker clan historical police procedural (see The Rock Hole and Burrows) is a great 1960s period piece thriller with segregation remaining strictly enforced; for instance Washington is the Jackie Robinson of law enforcement in the area but separate facilities for whites and coloreds remain in place a dozen years after the Brown ruling. The drug trafficking is also just beginning to find favorite lethal migratory paths. The cast is solid as is the investigation, but it is the vivid look at 1966 Red River shootout that makes for a super entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Flinch Factor-Michael A. Kahn

June 9, 2013

The Flinch Factor
Michael A. Kahn
Poisoned Pen, Jun 4 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201424

In St. Louis, almost four years a widow, Rachel Gold is a single mom raising her son and two stepdaughters. Currently Rachel and her partner Jacki Brand represent clients in two complex legal cases.

Everyone who knew renovator Nick Moran including Rachel is shocked that he overdosed in a pickup truck on Gay Way as most people realized he took drugs and was gay. His sister Susannah Beale visits Rachel without an appointment because she believes the attorney knew her late brother and will help her prove the cops wrong as she insists her sibling was murdered.

Later that same day, Rachel is in Circuit Court of St. Louis County arguing over setting a deposition date in the “Frankenstein” case with attorney Rob Crane in front of the worst judge probably in the state, Flinch. She represents the middle class residents suing to keep their homes while Crane’s client developer Mr. Rubenstein is too busy to respond to why he should be allowed to build a gated community at the site of their homes. With legal help from her partner and investigative assistance from Benny Goldberg, Rachel’s cases begin to overlap.

The latest Rachel Gold legal thriller (see Trophy Wife and Due Diligence) contains two terrific cases that bring out the tough trial lawyer competing in court in front of the notorious Judge Flinch, a hyperbole of a horrendous judicial who does not belong on the bench. Outside of her all business legal world, Rachel shows her love for her children, other family members and her partner and friends, and even a grieving client. Readers will enjoy this gold mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Outrageous October-Barbara Levenson

April 9, 2013

Outrageous October
Barbara Levenson
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Feb 11 2013, $11.99
ISBN: 9781480093669

Residents of High Pines, Vermont are shocked with the news that local socialite widow Carolyn Broussard was found dead in her home. The police are investigating the death as there are some anomalies with the victim’s son Tom as the prime suspect.

One year later, Mary Katz is a criminal defense attorney after being fired by her fiancé Franklin Fieldstone when he caught her and developer Carlos having sex in the office. After successfully handling a case involving her lover’s cousin, Mary and her BFF Lucy go out to eat only to find Carlos dining with his ex-wife Margarita. After Mary ends her engagement to Carlos, Lucy insists she get away; she suggests the lawyer and Sam her dog use her summer home in High Pines. In Vermont, Mary realizes she entered the wrong home when she sees a ton of mail addressed to Brousseau. She investigates the unsolved murder of Carolyn, which leads Mary meeting village attorney Dash Mellman, who persuades her to help his client in a tree dispute that turns deadly. At the same time Mary finds out that Dartmouth student Sherry, the daughter of Florida client Lillian Yarmouth, has been kidnapped and held for ransom.

The latest Mary Magruder Katz legal thriller (see Fatal February and Justice In June) is an engaging tale as the protagonist proves that The Green Mountain State is as crazy as the Sunshine State. Filled with action, fans will enjoy Mary’s New England adventure as a cold case murder, a warm case homicide and a potential killing case converge on the lawyer who can’t get away from her criminal defense attorney vocation or for that matter romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Guilty One-Lisa Ballantyne

April 1, 2013

The Guilty One
Lisa Ballantyne
Morrow, Mar 19 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062195517

In London, the Islington Police arrests eleven year old Sebastian Croll for the beating death of his neighbor eight year old Ben Stokes in Barnard Park. Juvenile law solicitor Daniel Hunter defends the accused youth.

To mount a reasonable defense, Daniel investigates Sebastian’s life, which increasingly reminds the lawyer of his own troubled past as the child of a drug addicted single mom, which led to foster care until Minnie Flynn took him. Sebastian loves and hates Minnie Flynn who saved his life but also he believes destroyed his soul.

This is an exciting psychological legal procedural as readers wonder whether Daniel’s childhood prevents him from truly seeing Sebastian the violent monster or enables him to see Sebastian the hurting tweener. Though the numerous support cast can be overwhelming and the trial climax interrupted by the past, rotating between the solicitor’s salad days with Minnie and the present day trial. Fans will appreciate the blending of a psychological thriller with a British legal procedural. Daniel, Minnie and Sebastian put a face on government austerity lock them up and throw away the key mentality.

Harriet Klausner

The Lawyer’s Lawyer-James Sheehan

December 7, 2012

The Lawyer’s Lawyer

James Sheehan

Center Street, Jan 8 2013, $22.99

ISBN: 9781455508662


In 1993, University of North Central Florida at Oakville student Stacey Kincaid claims a man tried to kill her.  She works with local and county detectives especially Danni Jansen of OPD and the FBI to draw a sketch of her attacker.  Soon afterward the police arrest Thomas Felton.  Not long after that Felton is convicted as a serial killer who eight years later sits on death row awaiting execution once his appeals end for murders he swears he did not commit. 


To defend him, Felton supporters turn to retired Miami trial attorney Jack Tobin because the latter is considered the “lawyer’s lawyer” by the best of the profession when they need legal representation.  He looks into the case and finds odd anomalies that make him wonder if Felton is a fall guy.  Tobin decides to leave Bass Creek to represent Felton in court.  However, Robin is unprepared for the brouhaha of rage against him by the jurisprudence system as if justice is an inconvenience.  The citizens of Oakville threaten him and even his soul mate condemns him though she has a personal interest in this case; while the lawyer’s lawyer soon finds he needs a lawyer.


The latest Jack Tobin legal thriller (see The Mayor of Lexington Avenue and The Law of Second Chances) is a great tale filled with stunning twists in and out of courtroom.  The storyline is fast-paced from start to finish, but it is the cast who make this a winner as many of those in law enforcement and the legal system are angered with Tobin for mounting a competent defense when almost all of them prefer the State execute Felton.


Harriet Klausner

The K Street Affair-Mari Passananti

December 5, 2012

The K Street Affair

Mari Passananti

Rutland Square Press, Jan 8 2013, $15.99

58 West Rutland Square; Boston, Massachusetts 02118

ISBN: 9780985894603


Terrorists simultaneously attack several Washington, D. C. Metro stations in the worst assault on American soil since 9/11.  While her husband cannot get home, FBI Agents Henry Redwell and Maxwell Van Buren visit Rutledge & Smerth junior associate lawyer Lena Mancuso at her house.  The Feds demand Lena assist them prove their case against disgraced lobbyist William Acheson and her employer Q. Randolph Smerth who leads a team she is on defending the former in court.  The agents insist the pair knew the terrorist attack was coming and want her to be their informant proving bribery and money laundering involving Smerth and his Clearwater clients Acheson, Russian oil baron Korov and future Saudi ruler Prince Aziz.


Though she insists Smerth is no terrorist abettor, she reluctantly agrees to help the Feds.  However, Lena soon realizes the FBI is clueless as to how dangerous and humongous the international octopi of Lotus a “blocker company on steroids” truly are when it comes to profiting from tax free war. 


The K Street Affair is a superb financial legal thriller starring a woman whose life is devastated when the Feds knock on her door to recruit her as an undercover operative.  Lacking ambition as partnership is not a goal she wants to sacrifice her life for, Lena seems like a poor Hail Mary choice to save the country (and other nations) from a deadly global corporacy.  Fans will enjoy this taut tale wondering whether this apparently average person has the guts to risk her life and those of her loved ones to prevent an insider takeover of the country when the impact on her would be insignificant at best.


Harriet Klausner

No Regrets, No Remorse:-R.F. Sharp

October 11, 2012

No Regrets, No Remorse:

R.F. Sharp

Poisoned Pen, Nov 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200434


Palm Beach, Florida sleazy attorney “Big Jack” Burdine dies in a boat explosion; a passerby also perished in the incident.  The police arrest lawyer Roy Flagler, who allegedly was having an affair with the victim’s wife Lucy.  Roy calls his ex-law partner Oscar Leopold to defend him.  At the jail, Roy explains that Jack’s fuel line was cut and the cops claim he has means, motive and opportunity especially after a public fight between them.  Finally he says he and Lucy have been seeing each other on a personal basis as well as on a wrongful death suit.


Oscar asks his former lover (and roommate), Sydney Simone to help him with the defense.  Sydney hides from Oscar that she runs Human Pest Control, which lives up it its name as an exterminator of two legged rodents.  In fact she just completed a job in Michigan.  The case turns convoluted when Roy is implicated in a vast insurance scam that has Oscar under investigation too.


This is a fast-paced thriller with legal and kick butt action.  With her different morality (sort of mindful of Beth Riesgraf’s Parker in Leverage) Sydney steals the show as she takes no prisoners in her secret endeavor and in protecting Oscar the wuss.  Though none of the cast is likable, fans will enjoy No Regrets, No Remorse due to the anti-heroine whose attitude brings freshness to the genre.


Harriet Klausner

Dead Peasants-Larry D. Thompson

August 29, 2012

Dead Peasants

Larry D. Thompson

Dunne, Oct 2 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9781250009494


In Beaumont, Texas, after winning an enormous wrongful death civil suit for three families of dead refinery workers, attorney Jack Bryant retires.  He plans to spend time with his son J.D. an ex-marine who is a walk-on trying to make the nationally ranked TCU football team, and to do pro bona legal services for the poor in Fort Worth.


The “Boss” hires a hit man to kill several former employees, but make it look like accidents.  Meanwhile Widow June Davis shows Jack an exorbitant insurance check made out to her late husband’s employer.  She explains that the payoff is exponentially greater than what her spouse could have made at the auto dealership in a booming economy.  Jack accepts June as a client as he files in civil court for her to collect the life insurance money.


The murder for insurance money of “Dead Peasant” is an engaging legal thriller with a powerful underlying concept.  The fast-paced storyline is at its best when the focuses are on insurance practices or in the courtroom.  However, Jack spends too much time as a detective, which detracts from an otherwise intriguing tale.


Harriet Klausner