"A fast-paced tale of justice in action and a remarkably accurate portrait of a trial lawyer’s daily grind."– Kirkus Reviews
On the evening before Thanksgiving, an airplane shuttling Perry’s ex-husband and three small children crashed into a mountainside, killing them instantly. This biography charts Perry’s journey to, and eventually beyond, that “agonizing night.”
Perry, herself an aviator, became a national figure following the 2011 crash, first as the object of sympathy and later as a model of resilience whose grieving process was captured by an Oprah Winfrey Network film crew. It’s a credit to Napoleon’s (Burning Shield: The Jason Schechterle Story, 2014, etc.) diligent reporting that readers here are treated to a much fuller portrayal of Perry. After starting her pilot training at age 19, Perry spent nearly two decades breaking barriers to pursue a career in the male-dominated field. Then, at age 38, she discovered she was pregnant, an instant “game changer” for a woman who thought she was unable to have children. Perry and her husband, Shawn, welcomed daughter Morgan in 2002; sons Logan and Luke came along soon after. But along with its joys, motherhood introduced new strains. Both Morgan and Luke were autistic. The family was told that Morgan, who also suffered from epilepsy and developmental delays, would never be able to live independently. Perry and her husband divorced in 2010. A little over a year later, the crash occurred, leaving her utterly heartbroken and in search of answers. Napoleon has a knack for capturing and distilling minutiae, a skill on display as he dissects crash reports and court documents. But the real beauty here is when he uses those same skills to render Perry and her children as more than just tragic victims. Although Napoleon’s use of aviation metaphors is at times a bit heavy-handed, his portrayals of Perry and her children are genuine. Along with a collection of black-and-white family photos, his vivid details help readers experience the clan’s happier times. We see Morgan snuggle in the lap of a family friend, learn Luke was a prodigious photographer, and laugh along with Logan as he delights in his Easy Bake Oven.
An absorbing read that serves as a reminder to cherish every moment.
A maimed cop fights to regain his life in this inspiring true story.
Officer Jason Schechterle was on a routine call when a cabdriver suffering an epileptic seizure smashed into his car at more than 100 miles per hour. His cruiser exploded, and the resulting flames burned 43 percent of his body. When he reached the hospital, his hands looked like “mutilated claws.” The doctors removed most of his face to prevent infections and told his family he would be “blind, deaf, mute and probably vegetative.” But Schechterle—who fought his way into the Phoenix Police Department after years of effort—has a habit of beating the odds. Author Napoleon scrupulously guides readers through Schechterle’s teen years, spent absorbing the sounds of REO Speedwagon, excelling at golf and falling in love—and into his laudable career in the Air Force. Faithfully documented is every bump and nook on his road toward achieving his childhood dream: wearing a Phoenix Police Department badge. As the enthusiastic rookie got his bearings in the routines of police work—which involved more picking up shoplifters at Wal-Mart than high-octane shootouts—his future fate was darkly foreshadowed by events elsewhere. All across the country, police officers were dying in exploding Ford Crown Victorias, and attorney Patrick J. McGroder III—“the legal equivalent of The Terminator”—aimed to make Ford pay. Schechterle would be crucial in helping him. Napoleon, the author of several crime novels, is skilled at painting a scene in slangy strokes while balancing plotlines. But if this true story reads like a novel, it sometimes feels like the life of a saint. “He had already broken the barriers of medicine and science,” readers are told after Schechterle leaves the hospital, and “now [he] was charting new territory in the field of human potential.” Perfection can be robotic, and many readers will miss the flaws. Still, human-interest fans will enjoy the journey if they take the hyperbole with a pinch of salt.
An underdog tale replete with legal battles, gruesome surgeries and a few too many superlatives.
In Napoleon’s novel, a struggling lawyer befriends a local bail bondsman and takes on a case that will change his life.
Fresh out of law school, Connor J. Devlin is struggling his way through traffic tickets and he-said, she-said misdemeanor cases in the Maricopa County courts. He decides business might improve if he ingratiated himself with the local bail bondsman, “One-Armed Lucky.” Devlin’s client, a tenacious woman named Kay Pearson, is convinced that substandard nursing-home care killed her mother, Ann, a greyhound-racing devotee and one of Lucky’s best friends. There’s only one problem: In 1970, no one even thought of suing nursing homes for wrongful death. Dying people were what nursing homes were for. Over 10 years, Devlin dedicates his fledgling law practice to getting to the bottom of Ann’s painful, haunting death, culminating in a dramatic civil trial that challenges not only the nursing home, but the very notion that death should be neither seen nor heard. From the start, Napoleon’s novel is briskly told and well-drawn, but this legal thriller does what many courtroom-based novels and television shows do not: It stays true to the actual practice of trial law. Legal tales often circumvent the dense lawyering to keep the action moving; Napoleon, however, proves that realism needn’t be sacrificed to pace or plot, and, despite its dry reputation, legal procedure can provide as much action, suspense and whodunit excitement as any shootout or car chase. Prospective law students are frequently encouraged to read law-student memoirs or legal hornbooks, but for a realistic view of litigation and a great deal more action, they’d do well to add this legal thriller to their reading list.
A fast-paced tale of justice in action and a remarkably accurate portrait of a trial lawyer’s daily grind.
A remarkable debut portraying the inner life of a disturbed ghetto teenager as he attempts to grow up in the frightening world he's inherited.
Louis Fletcher, alias ZigZag, is one of those charmed unfortunates who appear so forlorn and helpless that they can get away with murder—literally. Ostensibly mentally retarded, ZigZag works as a dishwasher and lives with his abusive father, who shakes him down for cash and continually reminds him that he "killed" his own mother during childbirth. In actuality Louis isn't retarded but autistic, with a phenomenal memory and grasp of mathematics, although, at 15, he does lack the most basic understanding of social behavior and verbal communication. He's looked after by Dean Singer, his Big Brother from a local welfare agency, who takes him on outings and tries to get him placed in a safer home than his father's. When ZigZag's father threatens to throw him out on the street unless he comes up with $200 to pay the rent, the boy memorizes the combination of his boss's safe and steals $5,000. Singer discovers what's happened and tries to retrieve the money before ZigZag is arrested, but ZigZag's father takes the whole packet and uses it to pay back a loan shark. So now Singer must borrow money himself to keep ZigZag out of trouble. The result? He almost gets both ZigZag and himself into even worse trouble when he tries to replace the loot in the safe. Soon the detectives are dusting for fingerprints, the safe is still empty, and Singer is going to get some bones broken unless he comes up with a way of making the loan-shark's weekly vig. A hopeless scenario? Well, God upholds the foolish, innocence is often mistaken for ignorance, and in the end it's ZigZag who looks after Singer in the first of many role-reversals that twist through this marvelously intricate tale.
An unaffected, moving, and astonishing insight into the heart of a troubled, silent genius.