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Landon J. Napoleon

In June 1999, writer, director and producer David S. Goyer came across my first novel ZIGZAG in a Pasadena bookstore. Exactly 10 years after I left my one and only official job to write full-time, Goyer began filming the adaptation of ZIGZAG, in 2002, on location in Los Angeles. As of 2013, I have been a full-time author for 22 years. My latest book, the nonfiction biography BURNING SHIELD: THE JASON SCHECHTERLE STORY, chronicles the amazing journey and determination of a man burned alive who came back from the brink.  ...See more >

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"Briskly told and well-drawn, this legal thriller (THE RULES OF ACTION) does what many courtroom-based novels and television shows do not: It stays true to the actual practice of trial law… A fast-paced tale of justice in action and a remarkably accurate portrait of a trial lawyer’s daily grind… 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."

Kirkus Reviews


Kirkus Star: ZIGZAG

Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers, Finalist, 1999: ZIGZAG

Hometown Boulder, Colorado

Favorite author Elmore Leonard

Favorite book "First Blood" by David Morrell

Day job Author


Pub Date:

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.

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1450224543
Page count: 348pp

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.

Pub Date:
ISBN: 0-8050-6048-0
Page count: 288pp

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.


Crime, thriller, coming of age, suspense, femme fatale

Fast cars. Big money. A ticking clock. And one of the most compelling women in contemporary fiction. The author of ZigZag—“one of the boldest and most original first novels to appear in a long time” (Carl Hiaasen)—is back with an exhilarating thrill ride that reintroduces a character from that acclaimed debut. It’s a man’s, man’s, man’s world, and Jenna Jet is a twenty-something femme fatale on the run—literally. Trying to out pace the lingering effects of her troubled past, and desperate for cash, Jenna heads west to play a dangerous game: driving stolen exotic imports across the nighttime desert from Phoenix to Los Angeles. She's made the run a harrowing nine times, and the big payout—a cool hundred grand—is on ice until she delivers car number ten. One last ride before she's out of the game for good. But nothing is ever that simple. And everything is about to go wrong, fast. Along the way Jenna must negotiate highway patrol, police choppers, border checkpoints, and a nasty cop who's more interested in her than in the six-figure import she's driving. But the biggest roadblock of all? A family secret that might just slam the brakes on everything. Elmore Leonard meets James Ellroy, with a dash of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, in this high-octane road novel told in prose that David S. Goyer calls "gritty, jagged, and full of passion."

ISBN: 978-0-9886519-1-3
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Coming of age, historical, literary, crime, mystery, suspense

Coming of Age—in Two Generations. Landon J. Napoleon, author of the "briskly told and well-drawn" legal drama The Rules of Action (Kirkus Reviews), has an uncanny ability to cross genres with distinct narrative voices. The Flatirons reconfirms that ability by weaving together two tales that leapfrog between the modern world and New York of the 1920s. American editor Joel Quinn is living the hedonistic dream in 1990s London—sex, drugs and all-night raves—when his world is rocked: His mother is suffering the ravages of an unexpected illness, barely clinging to life. Called home to Boulder, Colorado, Quinn is confronted with grief, family, an imploding career and, most unexpectedly, a persistent Scotland Yard detective who’s investigating a crime that points to him. As everything falls apart Quinn works to unravel the pain of coming home. Ultimately, it’s the women in Quinn’s life who point the way to what he seeks. They also begin to unlock a family mystery—one with roots in the murder, chaos and underworld of New York's storied gangland of the 1920s.

ISBN: 978-0-9886519-3-7
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