THE ALLIGATOR MAN by James Sheehan


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Sheehan (The Law of Second Chances, 2008, etc.) weaves a father-son reconciliation melodrama into a Florida courtroom clash sparked by murder and corruption.

Kevin Wylie is the top-ranked associate in Bernie Stang’s Miami, Fla., criminal defense firm. While contemplating setting up shop for himself, he learns of a dark secret behind the high-rolling Stang’s defense of drug dealers. With that, Stang tells Wylie the town isn’t big enough for both of them. Struggling with that threat, Kevin gets word that his long-estranged father, Tom, also an attorney, is dying of cancer. Kevin’s asked to visit Tom in the north Florida town of St. Albans. Meantime, Roy Johnson, former CEO of Dynatron, a bankrupt international energy company, has been reported killed in a deliberate hit-and-run accident near his lavish estate at Gladestown at the Everglades' edge. Johnson profited from a $100 million buyout shortly before Dynatron went belly up, leaving employees jobless and with no insurance or pension funds. It’s no surprise Johnson’s been run down on the road, but the real shock is that Billy Fuller, a longtime friend of Tom Wylie, is accused of the murder. Despite the great premise, Sheehan's characters are too easily slotted into neat spots on the storyboard: Kevin’s an angst-ridden, earnest Tom Cruise type, with a Matthew McConaughey type stepping in as fisherman/guide/auxiliary sheriff/vigilante Carlisle Buchanan. Readers meet the standard judge who dislikes the brash defense attorney, enjoy the requisite father-son reconciliation, and watch as one love affair crashes and another simmers back home in St. Albans, all while Sheehan runs past three conclusions before he terminates every loose plot thread. 

Fun stuff, albeit less tense and conflicted than the works of Scott Turow and John Grisham.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0864-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Center Street/Hachette
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2013


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