A Mexican drug cartel and a U.S. senator target an attorney after he takes a case involving illegal immigration in this debut thriller.
The routine life of Bret Claiborne, small-town lawyer and family man in Jackson, Tennessee, is upended when he agrees to sue the government on behalf of a longtime friend. Bret’s client suffered grievous injuries (his own amputations as well as the death of his spouse) in a car accident caused by a drunk-driving illegal immigrant. The case quickly becomes highly charged, with the intoxicated driver turning out to be a mule for Banditos Locos, the goon squad of a Mexican drug cartel operating with seeming impunity within the U.S. Seeking to make the lawsuit disappear, the Locos send a posse to Bret’s law office, resulting in horrible carnage but missing its mark. The attorney’s high-strung, pampered wife, Dianne, absconds with their young son to stay with her parents. Bret moves forward on the case and is attacked again, with shots ringing out this time in his own residence just after he acts on impulse and brings an attractive, young female colleague home. Bret and Dianne soon have a loving reunion, but the danger isn’t over. U.S. Sen. Lyle Warren, aligned with the cartel’s leader and eager to push an amnesty bill through Congress, commissions his own hitman to pursue Bret. A subsequent showdown gives the lawyer new leverage for his suit, although he later arrives at another disturbing conclusion. In this legal thriller, Wells has created a familiar, likable character in the John Grisham and particularly Scott Turow mold, with Bret facing a twist at the end. The author also delivers a timely subject with his illegal immigration angle, although his handling of this issue turns out to be rather simplistic as well as over-the-top, particularly in the superevil scheming of Warren. The final sequence yields a cornucopia of corruption that dilutes the intensity of the original case. Still, Wells effectively sets up an appealing protagonist for further advocacy adventures.
An ambitious and topical story about a courageous Southern lawyer.