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.