Attorney/radio interviewer/nonfiction author Papantonio (Air America: The Playbook, 2006, etc.) debuts a Florida lawyer hero who’d look a lot like him if his fictional avatar's busy professional docket weren’t complicated by his own trial for manslaughter.
Nick "Deke" Deketomis is the man you call when some faceless corporation has made you suffer terribly. But his advocacy doesn’t come cheap. Just ask 19-year-old Annica Phillips, left partially paralyzed by Ranidol, Bekmeyer Pharmaceuticals’ birth control drug, who dies in open court after an ill-qualified judge refuses to admit the eminent toxicologist Deke’s chosen as an expert witness. His lead client’s death doesn’t end Deke’s crusade against Bekmeyer, of course; he just chooses another lead plaintiff and heads back to the courtroom. With his other hand, he’s preparing a lawsuit against monumental polluter S.I. Oil, the cash cow of politically connected billionaires Kurt and Anton Swanson. In the meantime, however, an infernal cabal, including county prosecutor Darl Dixon and Pentecostal Pastor Rodney Morgan, that’s decided to impeach Deke in a big way succeeds beyond its wildest dreams: the poor fool who’s been unwillingly sent to provoke Deke into a fistfight so the secret recording can be leaked to the public ends up dead instead, and Deke’s unintentionally fatal blow is faithfully captured on said video. How can you continue to labor for 25-hour days as a high-profile scourge of corporate interests when you’re a criminal defendant yourself? It would be totally impossible—unless Deke gets help from an unexpected quarter in exposing a dread secret about his tormentors that readers have known about ever since the starting gun.
As one of his stricken enemies muses about the hero, “The man had more lives than a cat” —an assessment that economically conveys both the moral complexity of the legal universe on display here and the guileless appeal of Papantonio’s bumper-sticker prose.