A couple of criminal lawyers run scared from their clients through the South Jersey underworld.
Camden, N.J., home of Campbell’s Soup, has enough mean guys getting into trouble to keep childhood buddies and former cops Mickie Mezzonatti and Junior “Junne” Salerno busy. The two run a criminal defense practice. As dedicated to their job and their clients as Rumpole, but way, way down market from the British defender, they rent office space from a group of ambulance chasers specializing in spurious disability claims. The two are intellectually matched (both scrambled to pass the bar), agree on ethics (no abetting the clients) and share ethnic roots, but there is a critical division: Mickie is an inveterate womanizer, thrice married, and Junne is gay. He’s as closeted as a televangelist, but he’s out to Mickie, who had a hard time accepting the news and still thinks he might be able to turn things around with the right date. Their current professional dilemma is the demand of new client Rodrigo Gonzalez, a drug lord with unrealistic expectations. He thinks the lawyers should be able to get him out of jail and out of America even though he’s locked up on an iron-clad charge. Rodrigo’s sent his associate to explain to the pair that, should they fail their assignment, they will be dead men, and the associate has in turn sent a pair of thugs to illustrate the point. Only Mickie lost his temper before the thugs could show their stuff and beat one of the pair to a pulp, heightening the tension, already dangerously elevated as far as Junne is concerned. Their only hope is a line of defense made up by their shell-shocked law-school classmate, the class valedictorian who washed out of a white-shoe firm and lost his marbles and his wife.
Mildly amusing setup for what could be a pleasant series, from attorney-author Liebman (Shark Tales, 2000, etc.).