Book Review: Lawyer’s Angel
Reviewed by Kathy L. Brown
A tense battle of good and evil in a small-town courtroom
The Lawyer’s Angel, a legal thrillerby Scott Allen Benkie, raises the stakes on typical courtroom dramas. Powerful forces will stop at nothing to win a wrongful death lawsuit brought against an unscrupulous truck rental company and its owner, Obadiah Talbot. Squared off against them, attorney James Crosson fights not only for his client but also for his own salvation.
A recent widower and gambling addict, James Crosson is about to hit rock bottom. His wife didn’t survive when Crosson crashed their car on an icy road, and small-town tongues are wagging about drunk driving. He’s barely functional, and the only thing that lifts his spirits even momentarily is gambling. But he’s deeply in debt to a Las Vegas organized-crime boss. He has mere weeks to come up with the money owed.
A lifeline, perhaps, is Claire Thompson, a widow whose husband was recently killed in an automobile accident. She wants to make a wrongful death claim against Move-It Express, which provided a vehicle to the man who hit her husband’s car. Claire needs justice—and for her husband’s story to be told. A substantial award would solve Crosson’s money problems, and the work might pull him out of his depression.
But with the gambling debt and “reminders” from the mob enforcers hanging over his head, Crosson’s focus is challenged. And the case needs his total attention: Talbot is determined to intimidate, bribe, and murder his way to a token settlement for Claire, at best.
In a series of tense chapters, the first half of the novel introduces many important characters, setting up the obstacles and conflicts for each. Key witnesses, such as Move-It Express’s maintenance supervisor, have serious personal problems as well as a vested interest in covering up the truth. Add to that the owner’s intimidation campaign, and the risks for everyone are high. These people’s redemptive journeys will propel them into a small-town courtroom and force a choice between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lies.
From the moment this trial begins, the story becomes a real page-turner. The legal maneuvering is fascinating and feels authentic, and the risks just get higher and higher for both Crosson and Talbot.
The Lawyer’s Angel is rooted in a particular time and place. It is modern, small-town America, the vestiges of the past decaying all around the inhabitants. Every building seems to have a story to tell of its past glories. Living up to values of the past in a greedy and mundane world is a re-occurring theme for the book.
And who is the lawyer’s angel? Crosson has many guardians on his side, from a random rescuer to his faithful dog, Bailey. Perhaps the story has one special angel in mind, but certainly the theme of people supporting one another through the trials of life is an important one.
For example, one of the many people who have it in for Crosson is police detective Wilcox. But late one night right before the trial, Wilcox pays a visit.
“Crosson waved him off. ‘Unless you’ve got a warrant, leave now. I’ve got a jury trial to think about, and…’ ‘I know,’ interrupted Wilcox, ‘I thought you could use some good news.’ Crosson was shocked…’I’m listening.’ The two men stood opposite each other on the porch. One with a gun and the other holding an old dog.’
The Lawyer’s Angel, while primarily a legal thriller, deftly interweaves a supernatural angle into the story as well. I won’t go into too much detail here for fear of spoilers, but just know there are some surprises waiting around the corner.
The story is told from an omniscient point of view in a clear, controlled voice. The reader can, and often does, know what every character in a scene is thinking and feeling. Sometimes that is too much information: either we can surmise their interior reaction from their actions and words, or they are a minor actor and their input doesn’t add much to the scene. And moving from one mind to another in the same paragraph can introduce confusion, pulling us out of the deep fictive dream the story has constructed.
Readers interested in a tense courtroom drama, plot twists, and fine character development will enjoy The Lawyer’s Angel.
Publisher: MindStir Media
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Legal Thriller
Print Length: 470 pages
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