****Murder One by Robert Dugoni –
Reid is also dealing with the consequences of a devastating personal loss. Her daughter, Leenie, has died from a heroin overdose. Reid is intensely frustrated when Filyp Vasiliev, the supplier to the dealer who sold the heroin to Leenie, is not convicted of trafficking because the Federal Court trial judge finds his rights have been violated because there has been an unlawful search of his car dealership.
Dugoni has some deft touches. On revenge Sloane speaks to a Catholic priest, Father Allen who says to him:
Thoughts of revenge are natural, David. You suffered a great loss, a great injustice. You wanted someone to pay for it. But always remember, it’s our actions that define us, not our thoughts, and even then God will forgive those who seek His forgiveness.
After mutual consolation in the bedroom Reid broaches with Sloane having him represent her in a wrongful death lawsuit against Vasiliev. She will seek to break Vasiliev financially. It is the same type of suit that the families of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown pursued against O.J. Simpson. It is not an easy action for Reid. Whereas the Goldman and Brown families needed only proof on a balance of probabilities O.J. was the killer, in an action against Vasiliev the connection for finding him liable for Leenie’s death is far more tenuous. He did not sell any drugs directly to her. As she prepares to sue Reid continues to pursue the passing in
of drug dealer liability laws
that would make it easier for civil actions to be taken against traffickers
such as Vasiliev. Washington
Reid has a good reason to want to retain Sloane. He is famed as the lawyer who does not lose.
While Sloane is leaning to representing Reid the question is rendered moot when Vasiliev is murdered with a single shot to the back of the head in his home.
With Reid’s prominent public statements about Vasiliev she becomes a suspect. As the police investigates the evidence becomes stronger against Reid and she is charged with Murder One.
To Sloane’s surprise Reid wants him to be her defence counsel. Not practising criminal law he is reluctant to take on the case. She insists that he represent her. While some readers and lawyers may not find it credible to have a civil lawyer take on a major criminal trial it is realistic to me as I try both civil and criminal cases.
The trial is the best part of the book. Sloane faces a very competent prosecutor in Rick Cerrabone. While not as flashy as Sloane he skilfully presents the evidence.
It is not a predictable trial. The result is hard to forecast.
Dugoni does well in presenting forensic evidence in an interesting way. He demonstrates the challenges inherent in cross-examining expert witnesses while showing a well prepared lawyer can weaken an expert’s evidence. It was nice to see the hard work of document review rewarded in the trial.
I found abit too much of the “beautiful” and “handsome” protagonists in the book. As the trial took place the roles of their physical appearances diminished.
I had heard of the book because it was short listed for the 2012 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction but did not make the effort to look up the book until reading a review by Norman Price in his fine blog, Crime Scraps Review, who said he had been led to read the book by my reference to it in this blog from a post on the Harper Lee Prize. The world does go round and round.
There was a legal ethical issue in the book that troubled me. I will discuss it in my next post as the discussion contains spoilers. Dugoni graciously provided information I was able to use in the post.
It is a very good legal thriller. I am going to keep an eye out for other legal fiction by Dugoni. (Apr. 19/13)
****My connection to "D" is for Dugoni is that both of us are lawyers and a significant part of my practice involves litigation.