“The Lawyer’s Lawyer”
By James Sheehan
Published Jan. 8
Center Street, a Division of Hatchette Book Group USA
Wow — I just finished reading “The Lawyer’s Lawyer” and I was completely blown away by this relatively new voice in legal thrillers! This is James Sheehan’s third book in the Jack Tobin series and having missed the first two, “The Mayor of Lexington Avenue” and “The Law of Second Chances.” I now can’t wait to go back and read more of the exploits of this flawed but likeable protagonist. Nelson Demille, another of my favorite authors, says of Sheehan’s earlier work, “This is a debut novel but reads like it was written by a master of the genre.” New York Times Book Review states, “Sheehan writes with bleak clarity when he’s sharing the dirty tricks of his trade in the harrowing trial scenes, but there’s a touch of poet in his voice.”
Living in Florida, we often feel that we are surrounded by nothing but sunshine, swaying palms and happy hours. James Sheehan who was a successful trial attorney for 30 years and currently teaches trial law at Stetson University College of Law in Tampa, Florida, abducts the reader and shows us a seamier side of the Sunshine State. His lead character, Jack Tobin has a propensity for getting mired in the quicksand of complicated criminal cases in steamy backwoods Florida towns that are crawling with crooked lawyers, shady cops and slimy public officials.
Tobin has made a name for himself defending the innocent, especially those who find themselves wrongfully convicted and on death row. Having retired from a lucrative career in corporate litigation in South Florida, Jack has the freedom to laze around fictional Bass Creek, fishing and drinking beer with his pal and investigator, Henry. Tobin only takes on cases when the mood strikes him, usually on a pro bono basis. Henry, who is described as a “huge bear of a man” is a former death row inmate whom Tobin saved from Florida’s death chamber at the last possible second, and he will do just about anything for Jack.
“The Lawyer’s Lawyer” opens with a stranger stalking a woman on a Florida campus and shoving her into a Volkswagen Beetle, followed by a string of murders of students which terrorizes the entire population of this college town. While this is eerily reminiscent of the Ted Bundy case in Tallahassee in the 1970s and Danny Rolling in Gainesville in the 1990s, the parallels diverge as we flash forward and Jack Tobin is asked to defend the convicted serial killer in his death row appeal. Jack becomes convinced that the man was set up and decides to take the case. That decision pits Jack against the powerful elite of Apache County, local citizens, and the woman he loves. It also takes him down a road of self-searching and despair, and ultimately into the courtroom. James Sheehan’s knowledge of the legal system gives the reader an intimate glimpse of the appellate system as well as the tremendous pressure on law enforcement to arrest those responsible at any and all costs.
IF YOU GO
What: James Sheehan Q&A
Where: Sunshine Booksellers, 677 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
When: 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 22
Info: The format will be a brief presentation about his writing, followed by Q&A and then he will be available to talk with readers and sign books. This event is free to the public.