Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Ready for the Defense by Mike Langan

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Ready for the Defense by Mike Langan. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Ready for the Defense by Mike Langan

Ready for the Defense by

Treble Heart Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-932695-70-2 (1932695702)
ISBN-13: 978-1-932695-70-0 (9781932695700)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $13.50

Review: As heroes go, thirty-two-year-old criminal defense lawyer and amateur sleuth, Hank Fisher, of Mike Langan’s second novel Ready for the Defense is more marshmallow than hard-boiled. And his first-person story of finding his boss’s killer and defending a federal Senator in in an IRS investigation is often like a routine between a Jewish stand-up comic and a Mickey Spillane wannabe, but with Fisher as far more of a punching bag than Spillane ever was. Still in all, it’s a good, fast-paced, action-oriented story for today’s times with its focus on Washington scandals, terrorism attacks, racial profiling and biological warfare.

When his story begins Fisher’s got a lot going for him. A former English teacher with a Jewish mother and an Episcopal minister father, he’s embarking on a promising career with a bear of a boss, six-foot, five inch 300 pound Mac MacPherson, a great guy and a great mentor with a great family. But not too many pages along, and Fisher’s world crumbles when a speeding car crashes into Mac, Fisher, and Senator Victoria Serling, the duo’s newest client and candidate for the CIA Director’s position as they prepare to meet to discuss allegations of fraud against the Senator. Mac is killed, the Senator hospitalized in a coma, and while Fisher narrowly escapes serious injury, he’s left on his own to defend the Senator and discover who targeted her and Mac. It’s a tough assignment given his inexperience, a dearth of clues, and a public allegation Mac has bribed a juror. There’s increasing tension, too, between him, the local police, FBI agents “Rice and Beans”, and various special interest racial and religious groups in Washington. As well, he’s lugging the memory of an older teenaged brother who died years ago in a car crash, and he’s dodging a female client’s husband who wants to beat him up because of a restraining order he secured for her. He gets support, though, from friend and ex-cop Roger Lynch and Dr. Amelia Fuentes, Senator Serling’s niece and his attending physician during his brief stay in the hospital after the hit-and-run. The Senator’s husband, Dr. Larry Marshall, the former owner of the biopharm giant, Panacea, is helpful too, even if controlling. As the story progresses, support strengthens from Roger and Amelia but dirty dealings at Panacea lead to increasing suspicion about Marshall and the new owners, as well as some of the Senator’s own staff and employees at the firms Fisher and Roger investigate. In the end, however, Fisher gets it right and after bending and even breaking a couple of laws his marshmallow centre hardens into hardboiled righteousness. With Mac’s murder avenged, the Senator cleared and discharged from the hospital, and Amelia trusting him after a tiff about lying to her, he partners with Roger to form “DC’s newest white collar crime investigator firm,” despite his mother’s admonition, “Nobody likes a snoop, dear. It’s only one step above being a pawnbroker.”

Ready for the Defense, following on the heels of Langan’s first novel, Dark Horse, is a pleasant enough debut for English teacher turned lawyer turned snoop, Hank Fisher. Whether he continues on at “one step above being a pawnbroker” remains to be seen.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham ([email protected]) for contributing his review of Ready for the Defense and to Mike Langan for providing a copy of the book.

Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Hank Fisher is not your typical first-year criminal defense lawyer.  Acting more like Sherlock Holmes than Oliver Wendell Holmes in the courtroom, he exonerates clients by catching the real bad guys.

His unconventional victories come at the chagrin of his larger-than-life boss, Mac, who prefers to pull the twelfth juror from the brink of conviction the old-fashioned way, through an artful cross-examination and an impassioned closing argument.

But before the dysfunctional duo can rescue their new client, a United States senator, from the jaws of an apparent IRS investigation, a hit-and-run attack rips their law firm apart, putting one person in a hearse and another in a coma.

Hank must find the killer while defending the senator all by himself in a criminal investigation that is spiraling out of control.

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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