This is the first book I've read by James Sheehan. Sheehan writes a legal series with lawyer Jack Tobin as the recurring character, but his latest book, The Alligator Man is a stand alone and introduces us to a new character - lawyer Kevin Wylie.
Kevin's life is about to be turned upside down - his shady boss has decided that now is the time to get ride of Kevin, he gets word that the father he hasn't seen in twenty eight years is dying and his girlfriend isn't happy with Kevin at all.
What's a lawyer to do? Well, Kevin decides to see his father one last time and get answers before it's too late. He reconnects with some barely remembered pieces and people from his past. One of them is family friend Billy, who has just been arrested for the murder of Roy Johnson, a corporate criminal who ruined the lives of thousands of his employees when he bankrupted the company. And yes, Billy was one of them. With nothing waiting for him back in Miami, Kevin teams up with his lawyer father on their first - and what will probably be their last case.
Sheehan has two story lines running parallel in The Alligator Man. The race to prove Billy's innocence is full of pitfalls, false leads and possible outcomes. Sheehan does a capable job of providing a solid legal thriller accentuated with realistic courtroom drama. Sheehan makes his home in Florida and his living from the law. This adds immensely to both setting and locale descriptions as well as the legal aspects of the case.
The other storyline is one of fathers and sons, forgiveness and redemption and a healthy dose of romance as well. Sheehan deftly explores broken relationships - specifically fathers. There is another player in the story who has also lost his father. While I appreciated this plot line, I also felt that the situations were somewhat clichéd and wooden. I never truly became invested in Kevin's emotions - they remained as words on the page. Readers will always be sure of who is on the 'right' side and who is 'wrong' as the lines and characters are clearly drawn and delineated. Some of the supporting characters were overly 'folksy' for my taste - Rosie the diner owner was grating on my nerves by the end.
But, that being said, I encourage legal fiction fans to seek out James Sheehan. He spins a good, solid legal thriller. Read an excerpt of The Alligator Man.
"James Sheehan was born and raised in New York City, the fourth child of Jack Sheehan and Mary (Tobin) Sheehan. There would eventually be six children. He moved to Florida in 1974 to attend law school and became a lawyer in 1977. He was a trial lawyer for thirty plus years. Prior to that time, he worked at various jobs: paper boy, shoeshine boy, iron worker, stock proofer, grocery boy, dishwasher, short order cook, and restaurant manager. Presently, he is a law professor at Stetson University College of Law and the Director of the Tampa Law Center. James currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida." You can find James Sheehan on Facebook and on Twitter.
See what others on the TLC tour thought - full schedule can be found here.
And thanks to the folks at Center Street Books, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends November 30/13.