Monday, February 13, 2017

Law and Disorder

by Mike Papantonio
Select Books     2016
338 pages     Legal Procedural

Legal procedural novels are novels about court cases. If you have read any John Grisham , you have read a legal procedural.  Law and Disorder by Mike Papantonio is a novel about civil litigation. Civil proceedings are cases where one individual or group is seeking damages (money or otherwise) from another group or individual.  

 In Law and Disorder, there are two types of civil suits pending: damages are being sought against a pharmaceutical company and there is also an environmental lawsuit against an oil company. The protagonist is Nick "Deke" Deketomis, a very successful and prominent Florida lawyer, who takes on a drug company dispensing a birth control pill that is causing paralysis and death for the women who take it. This is personal for Deke because one of his clients dies just before the trial, which totally freaks him out. Then  his own daughter becomes extremely ill as well. In the midst of all this, Deke is spending time working on a Texas environmental case. Meanwhile in his hometown, an evangelical preacher is out to get him. This subplot ends in disaster for Deke as he accidentally kills a parishioner. So, he not only is dealing with two civil cases, but he is also facing manslaughter charges. 

There is a lot going on in Law and Disorder. We learn a lot about civil law; we have a cast of characters running around doing good and evil; we have an accidental death; and we have a lot of political posturing. Although Deke is an interesting protagonist, he is not a very appealing character, and we never get to know any other characters very well. The media circus around the cases is also interesting. What is most interesting are the political aspects of the author's intent. While there are many readers who might be offended by Papantonio's liberal politics, it certainly suits the mood of the country.

What is lacking is a reason to keep reading the book. The Kirkus review calls the book "bumper sticker prose." As Papantonio develops his writing career, I would hope that he could create more finely-tuned characters and a more sophisticated plot outside the courtroom. 

There is an excellent review on the Above the Law legal website. That reviewer suggests that lawyers will love the book because of the strength of the litigation. All others might be put off by the lack of strong characters and just too much going on with nothing fully developed. 

Papantonio is a liberal radio and talk show host on the RT America network. His show is called "America's Lawyer." The book came out about the same time as his show.

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