There is nothing more enjoyable than a good legal thriller and that is what James Sheehan's latest novel The Alligator Man is, a better than average legal thriller. Sheehan like Grisham, Turow and others is a lawyer turned novelist, He uses his background to create stories that involve the law and he makes them palatable by investing them with striking characters. A good legal plot plus interesting characters is all it takes and Sheehan provides that combination.
The Alligator Man focuses on a Miami attorney named Kevin Wylie. He is employed by a high powered firm but loses his job at the start of the story. It is also at this time that he receives a call stating his long estranged father, Tom Wylie, has terminal cancer. He is asked to come to where Tom is and visit him.
He goes to St Albans, his hometown, and meets with Tom in hopes he can learn why Tom abandoned him some twenty eight years ago. Kevin has not heard from Tom since his parents divorced and he has always wondered why.
While visiting Tom a murder takes place near that city. A rich but corrupt businessman named Roy Johnson is hit by a car, knocked into a swamp and is eaten by alligators. One of Kevin's childhood friends, Billy Fuller, is the main suspect in the case. Kevin decides to represent him and that trial is the central focus of the novel.
Sheehan's last few books have focused on another attorney by the name of Jack Tobin. This book is all Kevin's but Jack does make a cameo appearance. Kevin is certainly a welcome addition to Sheehan's books and could very well be the center of new adventures and cases in the future. He has an appealing personality and is a more than competent attorney. Plus other supporting characters in this story would be welcome to come back in future novels.
Sheehan's last novel The Lawyer's Lawyer was praised for its courtroom scenes but received some criticism for having a contrived ending. Sheehan was said not to be a good finisher, but in this book he finishes everything off with an acceptable solution. That is progress.
The Alligator Man is a well written book that will hold any reader spellbound with its twists and turns. Sheehan involves some complex situations in his story but he presents them in a simple and straightforward way. This style is sure to add to his popularity and will draw in a number of new fans who will line up for the next book.
The Alligator Man is published by Center Street. It contains 400 pages and sells for $23.00.
Jackie K Cooper