Book Review: Eye For Eye by J.K. Franko

 

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Book 1 of the Talion Series

 

 

 

 

“NEW TWIST ON STRANGERS ON A TRAIN” – THE SUNDAY TIMES 

When I first met Susie, she appeared to be a normal, happily-married woman dealing with tragedy.

Then, I uncovered her secrets. While I could understand everything that she’d done, I could never approve.

But, knowing what she was capable of, it became clear that if I was going to survive her, I had to play by her rules.

And, the first and most important rule is… leave no singing bones.

 

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A gripping crime, nail biting suspense, stellar plot twists…

 

 

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This book kept getting better and better as I kept reading. A couple with an interesting past, to say the least, gets caught up in a GRIPPING crime. A mother, father consumed by grief. The thirst for revenge grows stronger, the lies run deeper, and the deception even more sinister. Great suspense with major plot twists! Author J.K. Franko does an excellent job detailing each character with dark, twisted motivations. Realistic and chilling, Eye for Eye kept me on the edge of my seat!

 

 

 

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J.K. Franko was born and raised in Texas at a time when what he really wanted to do in life – writing and film – were not considered legitimate jobs. His Cuban-American parents believed there were only three acceptable career paths for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect.

After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name).

Franko was on law journal. His work was cited by courts, and he was recognized on the National Law Journal’s “Worth Reading” list – which for law is the equivalent to a top review in the New York Times.

While moving up the big law firm ladder, Franko also published a non-fiction book and a number of articles.

After ten years as a lawyer, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He decided to go back to school where he got an MBA, and later pursued a PhD, crossing the line from well-educated to over-educated around the turn of the century.

He left law for corporate America, with long stints working in Europe and Asia.

It was his wife who pushed him to write novels. And, after thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight literary miscarriages over the course of eighteen years, he completed his first book, finally launching his career as a writer of fiction.

Ironically, although he started writing fiction before any of his three children were born, they were all old enough to see and remember their father’s first book launch.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in South Florida with their four dogs and one cat.

 

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J.D. Trafford Discusses His Newest Legal Thriller Without Precedent

 

 

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Interview with author J.D. Trafford

 

 

What was your experience creating Matthew Daley?

I knew from the outset that Matthew Daley was going to start high (fancy job and lots of money) and be brought low (no job and living in parent’s basement), but that was about it. Through the editing process the character, however, was became much clearer and the stakes became more significant to him personally and professionally. This is my sixth book, and I’d say that this book more than any of the others was created more during the editing process than in the initial draft. It reminded me that editing is not distinct. It should be considered an extension of the writing process.

 

What exactly is a corporate lawyer?

There are two kinds of corporate lawyer: transactional, when deals are made and partnerships are born, and litigation, when all those deals and partnerships go to hell. My experience is that the transactional, corporate attorneys are salesmen. They wine and dine. Corporate litigation attorneys are warriors. They love to fight.

 

 

 

Shot of thinking financial advisor businessman working in office.

 

 

Describe the relationship between Matthew Daley and his sister.

Mathew grew up in an abusive household with another who is an alcoholic. His sister was his protector. She took a lot of the heat while he was growing up and that allowed Matthew to focus on his education and escape.

 

Does his sense of justice change throughout the book?

Yes, I think he began without caring much about justice. It was about winning or losing. He wanted to win because he was paid to win. By the end, the law became personal and he wanted to win for his family.

 

What kind of dilemma is he facing?

Like a lot of lawyers, you go to law school with an idea of how your life is going to be and then there comes a day when you’re like, “is this really it?” There is a gap between what you thought it was going to be and the reality of life. For Matthew Daley, he was living the dream and then he realized that dream came at a cost.

 

 

 

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What can you tell us about his fiancee?

She is also a lawyer at a big firm, and she is like a mirror image of Matthew Daley but it takes her longer to understand the realities and costs of what they do for a living.

 

Where is he blue-collar hometown located?

This book takes place in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

 

 

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How high are the stakes if he loses?

The case is his redemption. He has bet his whole life, job, and savings on this case.

 

How many attorneys does a large pharmaceutical company normally have?

I think the short answer is that they have as many as they need plus one.

 

What are you working on next?

I’m working of another legal thriller that takes place in St. Louis. I think I know how it’ll end, but if I say it out loud, I’ll jinx it.

 

 

 

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J.D. Trafford is an award-winning author who has been profiled in Mystery Scene Magazine (a “writer of merit”). His debut novel was selected as an IndieReader bestselling pick, and his books have topped Amazon’s bestseller lists, including Amazon’s #1 Legal Thriller.

In addition to graduating with honors from a Top 20 law school, J.D. Trafford has worked as a civil and criminal prosecutor, an associate at a large national law firm, and a non-profit attorney for people who could not afford legal representation.

Prior to law school, J.D. Trafford worked in Washington D.C. and lived in Saint Louis, Missouri. He worked on issues of housing, education, and poverty in communities of color.

He now lives with his wife and children in the Midwest, and bikes whenever possible.

 

www.jdtrafford.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Papantonio Discusses His New Legal Thriller Law and Addiction

 

 

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Author Interview 

 

*What’s the connection between Jake Rutledge and Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis?

Jake is a brand-new lawyer, a recent law school graduate.  His brother has just died of on opioid overdose, and when Jake returns to his West Virginia hometown of Oakley, he discovers that opioid addiction has devastated the community.  This is what drives him to take on the country’s pharmaceutical companies – to hold them accountable for this widespread opioid abuse. Jake realizes that if he wants to succeed, he needs a seasoned pro — like Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis – on his side.  Deke is a partner at one of the country’s most powerful law firms, and is well-known for his winning tactics against corporate wrong-doers.  Jake coaxes Deke to visit Oakley to see first-hand why the once thriving town is now called Zombieland. Deke is overwhelmed by the devastation and agrees to join forces with Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

*Why is Deke reluctant to take the case from Jake?

Deke has more work than he can handle, but Jake reminds him of what it was like to be a young trial lawyer on a mission.  Deke has gone up against Big Tobacco, and nothing since has motivated him as much as this opioid case. It the same kind of life-and-death consequences.

 

*What’s Jake’s initial strategy against the Big Pharma companies?

Initially, Jake wanted to bring a case in state court on behalf of the individuals addicted to opioids.

 

 

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*What can you tell us about Deke’s legal strategy against Big Pharma?

Deke’s strategy is to represent counties that have suffered financial losses due to opioid addiction.  He personalized the deaths, beyond the numbers, by displaying photographs of 117 people who died in a single day because of opioids.  And he presents a series of maps, beginning in 1999 showing drug poisoning mortality data in the country, with death rate going from dark blue to dark red.  With each passing year, the complexion of the map changes, with more and more red popping up – as if the graphics were bleeding out for all to see. Deke then demonstrates precisely how Big Pharma brought about this massive abuse of opioids.

 

 

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*What interesting facts did you learn while researching for Law & Addiction?

When I was first approached about representing plaintiffs in an action against the major corporate opioid distributors, I knew little about the opioid epidemic.  As I write these words, somewhere in America an individual is dying of a drug overdose. During the next twenty-four hours, there will be at least 115 deaths from the same cause. In 2017, more than 72,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose. To put that in perspective, during our seventeen-year involvement in the Vietnam War, there was a total of 58,220 American casualties.

The more I discovered, the more outraged I became. The opioid crisis didn’t occur as some kind of happenstance, but as a direct result of corporate greed. My legal team has documented these claims . . . and more. We have roomfuls of paperwork showing that these distributors knowingly and willfully opened Pandora’s Box, and the evils and misery that sprang out of that box are still plaguing our society.

My hope in writing this fictional account was to both edify and entertain. I wanted to provide readers with a front-row account of this epidemic, but not bludgeon them in the process. While I didn’t try to gloss over the human suffering, I still remain a believer in the power of the human spirit to prevail. At the same time, I am hopeful about getting meaningful justice out of this terrible and sad epidemic caused by corporate greed. I hope this novel does spark outrage in readers. As a nation, we need to be outraged.

 

 

 

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One week before Jake Rutledge is scheduled to graduate from law school, he receives the devastating news of the death of his fraternal twin, Blake. What makes this death even more terrible for Jake is that his brother died of a drug overdose. Until hearing of his death, Jake had no idea his brother was even using drugs.

When Jake returns home to Oakley, West Virginia, he takes a hard look at the circumstances of his brother’s death. In the five years Jake has been away for his schooling, his hometown has drastically changed. Because of the opioid epidemic, and the blight it has brought, many now call Oakley Zombieland. Jake can see how his town’s demise parallels his brother’s.

Undeterred, the newly minted lawyer takes on the entrenched powers by filing two lawsuits. Jake quickly learns what happens when you upset a hornet’s nest. The young attorney might be wet behind the ears, but is sure there is no lawyer that could help him more than Nick Deke Deketomis and his law firm of Bergman/Deketomis. Deke is a legendary lawyer. When he was Jake’s age he was making his name fighting Big Tobacco. Against all odds, Jake gets Nick and his firm to sign on to his case before it’s too late.

 

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Publishers Weekly Book Review: Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

Kirkus Book Reviews: Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

 

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Mike Papantonio is a senior partner of Levin Papantonio, one of the largest plaintiffs’ law firms in America, that has handled thousands of cases throughout the nation involving pharmaceutical drug litigation, Florida tobacco litigation, litigation for asbestos-related health damage, securities fraud actions, and other mass tort cases. “Pap” has received dozens of multimillion dollar verdicts on behalf of victims of corporate corruption.

Papantonio is one of the youngest attorneys to have been inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. In 2012 Papantonio became President of the National Trial Lawyers Association, one of the largest trial lawyer organizations in America. For his trial work on behalf of consumers, Papantonio has received some of the most prestigious awards reserved by the Public Justice Foundation, The American Association for Justice, and the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Papantonio is an author of four motivational books for lawyers. He is also co-author of Air America: The Playbook, a New York Times Political Best Seller.

Papantonio is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show “Ring of Fire” along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Sam Seder. Papantonio has conducted hundreds of recorded interviews with guests, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, Howard Zinn, Arianna Huffington, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bernie Sanders, David Crosby, Merle Haggard, Morgan Spurlock, John Edwards, Bill Moyers, Rickie Lee Jones, Alanis Morissette, Pete Seeger, Jackson Browne, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Henry Rollins, Ted Sorensen, and Elizabeth Kucinich. His role on “Ring of Fire” is featured in the movie, “Jesus Camp,” which was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Papantonio is also a political commentator who frequently appears on MSNBC, Free Speech TV, RT America Network, and Fox News.

Papantonio is married and has one daughter. He is an avid scuba diver and often dives on the Emerald Coast.

 

www.mikepapantonio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Robert Bailey Author of the McMurtrie & Drake Legal Thriller series

 

 

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Meet Robert Bailey author of the McMurtrie & Drake Legal Thriller series

 

 

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His last challenge: live long enough to save the lives of those he loves.

Cold-blooded killer JimBone Wheeler blames Tom McMurtrie for putting him on death row. He once vowed that he’d bring “a reckoning” on Tom and everyone the southern lawyer holds dear. When Wheeler escapes from prison, he aims to fulfill his promise. Victim by victim, he’s getting closer to his ultimate target. But for Tom, who’s dying of cancer, the role of savior and protector is a struggle that is becoming more desperate by the hour.

As the body count mounts, Tom, his partner, Rick Drake, and his best friend, Bocephus Haynes, brace for a confrontation like nothing they have ever faced before. This battle will be waged not in a courthouse but on the streets and fields of north Alabama. With all those he loves at risk, Tom must save his family, his friends, and his legacy from a killer whose hunger for retribution knows no bounds.

Now, as time ticks down and fate and vengeance close in, who will survive Wheeler’s final reckoning?

 

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Interview Key Shows Interviewing Interviews Or Interviewer

 

 

 

What was your creative process when you wrote Tom McMurtrie?

ANSWER:  I was daydreaming in a law school class one day about what would happen if my professor actually had to try a case.  It was very much a smart aleck idea at the time, but it stuck with me. Soon, I was imagining this legendary professor who would return to the courtroom with a former student and I had the situation that would form the basis for The Professor.

 

What type of law did he teach in book one, The Professor?

ANSWER:  Evidence

 

What’s the relationship like between Tom McMurtrie and Rick Drake?

ANSWER:  Tom was Rick’s Evidence professor and trial team coach when Rick was in law school.  During a trial team competition, Rick and Tom got into an altercation, and the publicity from this incident cost Rick a job with a prestigious law firm and forced him to hang a shingle and become a solo practitioner.  In The Professor, Tom refers a longtime friend, whose family has been killed in a tragic trucking collision in Henshaw, Alabama, to Rick for representation.  He makes the referral because Rick is from Henshaw but also in the hopes that the case would give Rick’s career a boost. The two men’s estranged relationship eventually resolves and they team up to take on the trucking company by the end of the story.  For the remaining three books, they are partners in the law firm of McMurtrie & Drake.

 

 

 

 

Legal Sign Design With Scales Of Justice Symbol.

 

 

 

 

Who is Bocephus Haynes and how did  he meet Tom?

ANSWER:  Bo is also a former student of Tom’s as well as being Tom’s best friend.  Bo is an African-American attorney practicing in Pulaski, Tennessee. Bo met Tom after an injury derailed his football career during college.  After being mentored by Tom, Bo decided to go to law school and went on to become one of the finest trial lawyers in the state of Tennessee.

 

 

In The Last Trial, what’s the story behind Tom and his old nemesis Jack Willistone?

ANSWER:  Jack Willistone was the ruthless trucking tycoon from The Professor, who is arrested at the end of the story.  Jack makes a brief cameo in book two, Between Black and White, and is murdered at the beginning of The Last Trial.  The person accused of the crime, Wilma Newton, is represented by Tom in the ensuing murder trial after Wilma’s oldest daughter begs Tom to take the case.

 

 

 

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In The Final Reckoning, who is Jimbone Wheeler?

ANSWER:  JimBone Wheeler is a death row inmate who blames his imprisonment on Tom.  At the beginning of the story, JimBone escapes from incarceration with the help of a rogue nurse.

 

 

 

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What are his motivations in this story?

ANSWER:  To bring a reckoning on Tom and everyone Tom holds dear.

 

What kind of cancer is Tom McMurtrie dealing with in The Final Reckoning?

ANSWER:  State IV lung cancer

 

What is he fighting for in this story?

ANSWER:  Tom is literally fighting for his life and the lives of those he loves, as he tries to stop JImBone Wheeler from obtaining his reckoning.

 

 

 

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Robert Bailey was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of a builder and a schoolteacher. From the time he could walk, he’s loved stories, especially those about Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide football team.

Robert obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History from Davidson College in North Carolina. Law School at the University of Alabama followed, where Robert made Law Review, competed on the school’s trial team and managed to watch every home football game.

For the past thirteen years, he’s been a civil defense trial lawyer in his hometown of Huntsville. He’s married to the incomparable Dixie Bailey and they have two boys and a little girl.

When Robert’s not writing, practicing law or being a parent, he enjoys playing golf, watching Alabama football and coaching his sons’ little league baseball teams.

 

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Melissa F. Miller Talks Writing and the Sasha McCandless Series

Melissa F Miller

 

Interview with Melissa F Miller

 

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

I don’t really have a typical writing day—although I wish I did! In addition to being a writer, I homeschool my three kids, so my writing days often vary depending on what learning we’re doing on a given day. That said, I try to write early in the morning most days. My word count varies and I often “binge write” toward the end of a first draft, sometimes writing 12,000 or more words in a (long) day. Every time I start a new book, I tell myself this is the one where I’ll write a consistent, reasonable amount each day. So far, it hasn’t happened. Maybe the next book will be the magic one!

 

Your story premises are very intriguing. What’s your creative approach for a story?

Thanks! My approach varies from series to series, but in my Sasha McCandless series, I develop the premise of each book around a legal principle that will be central to the case Sasha takes on and a corresponding personal issue or event that happens in Sasha’s personal life. So, in Intentional Acts, Sasha has a client who may be liable for  releasing customers’ private data because of the deliberate actions of a rogue employee. The case intersects with her personal life and she grapples with her husband’s decision to conceal something troubling from her (his intentional act).  I find it really satisfying to merge the strands of the two plots and explore the various facets of a theme from different angles.

 

 

Do you write character arcs?

Hmm, sort of. My thrillers are plot driven, but my plots are character driven, if that makes sense. So I always know how my characters are going to be challenged and grow over the course of the events in the book, but I don’t write detailed arcs. Likewise, I have planned character arcs for my main characters over the span of a series. Mainly, I do this intuitively. But I’m currently reading Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, which is inspiring me to be explicit in my thinking about my character arcs.

 

Name the best virtues of Sasha McCandless in her job as a civil attorney.

Sasha’s greatest strength as a lawyer is her perseverance. She’s stubborn and determined, which serves her well as a litigator. She also has a natural ability to tease out connections between seemingly disparate pieces of evidence and to see the patterns in facts. And, of course, she can get by on very little sleep (and large amounts of coffee), which comes in handy when she has a court deadline looming!

 

 

Leo Connelly seems like a jack of all trades. Did you learn anything new about him while writing this book?

Leo’s such a fun character to write. As you note, he is something of a jack of all trades. Because he works for a fictional federal government ‘shadow’ agency, his jurisdiction and mission is wide-ranging, allowing him to coordinate with agents from so many different parts of the national security apparatus. In Intentional Acts, he’s put to an ethical/moral test. Without spoiling the plot, I can say his choice didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was that he took some smaller actions he knew might cause an issue in his marriage, but he did them anyway because he believed he was in the right.  (Apologies for being so cryptic—I don’t want to give anything away!)

 

What kind of case is Sasha undertaking?

In this book, her client is a nonprofit organization that has two problems. One, the federal government wants it to turn over confidential user information; and, two, a former employee has leaked private user data online. Sasha needs to help them resist the information request and avoid liability for the leak.  Sasha’s case intersects with her husband’s work when a man whose identity was leaked is murdered and the evidence suggests Leo killed him as part of a national security operation.

 

 

This book has great dilemmas. What was most challenging in writing it?

The trickiest bit was writing the Project Storm Chaser scenes from Leo’s viewpoint. Because I do write multiple point of views, I needed to be fair to the reader in sharing the information Leo would have. But I had to do it in such a way that I wouldn’t tip my hand and undermine the suspense as Sasha learned the truth about what was happening. There was delicate balance between revealing and concealing that I hope I succeeded in navigating!

 

What’s next for you?

I’m finishing up Crossfire Creek, the fifth book in my Aroostine Higgins thriller series.  In Crossfire Creek, Aroostine (a former lawyer turned tracker) searches for a mother and daughter who disappeared from their home without a trace and who have a very compelling reason to stay missing.

I have four ongoing series (three thriller series and one light mystery), and I try to write at least one book per year in each series. My Aroostine Higgins thrillers and my Bodhi King forensic thrillers are both spin-offs of the Sasha McCandless series. Aroostine and Bodhi were characters in Sasha’s books before they got their own series; so even though the three series are distinct and separate, they exist in the same world.  I really enjoy writing within the little universe I’ve created!

 

 

 

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After seven years together, she knows him better than anyone. Doesn’t she?

In the newest entry in this fast-paced USA Today bestselling series, wife-and-husband team Sasha and Leo find themselves on opposite sides of an explosive situation.

Sasha’s up to her elbows in a data privacy matter. Her client could be on the hook for breaching the privacy of hundreds of customers. All because a rogue employee intentionally leaked personal information for reasons known only to him.

Meanwhile, Leo’s busy with a high-stakes case of his own. He’s been ordered to neutralize a national security threat to the country, but he has his doubts about the strength of the evidence against the target.

As Leo vets the information he’s been given, Sasha learns that federal law enforcement has an interest in her civil matter. Because they both take their duties of confidentiality seriously, neither realizes that their cases are intertwined. Until one of the affected customers in Sasha’s case is murdered … and the evidence points to Leo as the killer.

Sasha’s not about to turn in her own husband, so she tails him instead. She only hopes what she finds will clear his name, not destroy their marriage.

 

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About Melissa F. Miller

USA Today bestselling author Melissa F. Miller is a former attorney who traded the practice of law for the art of telling stories.

She is the author of more than two dozen bestselling legal thrillers, suspense thrillers, romantic comedic mysteries, and forensic thrillers. All her work shares two common threads: pulse-pounding, tightly plotted action and smart, unlikely heroines and heroes.

Her books feature such diverse protagonists as a pint-sized attorney and mother of twins who’s trained in Krav Maga; a Native American government investigator who relies on her heritage to guide her when the chips are down; a Buddhist forensic pathologist who refuses to harm any living creature; and a trio of twenty-something sisters just starting out in their careers who find murder and mayhem wherever they go.

She’s edited medical, scientific, and technical journals, as well as educational books; clerked for a federal judge; worked for major international law firms; and run a two-person law firm with her lawyer husband.

Now, powered by coffee, she writes crime fiction and homeschools her children. When she’s not writing, and sometimes when she is, Melissa travels around the country in an RV with her husband, three kids, and their cat.

To find out when Melissa releases a new book, visit www.melissafmiller.com and sign up for her email newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Bernhardt Discusses His New Legal Thriller – The Last Chance Lawyer

 

 

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Getting his client off death row could save his career… or make him the next victim.

 

 

Interview 

 

What was your creative process for creating Daniel Pike?

I thought it would fun write some more legal thrillers. After nineteen Ben Kincaid novels, I was ready for a break, but with a few years off to write poetry and nonfiction about writing, it seems fun again. I wanted Dan to be a modern man, very in tune with the zeitgeist, smart, fun to spend time with–but not perfect. Perfect people are boring. I can’t relate. Dan has a special skill for rooting out the truth–useful for a criminal lawyer. He’s a bit quirky–wears sneakers to court, carries a backpack rather than a briefcase, lives on a boat. But he has a passion for justice, for preventing the government from railroading innocents, and as the book develops, you’ll see why.  

 

 

What makes him the last chance lawyer?

After a disastrous event early in the book, he joins a new team of lawyers that take their cases from the mysterious Mr. K, who sends them cases no one else can handle (at least not as well). K pays Dan’s salary, not the clients, so money is not the main focus. Dan becomes a lawyer for those who, due to finances or other circumstances, have few options.

 

 

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How is he different than  lawyer Ben Kincaid in your other series?

Dan is everything Ben was not, at least when he started. Dan is confident, showy, outgoing, and successful. Ben was a dogged bur usually effective lawyer. Dan is a showboat. What he learns in this novel is how to be more than a showboat.

 

“Daniel Pike would rather fight for justice than follow the rules.” What is justice from his point of view?

When Dan talks about justice, he means correcting the imbalance in the modern judicial system. Dan knows from experience that the criminal justice system is stacked in favor of the prosecution. We may say people are presumed innocent, but in truth, most people assume the accused are guilty until it is proven otherwise. The threat of incarceration is so great people plea bargain to crimes they didn’t commit. Dan tries to bring the system back into balance.  

 

 

 

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What is the relationship between the objective rule of law and an attorney’s subjective use of it?

I’m not sure what you mean by “the subjective use of it.” The law is the law. Legislators write it, and judges apply it. The defense lawyer’s job is to hold the jury to the law, which says they cannot convict unless guilt has been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a high standard. And meant to be.

 

 

What can you tell us about the kind of case he’s undertaking?

At first, Dan is representing a nine-year old immigrant who will be deported, because temporary protected status has been revoked for those from her country (after decades), unless she is adopted. Then the prospective adoptive mother is accused or murder.  

 

 

What were some challenges while writing this book, or beginning a new series?

Unlike when I started with Ben, I planned this to be a series from the start. You will see some of the threads sewn into the first book. This is a self-contained novel, but there are elements planted that will expand and combine to form a much larger story over the course of many books.

 

 

What’s next?

In July, the second Daniel Pike book (which I’ve already finished). Court of Killers.

 

 

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William Bernhardt is the author of forty-seven books, including the bestselling Ben Kincaid series, the historical novels Challengers of the Dust and Nemesis, two books of poetry (The White Bird and The Ocean’s Edge), and the Red Sneaker books on fiction writing. His most recent novel is The Last Chance Lawyer, the first in a new series of legal thrillers featuring rebel lawyer Daniel Pike.

In addition, Bernhardt founded the Red Sneaker Writers Center to mentor aspiring writers. The Center hosts an annual writers conference, small-group seminars, a monthly newsletter, a phone app, and a bi-weekly podcast. More than three dozen of Bernhardt’s students have subsequently published with major houses. He is also the owner of Balkan Press, which publishes poetry and fiction as well as the literary journal Conclave. He has published many new authors as well as prominent authors like Pulitzer-Prize-winner N. Scott Momaday, and Grammy-Award-winner Janis Ian.

 

WilliamBernhardt.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Marc Rainer Author of the Jeff Trask Crime Drama

 

 

Mob Rules Jeff Trask

 

 

 

MOB RULES: A Jeff Trask Crime Drama

 

Assistant United States Attorney Jeff Trask moves from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City, where he begins an investigation into an international drug ring smuggling the deadly combination of fentanyl and heroin from the southern border to the Eastern Seaboard. In this case, Trask is fighting a rival whose criminal genius rivals Trask’s own intellect, and—while Trask is bound by the legal code and his own set of morals—the mob boss on the other side of this battle is unencumbered by such restrictions. The investigation forces Trask to choose whether to operate within the legal system ot to venture outside it in order to bring down the murderous kingpin.

 

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW

MARC RAINER

 

 

Mob Rules has a very compelling plot. What was your creative approach to writing it?

As with all my books, I try to mix in quite a few real experiences from 30 years as a federal prosecutor with a plot that is also generated by one or more real cases, changing the names to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. I’m trying to return realism to the crime drama genre. Nobody outrunning machine gun fire or doing superhero stuff or solving the world’s biggest case alone. As in most avenues of life, it’s teamwork that’s essential and that wins for law enforcement. I hop into the heads of my characters and just keep asking myself what each character would do next in the real world. I try not to rush from one mental outline point to the next.

 

 

 

Team blocks image with sunset.jpeg

 

 

What was behind the move from Washington, D.C. to Kansas city for Jeff Trask?

That was also somewhat autbiographical. After a few years in DC, I transferred to Kansas City, where I spent the last 25 years of my career as a federal prosecutor. I was tired of “the swamp” in my real life, and actually got tired of fighting it even in my fictional alter ego. It was time to move, both for me and foor Jeff Trask.

 

 

 

Kansas city image.jpeg

 

 

 

What kind of investigation and what is he dealing with there?

Kansas City has always had a Mafia problem. I was assigned to the organized crime strike force unit when I got to Kansas City, and worked in that unit for a dozen years. It was this unit that made the case agains the Mafia in Vegas, the case upon which the movie “Casino” was based. (They ran that investigation before I arrived.) Trask has the same experience, and his first big case pits him against the mob in KC. The Mafia has always had its own weird and perverse set of loyalty codes, hence the title: “Mob Rules.”

 

 

Who else is helping Jeff on the investigation?

An old friend from the Air Force JAG named Cam Turner who is also a federal  prosecutor (a character based upon a real friend who paved the way for my transfer to KC), and a blended team of federal agents and Kansas City police detectives.  Since KC straddles the stateline between Missouri and Kansas, the investigative team includes detectives from both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. I worked several major cases with the KCMO Police Department’s Career Criminal Unit, and that unit is prominently featured in the book. The cooperation between local and federal authorities was a very pleasant change from DC, where all the investigative agencies were constantly stabbing each other in the back. We had a little of that in Kansas City, but nothing like what I saw in Washington.

 

 

 

Task Force image.jpeg

 

 

 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

This book probably has more humorous episodes included than did all the previous novels put together. That dark cop humor is an essential ingredient in writing a realistic police procedural, because it’s an essential ingredient in police life and culture. All the funny scenes were taken from my time in KC, and all—believe it or not—were real, as I indicated in the author’s notes at the end of the book. Even the funny truth is usually stranger than fiction. At any rate, it was nice being able to build in a few laughs for the audience instead of having to stay in “hard-boiled” or “gritty” mode the entire time.

 

 

 

Marc Rainer image

 

 

Marc Rainer is a former prosecutor in the federal and local courts of the District of Columbia and the Western District of Missouri (Kansas City), and a former circuit prosecutor for the US Air Force’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. A graduate of the US Air Force Academy, he has more than thirty years eperience in the prosecution of major cases. He is married to a former Air Force OSI Special Agent, and lives in a suburb of a major American city. The first book in his Jeff Trask crime drama series, Capital Kill, has been ranked #1 in Amazon’s kindle store’s mystery series sales rankings.

 

MarcRainer.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with William L. Meyers

William L. Myers Jr image

 

 

William L. Myers Jr. – A Killer’s Alibi – Book Review & Interview

 

 

A Killers Alibi image

 

 

For attorney Mick McFarland, the evidence is damning. And so are the family secrets in this twisty legal thriller from the Amazon Charts bestselling author of A Criminal Defense.

When crime lord Jimmy Nunzio is caught, knife in hand, over the body of his daughter’s lover and his own archenemy, he turns to Mick McFarland to take up his defense. Usually the courtroom puppeteer, McFarland quickly finds himself at the end of Nunzio’s strings. Struggling to find grounds for a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a well-known killer, Mick is hamstrung by Nunzio’s refusal to tell him what really happened.

On the other side of the law, Mick’s wife, Piper, is working to free Darlene Dowd, a young woman sentenced to life in prison for her sexually abusive father’s violent death. But the jury that convicted Darlene heard only part of the truth, and Piper will do anything to reveal the rest and prove Darlene’s innocence.

As Mick finds himself in the middle of a mob war, Piper delves deeper into Darlene’s past. Both will discover dark secrets that link these fathers and daughters–some that protect, some that destroy, and some that can’t stay hidden forever. No matter the risk.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

BOOK REVIEW

 

This is top notch for legal thrillers and crime drama. Never a dull moment. The ride begins from the first scene when Philly crime boss Jimmy Nunzio is caught red handed with the dead body of his daughter’s lover. Criminal defense attorney Mick McFarland is never really on his feet on this one. The case blindsides him from the beginning and never lets up. Then there’s Mick’s wife, Piper who investigates an innocence project case to free a young woman from a murder case. Two cases. Two dire situations. A legal thriller laced with tension, an intricate plot, a full cast of characters–But at its core it’s about one thing, family.

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

*What kind of person is attorney Mick McFarland that made him your protagonist?

            In crafting Mick, I set out to build a character who is basically a good guy, who wants right to prevail over wrong, but who, in the pursuit of right, will do whatever is necessary, including things that are wrong. As an attorney, Mick is a thinker, a planner, and very Machiavellian. He enjoys the “game” and excels at it.

 

 

 

Lawyer at work image sitting.jpeg

 

 

 

 

*What can you tell us about the kind of case Mick is undertaking?

            Mick is in an interesting situation. His client is Philly crime lord Jimmy Nunzio—a man used to calling the shots. A Machiavellian manipulator. A man like Mick himself in many ways. What this means for Mick is that he isn’t the alpha dog as he is with most of his clients, and he finds himself having to dance with Jimmy Nunzio, for control of the case.

 

 

Moral dilemma ahead signage

 

 

 

*What is your method of creating characters and how do you bring out their flaws?

            I create characters by outlining them only in very general terms and then placing them into the story—putting them under stress–and watching how their flaws appear. I remember reading once that stress and conflict reveal character; you only find out core character by putting someone to the test. So, I make sure that my protagonists, and my antagonists, too, are under real threat.

 

 

 

*Tell us about Mick’s wife, Piper.

            Piper’s evolution is an interesting one. When I wrote, “A Criminal Defense,” the first book in “The Philadelphia Legal Series,” I started out with the plan simply to make a two-dimensional “wife” character for the main protagonist, Mick. But whenever I wrote Piper into a scene, she asked for more, she told me “I have more to contribute here.” By the end of the book, Piper was a fully-formed character with her own agenda, secrets and fears. In “A Killer’s Alibi,” Piper plays an even more important role—as a driving force behind one of the two main plot lines. She really comes into her own. (And, spoiler alert, in the fourth book, which I’m finishing now (in which Mick is imprisoned on charges or murder), Piper becomes THE driving force in Mick’s defense team.

 

 

 

A Killers Alibi image

 

 

 

*Is the innocence project she’s involved with commonplace in law firms today? Would her official position be an investigative attorney?

            Most law firms which do innocence project work do so under the auspices of, for example, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Larger law firms do have pro bono practices and some have attorneys devoted solely to pro bono work.

 

 

“No man knows the value of innocence and integrity but he who has lost them.” – William Godwin

 

 

 

*What can you tell us about the kind of case Piper is taking?

            Piper is leading the charge on behalf of Darlene Dowd, a young woman who was convicted of killing her sexually abusive father fifteen years earlier. Piper learns there is exculpatory evidence the jury never heard and she has to go on a hunting expedition to find the woman who has that evidence. But the woman has secrets of her own, and has been in hiding for years. It takes all of Piper’s will and resourcefulness to win the woman over and see that Darlene gets a fair hearing in court. But nothing is black and white in my books and Piper has to pay a price.

 

 

 

 

Evidence

 

 

 

 

*Now for one of my favorite questions. What is justice?

            Justice is like pornography: difficult to define but you know it when you see it.  When something happens to a character (good or bad) and it feels right to you, that’s justice.  The character, of course, may disagree with you— fictional characters, like real people, believe they are good guys, whether they are or aren’t. Along these lines, a word to the wise: if someday you find yourself standing before St. Peter, the one thing you should never say is I want what’s coming to me.

 

 

 

*What is a jury consultant?

A jury consultant:

A jury consultant is an expert hired by an attorney to help the attorney pick a jury favorable to his side. The jury consultant helps the attorney with questions to ask potential jurors and also helps to create a profile of the type of juror the consultant believes would be most favorable to the attorney’s client. A jury consultant also counsels the attorney on how to present the case, and how to conduct himself or herself in court.

 

 

 

Jury image courtroom

 

 

 

*In Piper’s case, how many appeals are permitted for someone on death row?

The number of appeals:

There are two avenues to appeal a conviction. One is simply a direct appeal of the jury verdict. Here, you’re saying the judge committed errors in allowing prejudicial evidence that should not have been allowed into the record. Or you can argue the judge erroneously disallowed evidence that would have been favorable to the defendant that should have been allowed. Another branch of appeal is done through the Post-Conviction Relief Act, which allows a defendant to petition for a new trial based upon newly-discovered evidence.

 

 

 

 

William L. Myers Jr image

 

 

 

William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 best-selling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut novel, A Criminal Defense. That was the first in what has become the Philadelphia Legal Series. The third book in that series, A Killers Alibi debuts February 19, 2019.

A Killer’s Alibi has had rave early reviews including New York Times Bestselling author, Bill Lasher—

“William Myers’ riveting new novel is not just a crackerjack legal thriller, it is a wrenching portrayal of a whole range of farther-daughter relations, showing how they can damage, how they can nourish, how they go dangerously off track. A story not to be missed.”

Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, Mr. Myers inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. From there, Mr. Myers started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William L. Myers Jr. Discusses the Killer’s Alibi

A Killers Alibi image

 

 

For attorney Mick McFarland, the evidence is damning. And so are the family secrets in this twisty legal thriller from the Amazon Charts bestselling author of A Criminal Defense.

When crime lord Jimmy Nunzio is caught, knife in hand, over the body of his daughter’s lover and his own archenemy, he turns to Mick McFarland to take up his defense. Usually the courtroom puppeteer, McFarland quickly finds himself at the end of Nunzio’s strings. Struggling to find grounds for a not-guilty verdict on behalf of a well-known killer, Mick is hamstrung by Nunzio’s refusal to tell him what really happened.

On the other side of the law, Mick’s wife, Piper, is working to free Darlene Dowd, a young woman sentenced to life in prison for her sexually abusive father’s violent death. But the jury that convicted Darlene heard only part of the truth, and Piper will do anything to reveal the rest and prove Darlene’s innocence.

As Mick finds himself in the middle of a mob war, Piper delves deeper into Darlene’s past. Both will discover dark secrets that link these fathers and daughters–some that protect, some that destroy, and some that can’t stay hidden forever. No matter the risk.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | B&N | Audible

 

 

 

 

Got an alibit image dark background.jpeg

 

 

 

William L. Myers Jr. discusses the third installment of the Philadelphia Legal series, A Killer’s Alibi.

 

 

*What kind of person is attorney Mick McFarland that made him your protagonist?

            In crafting Mick, I set out to build a character who is basically a good guy, who wants right to prevail over wrong, but who, in the pursuit of right, will do whatever is necessary, including things that are wrong. As an attorney, Mick is a thinker, a planner, and very Machiavellian. He enjoys the “game” and excels at it.

 

 

*What can you tell us about the kind of case Mick is undertaking?

            Mick is in an interesting situation. His client is Philly crime lord Jimmy Nunzio—a man used to calling the shots. A Machiavellian manipulator. A man like Mick himself in many ways. What this means for Mick is that he isn’t the alpha dog as he is with most of his clients, and he finds himself having to dance with Jimmy Nunzio, for control of the case.

 

 

 

Lawyer with justice sign in background.jpeg

 

 

 

*What is your method of creating characters and how do you bring out their flaws?

            I create characters by outlining them only in very general terms and then placing them into the story—putting them under stress–and watching how their flaws appear. I remember reading once that stress and conflict reveal character; you only find out core character by putting someone to the test. So, I make sure that my protagonists, and my antagonists, too, are under real threat.

 

 

 

*Tell us about Mick’s wife, Piper.

            Piper’s evolution is an interesting one. When I wrote, “A Criminal Defense,” the first book in “The Philadelphia Legal Series,” I started out with the plan simply to make a two-dimensional “wife” character for the main protagonist, Mick. But whenever I wrote Piper into a scene, she asked for more, she told me “I have more to contribute here.” By the end of the book, Piper was a fully-formed character with her own agenda, secrets and fears. In “A Killer’s Alibi,” Piper plays an even more important role—as a driving force behind one of the two main plot lines. She really comes into her own. (And, spoiler alert, in the fourth book, which I’m finishing now (in which Mick is imprisoned on charges or murder), Piper becomes THE driving force in Mick’s defense team.

 

 

 

Lawyer woman image.jpeg

 

 

 

 

*Is the innocence project she’s involved with commonplace in law firms today? Would her official position be an investigative attorney?

            Most law firms which do innocence project work do so under the auspices of, for example, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Larger law firms do have pro bono practices and some have attorneys devoted solely to pro bono work.

 

 

 

*What can you tell us about the kind of case Piper is taking?

            Piper is leading the charge on behalf of Darlene Dowd, a young woman who was convicted of killing her sexually abusive father fifteen years earlier. Piper learns there is exculpatory evidence the jury never heard and she has to go on a hunting expedition to find the woman who has that evidence. But the woman has secrets of her own, and has been in hiding for years. It takes all of Piper’s will and resourcefulness to win the woman over and see that Darlene gets a fair hearing in court. But nothing is black and white in my books and Piper has to pay a price.

 

 

 

lawyer files image with glasses.jpeg

 

 

 

 

*Now for one of my favorite questions. What is justice?

            Justice is like pornography: difficult to define but you know it when you see it.  When something happens to a character (good or bad) and it feels right to you, that’s justice.  The character, of course, may disagree with you— fictional characters, like real people, believe they are good guys, whether they are or aren’t. Along these lines, a word to the wise: if someday you find yourself standing before St. Peter, the one thing you should never say is I want what’s coming to me.

 

 

 

Justice lady statue at sunrise image.jpeg

 

 

 

 

William L. Myers Jr image

 

 

William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 best-selling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut novel, A Criminal Defense. That was the first in what has become the Philadelphia Legal Series. The third book in that series, A Killers Alibi debuts February 19, 2019.
A Killer’s Alibi has had rave early reviews including New York Times Bestselling author, Bill Lasher—

“William Myers’ riveting new novel is not just a crackerjack legal thriller, it is a wrenching portrayal of a whole range of farther-daughter relations, showing how they can damage, how they can nourish, how they go dangerously off track. A story not to be missed.”

Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, Mr. Myers inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. From there, Mr. Myers started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading, Storytelling, and Deep Point of View

Guy reading book

 

 

What am I reading? 

 

Gray Mountain John Grisham

 

 

John Grisham has a new hero . . . and she’s full of surprises

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

It’s no surprise that international sensation John Grisham is a grand storyteller, but now I know why. Gray Mountain is about the story of a big city lawyer, Samantha Kofer, who ends up in a small time town of Brady, Virginia. Everything she worked for is nearly gone when her law firm folds under stressful circumstances of a recession. Now forced to work for free under limitations of her employer, she has to go up against big time coal mining companies in the middle of nowhere.

Right away I was drawn into the point of view and mindset of Samantha Kofer as she navigates life after the big city. Storytelling is all about people in the midst of challenging situations. This is her story. Really looking forward to the rest of the book!

 

 

What am I anticipating next?

 

 

Killing Season image

 

 

Let it bleed. Watch it burn.

The first shot punches through the windshield of an SUV. A head shot. The driver’s death is instantaneous.

By the time Special Agent Violet Darger arrives in Atlanta, the city teeters toward panic. The vacant streets and restaurants paint an eerie picture. No one dares to venture out.

A killer walks among them. A shadow. And the public cowers just the way he wants them to.

A sniper along I-20 kills eight and causes a 36 car pileup. The next morning, the same individual stalks through a grocery store parking lot with a handgun, taking out six innocent shoppers along with the store’s front window before fleeing without a trace.

Once more Agent Darger must identify with a murderer, must stare into the darkest recesses of mankind to anticipate his next move. Putting herself in his head may be the only way to stop him. But what hatred drives a man to such desperate, violent acts? What damage? And what price must one pay to invite that chaos inside themselves?

 

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I just finished the first book, Dead End Girl and LOVED IT.  There are good writers, great writers, and those who bring you so deep into the point of view their characters are indelibly impressed upon you. The Violet Darger FBI series by L.T. Vargus & Tim McBain is of the latter category. The prose is quite remarkable. The ability to capture a scene so well it invokes physical reactions in the reader as its replayed in 3D.

I’ve really been enjoying the deep point of view of characters recently. Listened to the audiobook of Dead End Girl so I feel like I know Protagonist Violet Darger. Seeing her reactions, fears, vulnerabilities, strength, secrets, family, history was quite the ride. Now I’m definitely looking forward to book 2! The Killing Season A Gripping Serial Killer Thriller.

 

 

 

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