Review of The Alligator Man by James Sheehan

The Alligator ManThe Alligator Man by James Sheehan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, you probably will too. The main characters are likeable and the overall feel is warm and comfortable. The protagonist is a criminal defense lawyer called upon to defend a poor, downtrodden friend accused of murdering the Alligator Man, a nasty, filthy rich drug dealer turned industrialist who looted his company. White hats, black hats, subtlety is not the author’s strong point. Our hero is resentful of his father, who is now dying and whom he has not seen in years, but of course they reconcile (that happens very early, so it’s not a spoiler). It’s all pretty standard fare, and that’s where it falls short.

The hype on the book is that it is a legal thriller by an experienced trial lawyer. It is anything but thrilling. Every plot twist that was supposed to be a surprise was telegraphed hundreds of pages in advance. I can honestly say there was not a single surprise for me in the entire book. The trial itself comes at the end, and it’s the most plain vanilla description of a trial I’ve ever seen in a novel, which, in a way, was also its strong point. It was totally realistic. I do enjoy authenticity and this author knows what a real trial is like. As a lawyer and former FBI agent I can tell you that it was as routine and mundane as a murder trial gets, despite the author’s constant hyperbolic characterizations of every move as brilliant or deviously clever. On the whole, though, it was a pleasant read devoid of the gore and sadism that so often permeate the genre.

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