A Legal Thriller

If the swashbuckling criminal trial lawyer and oft times guest commentator on the CBS network, Paul Batista, had a blog, I’m pretty sure he’d write his own posts. But why waste time on a blog—here today, gone to the archive tomorrow—when you have enough within you to write a really good book?

Not just a book, several; including the leading non-fiction treatise on the federal racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, now in it’s third edition (Wolters Kluwer, 2008), and thoroughly entertaining fiction—legal thrillers—including the page turner, Death’s Witness.

Publicists occasionally approach me for advance reviews—particularly if books have a legal, social media or business “theory” angle. I promise them nothing. They give me free books. It’s a great gig. Sometimes I get really good ones, like this or this.

Last month, Batista’s crack team of literary publicists from Astor + Blue teased me with the offer to test drive Death’s Witness, published in 2012. Odd, I thought, this was not a new book. His forthcoming novel The Borzoi Killings is scheduled for Nov, 2014 release. Made me wonder.

No matter. A free book is a free book. A good move for the publicists in addition to advance copies, because here I am reviewing it! (Note to self.)

I took the key they offered, put it into the ignition, and WOW. What a fun drive. Page after page, it was unstoppable. The characters, the detail, the feeling of place, and suspense were addictive. I found myself satisfied with the experience, but wanting more.

Admittedly, this is not the Great American Novel. It’s a legal thriller. Pure entertainment. A real literary critic would probably disagree, but for those who read a lot of mediocre legal thrillers, it was well written (or well edited!) for the genre.

 Publisher’s Weekly says, “The verdict on Batista’s debut legal thriller [Death’s Witness]: guilty of delivering not only sharp courtroom drama but steamy romantic escapism as well.”

I’m not going to give you the story line, but here’s the tease: It involves…drum roll…lawyers! And husbands, wives, lovers, and a child, journalists, bankers, and Latin American and Italian mobsters. Topics include, running, killing, money laundering—several tropical interludes—and enough justice to make it gritty and satisfying. Not too fluffy or unbelievable.

Batista’s work as a trial lawyer and knowledge of the criminal mind definitely informs this piece of fiction. And that’s why I like it. I spend my days working with lawyers, sometimes touching the white-collar criminal world, and he nailed it. I suspect his new release will follow in form.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!” Drive with this one to the beach, lake, or poolside. Great summer reading.

Death’s Witness, Paul Batista, New York, NY: Astor + Blue Editions, 2012: ISBN 978-1-9382-3123-0




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