by Scott Pratt
It’s attorney Joe Dillard’s 40th birthday and he’s tired — tired of defending sleazy sociopaths, tired of being assigned sleazy sociopaths by vindictive judges and tired of being scorned by cops who blame him for helping sleazy sociopaths escape punishment.
He’s planning to get out of criminal defense law as soon as his kids get into college. In the meantime, all he wants is one — just one — innocent client.
He’s leaving the jail after seeing one of his scumbag clients, when a guard tells him that dispatch just got a call that a cat found a human penis near the lake and delivered it to cat’s owner. The owner of the penis soon comes to light as well: John Paul Tester, a preacher, is found in a room at the Budget Inn, stabbed multiple times and missing a body part. He was last seen drinking heavily at a gentleman’s club known as The Mouse’s Tail.
When the police arrest a beautiful young woman (Angel Christian) for the crime on slender evidence, her employer and the owner of The Mouse’s Tail, Erlene Barlowe, asks Dillard to represent Angel. Attractive and a provocative dresser, Barlowe oozes Southern charm. Underneath all the eye candy and whipped cream, she’s as canny as a Harvard MBA.
This is an attention-grabbing legal thriller with an unexpected ending. It’s grittier than John Grisham and Scott Turow. Dillard is carrying a burden of guilt from his own childhood and dealing with a mother dying of Alzheimer’s and a sister who goes in and out of jail for buying drugs and theft.
He paints a cynical picture of a legal system oozing slime and manipulated by everyone but the victims. By the second book, In Good Faith, Dillard has become a prosecutor rather than a defense attorney.
An Innocent Client was Pratt’s first novel and the beginning of the Joe Dillard series, which includes:
- In Good Faith
- Injustice for All
- Reasonable Fear
- Conflict of Interest
- Blood Money
- A Crime of Passion
- Judgment Cometh (and That Right Soon)
- Due Process