Spinning a new twist to the legal drama genre, Frank Turner Hollon explores the moral and the controversial in his third novel, 'A Thin Difference'. Jack Skinner is a criminal defense attorney in a small town in Southern Alabama. His personal life has declined into a battlefield of divorces, bitter children, and tax debt, but the courtroom has always been a safe haven from his otherwise dismal life. For twenty-five years he has lived under a terrible allegation that has dominated his existence and alienated his ...
Spinning a new twist to the legal drama genre, Frank Turner Hollon explores the moral and the controversial in his third novel, 'A Thin Difference'. Jack Skinner is a criminal defense attorney in a small town in Southern Alabama. His personal life has declined into a battlefield of divorces, bitter children, and tax debt, but the courtroom has always been a safe haven from his otherwise dismal life. For twenty-five years he has lived under a terrible allegation that has dominated his existence and alienated his family. One morning a stranger appears at his office with a pile of cash asking for some minor legal assistance. But two days later the stranger is arrested for the brutal murder of a rich, elderly widow, and Jack takes on the murder case. With his instincts dulled by his belief in his client’s innocence, he sets out to win the biggest case he has ever undertaken. In the process, the two lives of Jack Skinner, his personal and professional, are set on a collision course and the unexpected is only the beginning.
Hollon's previous novel, The God File, looked at the justice system from inside, telling the story of a man who spent his life sentence in prison looking for evidence of God's existence. Justice and redemption are again a theme in this third novel, a more familiar but still compelling legal thriller. Jack Skinner is a down-on-his-luck defense attorney on the Alabama gulf coast, months behind in paying salary to his devoted secretary, Rose, and dodging creditors at each street corner. Jack's finances aren't his only mess; his younger daughter, Kelly, is a drug addict, and his older daughter, Becky, blames Jack for Kelly's troubled life. When Brad Caine offers Jack a $5,000 retainer to arrange a liquor license for the sports bar he plans to open, Jack figures he's found an easy way to keep himself in whiskey for a few months. Days after meeting Jack, Brad is arrested for the robbery and murder of an elderly homeowner; Jack welcomes the ensuing high-profile case as a way to rescue his professional life and, along the way, find something to believe in. Jack's type is a staple of courtroom dramas and police noir, but Hollon gives his man a straight-shooting voice and convincing world-weariness: "My first wife took the children. My second wife took the money." Though the murder trial is obviously contrived to force Jack into a confrontation with his demons, even veteran readers of legal dramas will be surprised by how it all plays out. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
For over 30 years, Jack Skinner has been a criminal defense lawyer in southern Alabama, but now he’s on the skids. Three ex-wives have bled him so dry he can’t pay his loyal secretary Rose, let alone the rent. Just two things keep him going: the love of courtroom confrontations, and the whiskey in the bottom drawer. When new client Brad Caine offers five grand in cash for expenses, Jack grabs it; nor is he fazed by the diamond necklace Brad wants to unload. Two days later, it’s revealed that the necklace belonged to Haddie Charles, a rich old lady murdered in her home, and Brad is charged with the crime, though he claims convincingly to have been set up, and Jack’s gut also tells him he’s innocent, the prosecution’s case being entirely circumstantial. Still, Jack has more on his plate than a high-profile murder; his drug-addicted "baby girl" Kelly, now 28, needs his help, much to the disgust of her older sister Becky, who believes Kelly’s drug habit is a reaction to Jack’s molesting her as a child—at one point even engages him in hand-to-hand combat. So it seems that while his many other equally seedy genre ancestors had a rock-bottom integrity, Jack may be the exception. By now it’s time for the trial, and Hollon largely lets the transcripts do the talking, which is okay until the Alice in Wonderland denouement turns courtroom procedures inside out. Given the number of fat clues trial lawyer Hollon (The God File, 2002) scatters along the way, the surprise ending is hardly that. In all, a depressing, stereotype-heavy story, though it does move at a good clip.