"Just terrific… As real as a heart attack, and every bit as suspenseful."
--John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of A Plague of Secrets, on The Trial
Veteran trial lawyer Larry D. Thompson has decades of courtroom experience in his home state of Texas on controversial and important trials. Now, in Dead Peasants, Thompson has delivered a fast-moving and suspenseful legal thriller featuring a retired lawyer whose life gets turned upside down when a stranger asks for help.
Jack Bryant, exhausted after a high-profile career as a lawyer, takes an early retirement in Fort Worth, Texas, where he plans to kick back, relax, and watch his son play football at TCU. But then an elderly widow shows up with a check for life insurance benefits and that is suspiciously made payable to her dead husband's employer, Jack can't turn down her pleas for help and files a civil suit to collect the benefits rightfully due the widow. A chain of events that can't be stopped thrusts Jack into a vortex of killings, and he and his new love interest find themselves targets of a murderer.
Gripping, engaging, and written with the authority that only a seasoned lawyer could possess, Dead Peasants is a legal thriller that will stun and surprise you.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||779 KB|
About the Author
LARRY D. THOMPSON is a managing partner of the Houston trial firm he founded. He is the proud father of three grown children and admiring brother of the late Tommy Thompson, author of the classic Blood and Money. He lives in Houston, Texas.
Read an Excerpt
By Larry D. Thompson
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 Larry D. Thompson
All rights reserved.
The tension in the Beaumont, Texas, courtroom was as real as that in the Cotton Bowl if Texas and Oklahoma were tied with one minute to go. The parties had been in trial for three weeks and two days. On one side of the aisle were the families of three refinery workers killed in an explosion that had killed or maimed dozens of others. The rest had settled with the oil company. These three families were represented by Jackson Douglas Bryant, a lawyer who in another era would have been a riverboat gambler. He convinced them to turn down million-dollar settlements before trial. The loss of their loved one was worth far more than a paltry million dollars. He even turned and walked away when the company lawyer offered five million per family at the close of evidence. He was confident that a Jefferson County jury would take care of its own.
After two days of jury deliberations, his clients had exhausted every possible topic of conversation and sat, stone-faced and nervous, on the wooden benches. Several of them wondered if they were making a mistake by rejecting enough money to provide for themselves and several generations of kids and grandkids. Still, they crossed their fingers and followed the advice of Jack Bryant.
On the other side of the rail, where the lawyers strutted their stuff as if actors on stage, the company attorneys were huddled with their client, whispering to each other about Bryant's refusal even to counter their fifteen-million-dollar offer. Bryant was standing at the bailiff's desk, resting his hands on his cane and debating whether the Houston Texans would ever make the playoffs. Bryant was a Texans fan, but the bailiff had written them off once the Saints acquired Drew Brees and won a Super Bowl. He was now officially a part of the "Who Dat?" nation. If the tension got to Bryant, he was too good a poker player to let it show. Somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty years old, he was a lean six feet with brush-cut brown hair swept back from a widow's peak, piercing blue eyes, and a chin with a Kirk Douglas dimple. He always chose an expensive Western-cut suit and Justin cowboy boots for trial. The Justin boots had been his choice since he got his first pair as a kid growing up in Fort Worth. He always carried a cane. For trial it was one with a gold knob on the top to match the gold Rolex on his wrist. Among all of his canes, he liked this one the best. It reminded him of the legendary Bat Masterson, gunfighter and poker player. The entire outfit, including the Rolex, was calculated. He had long believed that jurors would be more inclined to award big money if they saw it up close and personal.
Jack would never have admitted it, but he was getting worried. Anyone looking closely at his eyes would see they were bloodshot, a product of tossing and turning the night before as he replayed the trial in his mind and wondered what he might have done differently. They had made their final arguments two days ago and now it was approaching five o'clock. Were they going to hang up? I damn sure don't want to have to try this son of a bitch again, he thought.
Two loud buzzes echoed through the courtroom. One buzz was for lunch or a cigarette break. Two meant they had a verdict. The bailiff rose, and as he walked by Jack, he whispered, "Good luck, man."
Jack stepped through the swinging gate at the rail to shake hands with his male clients and hug the women. Then he returned to the counsel table as the judge came from his chambers. Judge Lucius Benton had a mane of white hair that he tied back in a ponytail. His handlebar mustache was so thick that it sounded as if his voice was muffled by a white buffalo hide. "I understand we have a verdict. Please remain standing for the jury."
The bailiff opened the jury room door, and the six men and six women filed in. Jack thought he detected one woman smiling slightly as she glanced at him before taking her seat. The bailiff handed the verdict to Judge Benton. Silence filled the room as the lawyers and litigants stared at the judge who slowly flipped through the verdict to confirm it was in order and properly signed. Finally, he turned to the jury.
"Mr. Foreman, am I correct that this is a unanimous verdict?"
"Yes, sir," a longshoreman in the first row replied.
"Then, with approval of counsel, I'll merely read the answers."
The first questions dealt with the liability of the refinery. Was the refinery negligent in its maintenance practices? The jury answered, "Yes." Did that negligence cause the deaths of the three workers? The jury answered, "Yes." Jack smiled as he looked over to the defense table and saw the dejected looks of the company representative and his cadre of defense lawyers. Now came the important part. The jury awarded each family twenty million dollars in actual damages for losing their loved one. A defense lawyer pitched his pen on the table and leaned back, disgust on his face. The company representative stared at the jury with hatred in his eyes: maybe they would tear down their goddamn refinery in Beaumont and move it to a county where the people would appreciate the economic benefit of fifteen hundred jobs.
Next were questions about gross negligence and punitive damages. The jury found the refinery knew its practices were dangerous and should be punished. It awarded ten million dollars in punitive damages per family. Several adult sons of the workers started whooping and hollering. The widows sobbed uncontrollably. Even Jack had tears in his eyes as he realized the total verdict was ninety million. Seeing he was rapidly losing control, the judge banged his gavel until the handle broke. The bailiff shouted for order. Worried that they might be held in contempt of court, Jack turned and motioned to his clients for silence. Slowly they returned to their seats. Some stared at the judge. Others turned to the jury and mouthed, "Thank you."
Looking around the courtroom to make sure decorum was restored, Judge Benton announced, "Counsel, I'm sending this case immediately to mediation before retired Judge Simon Jefferson. If he has an opening next week, I expect all of you to be there to see if we can get this case resolved before you spend three or four years on appeal. I commend counsel on both sides for a job well done. You are excused."
Jack took his clients out into the hallway where he huddled with them about the mediation. In Texas all big plaintiff verdicts went to mediation before appeal. The defendant had two shots at reversing the verdict, one before three justices at the court of appeals and one before nine justices at the supreme court. The bigger the verdict, the greater the likelihood of a reversal. The process would take at least four years, even if they won. He discussed the concept of a bird in the hand and reminded them that reducing the verdict a few million now would put money in their pockets immediately. A few of his clients looked puzzled. Still, they had put their trust in Jack, and he hadn't let them down yet.CHAPTER 2
They overflowed Judge Jefferson's conference room on the following Wednesday. In addition to Jack and his fourteen clients, there were two defense lawyers from New York and a claims representative from London who had joined the three lawyers who put up the losing defense. They filled the chairs and stood along the walls as Judge Jefferson explained the purpose of mediation was to try to reach a settlement without taking the case through the appellate process and, perhaps, even back to another trial. He alluded to the fact that the Texas Supreme Court was all Republican: nine justices who, judging from their opinions, thought it their solemn duty to protect big business from juries in Beaumont and certain other plaintiff-leaning counties in South Texas. Jack's clients listened and were uncertain what to make of such remarks. Hadn't they just scored a giant victory last week?
When the opening session was concluded, the plaintiffs remained in the large conference room and the group of defense lawyers and representatives was led to a slightly smaller one.
After they were gone, Judge Jefferson turned to Jack. "Helluva job you did, Jack. This your biggest?"
"Biggest one in Beaumont. Had one over a hundred million in the valley a few years ago," Jack replied with a smile on his face.
"You know how this game is played," the judge said. "Give me a demand and I'll take it to them." He turned to look at the clients. "It's a little like Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy from years ago. What do you say, Jack?"
"Not my move, Judge. I've got the verdict and the whip hand at this point. You're in the wrong room. You best walk down the hall. Tell them that they better get way north of that fifteen million they offered last week. Otherwise, we're walking."
Judge Jefferson nodded his understanding as he excused himself. When he returned an hour later, he again warned of the risks of an appeal in a Republican state before saying he had an offer of twenty-five million. Jack pretended to look at an imaginary hole card. "They're going the right direction, but it's going to be a long day. Tell them I'll knock two million off the verdict."
Jack was right. It was a long day. On two different occasions, once with a counteroffer of forty million dollars and once with sixty million on the table, Jack told all of his clients to get up. They were leaving. Both times Judge Jefferson convinced them to stay. At ten o'clock that night the offer was seventy-five million dollars, payable by wire transfer to Jack's trust account in thirty days. Jack got up, walked around the table to shake Judge Jefferson's hand, and told him that they had a deal. When the judge left the room to advise the other side, Jack was swarmed by his clients as they laughed, cried, and pounded Jack on the back until he begged for mercy.
Jack's fee was 40 percent. After paying expenses and a million-dollar bonus to each of his two associates, he would net close to thirty million dollars. That, he thought, is the reason that he moved to Beaumont after law school.
The next day he called his associates into his office. Still a little hung-over after celebrating until the Spindletop Bar closed at one in the morning, he was unshaven and wearing jeans and a T-shirt. "Sit down, my friends. I have an announcement. I'm retiring, effective today. The office and all the cases are yours. All I ask is that you send me a third of any fees you recover on our current cases."
His associates protested, saying they needed him to head the firm. Besides, he was too young to retire. He raised his hands and asked them to stop. His mind was made up. "I'm moving back to Fort Worth, back to where I was born and raised. You guys know my son, J.D., got out of the Marines, enrolled at TCU and is trying out for the TCU football team. I'm going to buy a nice house, kick back, do a little hunting and fishing, and watch J.D. play football. I haven't been in his life to speak of in near fifteen years. It's time to change that."CHAPTER 3
The pool hall wasn't much, but it was the only one Breckenridge had. Breckenridge was seventy miles west of Fort Worth. A quiet West Texas town of a few thousand people, about its only claim to fame was that it turned out some of the best high school football teams in the state. If Friday Night Lights hadn't been written about Odessa, it could have been about Breckenridge. Most of the jobs in the area were in the oil fields or on the ranches. Men still gathered at the Dairy Queen every morning to talk about the price of beef, crops, weather and, of course, the football team's prospects.
The pool hall didn't really have a name. Instead it had a red neon sign in the window that alternately flashed BEER and POOL. It occupied a building close to the railroad tracks a few blocks from the town center. The Baptists would have preferred for it to be out on the edge of the town, or maybe down the road in Caddo or Albany. The big nights at the pool hall were weekends, excepting Sunday when it was closed in deference to the Baptists, and Monday during football season.
A man named Jim always sat at the bar where he could watch the football game as he drank Lone Star from a bottle and smoked Marlboros. If Marlboro had needed another model, he could have been their man. He wore Levi's, a blue work shirt with "Jim" on the right chest, and a Cowboys cap. He had worked as an auto mechanic for years until the recession hit and he was laid off. Fortunately, the oil and gas business still had life, so he transferred his skills to repairing oil rigs and pump jacks. Jim was quiet and never had any company. He would reply if spoken to. Otherwise he was content to watch the game, sipping his Lone Star and grunting occasionally if something dramatic occurred.
One Monday night a stranger appeared at the door of the bar. He had brown hair down to his shoulders and a neatly trimmed beard. He wore a black leather jacket over a green golf shirt. Once his eyes had become accustomed to the dim light, he took a seat at the bar next to Jim and ordered a Coors Light. He tried to strike up a conversation with Jim, who answered in monosyllables and continued to watch the game. By the end of the third quarter other customers began to drift out when Tom Brady had put his Patriots up by three touchdowns. Jim and the stranger stayed until the final whistle. That told the stranger what he wanted to know. He paid his bill and left just as Jim was putting on his coat. The stranger noted that Jim's green Chevy pickup, the only vehicle remaining, was parked along the curb directly in front of the pool hall.
Two weeks later the clock ran down on another Cowboy loss. Jim pitched a twenty on the bar and said, "That's downright embarrassing. Keep the change, Sam."
Sam nodded his thanks as Jim put on a windbreaker and walked to the door. Sam followed him, locked the door, and unplugged the sign, since the last of his other customers had given up on the Cowboys thirty minutes earlier. When Jim stepped out, he was confronted with driving rain from a storm that had blown in during the game. He pulled the jacket over his head and made a dash for his pickup. He had his keys in his hand as he rounded the rear of the truck and clicked to open the door. With the wind and the rain, he never heard a thing. And with the windbreaker pulled over his head, he never saw what hit him.
A white pickup had been waiting at the corner next to the pool hall, lights out while the driver listened to the last of the Cowboys game. When it was over, he started the engine and waited. He saw Jim's lean body leave the pool hall and run to his pickup. The driver turned the corner and floored it, accelerating alongside Jim's pickup, hitting him as he reached for the door handle. The impact knocked Jim fifty feet.
The driver started to leave Breckenridge, then had second thoughts. He had never killed someone this way before. So he circled the block, and when he got to the corner next to the pool hall, he doused his lights again and looked both ways. The rain was now coming almost sideways from the west as a cold front blew through. Seeing no lights in either direction, he pulled in front of Jim's pickup, retrieved a small Maglite from the glove compartment and climbed out. Pushing through the wind and the rain, he got to his victim and flashed the light briefly. Blood oozed from Jim's ears, nose and mouth. His chest was crushed and both legs looked like broken pick-up sticks. The driver bent over and pressed his fingers against the victim's neck. There was no pulse.
He walked rapidly back to his truck, checked again to confirm there were no vehicles coming from either direction, and headed out of town. As he did, he retrieved his cell phone. "Boss, it's done."CHAPTER 4
Jack drove west on Camp Bowie Boulevard, listening to the clatter his tires made on the red brick paving laid by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Memories from thirty and forty years ago flooded back as he turned right on Hillcrest. After a block he saw Rivercrest Country Club and turned left on Crestline. He passed the clubhouse and drove slowly down Alta Drive until he spotted the house he wanted. Situated on almost two acres, with giant pecan trees shading the front, it had six bedrooms, including a large master suite overlooking a heated pool and hot tub. The driveway circled the house and led to a six-car garage. Sitting on a bluff above the Trinity River, the backyard sloped down the hill toward the river and the afternoon sun. In the distance was the old bomber plant, called various names over the years, including Convair and General Dynamics, but now closed. Jack's dad had worked there for thirty years.
Excerpted from Dead Peasants by Larry D. Thompson. Copyright © 2012 Larry D. Thompson. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Jackson Bryant is a successful lawyer at the peak of his career. After a particularly large settlement, he decides to retire and head back to Fort Worth, TX where he grew up. His son, J.D., has just started college and is on the football team. Because of a divorce early in his son's life, Jack hasn't had a lot of time with his son and wants to be closer to him. Colby Stripling is the real estate agent who sells Jack his house in Fort Worth. She also decorates it for him. During this time, they get to be good friends. Jack wants more from their relationship, but Colby makes it clear there is someone else. They remain good friends. Bored with his new life and uninterested in hobnobbing with the big wigs at the country club, Jack returns to his roots. His old neighborhood hasn't changed much, except that there are even more poor people in need of help. He decides to set up an office and do pro bono legal work. Things are pretty quiet until Jack helps a woman who is being hounded by a credit card company. The judgement in their favor, with a write up in the local paper, blows the top off his business. He has people lined up outside to talk to him. It's Colby who sends him his most important client. June Davis, whose late husband, Willie, worked with Colby years ago at a car dealership, has recently died. June mistakenly gets a check that was being sent to the car company, payment for a life insurance policy they had taken out on Willie when he worked for them years ago. The check isn't made out to June, it's made out to the car company. The $10,000 she was supposed to be given hasn't arrived. Jack takes the case and files to sue the car company's owner, Dwayne Allison. Meanwhile, folks are dying under strange circumstances. Like Willie Davis, their deaths seem to be accidents. However, several attempts on Colby's life lead Jack to the conclusion that none of them were accidental. "Dead Peasants" is a well paced legal thriller that kept this reader on the edge of her seat. I couldn't put it down. There's just enough courtroom drama to satisfy the legal types, and all of it is authentic – the author, Larry D. Thompson, is a lawyer. For the more ghoulish, there's plenty of murder and mystery to keep you entertained. Jack, Colby and J.D. keep finding and putting the pieces together, but it isn't until the end that the final piece clicks into place. The characters in "Dead Peasants" are fully rounded and authentic. The plot moves well and the villain is purely villainous. I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good mystery. © 2012 Dellani Oakes
I moved from Ft Worth 50 yrs. ago but felt like I was back there while reading this book. Remembered every street and landmark. Thoroughly enjoyed plot and characters.
After a successful career as a trial attorney, Jack Bryant is ready to retire to his hometown of Fort Worth to kick back, relax, and watch his son play college football at TCU. But Jack has a hard time settling into retirement, so he opens up a pro bono practice out of a motorhome. He expects to be helping poor people with their legal issues, but nothing prepares him for what happens after an elderly woman shows up with an unexpected life insurance check that is the beneficiary payment from her husband's untimely death. Jack's ensuing investigation reveals a murder for hire scheme that involves unexplained deaths that puts Jack and his love interest in a great deal of danger. Dead Peasants is a riveting legal thriller that captivates the reader from the start, and keeps them sitting on the edge of their seat until the surprising conclusion. Author Larry D. Thompson utilizes his extensive professional experience as a trial attorney to weave a gritty tale written in the third person narrative that follows attorney Jack Bryant as he investigates an illegal insurance scheme linked to several unexplained deaths of policy holders that opens up a huge can of worms and will ultimately put his own life in danger. This fast paced, action filled story engages the reader with a mixture of murder plots, investigative twists and turns, suspense and riveting courtroom drama. The author enlightens the reader by describing what a dead peasant insurance policy is: it is a life insurance policy taken out by the employer on an employee's life without their knowledge. The policy is not terminated when the employee leaves the company, it continues until the person's death, with the premium being paid to the company as the primary beneficiary. In reading Dead Peasants, the reader is transported into the middle of this gripping tale where they will learn about chilling true-to-life illegal schemes that are simply mind-numbing and will give them goosebumps. With an intriguing cast of characters; witty dialogue; dramatic interactions; and a complex storyline that has just enough courtroom drama to satisfy legal eagles, while providing plenty of murder and mystery that will keep the reader in suspense until the final piece of the puzzle clicks into place in a surprising ending; Dead Peasants is a thoroughly powerful, compelling, and chilling legal thriller that you won't be able to put down!
This was a pretty good book. I had never heard the term Dead Peasants before and I liked the way it was incorporated into this story. The first 75 pages or so were kind of slow, but it laid out all the key characters and gave you a good foundation to build on. Then the murders started and the characters all started to mesh together. The story unfolded and I found myself second guessing myself as to who could be behind everything. I really liked Jack Bryant as well as his friend Colby. Both of these people were loyal to a fault and very giving of themselves to others. I would love to be in a position where I could help people like Jack does in the book when he starts doing his pro bono work. What a great way to give back to the community where he grew up. The book flowed easily and I loved the short chapters (90 chapters in a 292 page book). Sometimes I only have short bursts of time to read and so this style works well for me. I look forward to seeing if Jack Bryant is going to be spearheading any other cases in the future.
Larry D. Thompson in his new book, “Dead Peasants” published by Thomas Dunne Books brings us into the life of Jack Bryant. Synopsis: Lawyer Jack Bryant retires early to Fort Worth to kick back, relax and watch his son play football at TCU. Bored with retirement he opens a pro bono office in his RV. When Jack finds an elderly widow at his doorstep, clutching a check for life insurance proceeds on her husband but payable to his former employer, Jack files a civil suit to collect the benefits rightfully due the widow. A seemingly accidental death of his client’s husband thrusts Jack into a vortex of serial killings. He and his new love interest find themselves targets in the same murder for hire scheme. To stop the killings Jack must unravel what in their past makes certain people worth more dead than alive. Somehow the term, dead peasants and legal thriller do not seem to go hand in hand. Dead Peasants seems to lend itself to a tale of knights and kings and feudal society don’t you agree? It seems that dead peasants is a legal insurance term for when an employer takes out an insurance policy on his employees and continues to pay the premiums even after the employee’s dismissal or retirement. The employer hopes to collect the benefits upon that person’s death. This practice has been deemed illegal in most states. Jack Bryant is brought into the case when he finds that the former employer of June Davis’ deceased husband had a very large life-insurance policy, a dead peasant policy, on her husband, which made the employer the beneficiary. Now as Jack goes to court to collect the benefits rightfully due June he also has to battle to stay alive as he has walked into a murder mine field. This is one exciting book. An action, adventure, mystery, courtroom thriller as Jack’s life is in deadly danger. I do not recommend you drink coffee while reading this book as there is more than enough excitement to keep you going. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this book as you will want to finish it before going to bed. “Dead Peasants” is an exciting adventure from start to finish. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Partners In Crime. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Larry pens "Dead Peasants" a face paced, believable legal thriller in a plot that was well written, entertaining and filled with action. I loved the way his characters were developed easily and wasted no time in doing so. His descriptions were so realistic that you felt you were right there as the story unfolds. A must read for all legal thriller fans. This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author which was provided for an honest review.
Synopsis: Lawyer Jack Bryant retires early to Fort Worth to kick back, relax and watch his son play football at TCU. Bored with retirement he opens a pro bono office in his RV. When Jack finds an elderly widow at his doorstep, clutching a check for life insurance proceeds on her husband but payable to his former employer, Jack files a civil suit to collect the benefits rightfully due the widow. A seemingly accidental death of his client’s husband thrusts Jack into a vortex of serial killings. He and his new love interest find themselves targets in the same murder for hire scheme. To stop the killings Jack must unravel what in their past makes certain people worth more dead than alive. Dollycas’s Thoughts RIVETING!!! I loved this book! I sat down on a Sunday afternoon and started this book and hardly moved until I reached the last word. I wish I knew an attorney like Jack Bryant. He has enough money to live comfortably forever and retires to put his son first. Something he hasn’t been able to do before because of his career. But his son is grown and while it is great having him around and watching him play ball, Jack needs more. He decides to give back to his community by helping those who need legal help but could never afford proper representation. An added bonus is his son being able to work with him. I was personally touched by the man he helped with his mortgage foreclosure. This is happening all over the U.S. and the banks are winning because people can’t get help or get scammed by the wrong help. Scary to think the home you have had for years could be gone and you could be homeless. The real meat of the story is the case he takes on for June Davis. Her husband Willie passed away and like always she is struggling to just get by. Then she receives a surprise from the U.S. Postal Service that in Jack Bryant’s hands could change her life forever. It will also open up a huge can of worms that will start to link together several unexplained deaths and will put his own life in danger. Thompson has created fantastic well rounded characters and writes their stories in such a way that you are right there with them in the courtroom, on the streets and in his office RV. It also felt has if I was watching a movie, the pages were turning so fast. A legal thriller that packs quite a punch!! This is one I would shout about from the rooftops if I could!!
The protagonist character Jack Bryant is one of those type of lawyers that you would hire in minute because he genuine and of a good heart, but at the same time he is also a character that has his own flaws and that springs him to life from the words on the white pages. I thought earlier on I knew who was behind all the killings, but Larry Thompson writing style masterfully kept the real conclusion hidden until the dramatic end ... I liked that! The ongoing investigation along the personal life of Jack Bryant kept me turning the digital pages into the night. The plots and subplots are filled with intricate detail while still compelling and true to life. Each characters is so well defined that it is easy to be fascinated ... even those that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. I am giving this novel a 4.5 out of 5 rating. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with Dead Peasants by Larry Thompson.
This is a fun and fast paced novel! Jack Bryant was born and raised in Ft Worth, Texas. Some might say he grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Jack, soon to retire, is a successful plaintiff lawyer practicing in Beaumont, Texas. He moved back to his home town to watch his son play college football and to show all of those people (from the right side of the tracks) how well this former poor boy did as an adult. His son, JD Jr., is a walk-on at TCU and is balancing his training with spending time with his father. Upon arriving home Jack meets Colby Stripling, a woman with a secret, as well as a real estate agent who sells him the oversized home that he pays for with cash, just because. When Jack realizes that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be he decides to become a pro bono lawyer for the less fortunate. His first case is for June Davis, the widow of a local man (Willie Jr.) Jack has become friends with. June finds out by accident that his former employer, Allison Motors, had a life insurance policy on her late husband that paid $400,000 when he died. Jack attempts to get Allison Motors to relinquish the funds to June however, during the course of the trial it is determined that there is more going on than just one Dead Peasant policy. This is a fun and fast paced novel without a lot of unnecessary filler. The characters had very distinct personalities, even those that were not so prominent such as Willie Jr. You could see the confusion he suffered with the changing racial times and what he was brought up with. The descriptions of the area are rich and accurate. Being a Native of Fort Worth, I loved reading about Fort Worth, the local streets, buildings and areas that are so familiar to me. On the other hand, I found some of the other details to be exaggerated. We understand that Jack is filthy rich and he likes things a certain way, but it felt like overkill or name dropping with the incessant use of name brands or school names. It felt a little bit like product placement in the movies. However, these negatives are not enough to distract from the story line. The novel made us guess and then guess again as twist and turns led to the eventual killer. This book is not too long and would make for a great read weekend read. Excellent job!
I came upon this little jewel while searching the new release shelves at my Barnes & Noble and decided to take a chance on it. I couldn't put it down and highly recommend it. I hope Mr. Thompson is at work on his next legal drama.