A Bird in a Hurricane
by Carlton M. Downey
Bayou Press

"Innocent people rarely had this many files packed with evidence against them, but since I was the one who told her to get them, I now had an obligation to find out what had happened."

A big city lawyer reluctantly gets dragged back to his small-town roots. His formerly estranged father is dying, and the attorney wants to try to mend fences before it’s too late. Simultaneously, an associate wants him to look into a pro bono case involving a young black man who was apparently incarcerated unjustly and just might be the target of a setup for murder. These two storylines provide the foundation for this legal thriller that bounces back and forth between the bayous of Louisiana and the boulevards of New Orleans and Houston.

Paul is a highly successful corporate lawyer who sleeps little and works a lot. He generally helps large corporations find ways to get even larger. Almost before he knows it, however, he finds himself committed to two cases where he’s fighting for the little guy—one overtly and one covertly. It’s a commitment he’ll take to the extreme, especially when kidnapping and murder are added to the mix.

Downey has done a good job of creating a multi-layered plot and a multi-faceted protagonist. Paul doesn’t just bend rules. He snaps them like a twig when he believes real justice is at risk. Sufficient backstory explains why. Plus, intricate legal maneuvering winds its way through the narrative adding substance and credibility to just who’s doing what to whom, how, and why they can get away with it. This is a character and a novel in the mode of some of John Grisham’s creations. If that’s the sort of legal gumbo you like, you’ll be happy to hear there’s a second helping on the way.

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