From Publishers Weekly
Sheehan, a Florida trial lawyer, serves up a story of miscarried justice and loyalty in his debut novel. A corrupt small-town Florida police department arrests Rudy Kelly, a "slow" 19-year-old, for a murder he didn't commit, and, after an ineffectual public defender fumbles the case, Rudy receives a death sentence. Meanwhile, Sheehan sketches in flashback the 1960s New York childhoods of Mikey Kelly and Johnny Tobin. Ten years after Rudy's conviction, Tobin, now a hotshot Miami lawyer who goes by Jack, leaves his firm and finds a new direction after reading about Mikey's death-looking into his son Rudy's conviction. The plot may seem predictable, but surprises pop up along the way. Unfortunately, Sheehan leans on clichés, tired similes and unrealistic dialogue ("I love you so much it hurts. I've never felt this way about anyone."), and characters fall in love and make decisions for no reason other than to advance the plot. Glitches aside, the story picks up in the later parts of the book, and Sheehan's bar experience shows in his courtroom scenes and passages on legal maneuvering.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Here's a legal thriller that's so good it instantly leaves Grisham and the gang choking on its dust. And it's a first novel, too. The story centers on a young man who was railroaded into confessing to a murder and now, 10 years later, sits on death row awaiting execution. Jack Tobin, a New York lawyer with a high-powered past, is the only one who can prove the man's innocence. Not only is this a top-notch legal thriller, it's also a moving story about love, guilt, personal redemption, and friendship (the condemned man is the son of Mikey, Jack's old friend). Sheehan is a truly gifted storyteller, and the novel's format is fresh and clever: the first half of the book is devoted to the murder and its aftermath, interspersed with vignettes (set in the 1950s and '60s) showing the evolving relationship between Jack and Mikey; then the story switches to the present day (1996), and we watch Jack try to assimilate events that the reader has experienced firsthand. This is a terrific novel, a genuine literary achievement, and it's just the kind of book--unknown author, small publisher--that will make readers' advisors look terrific when they put it in the hands of legal-thriller fans searching for something new. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved