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About Michael Monhollon
I've always wanted to be a writer, and murder mysteries, suspense novels, and courtroom dramas were my first love. For me it's been a growth process, though. In the fifth grade, when I and everyone I knew were reading the Hardy Boys mysteries, Mrs. Hortenstein assigned an essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up. My essay about wanting to become a mystery writer earned a D, at least in part (I tell myself) because it was just too short. In high school I began to read more science fiction than mystery novels, and I stopped out a semester in college to write science fiction short stories and collect rejection slips. My father insisted I needed a career to fall back on, and so I finished college and went to law school, but legal careers have an unfortunate way of crowding out time to write.
After finishing law school (University of Virginia Class of 1984), I worked as a lawyer in Amarillo and Dallas, Texas, and in Richmond, Virginia. I continued to write when I could, and Penguin USA published my first book, Criminal Intent, in 1992, styling it as "the most shocking thriller since The Firm." It was not the bestselling legal thriller since The Firm (unfortunately), but with a publication to my credit, I was hooked on writing. Partly in search of writing time, I drifted into academia where now, in addition to some administrative responsibilities, I teach various courses in law and economics. I bring home the minimum daily requirement of income and still have time to write the courtroom mysteries I have come to enjoy so much.
Tightly plotted books with engaging characters and a big payoff at the end—those were the kind of books that as a boy kept me tucked in odd corners of the house reading when I should have been doing almost anything else. My writing career began modestly, when, as a fifth-grader, I earned a D on an essay about wanting to be a writer. I was more encouraged when Signet published my first novel, Criminal Intent, and I left my law practice for teaching and writing.
Slack Tide, my latest, is a mystery featuring two fourteen-year-olds and a twelve-year-old who live on the Manatee River. I have also written nine legal thrillers, seven of them featuring the fearless Robin Starling. What I like about Robin are her athleticism and her refusal to take personally the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." In the courtroom she is pure gladiator. The books in the Robin Starling series of legal thrillers, in order, are Trial by Ambush, Juggling Evidence, Dog Law, Laughing Heirs, Devil in the Dock, Gone Ballistic, and Sexual Misconduct.
In terms of my writing, the outlier is a novel based on the life of Jesus, which has nothing to do with courtrooms and lawyers (unless we count the scribes as lawyers). Divine Invasion is not a parody, but a straight narrative account with a little juggling of the time element. For example: When Pilate provoked a riot by marching his soldiers into Jerusalem with his standards bearing the bust of the emperor, it was almost certainly prior to the beginning of Jesus' public life. Because the building tensions between Pilate and the Sanhedrin are part of Jesus' story, I moved the incident into the timeline of my novel. My other liberties revolve mostly around assigning personalities and personal characteristics to historical figures, including Jesus, his followers, Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod Antipas, and others. Some aspects of personality are apparent in the dialog in the gospel accounts, of course, but where the historical record is silent, I have relied on my imagination to fill in the details. In 1998, Booklist, the trade journal of the American Library Association, listed it as one of the top ten Christian novels of the year.
If you give one of my books a try and like it, please take time to post a book review on Amazon to serve as a guidepost to others in search of a good read. If you don't like it, of course, I wouldn't want to intrude on your busy schedule... :-)
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Titles By Michael Monhollon
I slowed as a man in a security uniform came out, but he only stretched his back and swung his arms and watched me as I rolled past.
I was in, and the most disturbing thing so far was that the song "Secret Agent Man" kept playing in my head. This just wasn't the kind of thing lawyers did, not any of the ones I knew. For one thing, it was hard to see how I was going to bill anyone 300 dollars an hour for it.
Unfortunately, things were about to get a lot more disturbing—disturbing and dangerous.
This financial thriller is the first in the Robin Starling legal thriller series
The athletic Robin Starling is a 30-year-old female lawyer in a male-dominated courtroom, though at 5-11 she stands eye-to-eye with most of the men. When her first murder case comes along, she does what she thinks is right—for herself, her client, and her murdered friend—and she relies on constant motion to keep out of trouble, legal and otherwise. Trouble, unfortunately, has a way of catching up—legal and, especially, otherwise.
Trial by Ambush is a clean, PG-13-style mystery and Robin Starling's first foray onto the criminal docket. The other lawyer novels in the series are, in order, Juggling Evidence, Dog Law, and Laughing Heirs.
If you like lawyer mysteries, don't miss this topnotch legal thriller.
Trial by Ambush, Book 1 in the Robin Starling legal thriller series
With a river at their back doors and a little fishing boat, fourteen-year-old Josh and his friends have no need of a car to get where they want to go—though a lot can happen with the turning of the tide. When he and Lauren discover a body on a yacht anchored just inside the river mouth, Josh becomes a person of interest to the police, to the dead man’s widow, and to her conniving brother. The river remains a source of awe and adventure, but they've learned to beware of a . . .
Cast of Characters
His 12-foot aluminum boat with its 9.8 horsepower motor proves to be as much as any 14-year-old needs
Her father plays right field for the Pittsburg Pirates, and she’s not a bad baseball player herself.
A college student with a troubled past that threatens to become an even more troubled future.
Doing what was necessary to deal with a grasping wife, he failed to account for one important contingency.
A detective with the Manatee County Sheriff’s office, she keeps encountering Josh and his friends in the course of her investigation.
Living next door to his grandson Josh, he makes a mean oatmeal, a good meal for a man who doesn’t always remember his teeth.
Both of her parents are lawyers, but that’s not much help when you’re 12 years old and have to compete with a girl who’s 14.
The lawyer Josh Reilly wants to be when he grows up.
More aggressive than her husband, she’s a petite blonde with the protective instincts of a Rottweiler.
Her boyfriend Paul tells her—
“Robin, you need to leave this alone. Just get back in your car and drive away.”
A material witness tells police—
“What I think is that you ought to take this young woman’s fingerprints, see where she’s been in that house and what she’s been touching."
The district attorney tells the judge—
“You see what the testimony means, your honor. Ms. Starling is most probably an accessory after the fact to the crime of murder.”
Robin herself tells police—
“Let’s assume for the moment that I’m a reasonable person, and not some nut-job who goes around dribbling the blood of murder victims on every horizontal surface she comes across.”
But talk is cheap, and Robin's actions continue to defy convention
It’s not as easy as you might think for a woman who’s five-foot eleven and wearing a dress to wedge herself through a tiny window with a sill about four or four-and-a-half feet off the ground. Let’s just say I managed it and that I’m glad no one was watching.
Somehow Robin Starling always manages to do what she needs to do...or at least she always has until now...
One of the top legal thrillers on the market, Laughing Heirs is the fourth book in the series of courtroom thrillers that includes:
- Trial by Ambush, Robin's first criminal case, a courtroom drama that has her defending the boyfriend she caught cheating on her with the murder victim on the very night of the murder,
- Juggling Evidence, Robin's second foray onto the criminal docket, which puts her in the cross-hairs of a short, pompous district attorney named, incongruously, Mr. Biggs, and
- Dog Law, the third courtroom mystery in the series, which Robin survives with an assist from her new pup and her overweight boyfriend.
If you enjoy lawyer novels and a good clean mystery, you'll want to read all four of these engaging lawyer mysteries.
But instead Robin Starling agreed to represent the D.A.’s sister in a murder trial. An orthopedic surgeon, prominent in local politics, has been found dead in her apartment. Now the D.A. wants help — from the attorney he just tried to get disbarred — and trust seems to be a commodity in short supply. Once again, attorney Robin Starling must risk her career to discover who is lying and who is not, to untangle the intersecting knots of pursuit, love, and betrayal — and to herself find true love while people all around her are engaged in…
The first day of trial, the defendant bared his nicotine-stained teeth at the jury as it filed into the courtroom. His clothing, combined with his yellow teeth, oily hair, and prominent hooked nose, made him look like Lucifer’s indigent second cousin. It soon became clear to everyone, including Robin Starling, his idealistic attorney, that he would have killed Bill Hill if he had felt like it. The only question was, had he felt like it back on that brisk March day?
Attorney in Motion
A homicide detective I knew came in the front door and stopped in the archway to the living room.
“Robin Starling,” he said, sounding surprised.
I looked up. “Hi, Jordan.”
“Not a good sign,” he said. “Murder cases becoming your specialty?”
“Let’s hope not.” It was, I reflected, the second murder scene at which he’d found me.
My client said, “This wasn’t murder, though. It was suicide, wasn’t it?”
“Doubtful,” Jordan said.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
The corner of Jordan’s mouth lifted. “It’s what I always say.”
“So you don’t have any specific reasons for thinking it wasn’t suicide?”
“That’s not what I said.” He came into the living room and sat in a large square chair, pushing the ottoman out of the way with his foot. “Where is Melissa Butler? I’d like to talk to her.”
They all looked at me. “She’s driving around in my car,” I said lamely.
“Just driving around, or is she going somewhere?”
“I don’t know.”
“Look,” Jordan said. “This woman saw the murderer. You can’t just bury her.”
“I didn’t bury her.”
“But you sent her off in your car.”
“No, I didn’t.”
He shifted in the chair. “You see, the problem is I know you, Robin. You do whatever the hell you want, and you depend on constant motion to stay out of trouble.”
Robin Starling displays both the reckless initiative of Stephanie Plum and the legal acumen of Perry Mason, and even her friends know it. When Robin's efforts to acquit her clients begin to involve her roommate, Brooke Marshall, Brooke asks, “This isn’t going to get me in trouble, is it?”
“I hope not.”
“If I get you in, I’ll get you out again.”
She gave me a look.
“Are you okay with that?”
“You’re giving me a recipe for getting arrested. Of course I’m not okay with it.”
Okay or not, Robin can be persuasive. Before long, everyone she knows is involved in juggling evidence. Robin Starling claims it’s an occupational hazard, but the district attorney thinks it’s a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct—and this time, he thinks he can prove it…
Juggling Evidence, a clean, PG-13 style mystery, is Book 2 in the Robin Starling legal thriller series. The tone is light, and the action builds to one of the most dramatic courtroom finishes you'll ever read.
Robin Starling, Lady Lawyer
“What did Carly say about me?” I asked.
“That you were new here and really, really nice, but she understood you’d been fired from your last job for being—” She dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “—something of a loose cannon.” The drop in volume was a habit of speech Carly had when she was delivering the goods on someone.
“And after those introductions, Chloe chose me over Dave. Interesting. Disconcerting, even.”
“She said her daughter would be more comfortable with a lady lawyer.”
I shook my head. Lady lawyer was a phrase I’d be happy to go the rest of my life and never hear again.
“You do wonder why she’d be lawyer-shopping in an executive suite. Does it bother you that she seems to have chosen you because she thought you’d be a lightweight?”
“Not at all. I’m a blonde female just a few months over thirty-one. I get that kind of thing all the time.”
Her love life
I tore open the protein bar. It was a bit melted from Paul’s body heat, but I took a bite and chewed. “Messy, but delicious,” I said with my mouth full.
“Do you always carry protein bars?” Brooke asked Paul.
“One of the benefits of having a fat boyfriend,” I said, chewing.
“Ouch,” Brooke said. “She called you fat.”
“She called me her boyfriend.”
“So she did.” They both looked at me.
Her family life
My puppy and I spent Christmas in Charlottesville with my mother and my brother and his family. My father, long estranged from the family after leaving my mother for his veterinary assistant, showed up for lunch, bringing presents. Nobody told me he was coming, and his expression was cautious when he spoke to me—or even looked at me.
“Look,” I said finally. “I’m not the scary bitch you seem to think I am.”
“Said the scary bitch in her most belligerent voice,” my brother said.
“You’re not helping,” I said.
“Sorry.” Though he didn’t look it.
Her professional life
Paul said, “I understand the case changed on you this week.”
I exhaled. “Yes, it did that.”
And it wasn’t even your fault,” Paul said.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, to be fair, all your cases tend to thunder along like a pack of greyhounds.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Just tell us the story,” Paul said. “Start from the beginning, right where this exquisitely beautiful woman walks into your office.”
My eyes slid to Brooke, who evidently had been talking.
Robin Starling traces a pistol that arrived in her mail to a recently murdered man who had been cheating on his wife. The police like the wife for the crime. The D.A. likes Robin as an accessory-after-the-fact. Robin, though she feels sympathy for the widow and her young son, likes running with her dog and hanging out with her teddy-bear boyfriend, but she is a young attorney in need of work. The case promises to be the case of her career right up to the moment when everything goes ballistic.
Though you didn’t go to prison, you work somewhere else now. Guilt-ridden, you’ve managed to put your life back together; then your old girlfriend, now a 23-year-old, dark-eyed beauty, shows up on your doorstep. She’s got a gun and a wild tale about the penny-ante drug dealers who are after her. She needs sanctuary.
Within days, she will need a lawyer to defend her on a murder charge, and her tales will have only gotten wilder. What will you do? If you’re Alan Dougherty, you will take the case, betting everything on the character of the girl you once loved with reckless passion. You will win it all, the case and the girl, or you will lose everything. This time there may be no putting the pieces back together.
Guilty Knowledge is a courtroom drama that has everything you expect from a legal crime novel: drug smuggling and money laundering, crime lords and criminal syndicates, and vigilante justice. Alan Dougherty is an idealistic young attorney who must find courage enough to face down the mob, brains enough to solve a brutal murder, and the ingenuity to best an arrogant young prosecutor. The pace and the plotting put it in the ranks of organized crime fiction.
Michael Monhollon is the author of the series of top legal thrillers featuring the intrepid Robin Starling:
- Trial by Ambush, Robin's first criminal case, is a courtroom drama that has her defending the boyfriend she caught cheating on her with the murder victim on the very night of the murder.
- Juggling Evidence, Robin's second foray onto the criminal docket, puts her in the cross-hairs of a short, pompous district attorney named, incongruously, Mr. Biggs.
- In Dog Law, the third lawyer novel in the series, Robin survives with an assist from her new pup and her overweight boyfriend.
- In Laughing Heirs, book 4 in the series of lawyer mysteries, the line between accidental death and first-degree murder proves to be razor thin.