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Special Circumstances (Mike Daley, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – June 26, 2001
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With over a hundred mysteries and thrillers published each month, it's rare that a new book by an unknown author makes a splash, both with critics and with the public. John Grisham's The Firm was a cult hit among lawyers that exploded into New York Times bestsellerdom. Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October, first published by the Naval Institute Press, was discovered when Ronald Reagan labeled it a "perfect yarn." Sheldon Siegel's debut legal thriller, Special Circumstances is likely to take its place among these precious few.
The novel begins with the distinctive voice of Siegel's ex-priest hero: "After my five years as an underproductive partner in our white-collar criminal defense department, our executive committee asked me to leave. I was, in short, fired. On Monday I'll open the law offices of Michael J. Daley, criminal-defense attorney, in a subleased office in a walk-up building in the not-so-trendy part of San Francisco's South of Market area. Welcome to the modern practice of law...."
But on his final day of work, a senior partner turns up dead. A close colleague of Daley's is the most likely suspect, and Daley--in his new walk-up practice--takes the case. In a series of brilliantly executed twists and turns, he uncovers one layer of deception and intrigue after another to get to the root truth of the case. Meanwhile, Siegel--a San Francisco attorney himself--continues to pepper his first-person narrative with Daley's dead-on jabs at the world of courtroom warfare. Of the new San Francisco DA, for example, Daley comments: "As an attorney, he's careless, lazy and unimaginative. As a human being, he's greedy, condescending and an unapologetic philanderer. As a politician, however, he's the real deal."
While Special Circumstances is not a "perfect yarn," it is nearly so. As well-executed as most classic legal thrillers, it slips effortlessly into a distinctive narrative voice to capture Mike Daley's world and elevate the thriller story line to a deeper commentary on the state of the legal profession and the quest for true justice. Welcome to the big time, Sheldon Siegel. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
San Francisco attorney Siegel's debut pits a likable lead against a giant law firm run by villains and fools; the result is a well-made courtroom page-turner, skillful and taut right up through the surprise ending. Siegel's hero and narrator is the competent, low-key Mike Daley, former priest and onetime public defender, now a 45-year-old partner at San Francisco's glossy Simpson and Gates. Daley hasn't brought enough business to the criminal department, and the senior partners have asked that he resign. Also leaving the firm is Prentice Marshall "Skipper" Gates III, son of the firm's founding partner: Skipper has just been elected district attorney. "My partners are thrilled," says Daley of Skipper's departure. "They have never complained about his arrogance, sloppy work and condescending attitude.... What they can live without is his $400,000 draw..." On New Year's Eve at Simpson and Gates, Daley is packing up his office, Skipper is enjoying a glitzy farewell party and other lawyers are working to close a lucrative property deal. But when the deal falls apart, two of those lawyers--a slimy master litigator and an ambitious young female partner--are found shot to death. At first it seems to be a murder-suicide brought on by greed, sex and depression. Then one of Daley's few friends at the firm, the son of a prominent rabbi, is charged with the murders. Daley and Skipper clash in a high-profile court case with echoes of several recent real-life media circuses. If the trial itself takes up too many pages, Siegel redeems himself elsewhere by focusing on the flawed, often-desperate Daley: Siegel humanizes his hero by depicting Daley's charged, still-sexual relationship with his ex-wife, a tough lawyer who retains custody of their six-year-old daughter. With a winning protagonist and a gripping plot, Siegel's debut is sure to make partner at its first-choice firm: the expanding empire of Turow, Grisham, Lescroart, Wilhelm, Margolin and Baldacci. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Mike is going out on his own, but does not mention that he will be subleasing his space from ex-wife, Rosie Fernandez. They worked together at the public defenders office and they were a great team. Mike was once called the best public defender in the state by the the State Bar Journal. They have a daughter, Grace whom they both love and spend time with. Their personal relationship is a bit unusual, but it works for them...
Then there is Prentice Marshall Gates III. He has spent thirty years as an "underproductive" partner in the real estate department of S&G. "Skipper" spent three million dollars of money he inherited from his father. He ran an unscrupulous campaign and is now the District Attorney of San Francisco — in spite of the fact that he has not set foot in a courtroom for more than twenty years...
Mike's best friend, and former colleague is charged with the double murder of two of his partners at his former law firm, S&G. Mike suddenly finds himself defending Joel Friedman for the murders of Robert "Bob" Holmes and Diana Kennedy...
I was instantly immersed in the storyline. The book moves along at a decent pace. The characters are vividly drawn so you feel like you know them — you can "see" the courtroom antics. This trial gives a whole new meaning to the old saying "if you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with b*llsh*t." I enjoyed watching S&G unravel and seeing all their dirty little secrets exposed during the investigation and the trial. From my front row seat, I could witness the theatrics of the courtroom with Mike and Skipper going at one another every chance that they got. Mike's thoughts or "inner dialogues" leant the perfect amount of humour to the story. There are surprises, twists and turns with a few loop-de-loops thrown in for good measure. The ending was a bit of a surprise.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES is the first book in the A Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez Legal Thriller series. Author, Sheldon Siegel has written a compelling story. I have high hopes for the rest of the series based on this first book.
I gave the book a 4-star rating because I had guessed a motive, I never suspected the actual murderer.
Then comes the entire legal process from arrest of the client, on and on to the trial.As it was in such detail, and what anybody who has read this type of book knows already, several times i was tempted to give up and stop. However, the author is such an excellent writer, the next thing I know I am fully engrossed again in what is going on.
There are a lot of characters, almost all of whom are very well developed, and while Mike leaves the firm and goes into practice as a defense attorney, I kept thinking I knew the outcome for his client.
The trial goes on in exquisite detail, and every time i think I am going to be bored, a new development pops us that keeps me reading again.
All in all, an excellent book, right up there with the best of legal authors. Especially good for a first novel. At the end of the trial, readers are bound to feel they knew the outcome, but don't be fooled, the ending is a complete and wonderful surprise.
It is a very good book. Four stars as it is not great literature, and i reserve that for only the best, but I don't see how anybody would be disappointed in the book. I recommend it.