June 19, 2005

BOOKS: I Right the Wrongs, Dylan Schaffer (2005)

Gordon Seegerman works in the Public Defender's Office in Santa Rita, California. (For "Santa Rita," you may read "Oakland," which based on the geography of the city, is surely the model for Santa Rita.) Gordon is usually assigned to misdemeanor cases, the sort of minor things that can be resolved with a simple plea bargain; beyond that, Gordon's presence in a courtroom is rarely required. And he likes it that way. The job is easy and can be coasted through without too much effort, leaving Gordon free to focus him time and energy on his real passion, which is singing with Barry X and the Mandys, a Barry Manilow tribute band.

As this book opens, it's a good time to be a Mandy; the band's just gotten a gig in Vegas the night before Manilow himself opens there, and there's a possibility that they can get him to attend their show. Work is -- as usual -- not too demanding; Gordon's been assigned to defend Marcus Manners, a high school football star, on charges of kidnapping a dog, the mascot of a rival school.

But when the wife of the dog's owner is found dead, Marcus is the most obvious suspect, and Gordon finds himself faced with the possibility of a real trial, and a high-profile one at that. Marcus's godfather and guardian, it turns out, is a Santa Rita city councilman, currently running for mayor, and the city's African-American community (stirred up by the councilman) is watching very closely to see how the justice system treats their hero Marcus.

This is Schaffer's second book about Gordon (the first was Misdemeanor Man), and he balances the legal drama and mystery with a fair amount of humor, which is somewhat unusual, and very entertaining. It's a bit too easy to figure out the identity of the actual shooter in this one -- the Law of the Unnecessary Character comes into play in a big way -- but the motive and the details of the crime were still a bit surprising. And because the book's not only about the mystery, but about Gordon's family life and the band as well, the ease of solving is less annoying here than it might be in a book that was nothing but mystery.

Charming, light entertainment.


Anonymous said...

Charming? Light? What kind of reviewer are you, anyway. I set out to write a Pulitzer winner, and you stick me in a closet with Mitch Albom et al.

Oh well, thanks for reading my books. I suppose I'll have to live with charming.

Dylan Schaffer

Keith said...

Compare you to Mitch Albom? I would never be that cruel.