Author: James Sheehan
Published: October 2013
Publisher: Center Street
Genre: Legal Thriller
Roy Johnson, the former CEO of Dynatron, preyed on smaller companies, swallowing them whole and spitting them out after taking huge profits. He left Dynatron with a one hundred million dollar golden parachute before the company took a nose dive, wiping out the jobs and benefits for all its employees. When Johnson goes missing and pieces of his clothing are discovered in alligator-infested waters, it is assumed he was murdered, and he’s dubbed the Alligator Man by a New York Times columnist. Billy Fuller, a former Dynatron employee who lost everything, including his wife, is just one of many who has a motive to murder Johnson.
Kevin Wylie, a lawyer in Miami, learns that his father, legendary trial lawyer Tom Wylie whom he hasn’t spoken to in 28 years, is having surgery for cancer and may not survive. Kevin decides to visit his father in St. Albans, and hopefully, get some answers on why his father abandoned him. While there, Kevin learns that his childhood friend Billy is the chief suspect in Roy Johnson’s murder. All the evidence points to Fuller’s guilt, but both Kevin and his father believe in Billy’s innocence. They decide to reunite to fight the courtroom battle for Billy’s life.
James Sheehan’s THE ALLIGATOR MAN (Hachette Book Group/Center Street; October 2013) is a story of corporate greed and corruption that unfolds within the four corners of a courtroom. In a review of Sheehan’s debut novel, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue,Booklist praised it as “not only a top notch legal thriller, [but] also a moving story about love, guilt, personal redemption and friendship.” In his inimitable style, Sheehan has once again rendered a top-notch legal thriller that is also a compelling tale about love, loss, and family bonds—and just how strong those bonds can be.
Author James Sheehan must have been an incredible lawyer, never giving up, leaving nothing out, no effort too big. At least that is how I felt after reading his newest legal thriller The Alligator Man, an engrossing novel edging into the same class as John Grisham's, but with less legal jargon.
The Alligator Man begins with a man's late evening walk down a road bordered on either side by swampland "owned" by the alligators. It's a clear night in this small Florida town. No lights nor traffic on the road as the man walked it. Then a car approaches, crosses the lane, hits the man and takes off. The next day, a wife reports her husband missing.
The missing man (heretofore to be known as The Alligator Man) has numerous enemies. But one man, a former employee of the missing man's company is in town. He's lost so much...his job, his pension, his insurance, his wife, and now his home all because of the alligator man. He has motive and opportunity and now Billy (William) Fuller is being tried for the murder of Roy Johnson (a "gazilllionaire" aka The Alligator Man), his former boss and owner of Dynatron which collapsed into bankruptcy, leaving its more than twenty thousand employees destitute.
Billy hires Kevin Wylie, a trial attorney whom he knows from his years as a teen. Defending Billy with a somewhat hostile judge, a beautiful prosecutor, and death threats is a daunting task but Wylie leaves no stone unturned nor does Carlyle Buchanan, the "sheriff's man in Gladestown". Fortunately for Wylie, Carlyle believes in the case and in justice and his motives are not only professional.
With an amazing, jaw-dropping twist of events as the story climaxes and the trial comes to conclusion, Sheehan hasn't finished pulling the punches. He could have left the story there, for the reader to imagine the ending, but he doesn't. Sheehan doesn't like loose ends, not in his written work and I suspect not as a former trial attorney. Two to three chapters from the end, I thought the story was complete but it wasn't. It wrapped up only after every thread was tied, every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed. Voracity, patience and endurance are evident in his writing. How could he have been any different in his career?
James Sheehan preceded the publication of The Alligator Man with three legal thrillers The Mayor of Lexington Avenue, The Law of Second Chances and The Lawyer's Lawyer. Being awed by The Alligator Man, I must now read his previous works and I know you will too once you've read The Allligator Man.
Meet the Author:
Born and raised in New York City, Sheehan moved to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend Stetson Law School and was a practicing trial attorney in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for 30 years. He is now the Director of the Tampa Law Center at Stetson University College of Law and is also a Visiting Professor of Law. Sheehan is the author of three acclaimed legal thrillers, the bestselling The Mayor of Lexington Avenue, The Law of Second Chances and The Lawyer’s Lawyer.
To connect with James, visit his website,Jamessheehanauthor.com.