Randy Singer's legal thrillers are always on my 'must read' list. Look for his latest, The Last Plea Bargain, available now from Tyndale House
Plea bargains may grease the rails of justice, but for Jamie Brock, prosecuting criminals is not about cutting deals. In her three years as assistant DA, she’s never plea-bargained a case and vows she never will. But when a powerful defense attorney is indicted for murder and devises a way to bring the entire justice system to a screeching halt, Jamie finds herself at a crossroads. One by one, prisoners begin rejecting deals. Prosecutors are overwhelmed, and felons start walking free on technicalities. To break the logjam and convict her nemesis, Jamie must violate every principle that has guided her young career. But she has little choice. To convict the devil, sometimes you have to cut a deal with one of his demons.
Enjoy meeting Mace & Jamie!
Mace James is a former felon (assault and battery) who experienced a jailhouse conversion, went to law school after he served his time, and was licensed to practice law (yes, it can happen). He became the law school professor who wears faded jeans to class, a black t-shirt and flip flops (every law school seems to have one).
Mace looks more like a UFC fighter than a law school professor. He has a bodybuilder’s physique, tattoo sleeves covering both arms, and is completely bald. He has a dark complexion, square chin, and a broad nose that has been on the wrong side of too many fights.
Jamie Brock is a hard-nosed young prosecutor who never plea bargains a case. Her mother was killed during a home break-in and she has devoted her life to helping victims obtain justice.
She’s athletic, headstrong and relentless. Prominent cheekbones, dark-brown eyes, a determined jaw, and short dark hair. She sees the world in black and white. In her view, Mace has sold his soul to the dark side, trying to keep death row inmates from getting what they deserve.
She works out her frustrations by running, kayaking and playing Frisbee with her black lab, appropriately named “Justice.”
Mace: a younger Bruce Willis.
Jamie: give Kiera Knightley a haircut and you’re getting there.
Strengths and weaknesses
Mace: You’ve heard the saying that whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Mace is living proof. He was convicted of assault and battery because he helped a friend in a fight (a little too effectively, it turns out). Now, he works the defense side in death penalty cases. He believes everyone is entitled to a second chance and he doesn’t give a rip about appearances. Weaknesses? He’s willing to bend the rules to get to the right result. Doesn’t trust the system. And takes every case personally.
Jamie: Strengths? She is focused, determined and doesn’t care what people think. If you are the victim of a violent crime, you want Jamie working your case because she takes it personally. Not to mention the fact that she’s lethal in the courtroom. Weaknesses? She doesn’t do nuances. There are good guys and bad guys. Period. Plus, she’s been devastated by the loss of first her mother and now her father. When your world is as black-and-white as Jamie’s world, and you learn that things are not as they seem, it can be devastating. Her other weakness—she keeps God and even her closest friends at arm’s length.
Your inspiration for the characters
As a lawyer, the inspiration for many of my stories, and my characters, comes from real life cases. The Last Plea Bargain was no exception.
On November 13, 2001, Hamilton Somerville, heir to the DuPont fortune, was found dead in his home in Orange County, Virginia. When an autopsy revealed fatal amounts of morphine and oxycodone in his blood, murder charges were filed against his second wife. I represented Hamilton’s daughters in a case against their stepmother under the Slayer Statute.
I learned a lot in that case about a daughter’s quest for justice, about the struggle to forgive your father’s killer, about restoring your father’s name.
The emotions in that case were raw and unfiltered. Even after we won back the family estate, I couldn’t get the case out of my mind.
The themes from that case became the themes of The Last Plea Bargain. Much of Jamie Brock’s personality and drive came from what I saw in the Somerville daughters. Avenging your father’s death can be a powerful motivator.
Background to the story
Jamie Brock’s mother was killed during a home break-in when Jamie was just sixteen. Driven by this, Jamie became a prosecutor who never plea bargains a case.
But when Jamie’s nemesis—the lawyer who represented her mother’s killer—is arrested for poisoning his wife, Jamie’s world is turned upside down. The lawyer, Caleb Tate, devises a way to bring the entire justice system in Atlanta, Georgia to a screeching halt. Jamie finds herself at a crossroads. One by one, prisoners begin rejecting deals. Prosecutors are overwhelmed, and felons start walking free on technicalities.
To break the logjam and convict her nemesis, Jamie must re-evaluate every principle that has guided her young career. But she has little choice. To convict the devil, you sometimes have to cut a deal with one of his demons.
Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of By Reason of Insanity & False Witness
Character spotlight on Alex Madison from Fatal Convictions
Character spotlight on Quinn Newberg from By Reason of Insanity
Character spotlight on Jason Noble from The Justice Game
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