Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book review, plus

By William Coughlin
A book review by Don Meyer

I picked up this book from our clubhouse, not knowing anything about it. I Googled Coughlin's name, and learned that he had written many books, and that there were a series of 4 of the Charley Sloan stories. This particular one was published in 1991, and Coughlin died in '92, so I figured that this was the last of the series. Wrong. It was the first, and the other 3 were published posthumously. I've now read what appears to be the second, and it is every bit as good as this one. I plan to read the other two in time.

Charley Sloan is a lawyer. He used to be a hotshot, big time attorney in a big city, but not any more. Alcohol was his downfall. Now he’s just getting by in a small town in northern Michigan, and he is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He’s not married now, but has been -- three times -- and he has a 19 year old daughter he has not seen in years.

A woman, Robin, he has not seen since perhaps high school shows up in his office to tell him that her husband has been murdered, and her step daughter is accused of the killing. Robin wants Charley to defend her. It seems that said husband was the owner of a firm that was the county’s largest employer, a very important man.

At first Charley is quite reluctant to take on this task. It has been several years since he last handled a high profile case, and he fears that his skills are pretty rusty. But Robin is absolutely insistent that he take the case, and refuses to take no for an answer. So Charley reluctantly agrees, and goes to the jailhouse to meet his client, Angel. It appears that she is appropriately named. She is an absolutely gorgeous 21 year old -- and she wants him to be her attorney.
Charley faces a number of obstacles. Of course the biggest is the case itself. He has little in the way of personal resources to match that of the district attorney. Though he has won difficult cases in the past, he is now unsure of his abilities. Then there is Angel herself. Lovely as she is, she exhibits virtually no signs of emotion. Is this woman stable? And finally there is his problem with alcohol. He used to “relax himself” both before and after a day in court, but he knows now that just one drink, and he will certainly be disbarred. Can he make it through the difficult preparation and the trial itself? He fears for both Angel and himself.
Some stories have surprise endings. This one has three major surprises at the end of the book.

Coughlin, who died 1992, writes in a straightforward manner, and his description of how the law works is quite understandable. Little wonder, for Coughlin himself was a former defense attorney and United States administrative judge in Detroit for twenty years A problem I have with some detective stories is keeping track of all the ins and outs of the plot. Now in its own way, Shadow of a Doubt is a detective story as Charley sorts out all of the implications of the case. But I had no trouble following this plot. And while this is a serious story, there are occasional places where I had to laugh out loud.

I highly recommend Shadow of a Doubt.
* * *
Side note: It’s raining again. The nineteenth of May. I was complaining to Cliff this morning, and he suggested I go out and do an anti-rain dance. Right.

Humor --

The Storm

They were together in the House. 
 Just the two of them. It was a cold, dark, stormy night.
The storm had come quickly, and each time the thunder boomed he watched her jump.

She looked across the room and admired his strong 
 appearance....and wished that he would take her in his 
 arms, comfort her and protect her from the storm.

Suddenly, with a pop, the power went out.... She screamed..
He raced to the sofa where she was cowering.

He didn't hesitate to pull her into his arms.

He knew this was a forbidden union and expected her to pull back.
 He was surprised when she didn't resist but instead clung to him.

The storm raged on....

They knew it was wrong...
 Their families would never understand... So consumed were 
 they in their FEAR that they heard no opening of doors... 
 just the faint click of a camera....


  1. "Rain, rain, go away
    Come again some other day
    We want to go outside and play
    Come again some other day"

    used to work for me as a kid but oddly enough, the children here don't chant it.

  2. Someone likes the icanhazcheeseburger site...!

    So, I have this patch alonside the edge of the patio that dies off this time every year. It STILL died off, all this rain notwithstanding. I'm like, you could grow, you just don't want to! I need to rip that out and redo. If only one could frog grass. (It's a knitting term.)

  3. LOL!!!!

    Thanks for the review, I like Michigan-based books, since I am a native :-}