An Innocent Client by Scott Pratt is available as a Kindle unlimited selection.
All Joe Dillard wanted was to have one innocent client before he got out of the lawyer business. He planned to get out one way or another by the following year, but he wanted to end his legal career on a high note. He had been disappointed many times in his legal career. He believed that everyone deserved a good defense and he maintained the fiction that his clients were innocent. At least until he met Billy Dockery. Dillard got his client acquitted. A few months later Dockery gave him a large sum of money as a bonus; the money he stole from the woman he killed. Confidence in the system began to erode for Dillard. His faith in his profession continued to be shaken by the quality of cases he was assigned by several justices; those who hated Joe and loved to give him dodgy cases.
Then there were his personal problems. His mother was in a senior assisted home with Alzheimer’s and would remain there until she dies. On each of Joe’s visits, he could witness the steady decline in mental awareness. Joe’s sister spent a lot of time in jail. She was a druggie and a thief, would steal from anyone, and had stolen from brother Joe. She was coming out of prison soon, and Joe felt obligated to give her a place to stay in an attempt to protect her. He had been unable to protect her when they were young and had witnessed her being molested by Uncle Randolph. The molestation remained in the form of present day trauma for both Sarah and Joe. Randolph was unaffected as he had died in a swimming accident.
There is tragedy after tragedy for our hero and most people associated with him. Only Caroline, Joe’s wife is the symbol of purity and strength. She tries to help in the reformation of Sarah, help Joe overcome PTSD acquired in what may have been the shortest military campaign in US military history (Grenada), visit Joe’s mom, and help Joe overcome some of the horrible things Joe had to deal with from his clients. This last part was especially troublesome since Joe didn’t want to talk about his cases. The entire book could be about Joe and his problems, but it is not.
Scott Pratt throws in the background of Joe’s clients. Some cases are mentioned as aside anecdotes. Joe’s main case in this novel involves a murdered fallen preacher. It seems after passing the collection plate, the preacher distributes his take to needy prostitutes in return for their devotion to him for at least one night. Somebody got carried away, murdered the preacher and took his penis as a souvenir. Angel, an almost innocent stripper, is the prime suspect. Her employer, Erlene, hires Joe to defend Angle. Erlene has limitless funds and is willing to pay Joe’s fees in cash, no matter the fee. Erlene, the owner of the gentlemen’s club where Angel works, is also only semi-innocent. She doesn’t really know about the drugs some of her employees sell, but she takes a cut of the profit.
There is lots of other side action going on that keeps this novel moving at a fast pace. Maynard, a person of pure evil, somehow enlists Dillard’s legal aid to escape from jail, murder his mail-order fiancé, kill his mother, and return to jail to ask Joe’s help with the added charges.
And we haven’t even come to the surprise ending. There is one. This will keep legal thriller readers entertained for a weekend. It is a cut or two below Grisham, but still enjoyable.