Marine One by James W. Huston
So legal thrillers are new to me. I read Presumed Innocent back when I was in college, but that’s as far as she goes. So this was a bit of a stretch, and I have to say it turned out well. Mr. Huston can spin a suspenseful tale, and throughout the book he had me wondering how things would pan out. So far, so good.
I actually saw the title of this book and got all excited, thinking it would be about a fictional president and a pilot of Marine One—both titillating topics. And those two guys appear here, but they both die on page 1. (I actually put the book down at this point, thinking it would be painful to read more. But I persevered. What strength of character! Give this woman a cupcake.)
The hero here is a lawyer—and former Marine pilot—named Mike Nolan. He’s a barracuda of a lawyer, but he’s likeable anyway because he’s on the right side of things. The interesting thing here is that Nolan is an attorney for the helicopter manufacturer, which is being made out to be the big bad foreign company whose malfunctioning helicopter killed the president. You almost have to dislike the corporate attorney who’s opposing the attorneys for the widows. I mean, really.
But of course Nolan, who narrates the story, is the good guy and we know it from the start. There were some things here that surprise the reader: for example, the way Nolan holds back key evidence from everyone until the very end of the trial. It felt rather Perry-Mason-contrived to me, I have to confess. But I also was turning the pages like a mad fiend, so the author was doing something right.
I was on high alert for puke-y female characters, and there were none. There was just one moment when the hard-nosed female attorney, a former Navy officer, confesses to her colleague that she’s aching to have a baby. For the love of Mike (no pun intended). As if she would talk about that at the office. We didn’t hear Nolan saying that he wished he could spend more time with his kids, did we? (I didn’t even realize he had any until near the end, when there was a mention of the wife seeing them off to school.) OK, rant over.
Overall, this was darn good entertainment. I’ll give it a thumbs-up.