I’ve discovered a new-to-me author: Scott Pratt. I just finished reading the first book in his Joe Dillard series and I’m excited. You know I love good legal thrillers and, in An Innocent Client, Scott Pratt has given me one. Now I want to read the rest of the series (there are six more) and some of his stand-alone novels too.
Scott Pratt is a writer and a lawyer living in Johnson City, Tennessee. He’s a husband and father of two college-age children. While reading An Innocent Client I couldn’t help but feel it was rather biographical. I don’t know that for a fact, It’s just a hunch.
Author: Scott Pratt
Publisher: Onyx, 2008
Genre: Legal Thrillers
Format: Audiobook, Narrated by Tim Campbell
An Innocent Client is the story of a disillusioned attorney named Joe Dillard. He practices in a small town in eastern Tennessee. Everyone in town believes he is equal to all the scumbag clients he defends.
At Joe’s core he’s an honest and ethical guy. He believes in giving his clients the best possible defense. We’ve seen this before in other legal thrillers such as the Lincoln Lawyer and the works of John Grisham. It’s tough for defense attorneys to disassociate themselves, professionally, from their clients. They all know the justice system is often messed up. They find it hard to leave.
But, Joe Dillard has a plan. He and his very supportive wife, who handles all the finances, are saving for the day he can quit. They are getting close. Joe’s one wish before he quits is to have just one client who is really innocent. He wants one where he has no doubt.
One day Joe is approached by a very savvy businesswoman. She asks him to defend one of her employees working at the “Gentleman’s Club” she owns. The night before one of the customers gave her employee a hard time, and now he is dead. The man was murdered. She’s pretty sure her employee is going to be charged with the crime. The young woman appears to be quite innocent. Could this be the one innocent client Joe is looking for?
The story is fast-paced and wide-ranging. Joe’s life is complicated and so is this case. Although I kept guessing, I did not figure it out until the end. (I like it that way.) Joe Dillard is a great character – one I felt great sympathy for. I also felt as if I understood, and greatly appreciated Joe’s wife. The two of them have a great partnership. In spite of all the ugliness present in their lives, they sincerely try to do the right thing.
All the characters were well-drawn. There was one evil client of Joe’s who was the definition of sociopath. Also, the guy who was murdered was a well-known, well-liked preacher, but even he wasn’t all that nice. If he was that good, what was he doing in a “Gentleman’s Club?”
I should warn you, this is not a squeaky-clean, no-swear-word-type mystery. It was too close to real life to do that. But then, I like stories that reflect real life and it was great being introduced to the life of Joe Dillard. His life wasn’t easy, but I liked how he managed to take charge of it. I’m going to tackle the next six books in the rest of the series, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you like a good legal thriller, try Scott Pratt’s.