Like most series, the plot is not very important. Each book has Mike and Rosie defending somebody who is involved in a murder. So you not only get a crime to solve. But you also get courtroom drama. Having myself gone through an unsuccessful law school career (you don't want to know!), I'm always fascinated by what goes on in court. And since Sheldon is a lawyer, the courtroom action rings true.
One of my favorite parts of all the books in this series is the humor. I have read 2 other series that combine the legal murder mystery drama with humor - Brian Haig's Sean Drummond and David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter. Sheldon's Mike and Rosie are part of that triumvirate. I appreciate an author who can make you laugh without taking away from the drama of the story. Sheldon has now done it 8 times (plus 1 David Gold detective mystery that takes place in Chicago).
There's a lot of stuff that I like about this book, along with the entire series. Let me briefly (yeah, right) list some:
1. I feel like I know the family - especially Mike, Rosie, Pete, and Grace. We get introduced to some and reintroduced to others in this book. Welcome to the clan Rolanda, Big John, Melinda, and Thomas.
2. Although this book will appeal to anybody living anywhere, I still enjoy the local references. Having lived my entire life in the Bay Area, it's fun to read about places that I know so well.
3. I am a big fan of legalspeak. And there's plenty of it. But it actually enhances the story. It's never too detailed to detract.
4. I've already mentioned the humor. Mike's asides crack me up.
5. Sheldon makes some really cool comparisons that you definitely don't see every day. Here are a couple:
-The first thing you learn as a baby prosecutor is that you always point at the defendant. It's sort
of like throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game.
-He'd worked his way up the criminal ladder in the Tenderloin on an expedited basis - sort of like
the kids who get their MBAs in a year and a half by going to summer school - except the
curriculum is different.
And then there are the ubiquitous personal connections. I know, I know. Just indulge me.
1. Mike's brother went to Cal. So did I. And I think we were there around the same time (yes, I know that his brother is a fictional character...or is he?)
2. Mike and Rosie now work for the San Francisco County Public Defender's Office. One of my sons-in-law works for the Public Defender's Office too (not SF County).
3. There is a situation in which a video taken by a random passerby affects a lawsuit. My PD son-in-law was involved in a very famous case a few years ago that happened because of a video from a random observer. You have to admit that this is more interesting than most of my personals, right?
This book has no faults (okay, Sheldon does refer to the 101 freeway as "the 101" one time. I mean, that is a Southern California nomenclature. But we will forgive him...this once). It's fun and interesting. And I strongly recommend that you start with book 1, Special Circumstances. It won't take you long to get to #8.
P.S. Sheldon is our RBC author for October. He will be coming to Recycle Books on Sunday, October 22. Get it on your calendar!