So I was asked by a good editor friend of mine if I could review a novel she’s having published next month, and I decided to review this. If you have the time after reviewing this, please be sure to order it via the link below 🙂 Thanks!
Legal dramas, whether they be on TV, film, animation or literature are practically a dime a dozen in this day and age. And who can blame us? Many people love popular media that takes place in the court room, from old movies such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ to modern ones such as ‘Law and Order’. It has become a staple of popular television and literature everywhere. However, if you are going to make your legal drama stand out, it is considered wise to make it creative and new.
Katharine Nohr’s ‘Land Shark’ is in many respects that kind of legal drama.
So what’s the story? Zana West is a newly hired lawyer that has settled in Hawaii after graduating from law school. Spending half of her free time training for triathlons and the other half focusing on not getting fired by her strict boss named Frank Gravelle. She is even more nervous when she learns her first case involves a lawsuit made by another triathlon athlete named Brad Jordan, who was left paralyzed to the waist down from a mysterious driver who ran him over during a competition.
However, there are two things that will make this difficult for Zana. One, the plaintiff’s lawyer is the infamous Hawaiian ‘land shark’ named Rip Mansfield, a cocky and mercilessly harsh prosecutor who likes to extort his client’s money for wealth and glory. And two, the defendant of the lawsuit is Zana’s TV idol (and personal crush) Jerry Hirano, who may be a victim of Rip Mansfield’s tactics and be forced to pay a $5 million settlement if he loses. Will Zana prove to herself as an effective lawyer and earn the respect of her colleagues, and will the mysterious driver of the hit-and-run car be revealed?
Does the author love to have chapters literally be hashtags?
First off, I have to give kudos to Katharine Nohr for writing a concise and well-knit story, especially since (from what I have read in her ‘About the Author’) that this is her first fictional novel outside of a sports guide. It’s often very difficult for nonfictional writers to transition into fiction, but Nohr does a very good job at telling the stories of our characters.
Zana West, granted, started off as a very average lawyer in my eyes, but I slowly started to see more of the willpower and likeability of the character. She’s polite, but has limits. She’s hardworking in both law firms and triathlons, but also yearns for more of a social life. In fact, I sympathize with her whenever she tip-toes around Frank, not knowing if she’ll be fired because she did a single typo in her reports. I relate to that 100%.
And then we have our villain: Rip Mansfield the ‘land shark’ of Hawaii law.
Rip Mansfield is a sleazy, manipulative character with a wicked sense of cunning you have to admire, and he’s possibly the biggest asshole of a lawyer you’ll ever meet in fiction. He’s a brash charmer, a selfish conniver, a lewd womanizer who literally owns a large house dedicated for one night stands, and is a vulgar scumbag that doesn’t care about his clients or women. He’s almost like the Donald Trump of the justice system (which sounds very terrifying the more I think about it).
Interesting how this highly contrasts with the likeably polite Zana who goes by the book while having a sense of determined dignity, which makes for an excellent hero and villain.
As for Brad Jordan, the plaintiff of this whole case, do not feel bad for this dude one bit. Not only is he as much of a manipulative liar as Rip is, and treats his obsessive girlfriend Heather like a wandering puppy, but he’s actually faking his paralysis in hoping of extorting a million dollar settlement. The way he treats his Heather and vice-versa is just both sad and pathetic, almost like a tragedy you’re glad to not be a part of.
As for the other side characters, they’re fine in my eyes. Frank in an enjoyable boss who doesn’t keep up with technology, Jerry’s a handsome TV star with a personal life, and Lucas (Frank’s son) is a lazy graduate of Stanford you learn to enjoy and love as the story kept moving forward. It’s also great to know terms of the legal system and how it works in different states.
Honestly, if I could think of any problems for me, it would have to be how sometimes it feels rushed when it comes to explaining the backstories of the characters, especially with Zana. They do talk about with other people, but I feel like their backstories are there because they’re there. For example, there’s a scene where Rip Mansfield is harassing Zana after an intense meeting, and she has a flashback to when she was sexually assaulted by a man similar to Rip. It’s a great scene and establishes the divide between them, but we never have another scene diving deeper. It’s only explained in only a few paragraphs, and it makes me feel like we could’ve learned more of Zana’s childhood.
However, I’m only nitpicking, since the focus of this and every other legal drama isn’t the main character’s backstories. The focus should be on the case and solving the mini-mystery. And as a first novel, it does it very well and compactly. To be fair, my only other complaint is that I could’ve read more, but I guess that’s a good thing to ask for.
I don’t have much to say other than I enjoyed reading about these characters and how the legal system worked for and against their favor. It isn’t a masterpiece or anything, but it’s still a fun legal drama with a great villain and a determined hero. Dripping with raw bureaucratic dread amid a sunny Hawaiian day, this novel does not disappoint anyone who reads the occasional legal drama. This feels like it came from an episode of Law and Order, and I like it!
Here’s a link to the website: http://writtendreams.com/category/wd-publishing/
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