Title: The Alligator Man
Author: James Sheehan
Publisher: Center Street (Hachette)
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Acquired Via: TLC Book Tours
Roy Johnson, the former CEO of Dynatron, preyed on smaller companies, swallowing them whole and spitting them out after taking huge profits. He left Dynatron with a one hundred million dollar golden parachute before the company took a nose dive, wiping out the jobs and benefits for all its employees. When Johnson goes missing and pieces of his clothing are discovered in alligator-infested waters, it is assumed he was murdered, and he’s dubbed the Alligator Man by a New York Times columnist. Billy Fuller, a former Dynatron employee who lost everything, including his wife, is just one of many who has a motive to murder Johnson.
Kevin Wylie, a lawyer in Miami, learns that his father, legendary trial lawyer Tom Wylie whom he hasn’t spoken to in 28 years, is having surgery for cancer and may not survive. Kevin decides to visit his father in St. Albans, and hopefully, get some answers on why his father abandoned him. While there, Kevin learns that his childhood friend Billy is the chief suspect in Roy Johnson’s murder. All the evidence points to Fuller’s guilt, but both Kevin and his father believe in Billy’s innocence. They decide to reunite to fight the courtroom battle for Billy’s life.
James Sheehan’s THE ALLIGATOR MAN (Hachette Book Group/Center Street; October 2013) is a story of corporate greed and corruption that unfolds within the four corners of a courtroom. In a review of Sheehan’s debut novel, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue, Booklist praised it as “not only a top notch legal thriller, [but] also a moving story about love, guilt, personal redemption and friendship.” In his inimitable style, Sheehan has once again rendered a top-notch legal thriller that is also a compelling tale about love, loss, and family bonds—and just how strong those bonds can be.
“It is not only the development of each character’s individual story but Sheehan’s ability to compel his readers to care about them that sets this book apart from other legal thrillers.” — Library Journal
“Sheehan weaves a father-son reconciliation melodrama into a Florida courtroom clash sparked by murder and corruption…Fun stuff.” — Kirkus Reviews
I'm not usually one for legal thrillers or crime novels, but I had a bit of an ulterior motive for reading The Alligator Man. No, it's nothing sinister - I'm now responsible for the adult material at my library branch, and I have to Know Things. I will say this, I now know that The Alligator Man is an awesome book that makes me a little more open-minded about reading outside my normal genres.
There are quite a few characters in The Alligator Man, but they all have quite a lot of depth and all serve a purpose in the unraveling of the plot (which is great). Kevin Wylie, the main character, is a criminal defense attorney who discovers that his law firm is somewhere that doesn't fit his moral code. After being threatened by his corrupt boss and fired, he is called to see his dying father for the first time in 28 years. Watching that relationship progress over the course of the novel was fairly awesome. I also liked Carlisle Buchanan, the Gladestown auxiliary officer because who doesn't like smart swamp rats?
As for the plot of The Alligator Man itself and how it all unfurls is nothing less than fabulous. The good guys and bad guys are pretty cut and dry, but I didn't see the final reveal at the end. It's hard to put one past me, so let that speak to the intelligence of the writing in the novel.
The Alligator Man is definitely a book worth adding to any library, even though it may not be in a genre you normally read. Good writing and great characters can make any book worth reading, and they definitely made The Alligator Man shine. I hope there will be more books featuring Kevin Wylie.
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About the Author
Born and raised in New York City, Sheehan moved to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend Stetson Law School and was a practicing trial attorney in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for 30 years. He is now the Director of the Tampa Law Center at Stetson University College of Law and is also a Visiting Professor of Law. Sheehan is the author of three acclaimed legal thrillers, the bestselling The Mayor of Lexington Avenue, The Law of Second Chances and The Lawyer’s Lawyer.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.