The Neon Lawyer by Victor Methos: Book Review

What is this about?: Less a courtroom drama and more a character examination and laying the foundation for the lead character, this proved to be an oddly satisfying read, but admittedly annoying in some ways.

What else is this about?: The case of Amanda Pierce, who killed the man who murdered her daughter. In broad daylight, with witnesses and then she surrendered. Thing is, the whole book is based on true events, so I wonder about the real Amanda Pierce, and if she exists.

Blurb: With money and hope in short supply, newly minted attorney Brigham Theodore decides it’s time to lower his standards. He joins a seedy fly-by-night firm in Salt Lake City out of desperation. After he loses his first case—a speeding ticket—he’s convinced his career is over. But to his shock, his boss hands him a slightly more complex case: capital murder.

Brigham’s new client is Amanda Pierce, a lost, exhausted woman who gunned down the man who tortured and killed her six-year-old daughter. A jury may prove sympathetic to her unbearable pain, but the law is no fan of vigilante justice—and neither is Vince Dale, the slick and powerful prosecutor who’s never lost a murder case. There’s no question that Amanda pulled the trigger—she did it in front of five witnesses. If she pleads guilty, she will avoid a death sentence, but saving her life this way comes with an admission that what she did was wrong. However, if she refuses the “guilty” label, Brigham will have no choice but to fight for his career—and Amanda’s life.

Stars: 3.5/5

First up, Brigham Theodore. That’s an actual character’s name in a book, and I wonder if it might be the most pretentious name any character has ever been saddled with. EVER. If you have a contender, I’d seriously like to know.

On the plus side, Brigham is a good guy, about the most unpretentious lawyer you might ever come across. The book opens on the day he is sworn into the bar, and then rushed back to work as a janitor. Kind of like The Firm where a very young Tom Cruise tells his interviewers he has to go back to work as a waiter – I read the book, but I can’t remember if that scene actually happened in it.

Brigham, in a case of blinding naivety or blinding hopefulness, takes his CV and cold calls every firm he can trying to find a job as a lawyer in a market saturdated with lawyers. He eventually ends up at a firm called TTB – Tommy Two Balls. No really. Tommy is Russian bulldog of a man running a successful law firm and bail bonds business that he uses to work for him and the lawyers in his firm. The two businesses feed off each other, while Tommy deals with the larger clients we never really see.

Brigham loses his first case before he’s saddled with the Pierce case and comes face to face with his worst nightmare: a client who makes him question why he is a lawyer. Amanda is broken by the death of her daughter Tabitha, drifting in the story like a wraith. Amanda killed her daughter’s murderer, there’s no way to deny that, but the author manages to avoid emotional cliches as the book progresses. Brigham is the one that grounds her, that believes in her when all she sees and feels is grief. Despite how intimidated he feels, he takes on her case, determined to do right by her.

Like I said, this isn’t a case about twists and turns, and courtroom drama – it’s straightforward emotion, with the author playing with yours and Brigham’s sympathies. And I found I didn’t mind it, I didn’t even mind the cantankerous judge and the annoying prosecutor, so smug and full of himself. There’s a BFF for Brigham, Scotty, who is so anxious he doesn’t really do cases, and Molly, the gorgeous love interest, which – and this frigging annoys me – is just smart enough not to be weird, according to Brigham. Frankly, I would have liked to have seen more of her intelligence rather than her cheerleading Brigham through his case, but I did keep in mind this is the first in a series. (However I will be ditching this series if that whole smart/beautiful thing comes up again. There’s enough of that shit going around in real life that I do not want it in my reading.)

Overall, an unexpected, quiet book that was more emotional and satisfying in some ways than I expected. Based on a true story, I am still wondering about the characters and the case or parts of the case that are real.

What is the last legal eagle book you read and loved? Which legal eagle writers should I be reading?!

4 Comments

  • I don’t really read a lot of legal books, but I am curious about this one. I really like the case the lawyer has to fight. It’s intriguing. Not so black and white.

  • Sophia Rose says:

    Had to chuckle over the name. There’s a lot of ‘Brigham’ going on around in that area as well as several other LDS pioneer leaders. I noticed it when my folks moved there with the Air Force.

    Oh, this story does sound like one that would intrigue me. I fell in love with the character development/lega dramas of Grisham years ago.

    Enjoyed your review, Verushka.

  • Brigham Theodore and Tommy Two Balls…I’m dying. ?

    I don’t read a lot of legal thrillers (or any, really) but I have read a couple books each from some of the bigger names to make sure that my recommendations at work are solid. I quite enjoyed Lisa Scottoline, who approaches legal thrillers with an arch tone and incorporates solid romantic subplots!

  • Lola says:

    It sounds very well written with how it manages to have a lot of emotional impact and be a quiet book at the same time. I don’t think I’ve read any legal books like this, but the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong has a character whose a lawyer.

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