A preacher is found brutally murdered in a Tennessee motel room.
A beautiful, mysterious young girl is accused.
In this bestselling debut, criminal defense lawyer Joe Dillard has become jaded over the years as he's tried to balance his career against his conscience. Savvy but cynical, Dillard wants to quit doing criminal defense, but he can't resist the chance to represent someone who might actually be innocent. His drug-addicted sister has just been released from prison and his mother is succumbing to Alzheimer's, but Dillard's commitment to the case never wavers despite the personal troubles and professional demands that threaten to destroy him.
This is the first book in the Joe Dillard series of legal thrillers by Scott Pratt. It is also the first book by this author that I have ever read.
Joe Dillard is a criminal defence attorney, that is he defends murderers, thieves, drug dealers, prostitutes and rapists among others. Although he has made a lot of success in this career, he is now fed up of defending such scumbags. Having now saved a considerable amount of money, he wants to quit the legal profession permanently but before that he wishes to defend at least one innocent client.
A preacher, Rev. John Paul Tester is found murdered and mutilated in a motel room. Phil Landers, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) special agent is sent to investigate. On checking the whereabouts of the preacher, Landers finds that the victim, although a man of God, had visited a strip club the night before. From there all leads point to a young beautiful waitress, Angel, who had been seen serving the victim in the club that night. She is immediately arrested on first degree murder charges. The club's wealthy owner, Erlene, being a close friend of Angel and knowing Joe Dillard to be one of the best attorneys around, pays him a hefty sum and hires him to defend her employee.
Dillard is convinced that Angel is innocent and is prepared to use all his skills and do everything in his power to defend her. But he finds many obstacles in the way and by the end his sanity and his life are put in jeopardy on more than one occasion. Will he be able to save Angel from death row? Is she really telling all the truth? What really happened in that motel room that night?
Apart from this case, Joe has to deal with his very own demons which continually return to haunt him from the past. There are also his drug-addicted sister Sarah and his bed-ridden sick mother in the picture.
All characters in this legal thriller are richly described and the dialogue believable. Joe Dillard is a very likeable character indeed and the court sessions are always realistic but never annoying.
I really enjoyed reading this book and will surely read the rest in the series to find out how Joe Dillard's life goes on.