Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Probable Claus-Jon L. Breen

Probable Claus
Jon L. Breen
Five Star, Feb 2009, $25.95
ISBN 9781594147340

Philanthropist Charlie Baines enters the Baines Building after everyone but security, the cleaning crew, and his obnoxious brother Andrew is gone for the day. Later that same night he informs the guards that the police will be here soon as someone murdered his sibling and when they need to speak to him he will be at his home. Soon afterward the man called Santa Claus by so many in the city is arrested for the murder of his Grinch-brother, planning to tear down a historical site.

The defense team wants a theater like milieu with a decision at Christmas while the prosecution wants the setting more like a church with a decision a few weeks before the holidays. The defense is headed by famous trial layer Gordon Moon,; the second chair is his brother in law Vern Wagstaff; and third chair is newcomer Eve Nyquist. The prosecution is headed by WNBA star Melba “Jumping Jack” Wooten; second chair is Moon’s wife and Gordon’s sister Agnes; and third chair is Stacy Bamwanger. Complicating matters is Melba’s acrophobic boss trial deputy David Ketchum who is falling in love with Eve and Judge Marisol Estrada who used to be a maid to the Wagstaff brood. This is one trial that is all in the family.

Modernizing Miracle on 34th Street with a ficus on the lawyers, PROBABLE CAUSE is an amusing legal thriller though with all the relational cross breeding, one must wonder why the judge is even her using the Scalia argument of impartiality and much of both teams were not tossed as an appeal would have surely raised those issues. Still the cast is solid and their antics fun to follow espcially references to old movies like Miracle on 34th Street. With two late clever twists tying the players together even tighter, fans will enjoy this satirical spin of Santa and legal thrillers.

Harriet Klausner