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The law firm of Turner & Waters has a new associate. Jodie Waters has finally worked her way up from Stan's secretary to become a full-fledged attorney. Having great confidence in her abilities, Stan asks her to help him in the investigation of a wrongful death case. A worker in a local sweatshop has died and his family wants the owner, Icaro Melendez to pay for the crime. The problem is the Dallas Police and the FBI have closed out the case for lack of evidence. It seems like a hopeless case, but Stan reluctantly agrees to have Jodie look into it. Jodie, excited to have her first case, boldly launches into an investigation and soon finds herself working undercover as the girlfriend of one of Icaro Melendez' sons.
While Jodie and Stan are busy with the Melendez case Paula Waters takes on the defense of a young mother accused of stabbing her husband to death with an ice pick. Paula is ecstatic to get such a high profile case until she finds out her client is broke and this isn't the first time one of Maureen Thompson's husband has been bludgeoned to death with an ice pick. She learns that her client dubbed "the Ice Pick Widow" by the media survived her first murder trial due to a hung jury but wonders if she'll be so lucky this time around.
William Manchee is at it again with his tenth legal thriller, Deadly Defiance: A Stan Turner Mystery. No doubt, Manchee, who is a Texas attorney in real life, is quite familiar with the drama that can emanate from practicing law. In his latest yarn Manchee focuses on three different cases that his cast of attorneys must confront. And for those of you who are not familiar with Manchee's previous novels, his legal minds include Stan Turner, his partner, Paula Waters, and their junior associate, Jodie Marshall. As the novel unfolds, Walters takes on a case involving a woman, Maureen Thompson whose husband left her high and dry with children to support. The IRS is after her husband and as they filed joint tax returns, the wife is on the hook for her husband's IRS debt to the tune of one hundred thousand dollars. However, this is not the only mess she is in, her husband has just been murdered and Thompson has been accused of killing him with an ice pick. Coincidentally, she lost her first husband in a similar manner, however, and although she was likewise accused of the crime, she escaped conviction. Nonetheless, she has been pinned with the name of "the ice pick murderer."
The second case involves a Hispanic woman, Pandora Alvarez whose husband recently died at the age of fifty-three under very strange circumstances. Pandora believes he didn't die of natural causes but rather was murdered. He was in perfect health, he didn't drink, smoke or take drugs. The medical examiner ruled it was a drug overdose. As we are to learn, Alvarez worked for some very unsavory characters that were part of a drug cartel. Apparently, he recently reported his boss, Icaro Melendez to the Department of Labor alleging that his company, Alliance Fabrications had failed to pay overtime and employed underage children. Melendez didn't exactly welcome the accusations and threatened Alvarez for his disloyalty.
In the third case, Turner is appointed by the court as attorney ad litem on a matter of probate. Herbert J. Wolf had died in a plane crash and was survived by his wife, Glenda, but supposedly without children. It seems that the decedent did not die immediately after the crash and while he was clinging to life in the hospital, he informed several nurses and the attending physician that he had a son Mitch. He wanted them to find Mitch and bring him to him so he could meet him before he died. The problem, however, was that none of Wolf's family, which included his wife and siblings, never heard of Mitch. Nonetheless, Wolf's doctor felt obliged to inform the probate court of the possibility of an unknown heir. As a result, and as it is standard procedure to appoint an attorney ad litem for the unknown heirs of an estate during the probate process, Turner was given the task. Manchee is a very capable storyteller and is able to effectively maintain our interest throughout with his crisp no-frills style devoid of complex legal jargon. In addition, with his strong and controlled writing, he carries his three plots along with just the right amount of believability concerning witnesses, clues, and evidence... Norm Goldman