The Last Chance Lawyer (Daniel Pike #1), by William Bernhardt

Eight stars

The legal thrillers penned by William Bernhardt never cease to grab the reader’s attention. This debut novel in a new series has all the elements of a powerful courtroom drama mixed with the social issues of the day, sure to fire up all who take the time to read it. Daniel Pike is a lawyer who puts justice before all, meaning that he is invested in any client who is able to pay. After some courtroom antics sees a sketchy client waltz through a loophole, Pike is pleased and the payout is forthcoming. His law firm does not hold as loose a set of morals and he is tossed out on his ear. However, he is not unemployed for long, when a mysterious message is sent for him to meet at a nondescript location. Less a law firm than a relaxing place for the inner child to enjoy themselves, Pike is surprised when he is offered a position with the ‘Last-Chance Law Firm’, which specializes in helping those who are at the end of their legal rope. Pike tosses caution out the window and agrees to sign on the dotted line, more curious than anything. His first (and only) case is to help a young girl whose immigration status is a little grey, though deporting her back to her country of origin could mean certain disaster. A guardian is set to take her in and Pike must get the wheels rolling on the adoption. However, no sooner is the ink dry on the application to adopt, the guardian is fingered for a killing during a gangland massacre on the tough Florida streets. Feigning ignorance, Pike must presume his new client is innocent, even while the murder weapon appears in her backyard. Knowing a young girl’s safety rests on getting his client off for the murder, Pike uses all his resources to help a woman who awaits certain death if she is convicted. If ever there was a last-chance situation for two clients, this would be it. When the case is expedited and heads to trial, Daniel Pike kicks it into high gear and faces the greatest adversity he has ever encountered, but he cannot let his own fears serve as a hurdle. He must present the best defence he can. A stellar debut by William Bernhardt, full of legal intrigue and passionate advocacy for the immigration issues in America today. Recommended to those who love all things courtroom related and with a passion for the underdog.

I have long loved the legal and courtroom thrillers that William Bernhardt has penned, which are full of humour and intensity. While he has taken some time off to work on his teaching of new writers, it is always a pleasure to see when he is able to work on his own craft and provide his fans with something to read. Daniel Pike is a wonderful protagonist and someone who will certain continue to grow on series fans, provided that Bernhardt offers up more of the same. One who loves to work on his own timetable, Pike forges ahead with justice as his impetus, no caring who is paying his fees, as long as he feels a wrong needs advocating. He is not a ‘kick you in the shins’ type, but will not stand back and let the justice system dictate the rules. Witty and domineering in the courtroom, Pike takes no prisoners as he tries to get to the bottom of every witness’ narrative to shape the larger story. The rest of the last-chance lawyers prove to be an interesting collection of legal minds, with their own quirks that will surely push this series forward for as long as Bernhardt desires. The characters mesh together effectively and play off one another with ease. Their passion for the law is apparent, even if it is sometimes buried under layers of chicanery. The secondary characters help to make this a wonderful legal thriller, full of just the right conflict and pressure to find justice amongst all the testimony. There is also a a strong push by Bernhardt to highlight some of the issues with the current immigration situation, reactivated by the current US Administration. One would have to be daft not to see the social commentary found within the pages of this book, though it does not overshadow the wonderful writing that Bernhardt is known to use when telling a story. The narrative is crisp and the dialogue on point, allowing the reader to relax and enjoy, while remaining astute to all that is going on. I cannot wait to see what else Bernhardt has in store for readers with this series. What a treat awaits those who liked this debut!

Kudos, Mr. Bernhardt, for another wonderful novel. I can see much potential here and await news on the next novel.

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