SIDEBAR Fall 2019 - 14

MONTGOMERYBAR.ORG

BOOK REVIEW:

The Good Lawyer
by Thomas Benigno
Review By Jules J. Mermelstein, Esq.

T

his first novel by lawyer Thomas
Benigno is a legal thriller, a
page-turner whose pages you
will turn faster the further you read.
The front matter has the required, "Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, is coincidental." However, when
one notices "This novel is inspired by a
true story," and that Mr. Benigno, like
his protagonist Nick Mannino, worked
for Bronx Legal Aid and never lost a trial
there, one wonders how much of this Mr.
Benigno lived and how much was created
for the novel.
In short, this story encompasses the
worst nightmares of criminal defense
attorneys. There are lying and truthful
clients, neither of which are dealt with
properly by the criminal justice system.
There is the loss of composure in court
against a judge who has decided the guilt
of one client without any evidence. There
is violence and threats of violence.

14 SIDEBAR

The two main cases dealt with in The
Good Lawyer are one involving a school
aide accused of molesting three young
boys and another involving an alleged
serial rapist and murderer of a police
officer's baby. There are complaining
witnesses, some of whom recant. And
there is the ever present memory of
getting a rapist acquitted in a jury trial.
Readers of SIDEBAR will probably
find Nick's professional experiences,
misgivings, and mishaps the most
interesting parts of this novel. However,
Mr. Benigno throws in an enjoyable cast
of characters who enhance the story.
These include Nick's mobster uncle,
a reporter Nick gets friendly with, a
wealthy Manhattan assistant district
attorney Nick falls in love with, the best
friend of the wealthy ADA who looks
remarkably like the ADA, a wonderful
secretary with a daughter who has
leukemia, and a loving mother, just to
name a few.

Snaking plot changes occur. A couple
were obvious to this reviewer but most
were surprising. There are scene changes,
in and out of courtrooms, and around
various boroughs in New York. There is
even a visit to the wealthy ADA's parents'
Atlanta home, complete with nine
bedrooms and looking from the outside
like Tara from Gone with the Wind.
In fact, there are so many plot zigzags
that this reviewer is having trouble
describing any plot point in the novel
without giving away something that
happens later. So this book review will end
up being the shortest one this reviewer
has ever written (I don't hear cheering out
there, do I?).
Recommendation: Read this novel,
especially if you are a criminal defense
attorney.


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SIDEBAR Fall 2019

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