The Insanity Plea by Larry D. Thompson
ISBN: 9780989715478 (paperback)
ASIN: B00K60LZE4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 4, 2014
Publisher: The Story Merchant
A young nurse is savagely killed during a pre-dawn run on Galveston’s seawall. The murderer slices her running shorts from her body as his trophy and tosses the body over the wall to the rocks below. As dawn breaks, a bedraggled street person, wearing four layers of old, tattered clothes, emerges from the end of the jetty, waving his arms and talking to people only he hears. He trips over the body, checks for a pulse and, instead, finds a diamond bracelet which he puts in his pocket. He hurries across the street, heading for breakfast at the Salvation Army two blocks away, leaving his footprints in blood as he goes.
Wayne Little, former Galveston prosecutor and now Houston trial lawyer, learns that his older brother has been charged with capital murder for the killing. At first he refuses to be dragged back into his brother’s life. Once a brilliant lawyer, Dan’s paranoid schizophrenia had captured his mind, estranging everyone including Wayne. Finally giving in to pleas from his mother, Wayne enlists the help of his best friend, Duke Romack, former NBA star turned criminal lawyer. When Wayne and Duke review the evidence, they conclude that Dan’s chances are slim. They either find the killer or win a plea of insanity since the prosecution’s case is air tight. The former may be a mission impossible since the killer is the most brilliant, devious and cruel fictional murderer since Hannibal Lecter. The chances of winning an insanity plea are equally grim.
It will take the combined skills of the two lawyers along with those of Duke’s girlfriend, Claudia, a brilliant appellate lawyer, and Rita Contreras, Wayne’s next door neighbor and computer hacker extraordinaire, to attempt to unravel the mystery of the serial killer before the clock clicks down to a guilty verdict for Dan.
The Insanity Plea is a spell-binding tale of four amateur sleuths who must find, track and trap a serial killer as they prepare for and defend Wayne brother who is trapped in a mind like that of John Nash, Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind.
Combining legal thriller with tracking a serial killer, Thompson once again takes the reader on a helluva ride, right up to the last page and sentence.
Dan Little is a paranoid schizophrenic living on the streets. He used to have a wonderful career as a lawyer, had a loving wife, and a supportive family. He’s now divorced, homeless, self-medicates with alcohol, constantly hears voices, and no longer has any contact with his mother or brother. When Dan stumbles across a body on the seawall in Galveston and steals a bracelet from the body, he is arrested for the murder. His younger brother Wayne Little, an up-and-coming attorney in Houston hears the news he vows to remain dissociated with his brother until he discusses the issue with his friends, Duke, Claudia, and Rita. Once Wayne begins to look into the case, he realizes that his brother, if guilty, should not be held accountable due to his mental illness. With the help of Duke and Claudia, fellow attorneys, and computer investigator Rita, Wayne quickly comes to realize that the only hope for his brother is a plea of not guilty by reason of mental defect or the infamous insanity plea. What Wayne quickly finds out is the insanity plea in the state of Texas may not be a valid defense even with years of documentation proving mental illness. Will Wayne and his friends be able to research the senseless killing in Galveston and link it to other killings around the United States and Mexico before it’s too late?
I found The Insanity Plea to be a quick and enjoyable read. Part legal thriller and part psychological thriller, this story spotlights the problem with the mental health system in our country as well as the lack of uniformity in the use of the insanity plea. Dan’s mental illness is shown without any apologies. It shows how disturbing and destructive some mental illnesses can be on the friends and family as well as the individual. This isn’t a mystery because you know who the murderer is throughout the book, but reading about the murders and the rationale for them by the murderer was just as interesting as reading about Dan’s struggles with his disease. There are good guys and bad guys in this story (read the book to find out who the bad guy is . . . he wears the perfect disguise). All of the characters and scenarios I found to be wholly realistic. Mr. Thompson has crafted a story that kept me turning the page simply to find out what happens next (I love that in a thriller). Although there are obvious shades of grey in the legal system, The Insanity Plea, does an admirable job in showing that some of these gradations are insensible. If you enjoy reading legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, or just plan thrillers, you’ll definitely want to add The Insanity Plea to your TBR list. The Insanity Plea is the latest thriller by Mr. Thompson; I look forward to reading his previous books and hope to see more from him in the future.
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