Monday, November 10, 2014

Linda Rocker's Casey Portman Series Just May Be the Real Inside of the World's Legal System... Let's Play the Blame Game!

Luke Anderson and Casey Portman had been a couple for nearly two years and it would be safe to say that just about everyone who worked in law enforcement or in the court system in Palm Beach County knew about the relationship. So far, no one other than a mean-spirited woman in the Clerk's office had taken offense at the notion that the Sheriff was involved with a bailiff at the courthouse, a situation that could give rise to some "pillow talk" about pending cases. But then everybody knew that this particular clerk, Maggie, was a bitch on wheels. Casey knew this better than most, having had a run-in with her that culminated in Maggie taking over her job for a few days...

Starting this review with the main character seemed like the thing to do, especially since she is, herself, caught up in the sights of a hired killer who decides he likes the looks of Casey and wants a little action... When she doesn't agree, he does some major damage that puts her in the hospital in critical condition...

She and Luke had an argument that had not been settled before he had to leave town... Well, let's just say that things smoothed out between them by the end!

A Casey Portman Novel
By Linda Rocker

I think one of the most used feelings we human have is the need to place blame. I know I am just as guilty as anybody... To balance that out, I have through the years done my best to "know thyself" and, ultimately, even if not immediately, accept when I have been at fault or partially to blame. When we are able to stop and do this, we are able to settle situations in our minds and accept... But given the role of the legal system in today's world, we all know that Blame is, perhaps, the ultimate issue behind most law cases.

IT IS NOT true, as some observers of the human drama postulate, that blame is the handmaiden of punishment. The two are barely on speaking terms, especially in a court of law. The on-again, off-again connection between fixing responsibility for bad behavior, and devising a suitable punishment for such conduct, has bedeviled scholars of criminal law for centuries. It has also perplexed more than a handful of theologians and philosophers. It is not surprising, therefore, that the death of a young man, ostensibly in his prime, and for no apparent reason, has aroused the passions of residents of the Palm Beaches as they cast about searching for the source of this villainy...

Linda Rocker hooked me on her first novel so I was very happy to have the opportunity to read her again. While this novel has a much more serious set of issues, there is still the underlying humor that Rocker displays--you can almost see her sitting back with somewhat of a smirk and whispering, "OMG, will it never end???"

She also has a little tidbit which I came to look forward to. At the end of each chapter, she baits the reader with some hint of what's coming:

Myrna wasn't clairvoyant, but this time her premonitions were pretty good...

I immediately got in the habit of trying to guess what was going to happen...Soon each chapter flies by and you realize the book is finished! LOL Wonderful!

Sooooo, we're going to play the Blame Game, because if I'm right, nearly every character is this book is playing...

First, we have a young man who is involved with a young woman. They are in love and plan to get married... He is prescribed medication for pain and gets hooked... His girlfriend finally gets tired of his sleeping all day, doing drugs, and calls him on it, walking out... Said young man decides to kill himself, drinking and drugging to do it. Before he goes completely out, he realizes that he didn't write a note blaming his girlfriend for not supporting him in his time of need...

When they find him, the girlfriend blames herself for not being there for him... yeah, right, keep up the codependency he was demanding...

Because he, of course, was getting support from his mother. So when he died, Mrs. Klausner, starts blaming just about everybody... Finally, through legal advisers, she hones in on the doctor who prescribed the pills...

"Hey Guys, heads up.
This is Luke Anderson's
girlfriend and she's hurt
"Luke Anderson," was all
Casey heard, but it was
enough to make her cry out
in pain, an emotional pain
so deep that it hovered at
the edge of her rib cage, at
her very center. I'll never
see him again she thought,
and it's just as well. Who
would want me after this?
Now, of course the first individual she blamed was the girlfriend! And, of course, the girl's mother blamed him...

Once the detectives arrived, Simon could go back to the station and write the incident report, a seemingly benign name to describe an event that ended in someone's death. He looked over at Mrs. Klausner and immediately regretted it. The woman returned his gaze and said in response to no one. "I knew it> I knew it and I begged him to end it. That girl was poison. Just like the mother. Vipers! They killed my son." Her husband reached over and squeezed her shoulder. "Be Quiet, Myrna, don't talk like that. That's crazy talk. Couples break up all the time and they don't kill themselves over it."

Then we find out that said viper is pregnant. Her mother immediately blames her for getting pregnant and sends her away from home, even though it will soon become openly known. So while she's living with relatives, going to college and babysitting once in awhile. Mrs. Klausner finds out and files another legal case demanding that they be given rights to the child--who, at this moment in the planning, is supposed to be given up for adoption...

Meantime, our main character Casey has blamed her lover, Luke, for, frankly, being very clumsy in hoping to propose to Casey and take her with him while he is scheduled to teach in Australia. Casey gets all hyped up when he's saying the wrong things first and she blows up, blaming him for leaving her without first talking... ! Luke walks out the door and prepares to leave on his trip...
"Unless we advertise for some very
dumb, very naive jurors, nobody is
going to swallow this horseshit,"
pronounced his assistant, Monica
Whitehead. "This will be my first
murder One case and if my reading
is right, it's likely to be my last.
Whoopee, Charlie, and thanks for
She was right, of course, he conceded
to himself. The case had smelled from
the start. In fact, his predecessor
had taken the courageous step of
calling in the mother of the victim
and telling her point blank that there
was no case..."
This by the way, is an assistant
blaming the prosecutor...LOL

Casey's Judge boss blames Casey for being depressed and missing work--after all she wasn't there with her first cup of coffee to which she is addicted...and of course for working along with her...

Then there's Pleasure, a local "house-mother" who is expected to testify on behalf of the court, with, of course, the criminal blaming her...And when he blames somebody, he sends somebody else to ensure she doesn't testify... Which is up to Flip Spezia, the scumbag who is in town to kill Pleasure... And, while trying to set that up, he's the guy that puts his grimy hands on Casey! Casey and Pleasure are both looking to place their blame right where it belongs!

Then it really gets bad, because the prosecutor is thinking of running against the Judge and he's taking Mrs. Klausner's case very seriously against the doctor...whether the doctor deserves the blame or not!

There you have it readers...Lots more action but you can't get around it... Laying Blame on somebody takes a lot of time and effort... Doing something about it sometimes leads to murder! And, thankfully, we have some good judges, such as the author, who works hard to make sure that blame is not placed on the wrong individual! This overview doesn't even begin to tell you about the chaos, disorder and insanity, albeit, temporary sometimes, that surrounds each of those who dare to play the Blame Game....

If you think the legal system is a farce, read Rocker--she might not entirely disagree with you but she's quite willing to allow us into that inner realm and help see the humor behind the very real efforts to make the system work... Highly recommended!


Linda Rocker has been in the center of the action since she graduated college with a degree in English. When she wasn’t teaching, she was leading “teach-ins” against the war, writing and publishing poetry and music and joining the fight for civil rights and women’s access through politics. Law school and practice opened the door to professional success and to new opportunities, including arguments before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed to Ohio’s Common Pleas Bench, she served as a trial judge for a number of years and has continued to hear cases as a retired Judge. A prolific writer, many of her legal opinions have appeared in print, along with articles in local bar association magazines.
Rocker has been honored as a leader, a fighter for equal rights, and an advocate for the homeless. She has been recognized by Who’s Who in American Women, Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People and The Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame to name just a few.
Rocker’s first novel, Punishment (2012), began her trilogy of legal thrillers about Casey Portman, a bailiff in West Palm Beach, Florida. A well-received collection, Clean Margins and Other Stories, followed in 2013. Blame, her second Casey Portman novel, was published on November 1, 2014.

Rocker and her husband travel widely and spend time in Cleveland, Florida and Chautauqua, New York.

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