A page-turning insight into the legal system.
The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Carol Stream, Illinois
Soft cover, pp. 372
ISBN: 978-1-4143-3321-2. $13.99. 2012.
Randy Singer’s new fiction thriller The Last Plea Bargain has an Assistant DA, Jamie Brock, and she is tough as nails with a reputation of taking no plea deals. Brock was introduced to readers in False Witness. Randy Singer has written ten legal thrillers including Directed Verdict, False Witness and By Reason Of Insanity, a 2009 Christy Nominee.
Jamie Brock’s story involves criminals who decide not to take pleas, but want to go to trial instead, thus tying up the court system. It is their choice and they exercise it. Along with this scenario, is another one about retribution/revenge for the killing of one’s mother and yet another is solving the murder of the wife of a prominent attorney. The setting is Georgia, a state with the death penalty. The style of this book is to set up a situation, such as new evidence, and then veer into another direction with medical reports and suspect reports, eventually going back to the main characters. You learn a lot and perhaps, it is too much detail. Besides Jamie Brock, there is her brother, Chris, a minister; male friend known as LA; her dog, Justice; a rough-and-tumble lawyer, Mace; Jamie’s boss, Bill Masterson; the man in jail for killing Jamie’s mother, Antoine Marshall, and the husband, Caleb Tate (also an attorney) of a dead wife, Rikki. Her death by drug overdose is suspicious.
Jamie is written as too hard-headed to be a religious person, but does listen to her brother Chris when it comes to slowing down and looking closely at everything and everyone. The storyline has Jamie waiting through appeal after appeal, for the execution of Antoine Marshall, who claims he doesn't remember killing Jamie’s mother. She does not follow the creed of Mace, a former inmate and now a lawyer, "...mercy was like air. You could not survive without it.”  Caleb Tate is under suspicion for the possible murder of his wife, Rikki and he was the one who tried to get Antoine freed. Mace is trying to help Antoine and all the while, there are murders happening connected to the entire situation. To my puzzlement, though, these murders are not investigated in the book.
The character of Jamie Brock sails through life with a single purpose---the execution of a man. This goes on and on and when the finale comes, it is pulled together in a hurry. I would have preferred less legal talk and more ending. However, The Last Plea Bargain is a page-turner and gives the reader insight to the legal system. Not only does an attorney have to know the law, but they must know how to present it, too. The book is told through the person of Jamie Brock and you do see the stress of being in a courtroom with friendly/unfriendly judges. The intricacies of the story, though, becomes a bit detailed so that when Singer brings the reader back into Jamie’s life, it is with relief. This story is based on the case of Donna Somerville who was on trial in 2002 for the murder of Hamilton Somerville,  Jr. by drugs.
Reviewed by Marie Asner
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers.