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Academic politics intertwines with intrigue in Bowen novel

July 5, 2018

“Shoot the Lawyer Twice” begins with the usual disclaimer about the book being a work of fiction, but Bowen adds, “In short, don’t kid yourself: you’re not in here—I made this stuff up.” Bowen’s great imagination, wry sense of humor and erudite language create an enjoyable read.

Set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the “stuff ” Bowen made up involves Rep Pennyworth, a copyright lawyer, and his wife, Melissa Pennyworth, a college English professor. The main plot involves academic politics and intrigue.

The secondary plot centers around a legal case dubbed “sex-or-swim.”

Characters include feuding professors, the administrator of the Wilhelm Goettinger Memorial Trust in the Milwaukee School of Engineering and several attorneys with oddball personalities. The book also follows a naive student, the mother of the sex-or-swim defendant, and a newspaper man willing to intimidate his sources. No policeman shows up until the last chapters and only plays a minor role.

Plot points include the forgery of Pope Pius the Twelfth’s position on the persecution of Jews. Then following an intertwined burglary, an argument between two colleagues, murder, jury tampering, assault, suppressing evidence, and love affairs along with sorted other misdemeanors.

The dialogue and descriptions keep the book peppy and sailing along. An example in chapter fourteen is the description of one of the suspects by Melissa: “She didn’t look like she’d hit thirty yet, but something about her beyond the retro-Vogue outfit seemed distinctly un-young, almost consciously anachronistic.” Her wristwatch Melissa decides, is the problem and notes “Hoeckstra had burdened her wrist with what looked like two-thousand dollars’ worth of oversized chronometry, complete with movable, beaded bevel, four function buttons, and enough inset mini-dials to tell time from Tashkent to Toledo—the one in Spain or the one in Ohio.”

Author Michael Bowen graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and is a trial lawyer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This book may be found in the large print section of the Cabell County Public Library. Other recommended books in this series are “Screenscam,” “Unforced Error” and “Putting Lipstick on a Pig.”

“Shoot the Lawyer,” and other Michael Bowen titles are available in a variety of formats at the Cabell County Public Library.

Hazel Palmer is a Cabell County resident, book lover, and patron of the Cabell County Library.

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