The Tortoise Shell Game, by V. Frank Asaro ISBN 9781940784496
Five out of five stars
This book is gripping, one of the few that kept me up late reading it. Only the most engaging books can do that without my needing toothpicks to keep my eyes open. The initial location is Southern California and Anthony Darren is a young lawyer with what appears to be a very bright future. He has a beautiful fiancé, a dynamic and profitable law practice and has recently been elected as president of the county bar association, the youngest one ever.
His childhood friend Joe is the owner of a tuna fishing business and he is in the process of completing a large and very sophisticated fishing boat. The banker that financed the construction is pressing Joe hard regarding his financial situation and even suggests that the best solution is to have a financially beneficial accident at sea.
In a last desperate act, Joe pretends to agree and sends the boat out on the maiden voyage with the hope of a bountiful catch that will pay the bills. He makes an agreement with the chief mechanic on board the ship for a sink/no sink code but tells the mechanic that under no circumstances will he damage the boat. Darren is Joe’s attorney and right before the launch Joe signs the paperwork to cover the new vessel.
The ship suffers an explosion and fire, sinking rapidly with loss of life. Darren had been in the process of writing a novel where the plot was almost identical to what actually happened, so this combined with other circumstantial evidence causes Anthony and Joe to be convicted of murder. Both go to prison early in the book.
The remainder is about their battles back from this major adversity. With the help of people close to them on the outside, some significant luck and the aid of the judge and prosecutor that are more interested in seeing justice than covering up mistakes, they make progress. Anthony proves to have skills extending far beyond his legal training, he becomes a writer on politics and social justice and is able to have a positive influence on global affairs.
The quality of writing in this book is first-rate, there is very little in the way of physical action, nearly all of it is psychological. Tightly wrapped with nothing that even feels superfluous, this story moves fast, one of the best written novels I have read. And they number in the thousands.