Richard Dooling is the author of two previous novels, one a National Book Award nominee, and a lawyer in Omaha, Nebraska, who has written a spirited defense of free speech in the age of political correctness. He turns his knowledge of, and skills in, both areas, law and literature, to advantage in his third work about the contemporary insanity that passes itself off as normal life in the United States in the late twentieth century. Actually, the time is the early twenty-first century, for BRAIN STORM is a slightly futuristic satire.
Joe Watson is a first-year associate specializing in computer-assisted research at a prestigious St. Louis-based law firm. Watson’s ascent up the corporate law ladder via “billable hours” and “good lawyering” (i.e., “ass-covering”) is slowed, then stopped when an irascible federal judge assigns him a pro bono murder case. To make matters worse, the defendant is a loathsome racist facing the death penalty under the federal hate crime sentencing provisions, ostensibly because the victim was deaf and black but in fact because the publicity-seeking U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case is using it as a steppingstone to a Senate seat.
Watson’s “passing infatuation with criminal law, as his wife calls it,” costs him his job and very nearly his house and family. However, it pales in comparison with his infatuation with a beautiful forensic neuroscientist who offers the technologically up-to-date but...
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