A fast-paced thriller in the tradition of John Grisham, Joseph Finder, and John Lescroart
For Nick “Deke” Deketomis, going where angels fear to tread in waging legal battles has long been a way of life. As managing partner for one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ law firms, Deke has gone toe to toe with some of the largest corporations in the world. His firm specializes in the tough, even quixotic, cases that few lawyers would dare to take on. Like human trafficking.
Deke’s target this time is Welcome Mat Hospitality, a firm known for its truck stops and lodging throughout the United States. What Welcome Mat doesn’t advertise is the human trafficking—for sex work and slave labor—going on at many of its properties. For the sake of better profits, Welcome Mat’s ownership has turned a blind eye to this lucrative enterprise.
As invested as Deke is in the case, though, it takes on even greater urgency when the past comes calling with word that his fifteen-year-old goddaughter, Lily Reyes, is missing. When Deke learns that Lily has fallen prey to a notorious trafficker, his personal and professional worlds converge. For his goddaughter to survive, Deke must prevail not only in the legal arena but outside of it.
At the outset of Papantonio's inferior fourth legal thriller featuring Florida attorney Nick "Deke" Deketomis (after 2019's Law and Addiction), coauthored with Russell (A Cold War), Deke's 15-year-old goddaughter, Lily Reyes, is drugged in Tallahassee by her slimy boyfriend, Carlos Navarro, who passes the girl onto a sex trafficker, T o Leo, to pay off a debt Carlos owes to Leo. Deke, who's in the midst of a lawsuit against a company that operates hundreds of truck stops and motels and claims to be unaware they're being used for human trafficking, resolves to rescue Lily after learning of her kidnapping. Once Deke discovers Leo's whereabouts, he takes a reckless step that almost costs him his life and puts Lily in further jeopardy. The lawyer must adopt even more desperate measures to save her. Improbable action sequences, especially one toward the end that's straight out of a Mission: Impossible movie, dominate the plot. Mediocre prose ("The lawyer's red face bespoke his anger") doesn't help. That Papantonio's considerable experience as a successful plaintiff's attorney is nowhere in evidence will disappoint series fans. Agent: Cynthia Manson, Cynthia Manson Literary.