The Case against William by Mark Gimenez

I first read Mark Gimenez’s “The Governor’s Wife “. It was a book picked at random during browsing a store three years back. I immediately cottoned on to him and read the rest of his books like “Accused, The Common Lawyer, The Colour of Law and Abduction “without any delay. All his books gave me an uncommon look at the whole border area of Texas; different from other authors who generally like to base their books in the region they are most comfortable in dealing, usually around New York or Washington. It goes without saying that as a lawyer, Mark’s portrayal of characters from his perspective is very incisive. His characterization is spot on and he builds up the scenario nicely though slowly at times.

Sports novels/ movies have fascinated me always and that genre is getting written about only recently. I have my family members in the States who enthusiastically talk about various games like American football and baseball, alien to us Indians but, it is still nice to follow them. As my friend once said “Sports is sports:” and we can never ignore it. The pure pleasure of following ball-games especially, if you can understand them, gives you a thrill like no other. This novel ideally combines sports and a legal drama, cleverly interlinking the two in a very simple way and easy to follow. We have all heard about O.J Simpson and his infamous trial for being involved in a major crime. That, he is a former Heisman trophy winner, puts him in a very rare category of people. The highest honour in college football is not something to be taken lightly, as all games are played at the highest level in USA and it should be very very tough to reach the ultimate heights. This novel is about a college Heisman trophy winner who is indicted and arrested for rape and murder.

The story-line starts in a typical Texas home of Frank Tucker who is a fairly successful lawyer with a multi-million dollar house in a downloadtypically posh locality, home to the in-crowd of Houston with a beach-house in Galveston. William grew up with his sister and a society–conscious mother in the prosperous River Oaks area. Frank was a good, doting dad, proud of his son and his achievements and determined to see him succeed. He spent quality time bonding with him and as much as possible as a dad, guiding him. William grows up to his full potential both physically and mentally till he was a 6’5” 235 pounds strapping youngster. He succeeds phenomenally in football and his ambition is to win a national football championship to go with his Heisman trophy. The amount of training, diet inputs and coaching methods are inspiring. We understand what it takes to become a true champion. He takes it for granted that he would be a first-pick draft choice on completion of his college, when he turns pro. Father and son build up a wonderful relationship based on shared dreams. It is heartwarming to read some of the portions pertaining to it. Frank has a habit of defending only innocent accused as per his creed and then uses all his knowledge and skills to get his client off. Unfortunately one of his former clients, whom he had got off, committed the same crime under similar circumstances and when Frank confronts his client, he is shocked to learn that he is and was guilty on both occasions. Unable to bear the burden of his guilt, he hits the skids binge drinking till his legal practice goes down the tubes. His family life is also ruined with his wife divorcing him to marry another Texas billionaire. He lives separately in Galveston as a beach-bum long with his dog and a nice group of friends –an ex-con, an ex-cop and an ex-football coach. Meanwhile William grows up to be overwhelming success and without his dad to guide him, he has an unhealthy inflated opinion of himself. Just before a crucial college game, he is arrested and booked for rape and murder. His tries all his known associates till he has no alternatives but to call his dad whom he thinks of as  a loser.

Frank loves his son without any qualms and goes to his help. How he goes off drinks, exercises and uses his considerable skills along with his three friends to get his son freed just in the nick of time, makes a beautiful story. The combination of Frank and his four friends who all use their old skills and connections to support Frank is hilarious and fabulous. The last scene when William spends time with his freed son on a beach is poignant without being mushy.

The story-line is simple, the language compelling and the feel-good factor is immense. Mark Gimenez is right on target with this book and without any hesitation, I would say it’s a must-read.

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