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I Right the Wrongs: A Misdemeanor Man Mystery    by Dylan Schaffer order for
I Right the Wrongs
by Dylan Schaffer
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Gordon Seegerman, an assistant public defender in Santa Rita, California, is a breath of fresh air on the legal thriller scene. Far from being a superstar lawyer, he keeps his head down and does the minimum needed to get by on the job. He's a 'Misdemeanor Man', who handles petty crimes, avoiding more serious cases as he would 'the Ebola virus'. His two true passions in life are his Barry Manilow tribute band (the Mandys), and Silvie, the ex-girlfriend whom he still desperately hankers after.

Appearance wise, Seegerman is not the usual heroic figure either. This is how he describes himself - 'I'm short, stocky. My nose bulges, my ears jut, my curly hair is unruly and commonly lopsided.' He lives with his father, an ex-cop deep into early-onset Alzheimer's (a genetic flaw his son may have inherited), his alcoholic brother King and his grandfather Ferdy. The Mandys are interviewing singers to temporarily replace the gay but very pregnant and forceful Maeve, when Gordon is called by his grandfather to take the high profile case of black, eighteen-year-old, self-possessed quarterback Marcus Manners, accused of stealing a rival team's mascot dog and of marijuana possession.

Gordon gets Manners out on bail, and plans to make a deal for his client, well in time for the Mandys' trip to Vegas, where they hope to meet Manilov in person. But the plot quickly thickens to include a killing, with links back to a gang dealing drugs and the prison murder of Manners' mother many years before. To complicate the case further, the author tosses in Judge Reasoner who always treats Gordon 'like a defendant'; and an interactive Web-based virtual high school game, where students can make drug deals in real life. Personalities include a detective who was Gordon's father's closest friend, and an attractive Channel 2 reporter named Cindi Paris, each with their own agenda.

Though the mystery is a worthy one with a surprising resolution, I Right the Wrongs stands out for an unusual, anti-heroic protagonist with an amusingly wry running commentary, for example 'I feel certain not only that the other shoe is going to drop, I feel certain the other shoe is a steel-toed shit-kicker, and that it is going to land on my head.' I recommend Dylan Schaffer's engaging series to fans of Barry Manilov, as well as to anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery with a unique twist.

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