Two Suspects: A Legal Mystery (2018) – Gary Sherbell

Title: Two Suspects: A Legal Mystery
Author: Gary Sherbell
Date published: 2018
Publisher: Wordwooze Publishing
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer: This copy was kindly sent to me by the author Gary Sherbell in exchange for an honest review.

Based on the stage play by the same name, Sherbell wrote this novella based on his own work, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the author himself. With a background in law as a Legal Aid Defender in New York, as well as an Administrative Law Judge for over 20 years, Sherbell is certainly qualified to write this well-researched and intriguing mystery.

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The story seems simple enough, but turns complicated as our protagonist New York public defender Alan Goldman takes on the case of 22 year old John ‘Johnny’ Jones who is under suspicion for burglary. He claims innocence and Goldman believes him. With a pregnant girlfriend and a polite and unassuming disposition, Johnny doesn’t seem the guilty type, and very soon Goldman and Jones are on such friendly terms that Jones offers to do Goldman a favor one day that will end in Jones being accused of burglary once again, this time with assault piled on top of it. The robbery takes place at the apartment building of Goldman’s good friend Tim Wilson, who kindly offered to let him stay while he recuperated from a mild surgery. Despite the fact that Jones was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that all the evidence seems to point to him being guilty, Goldman refuses to believe it.

Joining Goldman in the quest to prove Jones’ innocence is Tim’s ex-girlfriend, Cathy Collins, a Litigator whom Tim mockingly refers to as the ‘ambulance chaser’. Meanwhile Assistant District Attorney Gina Gomez is playing on the other side of the fence, and has managed to rope in Goldman’s friend Tim Wilson, who just so happens to be a corporate lawyer, to prove Jones’ guilt. Tim has his own reasons for needing Jones to be guilty, and is not exactly delighted with Goldman for spending so much time with his ex. As the investigation proceeds the complicated relationships between the main players almost seem to eclipse the main concern: is Jones capable of the burglaries?

As legal politics become entangled with sexual politics, a mystery man in a red shirt becomes the second suspect, and suddenly all is not what it seems. Sherbell’s legal drama becomes a mystery in its own right, making use of common tropes found in both genres. Despite its short length, this novella of sorts is well-written, articulate and extremely entertaining. With an ethnically diverse cast that embraces the equally diverse stage it is set – New York City – Sherbell manages to achieve a weighty plot in a mere 107 pages. This achievement is so significant that I would be remiss if I did not express the desire to read more legal adventures involving upstanding Alan Goldman, playboy Tim Wilson, feisty Gina Gomez and ballsy Cathy Collins who are all responsible for raising the ‘ruthless lawyer’ stakes. A fantastic read!

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