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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Dennis Carstens

I've discovered a new legal mystery author. Dennis Carstens. I downloaded a six box set of his stories from Amazon Unlimited. When I was done with them I downloaded his remaining 3 books. It took some time to get through them all. I don't want to review all nine and I doubt if you would try to read them. I'll sum up his books.

Mark Kadella the attorney/protagonist is a struggling one shingle lawyer. His main point is that most attorney's have a hard time paying the rent, employee salaries, and the cost of covering the costs of providing a service to clients when some of them don't pay. The setting for these books is Minneapolis/Saint Paul.

I have an affinity with the first few of these books. After retiring from teaching I worked for general council attorney. He handles civil cases, divorces, writes wills, and on a rare occasion criminal defense. I know how much he struggles to keep his practice profitable. Some months and years are good and some the well runs dry. 

The first book Carstens mentions an IRS case that he includes, but it was a personal one and real. The rest are fiction. This case is fascinating reading.
Mark Kadella in the rest of the books has defendants running the gamut from serial killers to a cop tried for murder shooting a suspect, a judge accused of murdering his wife, to a soldier charged with treason. Some of the cases he wins and some he loses. This is not a Perry Mason type of legal mystery series of stories. Each book has a wicked twist at the climax.

The bad guys include a Russian mob boss, The President of the USA and first lady, naturally a journalist who withholds evidence, a drug kingpin a couple are his clients.

The cast of characters include an retired police detective now a PI, a gorgeous PI who used to be a cop until she posed for Playboy, a judge Kadella is a friend with benefits, a beautiful TV reporter that becomes a friend that he gives exclusives. Then there is the wealthiest woman in Minnesota and after Kadella defends the man set up for killing her son and reveals the real killer, then becomes a source of money for other cases. Lastly there is a sociopathic hit man that is used a number of times by the bad guys.

All of the stories are easy to read, there are running lawyer jokes throughout and good natured kidding and flirtation. Sometimes things turn serious. In one story Kadella is run down and nearly killed. the female PI is attacked in her apartment, but she picks the guy up and throws him out of three story window, she also gets shot, but survives.

One of the stories really bothered me at the beginning. A single teenage mother does something really stupid. She is arrested and tried for killing her child. She didn't. The media crucifies her. When I got through the opening and got to the media feeding frenzy it became a really good story.

My biggest problem with most of the stories is the sugar momma paying the bills. I'm sure most attorneys would love to have someone like that, but it don't happen in real life. As Carstens constantly reminds his readers that the average attorney barely makes a living this becomes too convenient. I liked the earlier books where he is worried about if the check will clear. Maybe Carstens thought that would get tedious and adds the sugar momma to keep the story flowing.