Lawyer Papantonio’s second legal thriller, Law and Vengeance (SelectBooks, Oct.), shows the need for government regulations and oversight in a case involving a faulty gunsight.
What inspired you to try your hand at fiction?
My law firm tries some of the most significant cases in America, ranging from pharmaceutical companies killing consumers with defective drugs to environmental polluters affecting the lives of entire communities. A legal thriller provides the perfect vehicle for telling these stories that are generally overlooked by traditional media. Unfortunately, corporate media relies too heavily on advertising dollars from the industry to report the truth, in a timely and adequate way, about drug-industry misconduct that often amounts to criminality.
Can you give an example?
In our efforts to pitch the story about a deadly oral contraceptive, which was the basis of the plot of my first novel, we encountered roadblocks both from media executive producers and editors. At one point, the only way we found to communicate the dangers to the public was through social media.
Is Law and Vengeance also derived from a real case?
Yes, the primary plot centers on a case we handled against a company that had manufactured a holographic weapon sight, which was designed to allow the user to look through an optical window that would help the user place crosshairs on the target without closing one eye. The product was supposed to provide quick and consistently accurate target acquisition, but the accuracy of the sight was dramatically affected by heat and humidity. It was sold to the military and to law enforcement organizations, although the manufacturer had a wealth of data showing that their product in actual field conditions could be significantly inaccurate. Again, the documents we uncovered helped provide the road map for the fictionalized story.
Why have you chosen to have each book thus far focus on a different lead from the same firm?
My vision of the Bergman-Deketomis firm is that they succeed because of the team effort that goes into handling these complex cases. My goal is to round out as many of the trial lawyers, paralegals, and investigators as possible.