cover image Law and Addiction

Law and Addiction

Mike Papantonio. Waterside, $24.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-939116-46-8

Papantonio takes on the American opioid crisis in his earnest third legal thriller (after 2017’s Law and Vengeance). Jake Rutledge, a recent law school graduate, returns to Oakley, W.Va., where his twin brother, Blake, died of an overdose a few weeks before. The town has changed drastically in the years he has been away. As he says, “My hometown has become Zombieland, but there are thousands of other towns just like Oakley. Big corporations have created these drug addicts—these zombies. And now these towns are struggling to stay alive.” He decides to avenge Blake’s death in true lawyerly fashion: he files a suit against the pharmaceutical companies responsible for distributing the opioids and enlists the aid of established attorneys, including Nick “Deke” Deketomis, who has appeared in the author’s previous novels. Courtroom strategy meetings alternate with Jake’s perilous investigations and some truly hair-raising facts about addiction. Readers, however, will have to look past wooden characters, the stilted dialogue, and the statistical information dumps to get to the novel’s well-intentioned core. Papantonio makes a passionate if clumsy case for the need to do more to fight opioid addiction. (Apr.)