A Review of Reasonable Facsimile by Chris Shella

January 19, 2012 

Chris Shella’s Reasonable Facsimile is a tale of woe and redemption. Jasper Davis, a.k.a. J.D.–or Jack Daniels nicknamed in honor of his favored libation– is a dynamic skilled defense attorney with lots of baggage battling demons alcohol and sex. J.D. is as dirty as the clients he represents seemingly familiar with all low life Baltimore. When court is in recess other lawyers bone up on their cases while Jack Daniels is boning up on lap dances. One wonders how he even manages to function given the excesses of his hedonistic lifestyle, but it serves to fill the void in his life, his absent wife and son. Infidelity caused his wife a college professor to kick him to the curb. There he flounders in the gutter for 7 years. He pines over the past longing to return to the days before daily habits overtook his desire to be a father and husband.

J.D. takes on a major violent first-degree murder case and finds himself challenged by the judge, the prosecutor, the witnesses, his addictions, and a sinking reputation all of which get the best of him. But a turning point comes when federal agents suspect he conspired with his client to kill the key witness, a government informant. J.D. has a come to Jesus conversion realizing its life or death and the only way to save his self is to get back home with his wife and child. To complicate it all Carmen an attorney from his past appears and wants to take on the task of salvaging his life.

Reasonable Facsimile is at times humorous and shocking. The characters seem real and familiar. Chris Shella makes effective use of the stream of consciousness technique taking the reader on a tour witnessing through Jasper’s eyes the drunken binges and hangovers, the strip joints, and courtroom drama rich with the minutia of lawyering and legal procedures.

Reasonable Facsimile
is a great read despite some editorial weakness. I was disappointed expecting a legal thriller as one reviewer mistakenly touted. That sub-genre usually features an attorney or judge as the hero, caught up in a gripping courtroom drama with numerous plot twists. A legal thriller it is not, but rather a story of the redemptive self transforming suffering into a positive emotional state moving from pain and peril to redemption. Despicable Jasper Davis is transformed from the ignoble to the noble and admirable. With structural flaws Reasonable Facsimile is not a page turner. Nevertheless it is a fulfilling read. I hope for more from Attorney Shella and with the right developmental editing he should have no problem knocking a real legal thriller out of the park.

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