Mike Papantonio is out with a new novel. Law and Vengeance (SelectBooks, Inc.) is his second legal thriller and seventh book overall.
To tell the fictional story, the renowned trial attorney at the Levin Papantonio law firm has to look no further than his own case files.
“Law and Vengeance is based on a real case that actually I handled here in this law firm, just as the first book, Law and Disorder, was also based on actual cases that our law firm handled,” Papantonio said.
The book is set around a weapons distributor and a major government contractor that manufactured a defective hologram gun sight.
“The government, as very often happens, had every reason to understand it (gun sight) was defective, but ended up buying it anyway for political reasons, and it ended up causing some deaths in certain settings.”
Like his first legal thriller, Law and Vengeance centers on the fictional firm Bergman-Deketomis, which is located somewhere in the Florida Panhandle and based, in part, on Levin Papantonio.
“It’s very close to what we do,” said Papantonio. “They handle everything from complex pharmaceutical cases, where a drug company has created a product that has caused death or injury, to some of the biggest environmental cases in the country, where a corporation has polluted an airway or waterway and then in the end people have ended up suffering from cancer or various diseases related to that chemical.”
Papantonio keeps busy as a senior partner at Levin Papantonio, one of the largest plaintiff law firms in the country. He’s co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show Ring of Fire and has appeared as a political commentator on numerous major news outlet, including MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN. But, he was a journalism major before law school, so writing wasn’t a big leap. And, he says he always wanted to do something more.
“To go to the office to go to the office and say well, “This is all I do,” I think actually detracts from your ability to think as a creative attorney, so I started writing every early,” said Papantonio, referencing his motivational books for lawyers including In Search of Atticus Finch and Resurrecting Aesop: Fables Lawyers.
Additionally, Papantonio says given the “wow factor” of many of the cases handled by his real-life law firm, he can’t count the times he’s been urged to write a book about them.
“And, I think they intended maybe a non-fiction. But, fiction is a better way to tell these stories because sometimes, honestly, fact is far stranger than fantasy in the legal practice, you know so many days.”
One of the main characters in Law and Vengeance is Gina Romano, a criminal defense lawyer with Bergman-Deketomis. The character was less prominent in Papantonio’s first novel.
He describes Gina as an incredibly talented trial lawyer, a composite creation utilizing some of the best aspects of the many attorneys he’s worked with over the years, with a barnacles added.
According to Papantonio, he thought it was important to put a woman as the lead protagonist in this second book, for a number of reasons.
“Right now, in the practice of law, there’s this discussion that we’ve been awful where it comes to protecting women in the practice and giving them the same opportunity that a male counterpart might have,” said Papantonio. “They have a glass ceiling, especially in trial law, and it’s simply wrong.”
Papantonio explores the issue of sexism in the legal profession, but has been careful to portray Gina’s character as a skilled trial lawyer that you wouldn’t want to go up against.
In making his pitch to get individuals to read Law and Vengeance, he says with a laugh, “It’s really entertaining.”
“I think you have to begin by saying, “Can I sit on a beach and read this book in a couple of days and not want to put it down? I think the answer to that is yes.”
On the other hand, Papantonio hopes that reading the book will be informative, too.
“Maybe you didn’t know that the Dept. of Justice is so, that they’re so dysfunctional, or the FDA has been captured by corporate America or the FCC is simply an extension of Wall Street,” said Papantonio referencing his conclusions based on some of the cases he’s worked.
“Maybe you don’t know these things until you read them in the setting of a fiction book, and then you ask yourself, “Wow, did that really happen?” and if you take a minute you understand that it is true.”
Papantonio is drawing on another real-life situation, the opioid crisis, for his next legal thriller titled Law and Addiction. This third book in the series is set for release next fall.
His latest novel, Law and Vengeance, is available now. Locally, Papantonio will be signing copies at the Pensacola Barnes & Noble, 1200 Airport Boulevard, this Saturday, Nov. 4, from noon to 2 p.m.