Fiction

INTERVIEW

Beilue: By the book: Amarillo 'an iconic name' for teacher's novel

 

Bill Durham is about to begin his eighth year of teaching American history and English at an alternative school in Los Angeles. He got to L.A. by way of Austin, New York City, Texas Tech, eastern Iowa and Texarkana. READ MORE...

In the Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo, New York attorney Max Friedman is assigned to represent a nightmare client. Joe Wagner is a violent man, dangerous both to family and friends. As Max builds his defense case for murder, he reveals a reason for Joe's violence. But is it a justification? The characters whom Max meets during the course of his investigation include Smith Dixon, a career criminal trying to change the course of his life; Carl Puente, a gambler desperate for a big score; Carl's brother-in-law Freddie Odom, a family man drowning in alcoholism; legendary police detective Champ Phillips; Angel, a pool hall owner who both frightens and attracts Max; and Bailey, a wolf-dog hybrid who is the bouncer at the pool hall.

"As a lifelong mystery fan and author, I've noticed that there seem to be a few patterns that repeat themselves constantly. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; sometimes readers find comfort in the familiar. Bill Durham, however, has managed to shatter the patterns and yet create characters that seem like the people next door. Max Friedman, a disillusioned New York lawyer, is driving through the Panhandle of Texas trying to reach Phoenix. His car, however, has other plans. It falls to pieces, and Max's wallet is rather thin. So instead of going on to Phoenix, he tries to give Amarillo a try.

 

He settles down, rents an apartment, adopts two kittens and secures a law license. He becomes a regular at a local pool halls, makes some new friends, and falls in love with the owner, Angel. But some of Angel's other customers are desperate, broke, and in need of money—and they don't know how to get it. Eventually, the ringleader browbeats some of his fellow pool enthusiasts into ripping off a grocery store. In the aftermath, in an argument over money, one of them kills another.

 

Max is assigned to defend the man who murdered his cohort. The rest of the story involves some moving passages showing how the families of the surviving crooks coped. Max must create a reasonable defense for a nasty and unrepentant criminal, whom everyone knows is guilty. The story that unfolds is amazing - and unlike any other thriller that I've ever read. I recommend this book highly."—Mary Devlin, author of MURDER ON THE CANTERBURY PILGRIMAGE and THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN