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on April 07, 2013 :
I first ran across Diary of a Small Fish at Authonomy, where a few chapters were up for evaluation. It gained sufficient popularity that Harper Collins reviewed it, congratulated the author, and said, "Naah! Political books are passe."
This seemed to be their standard response to all popular books by amateurs. In fact, Diary is more a courtroom drama than political, but so what? Something well-written should have commercial potential regardless of fads. And it is well-written.
So, did I like it? Much of it, yes, but it goes downhill—partly because it gets away from politics and courtroom into extended family matters, and partly because the characters are overdrawn. Paul Forte is simply too wonderful a person, and too attractive to women. His nemesis the federal prosecutor is not only grossly evil but stupid. Forte's female friend has a background that should make any man hesitate, but Forte overlooks all, so angelic is he. In other words, Diary loses out in regard to realism.
But is it well-written? Yes. Will it be popular? Yes. Should Harper Collins have offered a contract? Also yes, I believe.
Its greatest virtue to me is the picture it paints of the federal "justice" system, which punishes the accused not only before the verdict but before the official charge is made.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 12, 2011 :
To start off, I don't usually read courtroom drama. I've done the Legal 101 reading Grisham, and I did enjoy the early two or three books, but since that I've not touched the genre.
One of the causes for that is that the American legal system is very different from the one we have in Finland, and it's like learning a new game to be able to understand what happens. This usually leads to info dumps and lots of backtracking for the reader to understand what happened.
Pete Morin's book succeeds brilliantly in carrying the story and offering the uninitiated reader just the right amount of information; the legal story is easy to follow and it is very interesting too. Paul Forté's plight in the maelstrom of a corruption trial is believable in the extreme. There is none of the "As you know, Bob,..." type of explanatory tirade.
Mr Morin cuts the picture of Forté so close he becomes very real. I happen to have a brother with the same attitude towards the game of golf that I could relate to people that Forté has to explain his stance on the game. It also serves very well as the glue that bonds together the world view of honor codes that Forté has.
The human interest side of this book is also handled very capably; I was hooked by the character of Shannon right after she had the nerve to ask Forté a question at his first meeting with the jury, and it had precious little to do with the trial. I should also say that Morin is an adept observer of emotions and the effect they have on humans - his portrayal of Forté's broken marriage is on a par with John Updike's Rabbit books.
The variety of characters appearing in the book is quite large, but they all serve a purpose and there are no superficial, pasted-on personnel. Of the side characters my favorite was Sidney Hartfield, the 90+ year old former SEC official. Morin has considerable talent in imbuing his characters with just the right feel; Hartfield especially brought chuckles to me as I read. Ah, chuckles: there's many a moment in this book when you laugh out loud because Morin knows the world he writes of and has the linguistic wit to bring it out too. I am envious of his one-liners and sarcasm.
All in all, I think you can't go wrong if you are in search of a quick-paced book with twists and turns, intriguing plot, wine and osso bucco. This book is to be highly recommended.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Sep. 28, 2011 :
Author, Peter B Morin has written an outstanding debut novel.
Irrespective of your nationality or familiarity with the laws of the United States of America, this author writes in such a way that it is clearly understood. His professionalism is clear in every wonderful court sequence.
The character of Paul Forte is such that you just cannot help liking the guy. His wicked humor, ability to laugh at himself and his touch of innocence in a non-innocent environment has you caring what the hell happens to the him.
Hell erupting into this guy’s life is pretty much what happens.
He has an addiction that is not fatal, but it is an addiction; albeit one that most folks seem to understand…what is it? Golf …he has a handicap to die for on the best golf courses the U S of A has to offer.
Paul Forte is being hunted; he may be a small fish, but a sufficiently interesting fish to be subpoenaed to appear before a Grand Jury.
Assistant U.S Attorney Bernard ( don’t ever call him Bernie) Kilroy has his sights set on the coveted position of Attorney General of The United States of America…he wants exposure, he will do anything he has to do to get it.
Is he also motivated by something far less altruistic?
The author allows us to smell the set up, yet this is not a predictable story, far from it. This fast paced and clever work takes you to the most unexpected places…
The character of Paul Forte is not one dimensional.. He is capable of deep and abiding loyalty, his heart is able to be broken, and his love is yearning to be earned.
We share with him his abiding love for his father, his relentless loyalty to friends he believes in, and his sudden and unexpected love for a woman that completes his life.
Meet Shannon, a beautiful, quirky, lovable, odd ball. A complex woman; a character crafted with skill and a depth of understanding into unresolved guilt that is moving and right on the money.
The technical aspects of the trial are beautifully handled.
The dialogue is rich and often darkly funny.
The willingness of good people to do what is right in a bad situation is attacked, and…
I will not spoil this for you. It is a damned fine read, fast paced, and at times intensely moving.
A fine debut novel indeed.
I look forward to reading much more from this author.
(reviewed the day of purchase)