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A Review of Contempt by Michael Cordell

It’s been some time since I read a legal thriller in the vein of John Grisham. So when I got my hands on this novel by Michael Cordell, I couldn’t wait to dive in and meet the main character, Thane Banning. Thane is a real estate lawyer who went to prison for five years for a murder he didn’t commit. After claiming his innocence for many years, he was finally released on a legal technicality. Now a free man, Thane must adjust to living on the outside and finding ways to connect with his wife, Hannah. 

Just when Thane is getting back on his feet and working at his old law firm, he is pulled in to defend, Scotty “Skunk” Burns, a former fellow inmate accused of murder. Unable to resist Skunk’s plea for help, Thane takes the case although he is not a criminal defense lawyer. Not only was this a risky move but he couldn’t blow the chance at going up against DA Bradford Stone, the same prosecutor who put him in prison for five years.

Overall, the scenes, characters and dialogue were realistic. The author did a good job at showing Thane wrestling with the effects prison life had on his life on the outside. The author also did a good job at showing the struggles career criminals like his friend Gideon had in adjusting to being free. It was also interesting to watch these two characters interact because if they didn’t have prison as a nexus, they would probably have nothing in common. However, I loved the respect they had for each other.

As a lawyer, I especially enjoyed the courtroom cat and mouse games both lawyers played in presenting their evidence. The leg work Thane’s legal team (Kristin Peterson, 3rd year USC law student and his friend and ex-con, Gideon) did was very calculating but effective. Without giving away any spoilers I think the ending was a bit rushed and more clues could have been given. Nevertheless, it was a good twist.

Another thing I wished the author explored a bit more was Thane’s relationship with his wife. There was no intimacy except for moments when they held hands. Although his wife was supportive, I felt she was a bit flat and this was a missed opportunity to show some sexual tension/desire between the characters. Despite this, it was a good read that held my attention. I would definitely recommend this novel and read more by Michael Cordell.

Two thumbs up!

My favorite lines: 

Thane finally looked away from the stain and glanced around the room. “Doesn’t make sense. Why would Skunk even be in this room? One glance says there is nothing here worth stealing. And if he heard Gruber coming, he wouldn’t try hiding in here: he would run for the back door.”

Gideon chuckled and sized Thane up. “Whoo-ee. Baby, would you lookit you. Thinking more and more like a criminal every day.” 

Thanks to TCK Publishing for a copy of this book and the opportunity to post a review. 

Rating:  4 stars

Here is the link to the book:

Contempt - Michael Cordell

Here is the publisher's website link:

And here is the author’s website:



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