A Note From Jeff

The Steel Kiss: May It Please the Court . . .

I have tended not to write traditional legal fiction. Occasionally an attorney or prosecutor will appear in a short story, and I did write a thriller called Mistress of Justice, but that involved the murder of an overbearing partner within a Wall Street law firm (a case in where there was, believe me, no want of suspects!). But I always felt that the machinations of a legal case would slow down the tale too much for my liking. While a typical thriller of mine takes place over a few days, a courtroom drama would require weeks to play out. Anyone read Dickens’s Bleak House, in which the formidable inheritance case of  Jardyce v. Jardyce unfolded at the speed of infrastructure repair?

Still, my new Lincoln Rhyme thriller, The Steel Kiss, is set partially in the world of law. In this tale, Rhyme has given up criminal work and is now serving as a consultant in civil cases. He is aiding a personal injury lawyer seeking recompense for the impoverished widow of a man killed when a product malfunctions. (It’s not, of course, all legal motions and jury speeches; as you might expect, there’s more to the case than meets the eye and you’ll find plenty of villains to go around.) Amelia Sachs, on the other hand, is hard at work on the streets of New York City, tracking down a killer whose M.O. is mundane but whose twisted psyche is, to put it mildly, unique.

I’m often asked, as a thriller writer, if I practiced criminal law when I was an attorney. I reply: “Well, I did represent large banks…”  In writing The Steel Kiss, I debated wagging a scolding finger at the financial industry of today. I chose instead a different target: Manufacturers of products who care more about the bottom line than consumer safety. I’ve had some experience in this field too, having written a law review article about how products liability law encourages social responsibility among those who profit—sometimes very handsomely—from the marketplace, when they would not otherwise be inclined to.

And I’ll apologize in advance: After you read The Steel Kiss you will never ever get on an escalator again, nor heat up anything in a microwave oven or use a power tool. And as for driving your car? Good luck with that . . .

– Jeffery Deaver