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Book Review: Dismissed with Prejudice by Fletcher Cockrell

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One of the attractions of Dismissed with Prejudice is its setting — southeastern Louisiana. There are many beautiful places in Louisiana, and you can’t find a hotter time than in New Orleans’ French Quarter. In a state renowned for corruption, southeast Louisiana is the vortex — with Baton Rouge and New Orleans sucking the life out of other parts of the state.

Dismissed with Prejudice is a novel about an assistant basketball coach at LSU who was unfairly fired (depending on how you define “unfair”), and is approached by a lawyer who wants to represent him. To be in Baton Rouge is to be in Purple and Gold Country; LSU sports is a religion unto itself — its fans bleed purple and gold (it says so on their bumper stickers). Because LSU has such a pervasive influence, an outsider could easily see it as an evil entity; and LSU does control and influence lives. Weddings and social functions are planned around LSU games if hosts expect guests to show up. The game is all most people talk about the day after. Non-fans are as popular as Yankees.

Tom Boyd, the immensely popular and powerful basketball coach in Dismissed with Prejudice, never met a scruple that applied to him. His driving interest in life is LSU basketball, and he will go to great lengths to recruit the best players. Since many of those lengths are illegal or against NCAA regulations, Tom has a friend, Vic Banelli, who is connected and fabulously wealthy, who will happily break the law and regs to get a winning team.

Banelli convinces the coach to fire Craig Frazier on trumped up NCAA violations. Since the coach has done this a couple of times with other assistants, although resistant, he has no problem destroying the guy’s life and dreams. But there’s a fly in the gumbo — when young Morgan City attorney Landon Duhon reads of the firing, he’s suspicious. He volunteers his services to Frazier, who eventually accepts them.

Fletcher Cockrell loads Dismissed with Prejudice with familiar Louisiana names and faces, and gives corruption the starring role. Anyone familiar with Louisiana political history will recognize the governor, a man destined to go where other great Louisiana governors have gone — jail.

When Duhone and Frazier press the case, and Duhone turns up nasty evidence involving sports, LSU, and politics, things start to get rough. Banelli orders a hit, and a body falls. Cockrell has crafted a riveting thriller that is hard to put down. Although not flawless (Landon Duhone is just too good to be true, and there’s a contrived ending), Dismissed with Prejudice successfully entertains, and introduces the reader to memorable characters.

Bottom Line: Would I buy Dismissed with Prejudice? Yes, and I don’t even like sports.

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