Implied Consent, the newest novel from Cody Fowler Davis, takes us back to the world of Anderson Parker and his nemesis Justin Cartwright III as they face off again in the court of law. Davis is at his best when courtroom action is described, pulling you into all the detail and stress involved in a high profile case, but the story falters when following the characters outside of the courtroom.
Implied Consent is a direct sequel to Cody Fowler Davis' first thriller, Green 61, with the story picking up shortly after the events of that novel. Anderson Parker had just won the Green 61 case against his former mentor Justin Cartwright III. Cartwright had used some shady techniques during the case and was brought to task for his actions resulting in a 60-day suspension of his license to practice law. For a proud and arrogant man this was the worst punishment he could endure. This results in his dislike of Parker for leaving the firm and beating him in a high profile case changing into a hatred that fuels the events in this story.
Anderson Parker is quickly re-introduced and we are shown an honest man with high ideals and morals. A lawyer who wishes to get justice for his clients by putting his entire being into their cases, Parker begins distancing himself from his family as he pursues a case he took based on his personal feelings on the subject and the plaintiff involved. The case ultimately fails and Parker is further estranged from his wife as she didn't want him to pursue the case, his pride prevents him from admitting he was wrong and his family life suffers further for it.
Cartwright meanwhile wants revenge on Parker and hatches a highly immoral (and improbable) plan to catch Parker in a compromising position and then use the evidence of the act to embarrass and destroy his former protege. As the plan unfolds Cartwright achieves what he wished and Parker is embarrassed publicly and risks losing his marriage, his practice and his sterling reputation as a moral and honest lawyer. Parker, refusing to take this crisis lying down, pursues the truth and attempts to clear his name while stopping Cartwright from further harming his personal and professional life.
As I read through the novel I was struck by how I enjoyed parts of the novel as segments, but had difficulty enjoying the story as a whole. Cody Fowler Davis is an accomplished trial lawyer and it was apparent while reading the trial and pre-trial portions of Implied Consent. When reading though the various trials presented in the novel I was pulled into his world and enjoyed the nuances and preparations necessary to build a winning case. Davis definitely knows trial law and excels at writing about the drama and tension as it occurs in the courtroom, he has a deft touch when describing assembling witnesses, jurors and trial plans.
Not so effective is his look at his characters and their personal lives. Anderson Parker is not quite believable as the earnest hard working lawyer. For someone who has probably pursued many trials in his career his views seemed quite naive. Justin Cartwright is at the opposite end of the spectrum; he has to have an immense hatred for Parker to pull the stunt he does to trap him, but that hate is never really explored in the novel and it seems out of place and incredulous. As I was reading the scenario I thought to myself that no one would ever do that and if they did it would be handled much more intelligently. Cartwright is an incredibly successful and intelligent lawyer, recognized as the top in Florida and his plan is so ridiculous it was jarring to see it progress.
I also found his characterization of women to be a little off kilter. The femme fatale in the novel has a penchant for one night stands and it is ruining her life and career as she cannot keep focus. A male character in Parker's firm also frequently has one night stands but he has no issues keeping up with his job and late hours. Davis seemed determined to have a strong female character (Parker's wife is well written) but the remainder of the female cast is painted in a fairly stereotypical mold and seemed out of place in our modern age.
Davis has promise, it is obvious in segments of Implied Consent that he knows the legal business and can write about it effectively. Character development and story hooks are areas that he should look to improve on in future novels. If he can pull in a truly compelling struggle and develop the characters to be the emotion behind it he can move to the next level of storytelling. As it stands Implied Consent is a novel with solid and entertaining courtroom sections but ultimately it falls flat due to an implausible scenario and underdeveloped characters.