Bar News - December 16, 2015|
Book Review: Lawyer-Written Novel a Fast, Enjoyable Read
By: Review by Eric Cook
The Widow Wave: A True Courtroom Drama of Tragedy at Sea
By Jay W. Jacobs
Quid Pro Books
Hardcover, 278 pages
I liked this book. I liked it so much that I read it in only two days, and I probably could have done it in one, but things like work, family, eating, sleeping, and the dog got in the way. The Widow Wave is a first-person account of a negligence case by the attorney who defended it. Attorney Jacobs is not a professional author, but he has an engaging style and a good story, and he did a fine job telling it.
The story centers on the loss of a 30-foot fishing boat in the waters off of San Francisco. The Aloha left port one morning with the owner, his son and three other men onboard to do some salmon fishing; they never returned, only one body was ever found. The widow of one of the passengers sued the estate of the boat’s owner claiming that he had negligently caused her husband’s death. The book chronicles the preparation, conduct of, and aftermath of the trial.
The book is written in a style easily understandable by non-attorneys, yet goes into enough technical detail on the strategies both legal and tactical that litigators will appreciate, relate, and identify with it.
The description of the actual trial from jury selection to verdict is a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from despair about missing critical issues to elation at discovering in mid-trial the hook that may win the case. There are excellent character descriptions of witnesses and opposing counsel that seasoned litigators will no doubt recognize from their own experience.
The defendant, in the form of the boat owner’s wife as executor, is that mythical “good client;” the one who steadfastly believes that her husband was not negligent and will not entertain the thought of settling, even at great financial risk to her and her family. Because of this, the author spends a great deal of time worrying about what the impact of this trial and possibly losing it will have on her.
No spoilers in this review; but I recommend this one. It is a wild and engaging ride from the first descriptions of the case to its end. There are good characters, good descriptions of how the case was prepared and tried, and I was drawn in and wanted to know how it all ended. I think you will, too.
Eric Cook is an attorney who lives in Portsmouth and has practiced in New Hampshire since 1998.