||September 1, 2011
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An honest ex-politician gets targeted for a crime he didn't commit and learns the difference between what's moral and what's legal.
When Paul Forte is indicted by a federal grand jury, everyone suspects prosecutor Bernard (don't call him 'Bernie') Kilroy has more on his mind than justice. Then the FBI agent in charge of Paul's case gives him a clue to the mystery: Kilroy is bent on settling an old family score, and he's not above breaking the law to do it.
Paul is already dealing with the death of his parents and divorce from a woman he still loves. Now, with the support of an alluring grand juror, Paul must expose the vindictive prosecutor's own corruption before the jury renders a verdict on his Osso Buco.
Unexpected Company, Muckraking and Junk Mail
I used to play an obscene amount of golf at the exclusive Hyannisport Club. I knew at the
time it was irresponsible and over-indulgent, but I never thought it was a federal crime.
At the beginning of a perfectly glorious Labor Day weekend, I sat on the back deck
of my Cotuit home, cleaning my Pings, preparing for the typical holiday Friday
afternoon: eighteen holes, a few martinis and a well-aged New York strip.
Life was good. Then the doorbell rang.
When I opened the door, a massive United States Marshal glared at me with a stone
face. He wore a black suit with a badge the size of a pastrami sandwich. His jacket was
pulled back on the side to display a gun on his hip.
“Paul B. Forté?” he said in a gravelly voice, deep and mean.
I felt the skin of my face go cold. “Yes?”
He reached inside his suit coat and withdrew a piece of paper.
“You are hereby served.” He shoved the paper in my chest.
Stunned, I took the document.
“Have a nice day,” he said. He turned, marched to the black sedan idling in the
driveway, and got in. I watched as it roared backward into the street, slinging the white
clamshells onto my lawn, shifted into drive and squealed rubber.
My throat fought to swallow, but it was dry as gin. “Thank you,” I croaked.
I looked down at the document quaking in my hand. It was folded in thirds, the
outside with large block letters:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
SUBPOENA TO TESTIFY BEFORE A GRAND JURY
I sat on my front step, stared at the heading for a minute or so until I mustered the
courage to open it.
TO: PAUL B. FORTÉ
300 OCEAN AVENUE
COTUIT, MA, 02635
You are COMMANDED to appear in this United
States District Court at One Post Office
Square, Boston, Massachusetts, on Thursday,
September 30, 2003 at one-thirty in the
afternoon (1:30 p.m.) to give evidence in the
matter of United States of America versus
Raymond L. Stackhouse, U.S.D.C. No. GJ1993-
0427. If you fail to appear, a warrant may
issue for your arrest.
My friend, my golf buddy, the target of indictment. And I, a witness against him. I
stared at the words as they swam around on the page. Shit! If what Ray had done was a
crime, could I be charged too? Should I testify? What about the Fifth? Would my answers
to their questions incriminate me? What was the crime in playing golf, for crissakes?
I needed to hire a good criminal lawyer, and fast.
I struggled to my feet, my knees – my whole body – wobbled as I stumbled through
the house, back to the deck where my clubs leaned against the railing, all in a nice, neat
row and glistening in the sun. I remembered the first time I walked the fairway of the
local municipal course with Dad and Mom. Dad explained how golf was a game of honor
and I must know the rules and always play by them. I thought I’d done that – in golf and
I walked to the railing, leaned against it, and threw up on the azalea below.
How did it ever come to this?
Thank You, Pete Morin
I always had the idea this guy could write and now I know I was right. I've spent a great weekend reading this book and it was worth every minute of my time.
For a start, it's refreshing to read somthing this intelligent about someone who knows right from wrong. There's nothing about Paul Forte you won't like. He's decent, talented and overall unassuming. Beset by doubts that he's somehow made a terrible mistake somewhere along the line - at least according to his nemesis, Bernie Kilroy - he spends his time wondering whether or not he's a good guy or a bad guy. With the help of his friends, he fights to overcome charges of corruption he cannot understand. After all, what's wrong with playing golf - even if it is at the best golf courses in America. Forte is a gentleman - if someone invites him to play golf, he will return the favour. That's not corruption - even if he does hold a position of influence and he plays with other people in the same situation. Is it?
Very highly recommended and, in my view, better than Grisham - and he's good.
Great New World
The mark of a good writer is to show you a world you know nothing about, and make you care about that world and what happens in it, and to feel a part of it. I wouldn't have thought I'd be interested in party hacks and the dirty business of state politics, but the author shows us a decent man in a tough situation. Several tough situations, actually. And we care, because having a person like the main character Paul Forte in the world is a good thing. He lives well, plays a lot of golf, laughs a lot, learns to love, and treats people well, unless they go out of their way to mess with him.
The book is about character, and why it is important. Paul Forte is a moral man, even when he swims in the dirty pools of favor-trading. He battles his demons, and helps others to do the same. The struggle is absorbing, and this book has heart and soul, a truckload of it. If you don't get a little teary-eyed at some of the events, you might be a Grinch.
The author is an authority on this world, or at least he makes us believe it. The differences in the Boston neighborhoods are sharply defined, the rivalries between groups are highlighted, and we see how it all comes together in the world around Boston. I feel like I know a lot more about the place I live because of this. I got absorbed in this book-- like I haven't in others for too long. I cheer at a new writer who can bring such a work to us. Bravo!
Pete Morin has given us a book that the NY publishers don't know what to do with, because it doesn't fit any of their narrow genre categories. It's simply a great book, and they don't know much about what good books are worth, or how to sell them. It's clear that things have changed when we can discover this story anyway and have the ability to enjoy it.
The Voice Is The Thing
This author is a dangerous man. First, he's an insider from Boston's legal community. Second, he can craft a story commensurate with said legal expertise. And third, his book will make you more ravenous than a mouth-watering episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, or, more appropriately in this case, Top Chef. All that takes skill. Allow me to explain.
The voice is the thing in Diary of a Small Fish. The protagonist, Paul B. Forte, is a Boston legal insider. He's the top lawyer for the MBTA, Boston's public transportation administration. Criminal charges against the lawyer himself propel the story forward, and thrust the reader inside the Boston political scene. While the ins and outs fascinate, it's Forte's voice that compels the reader to turn the page. He's smart, wry, and knowing, with a cynical bent that is the foundation for a consistently humorous tone. There is a strong sense of first person Hiaasen here, where Floridian reptiles have been replaced with New England equivalents. In Mr. Morin's debut, the voice is the thing.
Colorful characters populate the book. Forte himself is multi-dimensional, with family issues that compound his legal troubles. I found myself rooting for him from the beginning and enjoying the time spent in his company. When the voice is the thing, the dialogue must crackle. It does so here with aplomb, no more so than when Forte dispenses with a prosecutor's interrogation in front of a grand jury and only one juror raises her hand to ask a question. "Did you say your dinners were always at the Impudent Oyster?" Yes." "How was the Osso Buco?"
The culinary tour of Boston is an added bonus. If you love food, you will find it hard to read this book without a glass of wine handy. From veal to dim sum, Barbera to Pinot Noir. Even pizza and wine sounded divine here. Funny, now that I think about it. I don't recall any fish being consumed by the protagonist, not even a small one.
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