Gordon Seegerman, the hero of this debut novel, is an attorney. He works on the lowest level of the public defender's office dealing with misdemeanors, and he has no ambition to get any higher in the legal hierarchy. He is the "misdemeanor man" and seemingly proud of it, and he is obsessed with Barry Manilow. In his spare time, he sings with a Manilow cover band.
Gordon is given the case of Harold Dunn, a mild mannered book keeper and rehabilitated alcoholic, who has been accused of exposing his member to a woman and a little girl in a department store. He has been caught red handed so to speak and identified by the victims. The case seems open and shut, but peculiar things start to happen. The defendant is being held in special custody. The DA on the case just happens to be Seegerman's ex-girl friend, and she refuses to consider a reasonable plea, and indeed seems to
be interested in piling on other charges. When he finally gets to meet Dunn, he discovers a quiet man who says little but insists on his innocence, refusing a plea even were one to be available.
Further complications arise when Gordy discovers that Dunn is seeing a transvestite prostitute, and may even be involved in a murder. Moreover the charitable organization he was working for, a social agency for rehabing substance abusers called Giving Out Dinners, may be corrupting political officials in a real estate scam.
Gordon suspects that Dunn is being railroaded to protect these corrupt officials, and that that is why he was given the case in the first place. He sets out to find the truth.
Still through it all Gordon and his band must also rehearse for their big break, a performance to which Barry Manilow himself has been invited.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein
Bloomsbury, Jun 2004, 23.95, 304 pp.
California public defender Gordon Seegerman detests the time practicing law takes away from his true vocation, playing the music of Barry Manilow as the lead of the Barry X and the Mandys band. His current client's case could interfere with his biggest gig, but alas he knows what pays the bills. Thus, Gordon defends fortyish Harold Dunn on an indecency charge in which the prosecutor is his former girlfriend Sylvie Hernandez. The Santa Rita jail is not the Copacabana and off the record Sylvie (not Mandy) once broke Gordon's heart.
Gordon runs into three obstacles. Sylvie wants to put away Harold for a long time since the accused has a previous rap, witnesses will testify about the alleged flasher's shortcomings, and one victim is an eight-year-old girl. The judge is unreasonable on or off the record. Finally Harold rejects any plea bargain as he insists he is innocent. Bail is high and Harold is placed in the High Power unit, but some unknown person puts up the cash so that Harold is released. Not long afterward, Harold vanishes and a key witness dies. Gordon investigates so he can get on with his gig.
MISDEMEANOR MAN records at two speeds. Gordon's satirical groupie like homage is fun to follow as the lawyer wants to play the “songs that make the world sing”. The out of control misdemeanor makes for an interesting legal thriller, but though the greater portion of the plot appears as a preliminary act, it cannot compete with Barry X and the Mandys. Often humorous with some flat notes, readers wanting something different will appreciate this Manilow obsession, but could Bette Midler be next?
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner