BY: JOHN GORMAN

As a New York attorney, he thought he was prepared for just about everything, until he wound up in the biggest fight of his life…

Lucas Browne thinks he understands the legal system, until his father asks him for help fighting a ruthless mining combine over the mineral rights to his rural Pennsylvania farm. When he loses the fight—and his father—Lucas is devastated. Fed up with being an attorney, he heads for Montana to help his uncle on his ranch there, only to wind up fighting the same mining combine and its CEO Bill Crawford. Crawford doesn’t play by the rules, and Lucas soon learns that he can’t either—not if he wants to survive.

She worked for Crawford, until he destroyed both her marriage and her life…

Helen Sibley was a successful public relations specialist for the mining combine until Crawford made her an offer she had to refuse. After Crawford exacts his revenge for her refusal, Helen’s life—as she knows it—is over. Changing her name to Sybil and joining a biker gang, she seeks out Lucas in Montana and offers to join his fight against the mining combine.

With both of their former lives shattered, Lucas and Sybil are left with only each other. But Crawford refuses to leave them be. They have no choice but to draw their line in the sand, prepared to die before they yield.

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Lone Hand by John Gorman, Lucas Browne, a New York public defender, gets his life turned upside down when his father asks him for help fighting a mining combine that wants to strip mine his farm. Lucas leaves his yuppie girlfriend, and his job, and heads to Pennsylvania. Once he gets there, he discovers that the mining combine doesn’t play fair and that law and justice don’t always serve the innocent as they should. When his father dies, Lucas heads to his uncle’s ranch in Montana, too disillusioned to continue practicing law. In Montana, he soon discovers that the same mining combine is trying to strip mine his uncle’s ranch, too. But this time, Lucas is determined to fight as dirty as they do.

Gorman’s characters were well-developed and three dimensional. And I liked the fact that he told a good story without the use of offensive language, even though, in some places, such language could certainly have been called for. My only complaint with the story was the way the author continually broke up his dialogue in the middle of a sentence. But it was such a good story that I managed to get past that and enjoy it.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Lone Hand by John Gorman gives us a solid glimpse into the way big corporations can act like they are above the law, how they can ignore the rights of the little guy in the name of making a profit. It’s an honest look at what some people will do for greed and how the lives of the common people are destroyed by these money-hungry conglomerates in their constant quest for more. When is so much power and money enough? How much does one man or one company really need? And is it really worth all the pain and suffering they cause for nothing but profit? Lone Hand asks all these questions, but unfortunately, there aren’t really any good answers.

I thought the story was well-written, for the most part, thought-provoking, and honest.

CHAPTER 1

New York

The kid was scared, but he was holding his ground. Howard Perkins, the assistant district attorney assigned to the case, filled Lucas in as they stood outside the interrogation room, looking through the one-way glass at the sixteen-year-old boy and his worried mother.

“Plead him out, Lucas,” Howard advised. “He’s got no criminal record. He goes in front of the judge, pleads guilty, gets a year’s probation and a lecture, and he’s home for dinner. The store gets its camera back, and everyone’s happy.”

“I’m not,” Lucas interjected. “What if he’s innocent? What if the camera really does belong to him? How’s he supposed to feel, when his first contact with the justice system costs him his camera and gives him a criminal record?”

“If he doesn’t violate probation, the record will be sealed.”

“We both know how much good that will do him. Anyone who really wants that record will find some way of getting it.”

“C’mon, Lucas,” Howard pressed. “Where would that kid get a $500 Nikon like the one he was caught with? His mother can barely keep him and his sisters in food and clothes, and he doesn’t have any rich relatives that I’ve heard of.”

“Maybe he did win it in a contest, like he said.” Lucas answered. “Besides, how could he have stolen it? Any camera like that I’ve ever seen in a store was either locked in a display case or chained down like a Gutenberg Bible.”

“Well, if he didn’t steal the camera there, he must have stolen it somewhere,” Howard protested. “He just had the bad luck to get caught at that store.”

Lucas chuckled. Howard’s got an answer for everything, he thought. “Last I heard, Howard, having bad luck isn’t a crime. Just the same,” Lucas continued, “I have an idea. Do me a favor. Call the storekeeper, tell him there’s a public defender on the case, and he’ll have to go to court. Let him know he’ll need to bring in the documentation on the camera to show it was part of his inventory when it was stolen. Don’t tell him anything about the camera, no model, no serial number, nothing. If it really was in his shop, he’ll know all that already.”

Howard and Lucas had been working together for three years now, and the young assistant district attorney had grown accustomed to his colleague’s odd ways. While he often differed with Lucas about guilt or innocence, he could not overlook his colleague’s respect for the law. He went off to the phone.

Lucas pulled up a chair at one of the detectives’ vacant desks and gathered his thoughts, closing his dark eyes to shut out the noise of the station. The story was one he’d heard all too often. The young man had been detained by the security guard at a big photo store after the watchman had seen the outline of the camera in his knapsack. When he wouldn’t give it back, the manager had called the police and had him arrested for theft.

Down at the station, the boy had called his mother, as he’d been told. She’d gone to a storefront lawyer in the neighborhood, and he had told her to get down to the precinct and ask for a public defender. Lucas got the assignment.

The mother was scarcely forty–a nurse who worked two shifts to keep food on the table and hope alive for her three children. Luckily for her son, she’d been home, on her one day off, when he called. She looked so tired, Lucas had thought. The father was four years dead, a mechanic killed by a stray bullet from a drug deal gone sour. He had been on the way home with a pizza for his family.

The mother backed up her son’s story about the contest, but she hadn’t been able to find the paperwork to document his success. She had started to scold him about bringing the camera to school to show his friends, but Lucas cut her off, telling her there was still hope if they all stuck together.

Lucas heard Howard call his name. He opened his eyes to see the look on the assistant district attorney’s face–a mixture of contrition and glee. “Justice has triumphed!” he exclaimed. “You should have heard the manager backpedal when I told him peerless Public Defender Lucas Browne was on the case, and he’d have to bring the paperwork to court to show that the camera was in his store in the first place. Then he’d have to explain to that peerless public defender how the kid could have gotten the camera off its chain and into his pack without anyone noticing.

“The creep decided he wouldn’t press charges. Now that I think of it, I’ll bet he wanted that camera for himself. Maybe the guard was in on it, too. But I won’t be able to prove it wasn’t just a ‘mistake.’ Anyway, we can let the boy go. He can take his Nikon home, too.”

“You have time for coffee?” Lucas inquired.

Howard didn’t lose often, but when he did, he was not a sore loser. Lucas admired that quality and wanted to keep their relationship a pleasant one.

“Decaf only.”

© 2008 by John Gorman