Reef Dance Hardcover – Sep 28 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
A reef dance is surfing jargon for being stuck in one place and unable to move, aptly reflecting the dilemma of attorney J. Shepard in this edgy, in-your-face legal thriller. Stuck in the deepening grind of custody cases and a workload so overweighed that lawyers refer to clients as "Mother," "Father" and "Minor," not out of insensitivity but through sheer necessity, Shepard spends his days in a rut, unable to get out from under his staggering caseload and dreaming of surfing. One day a high-profile case involving baby-seller Sue Ellen Randall leads him, through many roundabout routes, back to his deceased mother and her uncertain fate. The author spent two years defending parents and children in dependency court before becoming a state bar prosecutor; he's also contributed to Surfer magazine and Surfer's Journal. The resulting confluence of two wholly disparate genres will appeal to some fans and leave others indifferent. DeCure vividly evokes the courtroom milieu, and has a flair for action scenes, particularly a violent set-to with a heavy: "I leapt from the bushes and clamped him hard from behind driving him up to take his feet off balance. We went down with a thud in a cloud of soft dirt, my left arm pinned beneath his chest, and I lost my grip for a second. He felt my hand letting go and freed himself enough to drive an elbow into my chin, popping me back and stunning me." Undeniably effective. But most readers, and mystery fans in particular, will find that surfing and detection make for an uneasy mix.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Attorney J. Shepard defends various indigent parents in a Los Angeles juvenile dependency court but daydreams of surfing. His latest case, that of a woman accused of "selling" her baby to several adoptive couples, reawakens Shepard's animosity toward his own widowed mother, who deserted him when he was 16. Unraveling the mystery of his mother's disappearance may even alleviate his job dissatisfaction. Along the way, Shepard is alternately helped and hindered by a glib adoption lawyer, an aging (but still wild) surfing guru, and others. Surfing commentary, savory courtroom melodrama, and wry humor provide much attraction in this first novel. Highly recommended.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
And what a fine story it is! J. Shepherd, DeCure's protagonist, is a California-based lawyer to whom fate has not been kind lately. His romantic life is a disaster, and his professional career isn't going much better. J. spends his days in the spirit-crushing environment of Los Angeles's juvenile dependency court system where cases involving child welfare and custody issues are adjudicated. Not yet thirty years old, J. is already a burnout, his ideals shattered by the never-ending stream of drug-abusing, child-beating, pedophilic clients that he is continually appointed to defend. It is only through his deep and abiding love of the ocean and the sport of surfing that J. manages to find any measure of escape from his workday nightmares, and the strength to keep on going.
But the course of J.'s life suddenly changes when he is given a monster of a case, the defense of a young, "white-trash" mother accused of selling her baby to a wealthy couple. J. wants nothing to do with this one and the media frenzy that it is already generating. Burnout aside, he is more than usually repelled by the idea of having to defend a woman who was apparently willing to abandon her child in exchange for cash. The case cuts too close to home, for as a teenager, J. himself had been abandoned by his own mother.
J., however, is given no choice in the matter and must take the assignment.Read more ›
However, he is unable to sneak out as planned because he is assigned the media visible case of indigent and ignorant Sue Ellen Randall, who sold her baby. Sue Ellen and her husband want the infant returned, but the foster parents, wealthy with White House connections Corwin and Kitty Danforth refuse to surrender Nathan. J. wants out of the case because it reminds him of his own mother who deserted him thirteen years ago. However, he provides legal services to Sue Ellen. As he digs deeper into the dispute, he begins to believe in the naive innocence of his client.
REEF DANCE is a powerful legal procedural that paints a different perspective on those mothers who sell their children. Readers will feel empathy towards Sue Ellen. However, the Danforths and their attorney are so tundra they are a wipe out, receiving no sympathy. The insight into juvenile dependency courts is breathtaking yet shocking. Readers will enjoy riding the waves with John deCure and hope J. will return in future dramas. However, the audience will feel disappointed that the talented author failed to surf a Saving Isiah type of wave so that the audience would feel genuine empathy towards both parties in the dispute.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was absolutely wonderful. I was so pulled into it with the characters and the writing. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. A+++++++Published on May 28 2004
I'm always looking for a good book -- one that takes me somewhere else; one that has intrigue. This one does it and more. I look forward to more from this author.Published on Oct. 16 2002
Mr. DeCure has done an extraordinary job of mixing the maturity of working a high energy job while maintaining the love of the surf. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2001
A story that centers around J Shepard,an attorney in child dependency court who also lives to surf.We meet an extreme range of characters including child molesters,crack mothers,an... Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2001 by william j aiken
Really enjoyed this fast-moving story since it's more than a mystery -- has flesh and blood characters that come to life and make you want to know them better, especially J. Read morePublished on Sept. 8 2001 by Suzanne Moody