MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Courtroom Drama

So Help Me God

John Grisham and Scott Turow have a new competitor. The latest author of legal thrillers is a Houston trial attorney and med-mal defense lawyer whose paperback "So Help Me God" was published nationwide on April 1. In Larry D. Thompson's book, a botched abortion and rabble-rousing by a charismatic preacher lead to a trial in which the question of when life begins takes center stage. In the book, J. Robert Tisdale, the best plaintiffs attorney in Texas, represents preacher Thomas Jeremiah Luther in a slander suit against the doctor who performed the abortion. "Almost without exception, everyone who reads it thinks it's a really great courtroom drama," says Thompson, a partner in Lorance & Thompson. He initially could not find a publisher and self-published an earlier version of the book. Then, a chain of connections — beginning with his dentist's book club — led to his discovery by Pam Nelson, director of sales promotion for Hillside, Ill.-based Levy Home Entertainment, a nationwide book distributor. "His book captivated me," she says. "The characters were so rich." The next step was a book deal with New York publisher Tor Books, a division of Macmillan. On April 18, Thompson arrived in downtown Dallas for his book launch party at the Old Red Courthouse. He says his late brother, bestselling true-crime writer Thomas Thompson, inspires him as a writer. "There were times when I really thought Tommy was helping me write this book," Thompson says. He has finished another novel that dissects the insanity defense, featuring an attorney who develops paranoid schizophrenia and is accused of murder in Galveston. It will likely be published in spring 2009, he says.

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