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An alcoholic attorney runs into danger while reluctantly defending a man savagely beaten by police and charged with resisting arrest.

Hiram Garbuncle is a veteran criminal defense attorney—as well as a racist, miserly alcoholic. His life revolves around hoarding money, following sports, pursuing sex, drinking—and the prideful practice of law.

Alec Monceau is a black man working to support his daughter’s family in Trinidad. It is 2008, and his car carries an Obama bumper sticker. This political advertisement leads to a superfluous traffic stop and a brutal beating by police.

It goes against Garbuncle’s grain to defend a black man from a charge of violently resisting arrest, but he is so confident of winning that he is negligent in the jury selection, and a mistrial occurs. He then discovers incriminating evidence on the two cops, and his new challenge becomes how to keep himself and his client alive pending a new trial.

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Blood on Their Hands is an excellent legal thriller (no spoilers ahead) that takes place in Florida against the back-drop of small-town policing. Brink's main characters are drawn with warmth and humor and he brings you into the plot's ethical dilemmas immediately. The action is crisp and the plot moves swiftly along through various surprising twists and turns. Brink's understanding of legal machinations informs the action and the way a traffic stop turns into something much, much more serious is more timely than it has ever been. Blood on Their Hands also lays bare the casual, entrenched nature of racism in our society, how tragedy often grows out of off-handed acceptance of ignorance and pointless hate. The book's tension builds, the characters are colorful and absorbing, and I strongly recommend this book as an addition to the great tradition of Florida thrillers.

Barton Kunstler

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