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Reviewed by Barbara Harper for Readers' Favorite
The Fleeing Felon by Daniel Maldonado begins with a brief introduction to the protagonist, Fredrick, underdressed and uninvited, sitting alone in a far corner and sticking out like a sore thumb at a party at the luxurious Regal Phoenix Resort and Spa. Freddie is fresh out of prison, released after a two-year sentence for selling drugs. Then in the early hours of that same morning, a 911 dispatcher receives a call from a distraught male eyewitness, stating that he witnessed a guy on a motorcycle ram into the side of a construction vehicle. In a trembling voice, he tells the 911 operator that he is certain the impact was so severe that it killed him. This is the eyewitness account of the fatal crash of 24-year-old Fredrick Prato, boyfriend of Caitlin Halverson and father of four-year-old Maleah. Then Daniel Mendoza, the founding partner of the law firm Mendoza and Associates in Phoenix, Arizona, is hired by Jim Wilkins from Allegiance to represent TransAde in a wrongful death case.
On the surface, The Fleeing Felon is about a wrongful death case, but the author is narrating a profound moral tragedy that has repercussions across many sectors of society. The facts point to Fredrick Prato, a meth and cocaine dealer, a convicted felon. The story calls to mind the saying ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we endeavor to deceive.’ My first impression of the story was that it was about a wrongful death case, involving a horrific motorcycle crash. There are the plaintiffs and the defendants and an explanation of the formal and technical language. The use of legalese caused my eyes to glaze at first as I tried to uncover the author's intention but once I discovered that this story had a deeper meaning than a wrongful death litigation case, the story began to pique my curiosity. Contrasts began to emerge. There was a contrast between the life of a functioning alcoholic and a drug addict. Both are enslaved to their habits but the first one means that the person is still able to function in society and the second one causes a constant craving for the substance, does psychological and physical harm, and is considered by experts to be a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. The other contrast is that of the long hours of mental gymnastics of the lawyers themselves which are draining and have an unfortunate effect on their personal lives.
The interesting part of the plot was the complexity involved in gathering information and plotting the crime scene, which was relatable as I have watched CSI, a crime scene investigation series. Daniel Maldonado skillfully weaves a tale to reveal the undisclosed impact and tribulations of Freddie’s life and the legacy he perpetuates ‘beyond the grave.’ I also found it ironic that Freddie did not take drugs and considered selling them as ‘work’ and in so doing exonerated himself from the consequences of his actions. This story is about those who have morals and ethics and those who don’t, making it ideal for the discerning reader. Fans of legal mystery novels will enjoy this book.