Robert Herrick is the lawyer for the little guy in Houston, Texas. His courtroom experiences have been realistically recounted in David Crump's previous novels CONFLICT OF INTEREST, THE HOLDING COMPANY, and MURDER IN SUGAR LAND. Now he faces an international enemy of unbridled arrogance and ruthlessness: the drug kingpin El Jefe, whose petty grudge against a local reporter was realized in a family bloodbath. Can a civil lawsuit against El Jefe's bank bring some measure of justice?
A mass murder wipes out three generations of a family, all hacked with machetes. It’s a horrific crime, and obviously drug-related. But it's not possible that the perpetrators all live south of the border, because a drug enterprise needs partners in the United States for money laundering, financing, and transport.
The survivors want justice. Robert Herrick is their choice to get it. He tells them No, because lawyers aren’t trained to locate defendants who come and go like shadows—or to try lawsuits against drug lords in foreign countries. But circumstances and sympathies get the best of Herrick.
He finds himself, quickly—and against the protests of his family—handling the strangest case of his life, drawn into a web of international intrigue that tangles him up with the National Security Agency, the Mexican Army, the courts of two nations, and hired assassins. All the while, he's attempting to focus on the usual parts of the legal process: pretrial papers, deposition questioning, jury selection, and trial. The mundane gears of law don't seem up to the task of bringing to justice drug kingpins and their enabling American banks.
Just when Herrick thinks the stakes can’t get any higher, they do—and he realizes that he will have to fight with primitive energy if he wants to win this case . . . or if he wants to save his family from . . . The Target Defendant.