The main difference between Mike Rubin and all the other lawyers-turned-authors out there writing legal thrillers is that this guy writes like a homesick angel and never lets the law get in the way of a terrific and well-told story.
In Cashed Out, Rubin is note perfect in serving up a down-and-out lawyer with a name you could only find in America’s Banana Republic state, Louisiana. With vivid prose and an effortless familiarity, Rubin also captures the baroque and grotesque essence of the state, from the stench of petro-chemical plants along the Cancer Corridor to the patois of murderous New Orleans greaseballs, the silent ka-ching of politicians on the take and the cultural and political corruption that seems as natural as swamp gas.
The book’s main character, Hypolite “Schex” Schexnaydre, is a fourth-generation Bayou State native living in a rundown house on the ragged side of Baton Rouge, a failed barrister with no clients and an empty bank account until fast-talking, porcine G.G. Guidry shows up at his door to put him on retainer to draw up a quintet of shell corporations that name his mistress as president.
Money is Guidry’s game and he’s made his as a toxic waste disposal hustler. He’s playing a hazardous game of three card monte with state regulators who are about to shut down his infamous plant, community activists tired of getting poisoned and his partners, who include the aforementioned mobsters and Schex’s ex-wife, a hard-driving blonde with the focus of a heat-seeking missile on the money she thinks Guidry owes her.
It’s enough to get a man killed and Guidry gets murdered just a day or so after he puts Schex on retainer. But not before he pays a midnight visit and leaves Schex holding a suitcase bulging with more than $4 million in cash.
That makes Schex an instant target of cops who think he had a hand in Guidry’s murder, a philosophical mob boss and his rebellious button men and the mistress and that conniving ex-wife who both think they have a rightful claim to the dead man’s dirty money. Above them all, pulling the strings, is a crooked patrician pol with his eyes on the loot and the seat of power where Huey Long once ruled.
The perfect patsy, Schex is on the run, dodging the cops and the button men, relying on his wits to clear his name, keep from getting killed and somehow get his hands on that money to beat them all at their own game. Off-shore oil rigs, Garden District mansions and a gruesome discovery at a processing plant for alligator skin and meat are all whistle stops on this rollicking ride.
Schex is nobody’s angel. But you can’t help but root for this native son of Louisiana, playing the state’s favorite corrupt blood sport. You want him to win it all.
Jim Nesbitt is the author of two hard-boiled crime thrillers set in Texas and northern Mexico that feature battered but dogged Dallas PI Ed Earl Burch — The Last Second Chance and The Right Wrong Number. Both are available on Amazon.