I just finished reading A Shadow of a Doubt by William Coughlin. Charley Sloan, the main character, is a down-and-almost-out lawyer stripped of pride and fame by his alcoholism. He’s an unlikely choice as counsel for a wealthy young woman facing a murder charge. The plot is gripping and the writing is excellent. If you are looking for a page-turner, this book will satisfy. But back to Charley….
Charley would say he’s not a hero, but his character is riveting. He has some of the typical wry-attorney humor (think Lincoln Lawyer), but it was his authenticity that grabbed my heart. Charley is honest about his fall from fame and fortune. He recognizes their lures as this convoluted murder case shoves him back into the limelight, back into harm’s way. Charley wants so much to be respected that my gut ached. His minute-by-minute struggles with alcoholism are beyond painful; I wanted to rescue him from that pit and inject him with some miracle drug to remove those cravings forever.
I grew up with an alcoholic father who never confronted his disease. I remember helping convince a doctor to prescribe tranquilizers which were “secretly” administered. My father worked for Merck Chemical at the time and quickly identified the pills. That started him on a long journey of retaliation with pills, which is another story altogether. I could have easily followed my father’s drunken path. I used to drink solely to numb the pain, an exercise in futility. Once saved, I knew I should and would never drink again. There’s actually something far better than a miracle drug, Charley.
I’m looking forward to more of Charley Sloan. The remaining books in the series were written by Coughlin’s wife, Ruth. Their love and literary journey is another fascinating story.