By Terri Schlichenmeyer


You love your job.

Thatís because, for you, itís not just a job. Itís your passion, the thing that makes you get up in the morning, a challenge, your destiny.

It was the job you dreamed of having when you were a kid, the one you spent years learning and perfecting.

Yes, it has its ups and downsides, but you canít imagine doing anything else. So would you like to do your job for eternity? In the new book ďThe Trial of Fallen AngelsĒ by James Kimmel, Jr., the juryís still out on that.

At first, Brek Abigail Cuttler didnít know anything.

She didnít know why she was sitting on a bench at a train station wearing blood-stained clothing, and she didnít know why there were holes in her chest. She didnít know that sheíd died.

That took a long time to grasp and even longer time to accept. Even after the old man named Luas took Brek to her great-grandmotherís home, Brek refused to believe what they said had happened. Still, Nana had been dead a long time; long before Brek finished law school, got married, became a mother.

But reminiscing on Nanaís front porch wasnít why Brek had come to Shemaya Station. No, there was another reason: in life, she was a lawyer.

In death, sheíd be a lawyer, too.

Luas explained to her that, when they died, everyone came through Shemaya Station and was given representation. Complete access to the personís memories and thoughts was provided to the lawyer assigned to the case.

That was weird, but what outraged Brek was that the justice she knew was missing: there was no Bill of Rights, no procedural protection or client confidentiality. No lie went unexposed in the courtroom, and no truth was hidden.

In Shemaya, lawyers argued on behalf of the people they had somehow, meaningfully, been tied to in life, which allowed a horrifying lack of unbiased representation.

Justice for the dead was swift and absolute, and it often came before the trial was completed.

Grappling with these inconsistencies and unfair rules, Brek received her first client. She didnít seem to know him and, as she understood procedure, that was odd.

And then, she rememberedÖ.

Thereís a lot to like about ďThe Trial of Fallen Angels,Ē and it starts with the beauty of James Kimmel, Jr.ís writing.

Kimmel, a lawyer as well as an author, gives a lot of authenticity to this novelís courtroom aspects and its legalese.

Heís also pretty darn good at putting himself inside the head of a sharp, feisty young mother.

What I loved about this book most, though, was its complexity: Shemaya is a place for learning, understanding, condemning and forgiveness.

What you see is what you want to see, consciously or not, which is both horrifying and comforting in Kimmelís wondrous, dreadful world.

This is one of those make-you-think books that also contains quirky details and small bites of humor. Itís beautiful, haunting and shouldnít be missed.

Did I love ďThe Trial of Fallen AngelsĒ?

Guilty as charged.

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been a professional book reviewer for more than a decade. She lives in Wisconsin.