The Questions People Have for me about "Without Precedent"

Q: What was the impetus for writing WITHOUT PRECEDENT?

A: 72,000 people died of an overdose in the United States last year, a record. The vast majority were from heroin or opioids. That makes it more deadly than car crashes or gun violence. Many of the people who die of a heroin overdose, first became addicted through opioid painkillers. These painkillers are a close chemical cousin to morphine and heroin. I wanted to write a story that examines that link and the corporate liability that a pharmaceutical company may have when its users become addicted, then shift to an illegal drug when the prescription medication is cut-off. 


Q: Tell me a little about what the book is about?

The main character is Matthew Daley. He’s a Manhattan corporate lawyer at the top of his game. As the first defense attorney on call to get pharmaceutical companies out of trouble, Daley is making lots of money, engaged to marry a beautiful and ambitious woman, and ready to take on a leadership role at his law firm. Then his sister dies of a heroin overdose.

Now, torn between conscience and career, the newly minted law partner faces a critical choice: defend the very companies that manufactured the addictive drugs, or give up his fiancée and his hard-won dream job to fight for justice in his sister’s name.

Returning to his blue-collar hometown with a ragtag band of law-school misfits by his side, Daley squares off against a team of New York corporate attorneys in a high-stakes courtroom battle. If he wins, the case could have national implications, bringing down the multibillion-dollar Big Pharma industry. If he loses, he’ll become collateral damage in the greatest fall of his career and his life.

Q: For WITHOUT PRECEDENT, you returned to St. Louis. Why did you base this book there?

A: I love St. Louis as a city, and I think it mirrors the inner conflict that the main character, Daley, struggles with. On the one hand, St. Louis is proud of its blue-collar, scrappy background. On the other hand, St. Louis still has ambition to be something more. Due to larger circumstances, however, St. Louis always seems to be pulled back.  Matthew Daley is faced with the same choice. Should he be true to his roots and loyal to his family or should he cut ties and seek riches in New York City.

As a writer, I also like St. Louis because it is just the right size for my stories. It isn’t overwhelming like Los Angeles or New York or even Chicago, but it isn’t a little city either. I feel in control, and I also like the excuse to expose readers to all of the cool restaurants, parks, and attractions that St. Louis has to offer.