A Wicked Welcome to Keenan Powell! **giveaway**

by Julie, wintering in Somerville

I am delighted to welcome Keenan Powell to the blog today! Her new book, Implied Consent, is garnering great reviews, and I’m delighted she’s here to tell you about the book and her process.

Why I Write Legal Thrillers

Unlike many authors, I did not always aspire to a writing career post my maudlin-poetry-writing phase in high school. At first, I aspired to a career in broadcasting. After college, I realized that I had failed miserably at leveraging myself into that career. Maria Shriver, who is exactly my age, was co-anchoring NBC Sunday Today while I worked for slightly more than minimum wage at a small sound studio. We were both twenty-one. There I was in my studio apartment, eating peanut butter sandwiches, watching her on the tube, and feeling very sorry for myself.

So I decided to take my grandmother’s advice and go to law school.  A few years later, I found myself getting off the plane in Anchorage, Alaska, where I continue to practice law to this very day.

Years rolled by with no interest in writing stories but I’d become hooked on Tony Hillerman and Agatha Christie. In 2009, there were twelve homeless deaths in Anchorage during the summer months. This was particularly odd because winter was the more deadly season for those who live without shelter. People wrote letters to the editor, insisting that a serial killer was afoot. The police responded that the medical examiner had concluded each death was the result of natural causes. The public was unswayed.

In 2012, I was sitting in a continuing legal seminar listening to two old war horses bicker about a case they’d had when the world was young. The issue was whether the decedent had died of natural causes or whether his demise was the consequence of his job. Working together (for once), they quickly filed a petition in court to prevent the medical examiner from disposing of the remains because of a little-known quirk in the law. In Alaska, the medical examiner is empowered to determine the cause of death without doing an autopsy and further is entitled to dispose of (cremate) the remains within 72 hours if unclaimed.

I literally slapped my forehead, crying aloud, “That’s how he did it!” – startling the lawyer in the next chair who busy knitting. I had realized the serial killer had murdered these men in a way that looked like a natural death. This was the inspiration of my first book, Deadly Solution. The reason I wrote that book is because I wanted the world to know what I’d discovered.

Based upon Deadly Solution, I received the 2015 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant. It was then published as the first of my three-book Maeve Malloy series, and nominated for a Agatha, Lefty, and Silver Falchion awards for best debut. 

Still practicing law, I see cases that don’t turn out the way I had hoped. Writing legal thrillers give me the opportunity to fashion justice, sometimes legal, sometimes poetic. My second Maeve Malloy, Hemlock Needle,  was published in January 2019. It was inspired by a rash of missing and murdered Native Alaskan women, the same crisis that inspired a series of newspaper articles published two months after Hemlock Needle was released which went on to become the basis of the ABC series, Alaska Daily. My third Maeve Malloy, Hell and High Water, deals with the fallout of Church sex abuse scandal.

This month, I released Implied Consent, a story about a fictional #metoo case. I am thrilled that so many of the Netgalley reviews averaging five stars commenton the authenticity of the legal scenes and that I made the law understandable for them. And I’m honored that Booklife gave it an Editor’s Pick Review.

Thank you so much, Julie and the Wickeds, for having me on today!

Question to readers: If you had a chance to peak behind the curtains the practice of law, what would you want to know?

Giveaway: For a chance to win one signed paperback of Implied Consent, comment below (US only). 

About Implied Consent

Lawyer Maureen Gould has a dark secret and a need to prove herself. When a young woman walks into her office with a Hollywood #metoo case, Maureen spots the chance for redemption. 

Enter the opponent: Maureen’s father, Frank Gould, a man as evil as the movie producer he defends. While Frank pulls every dirty trick known inside the courtroom, someone behind the scenes is engineering Maureen’s defeat. Doors are slammed in her face. Disturbing photographs are “discovered.” A witness dies mysteriously. Clearly someone means to silence her.

Will Maureen muster the strength to free herself from the past, reveal the truth, and win justice for her client?

Buy: Implied Consent: A Maureen Gould Legal Thriller – Kindle edition by Powell, Keenan. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

About Keenan Powell

Keenan Powell is a Lefty and Agatha nominated author. Although she was one of original Dungeons and Dragons illustrators, art seemed an impractical pursuit – not an heiress, wouldn’t marry well, hated teaching – so she went to law school. The day after graduation, she moved to Alaska where she has vowed to practice until she gets it right.

Visit her at: www.keenanpowellauthor.com.

48 Thoughts

  1. The new book sounds so good, Keenan – and it’s waiting on my Kindle!

    I was part of a personal injury case last year that settled (very much in my favor, I’m pleased to report). I know there were negotiations of some kind between my lawyer and the doctor’s, and I would l have loved to know exactly how that went down.

    1. When negotiating with the doctor’s office, we generally do that on the telephone. Negotiations are per se inadmissible but that doesn’t stop disgruntled people from sharing them and when you’re asking the doctor to cut his bill, he’s usually not very happy. Usually, the plaintiff’s attorney points out that the case could be lost, and the doctor will get nothing, or a jury might find the treatment was unreasonable and the doctor won’t get paid, that the doctor will have to come to court to testify (they hate that) so wouldn’t the doctor like to discount his bill? He usually would rather discount the bill than lose a day from the office.

  2. I would like to know what goes on between the lawyer and DA’s during a big murder case. Not just what you see in the courtroom. Thank you so much for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    1. Good question. In the last murder case I tried, the DA (a female) invited me to coffee and then told me I was going to lose and offered me a plea deal. There we were in public. No opportunity for debate. But the DA doesn’t highlight what evidence she thinks is strong or weak so as give the defense attorney a chance to prepare for trial – attack the strong and bolster the weak.

  3. Congratulations, Keenan! I love your writing origins story and how amazing that your book was the inspiration for Alaskan Daily. It’s an amazing show!

  4. Congratulations, Keenan! I think seeing the real-life negotiations between prosecution and defense in a criminal case would be fascinating.

    1. They are generally perfunctory. Neither attorney wants to talk about the evidence, what we think is strong or weak, because that would give the other attorney the opportunity to strengthen their case. In criminal cases, the prosecution sends over a form with the plea offer filled in. I suppose that’s to avoid any he said/she said and also to give his supervisor the opportunity to approve it. There’s usually a deadline but often the defendant will be able to accept the plea deal after the deadline expires. Sometimes the defendant will counter with his own plea offer in a likewise perfunctory letter. The prosecution might accept it. Don’t forget the defendant can always plead “straight up’ to the charge if he doesn’t like the terms the prosecution is offering and throw himself on the mercy of the court – argue that he should receive a lighter sentence that the prosecution is offering. I’ve done that with success.

  5. Congrats on the release!!! Looks like a great book and I cant wait to read this one

  6. Congratulations on your new book! I’d like to know how many times a prosecutor offer a plea deal to secure a win and no chance of losing a case when elections are coming up. A prosecutor’s record is always brought up when running for District Attorney.

    1. That is a really good question! In my jurisdiction, the prosecutor is appointed by the governor, and no one mentions conviction rates during the gubernatorial campaigns. But I bet in jurisdictions where they’re elected, there is a strong motivation for high conviction rates, and I bet the prosecutors are willing to sweeten the deals with dropping the more serious charges or stipulating to a sweetheart jail term.

  7. Congratulations, Keenan! Implied Consent sounds fantastic. I love fiction books, movies and TV that give an inside look to how any profession is practiced. I think you can ‘feel’ if the person knows their stuff and cares about believeability if not 100% accuracy.

    Maria Shriver had a serious crush on my husband (then fiance) when she was at Georgetown and her father was running for President. Lots of women on the campaign staff warned me about it. When she later married Arnold Schwarzenegger I found it hilarious and loved to tease him about it.

    1. I’m delighted that so many Netgalley reviewers commented on the authenticity of Implied Consent.

      Clearly, your husband followed his heart rather than be swayed by glamour. That says a lot about him!

  8. Please don’t enter me in the drawing, I received the book from Netgalley and was one of those five star reviews! It is a fabulous book, Keenan. I hated to see it end.

    I had a twentysomething peek behind the curtain at legal land and it never failed to delight, surprise, infuriate, and/or disappoint me. My area was probate litigation – amazing what family and loved ones get up to once the purse holder is dead!

  9. Domestics was bad but probate! I cannot imagine. You must have a wonderful ability to handle people seriously stressed about money with decades of emotional baggage. I think I’d chew my arm off.

  10. Congratulations on the release, Keenan. As a lawyer (corporate, not criminal), I’m always amazed how many books don’t get it “right.” I’m sure yours does … I’ll look forward to checking it out!

    1. Thank you so much! The lay readers on Netgalley commented on the authenticity. I did quite a bit of legal research on California NDA, sexual harassment, and evidence admissibility on Westlaw while writing the book to make sure I got it right.

  11. Always interesting to hear the story behind the book, and in this case the writing career as well. Congrats on the new case!

  12. I love when an author brings their real experience to a book; it makes such a difference. This one looks like a great read! Many congratulations with it, Keenan. For my legal question: Is it ever permissible for a civilian to break into someone’s house if they fear for the life of the person inside?

    1. What a great question! First, a disclaimer. This comment should not be construed as legal advice – it is merely a description of the state of the law.

      Answer: it depends on your jurisdiction.

      Police are exempted from search warrant requirements when there are “exigent circumstances.” If they believe someone inside a building needs help, then they can bust down the door.

      In relation to civilians, are two (maybe three) kinds of jurisdictions:

      1. There are jurisdictions where a person has a duty to rescue, depending on their role and the circumstances. That person could get into trouble if they don’t do something.

      2. There are jurisdictions which have Good Samaritan laws which are passed by each state’s legislative body. Generally that means if someone tries to help someone who is injured, and causes them further injury, then the Good Samaritan cannot be sued. I haven’t heard of it as being treated as an exception to trespassing. It would depend on how the law is written.

      3. There are jurisdictions, I would think, that have neither a duty to rescue or a protection for Good Samaritans. If someone broke into another person’s house, reasonably thinking there was someone inside who needed immediate medical attention, or rescuing from a bad guy, one would hope that the authorities wouldn’t prosecute them for trespass. But if a person was unreasonable in their belief, or just making it up, then they might get into trouble.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more clear. Great question, fuzzy answer.

  13. I watch a television program titled 48 hours sometimes. I have noticed that many of the suspects deny involvement in their crimes. They lie to try to get out of trouble, and many times they invoke their right to talk with an attorney. We never hear about the details of their conversations with their attorneys. It seems to me that the defense attorneys are also going to have a problem getting them to admit to anything. How in the world can the lawyers get their clients to be honest with them? Obviously, the attorneys need their clients to tell them the whole story if they are to provide the best possible defense. It seems like it would be an uphill battle!

  14. Exactly! It’s a common problem in criminal defense. We have a talk with the client at the beginning of the case and regularly that we don’t want any surprises at trial — that if we know what’s coming, we can prepare for it. Unfortunately, clients are sometimes slow to trust their attorney if they ever do.

  15. Congratulations on the release of “Implied Consent”, which sounds absolutely amazing!

    I must admit that you are a new to me author, However, after reading the post, checking out “Implied Consent”, and your other books, I’m now following you on social media as well as Goodreads and Amazon. I wait with great enthusiasm for the opportunity to read and review this new book.

    My two questions are this – I know that every one deserves fair representation under the law, but how can you defend someone when you know they are guilty? How does it feel going in knowing that your client is right in a lawsuit and should be compensated, but even after giving it your all that doesn’t happen? How do you put it behind you and move forward? How many recourses are they or are there any?

    Thank you for the chance! Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thank you so much! These are excellent questions and topics that are often discussed amongst lawyers.

      How do you defend someone who you know is guilty? One attorney told me that he doesn’t defend the criminal, he defends the constitution. It’s his job to make sure that the prosecution doesn’t trample on the accused’s constitutional rights. Power is intoxicating and someone has to keep them in check.

      Another attorney told me he is slowing down the train. Once the authorities target someone, the momentum of prosecution can overwhelm the defendant whether or not he is guilty of what he is accused.

      For me, I wanted to make sure that if my client was convicted, he was convicted for the correct offense, not some trumped up charge, that the evidence against him was legally obtained, and that he got a fair sentence. Prosecutors like to overcharge cases so that they have room to negotiate downwards. But human beings are not used cars and shouldn’t be treated that way.

      As for a bad result in civil cases, it breaks my heart. I advise the client about the right to appeal and pursue the appeal as long as the client wants.

      Philosophically, I believe that if we want to own the wins, we have to own the losses too. It would be far easier on our psyches if we could detach from both, but I’m not built that way.

      Good luck in the draw!

      1. Thank you for the answers that are very much my way of thinking. Having worked for the police department – although on a very low level in animal control, it was my job to go before the judge in court with the facts against the accused which had me seeing a small bit of things from the one side. Unfortunately I have been on the other side as well regarding the untimely death of our daughter. Actually we weren’t seeking monetary justice, because no amount of money would repay us for the loss of our only child, but rather for the person responsible to accept responsibility of what they had done and in some way made to pay in order for that responsibility to sink in. Completely different circumstances, almost polar opposites in fact, but it proves there has to be justice for both parties.
        2clowns at arkansas dot net

  16. Happy book birthday. I honestly am not sure the answer to your question. There are times that I have felt one way after hearing about a case, but the jury sees it another way. They have heard all the evidence when I do not know it all. There is so much happening in the world that it is hard to now want to live in a bubble and be safe without knowing the evil and deceit out in the world. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

    1. Thank you!

      I agree that we should never second guess a jury. They are the ones that took days, even weeks or months, out of their lives to take the evidence and deliberate. Their verdicts should be honored.

      What we hear in the news is rarely the whole story and often told by a reporter who doesn’t get what’s going on at all.

  17. I always love a good legal thriller. I have been on several juries of different kinds of cases and involved with cases within the family after the death of my father and dealing with my mother’s estate so, unfortunately, I have had a bit too much experience with the legal system in my estimation. Right now, my son and his wife are trying to get full custody of her children from previous marriage. I wish I knew more of how that could be accomplished. He is not a good parent and was physically and emotionally abusive towards her. Any ideas?

    1. I’m sorry but I can’t give you legal advice in this forum. I’m only licensed in Alaska, and I don’t do domestic relations. To my knowledge, most states have lawyer referral programs. The most reliable ones are posted by the local bar association, rather than some website that claims it provides referrals but it’s really a marketing operation. Also check out if there is a legal services clinic in your area. Sometimes they sponsor legal clinics, where you can find out what your rights are.

      Good luck!

  18. I have been a murder mystery enthusiast since I was quite young. My Irish Mother and I watched all of the Agatha Christie black and white movies available and the Perry Mason mysteries. I read every Agatha Christie book before I was 30 and the countless mysteries written by other mystery authors. I was usually ahead if the curve of popular opinion. I recently hit an impasse as I felt that I had exhausted all that was good in the genre and have been picky about jumping into new offerings. I have a MA in Drama in Directing and a JD. I practiced labor and employment law. I look forward to reading this selection and wish Keenan Powell continued success.

    1. Thanks so much! I was turned on to Miss Marple when visiting Ireland with my cousin. We were staying at a B&B in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo. We had come in from dinner and found the landlady watching Miss Marple. This was years ago when you could watch it on PBS if you had really good antenna reception in US and I did not. I was hooked.

  19. Your book sounds good. I’d like to know if judges have favorite attorneys that they are more lenient with.

    1. Thanks so much!

      Yes, they do. Not only do they have favorites, they have attorneys they hate. I know of at least one judge who excoriated specific attorneys repeated. There was one judge who hated me so much (not sure why), she recused herself from all my cases. That was fine by me because she was one of those judges.

  20. Congratulations on the new book, Keenan.

    I’m currently living in Indiana, where the highly publicized case of the murder of two young girls is in the works, with considerable wrangling over venue and seating an unbiased jury. Given the massive and quite sensational state and national news coverage about the case, it seems virtually impossible to find anyone who is competent yet hasn’t heard about the case. Naturally, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney have had a lot to say about this. I’m curious about what goes on behind the scenes in cases like this where they obviously do need to seat a jury. How do the attorneys decide to accept or challenge jurors in such a situation, beyond the obvious “I know he did it” attitude?

    1. Parties are entitled to “bump” (excuse) prospective jurors from the jury panel. If the prospective juror admits that s/he cannot be fair to one of the parties, the juror will be excused for cause. Not all veniremen (prospective jurors) admit that they are biased but talented and skilled attorneys are able to reveal the bias during questioning. Each party is also entitled to preemptory challenges which are used when the attorney thinks the person is biased but couldn’t convince the judge. The number of preemps is determined by the jurisdiction and the case.

      1. Thanks, Keenan. I wasn’t clear with my question. I knew about the formal challenges, but was wondering more about anything that might go on behind the scenes. In some books and movies, jury selection seems to be a game in which the two sides are trying to win rather than ensure a fair result. I just wondered how accurate those portrayals are. (I’ve served on two juries, and selection was pretty non-eventful.) Not a big deal, just curious.

    2. Definitely, each attorney is trying to win. That’s their job. The idea of justice is that if each side does their best and the jury is impartial, then a just result should be reached.

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