Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Book Review: 'Mr. 100%' by Lance Morcan

Mr. 100% by Lance Morcan


An effulgent new novella!

New Zealand novelist and screenwriter Lance Morcan is a former journalist and newspaper editor with over twenty published books to his credit. Often he writes in collaboration with his son James Morcan, but new novel is another solo for Lance. Following the ongoing output of a talented author such as Lance is rewarding in that with each new publication, a different aspect of his talent is evident. Having read almost all of his books, this reviewer believes MR. 100% to be his most polished and creative novel to date – and that is significant given his prodigious tally of works! More acutely than ever, Lance displays a fine gift for creating characters – both central and peripheral. The cast seems familiar, not that anyone has cultured them in the fine style that Lance delivers, but in the fact that they are credible to the point of being visual. 

Setting the tone for this story, the book opens with A Dilemma – ‘On the evening of November 2nd, 1987, in the den of his upmarket Manhattan apartment in New York City, a depressed and intoxicated Madison Harley studied his Glock 17 through the bottom of an empty whiskey glass. The pistol, which rested on the desktop alongside a near-empty bottle of Heaven Hill Bourbon, was loaded. Harley planned to use the Glock to end his life very soon, but not before he drained the bottle. It was, after all, a question of priorities….’ Being witness to a thought of suicide incites the curiosity of the reader to explore this character’s circumstances.

The synopsis of the plot outlines the dilemma without spoiling the tenor of the novel: Hotshot New York defense lawyer Madison Harley only takes on clients he believes innocent. He’s known as ‘Mr. 100%’ because he has never lost a case, and consequently he is Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of the police, prosecutors and the media. The bad press has taken a toll on his personal life. His wife has moved out, taking their two young sons with her and instigating divorce proceedings. When his latest client confides that he is guilty of the horrific rape-murder he’s accused of, a depressed and guilt-wracked Harley hires a contract killer to terminate him after the jury delivers a Not Guilty verdict. It’s 1987 and groundbreaking developments in the field of forensic science sees DNA profiling used for the first time in criminal investigations in America. The release of DNA test results causes Harley to rescind his order to carry out the hit on his client. Unfortunately for him, the killer doesn’t change direction once a ‘kill’ order has been placed. The nightmare scenario that follows sees Mr. 100% negotiating for his client’s life, his own life and the lives of his estranged family with a Mafia henchman, stalking a contract killer and acting as a minder for a client who it appears really is innocent and who is oblivious to the mayhem unfolding around him. Throughout it all, Harley is sustained by the affections of a new woman in his life – a prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office no less.

Once again Lance Morcan proves he is a master weaver of stories. Not only is this a fine story, but it also adds a depth of knowledge about the impact of DNA profiling, a topic which along with omnipresence of surveillance cameras, facial recognition, and other contemporary invasive legal profundities, deserves exploring! Rich in flavor and fine characterizations, this novel is particularly fine. Highly recommended.









Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.