dead peasants

Dead Peasants

Larry D. Thompson


Three families of three refinery workers are killed in an explosion. Several dozen workers are maimed. Waiting with baited breath to learn the final outcome of their suit against the refinery, Jackson Douglas Bryant, attorney for all three families waits along with his clients hoping the jury finds in their favor. Beaumont Texas: The courtroom is filled to capacity, the tension runs high as the bailiff enters the courtroom, everyone rises when the judge enters and the verdict is read on all counts. Finding the refinery liable for negligence in maintenance practices, stating that the negligence caused the deaths of these workers and awarding the three families a total of 90 million dollars monumental which added up both the punitive and gross negligence charges. But, awards of this magnitude are automatically sent for mediation as you can guess the top amount is never really the end result. But, Jack is tough and he will not relent or give in until they reach a final settlement that will benefit his clients. Seventy-five million is nothing to sneeze at and yielded him forty percent. The award was just one surprise of the day.  His announcement that he was going to retire was the second, and this is where our story really gets interesting.


Breckenridge: Football night in a bar and a man named Jim is about to have his last drink. A lone stranger enters and although he mumbles something to Jim no one really pays too much attention to him. Watching him closely after paying his tab, Jim leaves the bar and goes to open the door of his truck only to meet his maker when another truck runs him down and kills him.


Jack decides to move back to his hometown in Fort Worth, Texas hoping to retire and get closer to his son J.D. who is going to play football for TCU. But, things are not always what they appear and meeting Colby Stripling, his realtor, would bring out emotions in him that he thought were lost. Colby is bright, curious and wants to know more about Jack but not in a romantic way. Asking him about his past, his career opens up new avenues for her to get to know him and for Jack to explain he wanted everyone to realize that he is a success and the house that would land her a huge commission would be his home and a status symbol of his accomplishments. But, this story has much more and many twists as we meet Dwayne Allison whose car dealerships are in trouble of being closed if he does not come up with a way to pay his loans. The bank refuses to renew his loans, his customers cannot get money to fund a loan to buy cars and his brother who manages his insurance programs cannot do anything to remedy the situation. But, Dwayne is crafty and thinks he has the solution. Why not cancel the life insurance policies he took out on 7000 current and former employees and use the money to pay off his debts. But, some decisions made early on backfire and the only way he can collect is if the employee is deceased.


Business empires often start small. Dwayne Allison bought one car dealership, obtained a bank loan and it snowballed into 125 dealerships. But, things began to decline with the recession and the loans and bills could not be paid and the empire started to shrink. With bank beating down his door and wanting their money he had to come up with a sure fire plan to recoup his losses. But, what he hopes to accomplish would not be possible when the truth about certain things came to light. But, Dwayne is smart and thinks he is so shrewd that he plants an idea in someone’s mind fostering more than must a garden of flowers and hopefully save his businesses.


Jack gets his dream with the help of Colby who agrees to decorate it for him. Hoping to get closer to her, she keeps things at arms length for personal reasons, which will be revealed later. When Jack decides life is getting too dull he decides to rekindle his career but in a different way. Giving back to those who are needy and cannot afford lawyers is a great way to help the people of his new community and to stop some of the illegal practices that seem to be plaguing some of the people living there. One involves a credit card company that jacks up the interest when a client is late and then demands more than just the minimum payment each month plus extra. It is followed by a huge case brought to him by Colby. June Davis is the wife of Willie who worked for Allison’s dealership as a porter. Willie’s death is definitely suspect as are others that follow. But, when J.D. explains to Jack the meaning of Dead Peasant policies and how they relate to this case things begin to heat up in more ways than one. Dead Peasant policies are insurance policies taken out on employees without their knowledge. In this case the policies were taken out on workers who are current and those that are no longer with the company. Premiums are paid and the company is the beneficiary. When the case comes to court and June Davis is questioned, what happens will let the reader know that she is wiser than the lawyers expected and the end result will surprise you. But, when Colby is once again attacked more drastic measures come into play as she reveals the truth behind her visits to a nursing home and the man she visits who worked for the same car dealership as Willie. Three attempts on her life and the killer is still out there. With the trial coming to pass and the hope of getting June’s case settled what happens at this trial will enlighten the reader as to courtroom procedures, legalities, insurance fraud, a judge’s integrity and how far Jack will go to prove his client deserves the money. Added into the mix are his feelings for Colby, what happens to her husband and how he tries to clear her name. Dead Peasants is a legal/ murder thriller that will keep you on edge from start to finish until you come to the surprise and shocking conclusion. Once again Larry D. Thompson has penned a five star novel that far surpasses other legal/mystery thrillers. Jack Bryant is a solid character who with the help of our esteemed author will enlighten readers as to why you need to be careful when working for any company: Dead Peasant Polices: You don’t want one taken out on your life!

Fran Lewis: reviewer