The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

The Untested: A Legal Thriller

By Greg Morse Book Reviews

Image of The Untested book coverThe Untested begins with a flash-forward, when two mobsters arrive by car at Jason Noble’s Florida home first thing in the morning, and force him to go with them for a visit with the “boss.” Nobody knows if Noble will survive the visit. This scene sets the tone for the novel.

The Untested is Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Greg Morse’s debut novel. The protagonist, Jason Noble, is a naïve former legal aid attorney with limited experience who has agreed to defend a mob boss in a death penalty trial, without knowing why he was selected for the high-profile representation. Morse does a good job of building the suspense as the book progresses. It takes place in Southeast Florida, Morse’s home turf.

Morse has a unique, quirky writing style. There is a brief appearance of an attorney with, randomly, the same name as a very famous pop music and movie star. There are also plenty of typos. The word “too” is repeatedly misspelled as “to,” which may cause a reader to wonder if these typos were intentional. A fictional separate federal bar exam required to practice in federal court is incorporated into the book, a curious choice in a book by a practicing lawyer.

Nonetheless, if you enjoy legal thrillers, it does not disappoint. The combination of Noble being in way over his head in the trial, but being able to think quickly on his feet, has you rooting for his success. The likeability of Noble is helped along by some unlikeable adversaries, such as a prosecutor whose main concern is his own political ambition and a federal judge with no shortage of hubris. Fans of mob fiction will enjoy Noble’s client, the magnetic, Antonio “Magic Man” Barrera. The major and minor characters all contribute to the plot and suspense, without making the book overly complicated to follow.

The book is not for the squeamish, as it contains some graphically described violence. We learn early on about human trafficking by certain elements of the mafia. A big question is whether the “Magic Man” is involved. Fans of legal thrillers will likely want to read more from Greg Morse.

The Untested, a reasonable 330 pages, is self-published by the author.

Robert Ladislaw is a member of The Florida Bar.