An Interrogation of The Soul

There is a well known saying that the eyes are the windows to a persons soul. That may well be so, but for me a book reveals far more. It does not matter what the subject, the written word reveals much about the writer.

My first encounter with John Contini was with his debut book Danger Road, a very disturbing look at a true crime that unfolded in the Florida everglades in 1983.

Shortly after Danger Road our paths crossed on another dangerous road. John Contini is a well known lawyer in the South Florida area. A sad and pointless killing had occurred in Miami Beach and John was representing the family of the young man who lost his life. The killer was known, but justice was missing. The killer was a Miami Beach police officer Adam Tavss.

John Contini and I talked on numerous occasions, he from the legal standpoint and me from the journalist side. Through these conversations I learned a little about John Contini, but there were so many unanswered questions. It was clear that his representation of the Shehada family was not a quest for fame or fortune? So what drives this man?  Why would John Contini bother with a case that no-one else would?

My questions were answered by reading Feeling The Heat. John Contini reveals so very much about himself in this book. It chronicles a very personal journey, and a journey that was hard to make, and I am sure even harder to put into mere words.

That is not to say that Feeling The Heat is not without a great deal of humor and humility. Both abound as you explore this book. John talks not just of being a dispassionate lawyer, but also from the victims point of view.

He found himself the target of an embezzlement scheme. An employee with ‘sticky fingers’ managed to unburden his company bank account of more than $50,000. At the trial John Contini actually spoke well of the felon, the judge on the other hand took a less charitable approach.

Mr. Wainer, Mr. Contini may forgive you, but I don’t

Mr. Wainer had 24 prior felony convictions, and scored 30 years for this one!

John Contini talks fondly of Larry Malanga, an investigator on his team. It can be seen in this simple quote:

Malanga would “polite” the people to death and surprisingly get all the information he needed, stuff nobody else would get.

As an interviewer and journalist this single line had me rolling on the floor laughing. It is all so true. Far more wasps are caught using honey than vinegar. Charm beats chaos in everything but Professional Wrestling and international politics.

Without question though the quote from Feeling The Heat that has most resonance and depth is to be found towards the end of the book:

Then I had an epiphany of sorts, as I decided to quit playing the role of John the big time criminal lawyer, or John the Christian Lawyer and family man, and all the other roles I had played and perfected. Oh I’d still be a Christian, and I’d still be a family man and a lawyer; but I wanted to be more real. From now on, I’d just be John the guy hopefully doing the next right thing….

It is rare that I have the opportunity to review a book from so many different stand points. It was rather like being taken back to the classic Physics lesson about Einsteins Theory Of Relativity. The story goes, you are stood on the side of a railroad track, the train is moving at 80 mph, on the train are two people playing Ping Pong, how fast is that little ball moving as the train passes?

Feeling The Heat is a very unique book. Yes, it can be argued that I may know more about the author than the average reader, but I also know a very well written book when I read one.

You can order your copy of Feel The Heat by using the Amazon link.

Simon Barrett

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