Addiction on Trial
Addiction on Trial
Tragedy in Downeast Maine
Dust Jacket Hardcover
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When Downeast “local” Annette Fiorno is found at the bottom of a ravine, “outsider” and relapsed drug addict Jimmy Sedgwick is accused of murder. Unassuming Maine lawyer Rob Hanston and big shot attorney Shawn Marks form an unlikely legal team as they attempt to discredit the overwhelming evidence. Addiction on Trial, the first in a series of Shawn Marks Thrillers, revolves around the murder cases of Attorney Marks, an egotistical yet likable high-powered Boston attorney who can juggle an array of female companions without taking his eye off the legal challenges of his work. Addiction on Trial is a journey of suspense while exploring love and loss, family dysfunction, and the “what ifs” of life. It sends a powerful message of societal discrimination toward drug addicts and explores common misperceptions about what drug addiction really is – a chronic illness requiring a similar treatment approach as other chronic diseases. Medical and behavioral aspects of addiction are woven into the intrigue of this thriller, which culminates in a riveting murder trial.

JIMMY (Accused Murderer/Heroin Addict):

Adam was led into a sterile, white, windowless room approximately ten feet square. Jimmy was in the far corner of the room behind a cold metal table. Seated on a low wooden stool, he had the appearance of a small boy who could barely see above the grown-ups’ table. Jimmy’s head was bowed as he nervously picked at an excoriated lesion on his left palm, having removed the bandage that the nurses had previously placed over it. He scratched back and forth with the raggedly bitten nails of his middle and ring fingers of his right hand, digging progressively deeper into the layers of tissue until fresh blood mixed with dried scabs from prior scrapings oozed out and trickled on his blue jeans. This was a vile habit that paralleled his drug use. It did not matter whether he was high from drugs, in withdrawal from waning drug effects, or just dreading the discovery of his drug use, he would pick at the thick muscle below the thumb where it merged into the hollow of his palm, burrowing until it bled, as if this self-mutilating behavior would heighten his awareness of the painful path of drugs he had once again chosen. When he was clean from drugs, the bleeding stopped.

Jimmy Sedgwick had spent Sunday, June 6, his third evening behind bars at the Prescott County Jail, drenched in perspiration and shaking with chills while retching and doubled over with stomach pain ... At that point the vomiting, diarrhea, racing heart, fever, chills, and diffuse muscle pain would reduce him to the fetal position. Then all he would think about was how to get his next “fix,” which would be impossible to achieve while behind bars. It was at this moment, practically jumping out of his skin with fear and anxiety, that he placed the call to his father—the only person he could turn to for help...

The jail guard who led Adam into the room to meet with Jimmy was a petite woman in her fifties. Jimmy looked up and smiled through clenched teeth as his father entered. Adam did not utter a word or look at his son directly until after the guard explained the rules...

... Adam slowly turned toward his son, who was now standing behind the table. Jimmy’s frail appearance and sunken eyes resembled the final days of a cancer patient. His thinning black hair had not been brushed in days; scattered oily strands hung heavy over his forehead. Adam moved his head ever so slightly to one side and Jimmy responded as he had done for years. This was the same nod he would receive from his dad after his Little League baseball games. It simply meant “I am proud of you son, come get a hug.” The hugs were never correlated with the number of hits or errors Jimmy had made; they were always unconditional. This embrace was no different. Adam held his arms out wide to welcome his son; but this time Adam knew his sphere of protection was not enforceable.

Jimmy started to cry, breaking into uncontrollable sobs as his father held him tight ... Jimmy, trying to control his spasming muscles, apologized again, “Dad, I’m so sorry for causing you this inconvenience. Please forgive me.” They embraced one last time before Adam pushed the red buzzer on the wall.

On the way out, Adam overheard the jail guard talking on the phone, “This guy from away is in the clink for selling drugs. You should see him. He’s a mess.”

Adam paused as he registered the comment: was Jimmy being accused of being a “drug pusher”? It would not be long before Adam would have welcomed as a blessing the charge of possessing drugs for distribution as the most serious accusation against his son.

SHAWN MARKS (Jimmy's Lawyer)

At age forty-dreading forty-five like most people dread sixty, Shawn Marks had never been married and had never fathered any children that he knew of. He kept his six-foot frame slim and his heart fit by taking weekday jogs from his waterfront office to the Back Bay...

...Sundays Marks worked from his home, but Monday thru Friday he took the thirty-minute commuter train ride and five-minute taxi trip to his office. ... On Saturdays he always drove his 1987 Porsche 911 Cabriolet convertible to work ...The Saturday workday had no intermissions and no jogging escapes, just yogurt and nine nonstop hours of mental grinding. He arrived back home by 5:00 p.m. for one hour of yoga and a long Jacuzzi before a social evening: first to wherever paying clients were treating him to a superb dinner and thereafter, more often than not, he was free to chase one of several women he fancied around the Saturday night dance floor of life...

…Marks had not considered a first-date sleepover as an available option and therefore was not prepared for the morning race to the airport. He had felt a paralysis as he looked at Samantha Kotts... He had enjoyed lingering in bed next to Samantha, still asleep, lying on her side facing him, soft auburn hair draped gently over her forehead and sheet clinging to her mid back, exposing her youthful velvet skin. It was very difficult leaving Samantha Kotts behind, as he dreamt about spending a morning in bed with this spunky lawyer, especially after a night like the one from which he was recovering. Marks was at peace with his frustration of having to leave; he knew he had laid more groundwork than ever anticipated. After a peck on her cheek and with coffee in hand, he headed down the steps to the cobblestone sidewalk and into his waiting Porsche. The parking ticket under the passenger windshield wiper served as a reminder that everything good in life comes at a price. He had never wanted to pay the price of a day-to-day monogamous relationship despite the positive benefits. But what Marks felt that morning as he looked at Samantha made him uncomfortable. The $60 parking ticket was a small price to pay compared to the emotional price of a committed relationship. Marks avoided being distracted by his feelings, as he wanted to focus on the euphoria of the moment. He seamlessly slipped back into denial, as he regressed to a prior stage, putting the convertible roof down to celebrate a great evening with the rest of the world. Shawn Marks was thirty again!

Author Steven Kassels, M.D. turns his Addiction Medicine and Emergency Medicine experiences into a journey of suspense while exploring love and loss, family dysfunction, and the “what ifs” of life – and the journey will continue in the next Shawn Marks Thriller, Lost to Addiction.

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