Fredrickson, Michael 1945(?)–
Fredrickson, Michael 1945(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1945, in Redwood Falls, MN; married; children: one son. Education: Macalester College, B.A.; attended Oxford University; University of Toronto, M.A.; Harvard Law School, J.D.
CAREER: U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, law clerk; Hill & Barlow (law firm), Boston, MA, associate, five years; Clients' Security Board, Boston, MA, counsel; Board of Bar Overseers, Boston, MA, general counsel, 1989–. Worked as a college professor, farmer, auto mechanic, lumberjack, bar musician, and founder of a singing telegram business. Taught legal ethics at law schools in Boston. Also taught at Demos Writers' Workshop.
A Cinderella Affidavit, Forge (New York, NY), 1999.
Witness for the Dead, Forge (New York, NY), 2001.
A Defense for the Dead, Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: After twelve years as a lawyer, both in private practice and for agencies that supervise other lawyers, Michael Fredrickson began a second career as a writer of legal mystery novels, turning out three books in five years. Daphne Eviatar wrote in American Lawyer that Fredrickson's books are "remarkably engaging legal thrillers that marry his exposure to the underside of lawyers' ethical lives with his thirst for adventure and wry humor." Eviator also credited the author's peripatetic careeras a young man in the 1960s and 1970s for the "quirky" tone of his fiction writing.
The title of Fredrickson's first book, A Cinderella Affidavit, is the lawyers' name for a phony statement used by police or prosecutors to show probable cause for a search warrant. The search that starts the book turns violent, and the convoluted plot soon involves disappearing evidence, Chinese gangs and unseemly politics in the District Attorney's office. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the book, packed "with facts from real cases," makes for an "intriguing, multifaceted tale."
Fredrickson's next two thrillers both feature the character Jimmy Morrisey, a not-very-successful small-time Boston lawyer who is flawed but likeable. Witness for the Dead is based on the true story of a well-known Boston Irish mobster who disappeared in 1995. Morrisey gets in the middle of an intricate, morally compromised struggle between the FBI and Italian and Irish gangs; his own financial and legal troubles further complicate the plot. A Publishers Weekly critic called the book "a polished thriller with a multilayered plot and vivid characters."
In A Defense for the Dead Fredrickson spins a fictitious story revolving around a serial killer named "Van Gogh" because he slices off his victim's ear. Van Gogh is killed but leaves behind a mysterious photograph with Morrisey's name and address scrawled on the back. The plot sends the lawyer on an unpaid quest through the gay subculture of Provincetown, where he uncovers another murder and a threat against his own life. Meanwhile, Morrisey's wife is fighting cancer and his secretary is evading a stalker. A Kirkus Reviews contributor warned that the book "strains credulity here and there," but nonetheless offers "a lot to like." Patrick Anderson, writing in the Washington Post Book World, called A Defense for the Dead a "very odd" treatment of the serial killer theme, "more shaggy-dog story than anything else, but enlivened by throwaway lines."
According to a Boston Globe writer, in October 2003, the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission fined Fredrickson $5,000 and ordered him to reimburse his employer, the Board of Bar Overseers, an equal amount for having worked on his novels during business hours, an ironic turn for a lawyer whose professional work, teaching, and writings all focus on legal ethics. The Commission noted that Fredrickson neglected to document the extra hours he worked to offset his writing time, although the Board's chair verified that he had put in the hours.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Lawyer, June, 2001, Daphne Eviatar, "Rebel with a Book Contract," p. 28.
Booklist, April 15, 1999, Budd Arthur, review of A Cinderella Affidavit, p. 1472; May 1, 2001, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Witness for the Dead, p. 1631; May 15, 2004, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of A Defense for the Dead, p. 1601.
Boston Globe, October 10, 2003, p. B1.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of A Defense for the Dead, p. 474.
Minnesota Lawyer, June 28, 2004, Barbara L. Jones, review of A Defense for the Dead.
Publishers Weekly, March 22, 1999, review of A Cinderella Affidavit, p. 67; June 4, 2001, review of Witness for the Dead, p. 59.
Washington Post Book World, May 31, 2004, Patrick Anderson, review of A Defense for the Dead, p. C3.
State of Massachusetts Web site, http://www.mass.gov/ (February 7, 2005), "Michael Fredrickson."