Joe McCray. The Wisdom of Rain (2012) 214 pp. [tpo]
Publisher’s description: “[This] story of the San Francisco trial lawyers DD O’Neil and Joe Cleary begins in the rugged, mountainous country southeast of Butte, Montana. There, in 1955, a fourteen-year-old Danny O’Neil witnesses the brutal torture and murder of a Chinese man by members of a nativist gang known as The Vengeance Legion. DD barely escapes with his own life. DD’s vicious captors are pursued by his famous Irish father, Mick, but a neighbor is shot and killed in the encounter. After another icy pursuit the perpetrators are captured and the trial of the Vengeance Boys becomes the town’s main attraction and a test of the legal system—a test which it could not ultimately pass. But then, by a bold and murderous escape from jail, the convicted Legionnaires avoid the wrath of the law and escape to their lair across thawed terrain, only to be ambushed and each fatally shot by an unseen gunman. The gunman’s escape across the mountains during the raging rainstorm that obliterates all clues is the stuff of legend—a legend recalled thirty years later in San Francisco. In 1985, O’Neil and Cleary, in a violent battle on the side of the rank and file of a large trade union against a ruthless empire builder and a self-anointed radical lawyer, have been wounded, others have been killed, and the perpetrators of what can only be called mayhem seem about to get away with it all. Unwinding the twisted campaign to maintain control of Construction Steel Workers, Local 66—from the schemes of an ambitious deal-maker to the warped machinations of a self-appointed revolutionary lawyer—requires tenacity, brinkmanship and wit. Cleary, relentless in cross-examination, breaks a bemused lawyer on the witness stand in Federal Court and the scheme to destroy the movement begins to crumble. As in 1955, a strange justice is delivered, but not without rain.”
Setting: San Francisco; Butte, Montana