Conflict of Interest is Scott Pratt’s fifth book in his Joe Dillard series. Dillard is a frustrated lawyer with very high ideals. He tried criminal defense and detested the violent criminals he had to represent. He tried being an assistant D.A. and abhorred the politics and corruption. Then as District Attorney of a four county district in east Tennessee, he hated the administrative responsibilities and the politics were just at a higher level.
Now he’s back to being a defense attorney but tries to be more discriminating in accepting clients. So when six year old Lindsay Monroe is kidnapped from her wealthy family’s home, the child’s parents Richard and Mary Monroe decide they need legal representation and Joe accepts them as clients. Too many of the questions hurled at the Monroe’s by law enforcement implicate them as suspects and they feel they need legal advice to avoid scrutiny.
As Joe is meeting with the Monroe’s in their first interview, Richard’s cell phone rings and ransom demands are spelled out by the kidnapper. Mary’s father, Charles Russell owns a global security company and takes control of the situation, excluding the authorities per the kidnapper’s instructions. Joe is tapped as the drop man and delivers three million dollars of Russell’s money to a garbage can in a deserted park as Russell’s security people watch from afar. No one shows up to retrieve the cash and they discover the garbage can has a false bottom and an underground tube to collect the cash without detection. So they all end up looking foolish and Lindsay is still missing.
Sure enough as law enforcement searches for the kidnapper, Richard becomes their prime suspect. His company is having some legal/ financial problems and therefore Richard has motive to scalp Mary’s father for the cash. Further, Joe learns of some problems with Richard and Mary’s marriage and when Richard is arrested, Joe can no longer represent both husband and wife… a clear conflict of interest. Mary then files for divorce from Richard and freezes his bank accounts and a judge rules that Joe has a conflict representing even Richard. So Richard is stuck with no funds to hire a new lawyer and the police have stopped investigating any other suspects. Joe finds that Richard has some enemies who would benefit from his demise. But with little or no support from the police and no longer Richard’s lawyer, Joe has to go it alone if Richard is to be vindicated and little Lindsay is to be found. Meanwhile, Joe is dealing with a plethora of personal problems. Caroline’s cancer is back, his long lost father shows up and asks for forgiveness, and his sister continues to battle drug and alcohol addiction.