Novelist Mark Gimenez won't have far to travel to his Saturday reading and signing session at Houston's Murder by the Book; he's coming in from Fort Worth, where he lives and practices law. Even measured in Texas miles, it's a short trip in comparison to many of his other appearances. Normal book tours for Gimenez include stops in South Africa, Ireland, Australia and Great Britain.
His first book, the 2006 The Color of Law (also released as The Colour of Law abroad), reached number 28 on the New York Times extended hardback list and number six on the London Sunday Times paperback bestseller list. It sold more than 400,000 copies worldwide and was translated into a dozen languages. That's not bad for a debut title in the crowded thriller genre.
Asked why his books, which include a fair number of lawyers and law officials as characters, do so well in other countries, Gimenez says he has a theory. "People around the world like our justice system, that American sense of right and wrong. It might not be the same as the laws or procedures in their country, but they're familiar enough with it that that doesn't become an obstacle."
Gimenez's latest book, Con Law was just released last month and has been getting great reviews from fans and critics alike.
The book is the first in a series centering on John Bookman, a tenured professor at The University of Texas School of Law. Known for taking on lost causes, Bookman accepts a case that leads him into the world of fracking... and, he quickly discovers, murder.
Gimenez, a Notre Dame Law School alum, says the idea for Con Law (short for constitutional law) came to him as a result of the national debate on health care.
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"I had been kicking around the idea of a series starring a law professor for some time, but I wasn't sure what he should teach. Criminal law? Civil procedure? Torts? Then, last summer, when all of America sat breathlessly waiting for nine unelected lawyers to decide whether Obamacare was the law of the land or just a piece of paper, I thought, 'That's it, con law!'"
Gimenez pointedly told us he wanted to clear something up about Con Law: "The views expressed by the characters are theirs, not mine," he laughingly told us. "It's fiction. I made it up. I am not preaching my personal views on fracking or art or politics. I promise." Ah, okay, glad we got that cleared up. (Wink, wink.)
Gimenez says he already has plans for more constitutional law-related adventures for John Bookman. "In the next book, we'll learn about the Second Amendment's 'right to bear arms.' Of course, I'll have to wear a flak jacket to book signings."
Mark Gimenez reads from and signs Con Law at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit the bookstore's website. Free.