Orest Stelmach's Reviews > Diary of a Small Fish

Diary of a Small Fish by Pete Morin
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Feb 12, 12

Read in December, 2011

This author is a dangerous man. First, he's an insider from Boston's legal community. Second, he can craft a story commensurate with said legal expertise. And third, his book will make you more ravenous than a mouth-watering episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, or, more appropriately in this case, Top Chef. All that takes skill. Allow me to explain.

The voice is the thing in Diary of a Small Fish. The protagonist, Paul B. Forte, is a Boston legal insider. He's the top lawyer for the MBTA, Boston's public transportation administration. Criminal charges against the lawyer himself propel the story forward, and thrust the reader inside the Boston political scene. While the ins and outs fascinate, it's Forte's voice that compels the reader to turn the page. He's smart, wry, and knowing, with a cynical bent that is the foundation for a consistently humorous tone. There is a strong sense of first person Hiaasen here, where Floridian reptiles have been replaced with New England equivalents. In Mr. Morin's debut, the voice is the thing.

Colorful characters populate the book. Forte himself is multi-dimensional, with family issues that compound his legal troubles. I found myself rooting for him from the beginning and enjoying the time spent in his company. When the voice is the thing, the dialogue must crackle. It does so here with aplomb, no more so than when Forte dispenses with a prosecutor's interrogation in front of a grand jury and only one juror raises her hand to ask a question. "Did you say your dinners were always at the Impudent Oyster?" Yes." "How was the Osso Buco?"

The culinary tour of Boston is an added bonus. If you love food, you will find it hard to read this book without a glass of wine handy. From veal to dim sum, Barbera to Pinot Noir. Even pizza and wine sounded divine here. Funny, now that I think about it. I don't recall any fish being consumed by the protagonist, not even a small one.
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