'Blind Spot' Heroine Defends Underdog
by Wick Downing
If books are sold on the basis of personality, Stephanie Kane will sell a million.
She is pleasant, direct, honest and committed to her craft. A small, trim woman with classic good looks, she is articulate and filled with a sense of wonder. If you think I'm describing former Holme Roberts and Owens partner Stephanie Shafer, who dropped out of the big-time legal scene to apply to medical school, but wound up as a criminal defense lawyer with Lozow, Lozow and Elliott, and went from there to the quiet turbulence of the novelist, you're right.
Her first offering will be in the stores in early October. Titled Blind Spot, published by Bantam Books, it is a mass-market original (meaning paperback), and is worth the read.
The book is set in present-day Denver, and introduces Jackie Flowers, SWF, in her 40s, who has been there and done that. Jackie is a tough and eloquent defender of the underdog, so caught up in her law practice and other people's problems that she doesn't have a life of her own.
When a head and a body, belonging to the same woman, are found near Coors Field, her journey begins. Along the way, the reader meets Pilar Perez, Jackie's investigator who's real enough to touch; Lilly, an off-the-wall, articulate, 8-year-old Chinese girl with a brutal past, in danger of shriveling into a cocoon without Jackie to connect her to life; and Duncan Pratt, who Jackie used to beat up regularly in law school, but who now has the power of the DA's office behind him, as well as an agenda.
But Stephanie Kane's journey is the topic of this piece. We talked at her home, where she lives with her husband of seven years, Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane Jr.
Stephanie had not been west of New Jersey until 1971. Her parents, Russian Jews, had emigrated to this country and settled in Brooklyn. The family of three girls and a boy were squeezed into an apartment, where Stephanie lived until she left for CU Boulder. Her mom, a nurse, and her dad, in the import-export business, thought she was insane to come west.
But they had instilled in her a strong work ethic, which she credits for a most extraordinary resume. Not only has she been a partner with HRO, she also owned and operated Boulder Karate, and is a second degree black belt. She also has lectured in Eastern Europe on banking and money laundering; is fluent in French and Italian; has a long and impressive list of legal publications; was Order of the Coif and editor-in-chief of the law review; has successfully defended an alleged murderer, an alleged rapist, and an alleged defrauder of a bank; and was a volunteer lawyer at the Stout Street Clinic for the Homeless.
Have I missed anything? Oh, yes. What drives her now?
In the mid to late '80s, as a partner at HRO, she lived at the Waldman, an apartment in Denver that reminded her of life in Brooklyn.
"You have a nodding aquintance with neighbors, but never let them touch you with their lives."
At some point, Stephanie broke that rule. She found that 90 percent of the residents were gay males. She got very close to some vividly alive young men with AIDS, all of whom have died. They made her realize a few things about herself.
"I was hiding out in corporate America, afraid to fail." Since then, she has "stepped out of my safety zone" with a vengeance.
She dropped out of law to become a doctor, which meant back to college for course work in science and math. Although a top student, no medical school would have her.
"None of my interviewers believed I wanted to do anything but get a leg up on suing doctors." So she dove into the cauldron of trial work, defending persons accused of crime. "Unlike corporate law, where you have all the time in the world to vacillate over where to put a comma, trial lawyers function entirely in the moment. No second guessing or tying yourself in knots over what comes spilling out of your mouth. Criminal work is as close to trial by ambush as our system allows. I was hooked."
But not for long. She bought a computer, and is now consumed with writing.
"My family still thinks I'm nuts. But I'm finally home."