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‘Suspicious Activity’ Interview with Author Mike Papantonio

'Suspicious Activity' Interview with Author Mike Papantonio
Photo Courtesy: Mike Papantonio

By: Andrew Howard

Mike Papantonio, a well-known trial lawyer and novelist, has collaborated with Christopher Paulos to create the novel Suspicious Activity, which falls under the category of legal thrillers. In this interview, Papantonio discusses the inspirations for their writing, the real-life court fights that informed their fiction, and the complex character development that brings their protagonist, Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis, to life. Papantonio and Paulos create a narrative that digs deep into the murky seas of international finance and its terrible effects on American soldiers and war contractors, using a combination of genuine examples and fascinating fiction. Join us as we look at the inspirations, obstacles, and creative processes behind this riveting courtroom thriller.

What inspired you and Christopher Paulos to delve into the world of legal thrillers, particularly with Suspicious Activity?

Mike: Chris and I have been handling a case about suspicious activity for about five years. It’s a case that is designed to compensate thousands of American soldiers and war contractors for the losses they have experienced because of the criminal conduct of both European and  US national banks.

The premise of Suspicious Activity revolves around a lawsuit to expose a bank’s support for groups causing harm overseas. What real-life events or issues influenced this storyline?

Mike: There are countless stories from clients that we represent where folks have lost husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers. There are also countless stories where our clients have lost limbs, eyesight, and the ability to speak, all directly relating to roadside bombs that were financed through washed money engineered by international banks.

Attorney Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis is the protagonist of your novel. Can you share more about his character development and what differentiates him from other legal thriller protagonists?

Mike: Deke is a character created as a composite from dozens of lawyers I have worked with and opposed for more than 40 years handling some of the most complex cases in America. Our law firm initiated the tobacco litigation in the US, we initiated the opioid litigation in the US, and we initiated the human trafficking litigation and the PFAS litigation in America. 

Additionally, my law firm has handled 87 of the most significant pharmaceutical cases in this country. From that experience, I have had the opportunity to borrow the qualities of both the best claimant lawyers and the best corporate defense lawyers in this country to shape the character of Deke. I’ve made it a point not to create a character without flaws and, hopefully, a character that most readers can relate to.

The backdrop of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars plays a significant role in the narrative, particularly with the introduction of IEDs and EFPs. How did you balance incorporating real-world events into fiction while maintaining authenticity and sensitivity?

Mike: The story involving the abundance of the dozens of types of roadside bombs that have taken the lives of soldiers all over the world is a story that basically writes itself. The facts overwhelmingly point to a quality of corporate corruption and political dysfunction that is unmatched in American history. The story is driven more by reality than fiction, which always has a tendency to create an authentic narrative.

The involvement of a global bank in funding terrorist activities raises questions about the intersection of finance and morality. What themes or messages did you aim to explore through this aspect of the story?

Mike: One primary theme that emerges in the book is that the American justice system has evolved into a two tier quality of justice. We now have a system where Harvard, Yale, and Princeton level MBAs have carved out a special quality of treatment from the Department of Justice. 

These people don’t look like criminals. They wear three-piece Armani suits and Rolex watches and are certain that they will be forgiven for a level of criminality that results in the loss of human life. Justice for them is having to pay fines and damage compensation at worst, regardless of the number of human lives that are lost as a result of their conduct. On the other hand, an 18-year-old with a hoodie selling marijuana on a street corner is more likely to suffer a five-year prison sentence.

Download: “Suspicious Activity: A Legal Thriller.”


Published By: Aize Perez

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