Tag Archives: Shawn Marks

Steven Kassels Book Signing Addiction on TrialOver the past several weeks I have received several emails from readers and others inquiring about my background and why I decided to write Addiction on Trial. I want to use this week’s blog to explain why I wrote a novel, albeit based on medical and legal truths, and to share my background. So, bear with me as I babble along!

I am a physician who is the youngest son of a physician. My father came to the United States at a very young age, worked his way through college and medical school and chose to practice medicine in two offices attached to our home in Everett, Massachusetts. My mother was the bookkeeper, secretary, cook, laundry service and most importantly, my Mom. When the home phone rang (which was also the office phone) we all answered it the same, “Doctor Kassels office; may I help you.” Not infrequently, patients would come to the front door on holidays and weekends with “specimens”. These were the same patients that would make holiday gifts for my brother and me. I can still hear my Dad, “Put that bag with the bottle in it on the counter in my little office and then wash your hands – and wash them thoroughly – did you hear me Stevie?” I heard my Dad then and I still hear him now.

Why did I write Addiction on Trial: Tragedy in Downeast Maine? Simple answer: I wanted to.

Through my years of practice in Emergency Medicine and Addiction Medicine I have had the privilege to treat patients from all walks of life. From a medical perspective, it is very clear that we have differences but we are more similar than not – we all need hearts to pump in order to sustain our organs and to perfuse our brains. When we are sick, we all benefit from compassion and care. Society should not differentiate between diseases! But who wants to read another scientific book about addiction? Not me! That's why I wrote Addiction on Trial as a mystery thriller to both entertain and educate through the depiction of the realistic struggles of addiction. I hope you enjoy reading Addiction on Trial as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Unfortunately, life got ahead of me this summer as I went into a “full steam ahead” mode to get the word out about my book, interspersed with visits from three of my grandchildren.  I apologize for not having kept up with my self-imposed schedule of blog postings about my author endeavors and current addiction medicine related matters. To all of you who have read Addiction on Trial, thank you; and if you posted a review on Amazon, an extra thank you 🙂 

As you can see from my events listings, I will also be doing some traveling over the next few months.  I am looking forward to presenting at the Flight Attendants Drug & Alcohol Conference in Baltimore and at the Union League Club in New York City.  I must admit, the event in New York City is going to be a little extra special, as the Union League Club membership has included fifteen Presidents.  I am honored to be asked to speak about my book and the disease of addiction; and will be returning to the club in December for their annual book fair. The College of the Atlantic has also chosen my book as part of their curriculum for Psychology courses, and I will be visiting the campus this winter to meet with students, who I am certain will keep me on my toes.

Speaking of students, learning about addiction and related diseases need not stop after formal education.  I would like to share with you an article about how the National Basketball Association is educating its players about drugs and to again applaud the dedication and work by Chris Herren.

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer, and I again wish to thank all of you who have been so supportive of my book and my mission to entertain while educating through the back door … or maybe the side door 🙂  I will keep you posted on the progress of the next Shawn Marks Thriller, as I am currently working on the sequel, Lost to Addiction.  Shawn Marks, that egotistical but likable big shot Boston attorney, will definitely have his hands full as he attempts to defend the son of a wealthy shipping magnate. The adventures with Marks will continue as he travels to Europe and to the seedy underground of drug distribution centers in Guadalajara Mexico to solve this murder mystery.  Stay tuned!

As a new author and an "old" doctor, I wish to extend my sincere thanks to all of you (established authors, fellow physicians, dedicated social service folks & more) who have offered support to my goal of becoming an established author - but even more importantly thank you for your support as it relates to getting the message out that the disease of addiction is an equal opportunity disease, that it has no socioeconomic boundaries! I hope that by creating a medical murder mystery/legal thriller readers will be enthralled and educated, but without the encumbrance of heavy scientific jargon. 

Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow you to read a chapter to get to know Shawn Marks, so here are some snippets of that egotistical yet likable Boston big shot lawyer who can juggle an array of female companions without taking his eye off the legal challenges of his work . . . and now may I present to you Attorney Shawn Marks . . .

Pages 117-119

           The brass name plaque next to the door of Attorney Shawn Marks’s grand office was the polar opposite of Rob Hanston’s faded sign. The big city lawyer looked the Bangor attorney straight in the eye with a “you have my full attention” look while Hanston relayed the details of Jimmy’s case. Occasionally Marks glanced Adam in an attempt to convey his empathy for a father in an unenviable predicament. But Marks was really thinking about the splendor of summer and fall on Mount Desert Island and the borrowing of a sailboat from an indebted client to provide some additional enjoyment.

At age forty-dreading forty-five like most people dread sixty, Shawn Marks had never been married and had never fathered any children that he knew of. He kept his six-foot frame slim and his heart fit by taking weekday jogs from his waterfront office to the Back Bay. His routine never varied. He left his office promptly at 10:00 a.m., and ran mostly along the Freedom Trail, passing by Paul Revere’s House, the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, and then the current State House on Beacon Hill before heading across the Boston Commons and finally across the Public Gardens to the Ritz-Carlton where he met his Harvard law school classmate. From there they always walked to the same quaint coffee bar for their jolts of espresso while standing and chatting at the bar like long lost friends. Then they hit the pavement again for the return jogs to their respective law firms—one in Cambridge near MIT overlooking the Charles River and one on Boston’s waterfront.

Since Marks’s day started at 4:00 a.m., when he woke to his blaring alarm, by the time of his jog he had already put in nearly five hours of rigorous work. A midmorning endorphin rush was a prerequisite to successful completion of his remaining eight hours of work. It is hard to get anything accomplished in less than thirteen hours was his motto. After returning from his jog, he almost always headed directly to the private exercise room within the law firm suite. After a hundred sit-ups and forty push-ups, and a quick shower, he settled back into his desk chair before noon to enjoy a low-fat yogurt drink—always peach flavor—as he disappeared back into his legal world.

Sundays Marks worked from his Swampscott, Massachusetts, home, but Monday thru Friday he took the thirty-minute commuter train ride and five-minute taxi trip to his office. Sometimes he walked to the office from the downtown Boston train station, but it generally made more sense to take a brief taxi ride: at 5:00 a.m. there is not much traffic in Boston. On Saturdays he always drove his 1987 Porsche 911 Cabriolet convertible to work, leaving the house at a luxurious 7:00 a.m. for the exhilarating ride to downtown Boston, arriving at his leather office chair in twenty-five minutes, door to door. The Saturday workday had no intermissions and no jogging escapes, just yogurt and nine nonstop hours of mental grinding. He arrived back home by 5:00 p.m. for one hour of yoga and a long Jacuzzi before a social evening: first to wherever paying clients were treating him to a superb dinner and thereafter, more often than not, he was free to chase one of several women he fancied around the Saturday night dance floor of life.

Marks was a man who left nothing to chance. He never outright lied but rarely did he volunteer information in his relationships with women or in the courtroom—always maneuvering, constantly working to get the upper hand. He was a master of manipulation as was evident from the second one entered his office. The coffee table in front of his office leather couch was adorned with original drawings of Marks at the helm of a sloop at least forty-five feet long, next to photographs of Marks with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, and of course the obligatory copies of the Harvard Law Review. Not just a couple of copies, but a dozen or more, dating back a decade or so, with each copy carrying an article his legal staff had authored but that always listed Marks’s name first.

 Pages 162 – 163 

…Marks had not considered a first-date sleepover as an available option and therefore was not prepared for the morning race to the airport. He had felt a paralysis as he looked at Samantha Kotts, the former and never to be referred to again, Ms. Snoot. He had enjoyed lingering in bed next to Samantha, still asleep, lying on her side facing him, soft auburn hair draped gently over her forehead and sheet clinging to her mid back, exposing her youthful velvet skin. It was very difficult leaving Samantha Kotts behind, as he dreamt about spending a morning in bed with this spunky lawyer, especially after a night like the one from which he was recovering. Marks was at peace with his frustration of having to leave; he knew he had laid more groundwork than ever anticipated. After a peck on her cheek and with coffee in hand, he headed down the steps to the cobblestone sidewalk and into his waiting Porsche. The parking ticket under the passenger windshield wiper served as a reminder that everything good in life comes at a price. He had never wanted to pay the price of a day-to-day monogamous relationship despite the positive benefits. But what Marks felt that morning as he looked at Samantha made him uncomfortable. The $60 parking ticket was a small price to pay compared to the emotional price of a committed relationship. Marks avoided being distracted by his feelings, as he wanted to focus on the euphoria of the moment. He seamlessly slipped back into denial, as he regressed to a prior stage, putting the convertible roof down to celebrate a great evening with the rest of the world. Shawn Marks was thirty again!

Marks had to abruptly shift gears when he became aware that the extra time he had spent next to the sleeping Samantha had left him running later than he first thought. During his unnecessary drive to Swampscott, he called the pilot and delayed departure. Marks did not have a clue that Samantha would soon end up as a factor in an approach-approach conflict, complicating his life further. In psychological terms, an approach-approach conflict occurs when one is presented with two apparently equal and favorable options, but can choose only one. Marks always seemed to be able to balance life’s many options, and by doing so avoided or at least postponed being tormented by the need to make choices, especially those of the approach-approach variety. If anyone could have their cake and eat it too, it was Shawn Marks...

 Pages 177- 178

         “Hello, James, I am Attorney Shawn Marks and I am here to introduce myself and to let you know that I, along with Attorney Robert Hanston, and with the assistance of your devoted father, plan to defend you and attain an acquittal of the murder charges that have been wrongly placed upon you. However, in order to reach the desired verdict, we must have your complete cooperation. You must not hide any facts from us and protecting yourself or others will put your freedom in jeopardy.”

Then Marks broke with the niceties and leaned forward across the small table and placed his nose about ten inches from Jimmy’s. “Really what I’m saying, Jimmy, is your ass is on the line and where they’ll send you if you’re found guilty won’t be pretty . . . So now that we've cleared up that issue, let’s clear up the issue of your honesty. You cannot lie to us. If you lie to us, you may spend every remaining day of your life in jail. Do you understand?”

Before Jimmy could respond, Attorney Marks reiterated as if questioning a witness in court. “Let me repeat the question. Do you understand that if you lie to us, if you do not tell us the entire truth, we will not be able to appropriately defend you and you will probably end up spending the rest of your life behind bars—cooped up in a jail cell about half the size you’re in now, with a cell mate, a cement floor, no windows, and a toilet in the corner? Is this what you want?”

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