By Paul Katz
Updated September 07, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

This zippy thriller should feature a warning on the cover: Lawyering can be hazardous to your health. A pair of low-rent New Jersey cops turned litigators impulsively take on an incarcerated South American drug lord as a client. The no-win case quickly becomes a matter of life and death after the kingpin makes a single demand: Either he goes free or they die. Ron Liebman’s legal background brings a sharp and cynical eye to Death By Rodrigo‘s courtroom scenes, but the climax needs a bump of adrenaline. Still, the slimy characters — including a pimp with a Pygmalion complex — slither off the page with delightful seediness. B