One Night in Bridgeport by Mark Paxson

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Bob Zeanah

One Night in Bridgeport (King Midget Press, 2012) written by Mark Paxson explores the reactions of people to an alleged incident. Jack McGee is charged with rape after a one-night stand that he regretted the next morning.

Jack is a big-city lawyer sent to the quaint town of Bridgeport to make a contract offer on farmland. Bridgeport is full of small-town prejudices against lawyers and big cities. Lea Rogers is one of their own, a beautiful young woman, just home from college to help her mother save the farm that has been in the family for generations.

Lea files rape charges after persuasion by an assistant district attorney wanting to make a name for himself and to ingratiate himself to Lea, his secret high school crush. However, she is not a victim of anything other than embarrassment. In fact, she instigated as much of the sexual relations as Jack did. Abandoned by the people who should have supported him the most, Jack McGee is forced to face his crisis alone along with the court-appointed young attorney who must keep her opinions detached.

In addition to presenting an engaging story, One Night in Bridgeport is as much about a study of people and their inclination to prejudgment or capacity to withhold judgment until facts are known. Paxson explores his characters and the psychology involved affecting each character. He details what the responses reveal about each character. Some convict Jack of rape in their minds without the facts; some offer solace and a place of refuge. Friends and colleagues abandon him and strangers take stances, some withhold judgment and some find ways to support him quietly. Some strangers want to become vigilantes. The judge sitting the case plans to retire as soon as he can get the rape trial over. A couple of facts keep nagging him and he is torn between supporting the local girl and slipping quietly into retirement or pursuing what nags him.

Paxson brings his legal expertise into the writing of the book. Some may feel compelled to compare Paxson to John Grisham. However, Paxson goes much deeper into the analysis of human behavior. He shows characters at a greater depth of understanding.


Mark Paxson is a graduate of California State University in Sacramento and holds a law degree from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. He has practiced law for the past twenty years. His other published works include Marfa Lights and Other Stories (CreateSpace, 2012) and Shady Acres and Other Stories (CreateSpace, 2012). His stories “Gramps’s Record Player” and “The Ice Cream Man” were Toasted Cheese Best of the Boards selections and his article “Back to School: Reflections on Taking a Continuing-Ed Writing Class” appeared at Absolute Blank in 2011.


Dr. Bob Zeanah is a freelance writer working mainly writing grants for small non-profit agencies. Bob teaches Creative Writing and his classes are in demand with students taking classes three or four times. In addition, he teaches classes in business writing, editing, and grant writing. He has two unpublished books, Then We Have Work to Do and A Magnet for Crazy. The latter he co-wrote with Suzan Christensen. Email: bobzeanah[at]

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