A lost lamb wandering from Harvard Law to a white-shoe Manhattan firm meets murder in Gutman’s wide-eyed first novel.
Not that Kate Paine looks like a lost lamb. Okay, she hasn’t been with a guy since she and her boyfriend Michael split up, but she’s got the GPA, the hundred-dollar haircut, the supportive circle of friends; she’s even a Big Sister to a troubled teenager. And her ceiling looks unlimited at Samson & Mills, where managing partner Carter Mills has chosen her as his protégée. But soon after S & M partner Madeleine Waters is killed, apparently by a disorganized sociopath (but actually by an unnamed plotter who keeps cackling to himself in a series of ill-judged asides), Kate finds herself getting sucked into deep trouble. Sent to clean out Madeleine’s office, she ends up unwillingly eavesdropping on a sensitive S & M conversation. An anonymous correspondent sends her a photograph of a much younger Madeleine (or is it Madeleine?). The controversial magazine editor who S & M is defending in a high-profile harassment suit assaults her, cynically daring her to imperil her position at the firm by going public with a legal accusation. Meantime, the self-satisfied murderer is hatching his next move. Could it be Dave Bosch, the S & M litigation partner who’s been popping up at all the right moments? Douglas Macauley, the blind date who just won’t take no for an answer? Or Sam Howell, the Sag Harbor photographer who picks Kate up at a coffee shop? Readers had better care plenty about the killer’s identity, because despite the milieu and some promising subplots that go nowhere, Gutman supplies zero legal interest.
Forget Turow and Grisham, or Lisa Scottoline; think of one of Mary Higgins Clark’s distressed damsels in a power suit.