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A competent but irritating debut tracks an obtuse lawyer's clumsy fall from grace. Rick Green, who can't bring himself to kill a cockroach, joins the corporate department of a Park Avenue firm in 1987, a high season for mergers and acquisitions. On his second day on the job, he flies to Pikeville, Georgia, home of Lee Textiles: A leveraged buyout is in the offing. And, between negotiations, he takes up with receptionist Bonnie, who follows him back to New York. Rick then starts slogging along the path of his chosen profession, working 20-hour days preparing tedious documents. Meanwhile, many of his nearest and dearest are demanding insider tips: His garrulous father, Fievel, wants to augment the funds of an investment club he manages, and his childhood friend Petey now works for an arbitrageur. Lee stock prices, Rick knows, are bound to rise as another would-be buyer enters the fray. Crazed by the pressures of the job and by Bonnie's having proclaimed their lovemaking a disaster, Rick drunkenly spills the Lee scoop to both Fievel and Petey. A year later, when he's finally mastering his job, he learns that the SEC is investigating the Lee deal. His father gets subpoenaed; Petey's boss is the target of a giant investigation. A long talk with Bonnie, his clearheaded (by now) ex, leads him to confess. All is lost, but, we're to infer, a wiser, more deeply moral Rick is born. It's hard to care much about him, though: He has a gift for taking dumb, short-sighted action at the same time that he's effusively blowing his own horn. The strength of the story is more in its milieu: The drudgery and relentless pressure of corporate law are effectively re-created, as is the adrenalin-buzz of big-time dealmaking. Sharply rendered snapshots of the Decade of Greed, then, marred by the front-and-center presence of the snail-witted and insufferable Rick Green, Esq.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster