Newsflash, regarding blue-chip lawyers: They’re money-grubbing, venal and vacuous. Initially biting, this satirical debut soon bores, cynicism being a one-note melody.
Hiring partner for an L.A. firm that stings clients at $675 an hour, Anonymous Lawyer makes Gordon Gecko look like Gandhi. Like Harvard Law grad Blachman, author of a popular blog, AL too pens a blog—about his bid to deep-six his rival, The Jerk, and brown-nose The New Chairman. “Person” equals “pawn” in his Machiavellian math: He gives subordinates unflattering nicknames (“The One Who’s Never Getting Married,” “The One Who Missed Her Kid’s Funeral”), bitches about anyone pilfering his secretary’s candy and damns all as slackers. You’re allowed one outside interest—family, say, or working out; The Firm owns every other breath. AL never does much of anything other than sneer. And his home life is just as horrid: He prefers America’s Top Model on TiVo to his fake-breasted wife; Anonymous Son and Daughter are disappointments. What drives him is his crusade to morph his Yale Law School niece from idealist into Shylock, and his own climb up the corporate ladder. When New Chairman dies—heart attack at 58—AL exults in the opening. The Jerk provisionally wins, but AL’s eventual worldly success (and moral downfall) end the novel on a gleefully bitter note. Blachman’s fine at capturing the high-end mise en scène—BlackBerries communing 24/7, triple-figure expense-account lunches, smirking dishonesty (lawyers bill clients for web-surfing and call it “research”). All kinda funny, and sorta telling—in a not-as-good-as-Brett-Easton-Ellis ’80s-esque way. But lacking a story, any characters who aren’t cartoons and any mood other than pissed-off, the tale leaves the reader feeling listless and mildly polluted.
Legal eagles skewered—not wittily enough.