In this legal thriller, law firm associate Jake Green uncovers star client North Petroleum’s involvement with atrocities committed in the Middle East.
Early one morning, Jake Green is called into work by boss Susanne for an emergency meeting. Southern District U.S. Attorney Arthur Benson is investigating North Petroleum, one of the New York City law firm’s most important clients, due to the discovery of a mass grave of civilians near North’s pipeline in the Middle East. At the direction of Susanne, working under orders from North CEO Bruno Sinclair, Jake and other associates—Hana, with whom Jake has a flickering romantic interest, and Samir, the firm’s Arabic translator—are tasked with collecting the necessary documents to aid Benson’s investigation. As the team engages in this work, news anchor Phil Chestmann conducts what turns out to be a highly contentious group interview with two U.S. senators (one pro-business, one backing the investigation), a U.S. Armed Forces general (who denies military responsibility in the massacre, despite military-grade weapons being involved), and a Red Cross representative (the agency that received the first report of the incident). Meanwhile, Jake and the team realize that what Sinclair really wants is to establish a paper trail indicating that North did not have a security force in the area and was therefore not behind the crime. In actuality, North did have such a force, as clearly seen in flashback sequences featuring stressed-out grunts and a developing young jihadist. When Samir discovers that North’s legal documents don’t quite jibe in translation, he, then Jake, go on fact-finding missions leading to a denouement that underscores how they and their firm are mere “paper soldiers” on the world’s geopolitical stage. This thriller by Joffe, himself a New York City lawyer, is reminiscent of the early works of John Grisham and provides a similar insider indictment about the moral quagmire of corporate law. The crosscutting narrative effectively builds suspense and also allows readers to overlook this story’s somewhat underdeveloped array of characters and subplots. Overall, however, Joffe presents a competent creative brief, complete with a haunting conclusion.
Fast-paced and chilling.