A Florida attorney’s affair with his client turns dire when he’s suddenly facing a grievance and a false accusation of rape in Studstill’s (A Nation of Sheep, 2006, etc.) legal thriller.
Kevin Charles may be tempted by his newest client’s flirtatious manner, but the lawyer remains faithful to wife, Sherri. Vickie Roberts, however, who’s hired Kevin for a wrongful death suit involving her late husband, may have a hidden agenda in trying to sway her attorney. She’s working with Phil Griffin, who’s been amassing lawyers to sue tobacco companies on behalf of the state. Kevin’s reservations over Phil’s proposition have troubled Phil so much that he may see Kevin as a liability. And when Kevin eventually surrenders to Vickie’s advances for a night of consensual sex, his world, starting with his marriage, slowly collapses. The grievance that Vickie files, which claims rape, is enough to get Kevin disbarred, but the follow-up criminal charges only compound his predicament. Kevin and assistant state attorney Larry Singer first go after Vickie using the legal route, hoping to debunk her testimony. But it isn’t long before both Kevin and Vickie set their sights on Phil, targeting his potential big-money win against the tobacco companies. But to do that, they’ll have to team up—if they can trust each other. Though the protagonist dabbles in shadiness, he’s redeemable, for at least acknowledging it; his ultimate deception (of Phil and others) makes him feel “like a real lowlife.” Studstill layers his story with rich emotional context. Vickie and Kevin, for example, develop genuine feelings for each other, while Phil, who’d had a physical relationship with Vickie, clearly wants more. The alternating moves between lawyers, as well as Vickie, become a nimble batch of legal sparring: there are threats of lawsuits, prosecution for reputed perjury, and even a subpoena. Studstill delivers the narrative in a straightforward tone that simplifies legalese without trivializing it. The final act, meanwhile, is noticeably dissimilar, concentrating almost exclusively on Phil. It’s all a predictable but satisfying lead-up to someone’s plan that ends with at least one person behind bars.
A quiet story about legal suits that’s wholly gratifying with what amounts to fisticuffs, lawyer-style.