THE MOURNING SEXTON by Michael Baron

THE MOURNING SEXTON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The redemption of a once-jailed, once-super lawyer accelerates when he’s asked to file suit on behalf of a young woman killed in the crash of an SUV.

Writing with affection for St. Louis and for his colleagues outside the white-shoe firms, attorney/first-novelist Baron picks up the story of lawyer David Hirsch as he is carefully building a new life and career. Intelligence, connections, athletic ability, and a name-brand education had taken Hirsch to a partnership in the city’s best law firm, but extramarital affairs and cocaine took him even faster to the city’s underside, eventually dumping him in a motel room in East St. Louis with a dead crack whore, thence to prison and the loss of his law license. Now, years later, alienated from his family, he finds solace living out the religious life he grasped in prison with the help of an exceptional chaplain. He volunteers as sexton of a fading shul, opening the building every day, phoning the members every night to make sure that there will be a minyan. His legal work is no longer high-profile cases. Under the court-mandated supervision of old schoolmate Seymour Rosenbloom, Hirsch now labors in the scrubby field of bankruptcy filings. Then he’s asked by one of the grumpiest of the shul regulars, a man in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, to get some justice for his daughter, who died when she was driving her inebriated employer, Judge Brendan McCormick, through a heavy snow and, according to the judge, swerved to avoid an animal and hit a tree. Investigating with assistance from attractive legal clinician Dulcie Lorenz, Hirsch quickly discovers that the young law clerk’s death may have had nothing to do with top-heavy SUVs or imperfect tires and just as quickly finds himself in pitched battle against heavyweights from his previous life.

Attractive and credible characters in slightly-less-credible circumstances.

Pub Date: April 19th, 2005
ISBN: 0-385-51326-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2005