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Debut legal thriller—the one about the brilliant but jaded lawyer who seeks a change by taking on the mighty on behalf of the meek.

Michael Seeley, partner in New York's powerhouse Boone, Bancroft and Meserve, is weary of the banality of success. Predictable, then, is the array of those wearying of him: his wife, his boss, his clients and, in particular, a certain New York State Supreme Court judge. Here's Seeley, who's built a glittering career as an intellectual-properties litigator, in Judge Rappaport's chambers defending a client. Things are not going well—in part because Seeley is drunk, a condition increasingly prevalent as self-disgust mounts; in part because Judge Rappaport really is the “pompous toad” Seeley names him in a moment of rage and recklessness. Threatened with disbarment, in hot water with his managing partner, Seeley finds himself dispatched to Los Angeles on a make-or-break mission. A client, a major Hollywood studio, has made millions from a wildly popular film called Spykiller. Poised to shoot a lucrative sequel, United Pictures has to call a halt when unexpected cloudiness obscures the rights to the original screenplay. Exactly who owns these becomes a question fraught with the potential for shattering careers (and lives). Seeley's job, his bosses have made clear, is to banish ambiguity and restore the profitable status quo. But he smells a rat and can't resist following his nose. He traces the source to the noxious era of the Hollywood witch-hunt, when the blacklisting of screenwriters was commonplace. Plunging ever deeper into that dark period, Seeley confronts a series of choices, on which will depend his chances of kicking the weltschmerz and gaining redemption.

Well-intentioned and reasonably well-written but lacking a fresh point of view.

Pub Date: July 11th, 2006
ISBN: 0-385-51717-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2006


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