UNFIT TO PRACTICE by Perri O’Shaughnessy


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Now that she’s survived divorce, betrayal, romantic disappointment, and heaven knows how many attempts on her life, what’s the worst that can happen to Lake Tahoe attorney Nina Reilly? The threat of disbarment, of course.

Considering the magnitude of the threat, the story starts off casually, when Nina (Writ of Execution, 2001, etc.) mislays her keys to her Bronco, uses a spare key to get home, and then awakens the next morning to find her truck gone, along with a briefcase containing three case folders she’d locked inside. One folder concerns Kevin Cruz’s bitterly fought custody battle with his wife Lisa, another Kao Vang’s arson-settlement claim against Heritage Insurance, and the third the statements of Brandy Taylor and her sister Angel Guillaume about a campground murder they’d all but witnessed. All the files are confidential; two of them contain information Nina’s courtroom opponents would love to get their hands on; and the information in one of them could endanger her clients’ lives. When Officer Jean Scholl, who’s got no love to spare for Nina, locates the Bronco, the briefcase is still missing, and it doesn’t take long for the other shoe to fall. Three shoes, in fact, because the contents of all three folders are swiftly leaked, creating havoc for Nina’s one-lawyer practice and a three-count complaint the California Bar will try against her, with only her ex-husband, Jack McIntyre, to defend her and her lover, investigator Paul van Wagoner, to do her legwork. The mystery about who has it in for Nina—skillfully sustained, though revolved up with predictable shrillness—takes a backseat to the cunningly managed hearing, which Nina aptly likens to “a quasi-court practicing quasi-law with quasi-rules of procedure.”

An idealistic lawyer staggers under the weight of legal and ethical charges you can be certain will never stand up in court. Nina’s eighth may be her most irresistible to date.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-33484-2
Page count: 25pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2002


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