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THE ASSOCIATE by Phillip Margolin


by Phillip Margolin

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-019625-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

Humdrum legal thriller about a young lawyer who trusts his firm way more than he should.

You've heard that one before, have you? Well, if bright, industrious, wide-eyed Daniel Ames had been up on his Grisham he might have taken fewer lumps. Reed, Briggs, Stephens, Stottlemeyer and Compton of Portland, Oregon, oh-so-elite, employs and regularly victimizes the oh-so-willing Daniel. One night, predictably, he gets suckered into a grunt work task that has exploitation written all over it. The case happens to involve a huge Reed, Briggs client—Geller Pharmaceuticals, makers of Insufort, billed in a venomous supermarket tabloid as “Son of Thalidomide.” Geller and Insufort are being accused of causing horrifyingly severe birth defects—a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in progress. In turn, Arthur Briggs, senior member of the firm, accuses Daniel of having made a stupid and costly mistake. Not so, but suddenly Daniel finds himself being fitted for a scapegoat suit. Summarily fired, he's told to pack and be gone instanter. Resentful but powerless, Daniel obeys. To his surprise, he finds a message the next day from Briggs on his answering machine, apologizing and asking for a fence-mending meeting, not at the office, but in a remote country cottage. Even a cursory reading of Grisham might have helped Daniel dodge that one, too, but innocent that he is he trundles off. Naturally, he finds Briggs murdered. Naturally, he's framed for it. Things are going from bleak to bleaker. Fortunately for him, however, Kate Ross, investigator extraordinaire, is there to befriend him. With her help he turns the tables on an assortment of villains, while refurbishing a tarnished reputation and redeeming a blighted career, though not, praise be, at Reed, Briggs.

Bland people, implausible plotting. Here, Margolin, who has tilled the legal thriller field with no mean success (Wild Justice, 2000, etc.), does little more than go through the motions.