THE DEAL by Sabin Willett


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 Ever have one of those days when a little bitty error snowballs into big trouble? Willett's first legal suspenser traces the fallout from an $839 million typo. In only eight days, the Boston law firm of Freer Motley has succeeded in rushing through New York financier Sidney Weiner's leveraged buyout of Idlewild Industries, the lion's share of the financing to be secured by an $840 million mortgage on Idlewild Tower. Shortly after the deal is done, though, somebody discovers that the principal amount on the mortgage has been changed to $840 thousand--an unobtrusive error all the lawyers on the buyout were too dazed by paperwork to catch, and one likely to leave the partners in Freer Motley a hefty $140 million out of pocket. Whodunit? The obvious suspects are John Shepard, the brilliant, irascible architect of the deal, who's just resigned from the firm over his failure to make partner, and senior partner Samuel Whitaker, bitter over being eased into retirement. New partner Ed Mulcahy, the in-house litigator pressed into service to investigate the slip, figures things couldn't get much blacker for Freer Motley--until Whitaker is shot to death and Shepard arrested for his murder. As if that weren't bad enough, Shepard calls in an old debt by insisting that Mulcahy defend him. (Some of these complications provide interesting new wrinkles before and after the case goes to trial; some of them just produce lumps.) It looks as if the case will turn on the missing George Creel, the legless computer whiz from Freer Motley. But why is it that when Creel is finally found, he refuses to talk until he's on the stand? Like his criminally inexperienced hero, Willett still has a bit to learn about this line of work. Most of his legal types are too realistic to be very engaging. The over-obvious culprit and an over-ingenious surprise ending don't help.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-44852-7
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996


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