UNDUE INFLUENCE by Shelby Yastrow


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Why should all the plum roles in courtroom dramas be reserved for criminal lawyers? Here's a nifty debut novel that features civil litigation--a disputed will involving an $8 million bequest. The will--in which elderly accountant Benjamin Stillman leaves his entire estate to Beth Zion Synagogue--wouldn't be so unusual if(1) Stillman hadn't been so obviously not Jewish, and (2) anybody had a clue as to where he could've gotten all that money. Before novice litigator Philip Ogden can get to probate, he faces challenges from Barnett Brothers, the brokerage where Stillman worked, which is convinced he must have been swindling them for years to have amassed such a tidy sum; from sleazeball lawyer Alan Fiori, taking time out from chasing ambulances to file a class, action suit on behalf of the investors in Barnett Brothers; and from oncologist Willard DuPres and his megalomaniac wife Darlene, who produce a more recent will that seems to leave everything to their phony-baloney clinic. There's even a court-appointed lawyer whose duty, as a representative of potential relatives and claimants who haven't even been found yet, is to challenge any and all wills. How this gaggle of lawyers clears up the mysteries surrounding the estate and bestows it in accord with the testatot's intentions makes a wonderfully breezy read. A Lite Lawyer novel--one of the snappiest courtroom capers yet.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Contemporary