A sublime lawyer tutors two lousy younger attorneys on cutthroat courtroom tactics and spiritual uplift in this legal dramedy.
Mace Spinella and Brick Hawthorne are former door-to-door perfume salesmen, newly minted grads of a Texas law school, and eternally self-pitying losers facing eviction from their Austin apartment. Desperate for rent money, Mace literally chases an ambulance while Brick attempts a slip-and-fall insurance scam, and both schemes fail miserably. Just before they’re arrested for bribery, they get whisked away by an older lawyer with the name of Ike Turner and the look of Kris Kristofferson. Ike is a font of grizzled scorn—“You don’t even deserve the label greenhorn,” he says. “You’re green bananas…junior shysters”—and paternal life-lessons, the latter sometimes delivered in the form of elaborate bets that seem like sure things to the unwary. He tosses Mace and Brick a couple of throwaway cases involving prostitution and drug possession, and he makes the resulting trials a grand seminar in legal procedure, from voir dire to cross-examination (“If you make it look like you’re having to coax it out of him, it makes him look like he’s being less than forthright,” he tells them). But during a trial, Ike teaches that lawyerly ploys are far less important than a deep connection with one’s soul, gained through prayer and breathing techniques (“I inhale flexibility, trust, and freedom. I exhale rigidity, fear, and resistance”). Feazell’s saga is a lively, if ungainly, mix of clashing elements. Crass courtroom maneuvering mixes with earnest therapy-speak: “When pride and willfulness are finally identified and surrendered, true character development and spiritual transformation can take place.” Marijuana is an overbearing presence, conveyed both in the third-person narrative voice—“Scientific studies have shown marijuana is a cure for cancer, and that it helps with Alzheimer’s, autism, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, migraines, seizures, and even restless leg syndrome, to name a few”—and those of Mace and Brick during their shapeless interludes of stoned palaver. Feazell is a lawyer, and the story comes alive during his fascinating scenes of courtroom strategizing and during his insightful soapboxing on the burdens that the legal system imposes on the poor. Ike, meanwhile, is a charismatic figure that readers will hope to see more of in subsequent installments of the series.
This book’s spirituality is a bit thick, but its snazzy legal high jinks make for an entertaining read.