Though pulpy novelist Coughlin (author of Day of Wrath and The Stalking Man) has been an attorney and judge, nothing rings even remotely true in this talky, sleazy melodrama about the goings-on at a tip-top N.Y. law firm. Nelson & Clark is supposedly the most famous outfit on Wall Street; its twelve senior partners are known as the ""Apostles""; they deal in the biggest corporate matters. And Coughlin tries to weave several law-firm subplots together--with slow, unfocused, often-tedious results. Elderly apostle Abner Slocum is trying to get the mandatory-retirement age changed. Meanwhile, one of the apostles dies (a heart attack in the midst of threesies/prostitute sex), creating an opening for one of the junior partners. The primary contenders for the job? Two faceless types: litigation-department head Dan Spencer; and gorgeous Christina Niles, 36, with a teenage son and an unfaithful husband. But Christina's ambitions are complicated by her new, intense, sexy suitor: Taro Kuragamo, ""one of the world's richest men,"" who seduces Christina, then rapes her (when she declines to continue the affair), then tries to have her fired--by interfering with Nelson & Clark's biggest case, a takeover bid by John Norman Scott, ""the Napoleon of Wail Street."" Meanwhile, too, there are budding romances. Young lawyer Michael Collins falls for Scott's mistress/aide. And Christina eventually falls for her rival Dan--helping him to win big in the complex but unintriguing takeover-lawsuit quagmire. Coughlin's explanatory exposition about the legal procedures and issues here is uncommonly clumsy. (This is the sort of law-novel where one lawyer tells another that ""the probate and estate section handles the property of rich people after they die."") The dialogue is stiff, corny; the sex is flat and crude; evil Kuragamo is the worst of several cartoon-characters, a portrait that slips over into racism. (Christina tells him to take his ""little slant eyes and get the hell out of my life!"") In all: very bad-imitation Irving Wallace--and any reader willing to slog through these lifeless corporate wrangles would be far better off reading James B. Stewart's non-fiction The Partners (1983), which has all the vivid authenticity that's missing here.