From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This outstanding debut goes behind the scenes at Morgan Siler, one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful K Street law firms, as several lawyers become embroiled in two difficult cases: a pro bono death penalty case in Virginia and a class action suit brought against a Texas chemical corporation after an explosion kills dozens of workers. Assigned to the pro bono case is the earnest, rumpled first-year associate Mark Clayton, who wonders, as he struggles with sleep deprivation and trying to reach his billable-hours target, if he hasn't made a terrible career choice. Also on the case is the brilliant, cocksure young lawyer Walker Eliot. Leading the Hubble Chemical defense is the ferocious litigator Harold Fineman, and lording over them all is Peter Morgan, the supremely confident, never-satisfied managing partner of the firm. Though the novel features plenty of satisfying twists and turns, the book transcends the legal thriller genre. Roosevelt, who practiced and teaches law and who once clerked for Justice Souter, offers a fascinating insider's look into the culture of a high-stakes firm, while also presenting a considered meditation on the law itself and its potential to compromise those driven to practice it. Most of all it's the vividness and complexity of the characters—drawn with the precision and authority of a winning legal argument—that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice. Agent, Tina Bennett. (June)
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If the first few pages of Roosevelt's debut call to mind John Grisham, don't be fooled. This isn't a plot-driven legal thriller of the sort Grisham writes. The protagonist is Law, with a capital L, and Roosevelt, who has both taught and practiced law, creates his story with full attention to his subject's multidimensional personality. Law is greedy, amoral, ruthless, and all-consuming; yet, in its own way, it is elegant, even beautiful, and fair, when practiced by lawyers with conscience. Law thoroughly overshadows the human characters: Wayne Harper, awaiting execution on Virginia's death row; the victims of an explosion in a Texas chemical factory; even a group of legal associates learning the ropes at Morgan Siler, a top D.C. law firm. "If you give yourself to the [law], it will give you something in return," one of the partners tells a puzzled associate. He's right, but the gift isn't always what's expected. Legal terms and concepts abound so this isn't breezy reading; thought-provoking is a much more accurate description. Stephanie Zvirin
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