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The List Paperback – October 4, 2004

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About the Author

Robert Whitlow is the bestselling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. Twitter: @whitlowwriter Facebook: robertwhitlowbooks

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Inherit the wind.
--Proverbs 11:29, kjv

The secretary whom Renny shared with two other associates in the banking law section of the firm buzzed the speakerphone on Renny's desk. "Attorney Jefferson McClintock from Charleston calling on line one. Says it's personal."

"I'll take it."

Renny shut the door of the windowless office he had occupied since graduating from law school three months earlier. If he continued working sixty hours a week, he had a fifty-fifty chance of a comfortable six-figure salary and an office with a view of the city in approximately twelve years. But for now he was at the bottom of the legal food chain. Of the 104 lawyers employed by Jackson, Robinson, and Temples in Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Washington, D.C., his name, Josiah Fletchall Jacobson, was next to last on the firm's letterhead.

Renny picked up the phone. "Hello, Mr. McClintock."

"How are you, Renny?"

"I'm OK. Busy learning the ins and outs of Truth in Lending and Regulation Z."

"Bank work, eh?"

"Yes sir. I have to review all the forms used by the lending institutions we represent to make sure they contain the exact wording required by the regulations and print everything in the appropriate size type."

"Sounds picky."

"It is, but if I make a mistake, the banks can get hit with class-action lawsuits involving thousands of consumers who have a cause of action, even if they didn't suffer any financial harm."

"Our government regulators at work." The Charleston lawyer coughed and cleared his throat. "Well, move the law books to the side for a minute, and let's talk about your father's estate. With the help of two associates, I've almost completed the documents needed to probate your father's will, but there are several matters that need your attention."

Two associates. Renny knew how the system worked. Multi-lawyer involvement was McClintock's way to triple his money: charge for each junior lawyer's time and throw in another fee at time and a half for the senior partner to proofread a stack of papers.

"Any problems?" Renny asked.

"We need to meet and discuss some things," McClintock answered vaguely. "When can you come to Charleston? Tomorrow is Friday. Why not leave early and see me around two?"

Renny had worked until ten o'clock two nights earlier in the week and had billed enough hours for the week to sneak away by late morning on Friday. Besides, he wasn't going to let anything delay moving forward on the estate. "Could we make it three?"

"Let me see." McClintock paused. "Yes. I can move my three o'clock appointment up an hour."

"Do I need to bring anything?"

"No," replied McClintock, "we'll have the paperwork ready. See you then."

"With your bill on top," Renny remarked as he heard the click of the other lawyer hanging up the phone.

Renny let his mind wander as he looked around his office. Even though it wasn't much larger than a walk-in closet, Renny didn't complain. Landing a job at a big law firm in a major city was the ultimate prize for the masses of eager students passing through the law school meat grinder. Each one entered the legal education process hoping they would come out with Law Review on their résumés and filet mignon status in the difficult job market. Most ended up as hamburger, relieved to find any job at all.

Renny had an advantage. Although not on Law Review or in the top 10 percent of his class, he had something even better: connections. For once, really the first time he could remember, his father had come to his aid. Dwight Temples, one of the senior partners in the firm, had attended college with Renny's father at The Citadel in Charleston. Over the years they maintained a casual friendship centered around an annual deep-sea fishing expedition off the coast of North Carolina. When Renny mentioned an interest in working for the firm's Charlotte office, H. L. Jacobson called Dwight Temples, and the interview with the hiring partner at Jackson, Robinson, and Temples became a formality. Renny was offered a position on the spot.

Today was not the first call Renny had received from Jefferson McClintock, his family's lawyer in Charleston. Six weeks before, McClintock telephoned Renny with the news of H. L.'s sudden death on a golf course in Charleston. No warning. No cholesterol problem. No hypertension. No previous chest pains. The elder Jacobson was playing a round of golf with two longtime friends, Chaz Bentley, his stockbroker, and Alex Souther, a College of Charleston alumnus and restaurant owner.

At the funeral home, Bentley, a jovial fellow and everyday golfer who probably received more stock market advice from Renny's father than he gave to him, had pumped Renny's hand and shook his head in disbelief. "I don't understand it. He was fine. No complaints of pain or dizziness. We were having a great round at the old Isle of Palms course. You should have seen the shot he hit from the championship tee on the seventh hole. You remember, it's the hole with the double water hazards. His tee shot must have gone 225 yards, straight down the fairway. He birdied the hole. Can you believe it? Birdied the last hole he ever played!" The stockbroker made it sound like nirvana to make a birdie then die on the golf course. "We were teeing off on number eight. Alex had taken a mulligan on his first shot and hooked his second try into a fairway bunker. I hit a solid drive just a little left of center." Renny could tell Bentley was enjoying Souther's duff and his own good shot all over again. "Then your father leaned over to tee up his ball and, he, uh…never got his ball on the tee," he finished lamely.

Because of the circumstances of his death, the coroner had required an autopsy. The pathologist's report concluded death by coronary failure. H. L.'s family doctor, James Watson, had explained to Renny, "Your father's heart exploded. He never knew what happened. Death was instantaneous. The pathologist called me from the hospital after he examined the body and reviewed his findings with me. Given your father's good health, we were both puzzled at the severe damage to the heart muscle. We know how he died, but not why it happened as it did."

Renny grieved, but he and his father had not had a close relationship. H. L. was a harsh, critical parent whose favor eluded his son like the proverbial carrot on a stick. Renny tried to please, but the elder Jacobson often changed the rules, and Renny discovered a new way to fail instead. After his mother's death, Renny only visited his father a couple of times a year.

Since there was no one else with whom to share the considerable assets his father had inherited and then increased through savvy investments, Renny looked forward to the trip to Charleston. Once the estate was settled, he would become what some people called "independently wealthy." It had a nice ring to it, and Renny indulged in fantasies of future expenditures.

H. L. was not a generous parent; he paid for Renny's education but never provided the extras he could have easily afforded. After landing the job at Jackson, Robinson, and Temples, Renny sold his old car for three thousand dollars and bought a new charcoal gray Porsche Boxster convertible. The payment and insurance on the new car devoured almost half of Renny's monthly paycheck, but the sporty vehicle was a sign to himself and, subconsciously, to his father, that he had started up the ladder of success. Now he would be able to pay off the car, buy a house, perhaps even quit work and duplicate his father's exploits in the commercial real estate market. His stay at the bottom of the law firm letterhead might be very short indeed.


At 2:55 the next afternoon Renny was standing on the hot, humid Charleston sidewalk in front of the semicircular double stairway beckoning him with open arms to the law firm of McClintock and Carney, Esquires. Some antebellum grande dame must be spinning in her grave, he thought. Her house, her home, the common thread of the domestic and social fabric of her life, taken over by legal scriveners and secretaries with word processors and fax machines. It was not an uncommon fate for a growing number of the homes and mansions lining Fourth Street. An antique dealer rented Renny's ancestral home, near the Battery.

At least Jefferson McClintock had Charleston roots. He wasn't a New York lawyer who came south for the Spoleto festival, unpacked his carpetbag, and hung out a legal shingle. In fact, few current Charlestonians went further back to the city's origins. McClintock's great-great-grandfather, a Scottish blacksmith's servant, could have been the farrier who made sure the grande dame's horses had proper footwear. Now the servant's descendant had his desk in the parlor and law books in the living room.

When McClintock and his law partner, John Carney, purchased the house, they spent the money necessary to maintain the historic and architectural integrity of the 150-year-old structure. They had cleaned the white marble double stairway leading up from the street to the main entrance and made sure the hand railings were kept in good condition by a yearly staining to erase the corrosive effect of Charleston's proximity to the ocean. The exterior stucco had been painted a fresh light peach-only in Charleston could pastel houses reflect good taste. From a low-flying plane, the old residential district looked like a summer fruit compote.

Opening the large front door, he stepped into the law firm's waiting area. As with many large nineteenth-century homes, the foyer was as wide and spacious as the dining room in a modern house plan. McClintock and Carney had turned the greeting area into a gracious reception room, furnishing it with antiques and quality reproductions.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Jacobson," a cheerful receptionist spoke before Renny could give his name. "Mr. McClintock will be with you in a minute."

Noticing a graduati... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849945186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849945182
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Whitlow grew up in north Georgia. He graduated magna cum laude from Furman University with a BA in history in 1976 and received his JD with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1979. A practicing attorney, he is a partner in a Charlotte, NC law firm. He and his wife Kathy have four children and three grandchildren.
Robert began writing in 1996. His novels are set in the South and include both legal suspense and interesting characterization. It is his desire to write stories that reveal some of the ways God interacts with people in realistic scenerios.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Nance A. Wabshaw on April 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is both an engaging story of the development of a relationship, the spiritual journey of a modern soul, and a textbook on spiritual warfare. As a jaded, 20th century Christian who had almost despaired of seeing finely crafted fiction portraying authentic Christian themes, I was absolutely impressed by this book. The intrigue and sheer creativity of the plot, the well-developed characters, and the wisdom and depth of the spiritual aspects affecting the plot and characters are all outstanding. I can only hope for more books from Whitlow and a new breed of Christian writer to come from this good seed! A great read with lots to ponder.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Knutson on April 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Renny Jacobson is a young lawyer, expecting to receive a sizable estate after his father's death. Instead, he finds his father has given the estate to several charities and leaves Renny possession of "The List". After investigating, Renny finds out The List is a group of old Southern families who united during the Civil War to provide for their families. But this is only what shows on the surface... Renny meets Jo, a dashing woman who wants no part in the list. Through her, Renny begins to view his relationship with God as something special and personal. They discover The List has a powerful evil dark side, will they be able to overcome its grip? Will Renny succomb to the longing for big money? Renny risks everything to resolve the impact of The List. God guides him through every step. This is a powerful book, a good read, and a reminder of the impact of our daily lives on us and others. I'll read more books by Robert Whitlow.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is my favorite book of all time, and I have been an "English major" since I learned how to read! Without preaching, this novel takes the reader to places many have never gone - to the realm of the supernatural. Whitlow combines humor, romance, mystery, and spiritual depth in a very enjoyable way. I recommend this book highly, and look forward to many more books by this author.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Durling on October 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I had not imagined a fiction book so powerful that it could have the impact to change my life. I'm a huge non-fiction reader (and writer), but Robert Whitlow has abruptly converted me to fiction-ianity. Truth is, I only read "The List" because someone gave it to me. I've really appreciated this amazing style in the Christian fiction genre. I've since rushed to devour The Sacrifice.
For me, "The List" was a page-turner. I finished it in a few days' reading, and was so overwhelmed with some of the words, behavior, thoughts, and beliefs of the characters, I found myself mulling them over days and weeks later. I have made specific and hugely positive changes in my (already pretty darn good) life, influenced by fictional people-if you can imagine that!
Added to the captivating story line and life-changing energy of his writing, Whitlow's style was sweet and often titillating to the ear...he has a nice way about it. That often brought a smile to my face as I read this drama /thriller. As well, I appreciated the details that made his stories (there were several colorful veins wrapped tightly with and around the big theme) ring real. Read it, and you'll live a little (or perhaps a lot) differently.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was an unusual plot set in today's complex world where spiritual life is not the norm among the young adults in corporate America. The two main story lines developed very quickly (more quickly than in real life perhaps) and yet it was realistic enough to make you feel good about the outcome. I found this book classified as Religious Fiction in the book store, but the suspense in it was more than mere "fiction." I hope the author writes more books and I look forward to his deveopment of ideas. For the first published work of this author, I think it is excellent. If was refreshing to read a whole book without any curse words!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hickerson on January 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
It's ironic that in reading Robert Whitlow's novels to date, the last one I'd get to read would be his first novel. I have to say I've enjoyed all of his novels, each for both the same and different reasons. And while reading his books, you'd think I'd be able to say--oh yes, this was written first and this one written more recently, I honestly couldn't tell which was first, middle or last written except by the date on the copyright page. Whitlow is just that good--and the List is just a great novel.
The novel is like a combination of the legal chase thriller that was the Firm or the Pelican Brief with the spiritual warfare made real as done by Frank Peretti. And the good news is--Whitlow puts distills both into a form that is imminently readable and thoroughly enjoyable. The List is a book that once I started reading, I found it virtually impossible to put down. I cared about what happened to the characters of Renny and Jo, seeeing where the journey took them. I enjoyed their budding romance--seeing it in the wonders and pitfalls of an emerging relationship. I also liked hearing about the list and the lengths taken to keep it secret and how Renny learns to signing his name to something can have serious consequences. Hearing the spirtitual struggle of Renny and the battle waged for his soul is compelling and outstanding reading. The novel never lags and always keeps you intereted. Whitlow has done a superlative job with all of his books and the only thing that disappoints me is now I've read all of his books that are currently published and must wait for the wonder of discovering his worlds in a new novel.
If you're looking for strong, intelligent contemporary Christian fiction, look no farther. Even if you're just looking for a page-turning, moving and enjoyable novel, you can't go wrong here. The List is another great entry from great author. I can't recommend this book or any of Whitlow's other novels enough.
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