In this complex, ambitious, and gripping first novel, Kermit Roosevelt vividly illustrates the subtle and stark effects of the law on the lives of a group of lawyers, and also on communities and private citizens.
Morgan Siler is one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful K Street law firms, its
roster of clients stocked with multi-billion-dollar corporations. Through the
obsessive efforts of its founder's son, Peter Morgan, his father's old-fashioned
business has been transformed into a veritable goliath, embracing bankruptcy and
merger divisions that Archibald Morgan had deemed ungentlemanly. As Peter
reaches the pinnacle of his career, his firm is embroiled in two difficult
cases: a pro bono death-penalty case in Virginia, and a class-action lawsuit
brought against Hubble Chemical of Texas after an on-site explosion killed
dozens of workers.
Assigned to these cases is a group of young associates and seasoned partners struggling to make their way in the firm. Mark Clayton, fresh out of law school, is beginning to loathe his dull workload, and to be frightened by the downgrading of his personal life, when he is assigned to the pro bono case. Assisting him is the mercurial Walker Eliot, a brilliant third-year associate whose passion for the law is as great as his skill at unraveling its intricacies. The aggressive, profane, and wildly successful litigator Harold Fineman is leading the Hubble defense, assisted by first-year Katja Phillips, whose twin devotion to productivity and idealism intrigue him, and Ryan Grady, another first-year, whose quest to pick up girls is starting to interfere with his work.
In this complex, ambitious, and gripping first novel, Kermit Roosevelt vividly illustrates the subtle and stark effects of the law on the lives not only of a group of lawyers, but also on communities and private citizens. In the Shadow of the Law is a meditation about the life of the law, the organism that is a law firm, and its impact on those who come within its powerful orbit.
September 23, 1999
Alanton, Virginia, 6:30 a.m.
Detective Ray Robideaux pulled his cruiser to the curb in front of a small clapboard
house. Morning shadows hung long down the empty street. People in this
neighborhood tended to sleep in, perhaps because few of them had much to get up
early for. Through the quiet air Robideaux could hear the rumble of traffic from
a highway overpass. Approaching the house, he flipped open the snap of his
holster and glanced at his partner. Bill Campbell's gun was already out, held
low at his side. Robideaux tried the doorknob, which turned in his hand, and he
knocked. The wood was soft under his knuckles and resounded hollowly. "Police,"
he called. "We have a warrant to enter this building." By his side Campbell
counted seconds off in a whisper. At eight he nodded and Robideaux threw the
The uncertain dawn spilled inside the house, revealing shabby furniture and the faint glow of a television....
As the story opens, the firm has two particularly challenging cases on, one a class action suit against a Texas chemical company, and the other a pro bono case assigned to eager young associate Mark Clayton. So far this sounds pretty much like many another legal thriller - but Roosevelt's is a little more thoughtful than most - combining enough twists and turns to keep thing interesting while also pondering some of the bigger questions about the law and the moral dangers to those who practice it.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (249 words).
Kermit Roosevelt's first novel.
He is an assistant professor of
law at the
University of Pennsylvania Law
School and a former clerk to
a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
He's also a descendent of Theodore Roosevelt, but to his credit, this is a fact that I only gleaned when I asked his publisher a direct question, having noticed that he shared the same name as one of Roosevelt's sons.
Presumably this also makes him a relative of Kermit Roosevelt, the ...
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