Summary and book reviews of In The Shadow of The Law by Kermit Roosevelt

In The Shadow of The Law

by Kermit Roosevelt

In The Shadow of The Law
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 370 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2006, 464 pages

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Book Summary

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 door open.

The uncertain dawn spilled inside the house, revealing shabby furniture and the faint glow of a television....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About this Guide

The following author biography and list of questions about In the Shadow of the Law are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach In the Shadow of the Law.

About the Book
Morgan Siler is one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful K Street law firms, its roster of clients stocked with multibillion-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 ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal - David Keymer

The ending suffers owing to stretched coincidences and a too-neat resolution, but these are small flaws in an otherwise superior novel.

Booklist - Stephanie Zvirin

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.....Legal terms and concepts abound so this isn't breezy reading; thought-provoking is a much more accurate description.

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....Though the novel features plenty of satisfying twists and turns, the book transcends the legal thriller genre.....Most of all it's the vividness and complexity of the characters...that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.

Author Blurb Colin Harrison (author & editor)
Perhaps only once a decade does a brilliant young lawyer write a terrific first novel that suddenly announces him as a first-rate story-telling talent while revealing anew the enormous drama hidden within the colossus that we call the American legal system. Kermit Roosevelt is such a writer and In the Shadow of the Law is such a book. A tremendous, satisfying read.

Reader Reviews

dave hayes

great characters
This is a very good but not easy read. Unlike other legal novels, you can't skim through it, nor does it have one single hero type main character. The book has several main and well defined characters who are interesting and human. I recommend this...   Read More

Debra

Dense!
I could not get through this book. It reads like a textbook on the law. I would not recommend it to anyone for pleasure...maybe a lawyer, but it does not paint lawyers or firms in a good light.

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Beyond the Book

This is 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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