Forced out of his high-powered Manhattan law firm and stuck in a dead-end solo practice, Michael Seeley, the tough-but-wounded hero of Errors and Omissions, cannot say no when his estranged brother, Leonard, head of research at upstart biotech Vaxtek, Inc., flies in from California to beg him to take over the company’s lawsuit for patent infringement of its pathbreaking AIDS vaccine after the sudden death of the lead trial lawyer. The financial and moral stakes of the case are staggering, and Seeley suspects that murder cannot be ruled out as a hardball litigation tactic of big-pharma adversary St. Gall Laboratories.
As Seeley travels between San Francisco and Silicon Valley to prepare for trial, dark facts surface concerning the vaccine’s discovery by Vaxtek scientist Alan Steinhardt and its alleged theft by St. Gall researcher Lily Warren. Ethical quandaries deepen into mortal danger as the trial, under the stern prodding of federal judge Ellen Farnsworth, rushes to its unexpected end. A timely and fascinating look at how the law operates at its most arcane yet financially consequential, A Patent Lie is further evidence that Paul Goldstein is an emerging master of the legal thriller.