Hard-luck Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl is just itching for the opportunity to sell out. Then good fortune comes knocking at his door in the guise of William Prescott III, a blue-blood attorney from one of the city's most prestigious firms. Prescott wants Victor to represent a councilman's aide who is on trial, along with his boss, for extortion, arson, and murder. It's the juiciest, highest-profile courtroom extravaganza in years -- and all Carl has to do is show up, shut up, and follow Prescott's lead.
But it soon becomes clear that somene's setting him and his client up to take a long, hard fall. Victor Carl may be desperate and unethical but he's no one's patsy. And to survive in this legal snake pit of secrets, lies, and lethal double-crosses, he's going to play the game his way.
Murder, extortion, drugs, political corruption and base legal shenanigans animate this colorful debut from the latest attorney-turned-novelist. Victor Carl is a disillusioned protagonist whose foundering Philadelphia law practice only heightens his resentment toward the prestige law firms and WASP blue bloods who have kept him down. But when William Prescott III, managing partner of Talbott, Kittredge, and Chase, dangles a chance before him to make the big time, Victor grabs it. Prescott is representing antidrug crusading councilman Jimmy Moore, under indictment for extortion, murder and arson. Victor will represent Moore's lieutenant, Chet Concannon, in the high-profile case. Chet's previous attorney has died unexpectedly, and the trial begins in two weeks. Victor soon begins to suspect that his real job is to let his client take the fall for Moore. Lashner navigates the seamy side of the legal profession with skillful pacing, finding betrayals, both personal and professional, at every turn. While his narrative occasionally lacks subtlety-Victor's bitterness toward the city's elite is badly overplayed, and characters like the cannoli-baking Mafia don and the corpulent, orthodox Jewish private investigator are cartoonish-it is suspenseful. Comparisons to Grisham and Turow are premature, but this remains a promising debut. 75,000 first printing; author tour; audio by HarperAudio.