Book: In the Shadow of the Law by Kermit Roosevelt 

About the daily lives of some lawyers; interesting to the right person 

Kermit Roosevelt
In the Shadow of the Law
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0-374-26187-0
ISBN-10: 0-374-26187-3
370 pages

In the Shadow of the Law is a novel about some lawyers who work for the law firm Morgan Siler, which is on Washington DC's K Street, the traditional home of that city's expensive and powerful law firms. Some of the characters are partners in the firm (that is, its owners), but mostly we follow Katja Phillips, Mark Clayton, Walker Eliot, and Ryan Grady, who are young associates there (that is, employee lawyers who work for the partners).

The book's plot revolves around two cases: one is about a deadly explosion at a chemical plant and the other is a death-penalty appeal that the firm is dong for free. Of course, there's more to the cases than is apparent at first and they serve to keep the plot moving. But the book is really about the lawyers, what they do, their doubts and certainties, and what motivates them. The lawyers have somewhat different legal backgrounds, but to judge from Kermit Roosevelt's dust-jacket bio, he knows what he's writing about.

The problem with the book (if it is a problem) is that it's not driven by a dramatic or exciting plot, but by the thoughts and actions of some reasonably probable characters. If the daily lives of some lawyers doesn't sound like a very interesting premise for a novel then, well, the book probably isn't for you.

I liked the book pretty well, but I think that if it had been much longer, I'd have gotten bored with it. Mr Roosevelt had pretty much used up my interest in reading internal monologues by the end. I suspect that there's a good deal of realism here, but it's not necessarily realism that will intrigue everyone. 

Posted: Sun - October 16, 2005 at 06:41   Main   Category: