From Oscar Wilde to Thomas Wolfe to Jack Kerouac, the roman à clef has been a sturdy literary tradition. In Bad Law, Will Nathan takes the genre into new territory in his second novel populated by the thinly veiled icons of the local Bar and judiciary.
With a cast of characters to rival War and Peace, Nathan runs the gamut from delicious lampoon to brutal assault, as he mercilessly sketches many of the characters he has encountered in several decades of white-shoe business law and civil litigation. The central character, a towering sociopath who personifies the late-millennial Gold Rush mentality that took hold at one of the City's oldest and best-established firms, leading to its downfall, is presented in a relentlessly scathing portrait of hubris run amok.
©2010 Will Nathan LLC (P)2010 Will Nathan LLC
“Hard cases, it is said, make bad law. But they can also make good novels, and Will Nathan has done so with a gripping tale of the seamy side of law practice; replete with ethical crises and missteps; heartless firm politics; and the brutal, fragile road to success. The story may make you uncomfortable because the fiction is only a disguise for reality, a reality many of us have faced. But, fiction or fact, Mr. Nathan’s crisply written, insightful and unyielding novel holds you until its conclusion—and even then it stays with you.” (Jerome Shestack, Esq., former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Past President of the American Bar Association, and 2006 winner of the American Bar Association Medal)
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
There are a lot of chapters which focus on different characters... a LOT of characters, and it takes a long time to figure out how they're supposed to relate to each other, or if they are supposed to... for over half the book it felt like it was going to be a series of vignettes about what goes on in legal firms and not really be a novel with a plot.
It did turn out to have a plot, of sorts, but my guess is that the main point of the book was to make a dig at the hypocrisy and money-grubbing of the legal "profession". The author - apparently a lawyer who wants to remain anonymous - seems to have quite a chip on his shoulder over what goes on in big legal firms; I suppose this means that, while fiction, a lot of the book is based on events he's been through and obviously hasn't yet come to terms with on a personal level.
I guess it was interesting enough that I don't feel it was a waste of my time to read. A bit more long-winded than I'd usually like, but okay nonetheless. The price certainly helps me feel better about having bought it. And by the 3/4 point I was sorta curious as to how the story would be resolved, even though - until that point - I still wasn't convinced there was a plot to be resolved.
It's a female narrator but nearly all the characters in the book are male so that was kinda an odd choice I think but otherwise the narration is fine.
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