Author Robert Whitlow generally writes about lawyers, court cases, and the South. In this novel, the story centers on a young law student – Tami Taylor – who is looking for a summer job. She is offered a position as a law clerk at the Braddock, Appleby, & Carpenter firm. Her main assignment is to investigate and build a defense for an elderly black man named Moses, who is charged with several dozen counts of trespassing. Moses lives on his fishing boat, and would tie his boat to private docks along the river for the night, which irked the neighbors who owned the docks. It seems like a petty charge that should just have ended with a warning to “please ask folks if they mind before you use their dock”. But as Tami works on a defense for Moses, she discovers that there is more of a story than meets the eye. Is he a harmless old man, or a heartless killer?
This story did not seem very realistic. The main character, Tami, is just too naive to seem plausible. She has been homeschooled, is deeply religious, and consults her parents for every decision. If she is still that tied to the apron strings of home, how did she make it through several years of law school? And when she applies for jobs, she has no cell phone, internet service, or e-mail for them to contact her with, only her parents’ landline telephone. She also has no car, and depends on her parents or friends for rides. She can’t accept the job, which involves moving to another town, until her parents give their blessing (which they do)
After she starts working at the firm, she often loses track of time, forgets to do things, keeps the company’s loaner car longer than she should, and goes off for a leisurely lunch with one male lawyer or another when she has work to do. When I compare that to any of the John Grisham novels about lawyers and court cases, Grisham’s guys are always running like crazy, eating lunch at their desk, and working like maniacs to get their work done on time. After work, Tami seems to have plenty of time to spend with her elderly landlady, sometimes heating up supper for her. Tami never seems to have to bring cases home to work on, and has enough energy to get up early in the morning to run four miles before walking to work.
The other female summer clerk also does not seem real. She is always trying to get the lawyers to go out with her, calmly doing research in the company library, or going to parties at night. She never seems tired, and frequently pokes fun of Tami’s religious beliefs, which causes friction between the women.
Then there are the two guy lawyers, Zach and Vince, who coincidentally are both Christians like Tami, and who are both interested in dating her. What are the chances of that? Although this was a clean read, which I appreciated, the story never seemed even close to real. If you are looking for a legal thriller that is at least somewhat authentic, this book is not it.