Telling the truth had for him always been automatic, but he had been at the firm long enough to learn that the truth was actually just one of a number of options open to someone.
Freely Savage Carter Blanche is a huge commercial law form dedicated to maximum profit for its partners. Ranks of insignificant lawyers like Stephen Maserov do the work, billing for every six minutes; the partners take their profits depending on how many 6-minute billings their anonymous underlings have managed to raise. It’s not in anyone’s interest to settle cases quickly. It’s not a happy environment for someone like Stephen, who has good intentions and a conscience – but also a wife, two kids and a mortgage. In a tight job market, he’s terrified of losing a job he hates. And when he looks like being chewed up in the firm’s regular purge of juniors, he takes a huge risk, convincing one of the firm’s major clients to have him assigned for a year to settle a series of sexual assault charges.
Funny and fast-moving as it is, the book is serious about the routine victimisation of women at the hands of powerful men, and it manages not to be pious, politically-correct or sententious about it. There’s a host of engaging characters: Stephen himself, the brilliant black-sheep lawyer Betga, Jessica the organisational psychology graduate relegated to putting alfalfa on sandwiches and doing all the thinking her stupid boss takes credit for, the loathesome Frank Cardigan (everyone knows I’m a pretty regular kind of guy, other than, you know, my leadership and charisma) and poor Mr Featherby, the meek grey lawyer caught up in the clashing gears of Freely Savage Carter Blanche:
…[he] looked into Featherby’s still moist eyes and asked, ‘Are you a religious man?’
‘No, we’re Anglican.’
I had tremendous fun with this. It will keep you on the hook to the very end.