The Color of Law by Mark Giminez
It is no secret from the moment you crack the cover on this book that it was inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird. As far as inspiration for a debut novel goes, one could do significantly worse than the illustrious Harper Lee. Giminez, himself a lawyer, has set this modern-day Lawyer’s tale in Dallas...Murder Mystery + Dallas = Win in my book. Add to that equation fully rounded characters (not all of them likable), a thought-out plot with a nice set of curves, and a working knowledge of the law and you get what appears to be the recipe for a Very Good Read.
And it is a Very Good Read. A. Scott Fenney (two guesses what the “A” stands for...and his daughter is called Boo…) is a hot shot young attorney working for a snazzy law firm in a downtown Dallas skyscraper. He over bills his clients, eats and works out in exclusive clubs, lives in Highland Park (think Beverly Hills but with really old money and even more of a superiority complex), and regularly trades on the fact that he was - at one point - a football star for Southern Methodist University. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps and never looked back.
And then...the son of the next Presidential Hopeful candidate is murdered one night. He’s home from Washington for the weekend (he likes to do his whoring in Highland Park where the family’s deep pockets have some sway) and the circumstances surrounding his death could prove fatal to a presidential campaign. He was with a black hooker...and it turns out he has a history of abuse.
In a case of what can only be Very Bad Timing (or Very Good Timing depending on how you look at it) Fenney is giving a speech on the virtues of being Atticus Finch to a group of lawyers and local judges - one of whom decides that he has finally found a decent lawyer and assigns Fenney to the Defense of the poor (heroin-addicted) black woman who is charged with the murder of the Senator’s Son.
Yes, Giminez wades through predictable racial (and neighborhood) stereotypes to try and prove his point - that the color of law isn’t black or white anymore: it’s green. He often falls flat, but the growth of the character alone is worth the read. And did I mention the curves? This plot has curves. Because what do you do when you’re abandoned by the very people who forced you into the situation to begin with? You re-examine. And you regroup...and if you’re A. Scott Fenney, you stick to your guns and make your six-year-old daughter (who is a much more interesting character than your wife, by the way) proud, regardless of the outcome of a very stacked trial.