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CORRUPT PRACTICES by Robert Rotstein: Book Review

Can you imagine being a lawyer who cannot speak in court?  Such is the case for former big-time attorney Parker Stern who suffers from glossophobia, the fear of public speaking.  In Parker’s case this fear shows itself only in court, but that has been enough to virtually end his career.

When Parker’s former law firm dissolved following the suicide of its founder, Harmon Cherry, the firm’s attorneys went their different ways.  Palmer now is a sole practitioner with no clients, Deanna Poulos owns a coffee shop, Rich Baxter continues as an attorney with a large firm, Grace Trimble has disappeared, and Manny Mason is a law professor.  It is Manny who has gotten Palmer his new job as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas More School of Law, teaching trial advocacy to three third-year law students.

Deanna comes to Parker to request that he talk to his former colleague and friend, Rich Baxter, who has been arrested on charges of illegal money transactions and embezzlement from his biggest client, the Church of the Sanctified Assembly.  The government alleges Rich stole seventeen million dollars, had it transferred out of the country, and was planning to leave the United States with a false passport found in his home.  Rich, through Deanna, begs Parker to take his case, swearing that he’s innocent of all the charges.  He also tells Parker that although Harmon’s death has been ruled a suicide, he knows it was murder.

Parker has his own sad history with the Assembly.  He was famous as Parky Gerald, a child movie star, pushed into a show business career by his mother.  Although there are laws protecting the earnings of minors, Parker’s mother managed to take nearly all of his earnings and give them to the Assembly.  When Parker was fifteen he sued to be an emancipated minor, and he hasn’t seen his mother in more than twenty years.

After meeting with Rich in jail Parker agrees to take the case, at least on a preliminary basis.  But when he arrives at court, his client is nowhere to be seen.  As the judge asks where the defendant is, a marshal comes into the courtroom, whispers to the judge, and the judge orders all attorneys into his office.  The news the marshal brings is that Rich Baxter has been found in his cell, a suicide.  So of the six partners of Macklin and Cherry, two have allegedly committed suicide.  Parker isn’t buying it.

Robert Rotstein is himself an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, and he knows the milieu well.  Parker Stern is a fascinating protagonist, reluctant at first to get back into the courtroom because of his disability.  But his loyalty to the remaining members of his former firm finally outweighs his fears.  The book’s other characters are equally interesting:  the bohemian Deanna, Parker’s former lover; his beautiful and bright law student, Lovely Diamond; the mysterious Grace Trimble, whom Parker hasn’t seen in years; and the members of the Assembly, where Parker is known as the First Apostate.

Corrupt Practices is a book that’s nearly impossible to put down.  There’s action on every page, and the insights into people’s characters are deep and well thought-out.  According to his web site, Robert Rotstein is at work on the second Parker Stern novel, and I’m looking forward to reading it when it’s published.

You can read more about Robert Rotstein at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at this web site.










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