Author: David Schmahmann
Pub Date: November 2009, Academy Chicago Publishers
ARC, 279 pages
Book Source: Academy Chicago Publicity
Synopsis (from publisher)
An unraveling law firm. An unwinnable case. An unworkable love.
Derek Dover has it all.
Derek’s up for partner at Nibble & Kuhn just as that most proper of Boston law firms comically tries to ‘rebrand’ itself for the Google era. Pompous and arbitrary, the ruling junta of partners saddles him with a high visibility lawsuit just weeks before trial. The diligent young attorney arranges things so that Maria Parma, a new associate in the firm for whom he’s fallen hard, also gets named to the case. Maria, in turn, can’t keep her hands off Derek, but it’s complicated because she’s engaged to someone else.
As Derek prepares his case on behalf of seven young victims of an industrial polluter, his anxieties about his career and his torments over Maria’s mixed messages only increase. Have his eccentric WASP superiors handed him a ‘toxic’ case to ruin his chances of becoming a partner? How can he get his opponents to settle – an outcome the presiding judge all but demands – unless his unorthodox ‘expert witnesses’ perform with enough gravitas to match that of the other side with its Harvard Medical School scientist? Will Nibble & Kuhn survive the partners’ spectacularly bad business judgments? Does it even matter to Derek, given that his looming fiasco of a trial and his indiscretions with Maria seem set to sink any chance he ever had at partnership?
Ultimately, Derek sets into motion a line of inquiry that spins events entirely out of the control of the judge, jury, and any and all attorneys.
As I read this novel, I found myself wavering back and forth between feeling vaguely bored and detached, then intrigued and amused. Schmamann's writing is often dry, though ultimately that enhances the satirical nature of the story. Though I do not have a legal background, it was reasonably obvious when Schmamann was treating certain aspects of the legal profession with irony. With Nibble & Kuhn I also found myself reading another novel in the present tense, but this time it worked and rarely felt awkward.
Admittedly I was much more interested in the storyline involving the actual "unwinnable" case that Derek Dover was saddled with, rather than his workplace romance that was apparently going nowhere. Trudging through some of the drier parts of the book were ultimately worth it--the ending was priceless and one that I didn't see coming--a ridiculous conclusion that fit the rest of the story. It was truly a "laugh out loud moment." Overall, I thought Nibble & Kuhn was a good example of legal satire, and in the end I even enjoyed the outcome of Dover's relationship troubles.
Thank you to Jacob from Academy Chicago Publishers for the ARC. Readers, keep your eyes open for a giveaway in the near future!
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