Ever since I read A Time to Kill by John Grisham many years ago, I’ve always liked courtroom dramas. I’m not sure if it’s the looming suspense of whether or not the main character will be found guilty, or the heroic struggle of the protagonist attorney struggling against seemingly impossible odds to protect his client, but this genre really catches my interest. So, I was obviously excited when offered the opportunity to read A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner. This is his first novel, and Mitzner has done a great job of entering the genre with an exciting and fast-paced read.
A Conflict of Interest begins by introducing us to Alex Miller, a prominent New York defense attorney at the firm Cromwell Altman. The youngest partner in the firm’s history, Alex has experienced a wave of popularity that makes him well-liked amongst his fellow partners and clients alike. Unfortunately, his personal life has not experienced the same successes as of late. His father recently passed away suddenly, leaving his mother alone in Florida, far away from Alex and his family. Additionally, his relationship with his wife has been strained due to his long hours at the office. Things get more complicated when Alex meets Michael Ohlig, a longtime friend of his parents, at his father’s funeral. Although he doesn’t go into specifics, he tells Alex that he is being investigated for securities fraud, and would like Alex and his firm to represent him. Alex is able to keep this a secret from his mother for a while, but eventually she finds out, and is very distraught over it. Additionally, Alex is paired with Abby Sloane, an associate at the firm who is widely regarded as on the short list for the next partner position that will open up at the firm. Not only is she a great lawyer, but she is beautiful, and spends more and more time with Alex as they work on Ohlig’s case. Of course, this puts even more pressure on Alex’s marriage, and threatens to derail his career if he were ever caught with Abby. However, there is something much more sinister at play, and it is much bigger than any infidelity. The twist at the end of this novel is one that no one saw coming (especially not me!)
Going in to this novel, I was pretty sure I’d like it, although I thought there may be a slight danger of encountering the inherent problem that all courtroom dramas face: how to make court proceedings exciting. Don’t get me wrong, there is the potential for a lot of drama in a court case, but the difficulty is in making all the legal jargon translate into a gripping story. Fortunately, Mitzner does this expertly. He meticulously explains the lawyer-speak that pops up throughout the novel, and weaves a great story that draws the reader in with every page. The romantic tryst dovetailed nicely with Alex’s impassioned defense of Ohlig in the trial, and every time I turned the page there was a new layer to the plot. The twist at the end was one of the best I’ve read in a while, and I give Mr. Mitzner a lot of credit for how he played it out. It definitely won’t disappoint you, and it’s no wonder that this book won Suspense Magazine‘s best book of 2011 award! So, what are you waiting for? Go read this one!
5 out of 5 Stars
A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner
Pocket Books (2012)
Paperback: 512 pages
Special thanks to Pocket Books for sending me my review copy!