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Book Review: A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner

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At his father’s funeral of all places, Alex Miller is approached by a highly competent business man whom Alex has seldom seen in his entire lifetime, until now, that is. Alex’s mother has always spoken highly of this man, Ohlig, and so had his father. But now, Ohlig has run abreast of the law. He and his firm have been accused of “running a pump and dump operation” with Salminol stock shares. Of course, he claims innocence.

In A Conflict of Interest, Allegedly Ohlig and Company aggressively sold an overabundance of stock that was originally worth a few nickels in order to drive up the price of the stock until it was $2 a share. Thus, Ohlig and Company held millions of dollars invested in this worthless paper. This process, of course is illegal. It is nothing short of stealing money from innocent, trusting people.

Ohlig asks Alex Miller to take his case. To show Alex how desperate he is and how much money he is willing to spend, he immediately gives Alex a two million dollar retainer. Early on in A Conflict of Interest it would appear that Alex Miller and his law firm realizes an exercise in futility defending Ohlig. Nevertheless they pursue his case.

As the story progresses, it explodes into a much deeper tale of betrayal than merely a court trial for stock fraud. Long trusted relationships between family members are not what Alex thought. He finds out much more about Ohlig’s person and why this man has so effectively moved into Alex’s life as a father figure. A mysterious alliance between Alex’s mother and Ohlig surfaces.

As A Conflict of Interest moves on, Alex is tempted to have an affair with a subordinate staff member, a no-no to his law firm. Alex dearly loves his wife and daughter, yet an illicit sexual thrill can cause havoc when life’s stress levels mount. To add to this mix of affairs, Alex’s mother’s dead body washes up on a Florida beach. Police feel they do not have a clear cut case of suicide. In fact, circumstances begin to point to Ohlig as her murderer.

Put all of these incidents into one story and you have A Conflict of Interest. Did Ohlig commit murder? If so, what was his motive? Will Alex and his firm lose the Salminol stock fraud case and the murder conviction building against Ohlig as well? Truly, there is a conflict of many stormy interests in this book that will grab your attention, not the least of which is the influence of a strange old painting that hangs in Alex’s entrance hall.

If you like court stories, this book will provoke your sense of justice and morality. The characters are relatively well developed inside a complicated story. I would recommend A Conflict of Interest to readers who love to see the criminal justice system at work on the inside. There are times when it seems more unjust and legal than fair.

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