When it comes to writers of legal thrillers, Adam Mitzner has often been compared with the likes of John Grisham and Scott Turow, giants in the sub-genre. Judging by his latest novel Losing Faith, he doesn’t have far to go before joining that illustrious group. Losing Faith is certainly a very entertaining read, the kind of thriller it’s hard to put down.
The story has a lot going for it. A high powered New York lawyer, Aaron Littman, who has had an affair with a Federal judge Faith Nichols, is blackmailed into representing an unsavory Russian accused of money laundering. When Faith turns up dead in Central Park, Littman finds himself on trial for murder. Clearly this is a story with plenty of potential.
It has a cast of characters drawn from the rich, the beautiful and the powerful. Even at 51 Aaron is an attractive dynamo, the kind of man who attracts women. More important, he knows it. So it is not strange that despite the fact that he is married to an intelligent, beautiful woman who happens to be a doctor, he jumps into bed with the beautiful and powerful Nichols. Nor is it strange that he is pursued by a junior partner in his firm, the beautiful and semi-powerful Rachel London. He is defended by Sam Rosenthal, his firm’s founder and a super lawyer in his own right, a powerhouse despite a physical handicap. Rosenthal looks on Aaron like a son. It is a cast of characters that would be at home in a soap opera.
On the other hand the prosecutors and their staff, are overweight and overbearing. They seem less interested in justice than they are in getting a conviction. Indeed, it seems that on either side in this battle between the legal glitterati and the grubby bureaucrats no one is really interested in justice. Mitzner creates a world in which there are really no white hats. It’s hard to find anyone in the novel to sympathize with.
If there is a problem in the book it is that things happen too quickly. There is a lot going on, and it could well be developed at greater length. The Russian blackmailer is little more than a device to get the action started. We learn very little about how the Feds decided Littman was the murderer. The whole court room drama could be played out in more detail. The relationship between Aaron and Rachel has all sorts of untapped possibilities.
Still, if what this really says is ‘I want more,’ that, I would guess is a good thing. After all it is a good idea to get off the stage while the audience is screaming for more.
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