September 22, 2010
Review of "The Partnership" by Steven J. Harper
A mysterious death, illicit romantic liaisons, courtroom drama, and crises of personal conscience frame a titanic struggle at the nation’s most lucrative law firm. A twenty-first-century legal thriller with a twist, The Partnership reveals what happens to rich and powerful insiders as the business school mentality extends its tentacles across a once-noble profession. The themes resonate; The Bonfire of the Vanities still burns.
Albert Knight has reached the pinnacle of power as one of the magnificent seven—leaders of the international legal powerhouse Michelman & Samson. Only one step remains: Knight and his archenemy Ronald Ratkin are front-runners to replace the Executive Committee’s retiring chairman.
Knight and Ratkin were once best friends, but that was long ago. Despite their twenty-year animosity, each has embraced the firm’s transformation to a bottom-line business and the stunning wealth it produces. As the price of success, they endure and inflict profound personal damage along the way.
When gifted trial lawyer Ronald Ratkin’s $100 million client defies protocol by interrupting the sacrosanct Executive Committee meeting, all seven attorneys are suspicious. The news, Ratkin suspects, could upset his ongoing billion-dollar trial, send stocks plummeting, and destroy his client, his law firm, and his personal wealth. But the wily Ratkin has a foolproof plan. Or will his own greed and that of his fellow partners undo him? (from the author's website)
As a worker in the legal field myself, I found The Partnership to be authentic in its legal dealings, if not a little bit disconcerting in the struggling and backstabbing that goes on behind closed office doors. Mr. Harper's litigation roots come through in his descriptive writing without the novel sounding technical or simply spouting legal jargon.
Unusual in a novel, the main characters are not wholly likable nor people you would normally root for. They are all flawed, some more deeply than others and some so driven by their compulsive need to win at all costs that they could be absolutely unrelatable if not for Mr. Harper's slow but steady interweaving storyline.
And its core, though, The Partnership is about a struggle for power and control, between good and evil, with love, lust, greed and corruption in the eye of the political hurricane. The measured and deliberate crescendo that builds throughout the book reminds me of the one-time popular miniseries, with the first night being the set up and the payoff coming on the last night.
Read The Partnership and you will think twice about how glamorous the legal profession is in the large, major law firms and you will also get an unfettered look into the board room without the rose colored glasses.
I recommend The Partnership to any readers who enjoy the legal genre and legal thrillers but don't expect high action on every page.
The Partnership is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.
Steven J. Harper is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and a contributing writer for The American Lawyer. For 30 years prior to his recent retirement, he was a litigator in a large international law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, which he joined upon graduation from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude) and Northwestern University (combined B.A/M.A. degrees with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa). He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been included in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business and The Best Lawyers in America.
His first book, Crossing Hoffa: A Teamster's Story was published in June 2007. Straddling Worlds: The Jewish-American Journey of Professor Richard W. Leopold (Northwestern University Press) was published in January 2008. His debut novel, The Partnership, was published in May 2010. For more information about author Steven J. Harper, please visit his website and his blog.
Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.
This book qualifies toward my Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.