The Lawyer by John Ellsworth – Promising but Falls Short
The Lawyer by John Ellsworth is a legal thriller that takes place in Chicago and features a criminal attorney, Michael Gresham, who ends up being played by one of his clients. The story has a few unexpected twists and Michael negotiates his relationship with his ex-wife, the people he is defending, the FBI, a Mexican cartel, and much more. The unexpected plot twists will appeal to readers who enjoy legal thrillers and the interweaving of the protagonist’s personal and professional life makes the characters interesting.
There were some major WTF moments, especially towards the end. Michael Gresham is a top attorney who gets used by one of his clients … so later in the story, he does a repeat and trusts the person again. I almost stopped at this point because it seemed unbelievable. Also, someone he was close to personally gets killed and it seemed to be glossed over. Of course, Michael had plenty of problems of his own, but it struck me as odd. These were just two of the several inconsistencies in what was otherwise a pretty well-paced story.
I listened to the audio version of The Lawyer. The reader trailed off at the end of almost every sentence and every dialog segment in the first part of the book. If it was just Michael’s dialog or thoughts then that characteristic might have fit a sarcastic smart guy, but the trailing off at the end of each sentence bled over everywhere in an annoying manner. Also, there were times when the back and forth of two people in a conversation were read together too quickly so that it was difficult to follow who was saying what. The reading seemed to improve in the second part of the book.
The Lawyer is the first in Ellsworth’s series featuring Michael Gresham. Michael, those around him personally as well as his staff were interesting enough to carry forward into other stories. The descriptions of Chicago, the courtroom, and the judicial process seemed realistic and provided a good setting for the story. I would expect that subsequent books in the series will be more coherent and better edited.