Author: Charles Lewis
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Set in Austin, Texas, Charles Lewis’s debut legal thriller, Breaking Precedent is narrated by a young attorney, Will Lively who is employed in the boutique law firm of Billings & Banks.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Lively’s senior colleagues have just turned down his bid to become a shareholder in the firm. This isn’t the first time Lively has been embittered with their decision and to say he was furious would be an understatement. After this last rejection, he had been promised that he would be a shoo-in next time around for the coveted prize. After all, he had been receiving high marks in every annual review as well as the maximum raises. In addition, he did play a pivotal role in getting a twelve-million-dollar verdict, the biggest in the firm’s history on behalf of their client, Luke McCoy. Nonetheless, this reassurance still does not halt Lively from endeavoring to discover who in the committee voted against his nomination. According to the long time managing partner of the firm, Dexter (Dex) Billings, known as DTD (Dex the Dick) to some employees, it was the consensus of the committee that Lively still needed some more experience to earn shareholdership.
The picture becomes clearer to Lively when he discovers from his soon-to-be girlfriend, Cindy Ellis, who is the firm’s office manager, that the members of the committee who rejected him for shareholdership were about to enter into a settlement pertaining to the twelve-million-dollar McCoy law suit. In fact, they are to receive the entire adjudged sum which would give the partners a forty percent take of the winnings. Lively realizes that if he had become a shareholder, he would have received almost one million dollars. Was this the principal reason why he did not receive the shareholdership?
Enraged as to what has occurred, Lively resolves to confront Billings to find out as to who rejected him and also to let him know that he is quite aware of the twelve-million dollar settlement. Although, there may not have been a settlement at the time they met about the committee’s decision, he accuses Billings of deceiving him when he neglected to mention that one was forthcoming the following day.
At this juncture matters turn very ugly when Billings discloses to Lively that about an hour before their meeting he interviewed Cindy Ellis who had confessed to having sexual relations with Lively in the firm’s offices. Lively knew that his employment with his firm was about to be terminated and there was no use in arguing the facts that were true. And to make matters worse, Billings informs Lively that he recorded their conversation with a secret recorder imbedded in a pen.
Lively taunts Billings and asks him if he knew what people in the firm call him behind his back. All hell breaks lose and within a matter of minutes both are embroiled in fisticuffs ending in the fatal shooting of Billings by Lively with Billings’ gun. Lively makes the unforgivable error of talking to the police without legal counsel being present and is subsequently accused of slaying his colleague, Dexter Billings. On the advice of one of his colleagues, he hires one of the most flamboyant criminal attorneys in Austin to defend him who will contend that it was self-defense and not a senseless murder committed by a disgruntled associate. As a side note, you will be surprised to learn who is paying for Lively’s legal fees?
Part legal thriller, part love story and character driven, Lewis has written a slick, fast-paced entertaining novel and achieves a near flawless rhythm as the narrative builds. Readers will savor the unexpected twists of the storyline, particularly the strategies, theatrics, and drama within the trial scenes with its circus like atmosphere coupled with the media frenzy that surrounds it. Lewis manages to wrap up in a neat package a smorgasbord of issues including murder, romance, sex, violence, greed, office politics, and an office tart. In addition, he also weaves into the plot some amusing conversations and on-target punch lines all of which contributes to a very entertaining read.
As a former civil litigator in the cut throat world of trial law, Lewis writes about what he knows with a sure hand. No doubt, his writing skills can be attributed to his earning a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and his great fortune to having honed them under renowned novelists as Mary Robison, Denise Chavez, as well as the playwright Edward Albee. He may not be as well-known as John Grisham but he is on his way.
Follow Here To Read Norm’s Interview With Charles Lewis