by Bruce TierneyOctober, 2005
Mystery of the Month
Let's say your life included a Ferrari, a seven-figure income, a pricey home in an exclusive suburb, a corner office in a prestigious law firm and a wife who could place well in the Miss America contest (albeit nowhere in the running for Miss Congeniality). Then a high-profile pro bono case gets thrown your way, and you must defend a hooker accused of murdering the son of a soon-to-be presidential candidate. Your firm wants to make the case go away: plead the defendant out and get on with life. Problem is, she says she's innocent, and there is compelling evidence, both physical and circumstantial, to support her claim. So then what do you do if your senior partner steps in and tells you to "throw the game," or there will be dire consequences? In Mark Gimenez's The Color of Law (Doubleday, $19.95, 416 pages, ISBN 0385516738) attorney Scott Fenney decides to take the moral high ground and aggressively pursue a "not guilty" verdict. Then he gets fired from his firm. His house note is called in (of course), as is the upside-down loan on his beloved Ferrari. Credit cards are summarily cancelled, as is his country club membership. Did I mention that his wife, fed up with her husband's commitment to the truth (insofar as it interferes with their lifestyle, at least) decides to take it on the lam with her golf-pro boyfriend? The plot setup is as convoluted and intricate as anything in recent memory, an inverted morality tale that equals some of the best work of legal thriller writers Scott Turow, Lisa Scottoline or John Grisham. On top of that, it's Mark Gimenez's first book. Scott Tenney's career in The Color of Law has some parallels with the author's: Gimenez gave up a lucrative position in a Dallas law firm to start a solo practice that allowed him the time to write. If his first effort is any indication, it was an exceptionally shrewd decision.