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Friday, February 21, 2014

The Professor: A Legal Thriller

YOU GUYS! This is my 400th post. Can you even believe it??? Where has the time gone? I just want to take a moment to give you all a shout-out, because without you, dear readers, I am just a blogger talking to herself. I am working on some great blog updates for my third anniversary this upcoming summer--stay tuned!

I was intrigued by the promise of a fast-paced thriller, so I picked up Robert Bailey's The Professor last weekend. I got what I bargained for.

When Coach "Bear" Bryant calls, you come; this is exactly what Thomas McMurtie did forty years ago, leaving a promising trial-lawyer career to teach at his alma mater, the University of Alabama. The family of one of his oldest friends is killed in an arguably preventable car accident just days before Thomas is betrayed by another dear friend, losing his job and his reputation. This new case is all Thomas has--and it will be the one that changes his life. After all, everyone knows what happens when the little guy takes on the behemoth--you get a great story of a battle of the wills.

Everyone knows (ok, well, mostly you guys, my dear and loyal followers) how much I love a good legal thriller. I got that and more with this book. I couldn't put it down. I lovedlovedloved it. There was so much to love, so let's get down to it.

First of all, I found the story absolutely compelling. Oh, sure, at times it may have taken a turn for the outlandish, but let's get something clear--I am more than OK with this. If I want hard-core realism I will just walk around the grocery store listening to other people's conversations. I want a good and solid story with a spectrum of characters, and this is what I got. I found the case gripping, the events mind-boggling, and the action to have movement without being so action-packed that I felt my head spin. I was engaged, I was sold, I was in it to win it. Seriously, there is not a whole lot more I can ask for in a legal thriller.

I also found the characters to be honest and enthralling. One thing that I specifically appreciated about Bailey's pen is that he let all of his characters' flaws hang out, regardless of how much he wants us to love them. I felt, and of course I could be misinterpreting here, that he wanted us to love them precisely because they were so far from perfect. Rick was a hothead who deserved a good win after all, and Thomas was warts and all a man who was hard on his students but beloved in spite of it--or even because of it. I particularly appreciated that each of the characters contained qualities to love about them and to hate about them--no one is purely good or purely evil, in life or in literature. I want characters that run the gamut. Bailey gave this to me in full force.

Here is something about a good legal thriller that I need in order to rave about it--I need to feel a rush in the final courtroom scene, something that will find me cheering out loud for the protagonist and saying, "BOO-YA!" I don't give away spoilers, so let me tell you that the book did not let me down. Chew on that for a while.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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