Lewis, Terry

Conflict of Interest by Terry Lewis: Book Cover
Conflict of Interest (1997)
From Kirkus Reviews
Lewis's first novel is a legal thriller in which most of the conflict is between a Florida trial lawyer and his own worst instincts. When the public defender's office refuses the case of Bobby Jackson because it represents a potential witness against him, the case falls into Ted Stevens's lap. He'll be getting paid a reduced rate, but he agrees to represent Jackson anyway--even though he not only represented the victim, reporter Patty Stiles, in her divorce action last year, but was also her lover (as was Bobby Jackson). Why doesn't Stevens--reasonably well-fixed and well-known, secure in his partnership, but immersed in the pain of his own divorce, which he suspects was provoked by jealous Patty--duck the assignment? The man seems to have zero survival instinct, as he demonstrates by a plunge into reckless drinking (endless hangovers, a DUI case that drags on and on, a scary blackout on the night of the murder) that throws the murder case he's defending into the shade. Oh, there's still the outrage when the prosecution loses some key evidence, the search for loopholes in the witnesses' stories, and the endless quest to find another suspect: Patty's shadowy ex, the drug dealers she may have been writing about for the Tallahassee Times-Union, their nameless higher-ups. And there's the obligatory spate of threatening anonymous phone calls. But the real story here isn't whether Stevens will do the right thing for a client who seems considerably more powerful than his attorney is, but whether he'll even be free to show up in court instead of locked up on the DUI charge. But if the hero's problems are so much more pressing than the criminal defense (readers looking for courtroom razzle-dazzle will walk away disappointed), Lewis does catch, better than most entries in this overcrowded genre, the way lawyers actually talk and act--especially when they've had too much to drink. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Privileged Information by Terry Lewis: Book Cover
Privileged Information (2003)
In Terry Lewis’s successful debut novel, Conflict of Interest, attorney Ted Stevens concealed evidence in a murder case that might have freed his client. Why? Because that same evidence would have made Ted a suspect too. Privileged Information, Lewis’s eagerly awaited second legal mystery, features Ted’s partner, Paul Morganstein. While defending his late brother’s best friend on a murder charge, Paul obtains privileged information (which he is ethically bound not to disclose) leading him to conclude that his client committed another murder thirty years ago. The victim? Paul’s brother. Ted, trying hard to stay off the booze and keep his marriage together, has been suspended from the practice of law and relegated to investigative duties. Paul, the stable, responsible partner of their Tallahassee firm, is beginning to feel the stress of that responsibility. His Jewish mother is on his case for working too much and neglecting his family. There is a cash flow problem at the firm, a rebellious teenager at home, cracks in an otherwise strong marriage, and those extra pounds that seem to come with the extra worries. He is, as his doctor tells him, a heart attack waiting to happen. And now he has to take on the biggest company, with the deepest pockets, in the Panhandle, defending a client who, incredibly, seems less concerned than his attorney that he’s facing murder one. The deeper Paul digs, the more likely it seems that his client not only killed the vice president of Pinnacle Paper Company but knows a lot more than he’ll say about the death of Paul’s brother David. Investigation into the Pinnacle case is turning up new evidence that reveals more about his brother’s life—and death—than Paul can deny. Does Paul honor the sacred oath of confidentiality and allow his brother’s murderer to go free, or does he breach that duty in the interest of a higher morality, a greater justice? Moreover, will his client decide that there is really only one way to be sure that Paul does not disclose this "privileged information"?

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