The Associate

The Associate

4.5 19
by Phillip Margolin

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Daniel Ames is living the American dream. Though born into poverty and living on the streets by the age of fifteen, Daniel has overcome every obstacle — and now is an associate at Reed, Briggs, Portland's most prestigious law firm, earning more money than he ever imagined possible.

But when Aaron Flynn enters his life, Daniel finds himself caught between his

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Daniel Ames is living the American dream. Though born into poverty and living on the streets by the age of fifteen, Daniel has overcome every obstacle — and now is an associate at Reed, Briggs, Portland's most prestigious law firm, earning more money than he ever imagined possible.

But when Aaron Flynn enters his life, Daniel finds himself caught between his towering ambition and his bedrock idealism. Flynn, a charismatic civil litigator, sues Geller Pharmaceuticals — Reed, Briggs's biggest client — for manufacturing a drug that he claims causes unspeakable birth defects. Daniel is certain the claim has no merit — until a memo written by a Geller scientist is found, detailing the shocking results of a study that implicates the company in a horrific lie.

Editorial Reviews

Multiple plot twists will keep you turning the pages.
Publishers Weekly
Another year, another young-attorney-in-peril story from Margolin (Wild Justice). This time, the attorney is Daniel Ames, an earnest, pink-cheeked associate at Portland's most prestigious law firm. Ames gets fired for a paperwork blunder that may force the firm's biggest client out of business. The client, Geller Pharmaceuticals, is being sued for its diabetes drug Insufort, which is believed to cause severe birth defects, much like thalidomide in the 1950s. Set up to take the fall by another lawyer in his firm, Ames mistakenly gives the plaintiff's attorney the results of a secret medical study documenting Insufort's shortcomings. Ames, however, suspects the story is a fake. To get his job back, he knows he has to prove that not only he, but also Geller Pharmaceuticals, has been scapegoated and hung out to dry. But who would do such a thing? The likely suspect is rich-but-sleazy attorney Aaron Flynn, who filed the lawsuit against Geller and has a history of backhanded tactics. Aided by legal investigator and love interest Kate Ross, Ames traces the case's roots back to a mysterious murder and disappearance in the Arizona desert nearly a decade earlier. Margolin's writing for the most part is unremarkable, his plot won't stand up to serious scrutiny and his characters engage only on a surface level. Yet the author of seven previous handsomely selling thrillers deserves credit. While his latest is eminently forgettable, the whole package light intrigue, good-looking, wealthy people under stress, a couple of ghoulish murders and a scattering of clever plot twists is undeniably entertaining and enjoyable if you don't think about it too hard. Major ad/promo; 25-city national radio campaign;12-city author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Daniel Ames agrees to help a fellow attorney by reviewing materials pertaining to a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer, before turning those items over to the plaintiff's lawyer the following morning. The plaintiff's lawyer then claims to have found clear proof in those materials that the drug company knew its product caused birth defects. When Daniel is fired the same day, he is convinced that the evidence was planted, and he sets out to clear his name. In his investigation, he uncovers a connection to a long-forgotten kidnapping and a series of murders, attracting the attention of the killer, who sets out to silence him. Margolin, author of seven New York Times best sellers, has created a complex web of circumstances and characters whose lives are all connected to one unknown individual. The story that unfolds is well crafted and intriguing and well read by Scott Brick. Recommended. Joanna M. Burkhardt, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island, Providence Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Humdrum legal thriller about a young lawyer who trusts his firm way more than he should. You've heard that one before, have you? Well, if bright, industrious, wide-eyed Daniel Ames had been up on his Grisham he might have taken fewer lumps. Reed, Briggs, Stephens, Stottlemeyer and Compton of Portland, Oregon, oh-so-elite, employs and regularly victimizes the oh-so-willing Daniel. One night, predictably, he gets suckered into a grunt work task that has exploitation written all over it. The case happens to involve a huge Reed, Briggs client-Geller Pharmaceuticals, makers of Insufort, billed in a venomous supermarket tabloid as "Son of Thalidomide." Geller and Insufort are being accused of causing horrifyingly severe birth defects-a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in progress. In turn, Arthur Briggs, senior member of the firm, accuses Daniel of having made a stupid and costly mistake. Not so, but suddenly Daniel finds himself being fitted for a scapegoat suit. Summarily fired, he's told to pack and be gone instanter. Resentful but powerless, Daniel obeys. To his surprise, he finds a message the next day from Briggs on his answering machine, apologizing and asking for a fence-mending meeting, not at the office, but in a remote country cottage. Even a cursory reading of Grisham might have helped Daniel dodge that one, too, but innocent that he is he trundles off. Naturally, he finds Briggs murdered. Naturally, he's framed for it. Things are going from bleak to bleaker. Fortunately for him, however, Kate Ross, investigator extraordinaire, is there to befriend him. With her help he turns the tables on an assortment of villains, while refurbishing a tarnished reputation and redeeming a blightedcareer, though not, praise be, at Reed, Briggs. Bland people, implausible plotting. Here, Margolin, who has tilled the legal thriller field with no mean success (Wild Justice, 2000, etc.), does little more than go through the motions.
"A classic legal thriller … intelligent, stylishly written, and exciting. … [A] fine novel."
“A classic legal thriller … intelligent, stylishly written, and exciting. … [A] fine novel.”
“A classic legal thriller … intelligent, stylishly written, and exciting. … [A] fine novel.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.04(d)

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Excerpt from

The Associate

Chapter One

The headlight beams of Dr. Sergey Kaidanov's battered SAAB bounced off a stand of Douglas firs then came to rest on the unpainted wall of a one-story, cinderblock building buried in the woods several miles from downtown Portland. As soon as Kaidanov unlocked the front door of the building the rhesus monkeys started making that half-cooing, half-barking sound that set his nerves on edge. The volume of noise increased when Kaidanov flipped on the lights.

Most of the monkeys were housed in two rooms at the back of the building. Kaidanov walked down a narrow hall and stood in front of a thick metal door that sealed off one of the rooms. He slid back a metal sheet and studied the animals through the window it concealed. There were sixteen rhesus monkeys in each room. Each monkey was in its own steel mesh cage. The cages were stacked two high and two across on a flatcar with rollers. Kaidanov hated everything about the monkeys -- their sour, unwashed smell, the noises they made, the unnerving way they followed his every move.

As soon as Kaidanov's face was framed in the window, the monkey two from the door in the top cage leaped toward him and stared him down. Its fur was brownish gray and it gripped the mesh with hands containing opposable thumbs on both arms and legs. This was the dominant monkey in the room and it had established its dominance within three weeks even though there was no way it could get at the others.

Rhesus monkeys were very aggressive, very nervous, and always alert. It was bad etiquette to look one in the eye, but Kaidanov did it just to show the little bastard who was the boss. The monkey didn't blink. It stretched its doglike muzzle through the mesh as far as it could, baring a set of vicious canines. At two feet tall and forty pounds, the monkey didn't look like it could do much damage to a one-hundred-and-ninety-pound, five-foot-eight male human, but it was much stronger than it looked.

Kaidanov checked his watch. it was three in the morning. He couldn't imagine what was so important that he had to meet here at this hour, but the person whose call had dragged him from a deep sleep paid Kaidanov to do as he was told, no questions asked.

Kaidanov needed caffeine. He was about to go to his office to brew a pot of coffee when he noticed that the padlock on the dominant monkey's cage was open. He must have forgotten to close it after the last feeding. The scientist started to open the door but stopped when he remembered that the key to the monkey rooms was in his office.

Kaidanov returned to the front of the building. His office was twelve by fifteen and stuffed with lab equipment. A small desk on casters stood just inside the door. it was covered by a phone book, articles from research journals, and printouts of contractions that the monkeys experienced during pregnancy. Behind the table was a cheap office chair. Along the walls were metal filing cabinets, a sink, and a paper towel dispenser.

Kaidanov walked around the desk. The coffeepot was sitting on a table alongside a centrifuge, scales, a rack of test rubes, and a Pokémon mug filled with Magic Markers, pens, and pencils. Above the table was a television screen attached to a security camera that showed the front of the building.

The pot of coffee was almost brewed when Kaidanov heard a car pull up and a door slam. On the television a figure in a hooded windbreaker ran toward the lab. Kaidanov left his office and opened the front door. The scientist peered at the hooded face and saw two cold eyes staring at him through the slits in a ski mask. Before he could speak, a gun butt struck his forehead, blinding him with pain. Kaidanov collapsed to the floor. The muzzle of a gun ground into his neck.

"Move," a muffled voice commanded. He scrambled to his knees and a booted foot shoved him forward. The pain in his face brought tears to his eyes as he crawled the short distance to his office.

"The keys to the monkey rooms."

Kaidanov pointed toward a hook on the wall. Seconds later a blow to the back of his head knocked him unconscious.

Kaidanov had no idea how long he had been out. The first thing he heard when he came to were the hysterical shrieks of terrified monkeys and the sound of cages crashing together. The scientist felt like a nail had been driven into his skull, but he managed to struggle into a sitting position. Around him filing cabinets had been opened and overturned. The floor was littered with gasoline-drenched paper, but that was not the only object doused in gasoline -- his clothing, face, and hands reeked of it. Then the acrid smell of smoke assailed his nostrils and his stomach turned when he saw the shadow of flames dancing on the wall outside his office.

Fear dragged Kaidanov to his knees just as his assailant reentered the office holding the gun and a five-gallon can of gas. Kaidanov scurried back against the wall, much the way the more docile monkeys skittered to the back of their cages whenever he entered the monkey room. The gas can hit the desk with a metallic thud and Kaidanov's assailant pulled out a lighter. Kaidanov tried to speak, but terror made him mute. Just as the lid of the lighter flipped open, an insane shriek issued from the doorway. An apparition, engulfed in flame, eyes wide with panic and pain, filled the entrance to the office. The dominant monkey, Kaidanov thought. It had been able to force open its cage door because Kaidanov had forgotten to secure the padlock.

The term...

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