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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Move over, John Grisham, and make room for Amy Gutman, the latest former lawyer to trade in the 90-hour workweek for the writer's life. With her impressive debut novel, Equivocal Death, Gutman has definitely proven herself worthy of comparison to the reigning masters of the legal thriller genre.
The heroine of Equivocal Death is fresh-faced Harvard Law graduate Kate Paine, a junior associate at New York City's most prestigious law firm, Samson & Mills. Intelligent and hardworking, Kate has suffered a fair amount of hardship in her life, from her mother's untimely illness and death to her law school boyfriend's betrayal. But when she lands a job at Samson & Mills, Kate -- awestruck by the power, the work ethic, and the decorum of the distinguished firm -- finally feels like she's found an organization that she can believe in and a community where she belongs.
After a year at the firm, Kate can hardly believe her luck when her mentor, Carter Mills, the dignified managing partner who hired her out of Harvard, plucks her from the masses of qualified junior associates to work on an exciting, high-profile sexual harrassment case for one of Samson & Mills's most important clients. Also working on the case is the beautiful and brilliant Madeleine Waters, one of the only female partners at the firm -- who, rumor has it, once had romantic relationships with both Mills and his in-house archrival, partner Martin Drescher. Shortly after they begin their work on the case, Madeleine calls Kate into her office for a meeting, during which she cryptically warns the young associate to "be very careful."
Baffled, Kate ponders this warning and resolves to question Madeleine about it further. But before she has the opportunity, the female partner is brutally murdered, rocking the genteel world of Samson & Mills and setting off a series of frightening criminal events that, filtered through Gutman's assured prose, make Equivocal Death an absorbing read. As Kate tries to unravel the mystery, sifting through the evidence with her well-trained, analytical mind, Gutman throws in tantalizing glimpses of the culprit. In a technique equivalent to watching a figure lurk in the shadows without seeing quite enough to determine his identity, Gutman reveals much of the perpetrator's background and motives before the reader actually learns who he is. Nonetheless, the shocking conclusion is still a surprise for both Kate and the reader, making Equivocal Death an extraordinarily successful first novel. Let's hope that Amy Gutman is already hard at work on a sequel.