When young attorney Beth Swahn agrees to represent a former military academy facing demolition, what begins as a simple real estate litigation soon becomes a dangerously real threat. Beth’s stepfather, a founding partner at her law firm, is part of the now-shuttered school’s alumni association that’s determined to see its old campus preserved as a historical landmark, safe from developers’ bulldozers. But beneath the campus’s main building—once the nineteenth-century mansion of Napoleon Bonaparte’s older brother—runs an extensive network of tunnels, which may be where the alumni’s true interest lies . . . along with their school days’ darkest secrets.
As more of the academy’s former cadets become entangled in the case, and millions of dollars mysteriously go missing, Beth faces increasingly treacherous legal landmines—and worse—in a case that could be more than just a career killer.
Michael Rudolph’s gripping legal thrillers featuring Beth Swahn can be enjoyed together or separately:
NOBLE CHASE • ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Beth Swahn called her stepfather with the news of Clifford Giles’s sudden death while she was still at Clifford’s bedside in the hospital. The next day, Max Swahn was on a flight home from Antigua, and two days later, he delivered a tearful eulogy at the crowded funeral for his oldest friend and cofounding partner of his law firm. Now, he was preparing for their firm’s first meeting since his return.
Clifford’s fatal heart attack had forced Max back to the land of custom suits after four relatively stress-free years sailing charter parties around the Caribbean with his wife, Andi. The difference between mentoring first- and second-year associates from a laptop in the cabin of their forty-seven-foot sloop Red Sky and hands-on management of the whole firm was rapidly crashing in on him.
Sitting in Clifford’s corner office, now sadly his again, he outlined the points he wanted to cover with the nervous partners who were being tempted with offers from other firms. The competition was eager to cherry-pick their clients and their expertise.
He was nearly finished when Beth buzzed him on the intercom. “Max, Mom’s on the line from Antigua. She doesn’t have your direct office number yet. I’m going to transfer her over to you. . . . Speak to you later, Mom.”
“Bye, sweetheart. . . . Hi, Max.”
“Hi, love. How’s it going?”
“I miss you a ton.”
“I miss you, too.”
“I should be able to come up to New York within the next week.”
“It can’t happen soon enough. Did you get someone to watch Red Sky while we’re gone?”
“I’ll get it handled today. I also canceled our next two charters, but our agent says he’ll be able to find substitute yachts for the parties.”
“You always handle things so perfectly, but listen, babe, I have to throw you off so I can finish getting ready for the partners’ meeting.”
“Stay in touch, Max.”
“Love you,” he replied and hung up the phone.
Max took a deep breath, resolved to return to retirement at the earliest opportunity, and then returned his attention to the outline for the meeting. He struggled through the last several points, made some changes, and polished it until he was satisfied that his message to the partners would accurately communicate his vision for the future of the firm.
Max was waiting for the printer to kick out a few hard copies when Beth rang him again on the intercom. “Max, I have Judge Masters on the line. He wants you but dialed me, just like Mom did. I’m going to conference you in.”
“Does he know about Clifford?”
“He read the obituary in The New York Times. He feels awful.”
Max picked up the phone. “Tripp, how are you?”
“Max, my deepest condolences. I’m so sorry to hear about Clifford.”
“Thanks, Tripp,” he replied sadly. “It’s a terrible loss. We’d been friends and partners since you introduced us forty years ago.”
“Everything in the office under control?”
“Oh, sure,” Beth said. “We practice law in groups here, so there’s always at least two attorneys fully familiar with every matter.”
“Listen, guys, I’m going to be in the city today. Can I drop in this afternoon to discuss some new business?”
“We always have time for new business, Your Honor,” Beth said.
“What’s up, buddy?” Max asked.
“It’s about the sale of the BMI campus to Herb Gartenberg and Al LaVerne.”
“I knew about Gartenberg, but not Al LaVerne,” Max said. “He was in Gartenberg’s class at BMI. When did he become part of the deal?”
“Don’t know for sure,” Tripp replied. “But he’s in it now. You know my nephew Chord’s the attorney for the Smythe estate, and he just learned about it.”
“How many in the BMI Alumni Association voted last month for your resolution to preserve the Old Main and the tunnels underneath it?”
“A huge majority, Max. They want to make sure the Old Main and the tunnels are protected when Gartenberg and LaVerne begin to build houses on the BMI campus. Maybe we can get Gartenberg to dedicate the Old Main property as a park.”
“That’s going to be a problem. Gartenberg’s not a builder. He’s the same guy we kicked out of BMI thirty-some years ago on some trumped-up charge of cheating on an exam.”
“But, Max, that was all Dean Smythe would let us do. He refused to prosecute him for assaulting that Junior School cadet who hung himself.”
“You know Gartenberg has also done time for real estate fraud.”
“He sounds like a real nice guy,” Beth said.
“LaVerne’s a builder, though,” Tripp replied, “and Chord tells me he was a decent guy at school.”
“Who’s their lawyer?” asked Beth.
“Some garment center guy. Zeke something or other.”
“You know him, Max?”
“He’s been Herb’s attorney for years.”
“A piece of cake then.”
“I suspect that business with Gartenberg is anything but . . .”
“That’s why the BMI Alumni Association wants to retain you. Gartenberg and LaVerne will need to get their building plans approved by the Bordentown Planning and Zoning Commission before they can even stick a shovel in the ground. The Alumni Association wants you to fight their application for P&Z approval.”
“Isn’t Chord chairman of P&Z?” Max asked.
“He’ll have to recuse himself,” Tripp replied.
“Opposing the application will be expensive.”
“Deep alumni pockets are backing us.”
“How’s three p.m. work for you?”
“Good. See you then.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Alumni Association is a short novel that is more legal than thriller. A closed military school is scheduled for demolition but the school’s alumni association is trying to register it as a protected historical building. However, the real reason for saving it is for the multiple uses of the tunnels hidden beneath the school. Beth, an attorney, is hired to represent the association. There is a whole lot of plot in Alumni Association but it doesn’t hang together well. The book seems choppy. Strangely, it seems both too long, with too many extraneous details, and too short to get to all the plot points in a more organic manner as some of the decisions didn’t seem believable. It also moves too slow to be a true thriller. However, I did enjoy the lead character, Beth, so 3 stars. Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
This was a solid 4.5 raised to a 5 star read. Years earlier a group of highly successful men all attended the same prep school. The school is now closed and designated as a historical landmark including the tunnels beneath it that were a hangout for the older prep school students and are presently considered to be abandoned. In 1984, a student was found to have hanged himself in his dorm room and the suicide was covered up by the school. Today a group of developers are attempting to buy the property and convert it. A prominent law firm is hired by the Alumni Association to make sure that the school’s best interests continue to be guarded. Beth Spahn, our heroine, is now head of this firm and leading the investigation of what is actually going on. There is a superbly complex plot involving money laundering, drug importing and dealing, theft in a grand scale and, of course hypocrisy, sexual abuse, spousal abuse and all sorts of other evil and criminal deeds. Much of the action takes place in urban areas but the finale takes place on a sail boat. The author is obviously very familiar with sailing in the 21st Century which makes it even more captivating. This is an excellent read. Thanks to Net Galley and Ballantine for an e-Galley for an honest review.
I liked this book but I wouldn't say I loved it. This is a decent legal thriller and crime drama but is a little unbelievable at times. The main character, Beth Swahn, is a lawyer at a law firm that is representing an Alumni Association that is trying to preserve their abandoned school and protect it from demolition by a contractor building a subdivision. Lots of money, shady deals and intimidation are involved in trying to get this deal pushed through but Beth seems to be able to manipulate the situation in her client's favor. Beth's research and investigative abilities at times seem to surpass the FBI and when it's time to bring the bad guys to justice she wants to be in on the take down and her FBI boyfriend does nothing to stop her and neither do any other law enforcement officers. That's very unbelievable. This story was a well thought out investigative legal and crime story but there is something a little off. There is way too much detail about trivial incidents at times and it reads a little cold. It starts off with a covered up suicide that really has nothing to do with the story and could have been deleted without making any difference. There is a lot of legal procedural information that is superfluous to non-lawyers. There is a lot of boating information that is also unnecessary. The dialogue at times is stilted and doesn't flow. Overall, some good editing could make this a much better book. All that said, I liked it; it just needs some polish. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Quest to Save an Old Military School Turns Deadly The Bordentown Military Institute, now defunct, is embroiled in a controversy about whether to sell the building, once the home of Napoleon’s elder brother, to a developer. Many of the prominent men in Bordentown were once cadets at the school. Now they want to preserve it, or is it the extensive tunnels under the school? Beth Swahn is an attorney in her stepfather’s law firm. He’s an alum who wants to preserve the old school. Beth gets the assignment to keep the sale from going through. As the case progresses, she becomes increasingly concerned about how far someone will go to stop the demolition and more important, why. This is a moderately entertaining legal thriller. The plot is a good one with plenty of complexity and twists. However, it is marred by uninspiring dialog and long passages of description. Beth is a good character, but the effect is dulled by a great deal of somewhat arcane legal procedure information that slows the story and may not be interesting to the average reader. If you love legal thrillers with lots of concentration on legal procedure, you may enjoy this book. However, for the average reader, I found it rather slow going. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
Attorney Beth Swahn finds herself caught between a rock and a hard place when she agrees to represent a former military academy. Facing demolition, there are those who are adamantly opposed ... not because of the building itself, but the tunnels that run underneath. What's so important about those tunnels? That's where the school's deepest and darkest secrets are buried ... and only a few know what the are. The prominent men of today were students years before the school was shut down. They will go to any lengths to protect themselves ... which puts Beth in the middle of a maelstrom. This case may kill her career .. or more. This is a legal thriller that seems to have something for everyone .... murder, suicide, assaults, cover-ups by the elite, even a little romance. Characters are finely drawn .. some I loved, some I hated ... but all unique in their own ways. The story premise is complex, but the author's writing doesn't allow for any confusion on the reader's part. The author's history of being an attorney himself lends credibility to this fine book. Many thanks to the author / Random House -Alibi / Netgalley for the advanced digital copy of this legal thriller. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.