Holmes draws on her decades of legal practice in public finance in her second novel (after Searching for Pilar), a thriller that offers an insightful look at the male-dominated world of Texas corporate law. Corporate attorney Carolyn Page, an associate at the prestigious Edwards and Harrison law firm, is invited to a work party at a beach home, and awakens during the night after a day of too much drinking to discover third-year law student Laura Petrillo bruised, bloody, and unconscious—and her male colleagues more determined to cover up Laura’s injuries than to help her. Carolyn drives Laura to the nearest hospital, but she disappears the next day, leaving Carolyn searching for her whereabouts.
As the story leaps forward, Holmes expertly details the inner workings of a powerful Texas corporate law firm, revealing how women had to fight to secure equal pay and promotions compared to their male counterparts. Nine years later, Laura has reinvented and is investigating complaints about the financial impropriety of JBH Energy, a company represented by Edwards and Harrison, giving her the upper hand against the men who assaulted her. Carolyn, finally promoted to partner, is caught in the middle when she finds out JBH has been drilling on her family’s land and polluting a nearby creek. Holmes’ descriptions of the work and milieu are chillingly realistic, drawing readers into the high stakes world of corporate law.
Holmes develops her characters with the same quick confidence with which she captures readers’ attention in the opening scenes. Carolyn’s backstory is intriguing—complicated by growing up under the shadow of her mother’s suicide and her own drive to achieve professional success—and Holmes deftly reveals her inner turmoil at wanting to help Laura but fearing it will derail her career. She faces tough choices as the novel progresses and intensifies, and Holmes ties it all up with a gripping conclusion.
Takeaway: A gripping thriller of women corporate attorneys in Texas, facing a chance for revenge.
Great for fans of: John Grisham’s The Judge’s List, Allen Eskens’s The Stolen hours.
Production grades Cover: A Design and typography: A Illustrations: N/A Editing: A- Marketing copy: A