Adam Mitzner’s critically acclaimed legal thrillers have “more loops and flips than Coney Island’s Cyclone” (Kirkus Reviews) and “more twists than a California cloverleaf interchange” (Bookreporter). His latest, a captivating examination of justice and ethics, will leave you guessing until the last page.
Aaron Littman is the premier lawyer of his generation and the chairman of Cromwell Altman, the most powerful law firm in New York City, when a high-profile new client threatens all that he’s achieved—and more. Nicolai Garkov is currently the most reviled figure in America, accused of laundering funds for the Russian Mafia and financing a terrorist bombing in Red Square that killed twenty-six people, including three American students.
Garkov is completely unrepentant, admitting his guilt to Aaron, but with a plan for exoneration that includes blackmailing the presiding judge, the Honorable Faith Nichols. If the judge won’t do his bidding, Garkov promises to go public with irrefutable evidence of an affair between Aaron and Faith—the consequences of which would not only destroy their reputations but quite possibly end their careers.
Garkov has made his move. Now it’s Aaron and Faith’s turn. And in an ever-shocking psychological game of power, ethics, lies, and justice, they could never have predicted where those moves will take them—or what they are prepared to do to protect the truth.
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About the Author
Adam Mitzner, a lawyer by day, is the author of Losing Faith, A Case of Redemption, and A Conflict of Interest. He lives with his family in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
You’re wrong, Aaron.”
Sam Rosenthal’s tone suggests he’s talking about much more than the topic at hand. It’s as if he’s addressing something innate about Aaron Littman himself.
Aaron smiles, and in that gesture, he belies Rosenthal’s claim. In fact, if anyone seems completely right, it is Aaron Littman. A year past fifty, he’s six foot two and not more than ten pounds heavier than when he was an All-American swimmer at Harvard. A strong jaw, piercing blue eyes, and thick, jet-black hair dusted with gray around the temples in exactly the spots you’d place gray hairs, if given the choice, complete the package.
Samuel Rosenthal is almost comically the opposite. He’s more than a half foot shorter than Aaron, he doesn’t have a single hair on his head, and his right side droops slightly, the last vestige of the accident that nearly killed him a decade ago. Yet Rosenthal is the personification of the expression that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. At seventy-one, he’s still a wartime consigliere of the first order. The type of lawyer who takes no prisoners and leaves no earth unscorched.
They met a quarter century before, the year Aaron clerked on the United States Supreme Court. Rosenthal had argued a case—it embarrasses Aaron that he can never remember which one, only that it wasn’t a case that Justice Rellington had assigned to him to work on—and after the argument, Rosenthal came back to chambers.
“This is the young man I’ve been telling you about, Sam,” Justice Rellington said. “Aaron Littman, meet Sam Rosenthal.”
Aaron had heard of Rosenthal, of course. Back then, you couldn’t be a law student without having heard of the great Samuel Rosenthal. Protector of the First Amendment. Confidant to power. Mr. Fix-it. A lot of other nicknames too. Before speed dial existed, those at the top of their field, any field, knew Rosenthal’s phone number by heart.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Rosenthal,” Aaron said, looking down at the top of Rosenthal’s bald head. Little did Aaron know that he’d revisit that view a million times in the years to come.
“I suspect you two have a lot to talk about,” Justice Rellington said. “I’ll catch up with you later, Sam. And, Aaron, listen to what this man has to say—because the president does.”
As soon as the door closed, Rosenthal said, “One of the things you learn when people pay you three hundred bucks an hour is that you need to get right to the point. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m here because I want you to come work with me at Cromwell Altman Rosenthal and White.”
At the time, Aaron had more than three dozen job offers. Probably the only people more coveted professionally than Supreme Court clerks are Heisman Trophy winners. Virtually every major law firm, think tank, law school, and government agency had already contacted him.
“Thank you, Mr. Rosenthal—”
“Sam,” he said, interrupting.
“I’m flattered . . . but I’ve already accepted a position at Yale. And please, Mr.— Sam, don’t take this the wrong way, but I just don’t see myself devoting my life to representing huge corporations and criminals.”
Rosenthal laughed. “Is that what you think being a partner at Cromwell Altman Rosenthal and White is all about?”
Aaron didn’t respond, making his answer quite clear. He most certainly did.
“Because I respect you, Aaron, I’m not going to tell you that we don’t represent our fair share of giant corporations and criminals, but being a partner at Cromwell Altman is about much more than that. It’s . . . let me put it this way. You wouldn’t say that Justice Rellington’s job is to interpret statutes, correct? His job is to shape the law in ways that will stand twenty, fifty, a hundred years or more from now. That’s what being a partner at Cromwell Altman is about too. In a word: power.” Rosenthal’s expression turned even more serious. “The simple truth of the matter, Aaron, is that while I have little doubt that you would be great as a professor of law, the question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to make a difference in the law . . . or merely teach about others who make that difference.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
In the years that followed, Aaron climbed the ranks at Cromwell Altman. At first that meant learning the trade at Rosenthal’s side, then as a partner ready to assume the mantle of leadership. That transition happened earlier than either of them had expected, when Rosenthal was nearly killed in a car accident from which he emerged broken on his right side. It was in that crisis, however, that Aaron showed he was a worthy successor to the throne. When Rosenthal had returned to the firm after a six months’ absence, Aaron offered to step aside, but Rosenthal wouldn’t hear of it.
“The whole point, Aaron,” Rosenthal told him at the time, “is that we’re building something here that’s bigger than any one person. Cromwell Altman is the monument to our time on earth.”
Today, that monument comprises more than six hundred lawyers, who occupy seventeen contiguous floors at the top of a fifty-seven-story tower sheathed entirely in glass. On sixteen of those floors, there are seven offices on the northern exposure—two partner offices on the corners (each with six coveted windows), three associate offices on either side of them (two windows), and then a smaller partner office in the middle of the hall (three windows). On the northern exposure of the fifty-seventh floor, however, it’s just Aaron and Rosenthal, their offices separated by a conference room, which is not accessible to anyone but them.
They meet in that conference room most mornings before eight. The space is dominated by a long, white marble table, around which sit twenty-two high-backed, black leather chairs, ten on each side and one at each head. The northern exposure is all windows, looking out onto Central Park, with a view stretching well past the park’s northernmost point.
When it’s just the two of them, they always sit catty-corner on one end, Aaron at the head and Rosenthal beside him. Usually they engage in the kind of breakfast chatter most men share with their wives before heading off to work—something of note that was in the morning news or the outcome of last night’s game.
Today’s topic is far more serious, however. It’s about control of the firm that Sam Rosenthal and Aaron Littman have ruled since the Reagan administration.
“Sam, there’s just no way Pierce gets four votes,” Aaron says with confidence, even though Rosenthal has just told him that assessment is wrong.
Donald Pierce, the head of the firm’s corporate department, fancies himself as the man who would be king. To achieve his coup, Pierce needs the support of four out of seven members of the firm’s management committee—the Orwellian-named Committee on Committees.
Rosenthal shakes his head. “Say what you want about Pierce, but he’s not stupid. He wouldn’t be so open in the challenge if he didn’t already have four votes.”
“From who? Maybe Goldman is with him . . . but that’s it. Abby, you, and me are solid. Jane thinks Pierce is a pompous ass, and Elliot Dalton is going to do whatever causes the least disruption. I mean, at his age, a civil war is the last thing Dalton wants.”
Aaron’s confidence does nothing to assuage Rosenthal’s concern. His expression—a furrowed brow and tight jawline—doesn’t relax in the least; if anything, Rosenthal appears even more alarmed that Aaron does not recognize the seriousness of the situation.
Rosenthal walks unsteadily to the window. He usually relies on a cane—a dark hickory stick with a mother-of-pearl handle—to provide balance, but when he meets with Aaron, which he does two or three times a day, for some reason he always prefers to limp.
Rosenthal takes a few moments to bask in the expanse of Central Park fifty-seven stories below him. At this height, it’s easy to feel like a god, capable of controlling the world below as if it were actually composed of things as small as they appear. It’s also easy to assume that being this high up makes you invulnerable to attack.
When Rosenthal turns around, his expression conveys greater worry than words ever could. It’s apparent that he sees danger fast approaching.
Like most litigators of the first order, Rosenthal is predisposed toward pessimism. When your professional life is defined by trying to protect people from bad things, you realize how easily things can go bad. But Aaron knows better than to dismiss Rosenthal’s concerns, because in those rare instances when Aaron and his mentor haven’t seen eye to eye, Rosenthal has usually been right.
And so, despite Aaron’s outward optimism that the COC still supports him, he is acutely aware that if Samuel Rosenthal believes Donald Pierce has four votes, he very well may have them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
At one of the most high profile law firms called Cromwell Altman in New York City, Aaron Littman is living the life most only dream of. He has enjoyed a widely successful career representing some well known A-listers, along with a happy home life with a beautiful wife and two teenage daughters. All was good in his life. However, one mistake that Aaron thought no one knew about was going to come back to haunt him and quite possibly ruin his life and career. In an act of passion Aaron found himself in an affair with a well known judge named Faith Nichols. After a couple of months of secretly meeting at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, the affair was abruptly cut off and Aaron honestly thought that would be the end of it. Unfortunately the next client Aaron is asked to represent is Nicolai Garkov who is accused of laundering millions of dollars and also might be connected to the Russian mafia. When the request is first made Aaron immediately says no but is then told that Garkov has information about the affair Aaron had that he threatens to let out if he does not agree to be his lawyer. Against his better judgment Aaron reluctantly agrees thinking that he does not want to ruin everything he has worked so hard for over one mistake. To make matters worse the judge presiding over this case is none other than Faith Nichols herself and it now becomes disgustingly clear why Garkov pushed so hard for Aaron to be his lawyer - he is blackmailing him. Thinking that it would be in both his and Faith’s best interest to warn her, Aaron tries to call Faith on a prepaid phone but she sneers at anything he has to say. Feeling completely defeated Aaron heads home to his family but the next morning he receives startling news - Faith was found dead in Central Park. Aaron realizes that if his secret ever got out he could potentially become a suspect in her murder. This was an invigorating novel that had twists and turns with every page that had me on the edge of my seat with every chapter. I immensely enjoy books that have a plot right from the very beginning and in order to get every part of the book a reader has to start from the first page to understand all of the intricate details that lead to major climaxes of the story. I personally enjoy having a plot that is somewhat hard to explain to someone else because there are that many twists and turns in it. In turn I think that makes for such a great read and this novel definitely does that. Author Adam Mitzner creates a perfect blend of mystery and court room justice that had me glued to every page and definitely interested in checking out his other novels. Quill says: With an intriguing plot and exciting unexpected twists this novel will satisfy any mystery lover.
I discovered this author and was disappointed to discover he only had two books at the time. His skills in story telling and subtle twists make for an extremely enjoyable read. Grisham lovers are in need of more authors like Adam Mitzner, and as an aspiring lawyer, I appreciate that he seems to keep legal facts and procedure in line with the law (it seems).
Losing Faith by Adam Mitzner Adam Mitzner has created a wonderful dynamic story that looks at the intimate relationship of the law courts and crime. Aaron Littman is the wonder boy of the law firm of Cromwell Altman, written as one of the primer law firms in New York City. Aaron is a second generation leading member of the law firm. He has wealth, power and influence at his fingertips. The story brings all this power and influence to head as Aaron is accused of the crime of murder. His power has gone to his head and he committed Attorney misconduct. Misconduct is defined as behavior by an attorney that conflicts with established rules of professional conduct and is punishable by disciplinary measures. More than any other profession, the legal profession is self-governing. His affair with the Honorable Faith Nichols during a case they both were residing on has made an in road for a criminal blackmail scam that is pinnacled with the violent death of Faith. The book shows how the court system handles not only this case of murder but the misconduct that preempted the violent act. It is an eye opening story of justice and truth, and how the world of the higher echelon of society affects all men.
Couldn't hardly put it down. Read it in 4 seatings.
Great read and author
Great legal thriller.
This book was a great read tight up to end !!
From the publisher: “Aaron Littmann, the chairman of one of the country’s most prestigious law firms, has just been contacted by a high-profile defense attorney, whose client is Nikolai Garkov - - a Russian businessman widely believed to have pulled the financial strings behind a recent terrorist bombing. Aaron suspects Garkov is looking to switch representation, as he’s willing to pay one hundred thousand dollars just to take a meeting, but Garkov has blackmail on his mind. Armed with damning evidence that the presiding judge, Faith Nichols, had a torrid affair with Aaron during another recent case, Garkov threatens to destroy Aaron’s career unless he influences Faith.” Aaron is a very successful man, with an immaculate background: He had been an All-American swimmer at Harvard, and had started his career clerking on the U.S. Supreme Court before joining and then making partner at a very prestigious law firm. His wife, Cynthia, is no less so: After an Ivy League education, she has a medical practice specializing in high-risk births. They have two daughters they adore. His mentor, the man who had talked Aaron into joining the firm despite his having had an offer to teach at Yale, is Sam Rosenthal, who has been there for nearly fifty years, and who now sees Aaron as something more akin to surrogate son than just another partner. The eponymous Faith Nichols herself has a very impressive c.v., having been a very respected jurist on the Federal Court with every indication of being about to be nominated to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court. So the possibility of such highly unethical behavior on her part threatens life as she knows it every much as it does Aaron. And way beyond all that, there is the fact that Garkov is almost certainly a terrorist and a murderer, and now is a blackmailer as well. Things only escalate when Faith is murdered in Central Park one night shortly after Aaron had met with her. And he is soon arrested and charged with her murder, and put on trial. I have to admit that, very unusually for this reader, I had to take a break when I approached the end of this book, the suspense being that intense as the showdown approaches. An excellent legal thriller, the novel is highly recommended.