Corrupt Practices (Parker Stern #1), by Robert Rotstein

Nine stars

Robert Rotstein storms onto the scene with this sensational legal and courtroom thriller that is sure to keep the reader hooked until the final page turn. Parker Stern was once a successful lawyer working in a mid-sized firm. When his mentor—who happened to be the senior partner—committed suicide, everything fell apart and the lawyers scattered. Now, one of his former colleagues has been charged with embezzlement from a major L.A. church, one that some would call a powerful cult. While Stern has not set foot in a courtroom for quite some time, he agrees to take the case, only to have his client commit suicide while awaiting trial. If this were not enough, Stern has taken on teaching a law seminar at one of the local colleges, where he meets one of the keenest legal minds he’s come across for some time, with the curious name of Lovely Diamond. With the embezzlement case soon becoming a legal battle with the deceased’s estate, Stern will need all the help that he can get and turns to his students to cobble together aspects of the case, as Lovely takes the lead. Holding onto an inner hatred for this cult, Stern will do everything in his power to find the loopholes to show that the embezzlement is coming from within the hierarchy of the organization and that these deaths are anything but self-inflicted. He will have to turn to someone he vowed never to contact in order to learn some of the inner workings of the church, but even that might not be enough. Juggling a highly controversial First Amendment case as well, Stern forges ahead, blindly, into the courtroom and refuses to stand down until justice is served. Rotstein has so much to offer and stuns readers with his ability to weave such a strong legal tale. Highly recommended for those who enjoy novels that take the law and put it through its paces!

I recently discovered Rotstein when reading another of his standalone legal pieces, which pulled me right in. I found that his writing was not only believable, but took me on that journey inside the courtroom where few writers have been able to effectively sell a legal thriller. The story is full of complexities as well as nuances that keep the reader coming back to learn more, while providing a handful of strong characters to guide the way. Parker Stern is so much more than a great legal mind in this piece. From his early years as a child film actor to his debilitating stage fright in the courtroom, he shapes the novel in so many ways. Fuelled by his hatred for not only the lawyers on the opposite side of the courtroom, but also the organization that saw his childhood destroyed, Stern will stop at nothing to use the law to enact revenge, however he can. His legal maneuvers are surely something that will keep the reader entertained, while they marvel at his passion for the law. There are a handful of other characters who shape the story, none more than Lovely Diamond, the third-year law student whose passion for the underdog cannot be downplayed. With an interesting backstory of her own, it was only a matter of time before she and Stern would find themselves working alongside one another, in ways no one could have expected. Her passion for helping and determination to get to the root of the legal argument propels the narrative forward and keeps the reader intrigued throughout. The story of this book is anything but simple, yet Rotstein makes it easily palatable without watering down the arguments. The reader is in for quite the ride and will surely find something that suits their fancy, with a number of legal and personal issues coming to a head simultaneously. I cannot wait to get my hands on the second novel to continue this wonderful journey through the law and how the courtroom is the unpredictable battlefield.

Kudos, Mr. Rotstein, for a sensational start to this series. I will have to continue exploring the life of Parker Stern and how you shape him through the three novels you have written.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: