Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Losing Faith

by Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books     2015
357 pages     Fiction

Losing Faith is the story of deceit and its consequences. Aaron Littman is the CEO of a huge New York law firm, eminently respected as a litigator. A Russian mobster and terrorist offers him a $100,000 retainer to represent him in a case coming before Judge Faith Nichols. When Littman rejects the offer, Garkof, the terrorist, threatens to blackmail both him and the judge, because of the brief affair that Littman and Nichols had during the course of a previous trial. Shortly after Judge Nichols refuses bail for Garkof on the first day of the trial, she is murdered in Central Park and Littman is arrested for the murder. That, in a nutshell, is the setup.

Several times during the ensuing court case, Littman protests his innocence to his family and to his coworkers, including Sam Rosenthal, the founder of the law firm and his mentor. Every time he expresses his innocence, he is reminded of the clients who look at him beseechingly, "I didn't do it. You have to believe me."  

Losing Faith is the third legal thriller that I have read by Adam Mitzner. Not only are Mitzner's thrillers fun to read, but the reader also learns a lot about the way courtrooms operate and the way that lawyers think. This time, we are looking at the law from the viewpoint of the accused, a criminal lawyer, and we share his anxieties about the way the case is being presented by his law partner, Rosenthal. Although he knows how to behave in the courtroom and how to answer the questions, Littman suffers from the same apprehension and confusion that any defendant in his situation would feel. "I didn't do it. You have to believe me."

One of the questions that I asked myself as I read the book was "Do I like Littman?" I ask this often in my reading. Recently I stopped reading Hausfrau because I couldn't stand the protagonist. Mitzner says that when creating his protagonists, he wants them to cause the reader to think about their own lives in a new way. 

Of Littman, Mitzner says "I began with a protagonist who had already reached the top — the greatest lawyer of his generation — and I wanted to explore the fleeting nature of such external achievements. Again the opening quote (this one from Coldplay) was what inspired me, as I was fascinated by the idea of a man who 'used to rule the world' and now 'sweeps the streets he used to own.'" What is important about Littman is that he is fully aware of all that he has to lose, and that makes him a readable, albeit not likeable, protagonist.

The reader of Losing Faith spends time thinking about deceit and the reverberations that can be caused by deceit, in business, in the law, and in the family. Littman stumbles when his deceit catches up with him, and he is left unguarded. He hurts the people he most wants to protect, and the decision to deceive colors the rest of his life, and the lives of everyone around him. 

An essay about "likeable" protagonists by Adam Mitzner.
A review of Losing Faith in Mystery Suspense Reviews.
My blog postings about A Conflict of Interest and A Case of Redemption, the other books by Adam Mitzner.

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