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A Minor Fall

Publisher: SelectBooks, Inc.

A Minor Fall by Price Ainsworth is dubbed a legal thriller, but I found it to be more of a legal drama than anything else. The story surrounds a young lawyer named Davy Jessie, an associate at the prestigious law firm of Peters and Sullivan, and husband to the daughter of founding partner, Tim Sullivan. Davy seems to have everything in his life worked out. He's assigned to work with prolific litigator Tim Sullivan, traveling all around the country with him and his paralegal/paramour, Riza, on the company jet, and dining at the finest places along the way, all on the expense tab of the firm. He has a gorgeous home in a prestigious neighborhood (with the staggering mortgage to go with it), and he's married to a beautiful redhead named Michelle, who is also an attorney, but is ready to have a baby and start their family. Life seems perfect, or at least it should.

Then along comes a crazy case in Kentucky involving Boyd Oil Company and the claim that their practices have contaminated the properties of the poor, rural families living in the area with cancer-causing radiation. The case has been going on for some time and was referred from another firm and it comes with a debt of about a million dollars, which has been taken on by Davy's firm. It was Sullivan's big idea, thinking the case can be a real coup for the firm, but it sounds like a dog to Davy, especially considering the incoming price tag. Then Sullivan assigns the case to Davy, and all of a sudden, he has no other caseload and discovers he'll be spending lots of time in Kentucky with the many plaintiffs, along with a gorgeous contract attorney assigned to help him named Beth Sheehan. All of the warning signs should be going off in Davy's head, but sadly, they aren't.

Before you know it, Davy has screwed up, but then discovers his wife is pregnant and he doesn't want to ruin his perfect life by coming clean about the brief affair. He soon discovers there are other complications that may force him to reveal his secret, but because the Kentucky case is sucking up all of his time, he drags his feet. Although he is wracked with guilt over the dalliance, he focuses on the case, although it doesn't seem to be going all that well either. Despite the apparent dismal outlook of the case, Sullivan still seems strangely excited about it and pushes Davy forward. Another few chance cases come into Davy's life as well, one of which could lead to big changes in the future, but the way things are going, and the mistakes Davy keeps making seem to push him further along on the path of destruction. Can he redeem himself before it is too late?

First off, like I said earlier, I was expecting a legal thriller, something more akin to The Firm or The Pelican Brief, but instead, A Minor Fall was more about the stupid choices of a selfish man and the effects those choices have on his life and those around him. Sure, the character of Sullivan was somewhat interesting, with his bombastic sense of style and presence, but despite his success as a lawyer, I found him to be unlikable. He's a cheater, both in his personal and business life, and I just found him distasteful. To be honest, I didn't connect with any of the characters and found myself to be unsympathetic to just about all of them, for one reason or another.

What's more, I found there to be way too much legal minutiae in the book. Yes, it's about a lawyer, and Mr. Ainsworth is an attorney in Texas, so it's all spot-on as far as correctness, but I just thought it was overload. Personally, I don't read a legal thriller to learn more about the law. I just happen to enjoy the setting of legal thrillers. I also spent 15 years working in litigation, so I am quite familiar with legal terminology. I didn't find it to be so overwhelming in the earlier parts of the book, but then it seemed to get more dense and legal details were more thoroughly explained as the book wore on. I certainly can't fault Mr. Ainsworth for glazing over things and leaving people in the dark on the legal stuff, but for me, I found that these portions of the book were boring. Again, I'm not the average reader because of my legal experience, but for me, I didn't enjoy that aspect of the book.

Lastly, the book does change perspectives along the way, from Davy, to his wife Michelle, to a girl he meets at a bar in Memphis, to even his wife's OB/GYN. Sometimes, it's a bit jarring and I wasn't always immediately sure who was driving the internal dialogue. Just a note. Davy also fancies himself a bit of a poet/writer, so be prepared to see excerpts of his prose and even a short story inserted into the overall storyline. There's even a peculiar sidestory that one of his poems goes on, and to be honest, I thought it was a bit far-fetched.

In my opinion, a better name for A Minor Fall should be A Major Eff Up, because Davy Jessie just seems to make one huge mistake after another. It is a more introspective story than I was expecting, but it wasn't as exciting as I had hoped. While I can't recommend it as a legal thriller, if you are looking for a story that is based far more on interpersonal drama, but in a legal setting, you may very well enjoy A Minor Fall. While I can't fault Price Ainsworth's writing, the story just didn't appeal to me, personally.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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