Move Over, John Grisham; Make Room for Adam Mitzner
With A Conflict of Interest, attorney/first-time-author Adam Mitzner earns a spot on the bookshelf next to favorite author, John Grisham (I am so fond of Grisham’s work that I won’t review it—who wants to read a lot of sloppy sentimentality and gushing hero-worship, anyway?).
Mitzner gives us a protagonist who definitely has conflicts—from the lust in his heart for a beautiful co-worker to his growing distrust of a client he believed innocent. Alex Miller is a Manhattan lawyer who has it all—beautiful wife, beautiful child, partnership in a prestigious law firm, and doubts. He questions his marriage, his happiness, his wife’s devotion, his values, his goals, and his feelings. When his doubts and desires lead him astray, his situational ethics pull him through (and justify whatever he’s done).
In Florida for his father’s funeral, Alex meets an old friend of his parents, Michael Ohlig, whom he has often heard about but never met. Alex’s area of expertise is financial, and Ohlig is a broker who is being investigated for $160 million worth of fraud. Ohlig discreetly asks him to take his case, and he agrees. At first Alex finds Ohlig an appealing client, although a bit too polished and glib. He soon learns that Ohlig is also manipulative and demanding, far from truthful, and decidedly underhanded.
Within three months of Alex’s father’s death, his mother dies—an apparent suicide. What follows are family secrets exposed and suspicions unleashed. Alex must face shocking discoveries about his parents, as well as uncomfortable truths about himself, and decide if his marriage is worth reconstructing after nearly destroying it.
A Conflict of Interest is an impressive debut. It has been compared to Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent but is, in fact, a superior work (Presumed Innocent was disappointingly predictable). Both novels share common elements, but A Conflict of Interest is the more satisfying (and the one I would recommend).