From bestselling author Phillip Margolin, a fast-paced legal thriller packed with page-turning suspense.
Peter Hale is a young attorney struggling to make his own mark in his father's venerable law firm when he is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. During the trial of a multimillion-dollar case, Peter's father, the lead counsel, suffers a heart attack and asks Peter to move for a mistrial until he's feeling better. Peter decides this is his only chance to prove to his father that he is the terrific lawyer he knows himself to be, and he chooses to
carry on with the case against his father's wishes. In his zeal to prove himself, Peter neglects his client and ends up losing everything--the case, his
job, and his father.
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June 02, 1997
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Excerpt from The Burning Man by Phillip Margolin
The senior partners in Hale, Greaves, Strobridge, Marquand and Bartlett looked out from corner offices on the fortieth floor of the Continental Trust Building at the rivers, towering mountain and lush green hills that made Portland, Oregon, so unique. Though the skyscraper was new, the firm's quarters were decorated with heavy, dark woods, polished brass fittings and fine old antiques, giving the place an air of timeless quality.
At precisely 7:30 A.M., Peter entered a small, windowless conference room where he and his father met before court every morning to review the witnesses who would testify that day and to discuss any legal issues that might arise. Peter's father still had the same massive build that helped him win second team All-American honors in football and an NCAA wrestling championship at Oregon State in 1956. He owned a full head of white hair and his craggy face was outfitted with a broken nose and a cauliflower ear. Richard Hale practiced law the way he played sports, full steam ahead and take no prisoners. This morning, Peter's father was striding back and forth in front of a low credenza in his shirtsleeves, a phone receiver plastered to his ear, muttering "Jesus Christ!" at increasing decibel levels each time he made a turn.
Peter took off his suit jacket and hung it behind the door on a hanger. He noted with distaste that his father had flung his jacket onto a corner of the long conference table where it lay crumpled in a heap. Richard loved playing the humble, hulking man of the people in front of juries and he thought that the disheveled clothes helped his image. Peter could not imagine wearing a suit that had not been freshly pressed.
"When will you know?" his father barked, as Peter took several files from his attache case and arranged them in a neat pile.
"No, goddamn it, that won't do. We're in the middle of the goddamn trial. We've been in court for two weeks."
Richard paused. His features softened. "I know it couldn't be helped, but you don't know Judge Pruitt."
He paused again, listening intently. Then, his face turned scarlet with anger.
"Look, Bill, this isn't that difficult. I told you I needed the goddamn things two weeks ago. This is what happens when you wait until the last minute.
"Well, you better," Richard threatened, ending the conversation by slamming down the phone.
"What's up?" Peter asked.
"Ned Schuster was in a car wreck," Richard answered distractedly, running his fingers through his hair. "He's in the hospital."
"Schuster. He's supposed to testify today. Now, Bill Ebling says they can't get the papers to court because Schuster had the only copy."
Peter had no idea what his father was talking about. He glanced down at his files. There was one for each witness and one was for a Ned Schuster. When he looked up, his father was leaning against the wall. His face was as pale as chalk and he as rubbing both sides of his jaw vigorously.
"Dad?" Peter asked, frightened by his father's ashen pallor and the beads of sweat that suddenly bathed his face. Instead of answering, Richard grimaced in pain and began rubbing his chest with a clenched fist. Peter froze.
"Heart attack," Richard gasped.
Peter snapped out of his trance and raced around the conference table.
"I need to lie down," Richard managed, as his knees sagged. Peter caught him before he hit the floor.
"Help!" Peter screamed. A young woman stuck her head in the door. Her eyes widened.
"Call 911, fast! My father is having a heart attack."
When Peter looked down, Richard's teeth were clenched and his eyes were squeezed tight. He continued to rub his chest vigorously as if trying to erase his pain.
"Hold on, Dad," Peter begged. "The medics are coming."
Richard's body jerked. His eyes glazed over. The two men were sprawled on the floor. Peter held his father's head in his lap. He was concentrating so hard on his father that he didn't notice the room filling with people.
Suddenly, Richard's eyes opened and he gasped, "Mistrial."
"Don't talk. Please, Dad. Save your strength."
Richard grabbed Peter's wrist and squeezed so hard his fingers left raw, red impressions.
"Must...Mistrial," he managed again.