The Summit Syndrome
by Owen Dean

"My practice is a jealous mistress."

After a horrible loss, Alan Benedict, a South African lawyer specializing in copyright infringement, seeks to begin anew by quitting his law firm and moving to Cape Town. But an encounter with an equally damaged girl puts him back into harness, and what seems a routine plagiarism case soon becomes deadly.

Plagiarism cases rarely have the sex appeal of a murder, either in real life or in literature. For thriller writers, a murder does the heavy lifting for the suspense, but in skilled hands, such as Autoro Perez-Reverte in The Dumas Club, characters are willing to kill over recently-discovered pages possibly handwritten by Alexander Dumas.

Dean has this skill. He excels in the thrusts and ripostes of courtroom jousting and is equally good in creating a creepy atmosphere outside the courtroom where something is awakened and ready to strike. He also effectively shows how the courtroom can be therapeutic for traumatized lawyers by giving Benedict a reason to get up in the morning. And, faced with a lethal cabal, he will have to determine whether he wants to live or die.

The author fulfills the duty of a thriller/legal writer. He keeps the pace going, not only in the chase sequences outside the courtroom, but also in the courtroom itself by avoiding legalese and instead providing dramatic testimony. All in all, Dean delivers the requisite thrills and surprises for fans of courtroom dramas. At the same time he makes the psychologically broken Benedict a hero to root for.

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