“Parker Stern is a talented lawyer who's been crippled by sudden stage fright. The shock of his boss's suicide left him almost unable to enter a courtroom, much less perform his duties facing a judge. But when one of his old colleagues hires him as his defense attorney, Parker has a hard time refusing. Rich Baxter is accused of stealing millions of dollars from the Church of the Sanctified Assembly, a cult-like organization that Parker himself has a rocky history with. And when Rich turns up dead in his cell the same day he's to appear in court, Parker becomes suspicious. Rich's own father insists that the man didn't kill himself, words strangely echoed by Parker's dead boss's wife with regards to her own husband's death. The connection between the two - The Assembly.
Rotstein's debut is an intriguing and layered mystery. Parker Stern is a great character and as we learn more about his connections to the Assembly, it becomes clear that this group is about as bad as bad can get.
The characters around Stern also get decent "screen time" so to speak. His student, Lovely Diamond, and his old colleague Deanna in particular. Diamond is tackling a controversial case involving freedom of speech, a case that Stern almost reconsiders allowing the student to take on when he realizes just how complicated it really is. What's more, she has a connection to Stern that is revealed further into the story as well.
I have to say, this has been a pretty great reading week! While I wouldn't necessarily categorize Corrupt Practices as a true one-sitting read (it's a bit meaty for that), it's definitely an up-all-nighter like Noa P. Readers who enjoy Michael Connolly's Mickey Haller series will enjoy Parker Stern. Even if legal thrillers aren't your top go-to, you're going to love Rotstein's debut. This is the first in a new series and I for one will be anxiously awaiting the next installment.