Book Reviews


Well, we don't have a book club like Oprah, but we do review books every once in a while. And today, we're going to hear about a new legal thriller from lawyer-turned-writer Paul Goldstein. His novel is called "A Patent Lie." Here's our reviewer, Alan Cheuse.

ALAN CHEUSE: This new novel by New York-transplant-turned-Californian Paul Goldstein trumps John Grisham's work in every way: character, setting, plot, the prose. And it gives the interested reader - that is, someone with a pull toward the drama of a high-value legal case heading into trail - a great reward for his or her attention. The protagonist is an intellectual property lawyer named Michael Seeley, a reformed alcoholic and former high-powered New York City corporate attorney who's retreated to his native Buffalo. His only sibling, a doctor, medical advisor to a Northern California biotech firm, shows up at his office to hire him as main council for a federal patent law case. The former lead council has somewhat inconveniently committed suicide. Seeley puts his solitude and his doubts about the case behind him and flies West. The case is timely and fascinating, all about patent infringement on the American company's AIDS vaccine by a huge European conglomerate.

Seeley's preparation for the trial and the trial itself form the heart of the narrative. Goldstein narrates all this so skillfully, from jury selection to final judgment, that even a novice at the law such as myself can understand it without the author having to sacrifice any of the complex chemistry of the case. But this is more than just a story about procedure. Attorney Seeley is hardly cold-blooded, and if he fights back his thirst for alcohol, he does allow his sympathy to go to work when the late former council's widow asks him to prove that her husband, the suicide, was actually murdered. Seeley also succumbs to the attractions of a somewhat reluctant potential witness, a beautiful Chinese scientist whose work on the AIDS vaccine eventually takes center stage in the development of the plot.

And when it comes to following his passion for the revelation of the seemingly simple case's intricate truth, there's no stopping Seeley. There's no stopping the reader, either. I read the book in nearly one sitting on a recent cross-country flight. I wish the flight had been longer.

SIEGEL: Paul Goldstein's new novel is called "A Patent Lie," and it's the answer to the question: What would our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, read?

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