The Parisian Lawyer. Catherine Monsigny is an ambitious young lawyer who lobbies for a high profile case involving the marriage of a young black immigrant to a much older Frenchman. Tucked away in a tiny, tight-knit village, the man's death is initially assumed to be natural, but when a bottle of cyanide is discovered in the kitchen, the young woman is accused of murder. Whether the small village is racist or xenophobic, the trial is sure to cause attention, and Catherine hopes it will be a boost to her career.
In the meantime, Catherine has taken a lover, and between the lover and preparation for the trial, she finds herself frequently drifting into thoughts of her mother and of her mother's murder. Neither the pace nor the plot move steadily forward, but move from memory and thought and back to actual events in past and present.
Catherine is not a particularly admirable character, but the information we are provided over the course of the novel allows the reader to gain insight into the events that have shaped her.
The book is well-written, but maintains a distance. This is perhaps the best way to present the various situations since forming a sense of relationship with any of the characters is impossible. We see too much, know too much, and while understanding, and occasionally sympathizing....liking any of the characters is difficult.
NetGalley/Le French Book Pub. (Anne Trager, trans.)
Legal Thriller. 2012. Print version: 316 pages.