The Paper Lawyer
An attorney takes on her first criminal case in this legal thriller that explores identity, ethics and ambition.
by Carlos Cisneros
Publication Date: March 31, 2019
Format: Trade Paperback
Disgraced real-estate attorney Camila Harrison loses both her lucrative job as a partner in a well-known Austin law firm and her fiancé, a Texas Supreme Court Justice, when emails she sent to a client expressing her racist views are released to the media. She lands in Houston, practicing social security disability law and seeking criminal appointments in federal court.
All too soon she’s working her first federal criminal case, which involves an undocumented Mexican accused of money laundering. Harrison has no sympathy for illegal aliens and just wants to secure a plea deal quickly. The situation becomes more complicated when she gets to know the defendant, Vicente Aldama, and realizes he came to the US to work and pay for the life-saving surgery his young daughter desperately needs. When her private investigator discovers possible improprieties related to Aldama’s arrest, Harrison begins to seriously consider taking the case to trial despite the advice of colleagues and her complete lack of experience in defending high-stakes federal prosecutions.
Gripping, suspenseful and deeply moving, Cisneros’ uniquely original legal thriller asks questions about race, prejudice and the corruption that pervades American society, even as it proclaims to be the most advanced nation in the world with the best judicial system.
“Cisneros hits his stride when the legal machinations and dark conspiracies start to emerge. [He] deals with important and timely topics, and you can tell he has a fundamentally optimistic view of the justice system and people’s capacity for change.”—Kirkus Reviews
“With his fourth novel, South Texas practicing attorney Carlos Cisneros offers a smart, fast paced legal thriller that shows a clear dedication to his moonlighting gig as a writer. The novel is an engaging quick read. At its core is a tale of legal corruption where regular members of the public often stand no chance against the state and its actors. Beyond this, however, it is also the story about a Mexican American who, after rejecting her personal history in becoming someone of success and social stature, is made whole again after coming to terms with her personal demons.”—Camino Real
“Cisneros continues to impress with his sharp characterizations and thoughtful, many-layered stories.” —Booklist on The Land Grant
“This thriller lands firmly in John Grisham territory. But Cisneros, a practicing attorney in Texas, makes the material his own. The novel isn’t merely a fast-paced legal thriller; it’s also a thoughtful rumination on the conflict between ambition and morality.” —Booklist on The Name Partner
“There is a slightly subversive element here that gives the novel zip; it has all the same elements as a traditional legal thriller, but it’s less predictable, more ethically ambiguous…keep your eye on Cisneros.” –Booklist on The Case Runner
CARLOS CISNEROS is the author of The Land Grant (2012), The Name Partner (2010) and The Case Runner (2008), all published by Arte Público Press. He works as an attorney in Brownsville, Texas.