A fantastically eccentric true crime caper that does for coastal Oregon what Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil did for Savannah.
Just a few months out of law school, Bill Merritt takes a job working for a slightly shady but charismatic lawyer named Thaddeus Silk. Only months later, Thaddeus drops dead of a heart attack, and Bill is left to pick up the pieces of his chaotic and poorly managed practice. Before he can even start to make sense of the mess that was Thaddeus's legal life, the police are knocking at his door, and Bill is being accused of fencing stolen treasure. Enter Abby Birdsong and Grady Jackson, two clients of Thaddeus's whose files are among the boxes and papers and bourbon bottles that litter his office. Drug charges had been brought against Abby for carrying two pounds of pot in her bag; and Grady seeks a permit from the state of Oregon to dig for treasure on a local beach. Bill takes on both of their cases, which, on the face of it, aren't related. When the two cases collide in ways that seem too fantastic to be true, Bill finds himself caught in the middle.
How Thaddeus and Bill, Abby and Grady, assorted law enforcement officials and colorful hangers-on overlap and interconnect took Bill another nineteen years to puzzle out. The result is an intricate and original legal yarn with a cast of provincial misfits so peculiar and charming it reads like fiction.
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Bill Merritt practiced law in Portland, Oregon, for more than a decade, and lives there still. He's the author of Where the Rivers Ran Backward, about his experience in Vietnam.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* Six months after Merritt joined the law practice of the delightfully corrupt (and memorably named) Thaddeus Silk, Silk died of a heart attack. It might have been a promising development for Merritt--just months out of law school, he'd inherited an entire firm--except Silk's office was soon under investigation from both the Oregon Bar Association and the cops. Merritt was quickly implicated in Silk's shenanigans, and things got worse when he took the case of a dope smoker named Abby Birdsong. Birdsong rented a storage locker containing somewhere between one and four tons of marijuana--all of which was for her own personal use, naturally. Merritt's other major client was completely insane, digging for sunken Spanish treasure on the Oregon coast--treasure that he may have found and then fenced through Silk. This is at once a fascinating portrait of Oregon and a rollicking, frequently hilarious true-crime caper, and Merritt's forthright and funny self-deprecation makes it the rarest sort of story: the kind where you root for the lawyer. And with its world-class cast of eccentrics, Merritt's Oregon makes Carl Hiaasen's Florida look mundane. John Green
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