The American Lawyer is an international legal thriller about political corruption, runaway ambition, murder, redemption, and a 400 year-old letter that could change the course of Central American history as well as the life of a young San Francisco lawyer named Jesse Hall. It’s a wild ride through the untamed jungles of Guatemala, the treacherous Bay of Honduras, a shocking murder in Shanghai, forbidden love, a San Francisco law firm with dark secrets, and a foreign courtroom so tense at times a spark could set it aflame. The character-driven aspect of the story is expressed in notes between Jesse and former lover Megan Harris. At the end of his tether in Guatemala, the young, fish-out-of-water American lawyer writes: “I see now I didn’t just want to make a difference. I wanted to be the difference.” Megan replies, “Sometimes searching for something we thought we wanted awakens us to what we needed all along.”
Jesse Hall is a 29 year-old lawyer who grew up in poverty and learned about injustice first hand. Upon graduation, he picked Caldwell & Shaw, a preeminent San Francisco silk-stocking firm, determined to learn about the use and abuse of power, then build a war chest, enter politics, and fight for the disadvantaged.
The firm sends Jesse to Guatemala to vet the local lawyer defending the son of C&S’s biggest client, Calvin (Cal) Covington. Young Kevin is accused of murdering a popular Guatemalan human rights advocate, Marisa Andrade. Jesse is to ensure that the local lawyer is the very best and to find a replacement if he’s not. Seems simple enough.
But Jesse quickly sees that the man is incompetent, and when no other local lawyer will take the case, he has no choice but to take it on himself, aided paradoxically by the victim’s own husband, Teodoro Andrade, an elderly alcoholic law professor. Teo believes Marisa was killed under orders of the current VP and Presidential candidate, Victor Carano, her prime journalistic target, and that Carano has framed young Kevin Covington. Teo wants revenge, so agrees to help the American lawyer reveal the truth. Together, this odd couple will take on drug lords, corrupt judges, murderers, the government—and their own fully justified fears and self-doubts.