I admit to a hopeless book addiction, and there’s no definitely no cure. This novel is one of the sub-genres I can’t resist—a novel by a professional woman writing about her career. I love the way the details and settings from a writer’s work experience render a story authentic, nuanced, and believable. In Unreasonable Doubts, Gentin, an attorney who spent years working as a public defender, uses her intimate knowledge of the legal system to bring the reader deep into a world many of us hope never to see.
The story centers on Liana Cohen, a 29-year-old public defender living in Manhattan. When we meet her, she’s beginning to lose faith in both her job and her relationship. When she chose her career path, she was wide-eyed and idealistic, believing everyone had the right to a quality defense. Whether they committed the crime was irrelevant. Years later, her idealism has worn thin, giving way to cynicism and negativity. She now knows her clients are nearly all guilty, and she isn’t sure she can spend the rest of her life trying to defend their innocence.
Meanwhile, her long-term boyfriend, Jakob, works endless hours at his corporate law job, forsaking all else to impress his boss and earn partnership. Though he is ready for marriage, Liana isn’t sure if she can play second fiddle to his career for the rest of her life, and whether he’s even the right match for her at all. When Liana accepts a new client, her doubts further multiply. Could Danny Shea finally be the client she’s been waiting for, the innocent man amongst the sea of criminals? Surely this charismatic, intelligent, and personable man could not have sexually assaulted a woman on a rooftop. Dedicating everything she has to winning Danny’s appeal, Liana finds her feelings for him crossing the invisible line between attorney and client. She finds herself fantasizing about being with him and wondering how her life would be different with him as her partner.
I flew through this book, longing to see how Liana’s life would change and what resolution she would find at the end. Gentin’s writing is witty, smart, and easy to read, and she has created a whole set of wonderfully varied characters. I will surely pick up whatever she writes next.
And for bonus picks by two other talented attorney writers who bring their work to the page, try Miracle Creek by Angie Kim and Unbroken Threads by Jennifer Klepper, both also wonderful must reads with the perfect amount of legal detail. For a look into the world of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship, pick up my debut novel, Bedside Manners.