Mistress of Justice

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The fictional law firm of Hubbard, White & Willis that is the setting for MISTRESS OF JUSTICE appears to have the practice of law as a secondary occupation. Lawyer Mitchell Reece sets paralegal Taylor Lockwood on the trail of a missing promissory note early in the novel, and her next two weeks are occupied entirely with finding it. Other lawyers at the firm engage in gossip and political maneuvering surrounding a merger of the firm proposed by one of the non-name partners. One partner has not practiced law in years, and he begins again only to try to adopt the fifteen-year-old girl with whom he is having an affair.

Lockwood is an attractive woman who plays jazz piano in her off-hours. Her search for the missing promissory note involves her with other characters at the law firm, including a night-clubbing, cocaine-snorting lawyer who was turned down for a partnership and a paralegal who does performance art, and also with a security specialist who gives her a crash course in criminal investigation.

Deaver narrates the life of Hubbard, White & Willis over the course of two weeks. The narrative jumps from character to character, although Reece and Lockwood are central. The style lets the reader know more than Reece and Lockwood will find out, adding to the suspense as they fight against a deadline of a court case, involving one of the firm’s biggest clients, that Reece will lose unless he can produce the missing promissory note. The intertwined alliances among characters keep Reece and Lockwood guessing as to motives for the theft, leading to a false resolution of the mystery that sets up a whole new plot line.