In an afterword of the book, Bailey writes a tribute to Paul “Bear” Bryant, world class football coach at the University of Alabama. While he did not play for Bryant, known as the “man,” Bailey echoes the adoration many have for him. The novel begins when Tom McMurtrie who played for Bryant and a brilliant law graduate in his own right accepts a position with a major law firm. Prepared to begin work for that firm he is approached by “The Man” who strongly suggests that Tom take a position at the law school of U of Alabama as a teacher.
With the faith Tom has for Bryant he does accept the teaching position and spends the next 40 years as a Professor of Law. A change in personnel at the executive level of the school causes Tom to be pushed out of his position and at the same time find out that he is suffering from cancer.
Bitter and angry at the fate that pushed him to the sidelines he passes on a case offered to him. The young family of a friend of his has been killed in a truck-car accident and Tom feels impelled to offer the case to a former student of his, Rick Drake. There is some bad blood between the two since Tom had prevented Rick from receiving a job offer that would have been the making of his legal career.
Rick does accept the case and while working it finds that the facts are muddled by the trucking company owning the vehicle involved in the accident. They resort to arson, murder, bribery and greed to disguise the truth of the matter. A pertinent factor for the trucking company is an impending extremely advantageous merger that would be cancelled if a lawsuit was successfully filed against them.
In a fast and engrossing read, the main portion of the book involving the trial of the trucking company is described and the reader treated to an excellent plot and a look at the characters, good and bad, involved in the process of the legal proceedings. The book is the first of a series of legal novels about the prospective law firm of McMurtrie and Drake. These should be well worth the wait.
8/15 Paul Lane
THE PROFESSOR by Robert Bailey. Exhibit A (January 28, 2014). ISBN: 978-1909223585. 416p.