Martin Clark | The Jezebel Remedy (Vintage Contemporaries)

Clark’s prose is clear and inviting, sometimes strikingly poetic.


Joe and Lisa Stone are partners at home and work, where they own their own law firm. This means, of course, the book follows them both personally and professionally: the former through near-affairs and the death of a beloved family member; the latter via a shadowy case following the death of an eccentric, long-term client.

The irritable, argumentative Lettie VanSandt is the client in question. When we meet her, she is sitting down with Joe (she doesn’t like Lisa) to yet again revise her will. Lettie has next to nothing, all of which she leaves to an estranged son. Yet when the Stones receive notice of their client’s mysterious death, they find she had redone her will via video recording, now leaving everything to Joe. Ever the good attorney, Joe reaches out to Lettie’s son and transfers Lettie’s assets—including a trailer and a menagerie of dogs and cats—to him. And then the intrigue begins.

You see, Lettie’s been a somewhat crazy inventor, sending her ideas to Benecorp. They’ve dismissed every one as crazy—or have they? Is it true that one of Lettie’s inventions could bring riches to the company, as a mysterious, but mentally ill scientist suggests? And thus begins the Stones’ most challenging case to date, as they find themselves fighting on behalf of a client who is no longer alive, threatening their own livelihoods in the process.

jezebel-bookAnd then there’s the personal stuff. Lisa is bored with her husband of 20 years, and thus easily tempted when another attorney shows her some attention. Her confidant is a former client, MJ, who has gone from a battered young wife to a powerful, wildly successful business owner. Joe, meanwhile, is extremely attached to the couple’s elderly dog, Brownie, who spends his days sleeping in his master’s office. But what’s going on with Brownie? And is it the result of the Stones’ challenge against Benecorp?

Martin Clark is an attorney himself, with a reputation for writing legal fiction—i.e., stories in which the law factors prominently. But don’t let that dissuade you: This story is more about characters than cases. His prose is clear and inviting, sometimes strikingly poetic. Of Lisa’s ennui:

Lately she’d felt a bit stuck, preoccupied with the flat patches in her life, mulling and noodling, flummoxed by how she seemed to have wandered across an insidious boundary and been shanghaied into a dull land of earth tones, Scrabble games, paint-by-number vacations, Cinemax replays of A Star Is Born, monthly potlucks, Lean Cuisines, cobwebs, dust bunnies, marital conversations retarded by a mumbled “Huh?” or a distracted “What, sweetie?,” community center Zumba classes, flannel, mismatched silverware, lukewarm champagne and box steps every December 31, matted fleece bedroom slippers and sex so mission control she could count down the seconds between her husband biting her neck and squeezing her breasts.

And when she is on vacation with a man who is not her husband:

As it slipped away in increments, the sun put on a nonchalant soiree, illustrating the sky and Technicoloring the clouds and water, and a group of gulls casually glided and dipped over the ocean, the boldest ones landing on a wooding railing at the bar to plead and screech for scraps, their heads herky-jerking, bobbing.

Despite the couple’s missteps and misunderstandings, you’ll slip deeply into the Stones’ world, caring about—and rooting for—the characters so much that the end of the book comes way too soon. After reading The Jezebel Remedy, I’ll be checking out more of Martin Clark’s work. | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 438 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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