Mark Gimenez

"The Color of Law"

(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky OCT 30, 2005)

“I went to law school to be another Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird was my mother’s favorite book and my bedtime story. She’d read a chapter each night, and when we came to the end, she’d go back to the beginning and start over. Scotty, she’d say, be like Atticus. Be a lawyer. Do good.”

The protagonist of The Color of Law is Dallas lawyer A. Scott Fenney. Scott is a lucky man. He is an acclaimed former jock, a partner in a prestigious firm, the proud owner of a luxurious home and car, and the husband of a gorgeous woman. He defends mostly well-to-do clients, practicing what he calls “aggressive and creative lawyering,” which is code for cheating, conniving, and doing whatever it takes to win a case.

When Scott is appointed by a federal judge to represent a black prostitute named Shawanda Jones, he is horrified. Jones is accused of murdering Clark McCall, the spoiled rich son of an influential United States senator. After trying in vain to extricate himself from Shawanda’s case, Scott slowly realizes that fate has brought him to a crossroads. Helping Shawanda Jones may give Scott the chance to be the kind of lawyer his mother always wanted him to be—one who is anxious to do good, not just to do well.

In The Color of Law, Mark Gimenez portrays a tragic miscarriage of justice, political corruption, family conflict, greed, and the abuse of power. He also holds out the possibility that even an arrogant and self-centered individual can seek redemption. The author skillfully orchestrates Scott’s fall from grace and his gradual reawakening to the value of a principle-driven life. The best scenes in the book show the warm relationship between Scott and the two girls in his life—his eight-year-old daughter, nicknamed Boo, and Pajamae, Shawanda’s daughter. Scott’s decision to fight for Shawanda earns him Pajamae’s respect, affection, and gratitude.

The Color of Law is not perfect. It is at least fifty pages too long and the conclusion, although satisfying, veers dangerously close to sentimentality. However, the story ultimately works because of Gimenez’s fluid writing style, dry wit, and sharp delineation of character. Not only does the author effectively depict the deep chasm between Dallas’s haves and have-nots, but he also shows, through Scott’s poignant journey, that one need not “check one’s conscience at the door” in order to be a successful lawyer.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 98 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from The Color of Law at Random House

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About the Author:

Mark GimenezMark Gimenez grew up in Galveston County, Texas. He attended law school at Notre Dame, Indiana. He once partnered at a major Dallas firm, but gave it up to start his own single practice and to write. He lives outside Fort Worth with his wife and two sons. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014