A contentious trial is imminent:
Rick Waterston’s legal practice is suffering.
Although he’s stopped drinking, he can’t turn his life around. The
ex is hounding him for past child support. His biggest client makes
passes at him and there’s not a lot of money to spread
Emily Hawkins’ husband was killed while
shopping at the local B & D warehouse store, accused of shoplifting
and suffocated while being detained waiting for the police to
arrive. To figure out the true story of what happened to her
husband she hires Rick to sue the store.
Without any settlement offer, they are forced
to take the case to trial where Rick has to handle the overbearing
lawyers representing the store—the same people who fired him from
his first job and sent him on his downward spiral.
No trial is predictable, but Rick must
question his tactics when witnesses fall apart on the stand and
crumble under intense cross-examination. The only hope of
convincing the jury that shoplifters have rights is Emily who must
stand her ground when confronted with her husbands’ dirty
Still dressed in the dark pants suit she wore to
the funeral, Emily pulled into the Costless parking lot. The late
model pickup truck in the space next to hers towered over her
sputtering sedan. She walked towards the cement outer wall typical
of many big box retailers. Adorned on the façade was the name of
the store in commanding bold letters and in script writing below,
the company's tagline--"Your Products. . .at
The lot teemed with customers headed to the sliding glass doors at
the entrance while others pushed over-sized shopping carts filled
with bags of purchased wares back to their cars. Emily shopped here
often as it was one of three places in their small town which sold
groceries, but also offered the convenience of selling clothes,
outdoor supplies and other items they needed.
The thought of her husband dying, or rather, being killed here
filled her head. She examined the landmarks differently than the
other times she had been here, trying to picture where and how he
came to his demise. The painted hash-lines of the crosswalk, the
flimsy metal frames of the cart corral and even the towering light
but somehow they now took on a different significance as Emily
wondered if any, in some small way, contributed
In the time since Jerry died, the store hadn't contacted her. The
police would not give her any details, only putting her off by
informing her she had to wait until they completed their report.
The local coroner had, at least, contacted
but failed to provide her with any semblance of a story of what had
happened. He told her he called in the medical examiner from the
largest county in the state because, "Under the circumstances, this
was beyond the capacity of his office."
She stood in the parking lot with her fist
she had almost no information about how or why they killed her
husband. Emily swiped at her eyes and dabbed her nose with a
semi-used tissue, gathering her resolve to walk into the store.
Unsure of what she wanted to accomplish, she reminded herself to be
The customer service desk sat to the right of the entrance doors,
and she waited in the queue of three customers for the two women
offering assistance. It took a couple of minutes before the
shorter, older woman waved her to approach.
"May I help you?" the woman asked.
She nodded while looking at the floor. "My name is Emily Hawkins.
My husband died here a few days ago. I would like to talk to
The service clerk scrunched her eyebrows. "Of course, honey. Let
me find Mr.
Oliver. He's the Store Director." She picked up the phone and held
up one finger. "
Five minutes later, a middle-aged African-American man, wearing
glasses and sporting a deep baritone approached. He stood eight
inches taller than her and carried himself like a former athlete.
"Mrs. Hawkins, my name is Wayne Oliver. I'm the Store Director. We
are so sorry for your loss." He grasped Emily's right hand with
both of his. "Can we talk?"
She followed him to a small office near to the registers. "It's not
much, but I don't spend much time in here," He grabbed a chair and
placed it in front of his desk. He sat on the other side and
clasped his hands .
Locking eyes with her, he said, "Please Ms. Hawkins, tell me what I
can do for you."
Emily dropped her eyes and pondered how to ask how Jerry had been
murdered in this store. Finally, she said, "Mr. Oliver,
what happened to my husband. I hope you
would help me figure out how he died here."
"Yes, ma'am. I agree you are entitled to find out how he came to
Emily interrupted. "Sir, not to be rude, but he didn't pass away.
He was murdered."
Oliver shook his head and bit his lip. "I don't want to quibble
with you, Ms. Hawkins, but 'murdered' is such a strong word for
"Well, why don't you tell me what happened, and we can decide what
to call it."
"I want to give you as much information as possible. The problem is
I was on my day off, so I have no direct knowledge of the
circumstances of his demise."
Oliver's avoidance of providing her with any details was now
beginning to irk Emily, who sat forward in her chair. "Mr. Oliver,
I understand you didn't witness what happened, but I assume as
Store Director--that's what you called yourself, isn't it?--you
would try to figure out how someone is killed on your
"Of course. Our corporate office is in the midst of conducting a
thorough investigation. They are speaking with everyone present.
I'm not involved. It's out of my hands." He turned his palms
"Is there any video of what happened?"
Oliver paused, appearing to formulate his words with care before
responding. "My understanding is, some
"What's on it?"
"Oh, Ms. Hawkins, I'm not at liberty to provide those
Emily's eyes narrowed, and she forced herself to slow down. "I
would like to watch the
video. Please show it to me."
"I wish I could, but I can't."
"Why not?" Her voice almost cracked.
"I'm under instructions not to allow
anyone to view it.
I made a copy and sent it over to corporate."
"Who told you not to let me watch the
"Our legal department."
"Are you kidding? So far you haven't told me anything. You won't
tell me what happened, who was involved or what's on the
Oliver's face lost all expression. "Ms. Hawkins, I assume you can
appreciate this is a delicate situation. I've been given certain
instructions to not talk about this until our investigation is
complete. You can understand, can't you?"
Emily's cheeks flushed crimson and her jaw clenched. "No, I don't
understand this at all. I have no idea what happened to my husband
or why, but I'm getting much more suspicious every moment I'm with
you. Is there anything you want to tell me?"
detail about the evening was odd and I think triggered everything.
I shouldn't tell you this," he said as he leaned forward, "but it
all started right after your husband was caught
Emily's heart thumped in her chest. "You act like this is a joke.
Jerry was killed on your property and now you accuse him of
stealing. You're not being forthcoming with me, Mr. Oliver.
Something's odd about how you're treating me and I'm going to
figure out why." Emily stood and extended her hand. "The next
person you will hear from is my lawyer. Good day."
She felt the sweat on Oliver's hand when they shook. "At least he
doesn't know I've never spoken with any attorneys."
she thought. "All I have to do is find myself the right one." She
walked out of the store with her head held high and the contours of
a plan solidifying.
loved it!!! From beginning to end! I never wavered! What a
captivating read! I liked how it started with such detailed and
colorful descriptions of all the characters before we knew what
story was even being told....the trial details had me in the
courtroom! It's so well written and pulls you in! You love certain
characters and truly hate others and when I was done, I wished
there was a book two so I could continue following their lives! I
would never give anything away so I can't say much more other than
READ IT!! and enjoy!...
stellar and enthralling legal thriller, author James Rosenberg once
again finds the perfect balance between his background as an
attorney and the intricate depth he finds within his characters.
The blend of each character’s integral role in the trial and the
case overall with their own personal struggles, especially
protagonist Rick and his haunted past, really helped the narrative
day and age, the concept of lawful versus unlawful arrests and the
demand for more accountability towards those accused of crimes
versus actual criminals has never been higher. The narrative really
does a great job of capturing this important societal theme, while
also giving an original and unique spin on the story overall that
will have readers hanging on the author’s every word. The pacing of
this fits perfectly in the legal thriller genre, really setting up
the case and making the reader eager to read as each clue is
unraveled slowly but surely.
brilliant, engaging, and jaw-dropping legal thriller, author James
Rosenberg’s “Unclean Hands” is a must-read novel. The shocking
final moments of the book’s legal battle will leave readers reeling
as the truth is revealed, and the more personal and intimate
moments with characters like Rick will keep the reader feeling more
connected to the narrative overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to
grab your copy today!...
compelling read from start to finish - this is Rosenberg at his
finest. Thrilling plot and thoroughly developed characters that I
enjoyed rooting for (and against). Rosenberg has become a master of
the genre. Buy the book; take the ride.