About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Patent Lie by Paul Goldstein

A Patent Lie by Paul Goldstein – In an unusual approach for me I am reading the Goldstein series featuring lawyer, Michael Seeley, in reverse order. Last year I read the third in the series, Havana Requiem, which won the 2013 Harper Lee Book Prize. This spring it is the second, A Patent Lie.

The book opens with Seeley having left his big New York City firm to return to his hometown of Buffalo where he is a solo practitioner. It is hard to imagine a more dramatic change in a litigator’s legal life. From working with teams of associates and paralegals to conduct huge trials for immense legal fees he is now representing individuals seeking thousands of dollars in cases such as breach of civil rights by the police. Seeley has a middle aged part-time secretary and a cranky radiator in his office. He has become one of the thousands of American lawyers scrambling to find enough clients to make a living. He is reasonably content and has stopped drinking.

To his office comes his brother, Leonard Seeley, a doctor who has left medical practice to join an emerging biotech company, Vaxtek, which has invented a patented form of vaccine against AIDS.

Leonard is on a quest to have his brother take over the lead chair in a case launched by Vaxtek in San Francisco against St. Gall, a major international pharmaceutical based in Switzerland for patent infringement.

The trial is but two weeks away. Vaxtek needs a new lawyer as Bob Pearsall, the man who put together the case, has died in what has been ruled suicide when he was hit by a train.

Vaxtek demands a lawyer with national level experience in patent litigation to represent them. They will not allow a junior or even a partner at Pearsall’s firm to take over the case. The future of Vaxtek rests on winning the case. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake in the case.

With no lawyers available in San Francisco who could lead Leonard is reaching out to his brother who has handled comparably sized patent cases in New York City. Still it is improbable that Seeley’s younger brother would seek him out. Seeley had left his family at 15 and has had infrequent contact with his brother for decades.

Few lawyers can resist a challenge and the stroking of their ego that they are the perfect lawyer for a case. Seeley is soon on his way to San Francisco.

While an unlikely scenario to take over a case at that time it has enough plausibility to be credible. My next post will touch upon some AIDS litigation in my past.

The case has all been assembled. Much of the case is simply presenting the evidence and arguments. It needs an experienced lawyer to deal with the cross-examinations of opposing witnesses and the surprises that inevitably occur in a trial.

On his arrival Seeley is coolly welcomed by the second chair, Chris Palmieri. He understands Palmieri is not excited about the interloper from the East but Palmieri seems unnecessarily frosty.

In the rush of final trial preparation Seeley is uncomfortable that there is not a deposition of the researcher, Lily Warren, who had claimed to discover the vaccine for St. Gall ahead of Vaxtek. Seeley is startled to see St. Gall has stipulated that Vaxtek is first.

Seeley finds himself troubled about an admission that puts St. Gall at such a disadvantage in the case. Whichever claimant is first in a patent case has a powerful position.

From this slender thread the plot spins out into a court room thriller unlike any other I have read.
I am sure Goldstein is an excellent law professor. His explanations of legal concepts in the abstruse area of patent law are clear and easily understood.

Once again Goldstein has made intellectual law exciting and interesting.


  1. Bill - It certainly sounds that way. I give credit to authors who can make possibly-implausible scenarios work and come across as authentic. And I think it helps when the author has expertise, as Godstein has legal expertise. I'll be very interested in what you have to say about AIDS-related litigation.

    1. Margot: Goldstein is skilled at finding legal plots that are interesting.

  2. That sounds intriguing, and if you (with all your expertise at both law and legal thrillers) say it is like no other, then I'm impressed!

    1. Moira: It is not often I encounter a legal scenario I have not read about in fiction or real life.