Film (LBJ) and television (The Good Fight) writer Joey Hartstone draws upon a real-life legal situation in The Local, his striking debut novel that delves into the legal system, big business, racism and small-town life. Hartstone finds inspiration in the towns in the Eastern District of Texas that became the leading jurisdiction for intellectual property litigation.
James Euchre is a successful patent attorney in his hometown of Marshall, Tex., where federal judge Gerald Gardner has set up the template for these trials. The litigations attract high-powered lawyers from bigger cities expecting to receive enormous payouts for their clients. But big-city lawyers bring big-city attitudes, including a disdain for the small-town residents who serve on the juries and are often uneducated. That is where Euchre comes in: he's "the local" attorney to whom the jury is able to relate. When his latest client, tech entrepreneur Amir Zawar, is accused of fatally stabbing Gardner, Euchre is forced to defend him. Euchre resents this new role, as Gardner was his mentor and father figure. Euchre almost hopes he loses this case, but he doesn't want a conviction reversed on appeal.
Hartstone imbues The Local with a credible view of the law and a believable protagonist. At first, Euchre appears to have simple needs--work and binge drinking between cases. But he develops into a fully dimensional character, fueled by an adversarial relationship with his father and a fear that small-town life has left him emotionally stagnant. Hartstone shows that life in a small town can be as nuanced as any urban area. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer