Judge Martin Clark’s newest novel, The Legal Limit, is drawing favorable reviews in the national press.
Clark, who has been on the bench for 15 years, currently serves as a circuit court judge in Patrick and Henry Counties and the City of Martinsville. In a provocative introduction to his tale of two brothers, Clark says the story was prompted by his own involvement in a similar case that required him to balance a straight application of the law against doing justice.
Clark’s foreword also says local readers in Patrick County – population 20,000 – will recognize the prototypes for a number of the figures who populate his story of a prosecutor who broke the law to protect his brother. There are enough local lawyers to keep the informed reader guessing. Just who is the role model for the assistant prosecutor – that pop-culture icon the “magical Negro” – who serves as sidekick to the not-so-heroic hero?
Anyone who has played the parlor game of matching Clark’s colorful characters against lawyers practicing down near the North Carolina borderline is invited to send in their guesses for who’s who in the roman a clef.
But then again, considering how blurred the line between fact and fiction is in contemporary writing, the introduction may be just another clever come-on.
By Deborah Elkins