Review

The Up and Comer

by Howard Roughan



Philip Randall is a walking template for lawyer jokes. He is
corrupt, greedy, grasping, shallow. If he were running with a sharp
stick, you would root for him to trip and for sticks to do what
they do best. You would also, should you find yourself in a
courtroom on the wrong side of the bench, wish him to be on the
wrong side of the bench with you. Randall, as I ever-so-cleverly
neglected to mentioned, is brilliant, quick, and handsome as well.
Blessed with an intellect and endowed with a work ethic, he is THE
UP AND COMER in the A-list firm of Campbell and Devine. He is
married to a beautiful woman whose daddy's rich and whose mommy's
good-lookin', and daddy, in order to keep his daughter happy, keeps
her not wanting for anything; he buys the couple a nice condo in
Manhattan and refers clients to Randall's firm on a regular
basis.

All of this, of course, is not enough for Randall. He must also
have an affair with the wife of his best friend. Yes, even though
Randall is not wanting for action at home he is still, as they say,
eating out at lunchtime, meeting his paramour two or three times a
week at a hotel where he is known by name. He is comfortable
enough, and brazen enough, that he and his wife meet with his best
friend and his wife/girlfriend for dinner a couple of times a
month. In the meantime, Randall is doing all things perfectly ---
winning cases, schmoozing his senior partner and in-laws, and
living what appears to be the perfect life.

Then, one day, Randall gets a call from a former acquaintance from
prep school who informs Randall that they need to talk. The
acquaintance, a weird, on-the-border character named Tyler Mills,
knows all about Randall's delictos flagrantes --- and can
prove it. Randall's perfect, shallow little life begins to unravel
as Mills threatens him with blackmail. Randall decides to resolve
the matter and does so the same way in which he does everything
else: perfectly. But his troubles are only just beginning.

Howard Roughan is listed as the author of THE UP AND COMER. If it
were to develop down the road a piece that this is yet another
pseudonym for Donald Westlake, I wouldn't be surprised. Roughan's
writing is that good. He also has the ability, like Westlake, to
combine comedic elements with serious matters. There were times
while I was reading THE UP AND COMER that I was howling with
laughter while almost falling off the edge of my seat. At the same
time, Roughan plots so well, and so simply, that in the end
everyone gets what they deserve. Well, almost everyone.

The title THE UP AND COMER applies not only to Philip Randall but
also to the book itself. This is one novel that is going to get
passed around, read, reread and talked about. The title does not
apply, however, to the author. If Roughan's aim was to be a great
writer, he's not an up-and-comer. He's already there. And then
some.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

The Up and Comer
by Howard Roughan

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446612103
  • ISBN-13: 9780446612104