Elliot Perlman’s Maybe the Horse Will Talk is entirely different from his other books I have read – Three Dollars and Seven Types of Ambiguity.
This one was a romp through the legal world, taking no prisoners as Perlman drew on his experience of the profession.
The story centres on Stephen Maserov, who is desperately scared of losing a job that he doesn’t like. As a second year lawyer at successful law firm Freely Savage Carter Blanche (you can get an idea of the tone of the book from this along), he is frightened of the partners in the firm and certain he will be fired.
And so, when the opportunity to take a risk and save his career arises, he takes a huge leap. The opportunity comes in the form of a sexual harassment case against the firm’s biggest client.
As he tries to find a solution to the messy case, he encounters some interesting characters from the corporate and legal worlds.
He also deals with some equally messy relationships, including his own with his wife, from whom he has separated.
In many ways, the human relationships stand as a stark contrast to the cynical and brutal professional world. Throughout the book, I wished that Maserov would find a new job where he wasn’t so strung out. Or even take a nice holiday in the sun.
However, the frenetic pace of the novel reflects that of the legal world, and its relentless drive for results, where the top lawyers charge by the minute.
Perlman is dryly funny, and this book was an alarming and enjoyable exploration of the legal world. It might also serve as a kind of warning to anyone who might be interested in the profession.