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The Legal Limit

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  438 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Martin Clark’s most remarkable novel yet is the gripping, complex story of a murder cover-up that wreaks widespread havoc even as it redefines the concept of justice—a relentlessly entertaining saga that delves deeply into matters at once ambiguous and essential.

While Gates Hunt chose to fight his abusive father head-on, his younger brother, Mason, eventually escaped their
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 864)
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Suzanne Macartney
Something appealing about the characters and setting. Two brothers close growing-up and then further apart every year. Legal back-drop is kind of a bonus along with someone's full career arc. Another story with a credible workplace setting. I want more by this author!
I ordered The Jezebel Remedy by Judge Clark and then realized I'd never gotten around to reading The Legal Limit. I started this book the other day, and to be quite honest, I need to water and clean up the kitchen and do a million other things, but I just could NOT put down this book!

Full disclaimer: Judge Martin Clark is an incredibly gifted writer who has kindly given encouragement to others of us struggling to write. He has autographed books for me and been a prince to my former book group, s
The most entertainment value for me was that I'm a native of the county where Mr. Clark grew up and where this story is set. It's fun to see the names of people you know/knew and to try to guess at characters wearing aliases when you're reading a book with a background of your own area.

The plot is really kind of simple: two brothers grow up with an abusive father and the older brother protects the younger. Then on one fateful night the older brother commits a terrible crime and the younger brot
I found this to be a readable, credible, legal drama, unlike John Grisham's legal novels which go too far out of the legal bounds for me (a lawyer) to enjoy. The book is based on a true story in which the author, a Southern circuit court judge, played a role. I found the characters to be well-developed and real; even the good guys have their faults. The author does a great job of presenting the drama and moral issues following an impulsive crime and its coverup. An excellent read, if you like re ...more
Jan Mcclung-short
Excellent book. It isn't a book that is so filled with things going wrong that you can't put the book down, but because the characters are having a good time enjoying each others company and sentencing criminals.

This book is about having poor judgement and being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Two brothers are supposed to be cutting a tree for fire wood for their mom. The older brother decides to go deliver a dresser with his brother to his brothers girl friend. It's this one decision tha
Bookmarks Magazine

In this crime/legal thriller, Clark explores the boundaries between law and justice, sin and forgiveness, fraternal bonds and betrayal. Mason stands at the center of an ethical dilemma, but he is no less compelling than his brother, their mother, and even Mason's partner. Clark "draws characters as well as Scott Turow and crafts plots as well as John Grisham," notes the Oregonian, but reviewers agreed that Clark's background has given him superior understanding of legal intricacies. Humor, sharp

I'm not sure where I read a review for this novel, and I don't know what appealed to me in that review. Why am I telling you this? Because this is not a very good book.

Basic plot: Mason and Gates Hunt were raised by their mother, Sadie Grace, and their father, Curt, a crazy tyrant. The boys were very protective of each other as a result of their father's violence. As they grow up, Mason becomes the successful brother, and Gates, well, doesn't. Mason becomes a lawyer, and Gates becomes a two-bit
Aug 26, 2008 Pierre rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Pierre by: New York Times Book Review Ad
I didn't make it past the second chapter. I expected a legal thriller, or a mystery, or a tale of intrigue -- but all I got was poor writing, like this sentence, that made the novel, impossible to read. Just because you are a judge in real life doesn't make you a good writer. Also, as a northerner, I couldn't relate to the southern characters very well. A good writer would have made me feel like a southerner. Further, the attention to unimportant detail kills the book: I don't care that the dude ...more
Cheryl Simmons
I enjoyed most of this book, but the ending was a let down. There are some thoughtful conversations and ideas about laws and justice that I thought gave the novel some depth. But then several of the plot lines were given short shrift by the author and left me feeling unsatisfied.
Martin Clark is an active judge is southern Virginia, and draws much of his content from his work. This makes for realistic stories rather than "Thrillers," and that's a good thing. Although The Legal Limit suffers a bit from several subplots too many (That's why reviews call it a "complex story") and some occasionally awkward writing, it's a good story about a murder cover-up and its aftermath. The characters feel real and have some depth, and the legal story is wrapped around real life. I wish ...more
Barb Daniel
This is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. I wish all of the books I read were as good as this one. Wonderful, interesting story, with many twists and turns. VERY well written, with wonderful characters (for the most part; a few were absolute scum of the earth). It certainly makes one wonder and think about the actions taken, and wonder what one would do under similar circumstances. No one is perfect and we try to deal with what is dealt us. Some end up scarred from what they've ...more
I think this guy is better than John Grisham and on a par with Scott Turow. He's a judge in rural Virginia and this is a legal thriller and Cain and Abel story that's full of interesting twists and turns. Like Turow, Clark creates an entire world and the characters are as rich as the story. Primarily, this is about two brothers, one on the right side of the law and one on the wrong. Relatives can be a real pain, as this story proves.
This author may be another John Grisham or even better. Mason, a lawyer, returns to his hometown to practice law. When he returns he has no idea of how difficult life will become. His wife dies, and he is left to care for his daughter. Also, his brother, who is always in trouble with the law, is sent to prison. Little does he realize how evil his brother is. Great read.
Excellent writing and I understand why the NY Times Magazine said, "Clark is not only the thinking man's John Grisham but, maybe better, the drinking man's." Written by a current state court judge, this novel lends weight to the notion that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, especially when the two are mixed.
Dallas Kersey
This is just one of the best-written books I have read in a few years. I forgot to add it to Goodreads.

The author has a special talent for creating get characters and really engaging the reader in those characters, bad ones and good ones.

I was so engaged in this novel, I read his others- his first and second.
First time with this author. It was a bit of a slow start, but it was an audio book and a long drive. I'm glad I stuck with it because the outcome was interesting and I really liked the characters.
Ann Harris
I'm a big fan of Martin Clark. Being very familiar with the area in which this story is based, it made the book all the more interesting to me. A very captivating read. I loved it.
I really enjoyed this book, although the first 20 pages or so seemed to drag a bit. The overall story had lots of interesting twists and turns, some challenging dilemmas, pretty good character development. Two brothers: one a skeezy unsympathetic drug-dealing sociopath and a younger brother who's an up-by-his-bootstraps lawyer who returns to their small Virginia hometown and becomes a pillar of his community. The relationships of the two brothers with each other as well as with other key charact ...more
Sep 05, 2013 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: legal
I normally don't care for legal thrillers but this one was great! I love this author. This book was based on a case where the author was the judge.
Kimberly Hicks
Apr 24, 2015 Kimberly Hicks rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Legal Thrill Seekers
Recommended to Kimberly by: Bookbub
Shelves: read-on-kindle
To see full review of this novel, please check on Sat., April 25, 2015.
Excellent book! Best mystery I have read in a long time. Very tense right up until the last.
Best book I've read in awhile. Sure kept me wanting to do nothing else but read it!
May be my new favorite write- he is like John Grisham with a sense of humor.
- every bit as good as Grisham!
- an excellent legal thriller!
Good reading -- at times, too detailed but worthwhile
Katie Moelter
Good legal drama
Just how far would you go to protect a brother or relative? Martin Clark's excellent novel examines the ethical dilemma faced by lawyer and commonwealth attorney, Mason Hunt. He has a desperate secret. He was always protected by his brother, Gates, from their abusive father. While being harassed by a local redneck, Gates, kills the man and Mason helps him cover up the secret. It's a secret that will come back to haunt him.

Gates gets into drugs and Mason finally decides he can no longer get him o
Mason Hunt takes a break from law school to visit his mother and older brother Gates in Stuart, Virginia. Although Gates protected Mason from their violent father in their youth, he no longer has any redeeming qualities. He's a reckless drunk who can't hold down a job. Mason, though, still feels a brotherly obligation, even when he witnesses Gates's cold-blooded murder of Wayne Thompson, who fancies Gates's girlfriend. Mason takes charge by establishing an alibi and disposing of the murder weapo ...more
This book was confused about what type of book it was meant to be; was it a legal thriller, a family saga or a morality tale? Obviously these things need not be mutually exclusive, but to dovetail all of these into one novel requires great skill and a deft touch and I simply did not find that here. The plot was muddled and never really found its footing. I was not particularly enamored with any of the characters and would often find myself, when resuming reading after having putting the book dow ...more
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Martin Clark is a Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Davidson College and a 1984 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. In 1992 he was appointed as a juvenile and domestic relations district court judge for the Twenty-first Judicial Circuit and currently serves as a circuit court judge for the Virginia counties of Patrick and Henry and the city of Martinsville, Virginia, a job h ...more
More about Martin Fillmore Clark...

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“(Mason) took a swig of his drink and shuddered. 'Whoa - little too strong there bartender.' He scrunched his face. 'Oh shit, I am the bartender.” 2 likes
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