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The Legal Limit

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  399 ratings  ·  106 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

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Hardcover, Large Print, 645 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Thorndike Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 799)
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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!
Leslie
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
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Nancy
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
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

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Pierre
Aug 26, 2008 Pierre rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Joyce
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.
Lynne
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
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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
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TexasMargarita
May be my new favorite write- he is like John Grisham with a sense of humor.
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
Eric_W
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
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Patti
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
Maureen
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
Jeanne
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
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Elise
The dialogue can be overwrought at times, but the witty, clever banter is so much fun to read, particularly between Mason & Custis. Clark does such a good job evoking life in small Southern towns and his ear for the customs & dialects is pitch perfect. I earmarked the following quote just because it rang true to me, but don't let the somber tone fool you, this book at times, is quite funny.

On Mason's mother staying in an abusive marriage: "And yet Sadie Grace stayed. She stayed because s
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Jen
Mason & Gates Hunt have a tough childhood. Their father is abusive and then runs out on their mother after years of torturous behavior.

However, Mason grows up to be a successful lawyer, husband and father. Gates, on the other hand, goes on to be a drug dealer & murderer.

On one fateul night, while Mason is in law school, he visits his brother. He is supposed to help him move some furniture. Yet, he actually witnesses his brother kill his girlfriend's admirer on a desolate country road.

Ma
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Mary Beth
This is one of the best books I've read in a while. It is the story of two brothers raised by an awful and abusive father. One brother overcomes his past and the other goes to the dogs. Gates, a compulsive felon, kills a man in the presence of Mason, who is in law school. They decide to cover up the crime and Mason agrees to provide his brother with an alibi. Years later, Gates is sent to prison on serious drug charges. Mason says there is nothing he can do to help his brother because he has bee ...more
Alicia
Densely characterized and plotted Southern Gothic legal fiction. I wouldn't call this a thriller, per se, but it is intense and surprisingly driving, considering the meandering and somewhat lazy narrative. Thoroughly engaging and lively characters populating a wonderful story about life gone wrong, and life gone right. I just got lost in the prose - very evocative and "homey".

I hate all of the comparisons to John Grisham this book has gotten, because, really, if a book is written about some aspe
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Carol
I never read anything by this author before, but I enjoy legal thrillers and stories. The characters were engaging and the story kept my interest. I didn't like the ending because I wanted a certain character to suffer and recognize his shortcomings. That was not to be, but I still liked how the author tied up the loose ends. Not really a "thriller," but a good story.
Laura Belgrave
Almost from the start, I had at least some trouble putting this book down. Two-thirds of the way through, I really couldn’t. It’s that good. This is such a different book than Martin Clark’s first novel, -- which I didn’t much like -- that I almost couldn’t believe it was from the same author.

Anyway, the story is a legal thriller, yet so much more. It involves two brothers who share the same tortured childhood, but take different paths as adults. Their childhood bonds break on one tragic night
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Juuso
This character heavy literary courtroom thriller is less about the plot and more about the magnificent vernacular and the southern athmosphere. Thriller, perhaps, is a word too strong to be used here, but Clark's novel defenately is one hell of a page turner.

Characrerizations are the main attraction here, but unfotunately that's where the problems lie too. A few times too often potrayals of people are drawn from the well of simplistic clichés and stereotypes. For example, distressed teen girl st
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Kelly Such
I thought this was a good book. I can't believe that it is based on real life events. It was interesting to read how lawyers go about finding and twisting evidence.
Steve
A review on the book's cover said - "Clark(is) not only the thinking man's John Grisham but, maybee better the drinking man's." After reading the book I don't really know what to make of that reviewer's comments. The story line centers on two brothers and a covered up murder. It is a very complex story with the main character going through a wide variety of struggles in life. Actually, I don't know how many other problems could have been visited on Mason without changing his name to Job. The boo ...more
Judy Vasseur
Aug 25, 2008 Judy Vasseur rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: criminals, the families of criminals, judges, lawyers
More wacky legal entanglements from a real-life judge. This third book of his is different—based on a real case, much is true to fact.

But much is deliciously vintage Martin Clark's viewpoint of law and order: the convict's underbelly white prison pallor and distinctive odor, wire-tapping schemes, evasive lie-detector test techniques ( taking valium, biting your tongue, slicing your toe...who knew?!....but they don't really work )

If I were in a legal scrape, I'd want Martin Clark to judge my cas
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Meg
Excellent book by an author the NY Times calls "not only the thinking man's John Grisham, but the drinking man's." My friends/realtors down here in Richmond gave me the book as their cousin, a judge in VA, wrote it (we were invited to the book release party but couldn't make it so Ed and Nancy had him sign a copy for us. And if you read the acknowledgments he mentions Ed and Nancy Turner, our realtors!)It's an interesting, fast-paced read written very smartly and with much humor throughout. It i ...more
Judy
This was a very good book and I found it hard to put down. I hope to read more of Mr Clark's work.
Jessica
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.
Rhonda
Good reading -- at times, too detailed but worthwhile
Jo
REALLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK AND WANT TO READ MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR.
Kim Knapek
it's been awhile since i read this book, but it was GREAT! Very different! I grabbed it off the "NEW BOOKS" shelf at the library. It's about two brothers......one a lawyer and the other a trouble maker.....two very different people. Their lives get intertwined with an "incident". Brothers blood runs deep (brothers for life), but this situation is impossible to imagine happening. I recall that the author is an ex-judge and was encouraged to write about all the STUFF he sees in the courtroom, so I ...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
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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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