DiscoverMystery & Crime

Occupational Hazard


Loved it! 😍

When a lawyer is canned from his firm, he is looking for a little retribution. What better way than to help a woman fight for her rights?


Revisit the mean streets of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN with this tale about two cousins--a lawyer and a semi-reformed Mafioso, who grew up back in the day on those same mean streets of South Brooklyn—who team up against a powerful and conniving bully to seek justice for a woman who says the bully impregnated her and fathered a child.

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Alex S. Avitabile for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

With two of Alex Avitabile’s books to read, I thought I would jump into this series head-on and hope for the best. Al Forte is a hard-working lawyer, but has a bad feeling about his firm’s annual culling process. When he sits down with senior partner, Gordon Gilbert, his worst fears are realised. Forte is told that his services are no longer needed and given two weeks to tie-up all his work. When he is sent on his way, Forte receives a call from another former colleague with a legal concern. Mary Woodley was once a receptionist at the firm and found herself in a compromising position with Gordon Gilbert. While she admits that she was a willing participant in their sexual encounter, she was dismissed soon after it was discovered that she was pregnant. Seeking child support and an acknowledgement of Gilbert’s paternity, Woodley asks Forte to help. Having spent his entire legal career in real estate law, Forte is not well-versed in what to do, but will do his best and ask around. When no one else can help run the case, Forte takes the lead, turning to his cousin, Mick, to help with some of the darker sides of the law. With Al pushing for a paternity test and a reasonable child support payment, Gilbert does all he can to stonewall, using the high-priced attorneys one would expect a man of his caliber to have on retainer. Al and Mick do their best to prepare Mary for the hearing, but some sleight of hand lands Al in jail for breaching the confidentiality of the issue at hand. Working to ensure Gordon Gilbert does not get the upper hand again, Al and Mick Forte will do anything they can, even if it means bending the rules. A decent legal thriller, lighter than what I am used to reading, it is surely a great way to spend an afternoon of reading. Recommended to those who like quick novels that can be devoured in short order, as well as the reader who enjoys a legal thriller with a twist.

I was pleased with this series debut, which allowed me to learn a little more about Alex S. Avitabile and his handful of interesting characters. Al Forte is a character whose interest in the law is second only to wanting to save face. After his dismissal, Forte seeks to right the wrongs that have befallen him and the client who falls into his lap. Cunning and willing to work outside the box, Al Forte calls on his cousin, Mick, to help in some of the grey areas of the law. Their partnership is sure to work well throughout the series, as Avitabile weaves a great connection between these two. Other characters emerge throughout this piece, which keeps the narrative moving effectively while entertaining the reader. These characters, some of whom I hope to see again, provide different angles to a story that is light, while being serious in some regards. While Avitabile is not seeking to create a hard-core legal thriller, he does well with this piece, pushing a serious issue while also adding momentum with each chapter. Avitabile is able to convey his point quickly and uses short chapters to keep the reader wanting to read a little more. I was able to read this in a single day and am eager to read the second book in the series, as the writing is easy to digest and the characters somewhat relatable. 

Kudos, Mr. Avitabile, for this great series debut. I will move to the next book in the series to see if things are just as good. 

Reviewed by

I love to read and review all sorts of books. My passion is crime and thrillers, but there are so many other genres that pique my attention.

While I am not a full-time reader, I try to dedicate as much time to my passion as possible, as can be seen on my blog and Goodreads.


Revisit the mean streets of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN with this tale about two cousins--a lawyer and a semi-reformed Mafioso, who grew up back in the day on those same mean streets of South Brooklyn—who team up against a powerful and conniving bully to seek justice for a woman who says the bully impregnated her and fathered a child.


Ciao, Baby!”


“You’re out!” Gordon Gilbert bellows as I sit down.

I’m out? What is this asshole talking about? Could he be referring to that play at the firm’s picnic where he pretended that he hadn’t dropped the ball while trying to tag me. One of the other partners had to mediate the call, and I was declared safe at third, having legged out a nifty triple.

But he couldn’t, he wouldn’t, be referring to that play.

Annual reviews at the law firm of Gilbert & Associates, PLLP happen during the late summer/early autumn, always unannounced, despite the countless management team firm-wide emails and its blog. G&A, as we referred to the firm (note the absence of “affectionately” in that phrase), was a law firm of some 350 attorneys, distributed about in the five offices G&A maintained across the US. Most of us were at its headquarters here in New York City, where I am employed, when I was summoned to Gordon Gilbert’s office on the Wednesday after Labor Day.

G&A started about twelve years ago as a 30-attorney real estate boutique, founded by Gordon Gilbert, Joan Zakorski and two other attorneys who are no longer with the firm. These four lawyers left the real estate department of a prestigious Wall Street firm to create a law practice where they alone would decide how it is run, whom it would service and, perhaps most importantly, how the firm’s collections would be divided.

The acknowledged leader of the four is Gilbert, a brilliant attorney with no equal in analytical skills and a great understanding of all aspects of real estate law and practice. Gilbert is a shrewd, cutthroat negotiator who can be outgoing and affable when he wants to be but, deep down, is egotistical, bombastic, and power-hungry. He is someone who has no patience for disagreement and who takes no prisoners.

All these attributes contributed to Gilbert’s ability to build a national firm of exceptional prominence, by raiding other firms of their rainmakers and merging with top firms in strategically located markets across the US. The acknowledged leader of this much larger, diverse firm remained Gilbert. Among the heavy hitters, Gilbert was a home run hitter. Among the rainmakers, he created torrents, while the others made it drizzle.

And Gilbert’s power was not limited to G&A. He was held in high esteem in the larger legal community and wielded vast influence with local and national bar associations. His legal prowess attracted significant clients with on-going projects that kept G&A partners and associates humming virtually around the clock, and which put Gilbert in a position of influence with the major players. All of which made him a power broker not only within the private sector but in the public sector as well. Politicians and wanna-be politicians sought his support. He had a say in who would be nominated for elected positions and who would get governmental agency appointments, including the selection of judges.

At G&A’s headquarters, annual reviews became known as associates were quietly marshaled, one at a time, into Gilbert’s office where each one was grilled and chastised by Gilbert and several other partners. Each associate walked out ashen faced and with drooping shoulders, having been knocked around, mostly by Gilbert. Luckily, compensation for the following calendar year was not at issue at these sessions. Luckier still, compensation decisions were determined by the Human Resources Committee, from which Gilbert was intentionally excluded. To quell a partner revolt against his dictatorial powers a few years back, it was decided that three partners, none named Gordon Gilbert, would oversee HR matters. However, to appease Gilbert, he was given the last say on hiring and the first say on firing. Nevertheless, as partners allied with (and beholden to) Gilbert relinquished what little power they had, Gilbert’s power base was in fact strengthened.

As I sit there that fateful Wednesday, Gilbert is in the process of exercising the first-say power vested in him.

“You’re out!” he repeats and then adds, “You must be out of here by two weeks from this Friday. That means that all work presently pending must be satisfactorily completed, all the firm’s files in your possession properly organized, an appropriate exit memo drafted and signed off on by your supervising partner, and all of your personal crap packed up and removed from the premises.”

“I’m fired?” I inquire.

“Yes. You are fired, let go, terminated, however you want to put it. Banished!” Gilbert shouts.

“Can you give me a clue why? I wasn’t aware that my work was unsatisfactory.”

“You want to know why? I will tell you why,” Gilbert says. “Because you are a candy-ass pansy and I do not like you and your liberal ways. ‘Fair this,’ ‘equity that,’ ‘inequality’ here, there and everywhere. You put all this nonsense into the heads of the other associates. You are a terrible influence on them and I can’t stand to have you here any longer. You can’t seem to get into that thick wop skull of yours that fair is what I say is fair and is in our clients’ best interests.”

The other partners blanch a bit on the mention of “wop,” but I let it slide.

“I’m only aware of clients being satisfied with my work,” I say.

“That’s because the only clients we give you face time with are those do-gooders, the non-profits or the for-profit fools, involved in the development of affordable housing. Luckily, there’s a few bucks to be made in those deals. I’ve decided I no longer want you to take up any of my space. Besides, you’re not G&A partner material.”

After about seven years of practice, attorneys at firms are either elevated to partner or let go. I had worked several years for a small firm before making a lateral move to G&A.

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“Fuck you, sorry. Just get your shit together and make sure you are out of here in two weeks and two days. And if you fail to fully comply with the terms I outlined, you’ll be docked whatever remaining pay you’re otherwise owed.”

“How about severance?” I state more than ask, as I know that is firm policy.

“Severance? You’re not getting shit!”

“Excuse me, Gordon, but severance is a decision within the domain of the HR Committee and Al will need to take it up with them,” wimp of a partner, Joe Baker, meekly states.

“Whatever. I’m just glad that I need to be out of town the next 10 days or so and won’t have to see this asshole’s face more than a few more times.”

“Fuck you,” I blurt out uncontrollably under my breath.

“What did you just say?”

“Nothing,” I respond.

“Well, if you really didn’t say anything, I know you thought ‘Fuck you.’ Well, all I have left to say is: Ciao, baby! —and a very good riddance.”


About the author

Alex S. Avitabile retired as an attorney before writing the Brooklyn tales of his Al and Mick Forte crime fiction series. Alex grew up and lived most of his life in what used to be referred to as South Brooklyn, in the sections thereof now known as Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill. view profile

Published on September 07, 2018

Published by

50000 words

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Reviewed by

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