Book Review: Clean Hands by Patrick Hoffman
By Ray PalenJuly 11, 2020
When Corporate lawyer Elizabeth Carlyle learns that one of her junior associates has lost his phone―and the secret documents that are central to the most high-stakes case in company history that were on it―she needs help. Badly.
Clean Hands opens with a video-tape being reviewed by an investigator named Michael D’Angelo. He works as an in-house investigator for Carlyle, Driscoll, and Hathaway—one of the top firms in NYC. His focus in examining these videos is to observe one of the junior lawyers from the firm, Chris Cowley, as he is pick-pocketed on the busy Manhattan streets. The most valuable item taken was his cell phone which he kept in the inside breast pocket of his jacket. This would normally not be a big deal, however, Chris was carrying highly sensitive documents from the top client of the firm, Calcott Corporation. If these hot documents got into the wrong hands it could cause extreme damage to the firm if not bring it down entirely.
At the center of the controversy is the current case Emerson v. Calcott, a federal civil suit between two banks that represented the majority of billable hours for the firm. Upon being pick-pocketed, Chris immediately goes to Elizabeth Carlyle, head of the firm and she gets D’Angelo involved. They realize they need some extra-special help in this situation and will go to any lengths to get that cell phone and the sensitive information on it back before it is sold into the hands of their enemies. Elizabeth Carlyle immediately knows who she needs to turn to and that person is Valencia Walker. Valencia has a background as not only an attorney but also as a consultant for an international firm. Now, she and her colleagues only take on special cases as their collective skill-set is highly in demand for situations like the one Elizabeth Carlyle and her firm are in.
The first person Valencia contacts on her team is a man named Milton Frazier, ex-CIA and Special Forces. Next on the case are Billy and Danny, two of her most skilled men at finding lost things and expert hacking. It is not long before they identify the pick-pocket as a Chinese man named Ren Xiong. Following the trail of the phone and where it goes to from here practically requires a flow-chart. Its final destination is in the hands of some young wannabe hot-shots from Brooklyn who plan to hold the phone for ransom from the Carlyle law firm. During all of this, young Chris Cowley is just trying to keep his head down and not get fired. That is until an anonymous man approaches him and threatens him with blackmail on all the underage gay porn he has on his computer. When the man informs Chris that he now works for them, he has no choice but to comply.
Elizabeth Carlyle is contacted about a drop site for the ransom money and leaves everything up to Valencia and her team to handle it. Unfortunately, they get played badly as the young thieves used an underground tunnel system beneath the garbage bin where the money was dropped and got away without a trace. For Valencia Walker, things had just gotten personal. She finds out that the lads who played them are the nephews of a powerful figure in the Russian crime syndicate in Brooklyn. Valencia has a sit-down dinner with Yakov Rabinowitz and outlines the situation. Although Rabinowitz finds it hard to believe that his nephews would be involved in such nefarious shenanigans, he agrees that things need to be set right.
If you think things will clean up nicely at this point, you are sadly mistaken. You see, Clean Hands is written by Patrick Hoffman, writer and private investigator from Brooklyn. A previous finalist for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, he has plenty more tricks up his sleeves before this story is finally at an end.