Tidings from the Crew – death on a high floor (Charles Rosenberg)

Ahoy there mateys!  Though the First Mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do recommend books to each other.  Books the First Mate introduced to me included xom-bholes, and the perks of being a wallflower.  He and I both read the following:

death on a high floor (Charles Rosenburg)

We read and talked about the book and I enjoyed his viewpoint so I ordered asked him to write a review.  So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew.  Please note that I write like I talk and the First Mate writes like he thinks.  Hope you enjoy!

From the Captain:

Robert Tarza is a partner in a large law firm who arrives at work one morning to discover his managing partner dead on the floor with a knife in his back.  And, of course, he becomes the main suspect.  I listened to this one on audio book read by Christopher Lane.  It was a ton of fun.  To be fair, ye have to take the trial and legal elements with several grains of salt.  Also the ending is not the best.  The characters and zany plot are the highlights.

Robert is in his 60s and ends up getting in the way of his own investigation by not following his own rules despite his decades of a successful legal career.  He knows he is innocent and has a lot of trouble fathoming the true mess that he finds himself in.  He makes for an excellent and funny narrator of his own story.  I loved the majority of the other characters through Robert’s assistant Jenna was a bit much most of the time.  “Top Quark” was one of my favorite characters.

I also surprisingly liked the side plots involving coin collecting.  This book is silly but I am very glad I read it.  Arrrrr!

Side Note: Apparently this book was the first in a series.  The First Mate has not read those but has read the author’s “Write to Die” which he enjoyed and owns on audio book.  I will give that a shot at some point.

From the First Mate:

Not being a huge fan of legal procedurals, I found Death On a High Floor to be a surprisingly fun adventure through the twisting corridors of a high-power Los Angeles law firm, the fascinating weirdness of historical coin collecting, elements of the pacific drug trade, and eccentric characters who populate all of those worlds.  Witty, fun, often absurd but always compelling, the book kept a smile on my face for almost the entirety of my reading.

Our protagonist, Robert Tarza, is a sixty-year-old partner at a law firm and he’s just stumbled into a significant problem. He’s come to work one morning to discover the managing partner dead and Robert is the prime suspect. It takes Robert a surprisingly long time to start taking the situation seriously; after all, he didn’t do it, so what does he have to fear? And though he’s a skilled attorney with decades of experience, Robert can’t stop himself from continuously making his situation worse. Much of the hilarity of the book comes from our protagonist knowing he shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing, having his legal counsel question him why he did what he did, and him having no good answer other than it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Robert is a bit of an arrogant snob, but he’s also quirky and very loyal to his people. We get the impression that he’s more or less been coasting on past success for a while. He’s comfortable in his life and the chaos that a very public murder trial adds is amusingly disruptive. Robert doesn’t take the disruptions without a fight.

In addition to the weirdly fascinating protagonist, Death On a High Floor is populated with a bizarre collection of characters that range from Robert’s almost impossibly brilliant and effective protégé, Jenna, to a unique gentleman who once went by the name “Top Quark” but no longer does so. We meet an ancient antique coin dealer who may have key knowledge about the motive for murder, but who also wants to talk about fifty-year-old baseball games. Robert hires the defense attorney who does calisthenics to prevent himself from physically assaulting his clients. And there’s also one of the most enjoyably affable private investigators I’ve encountered in fiction in quite some time.

Prior to writing fiction, Rosenberg was a legal consultant on Boston Legal and, if you’re familiar with that show, the absurdist legal elements of this novel won’t surprise you. While I wouldn’t say there’s anything here that’s legally absurd, it would be polite to describe some of what happens in the novel to be a little far-fetched. Although, I have to admit that I am not too familiar with the Los Angeles legal system, so it could also be right on the money. I just know that I found it all highly entertaining.

Death On a High Flood feels in some ways like the synthesis of decades of anecdotes from working in a multinational law firm. The stories of backstabbing, the affairs, the quirky hobbies, the strained relationships with lawyers who attempted to join the firm but were denied, the uneasy relationship between the police and defense counsel, and the endless politics inherent to any loci of power and money. I just found it surprising that the author had been law t.v. adjacent since being a commentator on the O.J. Simpson trial. Just not what I was expecting from the feel of the book.

If the book has a major flaw, though, it’s the ending. Really good build up that doesn’t quite pay off. I don’t feel that the soft ending overly hurts the book, as the rest of the book is so much fun.

Recommended for fans of legal procedurals or anyone who enjoyed the tone of Boston Legal. Avoid if a soft ending ruins a book for you or dubious reality in legal matters annoys.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

When the much-despised Marbury Marfan senior partner Simon Rafer turns up dead, with an ornate dagger buried between his shoulder blades, it comes as a surprise to no one. Simon was an abusive boss and had recently been on the warpath, clearing the “dead wood” from the legal firm he treated as his personal fiefdom. Nearly a thousand attorneys and associates, scattered across four continents, had good reason to want Rafer dead, but homicide Detective Spritz has his eye trained on Marbury Marfan partner Robert Tarza, in particular. Tarza and his friend and colleague—and maybe a bit more—Jenna are soon forced to play detective themselves, in a race to find the real killer or killers before Spritz finishes assembling a collection of evidence that will make a very credible case against Tarza.

To visit the author’s website go to
Charles Rosenberg – Author

To buy the novel visit:
death on a high floor – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:
Yer Ports for Plunder List


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