No one is surprised when Simon Rafer, the much-despised managing partner in the large international law firm, Marbury Marfan, turns up dead – with an ornate dagger buried between his shoulder blades. Rafer, an abusive boss, had many enemies, but the prime suspect becomes firm senior partner Robert Tarza, at least according to one Detective Spritz. With Jenna James, his friend and colleague, Tarza sets out to find the real killer or killers before Spritz assembles enough evidence to put Tarza away for life.
That’s the supercharged premise of attorney-writer-legal analyst Charles “Chuck” Rosenberg’s first novel, DEATH ON A HIGH FLOOR. But wait, there’s more. The plot also revolves around an infamous ancient Roman coin, the “EID MAR” (Ides of March) denarius, which Brutus struck, complete with double daggers on the back, and handed out to his troops to celebrate his assassination of Julius Caesar. The question becomes, is it real or fake? Call it “Presumed Innocent” meets “The Da Vinci Code.”
Rosenberg, who has extensive experience as a legal script consultant to prime-time TV legal dramas, has been inspired by best-selling legal thriller writers like Scott Turow and John Grisham, but equally by TV producers like Stephen Bochco (“L.A. Law,” “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue”) and David E. Kelley (“The Practice,” “Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal,” Harry’s Law”), as well as old time detectives like John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. He also provided full time legal analysis for E! Entertainment Television’s live coverage of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial as well as commentary for E!’s coverage of the Simpson civil trial. He started writing DEATH ON A HIGH FLOOR in the mid-2000s.
“The novel was in some ways an attempt to integrate several parts of my life – working as a lawyer, covering the Simpson trial for TV, consulting on dramatic TV scripts, etc.,” Rosenberg says. “I’ve been involved in trial work, but I’ve also taught a lot of adjunct law courses, including Law and Popular Culture – a course about the image of lawyers in the media and how accurately lawyers are depicted in the movies and on TV. So in writing my own novel I had the special challenge of being as accurate as I could be within the constraints of fiction.”
The novel’s title stems from the fact that glitzy, high-end law firms, such as the one Rosenberg describes, “are always on the high floors of tall buildings,” he says. “In many ways, this is a fall-from-grace novel. Tarza, accused of murder, in a sense falls from high up, socially and financially, because of that. He eventually ends up with an eccentric criminal defense lawyer from what you might call the low-floors.”
The appeal to readers of DEATH ON A HIGH FLOOR is simple, Rosenberg maintains. “There’s a large market for courtroom dramas. Lots of people like them because courtrooms are the perfect place for drama – conflict and resolution, all in one small room.” Rosenberg also hints that there will be a sequel to DEATH ON A HIGH FLOOR.
About the Author:
Charles B. (”Chuck”) Rosenberg has been the credited legal script consultant to three prime time television shows: L.A. Law, The Practice and Boston Legal, as well as The Paper Chase (Showtime).
During the O .J. Simpson criminal trial, he was one of two on-air legal analysts for E! Entertainment Television’s live coverage of the trial. He also provided commentary for E!’s coverage of the Simpson civil trial. He is also the author of the book The Trial of O.J. Simpson: How to Watch the Trial and Understand What’s Really Going On (Publishing Partners 1994) and is a contributing author to the book Lawyers in Your Living Room! Law on Television (ABA Publishing 2009).
He has taught extensively as an adjunct law professor, including at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, the Loyola Law School International LLM Program in Bologna, Italy, the UCLA School of Law, the Pepperdine School of Law, and the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA.
A graduate of the Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Chuck currently practices in the Los Angeles area. He has been a partner in several law firms, including a large international firm. Currently, he is a partner in a three-lawyer firm. Chuck and his wife have lived in Los Angeles since the early 1970s. He is at work on a second novel.
His latest novel is Death on a High Floor.