What people are saying...
“Uncivil Liberties is a legal mystery/thriller novel written by Bernie Lambek. A man found her body while walking his dog in Mahady Park, a thousand-acre wilderness park neighboring Vermont’s capital, Montpelier. She was young, and her body twisted as if it had fallen from the ledge above them. He rushed off to call the cops who arrived quickly on the scene. Sergeant LaPorte, sadly, knew exactly who the victim was. He knew her and her mother, Deputy State’s Attorney Francine Loughlin, as did every other responder. How had this happened? No one had ever fallen or decided to take their life at this spot. The scrap of paper LaPorte found in Kerry’s handbag pointed to the tragic fact that Kerry had indeed chosen to end her life. Kerry had shown no indication of depression as she was growing up, but there was some evidence that bullying might have prompted her to take her own life.
Bernie Lambek’s Uncivil Liberties is a taut and compelling story about First Amendment rights and the impact they have on people’s everyday lives. The author’s experience as a practicing attorney for the last 25 years in Montpelier gives the reader first-hand insights into the challenges and pitfalls facing attorneys leading up to and during a trial. The issues of separation of church and state and the rights of the religious to openly condemn same sex couples play major roles as Sam Jacobson, a New York-born and New Haven-bred attorney turned Vermonter, and his law partner, Alicia Santana, represent clients often at odds with their own beliefs. The trial scenes are exciting and real; the characters intense and finely developed; and the story is moving and unforgettable. I closed the book feeling I had learned so much about Vermont and Vermonters as well as realizing more of the complexity of the First Amendment. Uncivil Liberties is most highly recommended.” Jack Magnus for Reader’s Favorite
"In this debut legal drama, a Vermont attorney defends the First Amendment in two cases, one of which involves the heartbreaking death of a high schooler.
The body of 17-year-old Kerry Pearson is discovered in Montpelier’s Mahady Park at the base of a sheer granite outcrop. The cause of death was a fall from the top of the cliff. There’s no sign of foul play, and after a note is found in her purse (“I can’t go on anymore. I’m sorry”), the tragedy is ruled a suicide. But Kerry’s mother finds a private Facebook message from Kerry’s friend Ricky Stillwell, a born-again Christian, telling her that being gay is a sin and that perhaps it would be best if she were outed at school. The school board decides that Ricky should be expelled even though his missive never appeared publicly and was written from his home computer. First Amendment advocate Sam Jacobson takes Ricky on as a client in his lawsuit against the school despite his horror at Ricky’s behavior. Sam is also representing Lucy Cross, who’s suing the town of Jefferson over its inclusion of an opening prayer at its annual town meeting; the case is scheduled to be heard by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City. Lambek has been a lawyer in Vermont for the past quarter-century, which allows him to bring a fine sense of authenticity to this tale. It’s a deftly nuanced, multilayered narrative that’s as much about the complex relationships among its many supporting characters as it is about courtroom maneuvers. For example, Sam’s law partner, Alicia Santana, is married to Barb Laval, who, in turn, is the assistant to high school principal Gayle Peters, who asks the firm to represent her in a lawsuit against the school board. He depicts Sam as someone who usually sees the glass as half-empty, and his mix of self-doubt and relentless devotion to family, friends, and principles is endearing. The courtroom preparations and arguments, laced with references to real-life cases, are satisfying and engaging, as well.
A novel with articulate, well-paced, and thoughtful social commentary—and a few surprises along the way."
"… a splendid legal mystery, with savvy political ethics and vivid characters . . . a great story. By roiling up subterfuge and bad behavior, Lambek subverts conventional notions of pastoral New England. … This is the edgy, noirish B-side of "Moonlight in Vermont."
Howard Norman, author My Darling Detective and The Bird Artist
"In a small New England town where everybody seems to know everyone else's business, people are forced to confront some of the most taboo moral issues of the day… An intriguing book, especially for addicts of courtroom drama. The interplay between the legal issues and protagonists is constantly interesting and surprising. Be prepared for shocks."
Simon Mawer, Man Booker Prize Shortlist, author The Glass Room and Tightrope
"…should be required reading in any law school curriculum, by any book
group that prizes good literature, by anyone who enjoys whodunits,
and by those who value common decency and friendship."
James Morse, retired Vermont Supreme Court Justice
"…an engrossing story about lawyers grappling with complex legal,
professional, and personal issues. Set in Vermont, Lambek’s entertaining
narrative follows an episodic path to an unpredictable conclusion. A great read!"
Stephen Wizner , William O. Douglas Clinical
Professor of Law at Yale Law School
"…a thoroughly engaging portrayal of Vermont's pot-holed road towards
a more civil society. Its characters entertain us, even as its narrative educates us."
Bill Schubart, author Lila & Theron
"The combination of what can only be perceived as real emotions and experiences with the fictional character renders Sam a truly believable and lovable character. ...Uncivil Liberties demonstrates so well how being true to the basic concept of free speech can put you squarely on opposite sides of politics and popular opinion..."
Jennifer Emens-Butler, Esq., Director of Education and Communication, Vermont Bar Association. Read the full review here!