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Thursday, February 20, 2014

{Blog Tour} The Professor by Robert Bailey -- with review

The Professor
by Robert Bailey
Paperback, $14.99; eBook, $6.99
ISBN: 978-1909223585
Exhibit A Books, Jan. 28, 2014

“In trials, like sports, sometimes winning means everything…”

Thomas Jackson McMurtrie is a living legend scorned. Forty years ago, he gave up a promising career as a trial lawyer to become a law professor at the University of Alabama at the request of his mentor, Alabama football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Now Tom is forced into retirement, betrayed by both a powerful colleague and his own failing health.

Meanwhile the young family of one of his oldest friends is killed in a tragic road collision. Believing his career is over, Tom refers the case to a brilliant, yet beleaguered, former student, who begins to uncover the truth behind the tragedy, buried in a tangled web of arson, bribery and greed.

But as the eve of trial approaches, the young attorney’s case begins to unravel. In over his head and at the end of his rope, he realizes there’s only one man who can help…

“The Professor” is the first in a series of tense legal thrillers featuring the enthralling and brilliant legal team of McMurtrie and Drake, combining the thrills and authenticity of a John Grisham novel for the audience that flocked to “Friday Night Lights.”

Advance Praise

“‘The Professor’ is that rare combination of thrills, chills and heart. Gripping from the first page to the last.”
– Winston Groom, author of “Forrest Gump”

“Robert Bailey is a thriller writer to reckon with. His debut novel has a tight and twisty plot, vivid characters, and a pleasantly down-home sensibility that will remind some readers of adventures in Grisham-land. Luckily, Robert Bailey is an original, and his skill as a writer makes the Alabama setting all his own. THE PROFESSOR marks the beginning of a very promising career." -Mark Childress, author of “Crazy in Alabama” and “Georgia Bottoms”

“Legal thrillers shouldn’t be this much fun, and a new writer shouldn’t be this good at crafting a great twisty story. If you enjoy Grisham as much as I do, you’re going to love Robert Bailey.” – Brian Haig, author of the Sean Drummond series

“Robert Bailey is a southern writer in the great southern tradition, with a vivid sense of his environment and characters that pop and crackle on the page. This book kept me hooked all the way through.” – William Bernhardt, author of the Ben Kincaid series
 If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you would have come across me raving about the publishing house, Angry Robot and the subdivision Strange Chemistry (young adult). This is an Exhibit A book, another subdivision (is that even the right word? Imprint? I don't know. All I know is...CONTINUING TO BE AWESOME) of Angry Robot. I have not had a disappointing read from Angry Robot yet. I don't understand how this is possible at all, but it's come to the point where I'm barely reading blurbs. I just fall to my knees and beg for an ARC to read or just fork over money to buy the book.

This no exception to the Angry Robot Rocks A_TiffyFit's Socks rule. Incredibly satisfying, THE PROFESSOR revolves around legal drama and the human condition. Men and women alike will enjoy this superb, fantastic story. Can I toss in any more adjectives? Okay, but then I might lose your attention. Moving on...

The cast of characters, every single one, are relatable in that their personalities are recognizable as someone familiar to you, whether from your own life or movies, and that makes them believable. You connect with them in some way very quickly. They are incredibly well-developed and fully nuanced.

The main character of this story, the professor, is a man you wish all men were like. He is a man of great reputation, highly respected not only among his peers, but also by those who are outside of his career, well into their lives and life experiences: judges, other professors, students, businessman, townfolk in general, and many many more. Even with all of that kind of deference and minor "stardom", the professor remains a humble man of principle to the core of his being. He is a man who had loved his wife throughout their long marriage and continued to do so even long after her death, remaining loyal and loving of her still with memories. How can we, the women readers, not adore that and be wistful and wanting of the same? How can a male reader read that and not want to emulate?

The story opens around a law case and of a circumstance involving his professorship. Within this circumference, the reader gets to know him, the professor, Tom McMurtrie - ex-attorney, husband, father, and the man. The case and circumstance at the university where he teaches tests all that makes up the man, especially his honor and reputation. I found the courtroom scene suspenseful and heart-pounding. I was utterly captivated by this story and bruised my kindle turning the pages as I became deeply enraptured and involved.

As with all the great kindle bruising novels, there is of course the villain and his cronies whom you love to hate and wish on them a horrible end. These villains also spring from the page in these wholly recognizable, incredibly believable characters. You can't believe, at first, that they are real human beings and yet at the same time you know that they are.

Although you cannot wait for the end of this book to discover what has happened, you wouldn't dare skip a single word because you do not want to miss any of the deliciously palpable details. Not a morsel.

This is a must-read novel for me. One that I would recommend whole-heartedly to anyone who knows how to read. Yeah, that's right. Not just the genre junkies, but anyone. If I were teaching still, I'd probably make this a required reading of my high school students for the strength of character the professor has alone. This is one of those books that you want to read and discuss. And you'd even learn a little about our court system, especially the civil courts. In case you haven't noticed yet...I thought this was a fantastic read. :) 

Biography of Robert Bailey 

From the time he could walk, Robert Bailey has loved stories, especially those about the legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and his beloved Crimson Tide football team at the University of Alabama.

Bailey was born in Huntsville, Ala., in 1973. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Davidson College in North Carolina and graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1999. In law school, Bailey was honored with the Award for Outstanding Achievement at the American Judicature Society Interscholastic Trial Competition. He made Law Review and was a member of the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society. Somehow, between studying and preparing for the bar exam, Bailey managed to watch every home football game.

For the past 14 years, Bailey has practiced law as a civil defense trial attorney in Huntsville at the law firm of Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne. In addition to representing health care providers and nursing homes in medical liability cases, he defends trucking companies, insurance carriers, insureds and businesses in injury-related lawsuits.

Bailey is admitted to practice before the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court – Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama and Western District of Tennessee – and in all Alabama state courts.

He is a member of several professional associations including the International Association of Defense Counsel, Defense Research Institute, Alabama Defense Lawyers’ Association, Huntsville-Madison County Bar Association and the Alabama Bar Association.

Bailey’s first novel, “The Professor,” will be published Jan. 28, 2014 by Exhibit A Books.

Bailey is married with three children. When he’s not writing or practicing law, he’s playing golf, coaching his sons’ little league baseball teams and, of course, cheering on the Crimson Tide.

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook
Goodreads | Amazon | Virtual Tour Page

Q&A with author and attorney Robert Bailey

How did you come up with the story for “The Professor?”
The answer is twofold.  First, I’ve always been interested in stories of legends, especially Alabama football legends. Second, when I was in law school, I always wondered what it would be like if a professor had to try a case. Could he or she do it?  Would the classroom cross over to the courtroom? These questions piqued my interest, and Thomas Jackson McMurtrie was born.

What do you think readers will like about “The Professor?”
The answer, in my opinion, is the redemptive nature of the story. This is the story of a man in the twilight of his career that is done wrong, but he won’t quit. He comes back against all odds. A backstabbing former student. Cancer. Nothing can get Tom McMurtrie down. He embodies the principles of those men that played for Coach Bryant, some of whom stand with Tom in the courtroom in one of the climactic final scenes of the book.

What are the elements of a great legal thriller?
I’m not sure there is any recipe or formula.  However, I think any story, whether thriller or not, has to have an emotional hook.  Something that makes the reader climb on board for the journey. A lot of times that hook is identifying with a character and what he/she is going through or the situation he/she faces.  I think this is particularly so in thrillers.  Having a protagonist encounter a situation that stimulates the reader’s emotions and makes the reader want to follow the protagonist’s journey through it.

Have you ever considered a career in teaching law?
            No, I never have.  However, teachers have had a profound influence on me.  I was blessed to have many wonderful teachers in elementary school, high school, college and law school.  My mother and grandmother were also teachers, so I have a great regard for that profession.

How did growing up in the south influence your writing?
            Obviously, you write what you know, and I have lived my entire life in the South. I have always been drawn to southern literature and stories with a southern flare to them. 

You’re obviously a huge fan of the legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. What do you think made him such an iconic figure?
            I think it starts with the winning.  Coach Bryant was an incredibly successful football coach for over thirty years.  There were many great college football coaches during his heyday in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, but Coach Bryant was undoubtedly the best and his record speaks for itself.  323 victories.  Six national championships.  But it’s more than just the winning. He was such a great character.  He was tall and had that gravelly voice.  He wore the Houndstooth hat and smoked Chesterfield cigarettes.  He carried himself like an Old West gunslinger.  In fact, there were many comparisons between Coach Bryant and John Wayne. There is also the regard that his former players show him.  So many of them count Coach Bryant as their most significant influence in life.  Finally, Coach Bryant’s story is so inspiring.  Here was a man born of the most humble of beginnings, one of nine children to a poor family in Moro Bottom, Arkansas, who grew to be one of the most recognizable figures in sports history.  A man who dined with Presidents and celebrities.  Who, when he died, was given his own stamp.  Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant personified the American dream.        

How in the world did you find time to write a novel while working as a full-time attorney and caring for three young children?
Simple: I got up at 4:00 in the morning before work and before the kids were awake, and wrote for a couple of hours every morning. The pages eventually began to pile up.

“The Professor” is billed as “the first McMurtrie and Drake investigation.” So can we get any sneak peek into what’s next?

            Book two, which is entitled “Between Black and White,” will take Tom and Rick to Pulaski, Tennessee, where they will defend an old friend on charges of capital murder.

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